New Delhi, Mar 21 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Wednesday said the government has taken a number of steps to increase literacy, ramp up higher education particularly in science and engineering, impart skills to young citizens and develop vocational education.
Speaking at the Centenary celebrations of the Oxford University Press India here, Dr. Singh said: "India has a large number of young people hungry for education, skills and training and this number is growing in leaps and bounds. It is a challenge as well as an opportunity for us to equip them with the skills they need to find productive, gainful employment and a means to a better future."
Stating that India can fuel the engines of growth of the global knowledge economy, Dr. Singh said: "If we can achieve what we have set out to do, then we can create a huge asset pool in this new knowledge based world."
"But for this the world has to remain open to the flow of such talent and skills. It is for this reason that India seeks a multilateral rule-based regime for the movement of not just intellectual property but also knowledge embodied in natural persons," he added.
Dr. Singh said the present challenge is to widen the population of readers, not just the market for books.
"I see a great hunger for knowledge in our country. We need to provide our people, particularly our youth, access to quality books. While publishing houses may worry more about the number of books sold, we in government must focus on number of books read!" he said.
The Prime Minister said the government recently commissioned a National Mission for Libraries, anchored in the Ministry of Culture, with this objective in mind
"The Mission will focus on improvement of the public library system of the country particularly concentrating on the States where library development is lagging behind. The National Mission hopes to cover approximately 9,000 libraries in three years," said Dr. Singh.
"It will conduct a national census on libraries, work towards upgradation of infrastructure of reading resources, and seek to modernize and promote the networking of libraries," he added.
Dr. Singh also urged the respective state governments and every municipality and panchayat to pay special attention to the setting up and maintenance of public libraries, including community, locality and village libraries.
"The mission that I have been talking about cannot succeed through governmental effort alone. We have to rope in resources available in the community, private sector and non-governmental organizations," said Dr. Singh.
"Affordable modern information technology can be deployed today to extend the resources of our libraries. A young reader sitting in his village public library should be able to access books and information from across the world," he added.
The Prime Minister said the world has come to recognise that India with its youthful population and skilled manpower has the capability to bridge the human resources gap in the global knowledge economy
"For decades, development economists would say that India's population is its curse. Today, as many developed economies grapple with the challenge of ageing, the world has come to recognise that India with its youthful population and skilled manpower has the capability to bridge the human resources gap in the global knowledge economy," he said.
Commending the work done by Oxford University Press India in spreading the light of knowledge in the country, Dr. Singh said: "I wish to take note of two particular initiatives. The first is the effort of the Press in publishing bilingual dictionaries in Indian languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Marathi and many others. The other is OUP's translations programme, through which a 100 titles, including a number of anthologies of Urdu, Bengali, Malayalam Dalit and Tamil Dalit writing, have been published."
"I conclude by conveying my very best wishes to the Oxford University Press India and hoping that they will continue to provide leadership to the publishing industry in the country for many, many years to come," he added. (ANI)