New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee said on Monday that universities should not be a place for rote-memorising but an assembly of inquisitive minds.
Addressing a function to release the book "The Future of Indian Universities: Comparative and International Perspectives", he said students should be allowed to raise important research questions and break new grounds in scientific discoveries, artistic creativity and philosophical ruminations.
"Let our “Universities of the Future” re-invent our rich past heritage of “Kautuhalshala” (An assembly of inquisitive minds raising questions), hitherto silenced by the pedagogy of rote-memorising for test.
"Let our students raise important research questions and break new grounds in scientific discoveries, artistic creativity and philosophical ruminations.
"Let our “Universities of the Future” help reproduce the next generation of great scientists, philosophers, artists, teachers, doctors, engineers and innovators", the president said.
"In the pursuit of these Kautuhalshalas, let us reinforce the glorific spirit of India where ‘shashtarth”, ‘tark’ and ‘vad vivaad’, – continuous dialectics, led to constant synthesis. Let us, as I have said on many earler occasions, produce Argumentative and Pragmatic Indians rather than intolerant and dogmatic citizens", he said.
The Future of Indian Universities: Comparative and International Perspectives has been edited by Professor Raj Kumar, founding Vice Chancellor of O. P. Jindal Global University and published by Oxford University Press, India.
"India has a long history of higher education. Some of the oldest institutions of higher learning such as Nalanda, Vikramshila (in India), and Taxila (now in Pakistan), etc. dating back to the 5th century BC, were located within the Indian subcontinent.
"These seats of higher learning attracted teachers, researchers and students from across the world. They produced mighty minds that shaped the politics, arts, culture, science and economics for over a millennium", he said.
"The higher education system we inherited was designed and established by the British colonial masters. Though designed for providing lower level civil servants, this system ironically opened the way for producing many highly educated professionals and even noted scholars, who made ground-breaking scientific discoveries and went on to become even Nobel laureates", he added.
"However, the needs of our contemporary times are very different from the aims and objectives of the colonial rulers that established the modern Indian higher education system. Our needs today are much more complex.
"Along with the post-independence emphasis on Nation-building through institution-building, we are now increasingly called upon to think about the role of Universities in the larger global context of an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world. The Universities of today are being called upon to compete globally for research-ranking to help build “World-Class Universities", the president said.
"Higher education systems around the world are going through a massive overhaul. What should the Universities of the Future look like? What should be the curriculum of the Universities of the future? What should be the pedagogy of the Universities of the future? What kind of graduates these Universities should produce? These are questions troubling many academics and world leaders", he said.
"I would, therefore, urge all distinguished guests assembled here to think about the future of Indian Universities as a continuation of India’s rich history and heritage of education. We would do well to take from reforms by great philosophers and visionaries, such as Tagore, who sought to revive the ancient Buddhist tradition of higher learning and research in a “common pursuit of truth” for all mankind.
"As our “Universities of the Future” gear up for global competition to find their place on the tables of institutional rankings, let us not forget the difference between “world-class” and “world-minded”", he said.