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Govt emphasising infra development in NE: Modi
Staff Reporter

Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually delivering the convocation address at the 22nd convocation of IIT Guwahati on Tuesday. – UB Photos
 GUWAHATI, Sept 22 - The North East is the centre for India’s Act East Policy and new opportunities are being created here as the government is laying emphasis on development of infrastructure, including railways, highways, airways and waterways, in this part of the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday. He was addressing the 22nd Convocation of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati through video conferencing.

 “The North East region is the centre for India’s Act East Policy. The North East is the gateway to India’s relations with South East Asia. The mainstays of our relation with the countries of South East Asia have been culture, commerce, connectivity and capacity. Now education is going to be another medium of our engagement. And IIT Guwahati can become a major hub of this. It will provide new opportunities to the North East,” said Modi, who was the chief guest of the event and delivered the convocation address from New Delhi.

“Major infrastructure development projects in railways, highways, airways and waterways are being taken up to give fillip to development of the North East. This is giving rise to new opportunities for the entire North East.”

Modi said the North East faces some major challenges and IIT Guwahati can help tackle those. “Assam and the North East is a region full of possibilities. But floods, earthquakes, landslides and industrial disasters affect the region. Energy and efforts of the state governments of the region gets spent is tackling those issues. A high degree of technological support and intervention is needed to effectively deal with such problems. I request IIT Guwahati to set up a Centre for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction. Such a centre can provide expertise to handle disasters in the region and could also convert challenges into opportunities,” he said.

Modi said that with transformation in the economy and society, there is also a need to bring changes in the “science and technology landscape of India”. “I am very happy to note that IIT Guwahati has already started making efforts in that direction,” said Modi.

The Prime Minister told the graduating students that the North East has made a major contribution in their lives. “You all have seen the region, understood the region, felt the region. You should now also think of how your research work can make a connection with the challenges faced by the North East and also the opportunities and potential that exist in the region. For example, major opportunities exist in the North East in areas of solar energy, wind energy, biomass and hydroelectric energy. The region has resources like rice, tea and bamboo.

“Can some innovation be developed for benefit of the tourism industry? The North East has a rich biodiversity. There is lot of traditional knowledge and skills in the region which has been transferred from one generation to the next. Can we connect that with modern technology? Can we create new technologies through such fusion? I believe IIT Guwahati can play a major role in this and the institute should set up a Centre for Indian Knowledge System,” said the Prime Minister.

He said the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is intended to meet the needs of the 21st century and to make India a global leader in science and technology. He said the NEP has been made multi-disciplinary and it offers flexibility in choosing various courses, besides allowing multiple entry and exit points. NEP 2020 proposes a National Research Foundation for better coordination with all agencies regarding research funding.

“We are moving towards a kind of eco-system in which our students will not only learn from technology but will also innovate to create new technologies. For members of the IIT family this will provide infinite possibilities,” Modi said.

In his speech, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said IIT Guwahati is one of the best institutes in different sectors like research, innovation and rankings. “IIT Guwahati has also worked towards the idea of Atmanirbhar Bharat during COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Union Minister of State for Education Sanjay Dhotre also spoke during the convocation through video conferencing. A total of 1,803 students were awarded degrees during the event which was held in a ‘virtual mode’ on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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