Jobs @ MG
‘We need a modern university for the 21st century’
retired IAS officer and a former vice chancellor of Aligarh Muslim
University, currently Saiyid Hamid is the chancellor of Jamia Hamdard and
secretary of the Hamdard Education Society. For his multi-faceted
contributions to the educational field, he has been dubbed as the Sir Syed
of this century. He is also involved with various Muslim organizations all
over the country. He is the man who assisted late Hakeem Abdul Hameed
Saheb in the establishment of Hamdard Study Circle, which is very popular
among students seeking to appear in civil services examinations. AN
Shibli met him in his office at Taleemabad in south Delhi. Excerpts:
|Q.: This year too the
percentage of Muslim candidates passing the civil service exams is
less than four percent. Why is this so?
A.: The main reason is that Muslims are not competitive.
Muslims lack any proper arrangement to get informed about the
happenings in the country and the world at large. There is a lack of
proper guidance in childhood and even at later stages. Without a
strong base at school level success cannot be achieved at higher
levels. Now the total civil service vacancies have been reduced to
427. This is another reason.
Q.: This year result of Hamdard Study Circle is not much
impressive either. Why is this so?
A.: Our main duty is to polish students’ talents. If a
candidate has no strong base we will not change his life within one
year. Parents are also responsible for this. They don’t care about
their children’s education during school days.
Q.: Hamdard Study Circle is an ideal place for coaching for
civil service examinations. Don’t you think that this type of
centres should be opened in other parts of India too?
A.: Why not? This type of study centres should be opened in
every capital of the states. But due to lack of infrastructure it
will not be easy. In Kerala and Hyderabad this type of study centres
have been opened. If anyone wants to open such centres, we will
Q.: You are involved with so many NGOs. How do you manage to
take part in the activities of these NGOs?
A.: I have an interest to work for the people. If you have
this kind of inclination and you really want to help others, time
will not be a constraint.
Q.: People say that Muslim organizations spend foreign
donations on their office-bearers. Donations are not used for the
actual projects for which they are taken..
A.: This is not correct. Such irresponsible talk is a result
of the habit of some Muslims to make ill-informed comments on
others. Using IDB donations, a large number of schools and colleges
have been opened in India. There may be some misuse of funds but I
believe that the maximum part of donations have been utilized on
Q.: You were the leader of the All-India Educational Caravan
in 1995 and All-UP Health Caravan in 1999. Have these caravans
changed the conditions of Muslims in any way?
A.: Our duty is to inform the people about the right and
wrong. After the educational caravan Muslims realized the need of
education. A chain of schools opened in various parts of India after
this caravan. People invited me to inaugurate new schools and
colleges. During the health caravan I was surprised to see the
success of schools which were started after getting inspiration from
our educational caravan. In the health caravan we sent out the
message of health and hygiene which is part of the the message of
Islam. It is a fact that Muslims are completely ignorant about their
health. Gandagi has become the identification mark of Muslim
localities while Islam says that 'purity and neatness is half of the
faith.' We are currently working on four major fields, i.e.,
education, health and hygiene, social reforms and communal harmony.
Q.: Why the educational performance of Muslims in south India
is better than north Indian Muslim?
A.: In south India they depend on business, that is why they
have no financial problems. North Indian Muslims traditionally
depended on services. Now the services have been reduced and getting
employment has become difficult. Communal flare-up from time to time
also depresses north Indian Muslims. Unlike south Indian
governments, north Indian governments have not given any support to
Muslims. It becomes very difficult for them to open an educational
institution because here the government suspects that these
institutions are dens of ISI agents. Madrasas are under suspicion.
Q.: In your view, what are the major problems of the Indian
A.: Muslim are educationally and economically backward. They
are always anxious about their security. That is why they don't give
proper attention to their problems. Unemployment tops their major
problems. Numbers of Muslim child-labour are increasing day after
day. Due to unemployment, Muslims get involved in various crimes
Q.: Don't you think that there is a need to change the
syllabus of madrasas in order to make them respond to our current
A.: Modernization of Madrasas syllabus is very important. I
had started this programme in Aligarh. Earlier there were some
opposition from the Ulama. But now they too have realized the need.
Mr Seraj Ahmad, vice chancellor of Jamia Hamdard, has prepared a new
syllabus for madrasas which will be used by UP government in the
near future. Some madrasas are already using the new syllabus.
Q.: There is a complete lack of leadership in the Muslim
community. Why is this so? Who, in your view, is at present the best
leader of Muslim?
A.: Muslim do have leaders but they are not constructive
leaders. Some years ago Syed Shahabuddin was the best to lead. But
people did not support him. Now he enjoys no such position. At
present no person seems to be in a position to lead Muslims. But
leadership must emerge. We would have to give a chance to someone to
lead us. If his leadership is not satisfactory, we may remove him
later. Muslims are busy fighting each other. They don't have time to
think about leadership which is necessary for any community.
Q.: People say that you are the Sir Syed of this century. How
do you feel?
A.: It is not my praise. Rather, it seems like decreasing the
status of Sir Syed. He has contributed more than any Indian Muslim.
He touched and affected every section of our life. Every Muslim
should be obliged to him.
Q.: You have been working on a project to establish a
technical Muslim university. What happened to this project?
A.: Due to lack of funds, we have suspended the project for
some period. After the availability of fund we will start it again.
It is a necessity for Indian Muslims. AMU and Jamia Millia were
established for the 20th century. Now it is necessary to establish a
modern university for the 21st century.
Q.: How do you look at the issue of reservation for Muslim?
A.: In order to make them stand on their own feet,
reservation is must for Muslims. It should not be forever but for a
limited period like 20 to 25 years.q