Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President of India at the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Institute of Technology, in Port Blair on July 05, 2018.

Port Blair | July 5, 2018

“It gives me immense pleasure to interact with all of you and share my thoughts.

India has made rapid strides in various sectors since attaining Independence, including the expansion of our higher education system.

Today more than 65 per cent of Indians are below the age of 35 years. India is projected to be the youngest nation in the world by 2030 with nearly 140 million people ready to enter the institutions of higher education.

We have in India nearly 800 universities are catering to the educational requirements of lakhs of students across the country. One in every four graduates in the world will most likely be a product of the Indian higher education system.

However, what we need to do is to improve the “quality” of higher education to leverage the demographic dividend for nation-building.

The Indian higher education system needs to reinvent itself to respond to the emerging challenges of a rapidly changing knowledge economy.

Our education system from KG to PG needs a thorough revamping to make it more rigorous, effective and quality-oriented with emphasis on developing a holistic personality and not merely producing certificate holders. Teaching methods, syllabi and the learning processes need to be reoriented to meet the challenges of the globalized 21st century knowledge society.

The students coming out of our universities and colleges should no doubt be tech-savvy and scholarly. But more importantly, they should have unshakeable integrity and honesty with strong ethical and moral values. They should have empathy, compassion and respect for elders and teachers.

In fact, India was known as ‘Vishwaguru’ in ancient times and knowledge-seekers from all over the world used to come and study in the famous universities of that period like Nalanda and Takshashila. We need to make India again the hub of cutting-edge knowledge and innovation by vastly improving our standards of education and setting new benchmarks.

For Indian educational institutions to make a mark in the technology-driven digital era, we need to promote research in a big way. An ecosystem of innovation should be created in our higher educational institutions by equipping them with modern laboratories. Universities and industry linkage needs to be strengthened and greater investments have to be made into research-oriented projects with focus on solving societal problems.

We need to inculcate scientific temper and cultivate a scientific outlook right from early childhood. Children should be made to learn through hands-on experiments rather than focusing on rote-learning. “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand’’, said the famous Chinese philosopher, Confucius.

As you all are aware, education is the most important tool for transformation of the society through enlightenment and empowerment. The ‘real education’ must foster all-round development of students. It should lay equal emphasis on academic excellence and skills for self-employment or gainful employment.

Friends, India is the fastest growing large economy and you have abundant opportunities. My advice to all of you is not to be mere job-seekers but try to become job creators. Be creative, innovative and try to explore unchartered territories. Don’t be afraid of setbacks. Dedication, passion, commitment, hard work, discipline and perseverance will make realize your dreams and achieve your goals.

Educationists and policy-makers must look at the need for coming out with a roadmap for the next 30-50 years with regard to the changing educational and employment scenarios. What kind of professionals will be required in the next few decades and how to reorient our education system to meet the future requirements?

I am happy to learn that the administration of Andaman & Nicobar Islands is providing fairly good opportunities to the youth, who are around 1.1 lakhs of the nearly four lakh population, to pursue higher education in the fields of medicine, engineering, hospitality, maritime and law.

Although the opportunities for higher education for youth in these islands are quite good, employment opportunities are very limited. Hence, the students continue to look up to mainland India as potential area for employment.

In the last few years, the perception of our country has improved substantially all over the world and these Islands being close to ASEAN countries, the students can also look for employment opportunities in ASEAN region as well. This is only possible if the educational standards of the students are of international quality.

We all know that the market has become very competitive and the demand for innovative products is increasing day-by-day. I would advice all youth to develop a mindset of handling multiple tasks simultaneously and possess skills in more than two domains to meet contemporary global challenges.

Innovative and out-of-box thinking are needed to come out with path-breaking solutions or products. As had been repeatedly exhorted by the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, dream big, aim high and work with missionary zeal and unflappable commitment to realize your dreams.

Dear students and faculty members,

Knowledge has no boundaries and with the availability of digital learning resources, you are now able to access resources from across the world much more easily than ever before. Please make use of them fully and as you become more proficient, aim for excellence. Don’t be complacent. Always strive hard to be among the best in the world. That’s the approach the faculty and students should adopt. After all, not only in ancient India but even in contemporary world, the best IT companies in the world have Indians at the top. Like Satya Nadella of Microsoft or Sundar Pichai of Google and scores of others who have made India proud. You must draw inspiration from them.

Your institute is also named after an illustrious son of modern India who through his extraordinary knowledge and hard work became an iconic figure who shaped our constitution. Dr Ambedkar exemplifies the power of learning and the empowerment that knowledge brings to our lives.

My best wishes to all of you for your future endeavours.