President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said there was an urgent need to "salvage the declining standards of the country's higher education" if India wanted to become a world power.
"If India is to become a world power, we must prove ourselves worthy of it by creating a world class education system," Mukherjee said while speaking at the 12th convocation of Rajiv Gandhi University here.
Pointing out that research plays a crucial role in extending the knowledge frontiers of society, he said "new thinking and better coordination in the field of higher education" was needed to solve society's problems.
"Research facilities must be upgraded to international standards to attract the brightest minds. The research temper of the students must be developed and the spirit of innovation ignited in the young minds," said Mukherjee while calling upon universities to become "important platforms for curiosity and creativity."
Indian civilization had a long standing knowledge tradition and the country's ancient universities - Takshashila, Nalanda, Vikramashila, Valabhi, Somapura and Odantapuri - were renowned seats of learning that attracted scholars from outside, he said.
"Today, our universities lag behind the best universities in the world. According to an international survey, an Indian university or an institution is missing from the top two hundred ranks," he said.
"We cannot afford to continue with an education system which is below global standards. Our leadership in fields such as science and technology is incumbent on the level of competence of our scientists, academics, engineers and doctors," he added.
The president further asked the Rajiv Gandhi University to conduct research on challenges to hill economy, conflict between traditional and modern institutions, border trade opportunities and integration of the north-east economy with the national and global economies.