Speech by Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar at FICCI HE Summit 2021

Hon’ble Minister for Education Shri. Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ Ji, Dr. Mashelkar Sir, Mr. Uday Shankar, Secretary-General FICCI Mr. Dilip Chenoy, my Co-chairs Dr. Rupamanjari Ghosh and Dr. Sekar Vishwanathan, Dr. Ranjan Saxena,  ladies, and Gentleman. More than 3000 academia and Industry and Civil Society.

On behalf of FICCI, Higher Education Committee, I welcome you to the 16th FICCI Higher Education Summit. This summit has come at a critical time against the backdrop of 2 major events; the pandemic and the other, the National Education Policy 2020.

No one can deny that everything around us has been impacted by COVID 19. While lives have been affected – economically and even academically, yet we can choose to have a positive outlook and learn from what COVID has taught us ‘as a teacher – cleanliness, the importance of health and more importantly being self-reliant and resilient. COVID has also taught us to innovate, as we have to find new solutions to every aspect of our functioning.

Universities & higher education institutions have certainly innovated during this crisis and have brought in new approaches to the teaching-learning process.  Teachers have worked hard to adapt to a new lifestyle of imparting ‘online education’. Students have adapted to learning from the screen. There is still of course a digital divide that has to be addressed, but our government is trying its level best to ensure access to every student in the remotest area, by providing connectivity and internet access and also providing learning through television.

It is imperative that in these times of change all stakeholders in the higher education system work together. The Government, universities, teachers, students, and more importantly the industries and civil societies will absorb our students.

The National Education Policy 2020 has carved a new path for all of us. The world is watching this transformation of the Indian education system. India was considered a ‘Vishwa Guru’ when universities like Nalanda and Takshasila attracted a large number of scholars and students from across the world, can we review this old tradition and create a global higher education eco-system once again. The Government is now in the process of implementing the New Education Policy (NEP) under the dynamic leadership of Shri. Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ ji, the implementation of National Education Policy has gained momentum so that we will see a lot of changes in our education system right from this academic year. The focus of the Government on creating of research eco-system is aptly proven by the creation and funding of the National Research Foundation.

The slogan of ‘Atmanirbharta’ given by our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi Ji is equally applicable to our universities. Can our universities be self-reliant, show resilience to whatever crises that come through, can they innovate to find new solutions to societal problems, and can they be sustainable to survive all this, can our students be enterprising against the disruptions that are happening all around them? With this theme of RISE, Resilience, Innovation, Sustainability, and Enterprise, we open this summit of 2 days with very meaningful discussions.

Thank you