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June - 2007 - issue > In My Opinion
The Road Ahead
Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam
Sunday, July 1, 2007
I am delighted to participate in the IISc Global Conference 2007, which provides a forum for collaborative interaction among the Institute, its alumni, academic institutions and industry. I am confident that this conference will lead to build a long-term partnership between Institute and its alumni and usher in the next phase of the IISc. My greetings to all the alumni of IISc and distinguished participants.

…Challenges of 21st Century
Friends, IISc has been a premier education and research institution in the country for science and technology and one of the leading institutions in the world. How will this institute meet the challenge in the coming century? Based on my visits to all the States and Union Territories in the country and 16 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa as the President and meeting over 1.5 million youth, I realize that all the youth irrespective of which country they belong to, aspire to live in a peaceful, happy, prosperous and safe nation. What does it mean? It means that economic prosperity alone is not sufficient. It has to be complimented with the value systems and our five thousand years old Civilizational heritage which has genetically shaped the Indian people. I personally believe, when the nation is progressing towards economic development, it is also essential to build education with value system drawn from our Civilizational heritage. The good human life comes out of the way we live; we may have series of problems. But the billion people have the connectivity which gives us the united strength. To meet the challenges of such missions for the nation, I visualize the Indian Institute of Science have to have the vision for the next few decades. The components of the vision could be:
(a) Creating undergraduate education as part of the IISc programmes which will enrich the teaching and research.

(b) IISc has to be known for its pioneering research at least in five areas of science and technology.

(c) Conceiving and conducting a special programme on convergence of technology at the graduate, post-graduate and Ph.D level with continuous update.

(d) Be a partner in the World Knowledge Platform to promote world class knowledge creation, knowledge dissemination and knowledge sharing among all partner countries.

(e) Prepare the research road map for the nation for the next three decades in macro terms keeping in mind that India while growing very fast in manufacturing and services sector is still stagnant in agricultural sector. There is a need for agriculture sector to grow to immediately at 4 percent per annum even with constraints of available of land, water and the labour force.

(f) Create an IISc-Virtual Education Hub - so that the quality education from IISc can reach out to the entire nation. It should also act as a Virtual Collaborative Hub, which will become the platform for the scientists, researchers from IISc, world wide scientists and Nobel laureates to share their knowledge among the students and faculty across India.

(g) Generate next generation leaders and faculty for the multitude of colleges and Universities in India so that you can create “burning candles that can light other candles” that reflect the ethos and research culture of IISc every where in India.

(h) Finally, IISc should get transformed into International Institute of Science, where scientists and technologists from large number of countries should work towards solving many problems facing the humanity such as climate change, energy, water, health care and materials resources.

Now let me share with you my thoughts on Global Human Resource Cadre and the role of IISc.

Global Human Resource cadre
At present India has five hundred and forty million youth under the age of 25 which will continuously be growing till the year 2050. In the coming decades, India needs large number of talented youth with higher education for the task of knowledge acquisition, knowledge imparting, knowledge creation and knowledge sharing.

Between now to 2050, two important events will be taking place in our country, India would have become a developed nation by 2020 through an integrated development plan in 5 key areas where India has core competence. India would also have realized Energy independence by 2030. During this period, the youth population which accounts for 54 percent of the total population of the country will be continuously growing till 2050, which will be unique to India. The youth power is indeed a great power, particularly the ignited mind of the youth is the most powerful resource on the earth, above the earth and under the earth. This presents an opportunity to develop a “Global Human Resource Cadre” which will be an essential resource for not only for India but for many countries in the world. IISc in partnership with the Indian universities will have to work towards increasing the through put of the university education system from the existing 10 to 15 percent by the year 2015, 20 percent by the year 2020, 25 percent by the year 2025 and 30 percent by the year 2030.

Sustainable Development
Since, IISc is a multi disciplinary research and education centre, I feel it is best suited to focus on sustainable development. In this connection, recently I happened to read the Conference General report of the International Conference on Education for sustainable future in Sep 2003, which refers to central challenge for higher education for sustainability. Since it is relevant to this audience, I would like to quote “The Johannesburg world summit for sustainable development has made one thing unmistakably clear that the political leadership the world over is incapable of rising to the challenge of sustainability. Yet, most of the hundred or so world leaders who attended have a higher education degree from some of the world’s most prestigious universities - the higher education sector is failing society by producing leaders incapable of addressing the most pressing problems. If higher education is the nursery of tomorrow’s leaders then the sector bears profound responsibilities to create a sustainable future. This implies that graduates of every discipline need a sound working knowledge about sustainability”.You may like to debate this view and arrive at a conclusion on the introduction of sustainable development in the teaching and research in IISc.

Integrated Development Studies
Whenever I refer certain futuristic forecast of problems and solutions, I find useful analysis and reports from many top universities of the world covering the global situation. With India implementing its plans for national prosperity and the need to sustain the efforts in an integrated long term basis with science, technology and competitiveness, researched reports are needed in integrated development strategy and also for growth in specific areas of national importance. I suggest, IISc provide researched reports as a source of reference and planning guide on critical areas of development on a continuing basis.

Suggestions for Global IISc Community
Keeping the vision of IISc for the next few decades in mind, I would suggest following actions by the fifteen thousand alumni of IISc spread in different parts of the World:

a) IISc is going to celebrate its centenary during 2008-2009. It will be an important event where many of the members of alumni could participate and share their experiences with the students and faculty of IISc.

b) Alumni can consider forming specialist groups among themselves so that they can provide knowledge input to IISc faculty and students to find solutions to complex scientific problems.

c) All the members of alumni can write a page and send an e-mail to me to the questions “what I would like to be remembered for?” and “what I can do to make Indian Institute of Science a top institution in the world?”

d) Organisers of the first global conference may take the lead in locating all the alumni of IISc in different parts of the world and network them so that they can contribute in realizing the future missions of IISc by sharing their experiences.

The IISc and its alumni have to partner to meet the scientific and technological needs of India for making it Globally Competitive and provide the scientific support needed to improve the quality of life.

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