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A world-class research centre cannot come up in a governmental set up?

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"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," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, who is himself an alumni of IIT Mumbai, told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.

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. "Let us understand our experience in the last 60 years. Government research institutions can never attract young talent."

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

"So we want to think differently. We have to think differently, how we are going to organise our research institutions. And this is one way of building PPP," Ramesh said.

"So I have been to Jamnagar and we are in a PPP mode. We are having a joint venture with Reliance to set up a world class national centre for marine biodiversity," he said. Jamnagar is also the site of India's first marine national park, the Minister said.

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

For the full report in the New Indian Express, click here.

Perhaps the minister may not be quite right in making such a sweeping statement. For instance, consider ISRO. I don't think they have too badly, after all. May be that's an exception, since I can't think of too many other organisations that I can add to form a list, even.

Well, whether research can happen or not, one thing that's becoming amply clear is that it's high time governments got out of providing services and producing goods, and instead became their facilitator and regulator.

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