Ahmedabad: Former President Pranab Mukherjee here on Saturday raised a warning bell over shrinking atmosphere of research and innovation in higher education, stating that this would prevent the country from effectively capitalising the demographic dividend.
Mukherjee was delivering his last lecture as a guest faculty at the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A).
As a part of the course 'Public Policy for Inclusive Development of India' under the aegis of JSW School of Public Policy at IIM-A, the lecture was titled 'Articulating Policy and Institutional Agenda for Future Transformation of India.'
Mukherjee stressed on the need to strengthen India's young workforce to build on the demographic dividend.
He said India would require a skilled workforce of a whopping 500 million by 2022 and if it fell short to address this, "the demographic dividend has a risk of becoming a demographic danger."
The gathering listened with rapt attention to the lecture, which unlike the previous four lectures, was open for public participation.
He referred to "first class institutions" like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and National Institutes of Technology (NITs), among others, and said that while graduates from these campuses bagged plush jobs, there was still "a lack of energy and talent being spent towards research and innovation by students."
"More than 36,000 degree colleges are functioning in the country. And they are producing excellent graduates. In 2015, India produced more than 24,000 post doctoral students, which was fourth next to Japan, UK and US. All our graduates from IITs get first class managerial jobs at multinational companies in the penultimate year of their programs."
"I have no grudge of them getting good jobs. But my question to directors of IITs and heads of other institutions is that how many of these students are devoting their energies and talents for research and innovation?" Mukherjee asked.
The former president pointed out, "After 1930s, no Indian scientist working in Indian institutions has received a Nobel Prize for original research work. Does it mean Indian students do not have any talent?"
He added, "We shall have to create an atmosphere for research among our students and teachers. And here I must emphasise that we must have six per cent of our GDP invested in education if we want to build proper institutional framework in education."
It might be recalled that former president APJ Abdul Kalam had earlier taught at the premier B-school as a guest faculty.