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Updated: July 20, 2011 15:03 IST

IITs, IISc. are not the best in the world, says C.N.R. Rao

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C.N.R. Rao File Photo: K. Gopinathan
The Hindu
C.N.R. Rao File Photo: K. Gopinathan

“India began late, and poverty came in the way of research in the earlier days”

Even as a debate is raging on the quality of premier higher learning institutions in the country, noted scientist and chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister C.N.R. Rao on Tuesday observed that “IITs and the Indian Institute of Science [IISc.] are not the best in the world.”

Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had recently kicked up dust by saying that the quality of research and faculty of IITs and IIMs was not world-class. However, Professor Rao made it clear that his statement had nothing to do with Mr. Ramesh's remarks. He declined to comment on the Minister's remarks.

Addressing the inaugural session of a one-day seminar on “Frontiers of nanotechnology” organised here by the Karnataka State Higher Education Council, Professor Rao said: “The saddest thing is that not even a single research institute in India matches the best in the world, or MIT and Cambridge.”

He attributed it to the fact that other countries had a head start whereas India began late, and poverty came in the way of research in the earlier days.

Mediocre research

Referring to the demand for sophisticated equipment for research labs, Professor Rao said in a lighter vein: “Shortage of equipment will make brains work better.” Referring to the premier IISc., he said, “The IISc. is characterised by very mediocre research mainly because they have a lot of facilities.”

He expressed concern that “we [Indians] do not work hard. Twelve hours of research a day is needed seven days a week if one wants to become a good scientist. There are hardly 10 scientists from India who are a household name in the world.”

At the same time, Professor Rao pointed out that India had the potential to do well. “India is a great country and you have all the freedom here. But a little bit of nationalism is needed among us,” he said, referring to how youth in China were proud of their country and dream of taking their country to the No.1 slot in science and technology.

“India has more brilliant people than any other country. Sixty per cent of India's population is from villages. It is these villages that have the best of brains. This is where our hope is. Those from big cities like Bangalore are more interested in money and they will not make much contribution to the future of the country's research,” he said.

Regretting that the country missed out on the semiconductor revolution earlier, Professor Rao stressed the need for not missing out on the nanotechnology revolution. “Semiconductor became a cottage industry in countries like Taiwan and Singapore. Similarly, India should make nanotechnology a cottage industry to get the full advantage from this technological revolution.”

Referring to forecast by the Chinese, he said China was set to become No. 1 in all aspects, including science and technology, in the next 20 years whereas India was expected to be in the fifth position. He wanted India to be in the top position.

Pointing out that presently 18 per cent of the world's science research was from the U.S. while 13 per cent was from China, he said the trend was set to be reversed in the next three years.

I think we should continue to do what we are doing with a bit more committment, I think high time that we revisit our policies right from independence and what we did all these years and see where we are heading and what we would be achieving in next couple of years or decades, it should be a nation wide initiative where academics, industrialists, politicians, social workers and common people can contribute in what we would like to happen; may be a mini revolution rooted on positive thoughts for a better educated knowledge wealthy India! Even if we have difference of opinion unless we frame and work together we wont go anywhere near in near future.

from:  Haneef
Posted on: Jun 22, 2011 at 00:43 IST

i think i am too young to write a comment. if india want to improve in research it has to provide scholarship to the poor talented student direct from the school level.these day good coaching are not possible for student belong to poor family . if there is any scholarship test program run by government , a student from rich economical background can easily able to crack it because of joining private coaching & tuition where the student from the poor economical background could be able to afford tuition or private school. I myself am the sufferer of this situation , i have the pressure to support my family as soon as possible so i have to inclined toward getting a job any my dream of becoming a scientist only remain a dream .

from:  Rajnikant Kumar
Posted on: Jun 14, 2011 at 17:46 IST

There is a 'big' difference between research in (basic) science and engineering in India: engineering is meant for a gateway to early establishment - naturally for evaluating engineering scenario many factors other than research (e.g. high-salary job recruitment) come into play. In contrary, many science students are somewhat bound to pursue a career in higher studies and contribute to research 'by default' - thanks to lack of lucrative jobs to be offered to them immediately after graduation unlike their engineer friends!
To progress, India must also focus on industry-based engineering research to bring a synergistic approach between science and technology. I am NOT saying IITs have not succeeded in this direction, but surely it demands more seriousness for the betterment of our beloved nation! We have done pretty good so far, now let's do better together!

from:  Dr Arijit K De
Posted on: Jun 10, 2011 at 10:18 IST

I agree with Mr. Lalith suresh. When I finished my 10th, I didn't have any idea what I was going to do. Then While doing 12th, most of the subjects are science subjects (Physics,Chem, Maths,comp.Sc). The colleges are a big waste , they just want their students to get good marks and pass ,so that a good name comes to their college. I see this as a narrow minded short term goal of the principal/lecturers in the pre university college.
I believe lot needs to be done at this level. Taking physics, chemistry, maths is no longer path towards specialization in technical field. We don't know where the chemistry goes,when we join some other field. we spend two years (11th and 12th) studying Physics,chem maths why? Just because it makes sure we do well in the entrance exams like IIT JEE/AIEEE. In fact there are some colleges who don't even care about the performance in entrance exams !that's a different story.
I beleive instead of studying physics,chem for two years, teach it during 11th grade and introduce certain courses in the 12th which will make the students more aware of the what's happening in the field of science and engineering, so they are in a clear mind what career are they going to choose. What happens with most of us is that we don't know where we are heading till the results of these entrance exams are out. Once it is out, we join some engineering college and again for one year we end up studying the so called common subjects (Engg Physics, Engg Chemistry etc) and then enter some branch (remember branch was chosen mainly on the basis of rank and not interest), do some course work, and then get out of the college. Some fortunate people living in the cities do their summer projects in the IISc,IITs and get good exposure and then do MS/PhD abroad. And the rest who probably were more interested, couldn't get into IISc for their summer projects because they were from rural areas and didn't have good contacts with the people in these institutes. Then there are couple of people who were so much interested in electronics (say) but ended up in some branch like civil, and then just because he has done a he will decide to take a job in some software company.
I would seriously suggest, some modifications in the Pre university level is very much needed and applications of maths need to be taught rather than just methods of how to solve during engineering, because learning just the methods is like memorising the methods.

from:  Sachi
Posted on: Jun 9, 2011 at 10:53 IST

IITs, IIMs and IIScs are not the only institutes that produce talents. There are other hundreds of institutes as well (both public and private) that needs special attention. Revamping education system in India and integrating the researches done at various levels at various universitites is very important for the welfare of the country.

from:  Roeas
Posted on: Jun 8, 2011 at 12:47 IST

May be then, we have to introspect, if the Management, Governance and Structure that currently exist at these Science and Tech institutions is the cause. The DRDO and ISRO programs that Dr. Abdul Kalam led and structured are functioning on their own pillars and the country is proud of them. IITs and IIScs have great people and environment and what is lacking is their ability to blend into a meaningful partnership and focus that could lead to breakthroughs. Encouraging and providing funds for faculty and students to participate in science and industrial conferences or events within the country (and outside where affordable) is very much necessary to keep in touch/critic with peers and for research to be alive and meaningful. Industry does not shop for academic research anywhere when in fact it is the opposite where academicians make a case for funding that could benefit the industry.

from:  A Kumar
Posted on: Jun 8, 2011 at 07:20 IST

India cannot lead the world in science and technology unless our school education system improves. There is too much pressure on our children to do well in the entrance examinations. They are not provided an environment where they can make mistakes and learn by asking questions and work as a team. They are not encouraged to develop original thinking and express their ideas effectively. They are not trained to do their analysis and come up with their own unique ideas. And there is no area of focus. They have to learn too many languages and other subjects that are just required for passing and as a result they get less time to focus on their real interests. So instead of focusing on few IITs and IIMs etc where there are a few smart students, focus need to be where there is majority of ordinary students end up .I think that will move us ahead in terms of shear numbers. That is India's strength.

from:  Sivaram
Posted on: Jun 7, 2011 at 10:35 IST

I agree with what the prof says.Go to Delhi IIT. Most of them are into civil services preparation or they go for MBA in IIM.Young Indians are seduced by money.Real commitment to knowledge and progress of humanity is lacking.Most of the IIT MBA guys who join civil services(70%) nowadays,only excel in looting.

from:  KEN
Posted on: Jun 6, 2011 at 18:40 IST

What I am hearing from the students are that Now getting Phd is easier than before in India. Since Internet is available, getting and manupulation is very easy to submit papers. What they are inventing is nothing. What is the major invention we had for the past 10 years or 20 years? Can anyone Pinpoint it.

from:  Kathir
Posted on: Jun 6, 2011 at 16:46 IST

It pains me to hear from responsible ministers say that we don't have world class universities. I wonder whether people who say this understand why we don't yet have such a class universities. It make sense to me to say that rest of the world does not have world class yoga centers or veda pathshalas and we are in the process of becoming world class in the science and tech front. Not all world class universities have 100% world class teachers and stundents.

