Kovind tells Central Universities, institutes to collaborate and learn from each other

Saying that knowledge cannot grow in silos, President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday urged the   Heads of Central Universities and Institutes of higher learning to collaborate and learn from each other.
“I would nudge you towards partnering with universities in our country and outside; in your respective fields and beyond. Knowledge cannot grow in silos and it is essential that each of you participate in the growth of the other,” Mr Kovind said at the one-day meeting of Vice Chancellors, Directors and Heads of 19 Central Institutes of Higher Learning hosted by him at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“And all along, you must remember that you are institutions of national importance. The students you produce will shape the professions that will build our nation. This is what the people of India expect from you. And this is the benchmark by which you must measure yourselves,” he added.
Speaking at the concluding session, the President said each of these institutes has a rich history. Each of these is instrumental to the realisation of social and economic goals that India has set itself as it strives to eliminate poverty and become a middle-income country.
Mr Kovind, who is Visitor to 146 Central Universities and institutions of higher learning, said, on taking office, he was informed about the tradition of an annual conference of all the vice-chancellors, directors and other heads of these institutions. The President would address the gathering at the beginning of the conference and then the other sessions would begin.
However, when he thought about it, he felt that an omnibus conference, where 146 different types of institutions, with different systems, frameworks, motivations and challenges, would serve only a limited purpose. It was better to categorise the institutions into smaller, more manageable groups of similar institutions, or at least institutions with similar administrative regimes and issues. “To my mind, this would be a more worthwhile exercise if problem-solving was indeed a priority,” he added.
“This set of 19 Central Institutes of Higher Learning is the fourth such cohort with which I am interacting. Next week there will a meeting with the National Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology and that will complete the engagement with all 146 institutions well within one year of my tenure to be completed by the end of this month,” he said.
The 19 Central Institutes promoted technical education in critical areas such as agriculture, pharmaceuticals, aviation, design, footwear design, fashion, petroleum and energy, maritime studies and youth development.
“As such, it is important to plan the future of your institutes in the context of an India with a large youth population for the foreseeable future – and with the prospect of a $5 trillion GDP by 2025. This requires us to think big and to take risks – and each of your institutes must be equal to the challenge,” he said.
Take the seven National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research. India has a strong and vibrant pharmaceutical industry and an appreciable record in producing generics. Yet, it is now time to make a quantum leap in drug discovery and the developing of cutting-edge, patented medicines, he said.
A stress on solutions for long-standing public health issues such as TB and a thrust on the management of emerging lifestyle diseases and the pharmaceutical products is needed along with an enabling environment for a thriving clinical research industry. “All this will create enormous economic and job opportunities for our young people. Incubating such an entrepreneurial environment should be vital for your institutes,” he said.
The three Central Agricultural Universities participating in the conference are force multipliers in the government’s resolve to enhance the quality of life for our farmers who are the backbone of our nation. 
“Nearly 61% of our population continues to be dependent on agriculture. We need to be mindful that the pressure on land and on water is immense. New technologies, including technologies we have so far shied away from, will need to be studied and adopted, as feasible. The food and agricultural value chain will have to be made more robust. Agricultural Universities have a mandate that goes beyond the farm,” he added.
“While developing your specialisations, I would urge you to collaborate and learn from each other. This is possible for institutes in the same field. It is also possible across categories. For example, the National Institute of Design and the National Institute of Youth Development have a cross-cutting identity.
“Design can add value to several fields, and our youth are at the centre of all our national endeavours and for all of the institutes here today. Please make actionable and focused plans for collaboration. The Nalanda University, which has a pan-Asian footprint and is a tribute to the heritage of learning that India shares with Southeast Asia, can also provide a platform,” Mr Kovind said.
The President also pointed out the need to create new posts at the earliest, filling up of vacant faculty positions and regular holding of convocations. In an era of global competition, it is important that the syllabus of various courses are updated on regular basis.    
Institutes whose heads participated in the meeting were: Central Agriculture University; Dr Rajendra Prasad Central Agriculture University; Rani Lakshmi Bai Central Agriculture University; National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Ahmedabad, Guwahati; Hajipur;  Hyderabad; Kolkata, Rai Bareli, Mohali; Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University; Footwear design & Development Institute; National Institute of Design; Nalanda University; Indian Maritime University; National Institute of Fashion Technology; Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy; Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum and Technology and Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development.
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