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Opening Remarks by Ambassador at the Inauguration of India Switzerland Education Summit in Bern on February 28, 2019

Posted on: February 28, 2019 | Back | Print

Opening Remarks by Ambassador at the Inauguration of India Switzerland Education Summit in Bern on February 28, 2019

Good Afternoon everybody,

Hon’ble Prof. Michael O. Hengartner, President of Zurich Univesrity, Professors, Dignitaries, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin by thanking the Education Wing of the Embassy for the initiative in organising this major event today. I am very happy that we have a series of good presentations lined up today. I thank Prof Hengartner and other senior professors for joining us today. 

In ancient India, since the Vedic times, we had Gurukul and Ashrams as centers of learning.  And with evolving times a large number of centers of learning were established across ancient India including Nalanda and Taxashila which dates back to 5th century BCE. The Gurukul system of Education in India focussed on the wholesome development of an individual. It focussed on Self-control, Character development, Social awareness, Personality development, Intellectual development, Spiritual development and Preservation of knowledge & culture. It is through this system of Gurukul and Ashrams that the systems of Ayurveda and Yoga have evolved. It is sad that sometimes many these elements are missing in today’s highly specialised modern education system. We sometimes miss the bigger picture. 

After India became independent in 1947, one of the priorities of the Government was to set up world class education institutes across the country. As with agriculture and industry, India developed its own institutions for scientific education and research including prestigious IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology), the CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research), the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the National Physical and Chemical Laboratories, the AIIMS (All India Institutes for Medical Sciences), and many other such institutions all over India. These institutes produced some of the best minds in the world who have contributed to the progress of India and the world. As part of India’s economic transformation today, India has also witnessed a transformation in the Education sector. India today produces largest number of engineers and doctors in the world. We will have a presentation on this transformation in the education sector today. 

It is for a reason we have chosen today February 28 to organise this event. ‘National Science Day’ is celebrated in India on 28 February each year to mark the discovery of the Raman effect by Indian physicist Sir C V Raman on 28 February 1928. For his discovery, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930. This day is celebrated all over the country in schools, colleges, universities and other academic, scientific, technical, medical and research institutions. The theme for this year’s Science Day is ‘Science for People and People for Science’. I am happy to inform that this year we propose to celebrate ‘India Year of Science and Technology in Switzerland’ to highlight the progress that India made in the field of science and technology and to work towards further strengthening the cooperation between India and Switzerland in Science and Technology. 

The engagement between India and Switzerland is growing in Education and Science and Technology sector as in many other sectors. During the State visit to India President of the Swiss Confederation, Her Excellency Mrs. Doris Leuthard in August 2017, both countries issued a Joint Statement which called our relationship as a ‘A Longstanding Dynamic Partnership’. It reviewed the 70 years of relationship between India and Switzerland and set the agenda for taking this relationship to a new level of partnership. 

In the joint statement, both sides recalled the new knowledge creation through the intensification of networking between researchers and higher education institutions of both countries. They also welcomed the deepening of cooperation on Skill Development and Capacity Building. 

I am happy to note that this year Government of India has honouned Dr. Rajendra Joshi, an Indian origin Swiss scientist, with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award for his contributions to Science. 

Today, over 30 cooperation agreements exist between Swiss and Indian research institutions, either at the university level or at the faculty level. These involve the best universities on both sides, including the Indian institute of Science, the Indian Institutes of Technology Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Roorkee, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, Vishwa Bharati University, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, the National Law School of India University, Anna University, Centre for Planning and Architecture, amongst others. This cooperation and this list is expanding, so is the number of Indian students coming to Switzerland for higher studies in Switzerland. 

It is in context of growing engagement of India and Switzerland in the education and knowledge sector that we are meeting today. I once again thank Prof Hengatner and other professors for joining us today. 

We have a set of good presentations lined up for today. 

I wish you a fruitful day.

Thank you.