Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President at the Diamond Jubilee Year Convocation of NITK - Surathkal, in Mangaluru on 02 November, 2019.

Mangaluru | November 2, 2019

“I am extremely happy to be present here today on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee Year Convocation of this prestigious Institution.

It is indeed gratifying to note that since August 6th 2019, the Foundation Day of the Institute, NITK is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee Year to commemorate 60 years of its outstanding service in the field of technical education.

I extend my heartiest congratulations to each one of the graduates who is receiving degree the coveted degree from NITK. I also congratulate the Gold Medal and Prize winners on their achievements.

I also congratulate the proud parents, who supported and nurtured youngsters through their formative years. Today, I am sure that they feel a great sense of pride in seeing their child receiving a degree from NITK.

NITK, formerly known as Karnataka Regional Engineering College, Surathkal, has carved a niche for itself amongst the technological institutions in the country. Through dedicated efforts of its management, staff and students this Institute enjoys the reputation of being a centre of excellence for technical education, research and outreach activities.

As an Institute of National Importance, NITK has optimally utilized the academic and administrative autonomy bestowed on it by the NIT Act and statutes and has made impressive strides in recent years. I am happy to note that NITK is consistently being rated as one of the top 10 technological institutions in the country. I congratulate the faculty, management and the staff for maintaining excellent academic standards and consistently remaining in the top 10 technological institutions.

I am aware that alumni of this institution occupy key positions in government, industry and academia not only in India but abroad also and they bear testimony to the high quality of education being imparted at NITK. At this juncture, it is appropriate for all of us to acknowledge and pay homage to the founder of this Institute Late Shri U Srinivasa Mallya.

Ideally located in the beautiful Dakshina Kannada District,  NITK is also exposing the rich cultural heritage of this region to students from all over the country and abroad.

Since time immemorial, technology has contributed to human progress and engineers have made remarkable discoveries and inventions for the benefit of mankind. It is a matter of great pride that Indian engineers have demonstrated to the world our technical prowess in several areas like agriculture, defense, space applications, nuclear technology and information technology. In the matter of a few decades, India from being a technology importer has transformed into a technology exporter and the world is looking to us for development and deployment of cutting-edge technologies. However, we have miles to go. There is a huge potential for India to become a world leader in various technological domains given the demographic advantage and the presence of highly talented and educated youth.

The need of the hour is to convert this vast pool of educated manpower into highly skilled work force in tune with the requirements of the digitally-driven, knowledge-based 21st century. In fact, we have the capability to not only meet the requirements in the country but many other nations, particularly those with ageing populations. Hence, institutions like NIT Surathkal have a major role to play in making India a global hub of knowledge, innovation and skilled manpower.

Dear Sisters and brothers,

 The Government is also striving hard to take the benefits of this growth and macroeconomic stability to the bottom of the pyramid, to the last man in the queue, through a range of initiatives.

The emphasis on digital technology has helped in effectively tackling corruption and transforming our governance by making it  much more transparent. More than 21,000 start-ups have been recognized since the inception of Start-up India and more than 1,20,000 Gram Panchayats have been connected by optical fiber network.

India has also rightly recognized that sustainability must form the cornerstone of every development plan. India now has 78 GW installed renewable energy capacity and plays a leadership role in international partnerships like the Solar Alliance to strengthen initiatives to fight climate change and global warming.

But the most incredible opportunity that is at our disposal today is our tremendous demographic dividend. We have a perfectly balanced population pyramid where 65 per cent of our population is less than 35 years old today.

My dear sisters and brothers,

India has had a long and illustrious history of holistic education. The aim of education in ancient India was not just the acquisition of knowledge but also of wisdom, complete realization and liberation of the self.

The ancient Indian education system had produced scholars like Charaka and Susruta, Aryabhatta, Bhaskaracharya, Chanakya, Patanjali and numerous others. They made seminal contributions to the collective knowledge of the world in diverse fields such as mathematics, astronomy, metallurgy, medical science and surgery, civil engineering and architecture, shipbuilding and navigation, yoga, fine arts and chess, among others.

Swami Vivekananda once said that “Education is not the amount of information that we put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested, all your life. We must have life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas.”

Culturally, India has been, and continues to be, a cradle of great diversity in all walks of life, with its myriad languages and dialects, classical dance and music forms, many well-developed traditions of folk arts, exquisite architecture, incredible cuisines, fabulous textiles of all kinds and much more.

These rich legacies to world heritage must not only be nurtured and preserved for posterity, but also enhanced and put to new uses through our education system.

We should integrate this rich tradition with modern education to help develop creativity and originality of students, and to encourage them to innovate.

Students must develop not only cognitive skills, but also social and emotional skills, also referred to as ‘soft skills’, including cultural awareness and empathy, perseverance and grit, teamwork and leadership, among others.

