Time has come for India, which once had such world famous universities as Takshashila, Nalanda and Vikramashila, to reclaim its premier position in higher education, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Thursday.

Presenting the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards at the 12th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas , which concluded here, he said: “Time has now come for us to reclaim our leadership position in the world as far as higher education is concerned. Our efforts to increase ‘quantity’ must be matched with commensurate efforts to improve ‘quality.’ We must lead our institutions into the ranks of the best in the world.”

As visitor to all Central universities, IITs and NITs, he had been travelling the length and breadth of India, pointing out that the country needed world-class universities and had not produced a Nobel Prize winner since Sir C.V. Raman. “I have been urging our educational institutions to invest more in research and development and pursue greater international linkages by establishing collaborations with foreign universities and inviting the best of faculty from across the world to come and teach in our institutions.”

Key role

Overseas Indians, with their experience, expertise and knowledge, gained as a result of their life abroad, could be of immense benefit to India. They could play an extremely important role in helping the education institutions of India, most of which were their Alma Maters, rise to the world-class status. They could be catalysts in transforming Indian higher education institutions and instilling in them a culture of excellence as well as the spirit of innovation.

Mahatma Gandhi’s grand-daughter Ela Gandhi, Australian senator of Indian origin Lisa Maria Singh and Ramakrishna Mission in Fiji were among the 13 recipients of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award. Ela Gandhi was honoured for public service, enhancing India’s image and promoting ties between India and South Africa.

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