"The standards of higher educational institutes in India when compared to international benchmarks is abysmally low. This saddens me," Mukherjee said while inaugurating the first Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST) at Shibpur in Howrah district.
He said, "Though we boast of a vast higher education network of over 720 degree-awarding institutions and 37,000 colleges, the quality of standards in many is a cause for concern.
"It is indeed a sad commentary that a country like India which in the distant past boasted of universities like Nalanda and Takshashila does not today have a single educational institution in the top 200 universities in the world.
"Why This is the question which haunts me," Mukherjee said, adding that why can't India create an ambiance in Indian universities to create Nobel laureates.
"In order to accomplish this, a culture of excellence must be promoted in our higher academic institutions and core competencies nurtured. Academic cooperation between institutions must be encouraged," the President said.
He said research and innovation must go hand in hand and should be focused on solving our country's myriad developmental problems.