IIT Delhi Golden Jubilee

16-08-2010    Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

          I am happy to be inaugurating the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, one of the front ranking educational institutions of our country. I would like to convey my congratulations to the Management, Faculty Members and all the staff and students on this occasion. I also extend my good wishes for an even more successful future.

          The establishment of the education infrastructure in India, including the Indian Institutes of Technology, was the outcome of the vision of our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who looked at such institutions as essential for making a modern India. The IIT model seeks to provide a high calibre of education to its students, so that they become scientists and engineers comparable to the best in the world, as they explore the universe of knowledge through the prism of science and technology.

          As President, I have had the opportunity to participate in the Convocation of IIT Mumbai in its Golden Jubilee Year, as well as in the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of IIT Kanpur, and now of IIT Delhi. These are occasions to acknowledge the success achieved by the alumni of the Indian Institutes of Technology in technology and business, both within our country and abroad. They have done our country proud, validating the rationale for the establishment of the IIT system. During these milestone events, I have also emphasized that IITians, some of the best brains in the country, must be important partners and contributors to the journey of India to become a leader in the knowledge based society of the 21st Century.

          It is fortuitous that I am here just a day after the celebrations of our 64th Independence Day. In my address to the Nation on the eve of Independence Day, I had emphasized that the future of Indiawould derive strength from three sources. Firstly, from a value system based on harmony, tolerance and selflessness; secondly from our youth and; thirdly from innovations and inventions. Educational institutions like IITs, are the crucibles where all these three forces can interface with each other. Here, young students while studying science disciplines must inculcate a good value system.

          Science and society have co-evolved and will continue to do so. Advances in technology have altered the manner in which we undertake activities and leading as a consequence to social changes. Looking back, it was one invention or another that triggered the movement of human beings from cave dwellers to village settlers and urban inhabitants. Since the Industrial Revolution, the pace of scientific and technological advancement has been tremendous. In our times, the network age of Information and Technology and the age of genetic engineering, biotechnology and nano-technology are proving to be revolutionary. Today, we seek responses to the challenges of food, water and energy security. This means addressing a wide spectrum of issues like foodgrain productivity and its proper distribution, water and energy conservation, cleaning of rivers and water recycling, reducing the cost of renewable sources of energy like solar and wind. We are looking at construction of energy efficient buildings and low cost housing to provide shelter to those who either have no house or are in urban areas living in slums. We are looking for ways to combat existing and new diseases. We are faced with climate change that is affecting the air we breathe and the weather patterns. Responses and solutions, to a large extent, lie in the domain of science and technology. These challenges are neither limited nor small, and would need sustained research to find appropriate responses. Ernest Eliel, President in 1992 of the American Chemical Society once cautioned that if we stop doing fundamental research, the "well" that supplies the applications will eventually run dry. In other words, without continuing fundamental research, the scope for new technologies will shrink.

          In India, we have witnessed the marvels of the discoveries of science and technology in the development of the nation. The Green Revolution, for example, resulted in enhanced agricultural productivity. As we look at the future, we need a second Green Revolution and novel thinking in rainfed farming is also very important for food security. We need engineering and management capabilities as we expand our infrastructure. We need environmentally friendly technologies. We need cutting edge technologies to be a leading nation. It is important that our institutions, research centres and laboratories, focus on research and come up with innovations applicable to conditions and requirements existing in the country. It is, of course essential that an environment that is conducive for this purpose is created. Scientific research requires dedication and commitment as well as availability of funds. Moreover, science has become increasingly interlinked and multi-disciplinary, it calls for multi-institutional and multi-country participation. Institutes like yours need to develop robust mechanisms for collaborations with other institutions.

          IIT Alumni have made their mark globally and the contributions of its faculty, including their research, are widely respected. I am informed that the Indian Institutes of Technology have a number of market patents awaiting registration and IIT Delhi filed 40 patent applications last year. I congratulate you on this. However, we must look at the global patent scenario to get a broader perspective. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, in 2009, over 45,000 patents constituting almost a third of global patents in the year were filed by the US. Ranking fifth, China filed over 7,900 patents. India, on the other hand had only 761 applications. We have a long distance to cover. The Government of India has declared this decade as the Decade of Innovation, I am confident that our scientists and researchers with their knowledge, capability and commitment will make it a success.

          Technology diffusion is another important aspect of your work as it ensures that fruits of innovation reach as many people as possible. Inventions that have germinated in laboratories must be transmitted into the field to become agents of transformation. Therefore, efforts should be to build collaborations with institutions in different sectors of industry, agriculture and services, which in turn, must also be forthcoming in supporting new ideas and discoveries. I am happy to learn that IIT Delhi has organized an "Open House" over the past some years, in which innovations of students of this campus are displayed. The challenge is in getting tie-ups for their marketing and commercialization. I am told that IIT Delhi has created a special centre - the Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer for marketing these innovations. Such initiatives are steps in the right direction.

          It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention. People when confronted with a situation try to find a way of dealing with it. Sometimes, it leads to interesting innovations. I have had the occasion to see for myself some of these grassroots innovations at events organized by the National Innovation Foundation. Whenever I get a chance, I urge the students and alumni of technological institutes, especially the IITs to take interest and establish links with such individuals and mentor them. I recommend the same to you. Under your guidance, it is possible, that these grassroots innovators can further fine tune their work and find a market for their inventions.

          As no field of human activity has remained untouched by scientific and technological inputs, you must do your work as service to humankind. Also, it must never be forgotten that you are a part of society. Its welfare and your welfare are interlinked. A scientist or an engineer who is a good human being, with values of integrity and with a social conscious, will contribute far more to society. It is in returning back to society that a human being responds to their call of duty towards others. The recent announcement of some of the richest persons of the world to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropy is a reminder of how our knowledge and other wealth can be more utilized for greater good. A statement made by Mr. Bill Gates caught my attention. He said that per capita, Indian Institutes of Technology have produced more millionaires than any other undergraduate institution. IITians across the world, indeed, are a very powerful group. They have resources and experience which can be leveraged to generate ideas along with necessary funding for development projects in India. I am confident that IITians will always be ready to contribute to India's growth and prosperity.

          With these words, I convey my best wishes to IIT Delhi in the years to come. May the Golden Jubilee Year be an occasion to strengthen your resolution to achieve personal success and also to contribute to society and to the Nation.

Thank You.

Jai Hind!