"I am glad to inaugurate the two-day conference on ‘Industry Academy Interaction for Improvement of Quality of Academics’ organised by the Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy (IIPE).
This topic is not only timely but quite important because new ideas, innovations and technologies are changing the dynamics of the way we live, think and act.
Academic environment in India has to respond to these changes. In fact, ideally, it should anticipate these changes and prepare adequately to creatively shape the future. Improvement of quality at all levels of education is, therefore, very critical.
We cannot have a system that operates at sub-optimal level. We cannot have an education system that produces a large number of unskilled and unemployed youth. Every year, lakhs of students are passing out of the portals of higher education institutions with a majority of them lacking employable skills. Most of the organizations that hire the young graduates are forced to impart further on-the-job training for periods ranging from six months to one year. There is an urgent need to revamp the education system to ensure that the students coming out of our institutions of higher learning are not only employable but also possess life skills, language skills, technological skills and entrepreneurial skills to enable them to be gainfully employed or self-employed.
The students graduating must be fully equipped to meet the needs of the industry or agriculture or have the aptitude and skills of a risk-taking entrepreneur.
No doubt, there have been continuous efforts during the past many years to promote cooperation between academia and industry. However, the desired results have not yet been achieved for a variety of reasons.
I feel that there has to be a symbiotic relationship between the academia and the industry for creating the necessary ecosystem for innovation to thrive and also generate employment opportunities for the youth. For this to be achieved, the industry has to play a more pro-active role and establish a strong organic link with the academic institutions.
Dear sisters and brothers, technology has broken all barriers and the world has shrunk into a global village. This reality has to be reflected in our education system too and there has to be a paradigm change in the manner in which our educational institutions impart learning. We need to keep pace with the global trends and ensure that our students are able to seamlessly work anywhere in the world.
Our education system needs to be revamped thoroughly. I feel that the culture of research has to be promoted in a big way in our universities and other important academic institutions. The industry should come forward and lend a helping hand to educational institutions, particularly in terms of creating the needed infrastructure and equipment for undertaking high quality research.
Industry and academia should look at long-term collaborations rather than join hands for limited purposes and one-off projects. Starting from early research to translating it into products that benefit the society and contribute to the larger economy, the industry-academia tie-up should be long-lasting and aim at creating a win-win situation for both.
Companies could also identify certain specific areas of interest and fund doctoral and post-doctoral research connected to them.
I feel that the corporate world must identify some of the research-oriented academic institutions and set up a special corpus or fund for financing research projects that will lead to innovations, benefit the society and economy of the country.
The curriculum and the courses at our universities should undergo a big change. Industry must interact with university departments and help build a set of courses that are aligned to the emerging needs of the industry.
As we are all aware, India was once called as Vishwaguru and respected world over with Nalanda, Takshashila, Pushpagiri and other centres of learning attracting knowledge-seekers from different parts of the globe. These centres offered learning in a wide range of fields from archery to astronomy and Vedas to politics. The time has come for India to again become the global hub for knowledge and innovation. This is possible only if we build a culture of learning from each other and growing together in a collaborative manner.
All stakeholders need to work together to vastly improve the quality of education and research. There is also a need to promote academia-industry knowledge clusters for promoting innovation-oriented research. India should be among the leading countries in publishing quality research papers in peer-reviewed international journals, and in obtaining patents for innovations.
Policy makers, expert bodies, educationists, educational institutes and the industrial sector must strive to impart the appropriate knowledge and skills at a high level of proficiency among the country’s youth and create synergies of action between the industry and academia.
The educational institutes must focus on useful concepts and application-oriented, problem solving approaches.
In some countries, corporates have been reaching out to universities/academic institutions and creating collaborations. I hope to see a similar trend in India also.
I am told that to encourage innovation and build industry-academia ties, the Ministry of Human Resource and Development has augmented funding to IIT- Madras by approximately Rs 300 crore. Similarly Electronic System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) and Indian Electronics and Semiconductors Association (IESA) have agreed to work with IIT-Kharagpur to build a robust talent pipeline in the ESDM space.
More such tie-ups are needed so that the academia and industry jointly create real-time application based research platforms to provide students with better opportunities to work on various problems relating to the society.
Such collaborations would be beneficial to both. For instance, academic institutions will get to know the exact requirements of the industry and the trends. Accordingly, it can undertake applications-based research. The industry on the hand will be able to find new talent to hire and spend the resources in a judicious manner.
I am sure that the collective efforts of academia and the industry will not only improve the quality of teaching-learning practice but also help in bridging the gap between academia and industry. The initiatives taken in this direction by IIPE, IIM-Visakhapatnam, AU, CII and APPCB are laudable.
Finally before concluding, I would like to stress that this interaction should not conclude as a formal and routine event. Rather, it should lead to further discussions and provide impetus to academia-industry collaboration by coming up with concrete recommendations and action.