Go to Kashmir, Prez tells industries

By siliconindia staff writer   |   Friday, 20 August 2004, 07:00 Hrs
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SRINAGAR: President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who Thursday inaugurated the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University in Jammu and Kashmir, has vowed to bring "big industries" and scientific institutions to the state. Hours after opening the new university in the town of Katra near Jammu, Kalam flew into the summer capital Srinagar for a brief visit. Addressing students and the faculty of the National Institute of Technology (NIT) at the heavily guarded international conference centre on the banks of the Dal Lake in Srinagar, Kalam promised he would play a role in ensuring that "big industries come to Kashmir". He said state-run agencies like the Indian Space Research Organisation and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited had set up some centres in Kashmir, and he "would recommend that the topmost scientific institutions start their activities in the state". Kalam suggested a three-pronged strategy to tackle unemployment in Kashmir and called for the starting of entrepreneurship courses in schools and colleges. Replying to questions from the students about the scientific scenario in the country and the reasons why India had not produced more Nobel laureates, Kalam said he was sure that the situation would change soon. Referring to the space programme, he said India would launch geo-synchronous satellite launch vehicle in 2007. On his arrival at Srinagar airport, Kalam was accorded a warm welcome by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma, senior ministers and top civil, army and police officers. Earlier, inaugurating the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University at Katra, Kalam said the country derived its strength from economic power and national security and "it is the responsibility of teachers to prepare students for achieving these objectives". The scientist-president emphasized that IT had a special place in today's competitive world. The university, constructed at a cost of 200 million ($4.2 million) and spread over 400 acres, says it will provide education in IT and biotechnology along with spiritualism. "We want to make it a global institution," said Kashmir Governor Lt. Gen. S.K. Sinha, who is also chancellor of the university. Dressed in his favourite cream-coloured bandhgala coat, Kalam said universities should not be used as forums for obtaining degrees but as institutions that deliver "excellent nation builders". He departed from his prepared text to make an appeal to the teachers and students to interact with new technologies and the outside world to make the new university a "centre of excellence". The university's sprawling campus is nestled in the Shivalik range in the foothills of the Himalayas, 45 km north of the winter capital Jammu. The well-known Hindu hill shrine of Vaishno Devi, visited by an estimated five million pilgrims every year, is providing financial backing to the university. This was Kalam's third visit to Jammu and Kashmir since he became president. Kalam returned to Delhi late Thursday evening.