Use innovation and technology to better common man’s life: Vice President

The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu today called upon the young engineers to use innovation and technological advancements for the betterment of life of the common man.

Describing innovation as the watchword for 21st Century, the Vice President asked institutions such as IITs and NITs to transform themselves into hubs of innovation. He suggested them to evolve their curricula and teaching methods constantly to suit the times and strive to bring out the best in each student.

Addressing the first Convocation of National Institute of Technology, Tadepalligudem in Andhra Pradesh today, he said that it was time for young engineers to come up with out-of-box solutions to various problems, including those faced by farmers from climate change.

Calling for collective efforts to double the farmers’ income and ensure profitability of agriculture, the Vice President asked scientists and engineers to create better weather prediction systems and explore ways and means to make agriculture more resilient.

Stating that boosting India’s food production to overcome the problem of malnutrition, Shri Naidu asserted that imported food security was never a solution.

Observing that climate patterns and weather systems were changing, he said global warming was a reality and one could not be in denial anymore about the impact of changing the climate.

The Vice President wanted engineers and technocrats to champion the cause of clean energy. He said that a balance between environment and development can be achieved through good technology. “It is essential that we strike that balance. Our development has to be sustainable. Let conservation be the cornerstone of every single one of your innovations,” he added.

Shri Naidu also stressed the need for technological innovations and interventions to reduce the gap between urban and rural India.

Stressing that development has to reach all sections of society, he called for special focus on creating urban amenities in rural areas.

Referring to Mahatma Gandhi’s call to develop villages as self sufficient entities, he called for creation of facilities such as schools, hospitals, libraries and skill development centers to empower rural women and youth.

Expressing concerns over reports of young students resorting to extreme steps due to stress, the Vice President said that campuses must be the safest spaces in our nation and urged all higher educational institutions to take extra care to teach youngsters how to manage stress.

He wanted technical education institutions such as NITs to nurture life skills and instill moral values in students. He said that every graduate passing out of the portals of such institutions must not only be academically proficient but must also be ethical, compassionate and honest.

During the event, the Vice President recollected his tenure as the Union Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs when he took part in the foundation laying ceremony of NIT Andhra Pradesh in 2015.

The Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Shri Biswa Bhusan Harichandan, the Minister for Housing, Govt of AP, Shri Ranganadha Raju, the Minister for Women & Child Welfare, AP, Smt. Taneti Vanita, the Director, NIT Andhra Pradesh, Prof. C.S.P. Rao, Registrar, NIT Andhra Pradesh, Prof. G. Amba Prasad Rao, and others were present at the event.

Following is the full text of the speech –

“I am delighted to be with all of you today at the first convocation ceremony of NIT Andhra Pradesh, a young and promising institution nestled in the pristine land of Tadepalligudem.

A visit to Andhra Pradesh is like a homecoming to me. I was born here and was nurtured and nourished by this great land.

National Institutes of Technology (NITs) that have evolved from Regional Engineering Colleges (RECs) have been at the forefront of technical education in the nation.

NIT AP had the privilege of being mentored by NIT Warangal, the first REC in the country.

I am happy to know that NIT Andhra Pradesh is the 31st NIT in the nation.

I am told that it started functioning with the support of its mentor institute, NIT Warangal, in Sri Vasavi Engineering College Campus, Tadepalligudem.

I fondly remember the foundation laying ceremony of NIT Andhra Pradesh which was held on 20 August 2015 when I was the Union Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs.

It is truly noteworthy that the construction work of the campus which started in October 2018, was completed in thirteen months.

The transformation of an erstwhile runway to an awe-inspiring campus of an institution of national importance is indeed remarkable.

It is clear from the report presented by the Director that the youngest NIT of the country has made great strides in all areas.

My dear young students,

Let me take this opportunity to congratulate each and every one of you for this tremendous accomplishment. You have the proud privilege of being the first batch of students to graduate from NIT, Andhra Pradesh.

NIT Andhra Pradesh was born with you and will grow with you and prosper with you.

As you leave the portals of this Institution today, please remember that you are amongst the brightest young minds of our country.

You live in a very exciting era of scientific and technological disruptions.

Technological breakthroughs in the form of Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Big Data and analytics have truly transformed the way we live and work.

The existing frontiers of science are being constantly challenged through interaction between various disciplines ranging from arts to humanities to engineering to Biotechnology.

Young engineers like yourself have the never-before opportunity to further revolutionize these technologies and find new ways to use them for the benefit of humanity.

Let me stress that the ultimate aim of all these technological advances must be the betterment of the life of the common man. They must lead to the discovery of solutions to the most pressing problems of our time.

There is no doubt in my mind that innovation is the watchword for the 21st Century. Institutions such as the IITs and the NITs must become hubs of innovation.

They must recognize potential and nurture it to bring out the best in each student. The curricula and teaching methods in these institutions must never be set in stone. They must constantly evolve to suit the times.

Institutes that render technical education must never hesitate to teach and experiment with the latest of technologies. They must allow the free flow of ideas and must never stifle innovative thinking through rigid protocols.

Let me focus on a few areas that I think can be transformed through innovative technological interventions.

The first is agriculture. There is a vast scope to introduce new and innovative technologies to spur agriculture growth and improve the lot of the farmers. This is the time for young engineers to come up with out-of-box solutions to the problems faced by agriculturists from climate change to increasing crop productivity.

