It calls for increase in funding, says M.R. Srinivasan

Despite the increase in the number of engineering and technological institutions, the quality is far from encouraging and many find some of the engineers coming out of the institutions are indeed unemployable. This situation calls for substantial increase in funding and employing faculty members connected with advanced technologies, besides brining in improvements in laboratory and workshop infrastructure, M.R. Srinivasan, former chairman and member of Atomic Energy Commission, has said.

Addressing a gathering at the 12th annual convocation of Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) on the Jnana Sangama campus here on Friday, he observed that one of the weaknesses in the development of technical institutions in India was that as a rule they have poor or no linkage with industry or with practicing engineers and technologists. There are exceptions no doubt, notably the Indian Institute of Science, the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, and the National Chemical Laboratory, Pune.

He said that in Europe and North America, as also in Japan and South Korea, educational institutes get involved in planning and formulation of major national infrastructure projects, get involved in monitoring progress and trouble-shooting resulting in establishing themselves as “centres for excellence” in various disciplines and getting recognition the world over for rendering expert opinion for solving real life problems.

He said that another challenge engineers and technologists in India have to address is the need for innovation. Economies much smaller than India have managed to innovate new products and new industrial processes and claim important shares of new technological progress.

‘8 p.c. growth must’

On the development challenges before the country, he said that India being the second fastest growing economy in the world whose growth rate slipped from 10 per cent to 6 per cent, it needs to achieve a sustained growth rate of 8 per cent or more for several decades. There appear to be some signs of growth rate picking up in the recent times.

But the gains of the additional growth had been cornered by a small fraction of the more affluent sections of society. The rest appears to have gained no doubt, but rather marginally, he said.

There has been a similar experience in China too though their earlier emphasis on distributive justice has provided their citizens a better quality of life than has been in India. Growth of Indian economy has been stronger in the services sector whereas China grew very strong in the manufacturing sector. People refer to China as the “workshop of the world”. In comparison, India is described as the “back-office of the world”, Dr. Srinivasan said.

He said that though the China-India trade was growing, India’s export to China was mostly raw material, including iron ore, and China was exporting to India manufactured goods. Since the domestic growth rate has not achieved substantial growth , generation of large-scale employment for the large young workforce of India will only happen with the expansion of manufacturing base.

Expressing concern over corruption in various sectors, including in defence procurement, Dr. Srinivasan said that India had lately emerged as the largest importer of weapons systems and weapon platforms. The nation needed to become self-reliant in the defence sector.

“M. Visvesvaraya was an outstanding example of a man who lived by the highest standards of integrity. It is said that when he used to go on tour to different parts of Mysore State on work, he carried with him two sets of candles, two ink pots and two bundles of paper. He would use one set of these, provided by the State, for all official work and another set of his own for attending to personal correspondence. That was his sense of rectitude. It is a huge down-slide today. There may be corruption in other societies but there is no justification of the widespread malaise going on in India. We must remember that any gain from corruption is literally stealing from the powerless and deprived,” Dr. Srinivasan said.

He also stressed on conservation of water by its economical and efficient use, environment protection and various other issues concerning sustainable development and judicious distribution of wealth among all sections of society.

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