India needs to step up quality research in science and technology with a sense of urgency, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday.
Addressing the convocation ceremony at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kanpur, the prime minister also called for increased collaboration between the IITs and the corporate world.
"We as a nation urgently need to increase quality research in science and technology," Manmohan Singh said. "Science and technology today play a dominant role in determining the power and progress of a nation.
"This role has become even more critical in the wake of newer challenges like climate change. We need more innovation in areas like sustainable agriculture, affordable health care and energy security.
"India's strength in frugal engineering and extremely affordable innovations is becoming known internationally. Indian scientists and engineers should leverage this strength to play a more prominent role in addressing problems that affect all countries," he said.
He asked the IITs to collaborate more with each other in research projects and urged IIT Kanpur in particular to go far more collaboration with the corporate sector.
"This would be of mutual benefit to both," he said. "To the corporate sector it could mean cost effective solutions and newer technology and products while for the IITs it would bring in much needed funds and enhance their research capabilities."
The prime minister lamented that although government spending on higher education had been hiked manifold, the issue of quality remained.
"A major constraint is the availability of good faculty. An obvious solution lies in encouraging a larger number of bright students to join academics."
He urged the IIT community to come together to evolve other innovative ways to address these issues.
The prime minister, an economist turned politician, was conferred with the honorary degree of Doctor in Science on the occasion.