Sibal rebutts Jairam Ramesh, blames lack of ecosystem for poor research

Union minister for Human Research Development minister Kapil Sibal has defended the staff of India’s premier management and technical institutions in the ongoing controversy set off by environment minister Jairam Ramesh.

Sibal pointed out that he does not believe it is the fault of the faculty alone that has kept research in India on such a poor scale and that India too will catch with Western nations in the coming years.

Sibal, under whose ministry education falls, has been forced to defend the institutions after his friend Jairam Ramesh set off a controversy by saying what many feel — that the students carry a disproportionate share of the burden to make India’s institutions ‘World Class’.

He said India simply doesn’t have all the missing pieces required to foment a healthy research and development culture in its universities and institutions like the IIMs and the IITs.

“We simply don’t have the ecosystem for research like it is there in countries like the US,” Sibal said at a press conference.

He pointed out that given the constraints that the professors at India’s IITs and IIMs are forced to work, we haven’t done too poorly.

“If the US spends $250 billion a year on research and the whole of India spends $8 billion, you can’t blame the faculty,” Sibal said, adding that we [read Jairam Ramesh] need to “base our discussions on evidence and not on perceptions.”

He also gave out statistics to defend the growth in research in India. The IITs and IIMs come under Sibal’s ministry.

Sibal also pointed out that the IITs were not originally set up as research centres, but as a way to create lots of engineers for the country.

“The purpose of the IITs was to produce as many BTechs as possible, not PHds. It is only in the last couple of years that we have been saying that we need a lot of post graduates, doctors.. Historically, these institutions were not meant for research,” he said.

“In 10 or 12 years time, our R&D institutions would gain that eminence,” he added.

“We have begun the journey and we will attain that critical mass,” he added. Sibal said the government is taking actions like allowing PhDs to do consulting, giving loan wavers for research students etc..

Jairam Ramesh had pointed out that IITs and IIMs are World Class because of the World Class student and not necessarily its infrastructure and faculty. “The minister [Jairam] is entitled to his opinion,” Sibal, always quick to defend Jairam in the past, said.


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