President Pranab Mukherjee Saturday called for increased investments in higher education to enable India recover lost ground and become a world leader in education once again as it was for thousands of years.
Pointing out that investments in education earn the highest returns, the president stressed the need to make it affordable as well as accessible.
“Almost 700 years ago, India dominated the scene of higher education not for one decade or two, but for 1,500 years, from the days of Taxila in the third century BC till the collapse of the Nalanda in 12th century. India like a magnet attracted mighty minds from Greece, China, Persia and far off places,” Mukherjee said at the diamond jubilee celebrations of the venerable K.C. College here.
In present times, however, he lamented that India’s institutes of higher learning no longer count among the best.
“When the international rating agencies release the list of 200 top institutions, I do not find the name of a single Indian university. I feel sad,” the president rued.
He said that it is not as if the country lacked in talent – in contemporary period, Indians who studied from Punjab University (Hargobind Khurana), Madras University (S. Chandrasekhar), Calcutta University (Amartya Sen) have won the Nobel Prize but unfortunately they were recognized when they were recognized outside India.
In this context, the president called upon India to develop capacities to retain its best minds.
Referring to the tremendous investments that have taken place in higher education in the country, Mukherjee said that despite having over 650 universities ad 33,000 colleges, the higher education enrolment ratio at just seven percent is far lower than developed countries like US (34 percent) and Germany (21 percent).
“Commitment to alma mater is very important. All the great institutions in the world, be it Harvard, Massachussetts, Oxford or Cambridge have thrived throught generous contributions from the alumni,” he added, urging the need to imbibe the spirit of gratitude among the students towards the education institutions.
Stressing that we live in an increasingly globalised world, he said that in order to successfully interact in this great melting pot, we have to develop a “global mindset” in our students for which good education is essential.
Speaking on the occasion, Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan said that in a just world, the opportunity of good education should not be confined to a privileged few but must be made available to all.
“Democracy should not only be a great leveler, but be a great uplifter of one and all,” he observed.
Present on the occasion were Governor K. Sankaranarayanan, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, union minister Milind Deora, state Education Minister Rajesh Tope, the KC College management trust members, Hyderabad Sind National Collegiate Board president Niranjan Hiranandani, distinguished alumnus Anil Ambani, his mother Kokilaben Ambani and wife Tina Ambani, among others.
Set up in 1954, the KC College relocated to Mumbai post-Partition and is known for its consistently high academic records and enjoys a NAAC Grade A Certification.