Right ahead of the final placements beginning at Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), former President of India Pranab Mukherjee raised the issue of imbalance between plush jobs and research & innovation among students.
In his last lecture as guest faculty at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), Mukherjee asked how many IIT students devote their energy and talents to research as against bagging job offers from multinationals.
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 titled 'Articulating Policy and Institutional Agenda for Future Transformation of India' saw Mukherjee enumerate steps that India would need to take to build an institutional framework for inclusive development. Unlike the previous four lectures, the last lecture was open for public on Saturday.
Talking about "first class institutions" like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and National Institutes of Technology (NITs), among others, Mukherjee said that while graduates from these campuses bagged plush jobs, there was still a lack of energy and talents being spent towards research and innovation by students.
"More than 36000 degree colleges are functioning. First class institutions like IITs, NITs, IISers and IISc Bengaluru are producing excellent graduates. In 2015, more than 24000 post doctoral students were India, 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 during his lecture.
"Do we required an IIT graduate to affirm the self-promotion of Dettol or any detergent? Can it not be done by persons of lesser qualification?" he asked while reiterating the need for creation of an ambience of research and innovation at top institutes.
"After 1930s, no Indian scientist working in Indian institutions has received Nobel Prize for original research work. Does it mean Indian students do not have any talent? 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," said Mukherjee.
After APJ Abdul Kalam, Mukherjee is the second former President of India to have taught at the premier B-school as a guest faculty.
Quoting the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mukherjee said that India could continue to be the fastest growing economy if it exploits its demographic dividend in the next two decades. "This demographic divided may turn into demographic disaster if we fail to utilise workforce with adequate skill development," he said while citing the target of 500 million skilled workforce required to be produced by 2022.
Apart from education, Mukherjee also enumerated areas like women empowerment, policy making, fourth industrial revolution, Internet of Things (IoT), and health systems and infrastructure as some of the other areas to work on for "future transformation of India".