Himachal Pradesh, March 15: President Pranab Mukherjee said that institutions of higher learning must adopt five villages each, based on the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.
Educational institutions must take greater responsibility for overall development, said the president in a speech that was read out in his absence.
President Mukherjee was scheduled to attend the convocation at the Indian Institute of Technology here, but could not reach due to bad weather.
"Our higher educational institutions are an integral part of the eco-system. They must assume greater responsibility for overall development," he said in a message that was read out by M. Natarajan, chairman of the IIT Mandi board of governors.
"The government has taken important initiatives, aimed at financial inclusion, creation of model villages, clean India and building of digital infrastructure.
"Institutions of higher learning, including IIT Mandi should adopt five villages each and convert them into model villages in line with the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana," he said.
Mukherjee also asked them to play a key role in realising the objectives of the 'Digital India' programme.
"India's technical institutions must usher in social consciousness amongst our budding engineers and scientists.
Along with professional competence, these centres of scientific learning must inculcate a social orientation in students," he said.
To bring about qualitative changes in teaching, the newly-established IITs must leverage the expertise available in the older IITs, the president said.
He said institutions, particularly engineering institutes, must promote a scientific temperament and spirit of inquiry in their students.
"They must encourage their students to follow their curiosity and explore their creativity. They must equip students to think beyond their textbooks and come up with ingenious ideas," he said.
"The growing demand for engineering education has resulted in the establishment of a number of technical institutions. Yet in this proliferation drive, quality of instruction and physical infrastructure has taken a backseat."
"The educational standard of our country at the tertiary level has been starkly brought out by two reputed international surveys. They have graded not a single Indian institution amongst the top 200 universities in the world," he said.
President Mukherjee said the educational institutions must make an effort to develop linkages with international academic institutions. "It's heartening to note that IIT Mandi had signed an MoU (memorandum of understanding) in 2011 with TU9, the nine leading technical universities of Germany."
For building strong linkages with the industry, the president said an industry-interface cell must be in place.
"The cell must engage itself in sponsoring of chair positions by industry; drafting of experts from industry in project guidance and curriculum design; and setting up of incubation centres, laboratories and research parks.
Success of initiatives like 'Make in India' hinges on manufacturing quality industrial products where academia-industry interface would play a critical role," he said.
Mukherjee said higher educational institutions, particularly engineering institutes, must promote a scientific temperament and a spirit of inquiry in their students.
"They must encourage their students to follow their curiosity and explore their creativity. They must equip their students to think beyond their textbooks. They must spur ingenious ideas in them," he added.