Universities to Play a Vital Role in Creating India of Our Dream: Amity Haryana VC Prof P.B Sharma

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At a time when the whole world is searching for sustainable solutions to manage uncertainty and to redesign the world, India is on the threshold of launching a major drive to create India of our dream. India that not only accelerates the economic progress but works with a new normal to achieve the goal of inclusive development where no one is left behind. Further, our dream of a unemployment free India, inhabited by law abiding  responsible citizenship that has a caring concern for humanity at large and an abiding faith in dignity of man and conviction to protect Mother Nature and its environment. Such an India is achievable in the near future provided we create the public and political will, have the policies in place and create mass awakening of the community to work together with the government to achieve the goals and targets as partners in progress. Universities have a major role to play in creating both the empowered human capital as well as the advanced science and technologies that offer great opportunity to achieve the goals with certainty and at an accelerated pace of development, said Prof PB Sharma, Vice Chancellor of Amity University Haryana while delivering his address at Career Point University at Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh.

India’s higher education system is the third largest in the world, next to the United States and China. As of 2021, India has over 1000 universities, comprising of 54 Central Universities, 416 State Universities, 125 Deemed Universities, 361 Private Universities, 7 Institutes under State Legislature Act, and 159 Institutions of National Importance which include IIMs, AIIMS, IITs, IIITs, IISERs and NITs among others. Together with Universities we also have around 50000 Colleges enrolling over 3.74 Crore students with a GER of 26.4. This is targeted to go up to 50% by 2035 as per the NEP- 2020.

Education alone can make a real difference both to the shift in mindset as well as  the quality of life of people. After all, the advancement of Science and Technology propelled by education in universities made Industries to flourish in Nations around. But the accelerated industrialisation and the growth in GDP in advanced as well as developing nations has been achieved at the enormous cost of the environmental health and that too by creating a deep economic divide in the society. But now on we should be unconditionally committed to create a bright and green future for our great nation and to its 1.35 billion people. But then it requires a major shift in our focus and object of universities in India. We need to take on board the responsibility of creating self-disciplined, deeply motivated and whole heartedly committed individuals as graduates of universities who besides their career goals have a heart for the  ast humanity and a caring concern for protecting Mother Nature, said Prof P B Sharma in his thought provoking action packed address.

Historically, Indian universities such as VikramShila of Lord Krishna’s times, Gurukuls of Sandeepni, Ashramas of Dronacharya, Agusta  and Viswamitra of ancient times, Taxshila and Nalanda of the Ashokan times and Shantiniketan of Ravindranath Tagore have provided holistic education in a multidisciplinary environment. Education in Ancient India was not just for developing capabilities but well-grounded individuals who would stand to the Ethical Standards, Professional Morals and also Competence and Caliber unmatched. They were to be the torchbearers of the rich wealth of knowledge and noble citizens in their society. Great responsibility rested on their shoulders to nurture Compassion, Harmony, Peace and a Society providing justice and liberty. After independence, somehow and rather in our lust for career prospects and our greed to accelerate GDP we sacrifices the basics of human development. We are paying a heavy price for this neglect of nurturing human values in persons of capabilities and knowledge.

Now that a New Normal is a must to not only tackle covid-19 but also to take advantage of the massive digital transformation that is sweeping all sectors of economy, education included, we have great opportunities to achieve great goals and that too at a rapid pace. The Info-Nano-Bio led new sciences and new and innovative technologies are emerging rapidly to create a new environment of learning and R&D for new age universities and for growth of new enterprises. The power of Mind and the rapid pace of Innovations are giving rise to new technologies that shall drive the future growth. AI, ML, IoT, Robotics, VR, Integrated Supply Chain Management, Online services, Online, on Demand Education and a life increasingly shifting away from the age old tannates of a social group to a ‘community of networked people’ largely communicating using most modern technology are now a reality.

To address the role of the scientific method in producing solutions to the world’s most urgent challenges, we need more robust S&T Ecosystem to drive accelerated growth and development for S&T advancement and Solution Research in India. A more balanced approach to what science and technology can do both for urban as well as rural India is the need of the hour. We need to go Rural with High Tech Minds and Scientific Solutions to maximize the benefits of S&T for inclusive growth and development in India.

Covid 19 badly affected the education sector, With Schools, Colleges and Universities shut for almost over a year, the activity has been barely managed by WFH and online classes. But what about those who do not have a Laptop or a smart phone and a safe corner at home for work and study? Despite all this the Teachers as well as Students have put up a brave face during highly testing times.

But Covid-19 also proved to be a blessing in disguise for Digital Transformation in all sectors of economy especially education sector. The virtual world of learning accelerated use of virtual labs, iLabs and other real time online and off line experimental work and also kept pace of R&D and online publications with Online admissions, online classes, online quizzes and online examinations all were taken up with smile and with a lot of faith, both by the teachers as well as students. Thus we need to promote more Student Centric holistic and multidisciplinary dimensions of education as envisaged in NEP 2020. 

Sharing the success stories of DTU and Amity University Haryana in respect of integration of education with research and innovations, Prof Sharma informed that even during the Covid times of lockdowns, Amity University Haryana has not only conducted all its classes online and also completed examinations online but its teachers and scholars have published 741 high quality Research Papers, filed 61Patents, Submitted 125 R&D Projects for funding and also received 21 Funded R&D Projects worth Rs 15 Crores from national and international agencies..

To create India of our dream, we need breakthrough leadership for our universities that should focus on Employability, Industry Readiness and Future Research Readiness. We need Speed Leadership that promotes Integration of Education and Research, supports interdisciplinary Education and Research and builds Islands of Excellence for Solution Research. Focus of universities has to necessarily be on man making besides Knowledge Creation, Outcome Based R&D and Translational Research, Innovations that lead to  New Product Development supported by a vibrant eco-system for innovations and startups infrastructure.

India of our dream is India of Law-Abiding Citizenship, Responsible Global Citizenship, a Caring and Compassionate Society understanding meaning and purpose of life. A prosperous India, free from economic disparity and social divide. India free from Religious over tones (Dharmic Unmad) and inbuilt respect for all religions requires a self-disciplined enterprising minds that bring glory to glory for Mother India. We cannot afford to miss this great opportunity to rebuild our universities to respond to this prime need of the hou.

The webinar was chaired by the Pro-Chancellor Prof (Dr) PL Gautam; Vice Chancellor Prof KS Verma; Honorary Professor JK Mehta; Deans, Heads of Institutions, faculty members and large number of students.

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