President Pranab Mukherjee described the last Nizam of Hyderabad State Mir Osman Ali Khan, who founded Osmania University 100 years ago, as a visionary.
Inaugurating the centenary celebrations of the university on Wednesday, the President said that the Nizam had a dream of establishing a world standard institution of higher learning in Hyderabad.
"Hundred years ago on this day, a visionary Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam of Hyderabad had a vision, had a dream to establish an institution in Hyderabad which will be world-standard," he said while launching the three-day celebrations.
He said the university witnessed momentous changes in these 100 years, including the two world wars, India's independence and formation of Telangana.
The President said Osmania University was established with the dream that it will be a place where free minds will meet, there will be freely exchanged ideas and views and they will live in peaceful co-existence.
Mukherjee voiced concern that the Indian universities were lagging far behind in basic research and innovation.
"We cannot achieve excellence in education if basic research and innovation is neglected. I don't blame the academic institutions alone because substantially it required uninterrupted flow of funds and it comes either from government or from industries."
Stating that state funding is not possible to the extent required, he said that industries must come forward and there must be an interface between industry and academic institutions.
"Chairs should be created, special research projects should be endowed by the industry. It should develop vested interest in education, in research, in advancement of science and development, then only we will not only be able to occupy our rightful place in map of education system but also economically being advanced we will occupy rightful place in the international community."
Mukherjee said that at every educational congregation, he underlined the need for excellence.
"In many capacity as ex-officio visitor of more than 100 central institutions and for last five years when I assumed this office almost like a parrot in every education congregation, I emphasize on having excellence, on achieving international standard, finding universities of India, institutions of higher learning in India occupying rightful place in the world list brought out by internationally reputed agencies."
Stating that there has been huge development of higher educational institutions, the President said building a few IITs, NITs and ICARs will not be enough.
"We shall have to develop our universities as model, as the temples of modern learning where mighty minds will come from all over world both in the form of teachers and students."
He pointed out that for almost 1,500 to 1,600 years India had a leading role in the field of higher education in the international community.
He said institutions like Takshila, Nalanda and others were in ruins but for more than 1000 years they brought mighty minds, talent from all over the world in the form of teachers and students, who exchanged views and advanced learning on the basic principle of humanism.
He quoted India's first Education Minister Moulana Abul Kalam Azad to emphasise the need for research, innovation and interaction with society and said universities can't live in isolation.
Mukherjee suggested that institutions of higher learning must have close interlinkage with its hinterland, the society and surroundings they are located in. He observed that the institutions should try to solve the problems of society.
It was on this day in 1917 that Mir Osman Ali Khan issued a 'farmaan' or royal decree for establishing the university.
It was the first university in the Indian subcontinent with Urdu as the medium of instruction. After India's independence, English replaced Urdu as the medium of instruction.
Vice Chancellor S. Ramachandram said the university had over one crore alumni and many of them were contributing to the well being of society.
Telangana Governor ESL Narasimhan, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and others attended the inaugural ceremony of the centenary celebrations.