“Sisters and brothers,
It is a matter of great pleasure for me to be here with you for the inauguration of Puducherry Technological University (PTU). What makes this occasion doubly special is that PTU, constituted by upgrading Pondicherry Engineering College, will be the first state university in the Union Territory of Puducherry. I congratulate the warm-hearted people of Puducherry on this momentous occasion.
Pondicherry Engineering College established in 1986, has steadily grown in all aspects, serving the nation in general and the UT of Puducherry in particular. I am told that at present the institution offers technical education to 2500 students. Now being a university, you will have many more opportunities to excel including collaboration with international universities, attracting industry investment and autonomy in starting new courses.
I am told that the building and infrastructure of the university are enhanced through the funding under Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan, a scheme of the Ministry of Education, Government of India with matching grants from the UT of Puducherry. In addition, the institute has been selected under Technical Quality Improvement Programme and has been granted funds to the tune of Rupees Eleven Crores.
I am happy to know that the institution has also built very significant research capabilities by offering Ph.D degrees, undertaking consultancy projects and securing sponsored research projects. The fact that the institution boasts of 350 research scholars on its roll is an added feather in its cap. The institution is also credited with research funding from the sponsored research projects from various funding agencies in India and abroad.
I have always emphasized the importance of R&D in all spheres of national development. If you look around the world, you will find that it is the cutting-edge research in science, technology and other fields that puts developed countries ahead of the rest. If we have to make India a developed nation, we will have to create an enabling ecosystem for researchers. I urge educational institutions to have an increased interface with the industry to promote result-oriented research that addresses contemporary challenges such as climate change, pollution, health and poverty.
I am told that Atal Incubation Centre has been set up in this institute to promote Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Venture Development. It is gratifying to know that this incubation centre has incubated 15 startups in the areas of Electronic Design and Manufacturing, and Drone Technologies, among other things.
India today is scaling new heights in the fields of entrepreneurship and innovation. Today, we have the world’s third largest startup ecosystem. Data from the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade suggests that we have over fifty thousand startups spread across 623 districts in the country. In the year 2020-21 itself, over 16,000 startups were recognized. With the government opening up the space sector for private players, more than 40 tech start-ups are working in the field of satellites, launch vehicles and other space based applications. It is a matter of great joy to know that leadership teams of 45% startups have a woman entrepreneur. This is a healthy trend which will inspire more women to become entrepreneurs.
This is the strength of New India. With 54 percent of Indians below the age of 25, we have the largest youth population in the world. If this young and aspiring population is skilled properly, our youth can drive the nation forward through productive output and innovation. I would urge institutions like Puducherry Technological University to infuse a spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship and experimentation among the students.
The government has taken several measures to support start-ups including broadening definition, simplifying regulations and providing tax exemptions. To provide much needed funding to our start-ups, a Rs 10,000 crore Fund of Funds has also been created. I would urge the industry to also come forward and support our young entrepreneurs by handholding, funding support and incubation. Improved Industry-Academia Partnership is also much required to give a further fillip in this direction.
I am really impressed by the way Indian start-ups innovated when the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world. Over the past one and half years, we saw our youngsters reinvent themselves and come up with testing kits, cheap ventilators, preventive technologies as well as innovations in supply chain management and logistics.
The education sector has been one of the most affected by the pandemic with the teaching and learning process significantly disrupted. But the worst seems to be over and with the world's largest free vaccination program underway across the country, we are looking at the recovery from the unexpected setback. It is my firm opinion that online education can not be a substitute to classroom learning, and hence, our students must return to schools and colleges at the earliest.
I am happy that the Pondicherry Engineering College has been instrumental in raising the technical education standards in the Union Territory of Puducherry. It has played a key role in the upliftment of the socio-economic status of the Union Territory of Puducherry. The Training and Placement Cell conducts a number of campus placement drives every year and I am told that about 90% of the outgoing students are placed in multinational companies. I compliment you for this.
The establishment of Puducherry Technological University is an important milestone in the history of technical education of Puducherry Union Territory. It is worth mentioning that the institution has secured a reasonable position in the National Ranking by National Institute of Ranking Framework (NIRF).
Puducherry is the land of Sri Aurobindo, the great revolutionary Yogi, philosopher, poet and freedom fighter who remains an eternal source of inspiration for every Indian. It is indeed a proud moment for the entire nation that this year, the auspicious day of August 15 marked two historic events – 75th Independence Day of our country and also the 150th Birth Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo. On this momentous occasion, it is time to revisit the vision and mission of this great Maharishi to seek guidance for our future.
I would finish with these words of Sri Aurobindo from his 1907 address to the teachers and students of the Bengal National College, and in 1907; He said –
“What we want here is not merely to give you a little information, not merely to open to you careers for earning a livelihood, but to build up sons for the Motherland to work and to suffer for her. That is why we started this college and that is the work to which I want you to devote yourselves in future.”
As PTU begins a new chapter in its illustrious history, let these lines serve as a guiding light for all of you in your future endeavours.