In a frank and controversial assessment of the Indian Institutes of Technology, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh dismissed both faculty and research at these institutions as “not world class.”

Instead, the IITs have gained their premier status due to the “quality of their students”, he said.

Interestingly, Mr. Ramesh himself was once an IIT student, having obtained a B.Tech. degree in Mechanical Engineering from IIT-Bombay in 1975.

When the Minister criticised the government research institutions on the sidelines of a summit on biodiversity on Monday, he was asked about his own alma mater, famed across India and the world as a prestigious institution of technical education.

“No useful research”

“The IITs are excellent only because of the students, not because of the quality of research or faculty,” he replied. “There is hardly any worthwhile research from our IITs. The faculty in the IIT is not world class. It is IIT students who are world class.”

Mr. Ramesh was speaking about the lack of quality in governmental institutions in the context of his Ministry's new partnership with Reliance Industries to set up a National Centre for Marine Diversity at Jamnagar in Gujarat.

Asked why a public-private partnership model had been chosen, he replied, “The governmental set-up can never attract young talent, so we have got to think differently.”

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