CHENNAI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said optimism about new India was the common thread that emerged during his high-profile meetings during his US tour last week and noted the Indian community has made a mark for itself globally in science and technology.
In his address at the 56th Convocation of IIT-Madras here, he said the graduating students were passing out at a time "when the world is looking at India as a land of unique opportunities."
"I just returned from America. During this visit, I met many heads of states, business leaders, innovators, investors. In our discussions there was one thread common--it was optimism about new India. And the confidence in the abilities of young people of India," he added.
He said that the Indian community has made a mark for itself all over the world, especially in science, technology and innovation. And many who were powering this "are your IIT seniors," Modi said adding "you are making brand India stronger globally."
"These days I interact with young officers clearing UPSC exams. The number of IIT graduates (among them) will surprise both you and me. Thus you are also making India a more developed place," he said.
Many from the corporate world were also from IIT, he said, adding the students of the premier institutions were making India more prosperous. The outgoing students of the premiere varsity will be missing many aspects of college life including its cultural festival, but can now buy quality footwear "without any fear," Modi said, comments that evoked laughter among the students.
Sources in IIT-Madras said the PM might have possibly referred to apprehensions among students that monkeys could probably take away their stuff including such footwear.
Asking the graduating students to make use of the opportunities that await them, Modi however, urged them to keep in mind the needs of the country. "There are great attractive opportunities waiting for you when you step out of this institution. Make use of them. I have one request. No matter where you work, no matter where you live, do keep in mind the needs of your motherland. Think of how your work, innovation, research could help a fellow Indian," he said.
This was not just their social responsibility but also makes 'immense' business sense. "Can you find the most cost-effective and innovative ways to recycle water used in our homes, offices, industries so that our freshwater extraction and use is reduced," he suggested.
As a society, the country wanted to move beyond single-use plastic and what can be an environment-friendly replacement for that, he asked. A replacement that offers similar use but not similar disadvantage. "This is when we look at our young innovators," apparently for solutions, the prime minister noted.
Further, Modi said the foundation of 21st century rested on innovation, teamwork and technology, saying each of this complement each other.
Recalling his previous engagement in the day at the Singapore India Hackathon, Modi said the participants from different backgrounds had worked together to find solutions to common challenges. "This is the power of teamwork, innovation and technology. It benefits not a select few but everyone. Today as India is aspiring to become a USD five trillion economy, your innovations, aspirations and application of technology will fuel this dream," he said.
Lauding the "extremely vibrant startup ecosystem" at the IIT Madras Research Park, Modi said he had witnessed many efforts like electric mobility and artificial intelligence (AI). "All these startups should create unique Indian brands which will make their place in the world market in the future. India's innovation is a great blend of economics and utility," he said.
While the government has worked to create a robust ecosystem for Research and Development in the country, machine learning, AI, robotics and state-of-the-art-technology were all now being introduced to students much earlier, he said.
Atal Tinkering Labs were being created all over the country, besides the Atal Incubation Centres. "The next challenge is to find a market to develop a startup. A Startup India programme is designed to meet this challenge. This programme will support innovations to find their way to the market," the prime minister added.
In addition, the Prime Minister's Research Fellowship programme aimed at promoting R&D in the country and as a result of these measures, India was today one of the top three startup-friendly ecosystems, he said. And the "best part" was that this rise was powered by people from Tier II and III cities and even rural India, Modi added.
He urged the students to be fit, saying achievers like them may run a risk of neglecting their own health as they were immersed in work. Insisting life should be "lively and purposeful," he quoted Swami Vivekananda to say "they alone live who live for others.