ADDRESS AT THE SPECIAL CONVOCATION OF THE KURUKSHETRA UNIVERSITY, KURUKSHETRA, HARYANA
25-05-2007 : KURUKSHETRA, HARYANA
University Mission: Capacity Building
"National prosperity index is the reflection of inclusive growth"
I am delighted to participate in the Special Convocation of the Kurukshetra University in this historic divine environment of Kurukshetra, which resonates the gospel of supremacy of duty for generations and to the entire mankind. My greetings to Vice Chancellor, Principals of Colleges, Heads of Departments, faculty members, students, parents and distinguished guests in this golden jubilee year. I am happy that the University aims to provide a complete, meaningful and relevant education to the youth of Haryana and the neighbouring States so that they are intellectually well trained, morally upright, socially aware and spiritually inspired. I greet all the pioneers who have contributed in establishing and nurturing this University during the last five decades. This University has produced many distinguished personalities who are contributing in different disciplines in India and abroad.
Purpose of human life
When I am in Kurukshetra University, let me recall the beautiful description in ?Bhagawat Gita? about the purpose of human life. In the battle scene, where Arjuna was hesitating to fight against his own family members in Kurushetra, Lord Krishna showed Arjuna a vision of Vrindavan where the whole garden was blossoming with beautiful flowers and fragrance and the flowers attracting honeybee. It was an enchanting scene. In another vision of the garden, all the flowers which blossomed in the morning had then fallen on the ground. Lord Krishna says to Arjuna, "See the flower, how generously it offers beauty, fragrance and honey. It gives to all, gives freely its essence. When its work is done, it falls away quietly. Try to be like the flower, unassuming despite all its qualities". Lord Krishna conveys this message to the humanity. The mission of Kurushetra University should be to imbibe these characteristics among the students by the faculty members so that they can preserve the Dharma and contribute to the societal welfare. Since Kurushetra university is a multi-disciplinary educational center, I thought of sharing with you certain thoughts on the subject "University Mission: Capacity Building".
Development Profile of Haryana
I had visited Haryana many times. I was studying the development profile of the state. While Haryana is the second largest contributor to India's central pool of food grains, it has also witnessed rapid growth in manufacturing and service sector during the last two decades. Particularly, Haryana has become a major automobile manufacturing hub. However there has to be a 10 year mission for Haryana focusing on the following:
(a) Method of increasing the per-capita income of the State to Rs. 75,000 from the existing Rs. 35,000 in five years.
(b) Uplifting the 14% people living below poverty line to near zero.
(c) Improving the Human Development ranking of Haryana from the present 5 to one or two.
(d) Realizing total literacy in the State before 2017 from the existing 68%, by giving highest priority to women's education.
While the university has multiple disciplines, it can take up the multi-disciplinary capacity building task to empower the people to work towards realizing the above mentioned missions. University has to become the partner in the development of the state.
Capacity Building Model
When the students come out of the educational institutions certain capacities are required to be built in them to deal with the real world, particularly to grow in their professional career and participate in the national development. I suggest that the ingredients for capacity building must be embedded right from the beginning of the students? life. A good educational model is the need of the hour to ensure that the students are developed as enlightened citizens and also participate in national development missions.
For participating in the nation building tasks, the capacities required to be built among the students in their formative years by the educational institutions are: The capacity for research or inquiry; the capacity for creativity and innovation; the capacity to use high technology; the capacity for entrepreneurial leadership; and the capacity for moral leadership.
a. Research and inquiry: The 21st century is about the management of all the knowledge and information we have generated and the value addition we could bring to it. We must give our students the skills with which they find a way through the sea of knowledge that we have created and continue with life long learning. Today, we are empowered by technology to teach ourselves beyond classrooms and become life-long learners. This is indeed required for sustained economic development of the nation and also individual prosperity.
