Shimla: Expressing concern over rising incidents of crime against women and children, President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday called for effective measures to ensure their safety and security. Underlining the need for arresting the moral decline in society, the president told students of Himachal Pradesh University here to find answers for reversing the degradation of values.
Favouring imparting moral and quality education, he said: "Our universities have the capability to shape the minds of the youth."
"These temples of higher learning must act as guides in meeting the contemporary moral challenges and ensure that our respect for women and elderly, truth and honesty in life, discipline and self-restraint in conduct are fully entrenched in the young minds," said Mukherjee, who visited this university for the third time.
Delivering the convocation address, he said India's demographic structure was changing.
"By 2025, over two-thirds of Indians are expected to be in the working age category. To gain from this transition, our youth must be prepared through quality higher education and vocational training," he said.
Favouring web-based education, the president said: "Our universities should make increased use of technology solutions like e-education to address the problems of accessibility, quality and faculty shortage."
He said institutes of higher learning are absent in many parts of the country, denying many good students the opportunity to acquire higher education.
According to him, its consequences are disturbing.
India's higher education system is the second largest in the world but the enrollment rate for the 18-24 years age group is only seven percent. Compared to this, it is 21 per cent in Germany and 34 percent in the US, he said.
Mukherjee also batted for making higher education affordable for students belonging to socio-economically difficult backgrounds.
"China and the US are at the forefront of innovation with over 500,000 patent applications each filed in 2011. India, with only 42,000 patent applications, lags behind these leaders," he said.
"We lack the systems to encourage and generate innovation. We must strengthen measures such as inter-disciplinary and inter-university research partnerships, research fellowships and industry incubation parks," Mukherjee added.