from:  A M
Posted on: Jun 5, 2011 at 18:20 IST

I'm a student who's presently pursuing his Masters from two countries in Europe. Before this, I completed my Bachelor's in Computer Engineering from NIT-Jaipur. As someone who cares deeply about the quality of education today (not just in India), here's what I think is wrong with our university system back home. I speak with a focus on Computer Engineering because that's what I studied: 1) We filter students on the basis of a single test (AIEEE/IIT-JEE). Being a computer engineer, I honestly feel prowess in Physics or Chemistry as is expected of these exams doesn't help you any bit in being good with computers. So why are students like me who've been keen on studying computers all along being forced to write such exams? 2) Society creates a huge fuss about the ranks that we bring home in these exams. During my admission year, there was a state quota in the NITs, which was based on the state ranks we score in the AIEEE. This meant that there was a good variance in the AIRs of the students who were brought in. Unfortunately, this never went well with students from states like Rajasthan and UP, where they had to struggle a little more than others for the same seats. But honestly, these AIRs never equated to engineering talent with very very few exceptions. 3) I consider this flaw in the student intake to be a major issue. Students waste a good part of their lives preparing for such exams without having any clue of what stream of engineering they want to take up and why. Most of them make their branch choices based on their ranks. The main driver behind research is passion towards the field. If this is what is happening every year during the intake, you're bound to have students who care very less about contributing to their fields. When you don't have motivated students in a batch, the faculty tend to be demotivated as well. Which brings us to the next point. 4) Faculty need motivated students who're passionate about what they do in order to run a successful research group. A few students like myself worked with a professor back in NIT-J, and we tried our best to contribute to his research, which we thoroughly enjoyed. We tried our best to help improve the state of the department, which was short on faculty members. I tried to inspire my juniors by conducting classes on technologies that weren't covered in our coursework, by trying to get them interested in computer science and open source contributions. I tried to bootstrap them for different projects. But the students that started coming in (especially after the state quota was stopped in the AIEEE) were nothing more than a bunch of zombies, clueless about why they were studying what they were supposed to. It was really hard to motivate them. 5) So it's a truly vicious circle here. The intake of the students need to be improved, such that the most passionate and talented ones walk out with degrees from our best universities, not the ones who spent 3-4 years mugging up for competitive exams. When such students end up being future professors, they'll have the drive to take their respective research areas forward, and will be more than willing to guide their students as well. When enough of such good students stay back in or return to India to contribute to the education system, we'll have more of such cases each year, and we'll suffer from less brain drain (a long shot, but what the heck). 6) Once you have enough of good impact research activity in our top tier universities, companies will have a reason to invest in R&D labs in the country, and hire students to work on problems pertaining to industrial research as well. This is something that India lacks severely, and would be a great drive forward if we had them. At least in the computer engineering sector, we need to shake off our image as a bunch of drones who foreign companies can outsource blunt jobs to that really don't need 'computer engineers', and require people who can type more than anything else. I plan to return to India as a professor once I'm done with my masters and PhD from abroad, assimilating any experience I can until then. I really hope to try and improve the situation back home. Cheers!

from:  Lalith Suresh
Posted on: Jun 5, 2011 at 16:21 IST

India's elite institutions are part of the same ecosystem as the world's best. India's schools and colleges are feeding students to the world's best. Instead of suffering from an inferiority complex India's public policy makers should plan on building closer relationships.

The other point to bear is that the world's leading universities and colleges are truly global because they attract the best students and faculty from all over. India's elite educational and research institutes can draw inspiration from the Indian Premier League (IPL) by attracting the world's best to come and play in India.

from:  Subra Balakrishnan
Posted on: Jun 4, 2011 at 21:28 IST

IISc do have good output in Research but people fail to notice. The students that enter IISc or IIT after UG are not world class students. The best brains after UG prefer to go abroad to do M.S or Phd. We get students from different status of societies who are not even aware of Research. So the faculty spend their time to convert them to World class research students. The transition phase dont provide good research outputs, hence the Great Institutes such as IISc, IITs and their faculty are blamed for the mediocre research.

from:  Newton
Posted on: Jun 4, 2011 at 14:45 IST

We Indians are no way less than that others. Only the thing is we must brought up in a better and decent way so that most of the elders should not follow corruptible methods. Once Corruption and thinking approach is tuned properly, every person will be normal and good. Once a person thinks properly, all problems will be settled.

from:  gandhi dasari
Posted on: Jun 4, 2011 at 14:10 IST

The development of science and technology is highly influenced by available funds to carry out the advance research and highly qualified, intellectual and dedicated researcher community. But, when our top leading Indian researcher/scientist (please exclude NRI) does not hold any leading position in world scenario(Dr. C. N. R Rao included),how can one expect a world leading institute in research from India. IITs may be center of excellence for b. tech.(because of its tradition) not for research.The reason behind this is that most of the researcher (I believe more than 99%) doing research unwillingly because they do not have any other options to do.and some of them who are really doing research are only busy in publishing and manage the paper.No real contribution for development of science and technology. Moreover generally in India working 8 hours daily and honestly is assumed as a punishment which is a prerequisite for doing a research.

from:  Srikrishna
Posted on: Jun 4, 2011 at 09:34 IST

I am happy to see that some persons from within the IISc / IIT family have shown the courage to take the bull by horns. Are there any Nobel prizes from any of the IITs since their inception? Getting cosy jobs and handsome salaries by their products should not be confused with the performance of the faculty. A big introspection is needed and we must define the parameters of the innovation and recognition at global level. We must not be living in fools' paradise.

from:  P.P. Mathur
Posted on: Jun 4, 2011 at 07:16 IST

@Matt: You are right in your first two paragraphs, but wrong in the last one. Public-private partnerships are already there at IITs and IIMs, at least. However, the administration is very feudal, and there is a dearth of democracy in the way things are managed. There is lots of plagiarism among the students; even the basic infrastructure is third-class. There is no doubt these institutes are nowhere near world-class--and I have taught at IIT-Madras as well at a top engineering university in the US. The students from these institutes are competitive--but that gives no credit to how the institutes themselves are run.

from:  Ana
Posted on: Jun 4, 2011 at 00:45 IST

I fully agree what Mr Ramesh and Prof Rao mentioned earlier.
I wonder why any faculty in India has to work hard when they get their promotions and salary increases automatically based on their years of service. Where is the need to work hard or to publish?
Mr Ramesh is absolutely correct to say that IIT students do better -- not because they are taught well but they are very smart to begin with. I hope some one from the readers express their comments about this criticism.

from:  m narahari reddy
Posted on: Jun 3, 2011 at 20:31 IST

Prof. CNR Rao publishes more than 50 papers every year. That is nearly one paper every week. Although he has a large number of collaborators and students, this kind of scientific output from a person who sits on many committees and holds many positions like scientific advisor to Prime Minister etc show that his method of publishing has something fishy.

from:  Sreeram
Posted on: Jun 3, 2011 at 19:57 IST

Remember Rao is reflecting the current status of IISc and IIT and not about what it was in the past.

from:  vbs
Posted on: Jun 3, 2011 at 19:17 IST

It is nice to read so many comments on Dr. Rao speech. Even though some of them agree with Dr. Rao and some don't. It only shows that people in India are well educated annd read these the valuable lines said by any renowed Scientist.
All I want to add is that India has huge Human Resource and we should use it to our advantage just as we are doing in Cricket and Software Engineering field. And for this the Industries and Government should come together to reward the best research work with huge compensation. We also have to understand that we cannot play T20 game in Research instead we need to play good Test Cricket to generate great Scientist.

from:  Sanjeev Kr. Jha
Posted on: Jun 3, 2011 at 12:16 IST

There is no other bold & true statment - like we don't have a research institutes.
Unforutnately, even we have good learned politicians, when it comes to their polices framing, they ingnore the fundamentas of setting up good research institutes. I don't what TATA Institutes, ETC, have achieved and so the ISO - or DRDO.
But, to be on the positive side, I would suggest, the Govt advisors, should plan for a long term growth orientated institutions - that could lay a sound foundation for our future. Viz. Pharma, where India has good chance. In ITs, - we "study and do", but "where is the research?" like Apple or so many programmes comes from our soil?, Also, huge potential is in Agri & our necessacity too. Agian, here so many players. M N Swaminathan are carrying the falgs of their past, but we need more for tomorrow,to meet the climatic changes and improve productivity, and these insitutions, should grow more specailised, depends on the regioanl expertise, so that we will have a comprehesive growth.
Corruption will offcourse dent any good projects. Hence policy decisions should be in the STEEL hands rather than STEALING Hands.
God bless India.

from:  moorthy
Posted on: Jun 3, 2011 at 11:33 IST

Most of the people in research know that Mr Rao is a politician cum Scientist. He knows very well that the quality of research is not world class because of the existence of CSIR,BARC,DRDO and other useless organizations. Dissolve these organizations and divert all the research to the elite institutes under supervision of one council and formulate policies to help private players to participate in this research and then see where the country will stand in research. I know he will not advice this to prime minister coz that will put his job at stake...

