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Citing global problems of climate change, energy crisis and deadly diseases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asked Indian students to take up the challenge of finding solutions to these through innovation and research instead of merely doing “cut-paste” work.
Addressing the convocation ceremony of the Benares Hindu University (BHU) here, he asked students to “keep the mind receptive and eager to fresh knowledge” even after their formal education was complete.
“I want to throw this challenge before young men and women of this country. Come up with innovations that may help the world in bringing down temperatures a bit, help the humanity overcome the grave energy crisis it is likely to face if renewable and sustainable alternative sources are not found”, Modi told the gathering of BHU scholars and academics.
He said students should dream of finding solutions to the problems that are being faced by the country and the world.
“Innovation is most important for us. New research, not just to obtain PhDs through cut-paste.,” he said.
As his remarks drew an amused response from the audience, the Prime Minister quipped he had felt that those at BHU would not be aware of “cut-paste” aspect of research but even if they were, he hoped they did not use it.
He said he had in the past consulted Nobel laureates about the prevalence of “sickle-cell disease in tribal families” which is even worse than cancer. But, he felt “our own researchers can find a better solution”.
Talking about global warming with which the world is struggling to cope with, he said Indians believe exploitation of nature is a crime and see God in plants and mother in a river. “In such a country, can’t we find a concrete solution to global warming,” Modi asked.
In the context of energy crisis, he said a solution could emerge through research on how ethanol could be effectively used as a fuel, which would benefit sugarcane farmers as well.
He said research is also needed in making renewable energy increasingly viable.
“We need technology that can help us realize the goal of increasing our solar energy output,” the Prime Minister said.
Speaking about the glory of India’s traditions, he referred to yoga and said while it has existed for long, there was a time when “we lived with a mindset that we did not feel that the entire world would take to yoga”.
Last year, he noted, the UN accepted observing International Yoga Day on June 21 every year and 192 countries joined in celebrating it.
Modi also referred to the country’s ancient past and said that in the Taittreya Upanishad, the aspects related to holding a ‘Deekshant’ (Convocation) ceremony is mentioned.
“Deekshant (convocation) must not mean sheekshant (end of education), since the real learning begins after one faces the world upon completion of former studies,” he said.
He said that even Mahatma Gandhi had established Gujarat Vidyapeeth with similar objectives as those of the BHU founder Malviya.
He also referred to several school children present on the occasion as his personal guests and said he wanted even poor children to dream and achieve the highest education.
Modi, who has declined to accept honorary Doctorate from BHU, offered his “apologies” to the University authorities for this, saying he wanted to keep away from such things.
“Please do not mind. The honour you gave me by inviting me on this occasion of the University’s centenary is enough for me. But I have always believed that I should stay away from such laurels,” he said.
Modi, who is Lok Sabha member from Varansi, went on to add that this temple city has already given him something which no university degree can match. “I am already indebted to Varanasi for this,” he said.