ALIGARH December 15: In the inaugural session of the two-day North Zone Vice Chancellors’ Meet, the focus was on ‘Research for the Betterment of Human Society.’ Different speakers talked about India’s myriad social and economic problems and the need for the Universities to focus on their solution through innovative research.
In his keynote address, Chief Guest, Justice Markandey Katju, former Judge, Supreme Court and former Chairman, Press Council of India underlined the fact that funding and attention to education is inadequate. He further added that the funds received by the universities have to be justified by addressing the pressing issues faced by the Indian masses.
He said that quality of teachers is needed to be raised. He particularly showed his concerns on brain drain whereby the best brains produced by India’s premier institutions invariably migrate to serve in the foreign countries whereas their services are required by the nation to raise the standard of living of the masses.
Appreciating the developmental works done by the Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah, Justice Katju said that he is a man of great integrity and concerned to take the University to number one position.
He said that AMU is an institution of international repute and he is fascinated to note that a large number of Indians in USA has an association with this age old institution and they have a powerful alumni association.
The issue of the autonomy of the universities also surfaced in the discussion. Speaking on the occasion, Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah, in his presidential remarks, emphasized on adoption of modern methods of imparting knowledge. He also expressed concern that our resources are getting scarcer and scarcer. In this grim situation, there is an urgent need to conserve water, purify water and to also encourage research in Nanotechnology.
The Vice Chancellor pointed out that Aligarh Muslim University has taken a lead to herald a second Green revolution in the country. Highlighting the modern and secular character of the University, the Vice Chancellor talked about setting up of Smart Classrooms in the University, AMU’s role in eradicating Polio and its ambitious scheme to start a Solar Farm. He also informed about Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College joining hands with Smile Train to help children with cleft lip.
Guest of honour, Lt. Gen. S. S. Mehta, former Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry also focused on need of research to confront various problems India is presently facing. Making a fine distinction between national security and national defense, he identified six threats to India’s security. They include water, energy, health and education not enabling our youths to get employment.
Gen. Mehta also urged upon the educationists and students to focus on communication skills, which are needed in all walks of life. He also emphasized the need for the Universities to interact much more frequently.
Speaking on the occasion, the other guest of honour, Prof. Furqan Qamar, Secretary General, Association of Indian Universities, exhorted that the universities should set up agenda for the nation. He also pointed out that the university curricula should address the needs of society. He was of the view that higher education requires both patience and investment, though investment alone cannot ensure excellence.
Another pertinent observation that came from Prof. Furqan is that the democracy has got four pillars, namely, legislature, executive, judiciary and press. Whereas, these four pillars rest upon the foundation of education which needs greater portion of the GDP than it is getting now. He also pointed out that expansion of higher education should mean inclusion of all communities in its fold.
Earlier, welcoming the guests, Brigadier S. Ahmad Ali, Pro-Vice Chancellor, while lauding the role of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan for modeling the university on the pattern of Oxford and Cambridge, praised the efforts of the faculty and the students of the University for bringing some laurels for the University. Currently, the University is ranked number fifth by the WeekMagazine, sixth by India Today, and 78thamong the BRICS countries according to the Times Higher Education survey. However, he also added that rather than becoming complacent about our success, we should we should try to identify and correct our fault lines.
AMU Registrar, Dr. Asfar Ali Khan proposed a vote of thanks. Dr. Faiza Abbasi conducted the inaugural session. Around 50 vice chancellors of North Zone Universities are participating in the two-day meet.
On this occasion, a special issue of theUniversity News was also released by the editor of the journal, Dr. Sistila Rama Devi Pani.
(Dr. Rahat Abrar)
Public Relations Officer