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Updated: May 26, 2011 01:38 IST

IIMs, IITs paying little attention to research: Sibal

Manas Dasgupta
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Kapil Sibal
The Hindu Kapil Sibal

Brighter students completed their courses from these institutes and went abroad to do research

Union Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal on Wednesday lamented the lack of attention towards research activities by premier institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).

Talking to mediapersons here during his visit to Gujarat, Mr. Sibal avoided a direct answer on the controversial statement by his Cabinet colleague — Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh — on the IITs and IIMs, but said these institutions so far focused only on churning out graduates and paid little attention towards research. “When IITs were set up, majority of courses were of B. Tech.,” Mr. Sibal said, adding that M. Tech. was never a priority in the initial phases.

Only churning graduates

He said most of the courses were targeted to churn out graduates. He further observed that the brighter students who wanted to go for research completed their courses from these institutes and then moved abroad to pursue their interest. He pointed out that as compared to United States and China, which allocated $250 billion and about $60 billion respectively for research, in India the allocation for research was only about $8 million. However, he expressed happiness that the number of students in post-graduate courses in theses institutes had started growing now which further opened the scope for research.

Dig at Modi regime

Mr. Sibal took a dig at the Narendra Modi government for not taking adequate steps to implement the Right to Education Act (RTE). He pointed out that though the RTE was enacted last year, the Gujarat government had not even finalised the norms for the neighbourhood schools.

“Now money is lying with us for setting up schools, employing teachers and providing all the support, but unless norms are framed, we cannot give them the money,” he said, and added that it was unfair for the children of the State who were not getting what they “deserve rightfully.”

Gujarat, he pointed out, also had so far not constituted the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR). He said that in spite of the government's tall claims of success in the “Vibrant Gujarat Industrial” summits, more than 1.62-lakh children, largely from the disadvantaged section of society, were still out of schools. The State was also lagging behind the national rate of enrolment of the girl child in schools. About 50 per cent of the schools for the girls did not have the toilet facilities for the students.

If the US and China are allotting 250 billion dollars and 60 billion dollars respectively and India is sparing merely 8 million dollars, it shows the regard we have for research. In addition to it, Indian education system system is job oriented and and encourages cramming and obedience rather than originality. No wonder Research takes a back seat. Bureaucratization and profit-mongering are also hampering our growth.We have to reduce unnecessary pressure on students and encourage cultural activities, sports, NSS, NCC etc, to enable students find what they want . The really research minded OUGHT TO OPT FOR RESEARCH RATHER THAN FAT SALARIES.

from:  J.Ravindranath
Posted on: Nov 12, 2011 at 17:56 IST

Though I don't want to spoil my mind by pointing out the series flaws in Indian Education System but it's a matter of concern.
He is very right that we are lagging behind in research but the main cause of this are:

GOVERNMENT-It just not rendering the attention as well as the required fund to the premier institutes

STUDENTS-Because of their mentality,students,talking about the ones who are in IITs & IIMs, think that they will easily get the hafty packages after graduation.
PROFESSORS-Now they don't pay attention to their valuable asset-LEARNERS,LABS and ofcourse BOOKS.

When all these factors grouped together then it raises the INDIAN EDUCATION whose aim never leads to RESEARCH.

from:  Dinesh Shekhawat
Posted on: Jul 3, 2011 at 23:57 IST

The key factor that keeps U.S. at the forefront of research is that only projects that are basically prioneering are funded by NSF (National Science Foundation) and NIH(National Institutes of Health) there. Projects funded by agencies like ICMR and DST etc here are applied, which is good for the country, but does not encourage basic breakthroughs. So we end up applying the ideas and innovations that come from U.S. The second factor is that universities in US are specialized: they are either research universities like Berkeley, MIT, or teaching universities. In research universities, teaching load is low, sometimes faculty do not teach at all.
Also post-docs in U.S. are supported through research funds only, hence their position is temporary, there are no permanent scientist positions like in India. This is not desirable, but it is something which keeps the post docs always motivated: the only way they can be independent is to write a good grant, and employ people themselves.

from:  Preetham Kumar
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 22:57 IST

wow. another way to distract the people of this country from main issues of corruption, poverty and misgovernance etc. and etc. . . this incidence actually proves that upa ministers actually don't do their work rather go on making unnecessary comments about prestigious institutions like iit. what qualification does he have to make these comments. wake up upa . it is high time that you set up your house in order than going aroun the bush.

from:  Sundar g
Posted on: May 31, 2011 at 22:45 IST

1. The total student population of ALL THE FIFTEEN IITs combined is approx 12,000 in a country whose population is 1.2 billion.
2. The total student population of ONLY MIT is 12,000 and that of University of Texas is 50,000.
3. The amount of research that MIT and Texas produce is INCOMPARABLE to the amount that the 15 IITs produce COMBINED.

