Development and environment must foster a complementary and symbiotic relationship: Vice President

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New Delhi: Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that development and environment need not be antithetical to each other, but must foster a complementary and symbiotic relationship. He was interacting with the research scholars, students and faculty of the North Eastern Regional Institute of Science and Technology (NERIST), in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh today. The Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, Brig. (Dr) B.D. Mishra, the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Shri Pema Khandu and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

The Vice President said that institutes like NERIST have a special responsibility to take the lead in developing environment-friendly technologies in the wake of climate change and its adverse impact. He further said that all scientific endeavors must aim at finding solutions to the problems faced by the society. Science has no meaning if it does not the touch the lives of the people. Scientists and technocrats cannot remain in ivory towers, he added.

The Vice President said that teachers have a major role to play in helping the students strike a healthy balance – while making proper use of technology. Their collective energies have to be channelized towards making technology a potent tool for intervention in bridging the developmental gaps, he added.

Complementing the NERIST for adopting a modular pattern of education, the Vice President said that employability ratio of our engineering and management graduates remains a cause of concern.

The Vice President advised the young graduates and youth of the state to make full use of the skill development programme run by the government. He called on institutions like NERIST to play an active role in imparting skill-based education at various levels. Give your best with all honesty and be proud of all your ventures in life and contribute significantly towards the avowed task of nation building, he added.

Following is the text of Vice President’s address:

“I am indeed delighted to be here amidst the verdant surroundings of Itanagar and among the research scholars, students and faculty of the North Eastern Regional Institute of Science and Technology (NERIST).

Starting its footprint in 1984 with a modular pattern of education by offering certificate, diploma and degree in different branches of engineering, NERIST in subsequent years has paved the way for many more institutions to follow with a similar academic structure. With its status of a deemed to be university, NERIST has been offering post graduate and doctoral programs and has made a mark in the recent years in terms of cutting edge research and consultancy programs. The alumni of this institute have contributed significantly in bridging the techno-management gap between the North Eastern Region and the rest of the country.

Arunachal Pradesh with its rich diversity in terms of flora and fauna and unique customs and traditions followed by the indigenous people, has proven to be an island of peace with sustained development, while keeping its cultural fabric intact. I am happy that NERIST has been living up to its mission of providing technical manpower and appropriate solutions to some of the pressing problems of the north east and the nation.

It should be remembered that the institute, located in one of the 18 biodiversity hotspots, has a special responsibility to take the lead in developing environment-friendly technologies in the wake of growing concerns over climate change and its adverse impact. Development and environment need not be antithetical to each other, but must foster a complementary and symbiotic relationship.

But the road to development and progress of a society rests firmly on the foundations of education. The role of education is no longer confined to producing skilled manpower. In the present times of erosion of values, it is crucial to impart values and morals to the students, make them aware of their responsibilities and cultivate a sense of tolerance, an attitude of sharing and caring. It is important to make students develop a humane approach towards dealing with the problems of the society coupled with a fair sense of justice, self-discipline, dedication and passion to overcome the formidable odds.

While science and technology has made our lives easier today, a sense of alienation haunts our younger generation in that we find them glued to their gadgets more often than not. The benefits of connectedness is fast proving to be a contradiction—although we remain connected with the help of technology, we are also distancing ourselves from the real people– the people with flesh, blood and soul.

Teachers have a major role to play in helping the students strike a healthy balance—while making proper use of technology, they should give priority to remain connected to people. Their collective energies have to be channelized towards making technology a potent tool for intervention in bridging the developmental gaps, even as they remain rooted to culture and tradition.

As one of the oldest and premier institutes of the North East India, NERIST has the potential to become the hub for technological innovation, patents and cutting edge research. Such a leap will remove the constraints of geographical inaccessibility and location disadvantage. But to affect such a change, the zeal, passion and determination have to come from within and each stakeholder has to contribute towards achieving this goal. An educational institute can neither afford to remain oblivious to the challenges of the rapidly changing world nor can it be content by basking in the past glory. NERIST will not only have to keep abreast of the latest trends, but also come out with futuristic technologies.

Technical education in India is at crossroads today. Overall employability ratio of our engineering and management graduates remains a cause of concern. In the recent years, with fluctuating job markets and scourges of downsizing and rightsizing, the challenge has become all the more acute not only for the students but for the degree-awarding institutions like NERIST as well. I commend NERIST for having adopted a modular pattern of education. It has paved the way for some other prominent institutions of the country to follow the same pattern over the years. The model has proven to be successful and it is evident from the illustrious alumni of this institute. However, no model is immune to change. If its success ratio has to be kept intact, then it is imperative to take stock of the evolving scenario and make amends to the model. Apart from making them employable, NERIST can encourage its students to go for startups by garnering support from the alumni and corporate sector. The students and their parents have invested their time, energy, money and above all, hope to see themselves or their wards successful and employed at the end of the day. And NERIST, like every other institution, is answerable and accountable to them.

At the same time, the students must shoulder the responsibility of nation building and contribute positively towards actualizing the goals of the institute. Your identity and growth are intricately linked with the fame and progress of your institute, the state and the nation at large.

With the aim to enhance the levels of employability of our youth, the Government had launched skill development programme. This is where institutions like NERIST can play a more active role and impart skill-based education at various levels. While the location of the institute may pose a challenge, this challenge can be transformed into an opportunity if we are able to properly identify the nature of problems the region has to deal with and provide long-term solutions to bring it at par with other developed regions of the country.

Dear brothers and sisters, scientists and technocrats cannot remain in ivory towers. Science has no meaning if it does not the touch the lives of the people. All scientific endeavors must aim at finding solutions to the problems faced by the society. Technology must be accessible to the masses. It should become the vehicle to maximize opportunities through calibrated innovation and tapping the locally available resources. The north east in general is a huge storehouse of both material and human resources. It is also known for a rich and varied traditional knowledge system. NERIST can be a pioneer in identifying and archiving these resources into a hub. These resources can be suitably contemporized to provide customized solutions to the problems of the region. I am happy that women enjoy an almost equal space in terms of decision making and community participation in the north eastern states. NERIST can lead the way by providing need-based training to women on entrepreneurship and setting up of small scale businesses. That will be a huge contribution towards women empowerment and NERIST should act as a harbinger of change in the society.

It is important for NERIST to ensure that all the new courses starting from the basics of engineering to the cutting-edge research align with the growing needs of the country. The north east in general, and Arunachal Pradesh in particular are a storehouse of abundant natural resources. It is a biodiversity hotspot, full of tourism and hydropower potential. The need of the hour, therefore, is to make optimum utilization of these resources by striking a balance between nature, the traditional knowledge systems, and the indigenous rights. The onus is on the researchers to come up with innovative solutions towards achieving this goal and this is where NERIST can play a leading role.

Getting a degree is important. But this is certainly not the end of your journey and a whole new world awaits you. After getting your PhD, whatever you do, wherever you go, you have to be aware that on your shoulders rest the reputation of your family, your state, your community and your institution. You have a responsibility to do your bit and contribute your expertise towards finding solutions to the problems faced by this region and the country.

I hope you will give your best with all honesty and be proud of all your ventures in life and contribute significantly towards the avowed task of nation building.

Thank you. Jai Hind.”