Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar today said the answer to country’s sustainable transformation lies in its education system, as he underscored how India was once prosperous in the past due to universities like Nalanda, Takshila and Vikramshila.
“I always say India had 25 per cent of the world GDP and 35 per cent of world trade for centuries together. Today, we are not even 1 per cent of world trade. We are lagging behind as far as GDP is concerned,” he said.
“And therefore, how nation can sustainably transform is the real thing. The the answers lies in our education system,” he said.
Prakash Javadekar was speaking through a video link at an international conclave on higher education organised here as part of pre-Vibrant Gujarat Investors’ Summit. He could not come here due to injury that prevents him from travelling for 10-15 days, he said.
Javadekar said that had there been a ranking system in the past, universities like Nalanda, Takshila, Vikramshila would have ranked number 1, 2 and 3 in the world.
“Indian universities were the best. The world’s talent used to come here to learn. So I believe that only those countries can prosper which have the best of universities,” he said, stressing the need to improve higher education in the country.
For making higher education better, he said, we first need to improve “the learning outcomes of primary and secondary education”.
“In primary education, we have to inculcate and promote inquisitiveness in a student. Because that is the foundation for any new innovation. Unless you promote inquisitiveness, there will be no new thoughts and people won’t be able to inculcate innovative attitude,” he said.
“But at the higher learning centres, a government’s duty is to provide atmosphere for research, innovation and improvement of quality,” he further said.
Javadekar said innovation is required to strengthen the economy and create new jobs.
“But how innovations will happen? The seeds of higher learning are the basis for good innovations and research,” he said.
Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s approach to higher learning, he said Modi is “committed to improving higher learning centres and convert them into centres of excellence and centres for innovation and research.”
He talked about the Centre’s ‘Uchchatar Avishkar Yojana’ (UAY) that aims at better industry-academia interaction.
“Now industry has given their customised requirements and IIT faculty and students will work out those ideas and come out with solution. More than 100 ideas are being worked out, more than Rs 260 crore have been earmarked for that,” he said.
He said the government is laying special emphasis on start-ups, incubation centres and appealing to Indian talent based abroad to come back and innovate under the Centre’s ‘Make In India’ programme.
“When PM says ‘Make in India’, he says come and innovate. He is calling back innovators, Indian minds and talent, come here, innovate here, we will provide all facilities,” he said.
Javadekar said the country now has a global research interactive network in which students will be provided scholarship and opportunity to work with top-end foreign laboratories and again come back to India and continue with their research.
He said higher educational entities are being provided finances with thrust on improving research infrastructure in the next three years so that Indian talent can be retained.
“They will get money, research facilities and freedom. So when (PM) says Make in India, he is asking come, innovate, and also asking investors to come innovate,” he said.