A Nobel laureate, a former U.N. General Assembly president, an award-winning journalist, a business professional and an adviser to the Prime Minister all received honorary degrees from TERI University along with 254 students at its 5{+t}{+h}Annual Convocation here on Wednesday.

Prof. Carlo Rubbia, who won the Nobel in 1984, talked about how India had a great role to play in the evolution of humanity but that the ancient India had changed and was evolving. He said India had to recognise its roots and use science responsibly.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations Dr. Sam Pitroda was also tasked with delivering the Convocation Address after receiving his honorary degree. He spoke about the role he had played in bringing about the telecom revolution and that now India was completely connected, it was time to use it to change the development paradigm. “I once read in the newspaper that President Kennedy was planning to send a man to the moon. I was young and stupid also, so I decided then that I would migrate to the U.S. I went to the U.S and built up a business in Chicago and returned once in 1980 and tried to unsuccessfully place a phone call to my wife. That was when I decided in all my arrogance that I would come back to India and fix this problem.”

Noting that connectivity was the key to the overall development, he spoke about how the new national knowledge network of the government would be connecting to all universities, labs and libraries. Sharing knowledge was primary to them and they were investing in infrastructure of all kinds.

“Device own methods”

When Dr. Pitroda was building up the telecom sector in India, he used local talent and material and said this was the way to go about other areas as well. “Take education, we cannot afford to ape the Western model, we cannot charge their high tuition fees. We will have to use local content where costs are low. Even health services, we cannot copy the Western model and we cannot go back to the traditional medicine. We have to device our own methods,” he said.

He ended by saying that this Convocation reminded him of his own Convocation 50 years ago. “I did not have the Internet like you, I only had books; you are lucky. Cuddle the web for one hour a day and you will explore new frontiers you have never seen before and it will keep your appetite for learning alive,” he said, adding that the actual learning will be beginning today. “The best brains in the world are solving the problems of the rich...I am hopeful you will solve the problems of the poor.” Journalist and columnist of the New York Times Thomas Friedman said that his parents’ generation had created a lot of abundance and that his generation had simply enjoyed whatever his parents had made. He told the students that their generation was to refresh and sustain.

Former President of the 66{+t}{+h}session of the UN General Assembly Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser lauded TERI University’s ethos which focused on research with a special emphasis on ecology. “We are only beginning to understand the nature of human behaviour on the environment,” he said and added that if one did not use technology responsibly, then it would only serve as a detriment to humanity.

Mr. Zhang Yue from China, who is the Chairman of BROAD Group Company and has acquired fame for all his energy conservation efforts, said when Delhi had blacked out last year due to a power crisis, their outlet in Gurgaon had been able to provide electricity only because of their power conservation efforts.