On the morning of Wednesday 9th January 2013 Shri Narendra Modi addressed the International Conference for Academic Institutions in Gandhinagar. The Conference is a part of the 2013 Vibrant Gujarat Summit. The meet was attended by large number of universities from across the world. In an elaborate speech Shri Modi spoke about the importance of knowledge creation and shared that if there is an event that is of most importance to him during the 2013 Vibrant Gujarat Summit, it is this!
Expressing joy at the start of the Conference Shri Modi pointed out, “Its heartening to see that in its 2nd edition the ICAI has grown so big. 135 universities, institutions from 56 nations and 60 universities, institutions from 14 states are here today.” The Chief Minister pointed out that the 21st century is the century of knowledge and every week there unfolds new developments in education and research. “Emergence of knowledge society has become a reality,” he affirmed.
The event witnessed the presence of several acclaimed academicians from all over the world such as Prof. Antony D'Emanuele from University of Central Lancashire, Dr Andrew McCusker from University of Wollongong and Prof. Antonio Albano from Università di Pisa. The participation of eminent American Universities was also seen. Some of the American representatives were Dr. Renu Khator, Chancellor and President of University of Houston, Dr. Ade Mobogunje from Stanford University and Dr. Dipti Pitta from the University of Pennsylvania. The complete list of speakers and participants can be found here.
The Chief Minister pointed out that earlier the information revolution and digital reach were limited to a certain segment of society due to which a digital divide was built. He stressed on the fact that if knowledge is co-created and co-authored it will be available to the entire humanity to be used and developed. “When the information age transforms into a knowledge, we can reap the benefits,” he stated.
Shri Modi further stated that the themes for this august conference are internationalization, research and skill development. Talking about the rich history of this land in higher education the Chief Minister said, “Before 2500 years ago India had a sophisticated system of higher education. Nalanda, Taxila trained students in various fields. Nalanda University drew scholars from China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Turkey.”
He pointed that a true knowledge society ought to have competent people who can innovate and create new concepts. Talking about the initiatives of the Gujarat Government Shri Modi shared that Gujarat is the first state to launch an Innovation Commission and the state also launched iCreate. Shri Modi declared that the focus is not on degrees but on employability and skill development. He further shared that the Government is working closely with industry on this issue. He talked about programmes like SCOPE and eMPOWER that train youth in soft skills and IT.
Shri Modi gave emphasis on individuals and institutions establishing collaboration and cooperation. “Can we establish bonds and linkages that endure?” he asked. Shri Modi affirmed, “I have a dream. I dream of a society that is continuously in knowledge and where each individual is a part of the creation of knowledge. I dream of a society where youngsters can do courses of their choice where technology is is used but the importance of the Guru is retained,” and added, “The process of forming such a society has begun through this conference.”
He informed the dignitaries that the state Government had taken up this initiative with a conviction that it would deliver the desired results. He declared, “In Gujarat if when we take up something there are no half measures. We take it up when we are sure of its completion.” Shri Modi said that few people understand the true meaning of the Vibrant Gujarat functions. “That a small state, that was till 15 days ago in the model code of conduct, can hold such a successful event in terms of quality in such less time is a big thing,” he pointed out.
During his speech the Chief Minister stressed on the importance of youth power. He shared, “India is the most youthful nation in the world. It is said that by 2020 the average age of the nation will be 29-30. All our initiatives must be made keeping the youth at the Centre.” He opined that by 2020 the world would need workforce for which they will have to rely on other nations. “We can supply skilled workforce. This decade is for us to prepare ourselves with knowledge, skill and culture.” He said that conferences such as this are to create a new history and give the youth the best in terms of opportunities. The Chief Minister stated that knowledge has been given great importance in the exhibitions as well and he asked people to visit the exhibitions.
Earlier, a large number of MoUs were signed in the august present of the Chief Minister and the signatories met Shri Modi.
Speaking on the occasion Principal Secretary (Higher Education) Shri Hasmukh Adhia gave details about the conference. Ms. Judith Wolfson of the University of Toronto extended her best wishes for the conference and pointed that such events create forums for discussion and best practices.
Renowned industrialist Shri Sanjay Lalbhai said that such a conclave has not been held anywhere in the country. He congratulated Shri Modi and his team and added that the developed saga of Gujarat in the last 10 years has touched every sector be it agriculture, industry and services. He lauded the Government for the visionary zeal and envisioning a future based on knowledge.
Mr. Toby Linden of the World Bank stated that it is a privilege for the World Bank to be represented here and be a partner organization for this event. Shri Vineet Mittal of Welspun congratulated Shri Modi for this record victory in the Gujarat Elections and praised the strides of development in Gujarat. Shri Rajiv Modi of Cadila Pharmaceuticals pointed that Gujarat has made remarkable, appreciable and noticeable strides in development. Ms. Samantha Harvey from the British Council spoke on the occasion.
Cabinet Ministers Shri Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, Shri Saurabh Patel, Minister of State Smt. Vasuben Trivedi and Chief Secretary Shri AK Joti and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.