Windhoek: President Pranab Mukherjee, who is rounding of his two-day state visit to Namibia on Friday night, said this morning that it is education that enables a nation to overcome its weaknesses, address issues rationally and breach the frontiers of science and technology to swiftly progress on the path of technological advancement and overall development.
Addressing faculty and students of the Namibia University of Science Technology (NUST) here, President Mukherjee said, “India places high value on quality education and research for a nation’s development. As a Visitor of more than 116 central institutions of higher learning in India, I have always emphasized the importance of inculcating in our students, an unfettered spirit of enquiry and an enhanced commitment to research and innovation. I have been equally keen to develop a corps of highly motivated, inspired teachers who will help to achieve these objectives. These, I believe, are the key ingredients for infusing energy into vital sectors of a nation’s economy, as they are unquestionable drivers of growth and progress.”
The President said that both India and Namibia are fortunate that thei youth are “brimming with ideas and enterprise”, and highlighted the fact that India, with an estimated 4,300 start-ups, is emerging as the third largest start-up ecosystem in the world today.
He said that it should surprise no one that 72 percent of the founders of these Indian start-ups were below the age of 35.
“Their ventures represent impressive, and often simple business models, from delivering essential commodities and affordable healthcare, to creating improved and cost-effective agricultural technology, and online marketing.Their innovations have brought positive impulses to each and every sector of our economy – from handicrafts to tourism, education and transportation. The employment generated by these start-ups fosters inclusive growth and has the potential of improving the quality of life of millions of our citizens. I am confident, that by mobilizing their youth, other developing economies (like Namibia), too, can channelize their untapped potential for achieving socio-economic transformation,” said Mukherjee.
Stating that India places tremendous emphasis on fundamental research to manage the impact of climate change, address food and drinking water scarcity and efficiently exploit sustainable, clean and renewable energy sources, President Mukherjee said, “Our country is on the path of a technological revolution that we hope, will empower our people.”
From a scientific angle, the president said that India is very satisfied with her maiden space mission to Mars – “Mangalyaan”.
“As the fourth country in the world to achieve this, and the first do so in the first attempt, that too, at a modest expenditure of only USD 74 million, India has proven that the sky is the limit, literally, when a nation is determined to succeed,” he said.
Mukherjee also said that India’s remarkable success in the agriculture sector had been made possible only because of “proper planning and synergy between science and public policy, the excellence of our scientists and the selfless toil of our farmers.”
He said that dramatic advances were also being made in the fields of medicine, bio-technology and information technology, resulting in a transformation of lives on the subcontinent.
‘Our mobile phone density is about 74.55 and we rank third after the U.S. and China in Internet use. Nano-science and technology, solar energy, vaccines and drug discovery are other areas on which India is presently focused,” the Indian president said.
‘Scientific enquiry is one of the most creative impulses of the human mind. It seeks answers to fundamental questions and plays a vital role in the advancement of mankind. Modern societies and nations are built on the fruits of research and technology development. As the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru had often stated, ‘the future belongs to science and those who make friendship with science'”, said the president.
President Mukherjee said that India, in its bilateral discourse with Namibia, has prioritized collaboration in human resource development, capacity building, educational and cultural exchanges, and added that flagship programmes like “Skill India, Make in India, Digital India and 100 Smart Cities” are schemes that Namibia could accept and assimilate for its own benefit both in the short as well as the long term.
He said that India has so far trained 1000 Namibian citizens under the ITEC programme, and added that during this visit, both sides had inked a Memorandum of Understanding to set up a Centre of Excellence in IT in Namibia to enhance the capacity and skill levels of Namibian ICT students and professionals. This apart, India has offered 50,000 scholarships and fellowships to African students from 2015 to 2020. The Indian government has also approved projects valued at about USD 600 million under grants-in-aid for human resource development, infrastructure and institution-building in Africa. He further informed that since the holding of the IAFS-I in 2008, India has extended 40,000 scholarships to Africa and offered about 300 training programmes at 60 institutions of higher education in India.
The Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), formerly known as Polytechnic of Namibia, is an institute of tertiary education in Windhoek, Namibia. It was founded in 1980 and was the first institution of higher education in Namibia. The NUST consists of two campuses and a number of scattered former residential buildings all located in the Windhoek West suburb close to the city centre. NUST comprises of six academic faculties and offers undergraduate as well as postgraduate degrees in the areas of business and management, engineering, information technology, journalism, hospitality, natural resource management, and medicine. NUST has been in constant competition with Namibia’s other state-owned university, the University of Namibia (UNAM). The Webometrics 2013 ranks it at 28 in Africa (2,284 globally), and UNAM on 48 (3,160 globally).