Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu addressed the 16th Convocation of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research in Mumbai today. He applauded the Institute for having established itself as one of the excellent centers of higher learning and as an influential center of discourse on national and global development concerns.
He said that Knowledge is going to be the driver of Indian Economy and will play a vital role in improving the living conditions of the people. He called upon Indian Universities to rise to the occasion and reorient its higher education system to be globally competitive, focusing on improving the quality of research and fostering innovation.
On the occasion, the Vice President spoke about growth and development and highlighted the rapid economic progress and fiscal consolidation that India had undergone. He said that an emerging economy like India would constantly bring in new laws and regulations at par with international best practices. He observed that tax reforms were slowly increasing India’s tax base and shifting the social norms from one where it was alright to avoid taxes to one where the majority is willing to pay.
The Vice President opined that India’s demographic dividend was an opportunity and a challenge. He said that finding jobs for 12 million young people entering the labor force each year and millions transferring out of low productivity agricultural jobs is a major and continuing task.
Vice President stressed that education is not only for employment, but also to empower the individual with knowledge and wisdom to sift the wheat from the chaff. ‘Access to quality education for all and at all levels is equally essential to ensure inclusive growth and prevent any kind of discrimination’, he added.
He emphasized that it was time for India to once again emerge as the global knowledge hub. He called upon the seats of learning, especially the universities, to reinvent themselves as hubs of vibrant intellectual pursuit with academic excellence and social relevance as the key touchstones of success. The Vice President also opined that our system of education and skill-training needs to respond to the demands of industry and services sector.
Touching upon agriculture and its importance in Indian economy, the Vice President said that we must not hesitate to introduce a number of structural changes in our agricultural sector to make it profitable. He highlighted initiatives like National Agricultural Market or e-nam and spoke of the need to diversify crops further and increase the coverage of crop insurance.
Vice President Naidu spoke of the need to augment our social infrastructure such as primary education, health care etc. Referring to Former President Dr.A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s dream of providing urban amenities in rural areas, he said that we have to aspire to provide amenities like drinking water, street lights, education, healthcare and telecom services to the country’s rural areas, bringing them at par with urban areas in terms of ease of living and working.
The Vice President said that India has to reach out to other countries to access cost-effective technology, investment, and energy to manage its domestic challenges. He called for appropriate economic and foreign policies to navigate through this emerging and uncertain landscape.
He urged scientists, technologists and engineers to keep abreast of the developments and absorb new technologies as they occur. He reasoned that this absorption is necessary for our progress in a fast integrating world. ‘We must identify areas and spheres where we have a comparative advantage and push ahead’, he emphasized.
He urged graduating students to learn to preserve the best of traditional values, shun negativism, develop a positive attitude and be socially conscious, peace-loving and empathetic. ‘Develop a constructive attitude and focus more on achieving perfection in whatever you do’, he said.