New Delhi: Putting his weight behind “academic freedom”, President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday said windows for free flow of thoughts should not be shut and an atmosphere should be created where “cross-fertilisation” of ideas can take place.
Highlighting the need for improving the status of higher education in the country, the President said more emphasis should be laid on “innovation and research” and teachers and academicians should be given their due recognition.
While receiving the first copy of a book titled ‘The Education President’ from Vice President Hamid Ansari, Mukherjee said continuous flow of funds and recognition by various authorities and favourable interventions by them are required to achieve better results in this regard.
“We should be providing academic freedom….Creating an atmosphere for cross-fertilisation of ideas from different parts…Come and flow uninterruptedly.”
“You can hold on your ground, no harm, but don’t shut the windows as Gandhiji said ‘I refuse to be blown off but I will not think of shutting the windows, let the free flow of window blow across my room so that I can enrich myself’,” he said after receiving the book.
The book has been brought out by OP Jindal Global University, by largely basing its contents on Mukherjee’s activities on the subject after he took over the office of the first citizen of the country in 2012.
Mukherjee said he would be “frank” to admit that he learnt a number of things after taking over the President’s office and being a ‘visitor’ to a number of higher learning institutions of the country by virtue of the post he held.
The President added Indian talent was getting “wasted” as brilliant minds from premier institutions like IITs were working for global concerns and not here.
“This talent must be better utilised than promoting products of big MNCs (Multi-National Companies),” he said, adding that massive investments have to be made in research and development activities in order to make a “knowledge society”.
The President said India was “losing” every year about 2,000 students who go abroad.
Mukherjee said he had been “repeating like a parrot” about his deep concerns over the lack of quality education in our institutes of higher learning since he began interacting after becoming the President.
The President candidly admitted that he had immensely benefited from inputs he got from these institutions and that has “enriched my life and expanded the horizon of my knowledge.”
“I am deeply grateful to them (institutions of higher learning) that at least at the fag end also, I got the right type of lessons from my gurus,” he said.
Mukherjee said he wonders how “no Indian University got a Nobel prize for research in original.”
Giving examples, he said Sir CV Raman was the first and last in this domain and others like Amartya Sen, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and Har Gobind Khorana got the award while working in foreign universities.
Talking about the steps he had taken in this regard, Mukherjee mentioned he made it a point to take along with him Vice Chancellors of various varsities in his foreign tours in order to give respect and due recognition to the faculty of higher learning.
“If we cannot improve our educational qualities, educational standards in the basic areas like research and innovation then how will we occupy our rightful place in the high table of the comity of nations?,” he asked, adding that there was surely “no lack of talent” amongst the students and teachers in the country.