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Published in the 1-15 Apr 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Urdu deprived of Rs 1500 million

Jauhar University fiasco

By Rizvi Syed Haider Abbas

The Milli Gazette Online 

Lucknow: ‘Did Muslims bring Urdu from Arabia or Persia or Afghanistan? No, it was in the Indian camps and marketplaces that they picked it up, and 80 per cent of the words in their daily intercourse are such as will have no meaning for an Arab or a Persian or a Turk or an Afghan….No Hindu banker will throw away pure gold and silver simply because it might have been minted in Arabia or Persia…” (Iqbal, Mohammad Ali, p. 55) is how Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar wrote while addressing ‘Hindus who disliked the small percentage of Persian and Arabic words in Urdu.’

Maulana Mohammad Ali JauharMaulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar (1878-1931) lived as a missionary to serve Indian and Muslim world solidarity with equal zeal and no doubt became the symbol of a blend of nationalism and Islam during the early decades of the last century. "He was a man who embodied WH Auden’s words, ‘In the desert of the heart/Let the healing fountain start,’" said Amir Mohammad Sulieman Khan, Raja of Mehmoodabad in Lucknow- while elaborating on the life and times of Mohammad Ali Jauhar. Sulieman Khan is a professor of astro-physics at Cambridge University.

This man, Mohammad Ali Jauhar, is in the centre of a brewing political storm as the state government in UP, led by Samajwadi Party (SP), has announced setting up a university in his name in his native town of Rampur and the Congress has stalled it on the plea that Mohammad Azam Khan, the UP Parliamentary Affairs and Urban Development Minister is set to become it’s life-long pro chancellor.

The controversial clause is Section 9(1) of Uttar Pradesh Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar University (UPMMJAU) Bill which says that Mr. Mohammad Azam Khan, S/o (Late) Mohammad Mumtaz Khan, Jail Road, Rampur, President of Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar Charitable Trust (Registered.) will remain Pro-Chancellor of Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar University for his life. UPMMAJU Bill-2004 runs into 28- pages.

It needs to be mentioned that due to this controversial clause there was an increase of chasm between Congress and SP as UP Governor TV Rajeshwar had refused to give his ascent, and instead, sent it to President APJ Abdul Kalam who returned the same to the governor. The draft ordinance of this bill was made on Aug 6, 2004 when it was slated to be tabled before the cabinet and then withdrawn suddenly, only to be passed by the cabinet on Aug 17, 2004. The cabinet finally passed the UPMMAJ University Bill on Dec 2, 2004 allocating a grant of 1500 million for the institution. Courses in Udru, Persian and Arabic languages were to be taught in the university.

After getting a snub from the Centre and then by UP Governor, the SP government planned to present the bill as a private university bill. This was owing to the hard stand of the governor which left the state government with no choice but to get it passed as a private university. 

Soon there was a news that Rampur MP Jaya Prada, famous Bollywood actress, and SP general secretary Amar Singh have contributed Rs. 5 million each for the project.

Azam Khan, during this time went on making tall claims to set up the university even if it were a private one. In a function held in Sahkarita Bhawan, Lucknow on 13 February 2005, he attacked Muslim intellectuals for not supporting him and announced that he would have to submit Rs. 100 million as security money for the same and for which he is on a collection spree.

The dream of an Urdu university in a state where the language flourished was shattered as a result of the mudslinging between Azam Khan and UP Congress president Salman Khurshid.

Now that a private Urdu university bill has been passed, it again will need the approval of the governor which may not be a problem because the new bill does not refer to Azam Khan as life pro-chancellor. Moreover, degrees of such a university will be recognised only after formal approval of its courses by the University Grants Commission. The private university may also face funding problems since the state will not be able to meet the complete budget of such an institution and the Urdu-lovers apathy towards their own language is well-known.

Azam Khan who has been an MLA for six times and also a Rajya Sabha member was expected to display some wisdom, instead of sheer ego. He unnecessarily insisted for the ceremonial post of pro chancellor which has little power under the State University Act 1973. As a result the allocated budget of 1500 million rupees for the university has been lost.

Azam Khan did not call for any seminar or meeting of intellectuals. Instead, he let his emotions spill over for not getting the support of Muslim intellectuals on the issue. Soon he was administered a snub over the inauguration of Hajj House in Ghaziabad, UP on 13 March where Mulayam Singh was the chief guest. Azam Khan was stopped at the gate by a junior police officer who feigned ignorance of his status, notwithstanding his life-size posters on the venue. Azam Khan left the scene in a huff. CM suspended 11 police officers but the officer (Hawai Prasad Yadav) who did the actual act remains to be touched.

A beleaguered Azam Khan made his colleague Yaqub Qureshi, minister for state for minority welfare, table the Mohammad Ali Jauhar University Bill 2005 before the assembly on 17 March with the word ‘Maulana’ removed due to “technicalities” as UPMMAJU Bill is already pending with the Governor and another bill by the same name cannot be introduced in the assembly. The bill was passed by a voice vote on March 18 amid walkout by BJP members who called it as appeasement of minorities. The new bill does not have the life pro chancellor post for Azam Khan.

According to this bill the whole power is vested with Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar Trust whose president would be the Chancellor of the MAJU and which would be determined from time to time. Rector and VC of MAJU would be appointed by the Chancellor with the concurrence of the Trsut. Incidentally Azam Khan is the president of the Trust at present.

The bill which runs into 13-pages says that the state government will give an authorisation letter to the Trust to start functioning of the university. For this purpose the Trust would be made to fulfill certain conditions. Section (4) of the MAJU bill specifies the first condition to be at least having 50 acres of land and 24,000 sq. meters of constructed area. 

Muslims in UP who make the highest percentage in India would certainly have been more relieved had the previous bill been passed with government sanctioning 150 crores to it. Today, they stand deprived as state government will no longer be responsible for the recurring expenses like staff salaries and other maintenance expenditure. Moreover, the next assembly polls are due in early 2007 and what will happen if the conditions laid in the bill are not duly executed by then and a new disinterested government takes over? All leading parties in UP like BJP, Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have opposed the bill tooth and nail.

The likelihood of governor finally assenting the bill remains to be seen. Even if the governor this time gives his assent and finally Mohammad Ali Jauhar Private University gets a go, the most pertinent question which crops up is: Can Azam Khan get 24,000 sq. meters of area constructed through private efforts before the next polls?
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