from:  T M LADWA
Posted on: Jun 3, 2011 at 11:24 IST

Mr Rao is very right and so was Mr Jairam Ramesh. Research in India is seen as a tedious long run process which does not guarantee short term money and in the long run too it is not certain. Besides,we Indians are much social than any other country. So,before one matures to persue his research there are various other social obligations. Another factor as they point out is quality faculty.Why dont we have full time faculty from MIT's or Cambridge?One good faculty will lead to thousands of great scholars coming out from our institutions. Not only IIT's and IISC's, but other institutions of repute also need similar treatment.At least one faculty of repute from an institution of repute from amongst the Developed world are the need of the hour.Atleast he can plant the much needed enterprise in the future youngsters who can lead India ahead to its march to Development and quality research

Posted on: Jun 3, 2011 at 08:53 IST

It's a pity that the people who make these remarks have not done anything substantial in their lfietime to improve the quality. As all indians they too complain. We dont even spend 0.1% of our GDP in research. Then how can we expect to excel in research. The hiring process in every college and university is politically motivated. So lets not complain and atleast try to clean up the system. Everyone should decide i will not bribe or use my power for my personal gain. IS that going to happen in the near future? I will call it a miracle if it happens.

from:  Jothirmayanantham
Posted on: Jun 3, 2011 at 04:50 IST

I will also like to add something here in this regard,.Everybody is giving his/her views about the quality of IITs and IISCs but no one is focusing on the real problems.

1)The amount of money students doing pg and Phd are getting is very less comparable to what people are getting in MIT and Howard,. Nowadays anyone can earn good money by working in IT or ITes industry ,so why would a person will go for research when they are not getting money .If u will do M. Tch then your monthly renumeration is only a meagre 10,000 INR and for Phd it is around 25,000.Compare it with what students are getting in MIT and HARVARD.But no one is thinking about it.

2)The second biggest problem is the reservation policy of our country .Half of the students getting inside any institution are from reserved categories, and because of it many more deserving students are left out. Is there any reservation policy in MIT and HARVARD.The same things applies to the faculty also as the posts are alos filled on the basis of reservation r u going to give competition to MITs and HARVARDs when u are following this policy.

from:  ghanhsyam arora
Posted on: Jun 3, 2011 at 01:32 IST

Note the following two comments by Nataraj (Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 08:18 IST) :
Comment #1: "As a student of IISs as early as 1959 and having gone alround the world with IISC flag ship I am proud to say that Indian IIT and IISC and IIMs are world class"

Comment #2: "It is a pity that Rao having been a Bangalorean and studied and worked in IISC makes such statements."

What does that tell you about the quality of IISc. Deplorable, really! But I have one other worry, who lost his or her seat to Mr. Nataraj and why. When we know that and solve that problem, we will have addressed some organic problems attendant on our supposed "centres of excellence". All that said, it is pleasing to hear Drs. Ramesh and Rao ringing the bells. I hope they have started off a new direction in our public discourse.

from:  Raman
Posted on: Jun 3, 2011 at 00:34 IST

What we need is 1. Private participation including MNCs 2. Infrastructure improvement 3. Alumni - Give back programs 4. Need creative thinking and thought leadership training. 5.Train students more as Enterprenuers and less as problem solvers(read workers). 6. Practice and spread stong ethics at all levels starting from individuals, smaller communities, local governments, businesses and all the way to the top.

from:  KJ
Posted on: Jun 3, 2011 at 00:32 IST

1)There are quite a number of professors at IITs who have done there bachelors at IIT itself. If you are saying the that faculty are not up to the mark then you are pointing fingers at the student community itself and yet you say IIT's are famous for there students only.
2) If so called leaders don't trust and has least regard for our best institutions what do you expect from faculty to contribute ?
3) This guy CNR Rao was scientic advisor in 80's and as well from 2005. What kind of dramatic work he has done to improve the research work in India? He comments as if he has won noble prize.
4) Its our govt to be blamed for most of the non research activities at IIT's. Where in the world a prof becomes warden of a hostel or oversees admissions or wastes his time on exam duty during GATE or JEE ?

from:  Shrikanth Ranganadham
Posted on: Jun 3, 2011 at 00:08 IST

I completely disagree with Prof. CNR Rao's statement. Many of my friends have pointed out things that support my statement and I will not dwell on those. However, I would like Prof. Rao to do an introspection of how he conducted research during his years at IISc. If The Hindu were to interview students that conducted research under his guidance, it would definitely reveal the hardships they had to undergo to conduct their research. In spite of these hardships many of them have excelled in their field of work and that shows their true grit.

from:  Viswanathan
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 23:07 IST

'The future of India is intrinsically connected with the future of its villages' what Gandhiji said comes out to very true.
i agreed on Rao's sentence that "Those from big cities like Bangalore are more interested in money and they will not make much contribution to the future of the country's research"

from:  adheesh
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 23:06 IST

I have read various comments made by several persons in different fields and all their comments are valid in the present contest. I would like to say that Prof C,N,R Rao instead of making such harsh comments can suggest to the indian researchers how to improve and contribute their best in their respective field of activity

from:  M.G.sankaranarayanan
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 22:53 IST

Scientists are opinionated. Don't bother what CNR Rao says. It's immaterial. Scientists does not need 12 hrs of work. Scientists need leadership and planning. If any scientist correlates hours of work to productivity, he is not visionary. Scientists needs to plan experiments well in advance. They should know what they are going to do in months and years in advance. Then only he will be successful. As a Scientist, I am sad to say that Indian scientists lack leadership qualities and lack ability to connect dots.

from:  Iyer N
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 22:15 IST

pointing out the faults is work of low mentality people.... they have to make efforts to bring in map of world like Dr.Abdul kalam did..

from:  bhupendra
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 21:56 IST

I would like to comment on what Oopali Operajita has written above. Sir/Madam you are completely missing the point. In your long essay about IIT students' success in MIT and American institute you have overlooked what this article is about. The fact that Indian students go abroad and lead the pack does not have anything to do with the faculty standards at IIT's. These are candidates with high intellectual abilities and will do well anywhere from Uganda to Japan. First, I would like you to consider why they leave India? This is a country which seriously need attention in science and R&D yet students leave. It is a imperative that they want to grow and earn money and what better way to do it than traveling to countries like US and UK. Second, the discussion is about faculty standard. Please enlighten us with your knowledge about a single world class research that came out of IIT's and IISC's. I believe research is output of extremely dedicated team work of motivated professors and hard-working students. Finally, IIT represent the best of our country and 70-80% go abroad within 1 year of their graduation. So who are left behind to run these institutes and then country? People like me and millions more - MEDIOCRE.

from:  K. Rohan
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 21:12 IST

It's very amazing that people who have access to these elite institutions and who are responsible and duty-bound to make these institutions world-class are declaring so. These power hungry people should be ashamed of their own statements.

from:  Santosh Raj Chettri
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 19:38 IST

While it is not surprising to see criticism of "true and realistic statements" about our IITs and IIMs by ignorant and self serving politicians, it is definitely surprising to see that many well known Indian professionals are equally blind and are incapable of accepting the truth. Unless we accept the truth and put-in efforts to address the short-comings, we are never going to have world-class research institutions in India. Outstanding research results are possible only through interdisciplinary research work. To my knowledge, there is no institution in India which fosters interdisciplinary research to the same extent as MIT and other world-class institutions do.

Some of our top scientists argue that Western countries regard our ITTs as world class institutions. Yes, they do. However,their judgment is based, for the most part, on the smartness and accomplishments of outstanding B. Tech graduates who move to the West for higher education and employment. They do not know much about the average quality of IIT faculty and the quality of their research output. As an individual, I know more about my own strengths and weaknesses than the people who look at me from a distance. When my heart says I am weak, I am truly weak, irrespective of what the other person might say about me.

from:  Radhakrishna Parachuru
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 19:29 IST

What Prof C N R Rao mentioned may mean like the invention of electricity by Thomas Alva Edition. Edision invented based on ideas generated from his brain power. Invention of steam engine also may be viewed as great invention but not due to lack of costly equipments. Edision is a school drop out but ideas are great.
I feel due importance to be given to the Technical staff of IITs and the ideas from them.
Many are talking only about students and faculties of IITs. In IITs, Technical staff are also contributing a lot. There should be a system(like brain storming)in IITs to gather ideas from Technical staff which may lead to invention or to solve many problems?.
As albert einstain told, "Ideas are more important than knowledge".

Our country should have "Ideas Data Base" like "Knowledge Data Base" by collecting ideas from schools of all villages of India by brainstorming the citizens.
IITs and IISc can be entrusted on this task.
Our TV channels should have programmes like discovery channel to invoke scientific ideas among school children.

