India today needs "national leaders" from the fields of science and engineering, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in Mumbai on Saturday.
Singh delivered `Golden Jubilee Convocation' address at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay.
"Today India needs national leaders from the fields of engineering and science. Not just politics, sports and cinema," the PM said.
India still lags behind many other countries in terms of research and development, and there is also dearth of quality institutes of higher education, he said.
"This is precisely why our government has taken initiative to expand the opportunities for higher and technical education in India."
He also stressed that the investments made in higher education must contribute directly to nation building. IITs face an immediate challenge of making their curriculum more relevant to the country's needs, he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Union Minister for Human Resources and Development Kapil Sibal said IITs have been centres of excellence, and India is proud of their contribution.
However, he said, the IITs are facing a critical shortage of quality faculty, and most of the current faculty is ageing and nearing superannuation, which is affecting academic productivity.
The brand equity of IITs is due to the excellence of their undergraduate students, Sibal said.
On the occasion of the Golden Jubilee Convocation, degree of `Doctor of Science - Honoris Causa' was conferred upon industrialist Azim Premji, Chairman, Wipro Ltd. A total of 2006 degrees, including 175 PhDs, were awarded.
In his acceptance speech, Premji advised students not to be afraid of making mistakes. "Never stop learning. Have confidence in yourself. Excellence is not an art but a habit. Never compromise on values," Premji said.
Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Chairman of the Board of Governors of IIT Bombay Dr Anil Kakodkar and Institute Director Prof Devang Mehta were present.