Kolkata, Nov 28: President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday called on higher education institutions to adopt at least five villages each and transform them into model villages.
Addressing the convocation of over 150-year-old Calcutta University, Mukherjee said educational institutes owe a duty to the society to address its needs and aspirations, which can be done by active participation in social development through actionable programmes.
"The government has recently initiated the 'Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana' to set up model villages having improved facilities, smooth access to rights and entitlements and wider social mobilization. The scheme also envisages financial inclusion, provision of digital infrastructure and cleanliness campaign.
"I have called upon the central higher level institutions to adopt at least five villages each and transform them into model villages by providing solutions to problems using resource persons and expertise available. I urge this (Calcutta) University to pioneer this drive in the adjoining areas," the President said.
He also asked institutes for higher education to mould the next generation by inculcating in them core values of patriotism, honesty and respect for women, among others. Mukherjee said higher education sector has expanded rapidly but none of the Indian universities appear in the list of world's top 200 institutes.
Citing ancient Nalanda and Takshashila universities which gave great scholars, the President emphasized on the need to check 'brain drain' of Indian researchers to foreign institutes. "There are many institutes who can do it (find place in world top 200 institutes list).
Sooner or later we will find some Indian institutes coming to that reckoning," he said.
Mukherjee said there is a need for upgradation of physical infrastructure of institutes and improve the quality of teachers and learning capacity of students. The President had studied at Suri Vidyasagar College which was then affiliated to Calcutta University.
"It is my good luck to have been associated with this esteemed institution (University)," said Mukherjee, who was also conferred with honorary Doctorate of Literature and 'Sir Asutosh Mookerjee Memorial Medal' by the University. He said higher education has a unique role to play in preparing the torch-bearers of tomorrow who will endeavor in different fields of study to lead our nation to the high tables of global power.
"It is, therefore, incumbent on our seats of higher learning to mould the next generation by inculcating in them the core values of patriotism, honesty, responsibility, discipline and compassion, respect for pluralism and respect for women," Mukherjee said.
As many as 460 students were awarded degrees during the function attended by West Bengal Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi among other dignitaries.