New Delhi: Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh seems to have a penchant for courting controversy. This time it's his take on the faculty of IITs and IIMs "not being world class" that has angered many.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today hit out at Mr Ramesh for his remarks on the quality of teaching staff at the IITs and IIMs, saying that the country was proud of the premier institutions.
Taking a swipe at the minister, BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said, "We cannot have world-class institutions unless we have world-class ministers...Ministers should refrain from making such statements."
Earlier in the day, Mr Ramesh's statement had also evoked a sharp response from the faculty of these institutions.
"A good artisan doesn't not blame his tools. He (Jairam Ramesh) has crossed the limits. It's a challenge to teach students who are sharp and bright.
Some of our best research institutions are government-run. He should not berate these institutions but rather look towards making them even more effective," said Professor Anil Gupta, a faculty member at IIM Ahmedabad.
The outspoken minister, who incidentally is an IIT alumnus, had said that IITs and IIMs are excellent because of the quality of students and not because of the quality of research or faculty.
"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 (Indian Institute of Technology) and IIMs (Indian Institute of Management are excellent because of the quality of students not because of quality of research or faculty," Ramesh told reporters on the sidelines of a function in New Delhi on Monday.
Mr Ramesh is an alumnus of IIT Bombay from where he obtained his B.Tech degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1975.
The minister though found some support in his cabinet colleague, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal.
"He (Jairam Ramesh) is himself an IITian. He might be having inside knowledge. Even otherwise...do we have world-class institutions? As Education Minister, I am striving towards achieving world-class standards for our institutions. This is a fact that our institutions don't figure in the top 150 list," Mr Sibal said.
The recent controversy is just one of several instances of Mr Ramesh's candid comments that have often turned out to be public gaffes.