Defending his ministerial colleague Jairam Ramesh for his remarks on IITs and IIMs faculty members, water resources and minority affairs minister Salman Khursheed on Wednesday said, his views were just informal academic exchange and this should not be discouraged.
Mr Khursheed’s reaction has come amidst a raging controversy and a virtual war within the government with another minister Ashwani Kumar trashing Mr Ramesh’s claim that faculty at IITs and IIMs are not “world class”.
Even Congress distanced itself from the environment minister’s claim and BJP criticised him by saying that for “world-class faculty, we need world-class ministers”. However, HRD and telecom minister Kapil Sibal on Tuesday came in support of Mr Ramesh’s claim. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the official press conference of the GoM, Mr Khursheed said, “The academic atmosphere in which academic free exchanges take place are different from formal official announcements that are made by ministers in their capacity.”
The water resources minister was responding to a question whether Mr Ramesh’s remarks did not violate ministerial responsibility and if the central government endorsed his views. He said, “I think we should not discourage informal academic exchange of views whatever those views may be.”
Rejecting the suggestion that there existed any “debate or conflict” within the government over the issue and ministers are there to rake up controversies, Mr Khursheed said, “I do not think we are free to trigger controversies. Ministers know what they have to say. But academic freedom in an academic institution is different from what you say in press conferences.” Asian Age