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English Release 31-August 2014
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Prime Minister's Office19-December, 2008 10:58 IST
PM’s inaugural address at the ‘PAN IIT-2008’ – IIT Alumni Global Conference
The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, inaugurated the 6th Annual PAN IIT Global Conference today. Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s address on the occasion:

“It is a pleasure to deliver this inaugural address at the 6th annual PAN IIT Global Conference. This is the first such conference to be held at an IIT campus, and it is only appropriate that it is happening at IIT Chennai in its Golden Jubilee year.

I would have liked to be present with you in person to deliver this address, but regrettably, pressing commitments prevent me from doing so. Technology has, however, come to my aid and enabled us to collaborate easily across long distances.

In the last six decades the IIT system has produced over 170,000 graduates. It is generally estimated that about a third or more of these alumni have found opportunities in other countries where they are universally acknowledged to be leaders in their fields of endeavour. They have played an important role in technological break-through around the world and in changing the image of India in the West. The vast majority of IIT alumni who have remained at home have become leaders in their own right within India. Many of them are brilliant academicians, passionate research scientists, path-breaking thought-leaders, enterprising industry captains, leading policy makers and society’s change agents.

I believe it is India’s destiny to become a knowledge power. The IITs have contributed handsomely in the country’s efforts to realize this destiny. The IIT community is acknowledged as a community that has contributed very significantly to the knowledge economy and knowledge society, globally and in India. The IIT impact study findings being released today validate this assessment. However, while such a study may capture the success of individual IIT’ans in terms of achievements already made, I believe the bigger opportunity today is that such a large and rich community is available for generating ideas and initiatives that may help translate the emerging wonder of ‘India at 60’ into the embodied success of ‘India at 75’.

There are many reasons for the success of the IIT system. Among the most important is their autonomy, and I am firmly of the view that the IITs, like all other institutions of excellence, need to function in a more autonomous manner.

Another, perhaps more important reason, is the rigorous competitive admission process that ensures that only the very best and brightest gain entrance.

There is enough evidence from the IIT Joint Entrance Examinations that for every student who got an opportunity to study in IITs, there are at least 3 to 4 who are as bright, but are denied the opportunity because of the intake capacity constraints. This is highly regrettable because it denies opportunity to thousands of deserving young men and women. If India is to become a global leader in science and technology as well as an economic super power, such talent must not go unutilized. Many more such institutes are needed. Realizing this, our government decided to increase the capacity by creating eight new IITs in the 11th Five Year Plan. I am proud of the fact that during the current academic year 2008-09, we could start 6 IITs though through temporary campuses or through the campus of an existing IIT. I am grateful to the existing IITs for mentoring and helping in the establishment of the new IITs.

We have also initiated a second wave of institution building and excellence. Apart from the 8 new IITs, we are in the process of setting up 30 new Central Universities, 7 new IIMs, 10 new National Institutes of Technology, 20 new IIITs, 5 new Indian Institutes of Science Education and 2 new Schools of Planning and Architecture, 373 new Colleges in districts with low enrolment in college education and 1000 new Polytechnics.

I do recognize that the new IITs will take time to fully blossom. It is particularly important that the PAN IIT alumni support the creation and development of the new IITs, which are in their embryonic stage in every possible way. Individually, while each IIT represents academic excellence, together, the IITs as a system of technological education and research are world-class, consistently ranked very high in most global surveys and are unique in the world.

At the same time, we need to keep in mind two other important factors.

The first is the need to strengthen the faculty and research capabilities of the IITs. As I said, the students are among the best and the brightest. Similarly, we must ensure that the faculty is world class, especially as we expand, and that we see more productive research coming out of these institutions. If our standards are to be global, so should our reach. We should be open to the best from anywhere in the world. In this context, I welcome the contribution that IIT alumni from around the world are making to their almae mater.

The second is that beyond the IITs there is a whole range of technological institutions, far larger in number, that are making a vital contribition to India’s growth as a technological power. The Information Technology revolution that we have witnessed in the first decade of the 21st Century has been substantially powered in India by private engineering colleges, the NITs and similar institutions. Their work and contribution too need to be recognized and encouraged, and as a government we are committed to ensuring this.

We also need to be alive to the need for providing access to quality education to the poor and the disadvantaged. Our Government has implemented a series of scholarship schemes for the under-privileged sections of the society, which I am confident, would help us make the growth in educational opportunities inclusive.

The PAN IIT movement is still in its early stages of development and I am confident that in years to come it will grow stronger and give back handsomely to the society that nurtured it. I urge the IIT community to rise to its true potential by being aware of the wider national and societal concerns and helping catalyze and realize the institutions and processes that will connect the abilities of our rich knowledge community with the energy and potential of the larger society. As you prepare to immerse yourself in this conference, do keep your senses alert to the great ideas that emerge from such assemblies of distinguished achievers.

If we are to become a knowledge super-power, every sector in the country must be permeated with the thirst for imbibing knowledge, particularly scientific and technological. We seek the help of IIT fraternity to become partners in the process of transformation of India into a knowledge society. I express my good wishes to you all and hope that you dream big and you get the strength to persevere towards realization of those dreams. I wish this conference all success.”

*****


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