There should be a law to regulate the TV channels to allocate 40 percent of broad casting time only about scientific programmes.

Our political parties should announce in their election manifesto about how they will utilize the citizens' ideas and knowledge for the scientific invention and to generate income for the states and country. Election commision should also insist upon the political parties to do so.
Like "knowledge based income", we should also generate "Ideas based income".

I like the quote by Lord Buddha, "Your Duty is to Discover your Duty".

from:  M.Kasi raju
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 19:25 IST

The statement given by Jairam Ramesh/C.N.R Rao on IIT/IIM is true.
To get admission in IIT/IIM is tough doesnot mean quality of faculty and research facilty is good.
If IIT/IIM is world class then how many student from world top country take admission here.
How many IIT/IIM faculty written world class book.
How many research paper published by IIT/IIM.
How many world class faculty are doing research in IIT/IIM.
In which area they have done research and world following us.
Ofcourse talent matter but research is a long term process and required proper environment and facility.
This is currently not available in our country.
Just look the budget of MIT and IIT/IIM, fact will be clear.

from:  shekhar
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 18:09 IST

Very little product come out of India (academics & research labs). Yes IIT / IISC students are good due to good selection process and hence they do well wherever they go. But certainly our IIT/ISC are much below many good colleges abroad in terms of research. Rest of the institutes is no way near including CSIR. But the priority for the country is, to improve basic and primary education which is pathetic. This will only raise our masses and overall country. Making few colleges world best will benefit only limited people. Most of the countries in the World are doing better than India, due to their focus on masses and basic infrastructure - not on creating few best colleges or nuclear plants or rockets.

from:  Raman
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 17:46 IST

Indians working in top international intitutions have studied in govt schools. So does it means that govt schools are top rated and have high standards not really. Sameway is the IITs. Its just a basic jump board for getting in to top institutes of the world. So we should know our IIT standards. As honourable ministers told Students are great not just the IITs.

from:  Nant
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 16:13 IST

The fact is true, but instead of passing reamark, you are the people to do something and provide good research enviornmnent in INDIA.

from:  Hanmant Gaikwad
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 15:40 IST

Prof. Rao is right and readers comments reflect the real intellect of people. R&D in India needs huge funding and GOI should do its best. Corporate involvement in these developmental activities is also absolutely essential. First activity we all Indians should encourage despite mediocre political and admn. set up is to keep Indian roads, surroundings and environment more cleaner and greener than USA and Europe thereby improving our health standards.

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 15:32 IST

Prof. Rao is right and readers comments reflect the real intellect of people. R&D in India needs huge funding and GOI should do its best. Corporare involvement in these developmental activities is also absolutely essential. First activity we all Indians should encourage despite mediocre political and administrative set up is to keep Indian roads, surroundings and environment more cleaner and greener than USA and Europe thereby improving our health standards.

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 15:32 IST

I feel Prof C.N.R Rao and Mr Jairam Ramesh have said the truth which bitter. But we also should consider the utility of the research to Indians. For example in agricultural sciences including animal science what is best research in western world may not be good for India. What we require is what is needed for India. Many times we Indian Scientists are trying to repeat what is done in western countries. We should accept our weeknesses and overcome them to become world class institutions in a time bound manner. In 10 years we should develop atleast 1 institute in the field of basic sciences, agricultural sciences, technology, Management, law etc which comes within 100th rank in the world.

from:  Dr K.P.Ramesha
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 14:33 IST

Indians believe that 4 vedas have 100% knowledge of whole world & by worshipping/praising vedas we will be world power. However not even 1% have ever read any veda.

from:  anish khindri
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 14:07 IST

What hope do we have when we treat our scientists worse than pan wallas. Dr Har Gobind Khorana came to India to do his reserach. GOI gave him a job as a house officer at Safdarjung Hospital. So he went back to the US and got a Nobel Prize. Well If you are an Indian and think you are brilliant, get out to some place where your brains and talent is admired. Stay in India if you are good in corruption and trickery.

from:  Deepak
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 13:47 IST

What CNR. Rao said is an understatement. The bottom-line is ,we Indians are young and restless and want to contribute to take our country to the era of prosperity prevalent during the Gupta and Maurya dynasty and even beyond where we actually belong. We the people especially the genX and genY do believe we can, but the system and a collective psyche of the babus-mantris actually lack the resolve and willingness to channellise and rally around these incredible Indians. Its about time we Indians consider ourselves as Global brand and the term 'Indian' should evoke the same respect and dignity and invincibility that Romans are synonymous with with respect to wars, Greeks with knowledge and culture, British for their ruthless industrialization and the Americans for their R&D. And I am not talking about only higher education and research but the same holds true for all aspect of Indian society and nationhood. What we demand now will eventually be delivered by the Government led and run by Septugenerians and Octogenerians, but the question is when!!! What we need now if delivered after 20 yrs then we lag behind the world by 20yrs.The collective lethargy of these old guard at all levels delays decision making and the heroic turn-arounds that leads to revolutionary progress and development. The modern america and its ethos were shaped by JFK, Luther King, Lincoln who were energetic and young with a divine sparkle in their eyes.We need a few of such guys who can think of radical changes and means of delivering it to the nation.India is a land of ChandraGupta, Krishna Devaraya, Vikramaditya,we did this time and again and we can do it umpteen no of times.With regard to IIT and IIM.I don't believe they are world class they lack a goal and foresight.How many IITans are nobel laureate?? Which technology they invented that led to proverty alleviation of the country. What research did they do to effect quantum-increase in the output of power from our moribund power stations? The answers are never heard. We are at the fore-front of a revolution peaceful and comprehensive but question is how soon?

from:  Brendon
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 13:03 IST

The primary function of a university is research and advancing knowledge.This is sadly missing in India.The research oriented teaching needs to be inculcated at the undergraduate level.This is only possible when professors ,themselves,are saturated with the research spirit in their respective fields.Exposing undergraduates to research as a part of their learning schedule is critical for sowing the seed for future research careers.Of course, all students will not opt for research. But this will create an atmosphere at an early stage when the growing young mind will have the opportunity to unfold their passion for academic research.Ever since the introduction of free market economic order in India,the research climate in Indian institutions has been fast eroding.With the reckless consumerism all are glued to the TV for bollywood and cricket instead of bench, book, journal and library.We have inculcated 'feudal' mind set culture.Professors are shy to rub their shoulders at the bench with the young researchers.There is only one option,to work 10 to 12 hours at the bench seven days,free and fair discussion with colleagues and undertake competitive research goal.

from:  A N Malviya, Strasbourg, France
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 12:44 IST

I do also say Rao is wrong. He cannot say that IIT and IISc are not world class and Indians are not working hard. Rao himself being from IISC is a well known scientist in the world. If he did not had the tag of IISc, he himself would have been an invisible scientist. There are much more many scientists working in India, working and producing good results, better that Rao's group, but cannot be popular just because they are not from IISc. Moreover, India should also try to recruit good people who were drained to other countries. I mean, institues like IISc and JNACSR should recruit good hard working people, not necessarliy the product/alumni of IISc and IITs. Indians are definietely working hard. If one says MIT and Harvard being top class, look into these institutes, it is the Indian and Chinese students who work hard all day and night. And the fame goes to top Americans. Why should one always compare ourselves with MIT and Harvard? Why our Millionares and Billionares donate so much to MIT and Harvard? Bring these money to our Indian institutes itself and you can make MIT faculty work in India. Then India will have top institutes.

from:  Asha
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 11:51 IST

@Nataraj: it is indeed true that Indians get emotional when any constructive criticism is made. US president and all politicians that for matter make many statements. But when we look at things from a scientific temper our science and research is not really doing good. The percentage of top rated research papers published in International journals is much much less than China or US when we consider the facilities. Many scientisits end up being politicians and technocrats than being great scientists. This is not to blame any one. When it comes to the matter excellence we always have an easy go attitude.

from:  Bunty
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 11:51 IST

Well, as a matter of fact, what needed in the past is also true for present. As Prof. Rao pointed out correctly, poverty i.e. finance was a problem in older days and it still is. A large no. of projects that are not funded or approved are not inferior than others but are less 'economically viable'. A close scrutiny of all IIT's website will give anyone a clear insight that research works going on there are mostly funded by companies & are so called 'sponsored' projects and the rest are from govt. institutions(like CSIR) outsourcing a part of their bulk work. But neither of it has a part of independent projects taken by free and dynamic brain of young scholars - they have to choose from the areas, topics provided. So, may be nationalism has nothing to do at this level of research, but it might change everything...

from:  Alakh
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 11:02 IST

"India began late, and poverty came in the way of research in the earlier days." True .we started too late ,but after 100 years of rule by Britishers.Though we started late but our proportional ratio of growth faster then ever other countries. Our institute are not in standard we complain always..But we don't think how can we make it batter(complaining power always more with us).When some one come with proposal of building a world class university here we question so many things looking what all benefits owner will get ,politicians will get out of that so and so on-referring to Vedanta University in Odisha.

from:  Ranjit
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 10:39 IST


The U.S. president did not say that students from IIT & IISc should come to U.S. What he mentioned was that foreign students who graduate from U.S. universities should be encouraged to stay in U.S. rather than forcing them to go home.

