New Delhi, January 21, 2019: ‘Development of rural areas should not erode their unique identities but must fortify their spirits. The facilities in villages must resemble those of a city but the soul and the values of Indian villages must be preserved’, the Vice President of India Shri. M. Venkaiah Naidu said on January 21, 2019. He was addressing the gathering at the presentation ceremony of AICTE-ECI-ISTE Chhatra Vishwakarma Awards and AICTE- SAGY Initiative awards in New Delhi today.
Shri. Naidu said that the Awards would challenge young students to come up with novel ideas that have great potential to impact life in villages through technological interventions at the grass root level. Expressing his agreement with Mahatma Gandhi’s statement that ‘the future of India lies in its villages’, the Vice President said that the development of villages is an essential precondition to the development of the nation.
The Vice President said that educational institutions must re-orient their curricula to ensure that students spend time in rural areas, interacting with people and understanding their problems.
The Vice President opined that by steering itself towards eco-friendly industrialization, sustainable urbanization, and the inclusion of the rural economy, India has the potential to not only become the world’s fastest-growing economy but also to serve as an inspiration, a model to the world
Expressing disappointment that our vision for development is still largely, Shri. Naidu lamented that rural India still lagged behind urban India in terms of crucial development indicators.
Highlighting the importance of redeeming our agriculture sector which is still the mainstay of the rural economy, the Vice President said that we have to constantly innovate and reinvent our agricultural practices to make farming much more rewarding, profitable and sustainable.
Shri. Naidu said that 'One size fits all' approach will not ensure development in a vast and diverse country like India. ‘Every village has its own individuality, its own industries & its own developmental needs. Our plans should capture aspirations of the people, leverage their strengths & mitigate their weaknesses’, he reasoned.
Expressing his firm conviction that development and environmental conservation are not mutually exclusive goals but are complementary, the Vice President urged young technocrats to consider the environmental cost of their innovations on a priority basis while calculating feasibility. ‘We can no longer afford to neglect our ecological footprint’, he warned.
Expressing his anguish at the dual challenges of malnutrition and hidden hunger on one hand and obesity and lifestyle diseases on the other, that India faces today, Shri. Naidu urged young people to maintain a balanced diet and lead a healthy lifestyle. ‘Only a healthy nation can be a wealthy nation’, he added.
Calling for balanced development, the Vice President said that our approach to development must have a dual focus, it must be comprehensive and must keep both urban and rural realities in view. He added that our urban spaces were becoming increasingly congested and suggested that distress migration could be prevented by providing a livelihood, connectivity, health services, infrastructure and avenues for recreation in rural areas.
The Vice President said that 3 ‘D’s - Demography, Demand and Democracy are making the India of today outshine other countries in the world and added that he had full faith in the vision and capabilities of India’s youth who make up 65% of the country’s population.
He congratulated the All India Council of Technical Education’s endeavor to catalyze rural development in association with the Engineering Council of India (ECI) and the Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE).
Following is the full text of the speech:
I am delighted to present the AICTE-ECI-ISTE Chhatra Vishwakarma Awards and AICTE SAGY Initiative awards to those passionate young students who have showcased their ideas in tune with the theme of ‘Empowerment of villages through Technologies’. I am also delighted to know that faculty mentors have worked hard to counsel these students to convert their brilliant and innovative ideas into feasible, functional prototypes.
I am happy to note that AICTE, in association with ECI and ISTE, has conceived the Chhatra Vishwakarma awards for challenging our young students to come up with novel ideas that have great potential to impact life in our villages through technological interventions at the grass root level. In the Rigveda, the most ancient of all Vedas, Lord Vishwakarma is revered as the deity who is the original creator, architect and divine engineer of the universe. I hope that this event, named after the creative genius Vishwakarma, will inspire each and every one of you to conceive ingenious new ideas and technologies and create inventive and innovative solutions to pressing problems at hand.
My dear young friends,
Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation once remarked that the future of India lies in its villages. I am in full agreement with this statement. The development will be a distant and unfulfilled dream until we realize that the development of villages is an essential precondition to the development of the nation. I am immensely pleased to know that our educational institutions have begun to realize that the key to India’s prosperity lies in our villages.
I have always maintained that students should be encouraged to spend time in rural areas, interacting with people and understanding the problems that they face. Interventions from educational institutions which are often the fountainheads of innovation can dramatically transform the rural landscape and find solutions to the most crucial issues. I have been personally associated with the welfare of villages and villagers all through my public life. The development of villages is an issue that is very close to my heart.
I applaud the efforts of those Institutes which have been awarded the AICTE-SAGY Initiative award. I congratulate AICTE for having taken this momentous step at a time when we are working tirelessly to improve the plight of our villages. It is heartening to note that AICTE, which is the regulator for technical education in India, is spreading its wings to become a facilitator for the development of the nation.
I believe that India has the potential to not only become the world’s fastest-growing economy but also to serve as an inspiration, a model to the world. But in order to achieve this coveted goal, India must steer itself towards eco-friendly industrialization, sustainable urbanization, and the inclusion of the rural economy. According to census 2011, nearly 69% of our population lives in rural areas. The socio-economic census data, 2011 says that almost 73% of the households are in rural areas.
