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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Nation builders and innovators

On the birth anniversary of the father of Indian engineering, Sir M Visvesvaraya, it is important to appreciate and take stock of the past, present and future of engineering in India

Written by Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank | September 14, 2020 7:58:52 pm
M Visvesvaraya was not only an exceptional engineer but also an eminent scholar and a wise statesman, writes Minister of Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank.

India celebrates the 159th birth anniversary of the father of Indian engineering, M Visvesvaraya on September 15. He was not only an exceptional engineer but also an eminent scholar and a wise statesman. His book Planned Economy for India is a masterpiece in the field of economic planning. He was awarded the highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, in 1955 for his copious contributions to nation-building.

Society flourishes because of the planners and developers who provide it with missions and visions. Engineers are the architects of the nations, the real builders of socio-economic infrastructure. One of the earliest engineering colleges in India, Thomson College, was established in the constituency I represent in Parliament. We can even see the engineering contribution of Thomson College in the form of the Ganga Canal project while travelling along the Delhi-Dehradun highway. We have come a very long way from Thomson College to globally-renowned IITs.

Engineering holds strategic importance in India’s economic development. The government, through its various initiatives, is committed to providing a platform to enhance engineering advancements in India. A few of the critical initiatives are Make in India, Start-up India, the Smart Cities Mission, and Skill India, which are visionary for job-creation and entrepreneurship through multi-skilled development programmes for all socio-economic groups. In the words of the Prime Minister, India possesses the 3Ds — demography, democracy and demand — which help in the growth of business and the development of the nation and engineering sectors. In the next 10 years, India is poised to become one of the largest manufacturing destinations in the world.

The current pandemic has posed a difficult question to the entire human race. At such a crucial time, engineers have been the unsung heroes of the hour. They have played a central role in nation-building in terms of ideation, improvisation, invention and innovation. While monitoring the YUKTI portal of our ministry regularly, it’s gratifying to see the contribution, collaboration, and healthy competition amongst our higher education institutions to develop solutions for the various problems brought on by the pandemic. Our supply of ventilators and PPE kits, automated solutions to disease monitoring, integrating sensor-based applications like Aarogya Setu to assist, detect and prevent the spread of the disease, thermal-monitoring devices using infrared waves, satellite-facilitated population density measuring applications to analyse the vulnerability of the outbreaks region-wise are few of the outstanding offerings of engineers to humanity during the pandemic. This not only prevented the spread of the disease but also helped in the strengthening of STEM disciplines and knowledge, boosting domestic industries and ensuring “vocal for local” for Bharat to become Atmanirbhar.

As the Prime Minister says, engineers are synonymous with “diligence and determination”, and the nation is genuinely grateful for their invaluable contributions. From the invention of fire to the fourth industrial revolution, engineers have played a pivotal role in the progression of humanity. They have built dams that enable electricity generation, transcended interstellar spaces, made quantum computers, developed bio-engineered capsules for targeted drug delivery, and created wings for humans to soar high in the sky. Over the years, engineers gave new dimensions to the world and in parallel modulated their roles to re-engineer themselves and society.

In today’s world, engineers and entrepreneurs are synonymous as they dream, research, create and contribute to produce the most prolific products which enable developments that touch every sphere of life.

To nurture these brilliant minds of the nation, the Ministry of Education has come up with outstanding programmes, missions and schemes. For example, we have been supporting technology, focusing on the major SDGs for health and education, water resource management, energy consumption, and conservation, with initiatives like IMPRINT, building digital libraries like the National Digital Library, and investing in schemes like UAY to promote problem-specific industrial research and innovations and ensure good manufacturing. Over the years, engineers from around the country have participated in the Smart Indian Hackathon (SIH) and have come up with solutions for the most burning problems of our society. To bring international perspective and exposure, we have established synergies through schemes like GIAN and GIAN+.

We are committed to bringing engineering education in our country in tune with the requirements of the future, which is based on cohesion of knowledge and skills. The NEP proposes to train engineers in a manner that they are sensitive towards local problems while having a global perspective. They will master AI and machine learning and also understand the most significant software codes of human interactions. The policy emphasises both contents as well as patents; it has options and opportunities which will enable us to reform, transform, and perform.

As we remember the finest civil engineer of all time, the founder of India’s engineering infrastructure, M Visvesvaraya on this day, my kudos to all the engineers of the nation, who are the pillars of India’s sustainability and development. Sir M V is a true motivation for engineers. His legacy will inspire the generations to come.

The writer is Union minister for education

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