b. Creativity and Innovation: The management of knowledge in the 21st century is beyond the capacity of a single individual. The amount of information that we have around is overwhelming. The management of knowledge therefore must move out of the realm of the individual and shift into the realm of the networked groups. The students must learn how to manage knowledge collectively and to work in multi-disciplinary teams. When the information is networked the power and utility of the information grows multifold as predicted by Metcalfe's law. An information that is static does not grow. In the new digital economy, information that is circulated across enterprise, creates innovation and eventually contributes to national wealth.
c. Capacity to use high technology: Every student in our colleges should be brought in contact with technology to aid their learning process. Educational institutions should be equipped with adequate computing equipment, laboratory equipments, Internet facilities with high band width connectivity and provide an environment for the students to enhance their learning ability. In the midst of all of the technological innovations and revolutions we cannot think that the role of the teachers will be diminished. In fact the teacher will become even more important and the whole world of education will become teacher assisted and would help in ?tele-porting? the best teacher to every nook and corner of the country and propagate the knowledge. The teacher becomes a facilitator and knowledge manager. For full utilization of the available connectivities through satellite, high band width optical fibre communication in conjunction with technologies like Wi-max, the most critical aspect is the availability of quality content. I would suggest the faculty members assembled here to address this important issue and evolve a time bound action plan so that the quality content is made available at nodal points for access by the students, teachers and desiring learners especially in rural areas.
d. Entrepreneurship: The aptitude for entrepreneurship should be cultivated right from the beginning and in the educational environment in the colleges. We must teach our students to take calculated risks for the sake of larger gain, but within the ethos of good business. They should also cultivate a disposition to do things right. The inner being must be illuminated with righteousness. This capacity will enable them to take up challenging tasks later.
f. Moral leadership: Moral leadership involves two aspects. First it requires the ability to have compelling and powerful dreams or visions of human betterment. Moral leadership requires a disposition to do the right thing and influence others also to do right things. There is a need for inclusion of ?moral science? class as a part of education in all the schools and colleges. This is essential for promotion of value based education leading to enlightened citizenship.
For building capacity it is essential to increase the teacher - student ratio, improve the quality of teachers, provide continuous methods for upgradation and provide them with technology aids for becoming life long autonomous learners. The faculty members assembled here may try to review the type of capacity building needed in teaching based on their experiences so that the teachers in affiliated colleges can be trained for promoting quality education in their area.
In sum, inquiry, creativity, technology, entrepreneurial and moral leadership are the five capacities required to be built through the education process. If we develop in all our students these five capacities, we will produce ?Autonomous Learner? a self-directed, self controlled, lifelong learner who will have the capacity to both, respect authority and at the same time is capable of questioning authority, in an appropriate manner. These are the leaders who would work together as a ?Self-organizing Network? and transform any State as a prosperous State. The most important part of the education is to imbibe the confidence among the students the spirit of ?we can do it?. These capacities will enable the students to meet the challenges of our national mission of transforming the nation into a developed country by 2020.
Research - teaching - Research
Good teaching emanates from Research. The teachers? love for research and their experience in research are vital for the growth of any institution. Any Institution is judged by the level and extent of the research work it accomplishes. This sets in a regenerative cycle of excellence. Experience of research leads to quality teaching and quality teaching imparted to the young in turn enriches research. Now, I would like to discuss another important factor namely global competitiveness which is essential for faster transformation of our nation into a developed country.
