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Universities must challenge frontiers of knowledge: DRDO chief

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, April 19:

While India has become one of the strongest countries in the world in terms of scientific manpower, the country’s Universities and institutions should be able to challenge the frontiers of knowledge while creating an environment supportive of innovation, Dr Avinash Chander, Scientific Advisor to the Defence minister and chief of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said today.

Dr Avinash Chander, DRDO chief
Dr Avinash Chander, DRDO chief

“We have come a long way since our independence, from mere buyers of technology to those who have made science and technology an important contributor for national development and societal transformation. It is important for India to put its act together to become a continuous innovator and creator of science and technology intensive products,” he said while addressing the 3rd Convocation of the Sikshya O Anusandhan (SOA) University here.

Dr Chander, who was the guest of honour at the academic event, said in spite of its strong scientific and technical manpower base, India was still far behind in creation of intangible assets and ownership of patents.

“The time has come to reverse this trend which is possible only through dedicated programs for research in the frontier areas of technology, engineering and science,” he said while commenting that higher academic institutions in the country lacked orientation towards research, as a result of which, their standing amongst the top global institutions was not very high.

“Our institutions must be able to challenge the frontiers of knowledge. Our Universities have to create an environment supportive of innovation,” the DRDO chief said.

Expressing happiness for being in Odisha which has been the theatre of India’s missile launch campaigns for several decades, Chander said whatever research was conducted anywhere in the country with respect to missile development, ultimately had to be taken to Chandipur or the Wheeler’s Island for its final testing.

Many of the launch complexes and other range stations were located in close proximity to Bhubaneswar which played a vital role in strengthening national deterrence, he said.

“As DRDO chief, I can say that we could pool and augment the resources effectively and have been able to network the knowledge base available in Universities and other academic institutions through the formal mechanism of interaction which bolstered our organizational growth,” he said.

Pointing out that teaching and research were the two strong pillars of a University, Chander said “the quality of our research has to be comparable with the best in the world.SOA Convocation

“Our researchers have to cooperate with one another to find solutions to critical problems. New products have to be designed that are useful to the common man. Our innovations have to create livelihood and improve the quality of life in rural areas,” he added.

Chander complimented SOA University for its research activities saying keeping with current trends and national requirements, it had ten research and field centres including the Centre of Excellence in Theoretical and Mathematical Sciences, Centre for Bio-mechanical Science and Centre for Nano Science and Nano Technology.

Saying the SOA University was well-known in the country due to its reputation and wide placements, he said it had become a leading brand amongst the employers, academicians, scientists and industrialists. He advised the University to pursue and nurture excellence in its scientific and technological academic journey.

Gracing the occasion as the chief guest, Dr Chandrabhanu Satpathy, former DGP of Uttar Pradesh and former Additional DG, CISF, said education being imparted in the Universities should be aimed at countering threats posed by tomorrow’s world which could relate to cyber crime or ecological imbalance.

Referring to the tussle between God and science, he said that it was ridiculous to think that God meant no science and science meant no God. “It is necessary to spend money on science rather than on temples,” he said adding “don’t go by the concept that God is a nebulous idea.”

Among others, SOA Vice-Chancellor Prof RP Mohanty and the Registrar Prof BB Pradhan were also present at the convocation which was presided over by the chancellor of the University Prof Khageswar Pradhan.

In his address, the chancellor said the SOA University had been seriously pursuing research in emerging areas which it had identified so as to provide quality education.

Stating that there was need to make education more relevant for the country’s development needs, he said it required encouragement of creativity and adaptability rather than class room learning.

Besides, the government should allot close to 8 per cent of our GDP for the education sector for its growth, he added.

In his report, the vice-chancellor said the SOA University offered 15 under graduate and 51 post graduate and doctoral programs in engineering, management, medical sciences, dental sciences, nursing, pharmaceutical sciences, hotel management, law and agricultural sciences.

The University has 982 qualified and talented faculty in different institutes for 11,000 students with the state-of-the-art infrastructure with 33 academic blocks and buildings including auditoriums, conference halls, well-equipped research labs, class room labs, stadium, gym and other ancillary facilities, he informed.

Dr Satpathy, Dr Chander and four other eminent personalities from the world of science and literature were awarded the honoris causa by the SOA University on the occasion.

They included Dr Kota Harinarayana, an eminent scientist who immensely contributed to the development of the state-of-the-art world class light combat aircraft manufactured by India, Prof V Nagaraajan, professor emeritus in Neuroscience at the Dr MGR Medical University, Tamil Nadu, Dr Sitakant Mahapatra, eminent poet and Jnanapeeth awardee and Prof KL Chopra, former director of IIT, Kharagpur.

On the occasion, 25 researchers got their PhD degrees while two President’s gold medals and 29 University gold medals were given away to the toppers.

Altogether 3,257 students were presented their degrees on the occasion.