|Sibal and Ramesh
New Delhi, May 26: The government today said nobody should blame the faculty if the IITs and IIMs were not world class, clarifying its position after a chorus of protests that followed minister Jairam Rameshs controversial comments earlier this week.
Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal also cited figures to claim that the premier tech schools were indeed world class.
The clarification came three days after environment minister Ramesh decried what he said was poor quality of research at the IITs. There is hardly any worthwhile research from our IITs. The faculty in the IITs is not world class. It is students in IITs who are world class, Ramesh, an alumnus of IIT Bombay, had said on Monday on the sidelines of a meeting.
Sibal today said he had received complaints not only from academics and the media but also from the faculty members themselves.
Asked at a media briefing if the complaints forced the government to come out with the clarification, he said: Every faculty member does not have my mobile number but, yes, those who have, called up.
When someone asked if it was an ideal situation to be in for the government when it has to spend time explaining ministerial goof-ups, Sibal said this is a democratic country and ministers are entitled to their views.
But sources in both the Congress and the government said most leaders felt Rameshs comments were uncalled for and irresponsible.
When we talk of discipline, you say a gag order has been issued, a party general secretary said. But is there any need for ministers to make casual statements on every subject?
Although Salman Khurshid yesterday tried to dismiss Rameshs comment as an academic view and not a ministerial statement, another minister, Ashwini Kumar, openly criticised him.
But the controversy didnt die down because the IITs and the IIMs had taken strong objection, forcing the government to issue the formal clarification. There is a general perception that the calibre of contributions by the scientific community does not match global standards. The recent comment made by a minister should be seen in the light of that generality. But the situation may not be exactly the same, Sibal said.
I have to squarely place the Government of Indias position on the table, he added. In the global index, IIT Mumbai is ranked 21st, IIT Delhi 24th, Kanpur 37th and Madras 39th. Thats reported in the Anil Kakodkar Committee report. I place on record our complete trust in the faculty of the IITs and IIMs. We should not forget 25 per cent of the faculty members were students of IITs.
Sibal admitted that the premier institutions might not have attained the critical mass needed to change the global scientific discourse but made it clear that the faculty was not to be blamed for that. The US spends $250 billion on research while India spends only $8 billion, he said.
He also argued that the original objective of the IITs was to produce world-class graduates, which they have been doing.
Sibal agreed that the quality of research remained an area of concern but said the government had taken measures to address that problem.
Sibal, however, took care not to directly rebuff Jairam. He insisted that the governments clarification shouldnt be viewed as a rebuke as differences could exist between the governments formal position and personal views expressed at a programme.
Jairam had earlier been reprimanded by the Prime Minister and the party for talking about anti-Chinese sentiments among a section of the Indian establishment while he was touring that country.