President of India addresses Vice-Chancellors of Central Universities, Directors of Iisers and Indian Institute of Science Bengaluru

New Delhi: The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, hosted a Conference of Vice-Chancellors of Central Universities, Directors of IISERs and Indian Institute of Science Bengaluru, today (December 17, 2019) at Rashtrapati Bhavan. During the inaugural session of the Conference, the President presented the 5th Visitor’s Awards.

The Visitor’s Award – for Research in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences was presented to Prof. Sibnath Deb from the Department of Applied Psychology, Pondicherry University; for Research in Physical Sciences was presented to Prof. Sanjay Puri from the School of Physical Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University; for Research in Biological Sciences was jointly presented to Prof. Asad Ullah Khan from the Inter-disciplinary Biotechnology Unit, Aligarh Muslim University and to Dr Partima from the Special Centre for Nano-science, Jawaharlal Nehru University. The Visitor’s Award for Technology Development was conferred on Dr Shaon Ray Chaudhuri from the Department of Microbiology, Tripura University.

Speaking on the occasion, the President said that the objective of our central universities should be to constantly grow and upgrade themselves to the best of global standards. It is here that Vice-Chancellors and Directors have to provide leadership. As an immediate goal they should strive to become the best in the country and compete with each other in a healthy way. Thereafter, they must aspire to compete with the best in the world. But to achieve the levels where they can compete, it is crucial that they collaborate amongst themselves, other state and private universities and learn from the experiences of each other.

The President said that as leaders of universities and institutions, Vice-Chancellors and Directors are also mandated to develop leadership qualities in their students. He said that beyond classrooms and labs, students should be encouraged to take up socially-oriented ventures through NSS or other clubs. Those universities which are located in backward regions have a special responsibility of working with communities around them. He said that developing meaningful linkages between the academic community and local industry should be a top priority. Students must be encouraged to emerge as job-creators rather than job-seekers.

Subsequent to the conferment of Visitor’s Awards, presentations were made by different sub groups of the heads of institutions on issues such as promotion of research, innovation and entrepreneurship; industry – academia linkages; filling up of vacancies; creating and utilising alumni-based endowment funds and completing infrastructure projects.

Later, addressing the concluding session of the Conference, the President said that universities and higher educational institutions should play a leading role in addressing the specific challenges faced by our nation and our society. Many of these challenges require creative and innovative solutions. It is their paramount duty to ensure that their campuses emerge as spaces that nurture free expression and ideas, where experimentation is encouraged and failure is not ridiculed but seen as learning. In addition, universities should become the laboratories for exposing students to the problems that need to be addressed in the cause of nation-building.

The President said that students should be encouraged to take up academic and extra-curricular work with a distinct community orientation. He urged universities to make a conscious effort to integrate community-oriented projects as part of their curriculum. He said that University Social Responsibility has to become deeply ingrained into the DNA of our academic community.