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'IITs are glorified engineering colleges'

Last updated on: May 27, 2011 17:23 IST

'IITs are glorified engineering colleges'



We invited you to share your opinion on Jairam Ramesh's recent statements about the quality of IIT and IIM faculty. Share yours too!

Sanjay Shrivastava says:

When the IITs were opened in '50s, faculty was top class as people had left their lucrative careers in India or abroad to join IITs as teachers.

They had passion to see India develop and lived simpler lives. This is how IITs became world class as they had world-class faculty then.

It used be the matter of pride for any one to get associated with IITs as faculty member. It became very difficult to get good faculty 25 years back when the original faculties started getting retired and lot more difficult now as we have more than 10 IITs in the country. So that feeling of exclusiveness associated with IITs be as faculty member or student is already over.

IITs are now no more than as glorified engineering colleges. By the way, how many of the present day IIT faculty can solve the JEE papers of '70s and '80s? Not many I suppose and if they could they would have been IITians too!! And probably not the faculty members in some IITs!


Check the potential of IIT professors

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Vivek Sharma writes in:

I definitely agree with Jairam Ramesh's statement.

It is the quality of students responsible for maintaining the status if any one is having doubt please select some average or mediocre students from other part of our country, then check the potential of professor of IITs. Maybe one or two you will get but not all.

Everyone will see the truth. So in fact I appreciate his statement that he has the courage at least to accept what we are.... We feel good or bad it the real scenario of our country.

Being a PhD scholar at another reputed organisation of India I have personally gone through such experiences.

Expect a very few cases, I can guarantee that his statement is the universal truth in context to our country.

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'IITs produce foot soldiers for corporate giants'

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Dr Partho Dhang writes in:

I have mixed opinion on the recent statement Mr Ramesh made about IIT. I have experience in interacting with IIT for my research work and this interaction gives me an opportunity to put forth my views.

I feel the faculty currently running IIT are nothing different from the any other university. The students too are in similar state. Record results obtained by "Super 30" in Bihar prove that young students can be trained to do anything.

IIT faculty lack role models for young students to aspire for. Role models mean leaders in their respective field who have contributed to science and society.

Contributing is measured in practical usage of the knowledge not by mere research publications. Part of the malaise also lies in the fact that centres for higher learning in India rarely interact with industry/society/public.

This is also true the other way around. As disjointed bodies, centres of higher learning are viewed by public as pathways for job seeking.

The reason this topic needs special discussion and attention is to highlight the fact that Indian education policy has failed to make IIT as an elite centre for producing entrepreneurship, visionaries and social leaders.

It just serves to produce foot soldiers for fast growing corporate giants. My complaint is why are we continuing this at the cost of average tax-payers.

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'Being world class requires cultural change'

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Roopesh Mathur says:

As an alumnus of IIT-M, I have to say that Mr. Ramesh's comments on IIT-IIM faculty are too broad, but have a kernel of truth to them.

In fact, the truth is that nowhere in their charter does it say that they have to be "world-class" institutions or win Nobel prizes or create the next Microsoft. But that is very much besides the point of these institutions.

These institutions are doing what they are supposed to do, which is to provide a high quality and sound education to promising young people, so that they form a professional class that would serve the society and the country.

They provide autonomy and a meritocratic atmosphere, with decent facilities for faculty and students for scholarly pursuits. In that, they have succeeded - they have graduated several lakh students from almost four generations of Indians, many of whom are bright young people from modest backgrounds, most of whom are now leading highly productive careers, which they might not have had otherwise; with quite a few reaching distinguished heights in their chosen field.

Also let us not forget that they are the premier engineering and management colleges setup by the leadership of a poverty stricken country, just a few years after throwing off the foreign yoke, with great hopes for the young generations to come in a free India.

Scarce resources were diverted and heroic efforts were made by visionary people like Vikram Sarabhai and Professor Sengupto to build these institutions.

They were being built in the 1960s even as the country was struggling with three draining wars, food shortages and massive political turmoil. India did not have many good institutions to provide the numerous faculty, so they had to create a faculty education and training program simultaneously.

They were start-ups in the true sense, long before start-ups were fashionable.

In today's India, when we are prospering due to globalisation with lots of consumer choices, we take these things for granted.

We see the great institutions like MIT or Harvard and their alumni, and our burgeoning national ego and pride, want the premier institutions to be their equal. We want that choice available for our shopping cart!

But my question is: are we willing to dedicate the resources and effort to reach "world class"? Also how much do we respect risk taking, true professional caliber and true excellence pursued without expectation of rewards?

For example, would we support a Venki Ramakrishnan, a physicist in decades long pursuit of an extremely difficult scientific problem, that too from biology, with miniscule chances of success? He would be ridiculed as a loser scientist riding his bicycle to work in some lab every day! No wonder people like him leave India for better places.

If you want world-class faculty, then make the changes that would enable a Venki to succeed in India. It is not enough to make off-the-cuff remarks. Being 'world class' in the true sense requires cultural change and a revolution in mindset.

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'Congress should take responsibility'

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Pratap Kumar Sahu writes in:

Recently, I was going through the profile of Mr Jairam Ramesh and the statement he stated on IITs and IIMs.

It is really another issue, whether IITs and IIMs are world class or not. The term world class means: he is talking about research obviously.

First of all, the basic objective of those institutes is to create world-class BTECH and MBA students, which they do.

