Noting that India “lagged behind” others in applying for patents, President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said there is a need to carry out more research and scientific inventions in the country.

Countries like China, Japan and the United States registered lakhs of patents, whereas only a few thousand patents were registered by Indians, he said.

Mr. Mukherjee was addressing in Bengali the students and teachers of the Vidyanagar College, where he himself had once taught for five years from 1963.

Suggesting that Indians should do more, he cited examples of C.V. Raman, Jagdish Chandra Bose, Hargobind Khurana and said the country has produced a “galaxy of scientists” who carried out important research and inventions while working here.

Earlier too, Mr. Mukherjee has voiced concern over the country lagging behind in applying for patents and pointed out that the total number of patent applications filed by Indians in 2010 was around 6,000 which was only 0.30 per cent of the total applications filed in the world.

“ pales in comparison to over 3 lakh applications by Chinese, around 1.7 lakh by Germans, 4.64 lakh by Japanese and 4.2 lakh by Americans,” the President had said last month.

Referring to a gap in the country’s education system, Mr. Mukherjee said while there were thousands of schools which taught children to be eligible for higher education, the number of universities was less.

To a student’s question whether he was nostalgic about the college, Mr. Mukherjee replied that though there was a tendency to look back, life was a continuous flow and one should keep moving forward.

To another query, he said for growth and development, “We should strive for a knowledge-based society.”

The President also told students that during the last elections he had felt that he would not contest polls anymore because younger people should come forward and also because he had a lot of books to read.

Mr. Mukherjee described Rabindranath Tagore, Shakti Basu and Buddhadeb Basu as some of his favourite Indian poets. Among English poets he liked Keats, Browning and Shelley.

During the interaction, Mr. Mukherjee explained to students that Swami Vivekanand had said that playing football or indulging in other sporting activity like gymnastics was also a form of national service because strong people were needed to build a nation.