"Do whatever you can to make India innovative and to be competitive. Recently, Satya Nadella became CEO of Microsoft Corporation. Most of you must be dreaming to reach the heights of Nadella," he said.
The BJP prime ministerial candidate was addressing the ninth convocation of SRM University near here.
"My advice to you is create a similar enterprise here. Create Microsoft here. Create an Apple. Create a Google here in India. And then own it and manage it," he said.
"It is most unfortunate that even after 65 years of independence, we have not focused on education. As a nation, we should focus not only on individual progress or economic progress, but also nation building," he said.
He noted that 65 per cent of people in India are aged below 35 years.
Observing that knowledge would be the biggest bridge between education and nation building, he said it is sad that no university in India has attained top global ranking status. "What is lacking we have to identify and work upon it." Knowledge is also the "most potent tool" to fight poverty, he said, adding there was "no reason" why India should lag behind other developed nations.
"We have the brightest minds. We have a number of philosophers. Why should be there only few SRMs", he asked.
Stating that private enterprises are more eager to play in the education sector, he said, "I am quietly convinced that we should give them a free hand."
"That is why I recently said IITs and IIMs should be there in every state of our country", he said.
Pointing out that skill development is the need of the hour, he said "if there is no skill, there will not be employment."
Modi later awarded certificates and degrees to about 10,290 students of SRM University.