Noting that the era belonged to science, Rao said, "Teachers of universities should encourage the spirit of inquiry and innovation among students and give them a free hand so that they could come up with new ideas."
In today's world, only that country will matter which has excelled in science, he said.
Rao said compared to earlier year, facilities for scientific progress had improved in India and students and researchers should take advantage of that.
Uttarakhand Governor K K Paul said teaching should not be confined to the classrooms.
Universities should participate in programmes of national importance such as Swachh Bharat, Adarsh Gram, Digital India, Make in India and Skill India need, he said.
"Read good books and develop a positive outlook which will help you in contributing to nation building," Paul told university toppers attending the five-day conclave.
He expressed hope that the conclave would provide inspiration and encouragement to youngsters, improve their creativity, enhance their understanding and communication skills and develop their vision towards society and the nation.
It is a matter of great pride that Prof Rao was present at the meet to address the gathering, the governor said.
Rao has 77 honorary doctorates, has written more than 50 books and 1,650 research papers. In 2014, he was honoured with the Bharat Ratna. He is also the head of scientific advisory council of the prime minister.
The governor also read out the prime minister's message.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)