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Published in the 16-30 Apr 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Farewell message of Hamdard VC

"I have great faith in the talent of our students"

The Milli Gazette Online 

Following is an edited version of a letter Siraj Husain, the former vice chancellor of Jamia Hamdard, sent out to his colleagues and friends on departing the university after an eventful tenure of five years during which he managed to secure a lot for the institution:

You may recall that I took over as vice-chancellor of this great university on March 14, 2000. I am willing to confess that these five years have really been one of the best periods of my professional life and I have greatly enjoyed my term here. It has been a great learning experience for me too. 

Self-introspection and self-evaluation are the values we have been promoting and emphasizing all along. It is time for you now to put a legitimate and extremely relevant question about my own performance as VC.

While I do not wish to indulge in an exercise of self-promotion and self-glorification yet it will not be out of place to mention a few of my humble efforts which have indeed given me great satisfaction. I wish to put it on record that it was the team spirit and dedication of all of them which has made it possible for us to collectively achieve a lot in the last five years. 

Unlike other central universities, which are fully funded by the Government of India through the UGC, Jamia Hamdard's most challenging task is to balance the budget. The University's revenue receipts have almost doubled in the last five years through a substantial increase in the number of foreign students, increased revenue from Majeedia Hospital and also an increase in Indian students' fees. The UGC grant now is not even 20% of our total expenditure of more than Rs. 200 million and it is a big challenge for the university to meet it's ever increasing expenditure. It is due to the handsome annual grant of Rs 40 million from Hamdard National Foundation that the university has been able to meet it's expenditure. In the last few months we have made sustained efforts to get the UGC grant enhanced. The Honorable Minister for HRD, Mr Arjun Singh has taken great interest in the funding pattern of Jamia Hamdard and I am quite confident that UGC will take a decision soon to fix our grant at 75% of expenditure. It should then be possible for the university to invest it's savings in the development of the university.

Allied Health Sciences building and the International Scholars Hostel have been built during this period with UGC help. 

Jamia Hamdard ' s visionary founder, Hakeem Abdul Hameed Sahib had established this institution for the educational advancement of Muslims of India and for strengthening of secularism, national unity and ideals of pluralism. In order to secure preferential admission of Muslims to the University, we got a policy approved by the University's bodies for reserving 50 percent seats in all programmes for Muslims from all over India. It was indeed one of our major achievements that the University's minority character under Article 30(1) of Constitution of India was recognized by the Ministry of Human Resources Development. We did not have to get our rights through courts by fighting long and expensive legal battles. We became the first university recognized by the Ministry of HRD as a minority institution established and administered under Article 30(1) of the Constitution of India. 

Even though I received all my training in bureaucracy yet reading books has been my passion since my university days at AMU where I realized the importance of a good library. In Jamia Hamdard also, academics was my first and foremost priority. As a result, seven new Masters programmes were started in Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Computer Science and Management. Similarly, Jamia Hamdard today offers several Bachelors, Diploma and job-oriented certificate courses. A new faculty, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences was created and Prof M Farooq was appointed as it's Dean on his retirement from AIIMS. 

Similarly, Centre for Studies on Indian Muslims and Centre for Transgenic Plant Development and Directorate of Open and Distance Learning were set up as specialized centres focusing on research. I am sorry that we could not retain Dr Yoginder Sikand, prolific writer and secular activist as Head of the Centre for Studies on Indian Muslims. 

I have great faith in the talent of our students. I used every opportunity to encourage them. As a result their performance improved remarkably. While in 2000, only 23 students qualified GATE, in 2004 as many as 51 students made it to GATE. Several of our students have scored 90 or higher percentile in GATE. Similarly in NET examination, success rate of our students has almost tripled. Admission and examination systems were also reformed extensively. We now conduct our admission tests at seven places in the country. 

A university without academic exchange cannot achieve excellence. Seminars are ideal forums for intellectual discussions. During the period under review a large number of seminars and workshops were organized by Jamia Hamdard. Some of these were International and National Conferences which attracted eminent scholars from India and abroad.

We live in an era where what we say or believe about ourselves has no meaning. Realizing this basic reality, I personally supervised the accreditation process of the university. All of us can genuinely take pride that Jamia Hamdard was accredited in March 2003 in 'A' grade by NAAC and it still remains the only university in Delhi which has undergone the process of quality assurance leading to accreditation.

Our University's great founder was a firm believer and promoter of research. He conducted several clinical tests on his own body. Universities indeed do not exist just to teach but to innovate and research so that they create new knowledge. I am glad to inform you that we signed about 10 MoUs with different research labs/institutions not only of India but also with several foreign institutions in USA, South Africa and Iran. The facts on funded research projects are indeed revealing. While in 2000 we had 26 projects with a funding of 31.228 million, today we have 50 projects with the funding of 72.566 million. The Faculty of Unani Medicine also has several funded projects. I am glad to inform you that we had introduced the system of Academic and Administrative Audit. Very few Indian universities have ventured to subject their departments and administrative offices to such peer-review. 

I draw a lot of satisfaction from the fact that the democratic functioning of the university was strengthened and we made it a practice to discuss all the important academic issues on the first day of every month in the meetings of Standing Committee of Academic Council. Annual reports of the university were also published every year.

In order to provide to our students an opportunity to be taught by eminent scholars from across the country, concerted efforts were made to bring reputed scientists, researchers, managers and teachers as faculty members. We now have 11 visiting professors and 21 adjunct professors. 

In an age of tough and cut-throat competition, values have been the worst victim of commercialisation. To promote our cherished values enshrined in the constitution, we started a series of lectures in value-education series in which eminent people from different disciplines and walks of life have been invited.

It is indeed a matter of great satisfaction that when I took over the charge, there were only four foreign students while today we have 213 students from 26 foreign countries. It indeed speaks volumes of how international community today rates Jamia Hamdard. In 2004-05 we received an amount of Rs 43.1 million as fee from foreign, NRI and Industry-sponsored students. This has made the university truly an international centre of learning. In some programmes of Computer Sciences, foreign students are as high as 40-50% of total class-strength. Jamia Hamdard was one of the 20 odd universites selected by UGC for promotion of Indian Higher Education abroad under PIEHEAD initiative.

Library is the heart and soul of any university. We purchased Libsys software for computerization of the library. The books are now issued online. We spent an amount of Rs 14.9 million in the last five years on the procurement of books alone. Information about all the library holdings (English titles) are now available on our website. 

Our legendary founder was a renowned Unani physician. Majeedia Hospital was established by him with high hopes and great dreams for promotion of Unani system. We made concerted efforts to ensure that his dreams come true and we live up to his expectations in providing good medical care at affordable cost. Today we have some of the best doctors of allopathic and Unani systems on our panel. There is a record increase in the number of our OPD patients in both Unani and allopathic streams. Custom-made software has been installed in the hospital and all the functions from registration in OPD to discharge of patients from IPD are computerised. We continue to remain the leading hospital for Unani treatment and our centre for Ilaj-bid-tadbeer is a unique place for revival of this basic system of Unani treatment. 

An interview with Siraj Hussain will be published in a forthcoming issue. He may may be contacted at

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