Recalling the historic Takshashila and Nalanda varsities, Mukherjee said these ancient learning institutes attracted "mighty minds" from all over the world in form of teachers and students.
He said efforts are now being made to revive them.
"Improvement of quality in higher education, particularly emphasising on research and innovation is absolutely necessary if you want to be recognises as a class one state," Mukherjee said.
The former president was speaking at his snuggly and palatial home on the Rajaji Marg, where Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar gave him a copy of a book, 'Guru Sangraha -- Convocation Speeches of President Paranab Mukherjee'.
It had Mukherjee's compiled speeches delivered at different convocation ceremonies.
Javadekar said Mukherjee has been a guiding light and on July 9, on the occasions of Guru Poornima, when 700 vice- chancellors gathered at the Vigyan Bhawan, it was decided to give him a "guru dakshnia".
"He delivered very fine convocation addresses, so I thought we would compile these speeches in a book through the National Book Trust. This book will be sent to universities and colleges. Pranbda (Mukherjee) had always advocated innovation, research and quality and his speeches reflect that," Javadekar said.
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