Kottayam: Expressing concern over Indian institutions of higher learning not getting their deserving place in global rankings, President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday asked students and teachers to strive hard and occupy their "rightful" place in the comity of nations.
"We shall have to find out our appropriate place in the realm of higher education and occupy our rightful place in the comity of nations," he said at the bicentenary celebrations of the CMS college in Kottayam.
He said education builds character and teaches how to accept and celebrate diversity and unity.
The varsity set up in 1817 holds the distinction of being the second oldest college in the country after the Presidency college of Kolkata and boasts of an illustrious alumni with former President KR Narayanan and Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy being its students.
The President, who is on a two-day official visit to the state beginning on Friday, also asked the private sector to do their bit in enhancing capabilities of higher learning institutions in the country.
"Since I have taken over as the President of the country, I have been repeating like a parrot that steps are required to be taken in this direction so that Indian institutions figure in the global arena," Mukherjee said.
He said the country has some of the best institutions like IITs, IIMs, NITs and many others in scientific research which can shine on the global ranking charts.
Asserting that a "robust" education system is the need of the hour for India as it aspires to be one amongst the front-ranking nations in the world, the President said that the system has to be geared up in terms of both "quantity and quality" including private sector participation.
"The demands of higher education in our country can be met only if private sector participates with equal enthusiasm with the public sector institutions.
"Top international universities including Harvard, Yale and Stanford are the result of private sector initiatives," he said.
He also asked the sector to create incubators in varsities that will help nurture grass-root level innovators.
Praising Kerala for being a "pioneer and path-breaker in many fields", the President said that the state, however, has failed in matching its achievements in higher education.
"Its success in the field of literacy and school education has, however, not been matched by its achievements in higher education. The time had now come for the state to show its mettle by becoming a world leader in this field," he said.
He also lauded the recent development when two Indian institutions found place, for the first time, amongst the top 200 universities in the world.
Calling it a pioneer of modern education in the state, the President lauded CMS for being the source of "strong currents" of knowledge and critical inquiry that have moulded the scholastic and socio-cultural landscape of Kerala as well as propelled it to the forefront of social development.
Kerala Governor P Sathasivam, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and other members of the college were also present during the event.