Jairams IIT remarks draw flak from Science and Technology minister

New Delhi: Terming Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh`s controversial remarks about IIT faculty as "unfortunate", Minister of State for Science and Technology Ashwani Kumar on Tuesday said government scientific and technological institutions have done India proud.

"I am the Minister for Science and Technology… I am better equipped to say that out scientific and technological institutions have done us proud… It is time to loudly celebrate achievements of the Indian establishments," he told reporters here.

Kumar said while he agreed that there could be inadequacies, "we cannot demoralise our scientists… I cannot appreciate the statement that lock, stock and barrel condemns our public sector institutions and IITs".

Ramesh, an IIT alumni himself, yesterday kicked up a controversy claiming the faculty of the premier IITs and IIMs are "not world class" but that these institutions are "excellent" because of the quality of students.

"There is hardly any worthwhile research from our IITs. The faculty in the IIT is not world class. It is the students in IITs who are world class. So the IITs and IIMs are excellent because of the quality of students not because of quality of research or faculty," Ramesh had said.

Kumar said several cutting edge technologies have been developed by a number of institutions including IIT.

He gave examples of contributions of Professor Manindar Agarwal of IIT Kanpur on `primality of number` and Professor A K Sood of Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science on `carbon nano tube`.

"We cannot demoralise our scientists, we cannot diminish their achievements, we cannot demean these very substantial achievements that have been made… I don`t think that (Ramesh`s) is a correct view at all to take," Kumar said.

He said Indian institutions and faculties have a brilliant record in all sectors including space exploration, early warning system for natural disasters and nuclear energy.

The minister said world class systems of rockets and satellites owe much to engineering inputs from many IITians and added that some of the best papers in fast breeder reactor have come from India.

Kumar mentioned examples of recent achievements by ISRO in development of 220 terflop high performance computing and Chandrayan mission`s discovery of presence of water in the Moon.

"India`s public sector and government scientific and research establishments have done India proud and we as citizens can be justly proud about the achievements of our IITs and of our scientific research establishments such as the CSIR and various autonomous bodies under the government of India," he said.

Kumar said till recently almost all research and development work in the country was undertaken in government funded research institutions and heavily supported by the government.

"I agree that we need to enhance our R&D expenditure many times… But I don`t think that for anyone to say that Indian public sector or Indian government establishments are incapable of setting up world class scientific research institutions would be correct," he said.

He said his ministry is taking initiatives to further promote science and technology in higher education, specially in backward states.

"Its not that there is no focus on science and technology in higher education. But the focus is less than what it ought to be," Kumar said, adding he would be visiting states across the country to gauge the problems and promote greater participation of students.