CHENNAI: With one of India’s brightest tennis stars not making it to the 17th convocation of Dr MGR Educational and Research Institute to receive an honorary doctorate on Saturday, there was a seismic shift in the focus toward the man who literally aimed for the stars.
While Sania Mirza failed to turn up to receive the Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) bestowed upon her by the university, M Annadurai, the project director of India’s first unmanned lunar mission, Chandrayaan- I, received his at the convocation.
When it was announced after about an hour into the proceedings that Sania Mirza would not attend the convocation, a section of the audience booed but they probably would have drawn some solace when it was subsequently announced that she would indeed make it on December 11 to receive her honorary doctorate.
Delivering the convocation address, Dr K Kasturirangan of National Institute of Advanced Studies called for quality in education rather than quantity. “With a national debate going on about revamp of science education in the country which will impact both engineering and medical professions, there is a nagging need to enhance quality in education,” he said.
Quoting a study done by a group of academicians, he said the rigid bifurcation insisted upon at the BSc level was severely limiting the competence of science graduates.
“Compartmentalised education introduced in specialized courses such as biotechnology, genetics and nanotechnology at the graduate level ensures that the students hardly learned the basics,” Kasturirangan said.
He also noted that for the size of India’s academic and research system, it was pitiable that the country was producing only about 5000 Ph.
Ds annually which was abysmally low when compared to countries such as the US and China.
Later, on receiving his Doctor of Science from A C Shanmugam, chancellor of Dr MGR University, Annadurai pointed out that India’s lunar mission was rendered possible only by the trust and confidence that Dr Kasturirangan bestowed upon him and his colleagues.
“In 1999, when the concept of Chandrayaan was formulated, it was Dr Kasturirangan who predicted that India could achieve the launch by the end of 2008 and that’s what happened,” he said.
Calling upon students not to go to the US to seek jobs, Annadurai pointed out there was ample job opportunities available in the country.
“It is important to be job providers rather than just be a job seeker. If you try hard enough you can even provide a job for others on the moon,” he said.
Commending India for its various achievements in the field of science, Andrew T Simkin, US Consul General, pointed out the growing importance of the country at the global level. “Indian naval force is taking steps to counter piracy in the high seas which is commendable. The fact that the country provides more workforce to the US than any other country points to its global importance,” he said.
Over a thousand graduates and post-graduates from many departments received their degree certificates on the occasion.