The quality of faculty in IITs and IIMs has divided the government, with HRD minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday politely rebuffing his Cabinet colleague Jairam Ramesh for his criticism of poor faculty in these institutions of higher learning.
In a sharp riposte to environment minister’s comment that IIT was not doing quality research, the HRD minister said, “We need to base our discussion on evidence not on perception.”
“There is hardly any worthwhile research from our IITs. The faculty in the IIT is not world class. It is the students in IITs who are world class. So the IITs (Indian Institute of Technology) and IIMs (Indian Institute of Management) are excellent because of the quality of students not because of quality of research or faculty,” Ramesh had told reporters on the sidelines of a function in the national Capital on May 23.
Unlike Ramesh’s remark that was made in his individual capacity, Sibal had the endorsement of the Group of Ministers on media briefing. The GoM — consisting of home minister P Chidambaram, I&B minister Ambika Soni, health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, minority and corporate affairs minister Salman Khurshed and others — had decided that the record on the issue should be set straight. Many IIT/IIM directors had also protested to Sibal about Ramesh’s remark.
While not joining issue with Ramesh, Sibal said the comment of environment minister should be seen in the light of general opinion within the country that the quality of faculty in IITs does not match the world standards. “But in case of IITs, the situation might not be the same,” he said.
He said if factors like availability of foreign faculty, foreign students and medical courses are excluded, IIT-Bombay would rank 20 in the global index, followed by IIT-Delhi at 24, IIT-Kanpur (37) and IIT Madras (39). “If you talk of IITs as engineering institutes they are right there,” he said. Sibal also said 24.7% of teachers in IITs were IIT students. “Surely they are world class,” he said.
However, the HRD minister admitted that in “reality IITs have not gained critical mass to change global scientific discourse”.
He said, “But this has nothing to do with the quality of faculty. It is related to the ecosystem. In India, $8 billion is spent on research whereas the US spends $250 billion. The kind of research grants available abroad is absent in India. Also, there is lack of infrastructure and capital investment. The faculty cannot be blamed for this.”
In reality, IITs have not gained critical mass to change global scientific discourse... But this has nothing to do with the quality of faculty Kapil Sibal| HRD MINISTER