The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have built brand India globally and now become an "instrument for transformation", he said.
Addressing the 56th annual convocation of IIT-Bombay, he said innovation is the buzzword of the 21st century and in order to create an environment of research, impetus is being given to higher education infrastructure.
The nation is proud of the IITs and what their graduates have achieved. The success of IITs led to setting up of several engineering colleges around the country, the prime minister said.
"They (engineering colleges) were inspired by the IITs and this led to India becoming one of the world's largest pools of technical manpower. The IITs have built brand India globally. It was the large number of IIT students who built the IT sector in India brick by brick, or should I say, click by click," Modi said.
Seven lakh engineering students pass out every year, he said, adding a collective effort was required to ensure they get high quality of education and acquire necessary skills.
Dwelling on the history of the IITs, the prime minister said they were conceptualised to contribute to nation-building post-Independence through use of technology.
He said earlier, Indians in the IT sector were considered hardworking and intelligent, now India has become the destination for IT development and IIT graduates are at the forefront of some of the best startups in the country.
"These are the startups which are also at the forefront of solving so many national problems," Modi said.
In the coming two decades, innovation and new technology will decide the trajectory of growth in the world and the role of IITs in this will be very important, he said.
"Be it 5G broadband technology, artificial intelligence, block chain technology or machine earning, these are techniques that will play an important role in the vision of smart cities," Modi said.
IITs have not just remained institution of technology learning but have become India's "instrument for transformation", the prime minister said, adding the IITs are one of the biggest source for technological revolution.
The world today sees IITs as the nursery of unicorn startups (those valued at over USD 1 billion), Modi said.
This is just the beginning as in the future their value can be over USD 1 trillion. There are dozens of USD billion startups in the world that have been launched by IITians, he said.
"Innovation and enterprise are going to be the foundation stones for making India a developed economy. Start Up India and the Atal Innovation Mission launched by the Centre have resulted in India becoming the world's second largest ecosystem for technology," the prime minister said.
"Over 10,000 startups have been nurtured and a system has been put in place to fund them. We are constantly going up in the innovation index ranking. Any society that does not innovate will stagnate. But India is emerging as a hub of startups. We must build on this further and make India the most attractive destination for innovation and infrastructure," he said.
"This will not happen by government efforts only. It will happen through youngsters like you. The best ideas do not come from government offices or fancy buildings, but come from campuses like yours," the prime minister said.
He underlined that IITs represent India's diversity, a place where students from different parts of the country and background merge in pursuit of knowledge and learning.
The prime minister also appealed to youngsters to innovate in India to combat climate change, ensure greater agriculture productivity and conversation of water.
Asserting that there are many students, who despite having talent are not able to join eminent institutions such as the IITs, Modi advised students to not to get disheartened if their hard work does not result in success, and asked them to instead focus on achieving their goals.
"It would be nice if IIT-Bombay (celebrating its diamond jubilee) launches an outreach programme for schools in the vicinity. Invite small children to the campus and encourage them to undertake scientific experiments," he said.
"You are fortunate to have lived in a campus in Mumbai where there is a lake on one side and hills on the other. Sometimes you have the company of crocodiles and leopards.
"It's still August, but the mood is indigo," Modi said, referring to IIT-B's annual college cultural festival "Mood Indigo", which is generally organised in December.
At the beginning of his 32-minute speech, the prime minister paid rich tributes to freedom fighter Khudiram Bose, who sacrificed his life for the nation exactly 110 years ago when he was just 18.
"We did not have the good fortune to die for our country. But, we can live for independent India and work for creating a new India," the prime minister said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)