India needs universities modeled along the lines of Berkeley, Michigan, Gtech, Texas, Virginia, etc. Ones that are able educated the masses and also produce excellent research that will make a contribution to society. Each of our IITs must have a student population of 50,000 and not 500 and they should produce quality research. Quality education must be offered to all. The performance of the student, not the admission to a particular university, should determine the student's academic capabilities.

IITs are currently using admissions tests to select Indians that are the best at taking these tests, then polish the students and export them abroad. Might I add that they use tax payer money to do so.

from:  Bombayiite
Posted on: May 29, 2011 at 12:21 IST

Eight million vs. 60 billion and 250 billion says everything...and apart from investment of money for all these "crazy" national development stuff one needs a set of values of fierce nationalism and a desire to be the best which is missing in Indian culture in general.These values come from people right at the top in ideal situations because they are our leaders... It is high time for political class to think if they really want our country to become some super power.

from:  Chinmay
Posted on: May 28, 2011 at 11:43 IST

Both Mr. Sibal and Mr. Jairam Ramesh are correct - IIT students as well as IIT/IIM professors are world class - politics in IIT and lack of government funding for research that is to be noted. We have talent but that is not being utilised

from:  swaminathanP
Posted on: May 27, 2011 at 04:13 IST

Though IIT professors vehemently oppose Jairam's view, it's conspicuous that India lacks both Quality and Quantity when it comes to research and development. Long gone are the days that teaching was done with absolute dedication in our country and now it is for people who are unfit anywhere and is their last resort. Instead of abusing him, they better start accepting the fact and do something about this. Government funding to R&D is a key factor and unless we stop the brain drain, the quality of the faculty and R&D contribution of India will be less than significant.

from:  Srinivasan M
Posted on: May 27, 2011 at 00:11 IST

Being myself an IIT student, I can understand this scene in a better way as compared to most of the people. Not much of the faculty here are of high standard and if there are some, 90% of them don't care much about their students (especially Undergraduates). This situation has been made worse by the poor research facilities and outdated lab instruments. I know a couple of post-graduate level courses which were completed without a lab! Although loads of funding is provided but it is being spent on wasteful things, and more importantly here you won't get the environment for inventing things, creating new ideas, doing something useful (at least from the faculty's side...but students learns a lot with the friends and classmates). Teachers are all busy trying for the promotion and believes in oppressing the students as they have all the power to grade them. Hardly any appreciation is given to the best young minds in the country. :(

from:  Ashish
Posted on: May 26, 2011 at 23:50 IST

I think Mr Ramesh is right IIT should have more attention towards practical implementation and research should be more..

from:  deepak
Posted on: May 26, 2011 at 23:33 IST

A matter of great importance is being completely missed in this ongoing debate: The present day IIT students are not as good as these two ministers are assuming. The skewed distribution - geographical and "coaching institutional" - of JEE qualifiers does not indicate that this exam is doing a great job at identifying youngsters with innate intellectual potential. The single-minded focus on this one exam interferes with the overall intellectual growth of children. Communication skills, general awareness, ability to argue a point in plain language, etc of these students are at the best average for their age. The above observation is purely anecdotal and not supported by any scientific data. A scientific investigation on 1) JEE's performance and 2) its impact on overall personality development are urgently needed.

from:  K. Subramaniam
Posted on: May 26, 2011 at 21:55 IST

While the remark of Mr. Ramesh may have a grain of truth, it is on the whole a rather immature remark to make. One might as well make statements of the form we don't have enough medal winners at the olympics as the best teams, or that we don't have enough quality writers, or for that matter social scientists, or more pertinently, honest politicians... in fact the real truth is that we don't have enough people who can read or write !

Any such occupation requires significant investment, and adequate support institutions for a significant amount of time. After a freak, though not undeserved victory in the 1983 world cup, it took over 20 years of growing investment to produce the kind of support system and competitive pyramid to produce a team of 11/15 that could win the world cup.

Being a politician, endowed with the power to formulate and guide policy, it would be good if Mr. Ramesh utilized his oratorical skills towards more constructive endeavors.

from:  R.R
Posted on: May 26, 2011 at 21:51 IST

And the government is paying little attention to governance. Mr. Sibal, why don't you focus on your work rather than poking nose where you are totally disqualified to comment.

from:  vihang bhatt
Posted on: May 26, 2011 at 16:23 IST

It is a fact that good students passing out of IITs and later getting 'trained' into publishing and conducting systematic research elsewhere have made IIT proud (owing part of their glory to the roots).

