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Published in the 1-15 Oct 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Urdu University at Rampur

Congress and governor opposition analysed

By Prof. Ziauddin Ahmad

Aligarh: The proposed Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar University at Rampur, U.P., was the brainchild of Azam Khan, now a minister in U.P. government. It was a welcome step and a great leap forward to cater for the needs of the economically and educationally backward people of the region, particularly Muslims, as they are in majority there.
But when the required bill of the University was placed before the state assembly, the Congress Party opposed it. The bill was withdrawn and an Ordinance was sent to the state governor, instead, which the governor (being a Congress nominee) fused to sign and referred it to the President of India, where it is pending.

OPPOSITION:
 According to information trickled down through the national media, it could easily be made out that the UP governor and the Congress are apparently opposed to the appointment of Azam Khan, presently a senior minister in U.P., Samajwadi MLA from Rampur and a popular Muslim leader in the state, in the post of the university’s pro-chancellor for life.
The antagonists seem to find Khan incompetent and unsuitable for the important post as appointment of a politician is considered unhealthy and injurious for a university.

FACTS AS CONTAINED IN THE ACT
A perusal of the proposed Act (Bill) reveals,

  1. that "the University shall provide for advanced knowledge and wisdom and understanding by teaching and research of Urdu, Arbi and Farsi" (Chap. II clause (2));
  2. that the University "shall provide for instruction in such branches of learning as the University may think fit…” (Chap. 6(1));
  3. that the University "may admit any college to the privileges of affiliation or recognition ..." (Chap. II (6)(2));
  4. that the Pro-Chancellor shall be an officer of the University (Chap. III (7)(b));
  5. that "Shri Azam Khan, presently MLA Rampur City, Rampur shall continue to be the Pro-Chancellor for life……" and "the Pro-Chancellor shall in the absence of the Chancellor preside at meetings of the Court and at any convocation of the University" and "shall have such other powers as may be conferred upon him by or under the Act or the Statutes". (Chap. III (9)(1), (2) and (3));
  6. that the Pro-Chancellor shall be the Chairman of the Executive Council (Chap. V, 15(1)(a)); and
  7. that the Pro-Chancellor shall be a member of the Court (Chap. V, 17(1)(ii)).

    Besides the above, there is nothing else in the Act of the University about Azam Khan and the post of Pro-Chancellor, i.e., the duties and powers associated with the post.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE POST OF PRO-CHANCELLOR
It is abundantly clear that the post of pro-chancellor is honorary (i.e., without salary) and innocuous without any academic responsibility and statutory powers to exercise influence on the functioning of the University, in any significant way.

PRECEDENCES IN U.P
In the state of U.P. itself there are life-time pro-chancellors presently serving in the Universities of Banaras, Chitrakut and Ambedkar etc. and the appointees are known politicians and non-academicians like Ms. Mayawati and Nanaji Deshmukh.

APPOINTMENTS OF CHANCELLORS AND VICE-CHANCELLORS
In this connection, it is pertinent to point out that all kinds of persons educated, uneducated, politicians, bureaucrats etc., are appointed as governors who become ex officio chancellors of all universities of the state at the same time and have to perform important functions associated with academics as well as administration. But, no one ever raised a finger and attempted to remedy this flaw.

Similarly, rather more objectionably, police officers, army personnel and all kinds of administrators including bureaucrats who have no experience of academics, are appointed as vice-chancellors even in central universities. For example in A.M.U, since independence from amongst the twelve vice-chancellors at least seven were bureaucrats and some of them proved to be utter failures. It would also be interesting to mention that there are about 300 professors in the university and professorship is the ultimate achievement for an academician. But unfortunately, none is considered suitable for a vice-chancellor's job. The reason is easy to understand.

As such, by and large, teachers and academicians prove unsuitable for the job in the vastly changed atmosphere in our campuses.

CASE OF AZAM KHAN
The establishment of the University is Khan's brainchild and he single-handedly campaigned and removed hurdles to give this idea a practical shape in the form of the M. M. A. Jauhar University. He deserves all credit and appreciation for his vision and commitment and needs to be awarded with the decorative post of pro-chancellor, at least. 

Moreover, since the proposed University, shall have to be built from a scratch, it is extremely desirable to entrust the task to a resourceful, committed and experienced person who can keep the ball rolling at a desired pace in the formative stages.

Furthermore, Azam Khan is fairly educated (a law graduate of A.M.U.), has been several times minister and MLA, besides being popular amongst the masses of the region and a frontline Muslim leader of the state, commanding respect, particularly amongst Muslims.

The credentials of Khan make him an obvious choice to serve as a catalyst for the task envisaged. It is extremely unfortunate that a controversy has been created, as usual in our communally charged circumstances.

BANE OF CONTENTION
No hurdles would have been encountered if the proposed university is to impart training in Urdu, Arabic and Persian alone. The opposition has actually been generated because of the provisions contained in Chapter II, 6(1)(2) of the Act referred above, which empowers the University to institute such branches of learning as the university thinks fit and to admit any college to the privileges of affiliation or recognition. This has hurt many and some of them failed to digest it and have come out in the open but in the guise of the objection of Azam Khan's appointment.
Furthermore, the Congress, nursing a grudge against Azam Khan because of his role in the affairs of Babri Masjid, intends to belittle him in the eyes of public with the hope to come closer to Muslims in U.P. - far-fetched idea indeed.

OTHER RAMIFICATIONS
As usual, in enthusiasm and in pursuant to its old style of functioning, the Congress Party did not consider it obligatory to take Muslims in confidence in the matter and ventured in utter disregard of their aspirations and sentiments. The party does not seem to be inclined even now to modify its instance to mollify Muslim masses. Introducing voices of so-called Muslim leaders in Congress, like Mohsina Kidwai, to give their stand a secular colour to confuse Muslims, is a pointer. This shall, however, not lend any credence to the Congress campaign.

It may also be remembered that in the parliamentary elections, U.P. Muslims voted for the Congress, only to defeat the Sangh Parivar. There has been no change of hearts and nothing remarkable was done then and now by the Congress in this direction to win Muslims over. The tactical shift in the Muslim pattern of voting did open an opportunity to the Congress to attempt to woo Muslims to consolidate their votes in its favour. 

But, the present Congress posture may negate all attempts in this direction and wean Muslims away at least in U.P. - a very heavy price the Congress can hardly afford to pay. 

However, it is still time to make amends and abandon this policy of confrontation, in the larger interest of the party and deprived masses of the region, who are largely Muslims.

A strong case exists in favour of the University and the appointment of Azam Khan as its pro-chancellor for life, as there is nothing substantial and weighty in the instances of the governor and the Congress party. The withdrawal of the Congress from the controversy would be a welcome step and this will serve all parties to the controversy well. It is incumbent on those who are interested in this noble cause to pull their weight and request the President of India to give assent to the Ordinance without any delay.
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