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Taking Stock
Tech with a difference
By Rizwan Ullah

Rizwan UllahJob orientation and employment opportunities are common features of the courses of study based on engineering and technology. Printing technology is one such but with a difference. Students coming out of engineering or technological institutions go out seeking employment in the country or abroad. The brilliant among them, and also fortunate enough, get an opportunity sooner than the rest. But the institution itself is hardly benefited by its 'off spring'. It has to look for extraneous sources of finance for its survival. Fees received from students being insufficient it has to depend on government assistance or donations from some organizations. An institution imparting education and training in printing technology differs from others in this respect. It is thoroughly planned and properly managed, it can become self-sustaining and can run on its own generated resources after the basic funds for the infrastructure and a little money to tide over the teething problems has been provided. It can stabilize in a relatively short period and with the passage of time it can grow to the extent of one's flight of imagination. At the same time it can help the students and trainees in many ways.

A series of recent events prompted my cogitation on the subject. The latest being a symposium under the auspices of the Maulana Azad National Urdu University, which is hitch-hiking under the stewardship of Prof. Shamim Jairajpuri for over two and a half years. He has accepted a great challenge in right earnest. Having launched a national institution of vast dimensions he is groping for directions. The symposium on the 'challenges of the 21st century in Education role of Maulana Azad National Urdu University was a part of that effort. It provided an opportunity for many well wishers to sit together. Those present and participating in the symposium included Mr I K Gujral the chancellor of the university, Syed Hamid the chancellor of the Hamdard University and vice chancellors of Jamia Millia Islamia, Jamia Hamdard, Indira Gandhi Open University and Mr Mozaffar Hussain Burney, Prof. Namwar Singh and over a dozen professors and intellectuals. Meeting of great minds itself is an event where ideas are generated; they mature and materialize in due course. Useful suggestions did come up on this occasion.

An earlier event was the meeting of state Urdu academics held in October at Jaipur under the joint auspices of the National Council for Promotion of the Urdu language and the Rajasthan Urdu Academy. On that occasion Dr Hamidullah Bhat, Director of the NCPUL suggested, among other things, greater cooperation between the state Urdu academies and introduction of courses in modern technology and computer systems. It may be mentioned here that the council is already running a number of centers for imparting computer training for Urdu students and the National Urdu University is introducing computer courses for regular teaching and distance education. At the same time it may be mentioned that some madrasas are already running computer-training programmes and some others are planning to do the same. It may also be noted that Dr Mohammed Rizwanul Haque, secretary central Waqf Council and Administrator Punjab Waqf Board stated in a recent press statement that there were over three lakh (0.3 million) Auqaf under twenty four Waqf Boards in the country and that only Punjab Waqf Board had an annual income of over Rs 12 crores.

Coming back to the original scheme, the whole idea boils down to this: Establish an institution especially for imparting education and training in printing technology. Prescribe courses of varying duration, six months, one year, two years. Give certificates to the students accordingly. With that they can seek employment with printing presses. They may establish their own printing presses if they can manage funds. There are government and non-government organizations, which lend money for self-employment projects. The printing press machine industry may sell machine and accessories on credit. The other institution can even stand guarantee in such cases.

On the other hand the institution itself can obtain printing job work as a source of revenue. An organization running such an institution can get all its printing job done there and thus save a lot of money which is spent on printing stationery, syllabus and other related material. Thus an emerging institution according to this plan will be a big complex comprising printing press and teaching classes. As the computer and printing technology go hand in hand bridges can be built between the courses for the two technologies. What the students will have to choose is a language or languages to work with. The whole thing seems to be utopian or mere day dreaming. But great things owe their origin to a small brain. In the present case we already have basic facilities within reach. The only question is that of coordinating and launching. Once the machine is set in motion it will run on self-generated force and energy. In Delhi we have Hamdard University and the Jamia Millia Islamia with its engineering college where printing courses can be launched. Both universities have office facilities and the basic infrastructure. The national council for promotion of Urdu language has under the imaginative guidance of its energetic Director Dr Hamidullah Bhat already got some experience in coordinated work in connection with the computer courses in Urdu. Some guidance can be obtained from this experience.

Printing technology fits in the scheme and tradition of our great madrasas which have included from the earliest days various professional skills in their courses of study along with the Islamic subjects. Study of indigenous medicine and its practice have been one of the prominent courses which enabled the madrasa students to earn a living along with service to the people in the absence of medical graduates who preferred to settle in cities. Other courses in madrasas are related to training in small trades such as bookbinding, shoe making, tailoring and calligraphy. Now we have some big madrasas which have abundant resources at their disposal and they are not averse to technical education being included in their syllabi, which is apparent from the introduction of computer courses. Printing goes well with that. The two make a good combination to lead to prosperity.

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