New Delhi: Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, IIT alumni himself, on Monday kicked up a fresh controversy he claimed that the faculty of the premier IITs and IIMs are ‘not world class’ but 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 (Indian Institute of Technology) and IIMs (Indian Institute of Management (IIM) are excellent because of the quality of students not because of quality of research or faculty," Ramesh said on the sidelines of a function here.

The outspoken minister is an alumnus of IIT Mumbai from where he obtained his BTech degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1975.

On his Ministry's decision to have a joint venture with Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) to set up a National Centre for Marine Biodiversity in Jamnagar, he said the decision was taken as a world class research centre cannot be built in a "Governmental set up" and can never attract young people.

Asked whether there was any conflict of interest in collaborating with Reliance, the Minister said, "Life is one large conflict of interest."

"We cannot build a world class research centre in a Governmental set up. The governmental set up can never attract young people. Never. Let us understand our experience in the last 60 years. Government research institutions can never attract young talent." Ramesh said.

Jamnagar is also the site for India's first marine national park, the Minister said.

This would be a new centre that would focus exclusively on the conservation of our marine biodiversity, Ramesh added.

Jairam’s ‘frustration’

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said "one of the biggest frustrations" in his two-year stay in the UPA-II government was his "inability" to make Botanical Survey of India and Zoological Survey of India autonomous.

He also said "maximum resistance" in making these two prestigious institutions independent and autonomous is coming from the scientific community within BSI and ZSI.

"One of the biggest frustrations in my two years stay in the Ministry is my inability to give autonomous status to these two premier institutions," he said at Stakeholders' Consultations on Biodiversity for Asia and Pacific here.

Later, speaking to the reporters, the Minister said his proposal was that "ZSI and BSI will be run the way CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) laboratories are run."

"We are neither able to attract young people nor.We are able to retain them. When you go there see the sad state of affairs in these institutions," he said.

The Zoological Survey of India is the only taxonomic organisation in the country involved in the study of all kinds of animals from Protozoa to Mammalia, occurring in all possible habitats from deepest depth of the ocean to the peaks of Himalaya.

It was established in 1916 to promote survey, exploration and research. The Botanical Survey of India was set up in 1887 to survey the plant resources of the country.

EX-CJI remarks on Jaitapur irk Ramesh

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Monday termed as ‘most unscientific approach’ former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court AP Shah's reported remarks that the Jaitapur nuclear power project would be a catastrophe if all the safety concerns were not addressed.

"Most unscientific approach. I am disappointed in Justice Shah," Ramesh said when asked about remarks of Shah, who is heading a people's tribunal set up to study the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project.

According to reports, Shah during a hearing on public hearing on the safety, viability and cost efficiency of nuclear energy in Mumbai on Saturday said Enron was only a financial disaster, but the Jaitapur project would be a catastrophe.

He also lamented the lack of public debate in the country on the Jaitapur project saying "everything is hush-hush.”