I urge young technocrats to understand the real problems faced by Indian agriculture, including fragmented land holdings and insufficient market access.

I want you to think.

Can we understand soil better?

Can we carry out more efficient irrigation by overcoming shortages and avoiding surpluses?

Indian agriculture is greatly dependent on weather. Keeping the changing climate and precipitation change in mind, can we create better weather prediction systems and make agriculture become more resilient?

Can we facilitate better price discovery and market access to farmers?

It is of paramount importance that we boost our food production to overcome hunger and feed a billion people. I have always maintained that imported food security is never a solution.

The second is the arena of clean and renewable energy.

Our climate patterns and weather systems are changing. Global Warming is a reality and it is happening now. We cannot be in denial anymore.

India is one of the most carbon-efficient economies in the world today. The government of India under the leadership of our visionary Prime Minister is all set to surpass the target we had set for ourselves of 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022.

Our Solar capacity has increased by eight times between FY14-18 and we have spearheaded the International Solar Alliance (ISA), a testimony to India’s commitment to the development of ‘zero emission sources’.

I want engineers and technocrats like you to champion the cause of clean energy.

I strongly believe that a balance between environment and development can be achieved through good technology.

It is essential that we strike that balance.

Our development has to be sustainable.

Let conservation be the cornerstone of every single one of your innovations.

The third is urban development.

India’s urban population is expected to rise to 517 million by 2020 and will cross the 700 million mark by 2050.

Our urban spaces are our engines of growth.

Unfortunately, our towns and cities have exceeded their carrying capacity and are choking.

Our most prosperous cities are also home to large slums.

Our cities must grow inclusively and sustainably.

We must find solutions for sustainable housing, drinking water, mass mobility and provide economic opportunities to bridge the huge income gaps in cities.

We must address concerns of pollution and congestion and create sustainable waste management solutions and waste-to-wealth initiatives.

We must make our urban spaces safe for women and children and accessible to the differently-abled.

We must check distress migration by providing quality healthcare, education, other amenities, and economic opportunities in rural areas as well.

Urban development is possible only if we achieve rural development, a cause that is very close to my heart.

Mahatma Gandhi also believed that self-sufficient villages are necessary if we are to build a prosperous nation.

Our rural areas too need technological interventions that are tailor-made to suit their unique requirements.

I also urge you to find solutions to challenges of water management.

Many parts of India are facing an acute water crisis. This crisis will only worsen in the time to come.

According to the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report released by the Niti Aayog in 2018, 21 major cities might reach zero groundwater levels by 2020.

The Union government recently formed a new Jal Shakti (water) ministry, which aims at tackling water issues with a holistic and integrated perspective. The ministry has announced an ambitious plan to provide piped water connections to every household in India by 2024.

The government alone will not be able to solve the entire problem. We must augment the efforts of the government.

We must use technology for better rainwater harvesting and to improve water use efficiency.

We must urgently transition from this ‘supply-and-supply-more water’ provision to measures which lead towards improving water use efficiency.

The challenge I place before all of you as young technocrats today, as you embark on the next phase of your life, is to find technological solutions to combat these pressing problems.

I am hopeful that you will come up with solutions to these challenges through hard work and creative thinking.

You do not have to wait for big-ticket innovations. Incremental improvements and frugal innovations can be carried out constantly to bring about advancements.

By solving these problems, you will create a virtuous cycle which will help pull millions out of poverty and improve the quality of their lives.

Please remember that that the ultimate aim of science and technology is to make lives of the people comfortable and happy.

My dear youngsters,

In spite of temporary global slowdown, the Indian economy has the potential to become a $ 5 economy in the coming years as the macroeconomic fundamentals are strong and resilient. Government is also taking various reforms from time to time to improve GDP growth, cut down red tape and attract more investments.

A bright future awaits all of you. All the stakeholders in the country, particularly youngsters like you, must strive to transform the nation and the lives of the people in tune with the three-word mantra of the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Bhai Modi to ‘Reform. Perform and Transform’.

Even as our technical education institutions such as NITs equip young technocrats with such skills, also take care to nurture life skills and moral values in them. Always remember the words of Mahatma Gandhi. He said that education without character is a sin.

Every graduate passing out of the portals of this institution must not only be academically proficient, they must also be ethical, compassionate and honest individuals.

Before I conclude, I must raise one more issue.

I read with mounting concern reports about young students resorting to extreme measures because of the inability to handle stress and cope with challenges.

Our campuses must be the safest spaces in our nation, for in our campuses, our future is cast.

I urge our higher educational institutions to take extra care to teach our youngsters to manage stress.

I understand that the curriculum is heavy. But students must be taught to take time out. We must make sure that our students are physically fit and mentally happy.

My dear young friends,

Never hesitate to reach out to your friends, teachers or loved ones when you are in need of help or support.

Be optimistic and embrace the challenges that await you in your life and career with a balanced mind. The practice of Yoga and meditation will greatly help you to deal with stressful situations with poise and equanimity.

I am confident that you will make the impossible possible with your grit and determination.

Let me congratulate all of you once again.

Go forth and create a bright, beautiful future for you, our nation and the world.

Thank You.

Jai Hind!”