Indians are always reluctant to accept facts. Rao statements are partially correct. We have great talents (students-wise) in IITs and IISc, but the institutes are not world class as far as R & D done there is concerned. I would even say that these institutes are below second tier universities of R&D.

Rather than looking at villages to find the next great Indian scientist, Rao should try to get right incentives for researches in India. He should also try to build private partnerships in university researches in India. Looking at villages and at government are all last century's ideas for moving India forward and that's why we missed semiconductor revolution.

from:  Matt
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 10:01 IST

"Shortage of equipment will make brains work better.” I really don't understand the logic behind this statement. Shortage of good facilities will simply kill your time, trying to figure out from the scratch. One should become master using the facilities then only we can move faster in research. Manononmanian Sundaranar University Chemistry Department claims that they have facility for Power Point Presentation. But in US the kindergarden students smart boards in their class room. Dr. Rao Sir we have to move fast with good facility instead of trying to figure from the scratch. We can use our valuable time for several things in research.

from:  T.Subramanian
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 09:26 IST

It is a great previlege to Prof.Rao to open the eyes of the researchers in India. As sir said,We can't find the researchers working for 12x7 basis.Anyhow our government is encouraging our researchers by providing the funds and fellowships.But how many of them are working hard towards it.It is a big question.So every Indian should feel the responsiblity of the nationalism in their hearts.

from:  nafeshafi
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 09:26 IST

Presuming that faculty is useless. Question is who hired them? These criticizing stalwarts played critical role in steering this country in 80s and 90s. See where they brought us. Now, they are asking for change. It translates as "put us on board of new committees to make new Institutes". Stop judging faculty, let us start judging the decision taking capability of our ministers and administration who screw up the good ground work policies.

from:  Ashish
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 08:53 IST

Dr. CV Raman did his research and got a nobel prize in physics while India was in poverty. Just saying.

from:  Shiva shankar
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 07:54 IST

"India has more brilliant people than any other country. Sixty per cent of India's population is from villages. It is these villages that have the best of brains. This is where our hope is. Those from big cities like Bangalore are more interested in money and they will not make much contribution to the future of the country's research,". This is not a mere statement Made by Prof. Rao. I have seen that Dr.Rao practices what he preaches. At JNCASR where he is Hon. President I find good representation of the students from rural background and this gives an opportunity for those from institutions in rural areas to compete for a better position in research career.

from:  Subaharan
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 07:05 IST

Very timely and accurate observation. It was recently reported that in 2010, there was only a single scientific article from India in all of the Nature journals combined, where as even Thailand had several. No need to blame the US or the West for this. The work culture may be partly to blame. Most sceintists only work 9 to 5 and that is highly inadequate to perfrom any meaningful research. Also, our children are not exposed to any form of scientific research in schools or colleges. Therefore the passion for research is not sown early on to motivate bright students to ask hard sceintific questions and pursue curiosity-driven sceintific research. Remuneration may also be another issue. In an increasingly materialistic society such as ours, monetarily rewarding careers such as those in IT are favored as opposed to sceintific research.

from:  Uma Sankar
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 06:24 IST

@Nataraj - exactly when did Obama say that he wanted people from IIT and IISc to live in the US and help American institutes and the US economy? From what I can remember, his comment was that he wanted make it easier for foreigners who had come for and acquire a US graduate degree to stay in that country and help the US economy rather than be forced to leave to their home countries due to immigration restrictions. VERY different concepts. Now, I haven't the slightest idea how good IITs and IISc are - having never attended one - but obviously they are among the best in the country. How they compare to the best institutions in the world is another story and I am unqualified to judge.

from:  Vikram
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 05:37 IST

Our IITians and IISCians(students) are the best in the class and it is because they are the chosen few from a million students. They work hard and they are gifted and talented. The research facilities per se may not be of international standards and that is no fault of the Institutes It is simply because local businesses do not invest enough in these Institutes. That and that alone is the main difference between our Institutes and those in western countries. Federal govt do not fund all research (Defence Research being an exception) and it is the businesses that fund most of the research. Of course the Alumni and Charity does their bit too.

from:  Kannan J
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 05:32 IST

IITs never were world-class research institutions and never will be -- tenure takes away incentive; no incentive, no research; leading edge research is expensive, so spending medium level of money is just a waste; besides, the Indian society does not need research at this time; all industries are copy-cat, money-making machines, and that is the way they should be; business' goal is to make money, not knowledge. At an international level, US did so much research, but bulk of the benefit was enjoyed by Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China. At a company level, ATT did so much research, and money has been made by the rest of the world. IBM did research mostly when it had a possibility to make money by improving products. So it is difficult to make a case for international-level research in India. Research for defense is a whole different issue and is excluded from this note. India needs to develop products for domestic use -- such as a portable tandoor (which incidentally was designed in the US!). India also needs to develop products for export to earn dollars. None of these require high-level research. India can also keep on exporting labor for dollars, and that labor is produced by educating youngsters. Hence, instead of dumping money in research, India should declare teaching a high priority and raise salaries of professors and encourage them to treat teaching as their primary job. Back to the IITs. They were great teaching institutions, but several years ago, they stopped being even that. They are still good overall mostly due to the students who join them.

from:  Dhiraj Sharma
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 03:35 IST

We are the greatest exporter of 'grey matters' in the world, and in the research world lots of the little hands behind are Indians. Even the Chinese want to have their Quota of 'Indian grey matters'. We have a lot of knowledge that was taken to the far east by the Budhist monks.If our interest lies in the fact that we should go back to the future.Our knowledge of Ayurvedha,Unani, along with the South East Asian Knowledge of Natural medicine.We should learn to sell what we know best.What have we done with the great philantropist Pachaiyappa,tha first local Indian who cared for the people of India....

from:  Perumal Vashudeven
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 01:27 IST

"We [Indians] do not work hard. Twelve hours of research a day is needed seven days a week if one wants to become a good scientist. There are hardly 10 scientists from India who are a household name in the world."
I feel the above remark by Prof CNR Rao is out of touch. As a CSIR fellow, I have seen students working throughout day and night to get their PhDs. The problem, I think, is not with working hard. The problem is the quality of the work which we have to do. The scientist who engages students should be better trained during their PhDs as to how to work more resourcefully, tackling Indian issues, not emulating some other research, occurring in some other part of the world. We also need to inculcate professional integrity and respect for new ideas. It should be done without nepotism and any caste, creed or religion bias. I guess India needs to rethink the core values: rather than blaming the big picture it will be better to start tackling fundamental issues at a finer scale.

from:  Ramesh
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 01:12 IST

The origin of the problem (i.e., the state of Indian Science) lies elsewhere. I would like to pose those issues through the following questions. 1)How many Indians prefer their children to be scientists, instead of taking up routine clinical practice or software writing engineers? Engineers are not even ready to take up engineering jobs in production industries anymore. I have no prejudice against these professions; but a whole nation cannot be made out of software engineers and doctors only. We also need mechanics and midwives. 2)How many young people in India prefer a research profession? 3)Leave alone science doctorates, how many Indian doctors and engineers would like to do painstaking research in their own fields? Don't we want answers to some of the genetic disorders we see in our population or scale up a laboratory process to a full blown production unit? Don't we need clean water to drink? 4)What respect do scientists get in India? 5)How many bright Indian students go and study science and make that as their career pathway? 6)How many directors run their institutions with true scientific spirit and endeavour? 7)Finally, what is this 'so called world class' everybody is now referring to? Is it based on a few newspapers university rankings? Then, better read the criteria and norms used for making those rankings. Is that what we want? Will that be of any good to the citizens? Then, let us first define our own norms for the world class? 8)If IIT, IISc and our universities are so bad, why are the students from there getting wide acceptance and recognition everywhere else in the world? 9)Can an Indian scientist run a small family with one single salary or dream of a small house near to the workplace? Whom do you prefer your daughter marrying? A scientist, police officer or a district motor vehicle inspector? 10)Who will get a better recognition in our society? A scientist, a lawyer, an ordinary politician, an IAS/IPS officer, an evening clinical practitioner, a real estate businessman, a software guy or a TV anchor, who often boasts in a mixture of two different languages that "I am very poor in mathematics; How much is 20 + 19 + 11 scored by this contestant"? Ignorance is a matter of pride these days. How can science prevail where ignorance is bliss? I have seen and evaluated scientific proposals submitted to various funding agencies in India. There are indeed good proposals. But, the scientific output after its execution is always poor. Reason is simple. A lower division clerk in the institute or in the university decides how to spend that grant and when to release the money for research. He or she is only a front desk in this affair. The string comes from the top director. They like to control their kingdom. There are exceptions indeed to this general observation; but it is a minority.
Politicians cause most of our problems; but not much in scientific research. They are more comfortable with the university senates and workers unions. Scientific research is too difficult a topic to master. They leave that up to the institute directors. So, the reason for the present plight of Indian science is the scientists themselves. They are their own worst enemies. They run scientific institutions like their inherited paternal wealth. They get these positions after running behind politicians they loathe. They are the very same people who are now crying Wolf. Having said all that, it is still not the main problem. That lies somewhere else. Ultimately, what brought Indian science to its knee is the mentality of our all pervasive middle-class society. They are only interested in making a quick buck! Scientists are not the right material for money making. We are all a part of that large middle-class who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing!