Say, person with 90% enthusiasm in learning is pushed to 91% in IIT (if he/she is lucky). It comes down to the student....
And no the problem does not plague only IITs. Many 'world class' research labs have these issues. Research is always subjective, driven by a few committed professional researchers. Many times history has shown that 'System fails them' unless there is a foresight to achieve a meaningful integration of research into the society. I mean, you get stories in a small village in Karnataka where a research team visited an arac-nut field to 'solve' their pest problems...and then later they cannot fix the problems....How can a farmer be inspired to understand the meaning of research. And if a farmer in India cannot understand this, a politician can never understand - Even if he / she is as glorified as Kapilji himself! The model that is applied to India is 'copied from elsewhere' and it WILL fail India.

from:  Ram
Posted on: May 26, 2011 at 13:57 IST

I agree with Mr.Ramesh completely. Forget IIT and it faculty. IIT is surviving because of folks like him. Uhh...wait a minute. Mr.Ramesh also went to world class institutions like CMU and MIT. Now that you, Mr.Ramesh, went to these "cathedrals of learning" (Sorry upitt), I am sure you must have dazzled everyone with your sheer brilliance and innovation to produce something truly cutting edge working in these great institutions with great research and greatest faculty instead of just getting your degree to get a job. I am sure you must have received atleast a couple of nobel prices. Where are you hiding them? Please show us... please....uh oh!

Any of your bright friends from IIT who agree with you got any nobel prices? Come on one of these guys must be having a nobel price somewhere....uh oh!

Are you sure you didnt mean "Students are surviving because of their IIT degrees" "The students in the IIT are not world class"... That is being brutally honest...

I know your uncontrollable urge to feel good about yourselves by demeaning others but seriously, dont have much enough work in your ministry?

Dude! you are not common man sitting and drinking chai on the street. Talk to your buddies in HR, and S&T ministry and do something useful if you actually mean to help improve these institutions. Not sit and make loose comments like this.

from:  Raj
Posted on: May 26, 2011 at 05:10 IST

"These institutions so far focused only on churning out graduates and paid little attention towards research". This is because IIT's agenda (set by Sibal) is mainly geared as undergraduate teaching institution with very large number of BTech students. In fact every year the number of BTech students is being recklessly increased by politicians like Mr Sibal to give reservations to more and more communities. The faculty has no other choice but to spend 80% of their time on BTech teaching and evaluation. So where is the question of time for PhD students and research?

from:  siva
Posted on: May 26, 2011 at 02:38 IST

Mr.Sibal is 100% right.Students of these institutes have misplaced talents in seeking for a fat job in big companies.If not fundamental, at least they should engage themselves for applied research for short term gains.I don't know now but in my time in fifty's,post graduate degrees in science had options by research and papers.Students must be encouraged for research at early stage.

from:  Ashok
Posted on: May 26, 2011 at 02:38 IST

Mr. Sibal is a good orator with the capability to dominate his opponents and attract the audience. However, he has left out certain important aspects of the scenario:

1. Not all the students who enter the IITs and IIMs are doing so to pursue a research career. Many of them, join private companies both within India and aboard. Only a few go for research
2. A lot of students from other universities of India are abroad, including me, for studies.
3. One cannot quality research without spending money. The money India spends is nothing compared to the money being spend by the other countries for research.
4. More than money, it is the discrimination that the GoI is following to select the students in terms of caste, religion, sex, etc, makes the people leave India towards greener pastures where there selection process is more transparent and without discrimination.
5. The teachers in US, UK, etc are directly benefitted by their research both monetarily and in their career. Such, constraints are not there in India. In India, the professors can continue to advance in their career even without publishing any research, based on seniority, caste, etc. However, that is not the case in the West.
6. In the West, US, Europe, etc, the number of visits a professor can make to attend conferences are not limited. Most of the professors and their students, get funding to attend conferences and publications in the journals from their project.
7. Corruption, obsolete laws, snail-paced judiciary, etc has seriously restricted the prospects for entrepreneurship in India. On the contrary, I was told by my Professor from US that it takes just 25 USD to register a company. I need not tell the situation in India, one apart from paying the legal price for the registration has to set apart certain percentage of the budget for the project for just bribing even if all the documents are perfect. This is one of the reasons why many good students and professors leave India.

If Mr. Sibal is really concerned about the quality of education, then the following are my suggestions:
1. All the schools are to provide education of same quality. (As in France)
2. All schools are to be of Government Schools (In France, most of them are)
3. The teachers for the schools are to be chosen from an open exam, where the eligibility is not restricted to just Indians. Foreign candidates should also be allowed to compete.
4. Selection of teachers should be free from all sorts of discriminations based on caste, religion, sex, age, nationality, etc.
5. Instead of just the 10th and 12th examinations, there should be one more examination at 5th or 6th grade - State wise examination
6. Admission to professional institutions, like Engineering and medical colleges, etc should be based on a single all India examination for all the colleges.
7. Private Engineering and Medical colleges should have attain a minimum benchmark to participate and be recognised.
8. At least half the Bachelor students and all the post-graduate students should be fully funded, mainly by the research projects.
9. Selection of professors should be also an All India competition.
10. Most important of all, entrepreneurship and research should be encouraged during schools, laws be modified to achieve it, corruption be reduced to increase the reach of the reforms to the masses and the examinations should not be a mere reproduction of the contents of the book.

These are my ideas, some may be acceptable and some may not. I would like to see what the other commentators think about them.

from:  Sivasathivel Kandasamy
Posted on: May 26, 2011 at 02:08 IST
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