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War of words over Jairam Ramesh slamming IITs, IIMs

Tuesday May 24, 2011 07:59:05 PM, IANS

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IIT, IIM faculty is not world-class, says Jairam Ramesh

New Delhi: Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh's comment on IITs and IIMs not having world-class faculty led to a debate Tuesday among political parties, academicians and students.

While Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal and alumni supported Ramesh's view, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) slammed the minister for blaming the institutions for inefficiency.

Ramesh had Monday said the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), the country's top educational institutions, were surviving only because of their quality students but did not have world-class faculty.

Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal Tuesday agreed that India lacked in world-class standards.

"In the situation today, is even one of our institutions world class? If it is world class, it must be in the top 100, 150 institutions in the world. That is not evident," Sibal said.

Sibal also said the environment minister must be talking about his own experience.

"Of course, Jairam is talking about himself because he is a world class student and he is an IITian himself, so he has insider knowledge himself," Sibal told NDTV.

Slamming the statement, the BJP said India can have such institutions only when it has "world-class ministers".

"We'll not have world class institutions till we have world class ministers," party spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters Tuesday.

"The BJP would like to state categorically that we are proud of the IITs and the IIMs. All over the world, the presence of India is marked by IITs and IIMs," he said.

The Congress, while maintaining that the IITs and IIMs are world class institutions, questioned the BJP's right to make the comment.

"As far as IITs and IIMs are concerned there is no ambiguity about their contribution to Indian academia. I do not know in what context he (Ramesh) has made this remark. He is really the best person to answer that," said Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari.

"We do not appreciate comments from third class people on who should be first class and who should not be," he added.

While the political battle brewed, academicians, students and alumni had mixed response on the issue.

Alumni associations from the IIT-Delhi and IIT-Kharagpur demanded higher salary and perks for the faculty to attract new minds and sustain IIT's brand globally.

"The current pay scales of IIT faculty are very unattractive. A fresh graduate attracts more salary," IIT Kharagpur Alumni Association member Y.P.S. Suri told IANS.

Programme director of the IIT Delhi Alumni Association V.K. Saluja agreed.

"We appeal to the government to make faculty salary levels inspiring enough to attract new minds. Adding new IITs has made this problem more acute and hence the urgency of the matter," he said.

Disagreeing, Sebastian Morris, a professor at IIM-Ahmedabad, said if faulty had no role, students would have been recruited directly after the joint entrance exams (JEE) for the IITs or the common aptitude test (CAT) for the IIMs.

"If only good students have made to the IITs and the IIMs, then the question is why don't recruiting agencies offer jobs directly to those who score high on JEE and CAT. Surely organisations can do without the training that these 'mundane' institutions provide," Morris told IANS.

"Also many IIT and IIM faculty are themselves alumni of these very institutions or have degrees from world class institutions. If indeed the majority of the faculty have such pedigree, then by Jairam's own admission of the students being good, the faculty (at least as individuals) should be excellent," he added.




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