from:  Ravi
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 00:31 IST

Reservation policy has neither helped the needy nor provided opportunity to the really talented. Dominating groups have encroached all oppertunities. The talented groups have been made backward because they never agitate or even raise their voice.Provide opportunity to merit and see the result. It will be amazing.At the same time support the needy. We heard about Padaliputra,Kasi and kanchi from history. At that time reservation was based on merit and merit only.

from:  Dr S Lakshminarasimhan
Posted on: Jun 2, 2011 at 00:24 IST

Being myself an Indian student studying abroad now for my Master's degree, I must say I am appalled at how little Prof CNR Rao appears to understand how research works in Europe and in the USA. "we [Indians] do not work hard. Twelve hours of research a day is needed seven days a week if one wants to become a good scientist. There are hardly 10 scientists from India who are a household name in the world." This statement is very infuriating to me, having seen so many students struggle for years against an unrelenting system that does not encourage any research or innovative thinking.I would like to also point out the BIGGEST flaw I see in all such arguments that our country's 'leaders' seem to make every time, that because the youth are interested in money they will not contribute to research in the country. The reality is that money drives the research every where in the world. It is a great motivating factor and is a MAJOR reason why USA and Europe are ahead of us. They pay researchers handsomely and make sure they have a good life as well. There is nothing WRONG in wanting money through honest hard work.To assume that a researcher must not care about money at all, simply in order to be a good researcher is the fundamental issue, after lack of facilities and faculties, which will always keep India down in the ranks of research and technological innovation.

from:  Nishant Jain
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 23:57 IST

I second Ashu's thoughts that "what is needed rather is a little bit less nationalism". What Dr. Rao is saying should not be taken as a denigrating remark, but as an opportunity to improve. False, foolish bravado has no place here.

Let us evaluate this objectively...NOT WORLD CLASS means that we cannot match institutes such as Harvard and MIT in the following three areas

1. Education - We produce very bright kids, but so do Harvard and MIT. Their facilities completely outclass ours, and this gives their students tremendous advantages.

2. Research - The comparison here is simple, compare the number of published papers in any discipline in any A journal, in any discipline.

3. Industry Outreach - We can compare what academic research has spilled over directly to industry and created new commercial capabilities. Top universities in the US provide tremendous exposure to their students that we are unable to, not at the same level.

If you can show that IITs and IISCs do as well as the top univs in the world, then we can consider Dr. Rao to be wrong.

Again, it is NOT the fault of the IITs and IISCs, but the fact still remains that (regardless of very valid arguments e.g. economy, heritage, traditions, etc. etc.) we are NOT tier 1 and it would be foolish not to use Dr. Rao's words as a call to step up our game.

from:  SatChit
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 23:49 IST

In just fifty years of independent India, the Indian system of education has quickly driven the benefits to the society and empowers the fellow citizen well. Every institution (Teachers and Students) has done this job very well.

Now, number of learned people feels that our educational institutions which are national best but does not appear in the list of world ranking/class/best. I hope such feeling is not motivated to bring in world class institute to India but to raise our standards from national best to world best.

Let every senior academician/scientist join and formulate policies to enable few (one from each type) top Indian institutions to the world best.

from:  Muthuramalingam
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 22:55 IST

The controversial remarks by our ministers are uncalled for. One wonders whether these remarks are aimed at diverting people's attention from the more pressing problems which confronts the administration today. With a mind boggling 1,76,000 crores at stake in the Telecom scam and an equally significant amount at stake in the CWG and Adarsh scndals, our "Harvard" educated Union Telecom Minsiter, Shri Kapil Sibal, can better spend his quality time in setting right ills that plague his ministry. Perhaps, Harvard did not teach him basic mathematics, so much so that the Honble Minister questioned the audit of a qualified and certified government appointed auditor. Also to claim that our country has not made much progress on account of poverty is a misstatement. The country's greatest mathematician, Ramanujam, languished during his life time in utter poverty. Yet, his dedication, passion, commitment and interest drove him to excel at the world level. Even after his death, there was no financial support forthcoming for his wife while others with mediocre accomplishments were rewarded. Japan, for all practical purposes is poorer than India - she has to import almost all her daily needs, yet today she is at the forefront of technology. China attained independence after India, yet progress in China despite a communist legacy is phenomenal. Many of our own public sector employees, hailing from extremely humble and poor backgrounds have put in phenomenal efforts, commitment and dedication for their respective organization's well being - yet the nation has barely recognized their contributions. Things are unlikely to change unless we learn to recognize, nurture, value and appreciate talent wherever it is - this is the role of a government, unfortunately it has miserably failed to perform this role and Kapil Sibal is part of this organization.

from:  Dwarakanath Srinivasan
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 22:47 IST

Dr. Rao is right when he says that one needs to work hard. Indians, at least those in secure jobs, are certainly lacking in that. However he must also emphasize that it is important to work smart. Americans achieved great success by working hard and working smart. A good work ethic is first built at home and school and then at our respective work places. We need to build a smart work ethic and rid ourselves of the "also ran" culture. One always needs to be passionate in what one does. This I feel is key and not Nationalism. While there is nothing wrong with Nationalism, one should not bring that into picture when talking about Science. It should not to be forgotten that many Indian scientists have performed exceptionally well in foreign countries.

from:  Siva
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 22:44 IST

To know if your research is important or seminal in any field you just have to see how many times it is cited in other people's papers. That is the best proof of research output quality.

from:  Sriram
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 22:37 IST

I THINK CNR RAO is correct in his remark...first we need to understand where we are lacking..then try to mend it! In my opinion,we instead of boasting, we should try to make our facilities better.If we do really love and are loyal to this nation,we must stop passing remarks and should concentrate on how we can become No.1 in every field.

from:  manvendra dubey
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 22:30 IST

Yes, Professor Rao is correct. I am a faculty of an IIT. 10% of the faculty contributes to the overall publication of the department. Then where is the quality? Faculty take care of their kids, baby sitting, foreign tour, social get-together with the expense of IIT salary. I am happy that Jairam, Kapil Sibal and Prof. CNR Rao made the points very clearly. In addition, selection process should be transparent so that the deserving candidates would get selected. In fact, I recall my situation. I did publish quite a lot of papers and I was turned down promotion while people with less or worse publication record is promoted for the same or higher post. I was told that you may leave IIT if you wish so. But I took it as a challenge and published even more! I think that entire IIT/IISC academic atmosphere has to be revamped via some monitoring or assessment where people like Prof CNR or other top scientists would evaluate and encourage to start a new horizon of research. Best of luck to IIT and INDIA!

from:  M Singh
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 22:19 IST

As Rao said, nationalism is needed with us to take India to No.1 slot in science and technology. Even one of the readers have commented that they need just flagship name of IISc and IIT, and move around the world to help other countries economy. So Indian engineers expecting money to be directly proportional to knowledge and hence not really interested in doing research in Indian institutes. Ministers also just passing their comments and not creating any environment for scientists in constructive way.

from:  Vignesh
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 21:47 IST

I tend to not completely agree with Prof Rao's comments.
Yes it is true that IITs and IIMs are not the best in the world in terms of research output.There are many reasons for that --some political and some economic. I don't want to get at that.
But these words coming from Prof Rao and also from a Union Minister Jairam Ramesh earlier is least to say very discouraging for students aspiring to get into academia in India. By spelling out problems you don't achieve anything, being a Union minister Ramesh should focus what he can do to improve it.

from:  Mithun
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 21:45 IST

I disagree with Prof Rao's remarks in totality. Instead of passing remarks on the quality of these institutes, he should look into the factors that are driving the products of these institutes to other countries. It is the government and the industrial set up which should incentivize their stay in this country. If India believes in free market, then this is a result of that. A person will give his talent to the highest bidder. There is nothing wrong in that. If you want to fully utilize the talent in IITs, incentivize their stay by giving them higher salaries, create better research facilities etc. I also totally disagree with Prof. Rao's remarks that “Shortage of equipment will make brains work better.” It's a naive remark and utterly unbecoming of person of such stature. And if you want IITs to get on par with MIT and Cambridge, give them the same resources.

