Voicing dismay over Indian educational institutions not finding a place among the world's top universities, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday sought revitalisation of efforts to inculcate scientific temperament among students and providing them with facilities to achieve this.
"I feel it necessary to share with you my sense of dismay on seeing that not a single Indian university or institute of higher learning, including the premier IITs, figure in the list of 200 top-rated universities of the world.
"To my mind the more important question is why? Why are we, a 'rising economic superpower', not able to promote our standards to be rated, indisputably, among the top ten or even top 50 or 100," Mukherjee said at the 57th convocation of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, West Bengal.
Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had set a 72-hour deadline to the government for withdrawal of the decision on opening FDI in retail, and party leader Mukul Roy stayed away for the function.
The President said it was "necessary to start now with the urgent task of developing in our students, a scientific temperament. It is necessary to design, without delay, appropriate learning experiences for our students."
Maintaining that there was no reason why the most modern methods and teaching aids should not be made available to teachers and students, he said, "Our younger generations should be encouraged through all means to learn and explore more and contribute more to the society."
Mukherjee said adaptation and application of new technology to Indian conditions and requirement would open up new market opportunities and these must be made "an integral part of the courses that our students attend".
The President, who was accompanied by an alumni of IIT Kharagpur and Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, took part in a function which also marks the culmination of the institution's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
He strongly recommended "more collaborations, exchanges and cross-pollination of ideas with the best minds in India and abroad" and asked the IITs to take the lead in ensuring "continuous revitalisation of institutions through research, experimentation and innovation."
Delving into history, Mukherjee said the main building that houses IIT Kharagpur was "hallowed by some of India's great freedom fighters. The original location of this Institute is the very spot where two great soldiers of the freedom movement -- Santosh Kumar Mitra and Tarakeswar Sengupta, had served their sentences."
When they were shot dead by the police on September 16, 1931, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose himself came to the Hijli detention camp, as it was known then, to take possession of their mortal remains.
"This incident had galvanised national leaders including Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and the spirit of the Indian people to carry out the freedom struggle," Mukherjee said.