Innovation is capital
I was studying the Global Competitiveness Report for the year 2006-07. There I found in terms of Growth Competitive Index ranking, Switzerland is ranked 1, Finland is ranked 2, Singapore is ranked 5, US is ranked 6, Korea 24, UAE 32, India 43 and China 54. India has moved up in competitiveness to 43 from 50. Sometime back, the President of Finland, Her Excellency Mrs. Tarja Halonen, visited Rashtrapati Bhavan. During our discussions, I asked her, what is the significance and how Finland has always been in the first few positions in the competitiveness index in the past few years? She gave three reasons: (1). Education, Education, Education ? it is the foundation for the Finland?s Competitiveness she said (2). Life Long learning is promoted in Finland ? people continuously are in learning mode, (3). Women are empowered with Education. Of course we have similar experiences in India, wherever we have empowered women with education, states have excelled in the Human Development Index. Growth competitiveness is determined by innovative ability of any institution or organization. This innovation arises from institutional initiative and R & D productivity of the firm, shaped by policies and nature of local institutions. National innovative capacity has to be a country?s important potential for producing competitive products. This capacity is distinct from scientific or technical achievements and focuses on economic application of new technology. I am sure, the education system of Kurukshetra University is oriented towards promoting innovative capacity among each student passing out from its portals. Now, I would like to discuss an important measure of prosperity namely the National Prosperity Index.
National Prosperity Index
While we are happy that our economy is in the ascent phase and our GDP is growing at nearly 9% per annum, it is evident that the economic growth is not fully reflected in the quality of life of large number of people, particularly in the rural areas and even in urban areas. Hence, we have evolved what is called ?National Prosperity Index (NPI)? which is a summation of (a) Annual growth rate of GDP; � plus (b) improvement in quality of life of the people, particularly those living below poverty line plus (c) the adoption of value system derived from our civilizational heritage in every walk of life which is unique to India. That is NPI=a+b+c. Particularly, ?b? is a function of availability of housing, good water, nutrition, proper sanitation, quality education, quality healthcare and employment potential. ?c? is a function of promoting joint family system, creation of a spirit of working together, leading a righteous way of life, removing social inequities, and above all promoting a conflict free, harmonious society. All our efforts in improving the national economic performance should be guided by the measured National Prosperity Index of the nation at any point of time.
Improvement in the GDP is no doubt an important factor for the prosperity, though it is not the only factor. Progressive reduction in the number of people living below poverty line leading to near zero by 2017, increase in quality of life of all citizens in terms of food, shelter, water, energy, infrastructure, education and health will be major indicators of the growth of (b). Efficient, receptive and transparent system of governance, peace in families and communities, reduction in corruption index, reduction in court cases, reduction in violence against children and women and reduction in communal tensions will all decide the growth of (c). Hence the NPI is the resultant of overall prosperity derived from the implementation of all the three factors (NPI = a+b+c). We need to discuss the various elements of NPI, which is truly reflective of the targets for NPI, and periodically review them for improvement.
Since the academic community of Kurukshetra University is research and teaching oriented, the thoughts on NPI can be further developed in the form of an equation defining and expanding the contents and relationship among multiple elements as discussed.
Global competitiveness for any nation is indeed a big challenge. For achieving such a competitive edge for a nation, it is essential to have a vision. I would like to share with you my visualization of such a nation.
1. A Nation where the rural and urban divide has reduced to a thin line, by establishing 7,000 rural clusters and providing urban facilities in them.
2. A Nation where there is an equitable distribution and adequate access to energy and quality water.
3. A Nation where agriculture, industry and service sector work together in symphony leading to full employment opportunities.
4. A Nation where education with value system is not denied to any child.
5. A Nation where the best of health care is available to all.
6. A Nation where the governance is responsive, transparent and corruption free.
7. A Nation which is free from crime and none in the society feels alienated.
8. A Nation that is prosperous, healthy, secure, peaceful and happy and continues in a sustainable growth path.
9. A nation where people of different religions and faiths, live happily with each other and work together for the development of the nation.
In this context, I recall the great saying of the Saint Maharishi Pathanjali in Yoga Sutra at 500 BC:
Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds, your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents come alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamt yourself to be."
Hence, the students, faculty members, professors of the Kurukshetra University assembled here may embark on a goal oriented research and teaching which will enable the youth of Haryana to take up the challenges of the state leading to national development.
Once again let me greet all the members of Kurukshetra University in this Golden Jubilee Year and my best wishes to all of you for success in your mission of capacity building among students to make them enlightened citizens.
May God bless you.