from:  Saamrat
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 21:34 IST

Prof CNR Rao is absolutely right, innovation lies in villages and will come from there too (except certain exception, which are always there), where people have that zeal to know the 'why' and 'how' behind every thing. Nurturing the hidden talent of students either belonging to cities or villages, through a transparent and aptitude based selection process is the key to development. Let only those people do science who really want to but not who want it for the sake of, say, a PhD degree. Life is big institutes like IISc and IIT's is a luxury and luxury is not Science.

from:  Rohit Vashisht
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 20:49 IST

If you want to be in top slot in reasearch all you need to do is increase the research funding. People are ready to work hard for the nation's R&D contribution, but who will feed their family. R&D in Indian society cannot survive because more people are dependent on monthly salary. In other countries most of the individuals don't support their family, but in India we have to. Even in some cases we have to feed our extended family. So after studies all we do is go for high salaried job to earn and settle. CNR Rao doesn't seem to have realized this.

from:  dhana
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 20:27 IST

When Jairam Ramesh and C.N.R. Rao make these kinds of comments, they are comparing Indian R&D with their western counterparts. This is ridiculous. Indians should focus on RELEVANT RESEARCH, because after all measure of the quality of research is not where it is published, but its value to the people it is supposed to serve. Indians who have done excellent research working in Indian institutions have taken up positions in various international institutions. These include Madhav Nori at University of Chicago, Gopal Prasad at University of Michigan, both originally from TIFR, Ramesh Narayan at Harvard originally from Raman research Institute, Nitin Nohri, HBS Dean educated in IIT Bombay, Raghuram Rajan at University of Chicago, educated in IIT Delhi & IIM Ahmedabad, Sunil Kumar at University of Chiocago, educated at IISC, Bangalore to name a few.

Indian research institutions are as good as any other in the world, the only problem with them is that they do not have the funds to retain talent.

from:  Ravi
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 20:23 IST

Sir,Undoubtedly, IITs,IISc and IIMs are very good. Many Indians who passed out of these institutes are occupying top positions in some of the biggest cos of the world. But the main problem is bureaucratisation of the system.This hampers their growth. These institutes have not given a single Nobel Laurette.My son joined University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign,USA after taking transfer from Manipal. He did his BS and MS from there. When I went there to attend his graduation function I was surprised to see a large number of portraits of Nobel Laurettes in their gallery who belonged to that university.Same is true of a number of their institutes.Harvard and Stanford are shining examples of their excellence.Being proud of our institutes is OK but reality is they are nowhere when compared with other institutes globally.

from:  Anil Gupta
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 20:05 IST

Indians were leaders in Truth, culture, science etc when there was no Western world. They had their own way of finding things which was useful for short term and long term purposes. They considered life as a whole. But now after Western influence entered India, we only started following them and lost our original thread as well as lagging in Western sciences. Some exceptions like Ramanujan, Bose, Raman were there but there was no framework to sustain their research. Also Indians dont have much urge to lead the world or be superior to everyone else or increase military might. But Western world is very particular about maintaining their edge. So we also have to see what is the value we are pursuing. Is it for overall good of all human beings or just some competitive research just to be like Japan/China/USA ? Or the central value is going to be Truth of all life as pursued by our sages with some reasonable orginality in external sciences sufficient to remain independent of other nations ?

from:  SeethaRamaKrishnan
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 19:19 IST

The examination system in India needs a change. To get admission in IITs and IISc one has to just mug up few books and vomit them during interviews. For example a student who want to do research in applications of nanotechnology in medical science need to mug up a lot of other things not even related to the subject. Of course one says that the things are always related but practical and vocational training is also necessary apart from theory work and the examination system needs a change. Now, for admission in US one needs t crack GRE in which only English and maths is tested but in GRE one's analytical thinking ability is only tested. But in exams like GATE, NET one has just mug up subjects. Moreover the stipend allotted should be decided according to the work done the student. What maximum people do is they just get into the institutions work very less and get the stipend. The whole research system needs a change for research in India to prosper. India is poor is research not INDIANS. The stipend of the students should go upto 6-7 lakhs a year depending upon the work done by the student or scientist.

from:  Anjul Khadria
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 18:46 IST

I would really feel that India has got all its potentials to reach the pinnacle but there are somethings like the people's mindset that has to change,and every individual who has an urge to learn and do science should be given an opportunity to do it and to bring up a learning culture and foster an environment where others can benefit and make Mother India the jewel of the world.

from:  ramesh P
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 18:25 IST

As a Distinguished Faculty Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University for a decade, appointed by its legendary founder-president, President Richard Cyert, I completely disagree with Prof. Rao and Jairam Ramesh's ad hominem statements. The fact is that our IITs are widely and very highly respected, in ivy league and new ivy league campuses, not to mention the rest, as being on par with some of the best institutions in the USA. (MIT, for example, admitted 8 students from IIT Madras alone in 2010.) As faculty, I have, for several years, discerned the indubitably outstanding intellectual calibre of students who joined us, straight out of India's IITs. As for the vehement debate about faculty at our IITs not being up to speed: isn’t it precisely these beleaguered faculty members who produce the world class students Jairam Ramesh alludes to? Surely, IIT students aren’t educating themselves! At Carnegie Mellon, IIT students are, normally, ahead of their peers. Having said that, I think it behoves Messrs. Jairam Ramesh, Prof. Rao et al (the former an IIT-B and Carnegie Mellon alum, and the latter, faculty at IIT Kanpur (?)), to persuade both government and industry to increase funding for Research and Development (R&D) in our IITs and other top ranked institutions. It should be fairly easy for them as they are prominent members of India's power configuration. There's that, and, additionally, the ineluctable fact that government needs to raise, tout suite, the salaries of faculty and researchers in our institutions. If you can make a six-figure salary a month, writing code, as an obscure techie somewhere, why would you want to do research, or join academia? Finally, US industrialists donated $28 billion (not million) in one year alone to higher education. India is going to get left out (not behind) of the knowledge economy if it doesn’t substantively increase its R&D spending. Wouldn’t this serve as a wake-up call to some of our industrialists, who erroneously – and ludicrously -- question the generosity of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet?

from:  Oopali Operajita
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 17:45 IST

ISB in Hyderabad is a shining example of how to build a world-class institute. So we can have confidence that such institutes can be developed in India. Three things are needed to make any institution world-class, 1) Integrity & Vision - which is not possible with Government interference, 2) Openness - MIT admits students from all over the world, and it draws its faculty from all over the world, 3) Resources - This is not an issue, with a $2 trillion economy growing at 8%, India certainly is not resource poor. If we can manage the first two, IITs and IIScs can be turned into world-class institutes in the less than a decade.

from:  Srinivas Aluri
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 17:33 IST

Good and constructive criticism. Hope ministry concerned will take action. Yes, visited many nation, understood our education system is the best, but it should be maintained that will be possible only by continuous striving for improvement in the system.

from:  Padma Raja
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 17:11 IST

In world ranking, no Indian university except Delhi University appears and the DU itself listed only in the 300-400 rank list. A Google search will confirm this. Ultra-patriotic adulation of Indian institutions are understandable, but not justifiable.

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 16:17 IST

Why should the IITs excell in technical education and reserch when the only aim of IIT graduates these days is to join some IT firm to become highly paid software engineers ( who write not-so-technical application software or obtain an MBA tag to get highly lucrative business office jobs. In both these pursuits high level technical knowledge and expertise are not required. No doubt, Jairam Ramesh must be aware of this. Then why is he complaining?

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 16:09 IST

I think it is people like Mr Rao and Mr. Jairam Ramesh who wasted the seats in IISc and IIT to pursue careers in politics or as technocrats or other professions yielding more money. Genuinely interested persons are not nurtured because of petty politics. The hierarchical structure in research area leads to usurping the contributions made by others lower in the hierarchy. Also research projects are not approved because of the narrow vision of the evaluation who have little ability to understand the potential. Thus there is a systemic failure in the area of research and wishing alone for a better future will not be sufficient.

from:  Sanjay Kumar
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 15:55 IST

Transparency lies nowhere, not just selecting the professors, even while selecting students also we are biased. With caste/relegion/region based reservations we are not making whole pool world class, forget about caste/relegion/region for a while, how can you expect a person securing seats in premier institutions by compromising on quality to be a world class student and how can we call the institutes world class. underpreviliged need empowerment but not by joining IITs/IIMs, atleast leave 10 institutes for the bright and talented. Let those 10 institutes enjoy full freedom, we will make chain postpone its dream of becoming No 1 in research.

from:  P Raju
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 15:48 IST

The fact is that researchers and scientists are not paid much when compared to the Software Professionals and Managers in the MNCs. The education system in India too does not emphasize on Analysis or Logical reasoning skills but it's merely about memorizing (I don't know how schools are funtioning nowadays). In purusit of money, people prefer Software profession or MBA.

