In an obvious reference to the issue of reservation for the OBCs in higher education institutions, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday that objectives of expansion, inclusion and excellence were not mutually contradictory and can be harmonised with some innovation.
"With determination and with some innovation, I am sure we can harmonise these objectives," he said after giving away the coveted Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Awards to eminent scientists in different disciplines.
The excellence of present institutes of higher learning must be maintained, the Prime Minister said, adding this could be achieved only through recruitment of "the very best faculty".
"We must create an environment conductive to the pursuit of excellence", he said while lamenting that the "best minds in the country are not turning to science and those who do, do not remain in science".
Observing that ways and means should be found to make science more attractive for children, Singh said, "We have to redesign school and college education to build on natural curiosity of our children".
Noting that the process of expansion must also be inclusive and relevant, the PM said the real challenge seemed to be to get the best minds in the country to provide solutions to problems that could make a difference to the lives of the people.
Apparently concerned over brain drain, Singh referred to the previous Bhatnagar award winners and said "hardly any have left the shores of the country seeking employment abroad". "This is commendable,” he said.