AIZAWL, Sept 24 (IANS) - President Pratibha Patil Friday said India intended to increase enrolment in higher education from the present 14 million to about 40 million.
"Higher education has been accorded priority in our country. It is our aim to increase gross enrolment ratio in higher education to 30 percent by the year 2020, which means almost tripling the enrolment from the present 14 million to about 40 million," Patil said here at the the sixth convocation of the Mizoram University.
"Universities of the country, existing and the new ones, will be responsible for achieving this target," she added.
The President said: "Periodic short-term courses for the local community on issues relevant to them like floriculture, mushroom cultivation and medicinal plants can be organised by Mizoram University where students also would participate."
Bamboo flowering and 'jhum' ('slash and burn' method) cultivation, which had caused setbacks to agriculture in the state, need to be studied in-depth, with the aim to deal with them on a scientific basis, she said.
'Mautam' (a local name meaning famine) broke out in 1959 after the mountainous northeastern state of Mizoram witnessed the rare phenomenon of bamboo flowering and subsequent increase in rodent numbers that started emptying granaries and destroying paddy fields.
The famine in 1959 ultimately triggered insurgency by the militant outfit Mizo National Front (MNF), which later turned into a regional mainstream political party.
Underlining the need for undertaking a programme for proper documentation of the state's rich biodiversity, the President said: "It is also important that the university creates certain awareness of the adverse impact of climate change and encourages people to adopt energy efficient and eco-friendly measures."
Terming the faculty members the university's 'lifeblood', Patil said they must, like a friend, always be ready to give advice and guidance to their students on how best they can be ready to face the world.
Expressing her anguish against ragging in campuses, she said: "It is nothing but suppression of new entrants to the campus. I am glad to learn that Mizoram University is free from ragging and hope that it will continue to be so."
"This (absence of ragging) is also a tribute to the Mizo moral code of Tlawmngaihna which imposes an obligation on all members of society to be hospitable, kind, unselfish, and helpful to others," the President said.
The Mizoram University, which turned into a Central university in 2001, was set up in April 25, 2000.