from:  Roeas
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 13:58 IST

I agree with most of the comments of Prof. Rao and Mr. Aggarwal on the quality of science teaching and research output at the Indian universities and research institutes. But I disagree with them on one point that poverty is the main factor which has held India back in science in general. I think it is definitely a factor as research is expensive and getting more and more expensive. In India's case, the biggest two factor have to be the political interference in day-to-day running of the educational institutions (e.g. recruitment, promotion, research grants) and lack of long term planning/focus. I do not think nationalism has any place in education/research either. Indian education system still manages to produces some very good people who go on to do wonders but only after leaving the country. Bickering between two politicians in recent times clearly just point scoring, they are not interested in solving real issues.
Tanoj Singh (Melbourne, Australia)

from:  Tanoj Singh, Melbourne
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 13:28 IST

The claims put forward by Mr C.N.R. Rao are very well welcomed but admitting that IIT/IIM/IISc are not world class, is looking at problem while ignoring the cause.People joinning best premier institutes should come with that mindset which should be nurtured and encouraged right from the initial stages of education and right environment and resources required should never be constraint to them, then only we can be compete with any country on these parameters.

from:  Ashish goel
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 13:22 IST

India will never become to such a level like that of China and always go for a mediocre research and never will be of original research.It will take more than 100 years to become at such a small level.

from:  K S Reddy, Africa
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 12:52 IST

He said very correctly that other countries had a head start whereas India began late, and poverty came in the way of research in the earlier days. But time has came for change. I firmly believe that in next decade , India will able to make leading position in research. I am a student,aiming to join IIsc next year. I reqest to government to take some initiate to propel research work in india, Because research is not so market driven,you need to be little foresight.

from:  Vivek kumar
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 12:48 IST

It is a matter of great pleasure that there are still some persons left in our country who can speak the truth. There are a few people like Prof CNR Rao who have rightly pointed out that it was poverty which put a hurdle in making research. However, it is also my feeling that those who are making research do not enjoy respect in India. Take for example, the case of Dr. RC Tyagi of Meerut, a noted scientist who wrote music theory. Though it has been patented in India but in India there is no one to understand it. No Government help, no help from industrialist, no help from anybody. On his own he did it with his own efforts. So far as more and more research in US it is because companies in India employ Indian engineers who are doing research and developmental work but companies take credit and get it patented in US. No benefit to India or Indian Government or Indian employees who are doing research work. Jairam Ramesh or Kapil have no time to look into these matters. They are more interested in passing remarks.

from:  SC Aggarwal
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 10:00 IST

I think Rao is wrong. As a student of IISs as early as 1959 and having gone alround the world with IISC flag ship I am proud to say that Indian IIT and IISC and IIMs are world class .During the recent speach U S President wanted guys from the above institutes to come and stay in USA and help American institutes and US economy. It is a pity that Rao having been a Bangalorean and studied and worked in IISC makes such statements.

from:  Nataraj
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 08:18 IST

"“India is a great country and you have all the freedom here. But a little bit of nationalism is needed among us,” he said, referring to how youth in China were proud of their country and dream of taking their country to the No.1 slot in science and technology."

In the case of India, what is needed rather is a little bit less nationalism, since it is precisely nationalism that causes too many Indians to assume that they are already and always have been better than every other nation in the world, and thus have nothing to learn from anyone and no need to struggle for an excellence that they already have by right of heredity.

from:  Ashu
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 07:07 IST

There is no doubt that institutions like IITs, IIScs and National Law universities do not have faculty that can be considered as outstanding. Jairam Ramesh now, and Kapil Sibal earlier, were very right when they said that these institutionas are lacking excellence and it is the quality of the students that made the institutions what they are. There is no transparent selection process even in the selection of the Directors and Vice Chancellors, let alone the top faculty. This is there for every body to see and regret.

from:  Dr. V. Nageswara Rao
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 06:43 IST

In the seventies and eighties there were more stories of politics, taking away of credit and losing out internationally in timing the release of paper to claim credit. More importantly research was the pastime of those that were not in a hurry to start earning money and fulfil the dreams of their immediate family be it buying a home or a vehicle or getting a sister married. Even those that took research seriously did not see it linked to industry or could market their discoveries via startups to realise gains - no VC funding etc. The only aim of researchers was to look for opportunities to go abroad. CCMB labs also is so handicapped in research - if it is biotech then you have to make your enzymes, your primers, have unstable power for equipments, it is such a chore that getting anything done in 4 years worth presenting a paper would be an achievement besides the labs do not use free labor from students high school and undergrad for routine work. There was no opening up of the sector to general public for them to work around it like it happened with IT.

from:  Meeta
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 04:20 IST

The rise of CNR Rao has its own history, full of ironies. Churning out multiple papers from the same dataset/experiments, just by tweaking them or releasing them in parts, may boost the CV with voluminous publishing credentials but this easy-trick is not enough to leave any long term academic signature in the discipline of science he (or for that matter, any scientist with similar research ethics) practices. So as his high-sounding-moral lectures of 'what-to-do-and-what-not'. In fact, he himself (just by the nature/culture of practicing science that he and some of his peers adhered, promoted and established) can't escape the onus of what he is criticising today. Being a former director of IISc, a current director of JNCASR and acquiring a far-bigger stature than the epitaph depicting 'CNR Rao Circle' in front of IISc, he left the legacy of a 'mediocre' scientific practice. But that mediocrity was brushed aside by politicking, allying with the power structure and in the whole process becoming extremely powerful.

from:  Subhro
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 02:08 IST

Words of a distinguished scientist like C.N.R.Rao has to be respected. If he is saying that our premier institutes lack in research, then he means that research is not up to a level that can create thousands & lakhs of jobs. We Indians should broaden our mindset to accept constructive criticism instead of going behind each & everyone who points out an area of improvement. Progress can only be achieved if we are first ready to accept our mistakes & are willing to work on it.

from:  Shrikanta Setty
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 01:10 IST

India does phenomenally well in providing quality education up to a bachelor's degree. But when it comes to higher education/research India lacks both infrastructure and funding to sustain quality research. Bringing in students from villages will not solve this issue. Students from cities can see, first hand, the lack of resources for research and therefore are dissuaded from going down that path. In a world of increasing expenses it is unrealistic to expect the future generation to spend their sweat and blood and basically dedicate their entire lives towards a fruitless career in India when the same amount of hard work and passion for non-research based careers are both financially and mentally rewarding. There are two sides to every coin.

from:  Aishwarya
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 01:00 IST

I fully agree with Professor C N Rao. This is what I have been saying for a long to my friends from IITs and all the so called world class Universities in india. In fact none exists. One of the things which I keep hearing from Indian researchers is that they have no facilities ,no exposure! WHAT FACILITIES DO THEY WANT FOR MATHEMATICS,STATISTICS. what facilities did exist for Ramanajuam., C R Rao, Mahalnobis,C V Raman, None. Now more facilities,the staff have become more lethargic. They do not teach ,no good research. what I was told recently when I was in India is that automatically (subject publishing some trivial papers,supervising two Ph D students) people get Professors in 10 years are so! In UK ,people retire as lecturers even after several publications if the research is considered as not top class as assessed by at least two or three fellows of the Royal Society (FRS). There should not be automatic promotion ,should be more competition, ranking and rewards for talented,not Donkey type of Seniority for promotion which is considered important in India. Only severe,serious surgery required in India! Pity that Central ministers/state ministers (except very few) are most incompetent. Minister who cannot read or write is a minister of education in India! Once I have seen a letter handwritten by a state minister of education , I got the impression he never went to school!

from:  T Subba Rao
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 00:44 IST

I do agree with the fact that IITs and IISC are not the best. There are many reasons for it, one of it being self confidence. How many students are even trained to be confident. Can Mr.C.N.R.Rao point out how free he is with his students. Do students shiver in front of him. Also can Mr.C.N.R.Rao explain as to why there are so many papers with his name on them, when infact he is not involved in many of them. Students are mandated to put his name on every research paper. How in the world can one person accumulate so many research papers. Can he give the statistics of how many papers are in his name and in how many of them did he directly supervise the student. Just these two numbers will prove a lot of things.

from:  Sri
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 00:43 IST

The points made by Rao are not to be taken as etched in stone or something. Some statements may be near truth but NOT all. USA got all the best talent from Europe after WWII and being the richest country with english language continues to attract the best from India, China, all over asia, even from uk and other european countries, also ex east bloc countries like Russia etc and thus continues to hold the edge, but surely it is slipping albeit ever so slowly but in due time say 15 years India has an excellent chance of almost catching up if India makes the best and right decision in the scientific fields. Nothing in this world is permanent and etched in stone, everything WILL change. Only thing etched in stone is that there is bound to be change of power in due course of time always from the roman empire to the current world.

from:  Raj
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 00:41 IST

I admire Professor C N R Rao's willingness to be self-critical. Professor Rao became a full professor (when he was barely 30) at IIT-Kanpur and is regarded as one of the founders of that institution. He served as director of IISc for two terms 9which he criticises now for doing mediocre research). He maintains controlling interests in a number of research-funding bodies of Union Government and in the Science Academies of India. Good for him to be self-critical.

from:  Kumar Venkataraman
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 00:22 IST
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