World class varsities an achievable aspiration: President

Guwahati, May 15: Emphasising on bringing higher education closer to common man, President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said the dream of creating world class universities in India is an achievable aspiration.

"We must remember that once we had world class universities in Nalanda and Takshashila where brilliant minds of the world came for acquiring education. Therefore, the dream of creating world class universities in India is an achievable aspiration," he told the 13th annual convocation of Assam University in Silchar.

 "India with strong scientific and technical manpower has the opportunity to become a major knowledge power in the years to come. To make this dream a reality, we have to invest in research and development," Mukherjee said.

To make education accessible to more students, efforts must be directed at bringing higher education closer to the population, particularly to those in remote corners of the country, he said.

"We must remove the imbalances in the reach of higher education across states, regions and sections of society. Knowledge pursuit has many dimensions. It brings gender equity as a result of access and reach," he said.

Mukherjee expressed happiness over the attention paid to women education in northeast which has resulted in a large of number of girls from the region to pursue education in major cities across the country and find employment in metropolises.

Mukherjee said education holds the key to social change and progress.

He said a vice-chancellors' conference was held in New Delhi in February to take vital decisions for bringing about changes and update the country's education system.

The Ministry of Human Resources Development has begun the process for implementing the decisions of the meeting, he said.

Inaugurating an 'Innovators Exhibition' and an 'Innovation Club' at the varsity after the convocation, the President said this was a pioneering initiative which recognised the creative and innovative talent at the grassroots and linked it to the formal education system.

He called upon the university to strengthen this linkage and extend it to various institutes of science and technology in the region which would enable the innovators to establish their technology for commercial use.

Governor and AUS Chief Rector and chancellor J B Patnaik said an educational institute's most important duty is to prepare students for the journey of life.

"Whatever is taught within the portals of the university should enable the young minds to explore new horizons of knowledge and also make them competent to face the challenges of a competitive world," Patnaik said.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said the education system should reflect the highest values and culture of ancient India by which the country had achieved eminence in the past.

D Lit and DSc degrees were awarded to seven renowned personalities - Sailesh Nayek (scientist), N I Mukunda (physicist), Amit Ghosh (scientist), Soumitra Chatterjee (actor), Ratan Thiyam (dramatist), Mrinal Duttachoudhury (economist) and Amitava Choudhury (writer and journalist).

The chancellor and poet and lyricist Gulzar gave away the prizes.

Pranab visits World war-II cemetery

President Pranab Mukherjee today visited the historic World War-II cemetery in Kohima today and paid his tribute to the war victims after laying a wreath.

The cemetry is for Indian and British soldiers who laid down their lives in the battle against Japanese troops.

Earlier, landing at the Kohima Assam Rifles helipad in an IAF chopper, the President and his entourage were received by Nagaland Governor Ashwani Kumar and Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, among others.

He was given a Guard of Honour by the 4th Nagaland Armed Police Battalion.

He will be having closed-door meetings with the Governor, Chief Minister, Council of Ministers, Opposition Congress MLAs, civil societies and tribal organisations at the Raj Bhavan where he would stay for the night.

Tomorrow, the President would be attending the convocation programme of Nagaland University at Lumami in Zunheboto district and would fly back to Delhi from Mokokchung.

He is also scheduled to address the NU convocation and also hand over certificates to the successful candidates.

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