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Any society that does not innovate, ‘stagnates’: PM Modi tells IIT-Bombay

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the 56th annual convocation of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. Photo :PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) instruments of transformation that had created a global brand for the country and helped innovation, necessary to prevent the stagnation of a society. He was addressing the 56th annual convocation of IIT-Bombay (IIT-B).Modi also called for a collective effort to improve the quality of higher education in the country. “Any society that does not innovate stagnates. Make in India the most attractive destination for innovation. Innovate… for humanity,” he said, adding: “It is not just the government’s efforts. New ideas come from young minds at campuses and not government buildings and fancy offices.”He said the buzzword for the 21st century was innovation. The PM added that about 700,000 engineering students graduated every year in the country, and efforts were required to ensure that they had a high level of skill. He also said IITs played an important role in innovation and helped mitigate climate change, ensuring better agriculture productivity, water conservation, and combating malnutrition.In the run-up to the PM’s visit, news reports had emerged of some students of the Institute expressing their concern about some of the government’s policies, such as cuts in spending on higher education and a climate of religious and social intolerance in the country. The students had, however, promised that there would be no demonstration, and Saturday’s event went off without any hitch.Modi, in his characteristic style, tried to woo the students with humour. “You are fortunate to have lived on a campus in Mumbai, with a lake on one side and hills on the other. Sometimes, you have the company of crocodiles and leopards,” he said. Referring to the annual festival of IIT-B, Mood Indigo, he said, “It is still August, but the mood is indigo.” The fest is held usually in December.The PM also referred to the history of IITs, and their contribution to nation-building since Independence. He said, “The nation is proud of IITs and what IIT graduates have achieved. The success of IITs led to the creation of engineering colleges around the country. This, in turn, led to India becoming one of the world’s largest pools of technical manpower.”He added, “Innovation and new technology will decide the trajectory of the world’s growth and our IITs are working for a new India.”The PM also spoke of some of the flagship projects of his government, such as Smart Cities, and how these could be achieved only with the help of technology. He said 5G broadband, artificial intelligence, blockchain and machine learning would play a key role.“The Atal Innovation Mission and StartUp India have resulted in the country having the second-largest ecosystem in the world (for entrepreneurship). India has become a hub for start-ups. In the innovation index, we are going up. We must make India an attractive destination for innovation,” he said.He began his 35-minute speech referring to freedom fighter Khudiram Bose, who was hanged by the British when he was just 18 for his revolutionary activities. “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,” he said.The PM had some advice for the graduating students as well: To focus on aspirations and aim high. For IIT-B, celebrating its diamond jubilee, he said it should launch an outreach programme around Mumbai, which had 800 colleges with 950,000 registered students.
Source: Business Standard