Pranab Mukherjee
The President, Pranab Mukherjee addressing at the golden jubilee convocation of Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University at Raipur in Chhattisgarh on Saturnday, 26 July, 2014.PIB

Deploring the fact that India's bright students are denied higher education and the absence of even a single Indian university in the list of the world's top 200 varsities, President Pranab Mukherjee stressed the need to encourage the country's meritorious students by giving scholarships, educational loans and self-help schemes.

Mukherjee was delivering his convocation speech at the Golden Jubilee Convocation of Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University, in Raipur of Chhattisgarh on Saturday.

"In the distant past, universities like Nalanda and Takshashila were global leaders in higher education. The story is different today. As per reputed agencies, there is not a single Indian institution amongst the top 200 universities in the world," the President pointed out.

The President said that the country requires a sound education system, to enable the ingenuity and industry of young Indians to spur national progress. Though India can boast a vast higher education network of over 720 degree-awarding institutions and 37,000 colleges, the standards in many of them leave much to be desired, he added.

Mukherjee pointed out that a university and its teachers carry a great responsibility to prepare individuals complete in all respects. The President said that he looks upon the university particularly, its centres of higher learning as the guiding light, not only for students but also for the society as a whole, and for earning a rightful place in the rating of world universities.

Talking about moral values, the President noted that they have to also instill a belief system that is rooted in our universal wisdom and philosophy.

"Having a modern outlook does not imply deviating from the core values and philosophies of the yore. Our civilizational values - love for motherland; performance of duty; compassion for all; tolerance for pluralism; respect for women; honesty in life; self-restraint in conduct; responsibility in action and discipline - are true regardless of time and place," Mukherjee stated.

India's civilizational values have transcended epochs. It is the duty of our universities to pass the baton of 'foundational values' onto the next generation, he added.

A country like India, having the largest young population in the world, must be better equipped in preparing human resource. A culture of excellence must be promoted in our higher academic institutions, Mukherjee said.  

The President stated that core competencies must be nurtured. Academic cooperation between institutions must be encouraged. Research must be of a high order and prioritized keeping in mind local issues as well as fields of specialization. Institutional mechanisms like innovation clubs must be created to unearth and support potential grassroots innovation, he suggested.