4 reasons why Jairam Ramesh is right about IITs

By BHAMY V. SHENOY

Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh has done a signal service to the IITs and IIMs by calling into question the “world-class” qualifications of their faculty

Jairam should know: he is himself an almunus of IIT Bombay, where his father Prof C.K. Ramesh was on the faculty of the structural engineering department.

However, instead of appreciating the minister for his candour and assessing how we can go about applying correctives, the alumni and faculty of many these institutions are up in arms. (We can easily excuse the politicians for their politically motivated comments.)

I agree with Jairam that IITs and IIMs are well known today because of the outstanding performance of their BTech students and not because of either their PhDs or research output or teaching faculties. Of course, there are few outstanding world-class professors at these institutes. But they are an exception and not the rule.

Before holding Ramesh guilty, can we try to get answers to the following questions?

1) Compared to even the second tier institutions in the world, how does the research performed by IITs and IIMs compare both in quality and quantity with other world-class institutions?

2) How many BTech alumni and MBA alumni with PhDs are professors in IITs and IIMs? We are likely to find far more of them in foreign countries than in India. Why? What does this say of the quality of IIT and IIM faculty?

3) Just about every government institution suffers from lack of proper management coupled with poor governance. What has been the efforts of the IIM faculty to study and contribute to their improvement? A world-class faculty would have taken such a challenge to contribute to India’s development.

4) Every one knows about India’s energy crisis. A world-class faculty would have taken up the challenge of contributing to this sector. Has any one heard of any great breakthroughs in energy sector by IITs?

I am an alumnus of IIT Madras and have worked in different parts of the world in the international oil industry.

My effort to promote an energy institute (most leading world class institutes have such institutes) did not get any support from the faculty members of IIT Madras. A world-class faculty would have established such energy study centres and many such critical centers of excellence a long time back.

I rest my case.

Also read: Why Tata Steel (and others) won’t recruit IITians

‘Mediocrity is fast becoming a way of life in India’

CHURUMURI POLL: Do our B-schools have a problem?

External reading: Forever third-class