Yet unfortunately, our vision for development is still largely urban-centric. Rural India still lags far behind urban India in terms of crucial development indicators. The rural economy is still characterized by a lack of sufficient amenities such as clean water, health, education and a dearth of employment opportunities. Insufficient banking, communication, technology, market and warehousing facilities continue to plague rural agriculture and industry. Rural society still faces challenges of poverty, gender inequality, and rampant discrimination.
Though we have made considerable progress in the sphere of rural development, much more needs to be done to make rural India economically, socially and politically empowered. Since agriculture is still the mainstay of the rural economy, we have to constantly innovate and reinvent our agricultural practices in tune with the realities of diminishing natural resources and changing weather and rainfall patterns. Students of agriculture, engineering, and allied sciences must spend more time in agricultural fields to devise solutions to improve the productivity and sustainability of our agriculture. There is nothing more important than ensuring food security for our people.
Your innovations need not be ground-breaking and transformative, they could very well be incremental and basic. If they are able to solve real problems I am sure that they will survive, sustain and flourish. Our Government is doing its best to promote innovations through a variety of programs and schemes. I hope that these initiatives serve as launch pads for young, budding inventors and scientists such as yourself.
My dear young friends,
India is a vast and diverse country. One size fits all programs and policies will not ensure development in India. Every state, every village, has its own individuality, its own traditional crafts and industries and its own very special set of developmental needs. The people in villages have a certain unique set of skills and capabilities.
When we plan for development, these factors must be taken into consideration. In essence, the plan should capture the aspirations of the people, leverage their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses. Development is not necessarily building skyscrapers. It could very well be empowering the local craftsmen and entrepreneurs and enabling small and medium industries.
It has been found that small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) account for 45% of industrial value added and 40% of the workforce. Thus the development of rural areas should not erode their unique identities but must fortify their spirits. The amenities in villages must resemble those of a city but the soul and the values of Indian villages must be preserved.
My dear students,
There is a lot of indiscretion and arbitrariness in the way we consume natural resources today. It has been found that at our current population and rate of resources consumption, we need 1.5 Earths to survive. Therefore, I urge each and every one of you to consider the environmental cost of your inventions and innovations on a priority basis when you measure their feasibility. We can no longer afford to neglect our ecological footprint.
I do not believe that development and environmental conservation are mutually exclusive goals. With a focus on green and clean sources of energy, reduction in consumption and efficient waste management, we can very well make our villages hubs of progress as well as sanctuaries for thriving ecosystems. Let me remind you that our country is on a relentless quest to maximize our renewable energy potential and has recently increased its previous 2022 capacity target for renewable energy from 175GW to 227.6 GW.
The brunt of global warming and changing weather patterns including unseasonal rains, flood and drought are borne mostly by the poor and the marginalized, especially the farmers. I, therefore, urge you to give clean energy a place of paramount importance in your technological innovations. Ours is a vast country with complex challenges but infinite opportunities.
Urban India is witnessing Industrial revolution 4.0. However, I must impress upon you that in the hinterlands of the country one can find industry 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 co-existing. You as technocrats must be flexible enough to adapt your innovations to suits the needs of all these various phases of the Industrial Revolution.
My dear young friends,
I must not fail to impress upon you that in our bid to develop rural India, we must not falter in our attempts to facilitate the development of urban India. With 34% of the population living in cities, urban India is already the world’s second largest country. Hundreds of millions more migrate to India’s cities. Yet, only 10 cities have metro rail and 15 more have metro construction in the pipeline. Much more investment is needed for improved mobility, connectivity, and ease of living in urban areas. Our approach to development must have a dual focus.
It must be comprehensive and must keep both urban and rural realities in view. At this point in time, India as a Nation stands at crossroads of resurgence. While most developed nations are aging, India stands out with its rich demographic dividend having 50% population below 25 years. In terms of sheer number, it translates to 65 Cr young and energetic citizens. We are an emerging market and we are deeply committed to upholding our constitution and democratic values. These three ‘D’s - Demography, Demand, and Democracy- is what is making the India of today outshine other countries in the world.
My dear friends,
It was heartening to know that more than 1600 teams from across India participated in this event with a contribution of nearly 1700 girl students across all teams. I have been informed that this event was conceptualized in the year 2017 and this is the second year of its execution. I am extremely happy to note that the number of teams that have been shortlisted for the national convention has already doubled this year. The AICTE –SAGY Initiative award will definitely inspire all the higher educational institutions in the country who wish to participate in Unnat Bharat Abhiyan.
I would only like to reiterate that the collective vigor and energy of our young minds is the force that is catalyzing the resurgence of India. Excellence should be our goal- our Mantra. We owe it to the billion dreams that propel our country forward to be a global leader in all respect. I hope that you will keep learning, innovating and inspiring. I have great faith in your vision and in your capabilities. I wish you all great success in your endeavors to make India the world capital of knowledge, wisdom and wealth.