India launches its student startup policy

Let us develop brain rain and brain networks in place of brain drain, President of India tells heads of educational institutions during the launch


New Delhi: The President of India, Mr Pranab Mukherjee launched the National Student Startup Policy on the opening day of the second Visitor’s Conference on November 16th at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The National Student Startup Policy, formulated by AICTE, aims to create 100,000 technology based student start-ups and a million employment opportunities within the next 10 years. The policy plans on achieving this by developing an ideal entrepreneurial ecosystem and promoting strong inter-institutional partnerships among technical institutions. It emphasizes the much-desired need for an appropriate startup policy to propel the youth of India through and beyond the 21st century.

Speaking on the occasion, the President said if there are enough jobs in the country, there will be content, refinement and perfection. An opposite scenario can spell disaster. The restlessness and frustration of youth manifests in unrest and upheaval. Let us not allow such a situation to appear on our horizon. We must turn our evolving demographic configuration into strength. For that, adequate job creation is a priority. The job creation figures of 1.35 lakh in 2015, which is the lowest in seven years, are not encouraging. With machines fast replacing men, we have to look at a paradigm shift. We have to prepare our youth, who are buzzing with innovative ideas, to turn into entrepreneurs. We also have to enable our students-turned innovators- turned entrepreneurs to be able to successfully harness the market. Heads of the central institutions, must consider this as their prime responsibility if we have to achieve equitable growth. He was happy to have launched the Student Startup Policy of AICTE today.

He said that he saw great potential in this policy to unleash the entrepreneurial talent of students of institutions of higher learning.

The President said the global rankings of our higher educational institutions belie our economic prowess. He expressed happiness that HRD Ministry’s ‘Project Vishwajeet’ based on the recommendation of Conference of Chairmen, Board of Governors and Directors of IITs held in August 2014 is getting traction now. He said the proposals made by the seven IITs – Kharagpur, Kanpur, Bombay, Delhi, Madras, Guwahati and Roorkee – should be expeditiously examined by the HRD Ministry for quick implementation. The proposed policy of MHRD to establish ten world class institutions each in public and private sector is also a welcome step.

The President said the road to becoming world-class institutions is through the trinity of talent, resources and management. Our institutions must brim with meritorious students and top-notch faculty. To attract bright students with limited means, a support base comprising options like deferred and variable fees and income-contingent loans will be necessary. Access to higher education is also hampered by information asymmetry. Various funding and communication and counseling models have to be developed depending on specific needs.

The President said our institutions must become magnets for talent—not only internal but also from outside. He called upon heads of educational institutions to develop brain rain and brain networks in place of brain drain. He said world-class institutions can be developed only with adequate financial resources. Government funding in public institutions are limited to budget provisions. To cater to the progress of our central institutions, their fund requirements must be supplemented by other sources such as endowments and contracts for research projects from industry.

The President said as there are peaks in mountain ranges, there are world-class institutions amongst the vast number of higher learning institutions globally. In India, the number of such ‘knowledge peaks’ on the horizon are few. We need many more such peaks if India is to be counted as a world knowledge power. He said in his visits abroad, the academic delegations which accompanied him have signed 92 MOUs with their foreign counterpart institutions. The focus now has to be on implementation of these agreements.

The President said the challenge to attain global standards for our higher education system is two-fold. We need our established institutions to graduate into world-class centers of learning. At the same time, we need new institutions to take-off successfully, overcoming the nascent-stage hurdles. Some of the new institutions have been set up in remote areas of the country. They hold great promise to spur the development of their regions. They can be the bridge to build local capacity for teaching and learning. Necessary assistance, both financial and administrative, must be at their disposal to see that these institutions start functioning at full capacity.

The President said there have been incidences of student unrest in our institutions in recent past. Our campuses must have a harmonious and peaceful environment for students to pursue higher studies and research. Vice-chancellors and Directors must deal with any unpleasant situation with sagacity. They must take help of all well-wishers including inspired teachers, who by the dint of their wisdom, conviction and conduct, can inspire confidence among students and have a calming influence. The concerned administrative Ministries must also facilitate the academic leaders.

Among the dignitaries present on the occasion were Mr Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Mr Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati, Union Minister of Civil Aviation, Dr Mahendra Nath Pandey, Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Secretary to the President, Mrs Omita Paul and Prof Anil D Sahasrabudhe, Chairman, AICTE.