'Mr Ramesh, first become an IIT prof then react'
Environment minister Jairam Ramesh recently stirred the hornet's nest when he suggested that the faculty members of IITs and IIMs were not 'world class' and that the institutes were 'excellent' because of the quality of students. We invited you to share your views with us. Here's their reactions:
Sushanta Karmakar wrtes:
There is a proverb that 'the sieve sees a hole at the sewing needle'. Jaram Ramesh never says 'Indian politicians are never the world class' they are the most corrupt (as per a recent survey).
Let him first become a professor of IIT and then say this kind of rubbish. Basically he is frustrated and wants to shift the focus of his critics to other directions. When children don't study and do unnecessary things, parents give a tight slap and that is the only medicine that brings the children back on track. Manmohan Singh should just do the same on him to bring him back to his area of interest.
Jamble, Shantanu writes:
A mixed bag of talent is applicable in every group, be it students, teachers or more so in politics. I'm very sure the progress report of our Parliament isn't too impressive in terms of world class politicians. Is there anything you can do about improving that?
Srinivasan Venkatraman writes:
Jairam should get hold of a copy of Prof P Ramarao's report for converting IITs to pure research institutions.
Murali Manohar Joshi wanted this to happen. It would have been nice but Arjun (Singh, the former HRD minister in UPA 1) and co did not respond to good ideas. Not only did this report not see the light of the day but newer IITs were created. It seems the idea of good research to get accepted will take a while. Ramesh was stating the obvious.
Atul Sharma writes:
I am a post graduate in Chemistry. Although I am not from IIT or IIM but I do not agree with the statement given by environment minister Jairam Ramesh that the professors at IIT are below par. You cannot believe that the most reputed institutes of our country are doing such a good work without brilliant professors. This is a very irresponsible statement by Mr. Ramesh, that's all I can say about it.
Hari Krishna from Hyderabad writes:
I can't talk about all IIMs. But I can share my views about two premier IIMs in Ahmedabad and Benagaluru. I worked at one of them and visited the other couple of times. If someone says that IIMs are not world class and its students are! I would have no hesitation in endorsing it. Because, due to the rigour and competition involved in the selection process, only the best are able to get admission in these institutions. The facilities that these students are exposed to at IIMs are generally far better that what most of them have seen in their middle class life (there are exceptions of course). They focus more on studies, networking and enjoy new life and don't have bitter complaints about the facilities offered by the institute.
However, if one compares the standard of facilities, quality of faculty, efficiency of services and professionalism of administration in these institutes with other premier institutions like Cambridge, Harvard (to which they are mostly compared with) and some other premier private management institutions in India itself, one can easily say that, these institutions are far from world class. Even some private international schools are much better than these institutions in terms of facilities and professionalism. Once after staying at executive guest house at one of the IIMs, I wrote a constructive feedback to its director saying how much I was concerned to hear form my fellow participants that they were so much disappointed with the standards. The response I received was nothing! Instead the concerned director stopped talking with me from next day.
The public relations chapter in any management course tells you that the culture of your organizations is communicated by how you are treated and greeted by the first person you meet at the reception. You can see that most offices don't have a front office, even if there is one, you will not see anybody sitting there, even if you find someone there, their response to you is determined by how you look and what dress you wear. I can't analyze each and every department here to prove the point that IIMs are not world class. However, I can surely say that many of IIMs don't definitely practice, what they teach their students! Many of them are mired in serious labour problems, faculty feuds and inept administration. Student unions could have perhaps ensured greater efficiency in administration. However that's almost impossible in these institutions, because the students seldom have time to indulge in such extracurricular affairs and institutions will not allow the unions to emerge.
Finally, I find it interesting to hear the comment on quality and standards from a Minister in the central government, whose own government is embarrassing the country every day on account of inefficient governance and administration. I would accept the comment 'IIMs are not world class' from any one, but not from a minister of the central government. If he is seriously concerned about standards, it is very much in the power and reach of his government to bring reforms and help these institutions to become world class. Otherwise, his statement can help no cause except the cause of keeping him in the limelight!
Your say: Do you agree with Jairam Ramesh's statements or do you think the minister was being out of line? Share with us your opinion.Write in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org (subject line: Jairam Ramesh) and we will publish the best responses right here on rediff.com!
Image: Minister for environment and forest Jairam Ramesh
'We need a 'Champion' in every institution'
Dr Raja Srinivasan from Bangalore writes:
Some observations in respect of rediff article based on Jairam Ramesh's comments on IIT & IIM Faculty.
Education -- teaching and learning -- has transformed the way we think, the way we work, and the way we make our living in this modern information age due to the advent of 'electronic technologies'. Teaching and learning based primarily on book information in the last 500 years when transformed into 'online' education, the distinction between the teacher and the taught will also stand 'transformed'. We can visualise this simply as below:
In the beginning of the last century every student had to have a 'slate'
A few decades later every student had to have notebooks
And now and beyond every student will need a 'personal digital knowledge System
Competency in 'electronic technologies' and not just 'literacy' in computers is the key requirement now. Education integrated with electronic technologies - whether offered in a stable setting or at a distance - depends on hardware, software, transportation (electronic methodology for receipt and transfer of programs); and professionals (facilitator, deliverer, manager, leader, user) now. These are now imperative and integral to 'teaching and learning' that we witness today.
It is against this backdrop that I wish to cite some relevant issues and the need for change.
First, we need a 'Champion' at the highest level of any organisation/university/institution. He leads the decision-making process of introduction of technology and financial resources.
Second, technology-based education will throw up clusters of problems amongst all stakeholders. These relate to (a) feelings of loss of privileged status of faculty in classroom; (b) concerns of faculty in terms of 'competing goals', and (c) concerns of faculty in terms of their 'altered roles'. Jairam Ramesh probably has been referring to these changes in the new paradigm of education.
Third, the mere fact that electronic technology features 'cost, capability, and complexity' offers a freedom of choice and opportunity for the leader implementing the system.
Fourth, introduction of electronic technologies includes participation by professionals with diverse expertise. For e.g. a project that involves cooperation of a business unit, academic department and say a satellite unit, will need to strike a balance with each other to make the process successful.
Fifth, tech-based education requires 'unusual' managerial resourcefulness to look for opportunities beyond known sources of funds.
Sixth, concerned champions need to consider 'unexpected' occurrences in their activities like say, an industrial reverse causing decline in support; acceptance of low level quality at times; declining popularity of courses; all requiring the champions to think differently. This is precisely the situation that many institutions are faced with now.
Let me turn my attention to 'institutional framework' for change and their role in this context.
Two prominent changes -- not new though -- for application can be considered 'Quick' and 'Steady'. One may adopt the 'Quick' change when threatened with a crisis situation. This is dramatic and the institution can emerge stronger within a short period. The other 'Steady' change is less dramatic and incremental in nature, adopted in less threatening situations, and witnesses a mere elaboration of existing goals and vision than completely 'new directions'.
Hence the urgent and imperative need for an 'appropriate strategy', integrating the teaching and learning process with evolving technologies. Hence, the need for a 'Champion' in every institution.
This again, precisely, is the situation that faculty and students meet with in today's neoteric information environment causing 'change' and 'resistance' displayed in terms of (a) preference for stability; (b) traditional methods becoming a 'habit'; (c) misunderstanding of implications; (d) inability to cope with pressure; and (e) the strong belief that it will cost more than the gain.
The ultimate goal is to move the changes from the periphery to the core of activities in a seamless fashion so as to enhance the values and beliefs held by the stakeholders in perfect harmony. This is the challenge before the new breed of 'champions' of institutions in this century.