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Taking Stock
Welcome opportunity
By Rizwan Ullah

Rizwan UllahOpportunities for Muslim students in the institutions of higher studies in the US and the Western countries are said to be diminishing fast. The main cause attributed for this development is the September 11 terrorist bombings in the US. But those bombings, however heinous and condemnable they might be, do not turn overnight the Muslims all over the world into terrorists. That picture has been painted by the media. This blind provocation has done an injustice of undescribable dimensions to all Muslims but at the same time it has caused a greater harm to the people it claims to serve by creating a terror hysteria in them. It has created a sort of social unrest throughout the society. It has divided every society in pros and antis which is not true. All Muslims as members of their societies are complementary components, share its mirth and sorrow, its rise and fall. So how irrational it would be to bracket an element of the society with anti-socials. But every cloud has a silver lining.

The declining opportunities for higher studies in Western countries have compelled the West Asian students to try their luck elsewhere and they are knocking at the doors of various institutions here. One such institution is the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) which is reputed to be positioning itself as an alternative academic and research destination. The ICAR has set an ambitious target of increasing admissions of foreign students into its deemed universities by five times over the next year. The council had recently organised a meeting of counsellars for agriculture and science and technology in various high commissions and embassies. The idea was to spread information about educational facilities available for agricultural research and discuss the problems faced by foreign students here. According to Deputy Director General (Education) Dr. JC Katyal India offered two fold advantages for students from developing countries— one, education is relatively cheap here, and two, it is directly related to those students because they faced similar problems back home. This is quite in the fitness of things as India is one of the leading countries which have made long strides in agricultural research and development, and produced huge quantities of food and dairy products. Unfortunately the export promotion did not receive the importance and priority it deserved in view of the fast growing agro industries.
The realisation of the need to attract foreign students, although belated, is high on time. Other institutions of technical and higher studies should also consider taking actions similar to those of the ICAR. India has much more to offer in the field of info-tech including the computer technology comprehensively. Indian institutes of geological sciences can invite and attract students and scholars of those subjects from the Arab lands where the sandy desert is hiding within immeasurable deposits of solid and liquid gold. Similarly, their sand may contain substantial contents of material useable and reusable in producing nuclear energy. India can invite their scientists to learn and encourage our scientists to go there to earn. There is no end to it. The trade and industry will automatically follow to usher in a new era of cooperation among the developing countries of Asia. The students of history must be well aware of the fact that India and the Arab lands have been mutually sharing and exchanging knowledge since the very dawn of knowledge.

Wars and strifes even waves of terrorism are profitable for arms industry particularly where it is capable of producing large varieties of big and small weapons. Consumer goods industries producing ancillaries to the arms trade are also benefited. But the institutions of higher studies in science and technology and the intellectuals as a class have never been affected that way. It was the case more or less until the last gulf war, even in the following years. But the things changed all on a sudden with the September 11 bombings in the US. On that day and date the whole world changed, the norms of war and peace changed, the human values vanished into the thin air. The world had not changed dramatically even after nuclear bombing of Japan in 1945. Human conscience writhed after that calamitous event, but after this event that conscience went on an indefinite furlough. This all pervading recantation did not spare the institutes of higher studies in the US. Every Muslim, more so every Arab, is seen as if he is a terrorist. This apprehension has created a sort of distrust. Wisdom fails to prevail and prompt them to believe that terrorism is not the monopoly of any faith or geographical entity. It prevails from Buddist Burma and Sri Lnaka to Hindu Nepal and secular India to the Islamic West Asia and on to Christian Ireland. In fact, the accumulation of neglected grievances assume an explosive form. It is a social malady and should be treated at the social level.

However, coming back to the purpose of the present writing, it may be reiterated that whole West Asian policy needs a reorientation in the light of new realities. The break up of the erstwhile Soviet union gave birth to about half a dozen Muslim states, speaking languages of their own, other than Arabic and Russian. But like the Arab lands they too are rich universal resources, can spare money for the higher studies of their students and may be looking for alternatives as they too may be facing the hurdles and disabilities like the Arabs. This situation is opening a vast vista of opportunities for India. But the greatest hurdle in the way to make use of this opportunity is Hindu chauvinism and its Muslim bashing. The Muslim countries of Central Asia and West Asia have been generally cool in their reactions about anti-Muslim riots in India but when they will look for a future for their students here they will see India from the security angle also. So those who are crying for killing Muslims, giving arms training for that purpose and distributing crude weapons must be put on leash. Indian interests will never coincide with the colonial West, it will sync with those living in similar circumstances, struggling with similar problems of poverty and underdevelopment, facing an abiding probability of being exploited.

Muslim institutions here that offer technical courses should also think about upgrading their courses and expanding their capacities, and they should hire the best teachers at any cost without any consideration for their caste or creed. They should publicise their plans internationally.

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