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When the President exhorted IITs

Last updated on: August 08, 2008 20:53 IST

President Pratibha Patil has asked Indian Institutes of Technology to address the problems of rural areas by producing cutting-edge solutions for them.

Delivering the convocation address at IIT-Bombay this noon, the President said, ". . . our farmers are affected by floods, drought, pests, lack of infrastructure and low yields as compared to the rest of the world. While many of these areas are specialized, nevertheless, IIT engineers have a duty to the nation to produce cutting edge solutions for our rural areas." (See full text of the President's speech below)

Reminding the IITs of their guiding vision, the President said that IITs being institutes of 'national importance' were established to contribute to nation-building process by "employing technical know-how as an essential tool for development of the country."

Emphasising the need for inclusive approach in spreading the benefits of technology, President Patil praised IIT Bombay for undertaking distance education programmes and providing engineering courses through live transmissions and web-based interactive technologies.

While praising the success achieved by IIT-ians, both in India and overseas, the President said that contributing to the national growth could be a more meaningful purpose in life.

Highlighting the challenges of the 21st century, President Pratibha Patil expressed confidence that IIT-ians would become important partners in India emerging as a global leader in the emerging knowledge society.

The President said, "Finding new options and cost-effective solutions for growth require that our scientists and researchers stay one step ahead rather than catch-up with the latest technologies. We must constantly look ahead to the technologies of the future so that India can be a storehouse of knowledge and expertise."

The President conferred Doctorate Honoris Causa on Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata for representing "the best traditions of Indian entrepreneurship and innovation."

She said, Ratan Tata is ". . . an example of the growing strength and confidence of our business enterprises to become multinationals with a presence across the globe in this century."

Full text of the President's speech

I am very happy to be here in Mumbai to participate in the 46th Convocation of the Indian Institute of Technology, being held in its golden jubilee year.

I would like to convey my congratulations to the management, faculty members all the staff and students on this occasion and also extend my good wishes for your successful future.

The foundation stone of this Institute was laid 50 years ago by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who strongly believed in developing a scientific temper that would focus on employing technical know-how as an essential tool for the development of the country. He wanted to create a technologically empowered workforce of the highest calibre that would help in building infrastructure including irrigation facilities, power plants, industrial ventures, roads and bridges.

It was this vision that guided the establishment of the IITs as institutions of "national importance" soon after Independence.

I understand that much has changed in the last fifty years in this Institute. Today, it offers courses in disciplines ranging from chemical, mechanical and civil engineering to aerospace engineering and energy sciences.

I am told that so far more than 30,000 students and scientists have graduated from here. Many of them have achieved considerable success both in India and overseas as entrepreneurs, scientists, corporate leaders and as highly skilled professionals.

IIT graduates from India were among those behind the success of Silicon Valley in the United States. There is no doubt that the IITs have been centres of quality and excellence. With such a track record, it is only reasonable to expect that they would further excel in the years to come.

Educational institutions that impart the level of education that you have had are limited in the country. We are focusing on enhancing the higher education infrastructure in the country.

8 new IITs set to open

Eight new IITs in the country are to be opened. This should expand opportunities for the students to obtain high quality education. I hope that the existing IITs would be able to extend support and share their experiences with the proposed new IITs, in their initial stages, so that the new IITs have the same high standards of education and excellence.

Your education equips you to perform well and it also equips you to contribute to nation building. I believe that individual advancement and being partners in the national growth process both could be the purpose of your life. In fact, it is the latter purpose, which you will realize is the higher purpose that can make your life more meaningful and give you greater fulfillment.

You must always try to achieve excellence in your endeavours. It is possible that initially, you may fail or you may face difficulties but ultimately it will be your strong inner desire to achieve your goal that will eventually lead you to success. As Pandit Nehru said, and I quote, "not failure but low aim is a crime." Unquote.

As a developing nation, India is currently focused on expanding its physical infrastructure, enhancing its agriculture and industrial productivity as well as improving its global competitiveness. Today, optimum use of capital or labour or resources is dependent on technological breakthroughs and cutting-edge technologies -- nanotechnology, biotechnology among others.

Efficient technologies are important to meet the energy needs of the nation, as also are environment friendly technologies that lower the levels of green house gas emissions.

Finding new options and cost-effective solutions for growth require that our scientists and researchers stay one step ahead rather than catch-up with the latest technologies. We must constantly look ahead to the technologies of the future so that India can be a storehouse of knowledge and expertise.

In a fast changing technological world, the rate of innovation would need to increase dramatically. We need to find new methodologies, new products, and new ideas.

For accomplishing these objectives we need highly skilled manpower - engineers, researchers and scientists -- who would provide knowledge, techniques and technologies to transform the landscape of India. I am happy to note that one such scientist is in our midst today.

I am referring to the Chairman of your Board of Governors and who is also the Chairman of our Atomic Energy Commission and the Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Atomic Energy, Dr. Anil Kakodkar. He has dedicated his entire life to using the applications of nuclear energy for national development.

I am also happy that the IIT here in Mumbai, has conferred a Doctorate Honoris Causa on Shri Ratan Tata today. He represents the best traditions of Indian entrepreneurship and innovation. He is also an example of the growing strength and confidence of our business enterprises to become multinationals with a presence across the globe in this new century.

I am confident that the graduates from Institutes of Technology, considered some of the best brains in the country, will become important partners and contributors to this tremendous historical journey of India in the 21st Century as a global leader in the knowledge based society.

Engineers and scientists should follow an inclusive approach in spreading the benefits of technology. I am glad to know that IIT in Mumbai is undertaking distance education programmes and providing engineering courses to students and working professionals through live transmissions and web-based interactive courses.

I am also glad that IIT has been handling a steady increase in requests from industry for tailor-made courses to train relatively fresh recruits on industry-specific subjects and train senior personnel on modern trends in technological areas. This helps in increasing productivity levels.

With the rise in terrorist incidents in the country, our security apparatus needs better equipment and technology as the nation determinedly fights terrorism and crime.

In this context, I am happy that the course on "The Role of Technology in Crime and Crime Prevention" which brings senior personnel from the Indian Police Service to the Institute is held annually in this campus. This needs to be strengthened further.

Technology and its application should reach a broad section of our society. The majority of our people still live in villages. You must make efforts to reach out to the rural areas.

The telecommunication revolution has provided connectivity to our rural population and there are many examples of how this has helped our farmers in multiple ways like accessing information about weather forecasts, markets, policies and programmes.

Our rural areas are engaged in the task of feeding the nation and we must not forget that we survive because of our farmers. However, our farmers are affected by floods, drought, pests, lack of infrastructure and low yields as compared to the rest of the world.

While many of these areas are specialized, nevertheless, IIT engineers have a duty to the nation to produce cutting edge solutions for our rural areas and its problems.

The IITs can boast of illustrious alumni who are successful and have outstanding vision and leadership qualities. Their experience and knowledge can be leveraged for achieving the mission of the IIT in Mumbai, which is to create an ambience in which new ideas, research and scholarships flourish and from which the leaders and innovators of tomorrow emerge.

As you graduate from here, it is important to remember that along with knowledge you must develop strength of character and strength of purpose in life. That will stand you in good stead in life.

Since the moment you entered here, you were inspired by the motto of the IIT in Mumbai - Gnayanam Paramam Dheyam - and made knowledge your supreme goal. Today, as you pass out, I call on you to adopt in your life the motto - Samaj Kalyanam Dheyam - and make welfare of society your mission.

Thank You.

Jai Hind.

Image: President Pratibha patil conferring a Doctorate Honoris Causa on Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata at II-Bombay. | Photograph: Arun Patil