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Hamid Ansari:
Collective efforts needed to uplift AMU
By Zafar Iqbal, Washington

The overall situation of the Aligarh Muslim University is satisfactory, but collective efforts are needed to uplift it to modern standards, said Mr. Hamid Ansari addressing former students and friends of the AMU in Washington on 15 February 2001. Ansari, AMU vice-chancellor, was in town at the invitation of the Brookings Institution, a respected think tank in the US capital.

Ansari appraised the audience about the present developments in the university, citing several improvements and shortcomings. He exhibited his diplomatic skills in responding to questions raised by the audience. Most queries were concerned about the lack of expected improvements in the standard of education at the university. He acknowledged that the university had not kept up pace with recent progress, especially in biomedical sciences and information technology. He appeared satisfied with the amount of grant (about Rs 160 crore) the university was receiving from the University Grants Commission; however, he believed that a considerable amount of financial resources was needed to upgrade the structural as well technical facilities. The university enrollment had reached 25,000 and there was very little improvement in the existing facilities that are sufficient for less than 15,000 students. He regretted the fact that the university was not able to take significant steps forward in computer science area although the AMU was the first university in India to start a computer centre. Ansari also expressed that the research productivity in biological sciences faculty had declined in recent years. He believed that the slack in productivity was a wide spread phenomenon throughout the country on the university campuses, and it is perhaps related to unchecked faculty promotion policy in recent years. He disclosed that the UGC is addressing this issue and better ways for accountability and promotions are being considered.

Answering to questions concerning the ratio of Muslim students, Ansari mentioned that more than 70 percent of the students enrolled in the university were Muslim, whereas the number of Muslim students in professional (medical and engineering) colleges was about 50 percent. He said that the university had no special emphasis on coaching programme to prepare students for competitive examinations, as he believed that the government administrative services do not seem to attract brilliant students these days.

The Aligarh Alumni Association of Greater Washington organized the meeting. Mr. Mustafa Hashmi, president of the association welcomed the guests and audience and Mr. Ahmed Raza, a former executive of the Reserve Bank of India who recently retired from the International Monetary Fund introduced the guest and moderated the meeting. Dr. A Rehman Nakadar, President of the American Federation of Muslims from India (AFMI) also addressed the meeting. Nakadar, who recently visited the earthquake affected areas in Gujraat, described the human casualties and devastation and problems surviving victims are facing. He praised the help being provided by more than one hundred non-governmental organizations, including the remarkable work of AFMI volunteers.

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