Kolkata: Former director of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Padmanabhan Balaram on Saturday criticised the country's sole preoccupation with politics and its fading culture of learning and scholarship.
The Padma Bhushan awardee was addressing students at Presidency University's third annual convocation, which has been on the boil with a section of students keeping Vice Chancellor Anuradha Lohia in confinement since Friday demanding her resignation.
In apparent reference to student protests, Balaram said: "We read (in newspapers every day) one Indian leader or the other bemoaning the fact that not a single university or institute in India is ranked amongst the best in the world.
"It is a question which I have faced for almost a decade as the director of India's most visible institution in science and engineering (IISc)."
"We must ask what is it that preoccupies our country today. Our country primarily is preoccupied with only one subject and that is politics.
"There is no other subject that attracts attention. It is a subject that occupies centrestage. Where is learning?" the renowned biochemist questioned.
Exhorting students to respect the institution they study in and the teachers who guide them, Balaram said India's university teachers were accorded very little respect.
"How much respect do our university teachers get today? Very little from our surroundings and very little from our students," he said.
"We must bring scholarship back to our institutions," he stressed.