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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said it was a “blot” that Indian universities do not figure among the top 500 of the world and noted that the Government has decided to give autonomy and Rs 10,000 crore to top ten Government and private universities over the next five years to make them world-class.
The Prime Minister also promised all-round development of Bihar and laid the foundation for various big projects worth Rs 3,769 crore at Mokamah, a sub-division under Patna district some 100 km from the State capital.
These projects included four national highways and four sewage treatment plants in Patna under the Namami Gange project.
This was Modi’s first public appearance with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who only a couple of months ago rejoined the BJP-led NDA. Modi praised Nitish and said the Bihar CM's commitment for development of Bihar was well known. “Now, the Centre and State are working together for the progress of Bihar and the State will witness people- oriented works it never witnessed in the last 70 years,” he said at a well-attended public meeting.
The projects being launched are part of the special package of Rs 1.50 lakh crore for Bihar which Modi had announced just before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Addressing the crowd during the centenary celebrations of Patna University here in the presence of Nitish Kumar, Modi said Indian universities such as Nalanda and Takshashila attracted students from all over the world.
“We are not among the top 500. Should we remove this blot or not. The situation should change through our determination and hard work,” Modi said.
He said the Government has come out with a scheme to make ten private and Government universities world-class by providing them autonomy from the constraints of Government rules and freedom to grow.
“They will be given Rs 10,000 crore in the next five years,” Modi said.
He said the selection will not be on any recommendation. “The universities will be selected on the basis of a challenge in which they will be required to prove their mettle. The selection will be based on factors such as history, performance and its roadmap to reach global benchmarks. A third party professional agency will be involved in the selection process,” Modi said.
Modi made this announcement in response to the demand for elevation of Patna University as a Central University. This was an old demand and Kumar made a passionate appeal to Modi for this status in the presence of many Union Ministers, all of whom had been students of the country's seventh university which was established in 1917.
The PM asserted, “Central University status is now an old thing. I want to take this institution a step forward and this move will bring constructive reforms in the education system.”
Saying that the perspective of India in the world has changed and Indian students have shown their ability and worth in different sectors particularly information and technology,
Modi said, "Earlier India was seen as a country of snake charmers and magicians. Long back during a foreign tour someone asked me this question and I told him that earlier we used to play with snakes but now we play with mouse."
Stressing on promotion of innovation instead of cosmetic changes, the PM asked the students to find out user-friendly new technologies to solve human related issues. "Our country has a population of 65 per cent of the people below 35. This generation can bring new innovations for the progress of the country. Today India has fourth position in the world in start up," he added while praising the contributions of PU and said across the country in each State at least five top civil servants had been students of PU.
"The PU is the living example of the seeds sown 100 years ago and many generations got education from here and played their role in the progress of the nation," he said while expressing pleasure that he was the first PM to visit this oldest institution.
The university function had already generated controversy when the organisers did not invite many famous alumni like former CM Lalu Prasad who was also president of PU students union, former Finance Minister and Modi critic Yashwant Sinha who studied and taught here and Shatrughan Sinha to name a few. Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi was the only speaker who mentioned the name of Lalu saying he too was student of this university.
The PM said, "The earlier Governments would announce schemes in view of the elections only to forget them but our Government is implementing the promised projects." He said never before so many schemes for infrastructure development came to Bihar and reminded that in the special package Rs 53,000 crore have been ermarked only for connectivity which would open gates for development.
Union Minister of Surface Transport, Highways, Shipping, Water Resources and River Development Nitin Gadkari read out an exhaustive list of works underway or in pipeline related to his Ministry and said all the schemes would be completed under the time frame.
Thanking Modi and Gadkari for taking interest in the infrastructure development in Bihar, CM Nitish Kumar made some more demands like express highway between Buxar and Benaras and road links with Delhi via Lucknow. He also promised to help in acquisition of land for the purpose. He also stressed on unhindered flow of Ganga in Bihar while keeping the river clean and free from pollution. He suggested that the treated sewerage water should not be released in rivers and rather used for irrigation.
Without naming RJD chief Lalu Prasad, the PM said there were people who used to say that poor people did not need road as it was being used for the movement of cars. "The people with such mentality ruined the State. Today the situation is that villagers and poor people everywhere are demanding road connectivity. Roads are for economic growth and not merely to ply the cars," Modi said.
Earlier Nitish told the PM about the Tal (riverine) areas of Mokamah where water is logged for four months a year. He said it has an area of 1016 sq km covering 1.07 lakh hactares. Saying that it was part of his Lok Sabha constituency Barh which elected him five times he urged the PM for the solutions of problems public were facing. Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi also spoke on the occasion. A galaxy of Union Ministers from Bihar attended the meeting.
He said when the country celebrates the 75th anniversary of Independence Day in 2022, he wants to see Bihar standing among the list of prosperous States.
Modi also said that many top level officials of civil services are students of Patna University.
"In every State, the top levels of the civil services have people who have studied in Patna University. In Delhi, I interact with so many officials, many of whom belong to Bihar... I consider it my honour to visit Patna University and be among the students. I bow to this land of Bihar. This university has nurtured students who have contributed greatly to the nation."
He said that Bihar is blessed with both 'Gyaan' and 'Ganga'. "This land has a legacy that is unique," he said.
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