Kharagpur (West Bengal), July 20 (IANS) President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday expressed concern over the skewed gender ratio in technical institutes of the country, particularly at the IITs, and stressed the need for more participation of girl students in higher education. particularly in science and technology.
Addressing the 64th Convocation of IIT-Kharagpur, he said it should be a national priority to get more girl students in technical institutes and the IIT community must take the lead.
“Without meeting this challenge and without providing the necessary opportunities for our girl child and young women, the development of Indian society can never be possible,” the President said.
He pointed out that while over 1.6 lakh students appeared for the IIT Joint Entrance Examination, only 30,000 of them were girls.
In undergraduate class of IIT, 10,878 students got admission, out of them only 995 were girls. “After that 11,653 students were enrolled among which only 1,925 were girls which is a little above 16 per cent which is not acceptable at all,” he said.
“IIT Kharagpur must act, because it is located in a state (West Bengal) that has historically produced illustrious women achievers who have contributed a great deal to nation building and to our society.”
Pointing to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was also present on the dais, he said: “We are fortunate that one of them, Mamata Banerjee, is present with us today.”
However, Kovind also mentioned that IIT Kharagpur has the largest percentage of women in leadership roles among all IITs, which can inspire junior girl students.
In this context, the President referred to the Infosys Foundation that funds women researchers attending major international conferences. “This is a good step but a long term process,” he said.
He also unveiled the plaque of a girls’ hostel and a guest house in the name of one of his predecessors A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.
Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi was also present on the occasion.