Additionally, they have to do some research which they undertake and nobody can deny that fact.

Everybody in this forum state that the students of those institutes are world-class. If really this is the case, then what happens to those IIT and IIM alumni, when they become faculties at those premier institutes?

Let us know the fact that at least 80% of the faculties of those institutes are alumni of any of such premier institutes.

Whatever the case may be it is absolute disgrace to the teacher community of our country by the honorable minister. He should not have forgotten that he belongs to the party, which is almost always in power and it is the responsibility of the government to improve the standard of research environment in the country. He or his party should have taken all the responsibility if at all these institutes does not have world-class faculty.

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'Student gets the degree no practical knowledge'

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Hari says:

I would like to mention that the brightest of the Indian talent get admission in the IITs and IIMs, the quality of the professor in these institutes are good as compared to the other colleges in India.

Don't you think the above average student also has a right to learn under leadership of a good professor, who is going to talk about the quality of professor's in our Business colleges which are charging high prices and making mockery of our student community?

The student gets the degree but does not get the practical knowledge for applying it.

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'Government should encourage research'

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Kannan Govindan says

I am presently working as postdoc researcher in one of the top universities in USA (University of California) and alumnus of IIT Bombay with PhD in Electrical Engineering.

I have personally seen research in India, research in Scotland and in USA as I spent quality time in these places. I have also seen research world-wide by attending conferences in Singapore, USA, UK and Canada.

Teaching in IIT is world class. There is no question about it. The faculties all recruited through year-long recruitment process.

One needs to make application with strong resume backed with publication records, research statement, teaching plan and reference letters from high quality researchers.

Then one needs to visit the IITs personally to give a faculty talk, which is open and can be attended by anybody.

Any questions can be asked in the talk and if the candidate failed to answer even one question in a convincing way he has very less chance of making it to next level (personal interview).

The personal interview committee consists of 6 experts including the IIT director and then if the candidate fit enough in interview the offer will be made. I am one person who failed to clear the interview despite 30 odd publications in great venue.

It implies that the faculties are fit enough and most of the time 3 years postdoc from abroad (world class university) is mandatory.

Now, why such a world-class candidate is not performing world class research after joining in IIT as faculty?  First of all, we need to ask a basic question before criticising.

What we mean high quality research and how it can be performed
High quality research is generally mean by high citation values. Most of the time it is performed by students or researchers which the guidance of Professors. The students and professors in USA are under constant pressure due to funding and ofcourse they do high quality work to retain the funding.

They are given adequate infrastructure like lab space, access to modern equipments and backed with high name of the university.

Research is high encouraged by giving variable payment to faculties.

A faculty can make as high as 600,000 USD per annum in US universities if he perform high quality research. The pay is equivalent to CEO pay.

A same level faculty can be paid 55,000 USD per annum if he doesnt do good research.

Now coming back to IIT, the so-called high quality students of IIT BTech or MTech hardly do any research in India as their funding is always guaranteed irrespective of what they do. They hardly even turn upto lab in office hours. There will be wide media coverage if any student is disqualified due to poor research record. The same student will do great work if he goes to USA. Professors are given very poor facilities, most of the time they are pressed against heavy teaching loads.

Assistant professors are given 3 hours lab, 40 hours lecture of 40 students, BTech students mentoring, Hostel warden duty, sometime external evaluation of other universities, GATE/JEE/JAM exam duties. IIT has no mean to attract foreign talents (foreign nationals) as faculties or students which many US universities do.

On top of all that, research is never encouraged by proper remuneration in India. A faculty either publishes or not publishes always paid the same money 42,000 INR (Assitant professor) per month, which is so less compared to Indian industry standards.

These are all the reasons why such a world-class candidate becomes truly a teacher than a researcher in IIT.

Despite this fact, IIT produces high impact publications every year. I admire the faculty's dedication and strong commitments despite the poor remunerations they get.

The faculty at the IITs are paid as same as any state colleges in India and they far superior than state college professors.

I think ministry should wash its dirty hand first and come up with an attractive plan to encourage the research and also attract more world class people to uplift the research in India rather than only criticising the faculty in IIT.

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'Time to wake up'

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Bishwajit Okram says

It is absolutely right that our students could be world class but our faculty is third world class.

The fact is 'photon' was re invented by Dr Bhava long ago, but the foreign scientists have been using his inventions and be able to invent many things which were patented under their names. But, despite our age-old institutes and universities, we have not really moved forward.

Truth is bitter so does the faculty objects to his comment.

Otherwise, these faculty members should prove that how many research work and scholarly work they have produced so far and how many of them do have patented under their belt.

Our students are world class is true and it is proved that when our students go abroad , they can even win the Nobel prize.

If our faculties have been world class then, why could not we produce any Nobel prize winner every year or every few years? Instead our faculty encourage re-researching and internal politics not genuine fundamental research.

This is shame on them. They must learn and sportingly take up this advice.
Time to wake up

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'Focus of IIT must be 80 per cent R&D'

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Satish Mishra says

The IITs were set up to inspire brilliant minds who will incubate brilliant ideas and research for technological development and to benefit the growth of India.
How many students take up research and development at the IIT, the sole purpose of IIT must be 80 per cent R&D and 20 per cent other important areas of interest such as industry participation, agricultural progression, IT, power generation etc.
If IITs follow this road for 10-15 years, India will be a world leader in technology, GDP growth and many other world parameters.

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