India and China poised to play a significant role in 21st century: Pranab Mukherjee

Beijing: President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said India and China are poised to play a "significant and constructive" role in the 21st century as 10 Indian universities signed agreements with Chinese varsities for academic cooperation coinciding with his visit to Beijing.

The agreements were signed in the presence of Mukherjee at the Peking University.

"India and China are poised to play a significant and constructive role in the 21st Century. When Indians and Chinese come together to address global challenges and build on their shared interests, there will be no limits to what our two peoples can jointly achieve," he said addressing the China-India University Presidents Roundtable on the occasion.

Mukherjee said India's ancient academic advancement, like that of China's was world renowned.

File photo of Pranab Mukherjee. Image courtesy - CNN News18

File photo of Pranab Mukherjee. Image courtesy - CNN News18

"As far back as the 6th Century, seats of higher learning like Nalanda, Takshashila, Vikramashila, Valabhi, Somapura and Odantapuri had drawn scholars and cultivated contacts and academic exchanges with famed institutions of other countries in the region and beyond," he said.

"Takshashila was, in a sense, the most 'connected' of the Indian universities, a  meeting ground of four civilisations — Indian, Persian, Greek and Chinese. Many renowned people came to Takshashila -- Panini, Alexander, Chandragupta Maurya, Chanakya, Charaka, and Chinese Buddhist monks Faxian and Xuanzang," he said.

"Today, Government of India, in partnership with Indian and international foreign partners is taking a number of far reaching initiatives to revive this tradition and create centres of excellence that can be ranked among the leading institutions of the world," he said.

Stating that investment in research is important, Mukherjee said, "While R&D expenditure as percentage of GDP in India is about 0.8 per cent at present, we are making concerted efforts to increase this number".

"India is a relatively young country with 60 per cent of its population in the age group of 15 to 59. To capitalise on the potential of this segment of educated youth, my government has launched 'Start-up India' aimed at promoting and providing incentives for entrepreneurship and job creation," Mukherjee said.

With over 4,500 start-ups, India has the third largest start-up eco-system in the world.

New initiatives under the 'Start-up India' programme will undoubtedly steer this effort in the right direction.

"Thus, institutions of higher education have an important responsibility – to harness the entrepreneurial abilities of our youth," he said.

On the higher education front, India has initiated a unique programme GIAN - Global Initiative for Academic Networks, he said.

"Under this programme, we are engaging faculties from abroad for a short term teaching assignments in higher educational institutions," he said.

The MoUs signed included agreements between Nalanda and Peking Universities; IIT Delhi and Changan University for cooperation in research and education in science, engineering, management and social sciences.

The pacts were also signed between IIT Calcutta and East China University of Political Science and Law; Central University of Gujarat and Beijing Foreign Studies University; Central University of Gujarat and Jinan University; Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology (VNIT) Nagpur and Hunan University for cooperation in the fields of computer sciences and engineering communication.

Updated Date: May 26, 2016 15:09 PM

Also See