The Draft National education Policy 2019 focuses on the holistic aspect of education. The Policy emphasizes that education throughout life is based on four pillars:

i) Learning to know - acquiring a body of knowledge and learning how to learn;

ii) Learning to do - acquiring not only an occupational skill but also the competence to deal with many situations and work in teams and deal with the various challenges of working life;

iii) Learning to live together – developing an understanding of other people and an appreciation of interdependence in a spirit of respect for the values of pluralism, mutual understanding and peace; and

iv) Learning to be - developing one’s personality and being able to act with autonomy, judgement and personal responsibility.

Always remember your looks are just not everything in life. It is the total personality that matters. Self improvement & success go hand in hand. In every sphere of your life, there is a tremendous scope for improvement and it is possible for you to do it all by yourself.

To provide such multidisciplinary and holistic education to the students, it is essential to combine education with a number of co-curricular activities, including community service.

Education alone will not be sufficient to reap the demographic dividend. It is necessary that we boost the employability of our graduates through intensive skilling programs, especially in cutting-edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, Robotics etc. 

Single-skill and single-discipline jobs are likely to become automated over time. Therefore, there will be a great need to focus on multidisciplinary and 21st century competencies for future work roles - these are indeed the capabilities that will separate the developed countries from underdeveloped countries in future.

I call upon each NIT, universities and higher education institutions in the country to come up with a vision document to achieve highest academic standards, including high quality research, in the next five to ten years. Every institution must give up on ‘business-as-usual’ approach, change the status quo and strive to be among the global top rankers.

I strongly believe that in the years to come India will earn its place amongst the technology giants of the world through education and innovation. Indeed, education will be the key factor in transforming India into an economic superpower.

Dear Sisters and brothers, Education is the foundation for the progress of humanity. Education is not merely for employment, but education is meant to empower, impart wisdom and knowledge, and develop a holistic individual with qualities of head and heart.

See no evil, see what is good. Hear no evil, hear what is good. Talk no evil, talk what is good. Think no evil, think what is good. Do no evil, do what is good. This is the way to God and Happiness.

Apart from promoting entrepreneurial spirit, education must instill and nurture scientific spirit among youngsters.

Creating science and engineering talent is essential in addressing problems with technological roots and achieving sustained economic growth. I am happy to note that institutions such as NITK have been playing a key role in creating such a world-class pool of scientists and technologists.

But as you all aware, education must create the right ecosystem for innovation and creativity to thrive. Innovation, inventions and discoveries must be the buzzwords on the campuses of our NITs, IITs and universities. The ability to innovate, use discoveries and inventions to create new markets and new products has been recognized as the key to success in the new millennium. Innovations and inventions must lead to development of products and processes that can be directly applied for commercial, social and military benefits. It is important for the culture of innovations to be supported and sustained through investments.

While it is not uncommon to see the private sector making such investments in innovations for commercial benefits, I feel that there is a lot greater scope for private sector investments to promote R & D in our universities and academic institutions. I urge the private sector to create a corpus fund under CSR activities to fund research projects that have societal benefits.

I am happy to note that the Government of India has launched massive efforts to promote innovations that benefit the society.

However, with rapidly changing socio-economic scenarios across the globe, engineers are faced with challenges that require application of new approaches and tools. A paradigm change in the way engineering problems are analyzed and solved is required to address various challenges across the globe.

Protecting the environment, combating the effects of climate change and ensuring social equity are now critical issues which must be factored into modern engineering designs. There is a need to redefine, restructure and reorganize our technical and engineering systems organizations to ensure sustainable development.

To take on the new challenges, it is imperative that our young men and women are provided the most appropriate education and training in premier Institutions such as NITK.

As regards, the higher education sector and in particular the engineering field, some of the important aspects that need to be addressed include bridging the gap between the theory and practice; promoting research in a big way and encouraging universities & institutions to network with  industries, R&D labs within India and abroad; revamping curricula/syllabi to promote creativity, innovation and a spirit of enquiry among the students; introduction of more effective teaching-learning approaches such as Project Based Learning to impart skills of teamwork, leadership and out-of-the-box thinking; imparting Entrepreneurial Education in our technical institutions so that a larger number of our graduates do not end up as mere job seekers but possess the confidence and the skills to create businesses, jobs and wealth.

To the young students in the audience I wish to convey this message – maintain a spirit of inquiry, think out of the box and be prepared to explore new frontiers of science and technology.

Dear students,

You must never deviate from the righteous path and always strive to uphold ethics and morals. Also never look for temporary shortcuts to achieve your dreams. Aim high and work hard to realize the goals. Success will never desert anybody who is sincere, hardworking, disciplined and perseveres with single-minded devotion.

India’s strength is in its young people and you hold the key in transforming India into a major economic and technological power. I sincerely hope that each one of you will remember your social responsibility – a commitment to give back to the people of India the fruits of technological advancements.

I once again extend my hearty congratulations to all the students who are receiving their degrees today. Good Luck to each one of you in your exciting journey in building a more prosperous, equitable, safer and cleaner India and the world.