Sibal says Jairam’s comments on IITs and IIMs are an insider’s view

A day after environment minister and IITian Jairam Ramesh rued the quality of research and faculty at India’s premier technology and management educational institutions, he got support from human resources minister Kapil Sibal.

Sibal, talking to the media, pointed out that Indian IITs and IIMs — on which many Indians feel proud — are not usually included in the lists of top 100 institutions in the world.

“If it was world class, it would be in the top 100 institutions in the world. If it’s now, we should ask why,” Sibal asked.

Sibal pointed out that Jairam Ramesh — one of the most intelligent and witty ministers in the council of ministers — had a right to come out with a strong opinion on the IITs and IIMs, since he himself is a product of IIT Madras.

“He has an insider’s view.. He’s talking in the light of his own experience,” Sibal pointed out.

Yesterday, Jairam Ramesh had stated what many others in India believe, but don’t dare say out in the open. He pointed out that because the number of seats in institutes like the Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institutes of Management are very limited, only the very very top class students manage to qualify for admission.

Thanks to the mega-competition and the selection of these ultra-bright students — the cream of India’s graduates and undergraduates who go out to blaze new trails — IIMs and IITs have also got the aura of being world class.

He pointed out that the contribution of the institution, its research infrastructure and its faculty was not as high as should be, for world class institutions. “They are world class because of the students, not because of the faculty,” he pointed out.

Jairam has, at other venues, rued that Indian institutions do not produce quality research because of the lack of strong industry-institute liaisons and collaboration. In comparison, most of the top Universities in the US find many of their research and ideas go on to become the base for big companies like Google.

Jairam’s comments have been criticized by faculty from many IIMs and IITs who called him “ignorant,” among other things.