Reposing complete trust in the creative potential of the faculty at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday said that if the IITs had not gained the critical mass to change the global scientific discourse, it was because of the “ecosystem,” including lack of infrastructure and investment, and not because of the faculties.

Without naming his Cabinet colleague, Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, who had earlier this week said the IITs and the IIMs faculty was not “world class” and paid little attention to research, Mr. Sibal said: “We are in a democracy and my colleagues are entitled to give their opinion, but the opinion should be based on facts and not perception.”

Seeking to give the HRD Ministry's opinion on Mr. Ramesh's statement that has snowballed into a major controversy now, Mr. Sibal told journalists that the reality was that the IITs had not gained the critical mass to change the global scientific discourse as these institutes were not created for producing researchers, but engineering graduates initially. It was only in the recent past that the focus had shifted to research. “Of the 1,400 research papers produced in India annually, 1,000 are produced by the IITs. And this has happened only in the past 5 to 6 years.” Some path-breaking research had been done in these institutions. Importantly, he said, 25 per cent of the faculty was from the IITs system itself.

Reforms process

Mr. Sibal said his Ministry had already embarked on the reforms process, including initiation of “enormous” changes in the administrative structure within the IIT system, which will allow the faculty to do critical mass research and empower the scientific community.

“In 7 to 10 years, our R&D institutions would have gained global eminence,” he said, adding that most of the solutions for research were going to emerge from India, including in the management field, in the coming years.

He said the government was in the process of adding more institutions to the system.