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

SPECIAL REPORT

AMU – a crucible of social integration

By Naeem Ahmad Khan

The Milli Gazette Online 

It is unfortunate that Aligarh Muslim University has become a target of vilification and false accusations by a certain section for its admission policy. The new admission policy of the Aligarh Muslim University is purely premised on sound constitutional provisions to fulfill its obligations in nation building and its commitment to the Muslim community of India, for their educational and cultural advancement – a dream conceived by its Founder Syed Ahmad Khan.

On the occasion of the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College (MAO), in 1877, late Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in his speech emphasized that: “This is the first occasion in the history of Indian Muslims when an institution is established not by the Individual or Government efforts but by the joint wish and efforts of the entire Muslim Community”.

The MAO College was subsequently incorporated as the Aligarh Muslim University on 14th September 1920 by Imperial Legislative Council, where the Viceroy personally congratulated the ‘Muslim Community’. While introducing the AMU (Amendment) Bill, 1981 in the Parliament, the then Minister of Education, Shiela Kaul stated that the minority character of the University needs to be preserved. The AMU (Amendment) Act, 1981, specifically said that AMU was an ‘educational institution of their choice established by Muslims of India’, and its most fundamental purpose was ‘to promote the educational and cultural advancement of Muslims of India’.

Ever since its inception it has been the endeavor of the Aligarh Muslim University to emerge as a center of excellence and to maintain high academic standards so that it may play a pivotal role in nation building and also meet the aspirations of Muslims of India. To achieve this goal two committees designated as Tayyab Ji Committee (appointed in 1987 by the AMU Court), Mumtaz Ahmad Committee (appointed in 2001 by the Vice-Chancellor) were constituted. It was resolved that urgent and effective measures were essential to attract talented and meritorious Muslim as well as non Muslim students from all parts of the country to maintain its academic excellence, as well as all India character.

Against this backdrop the Academic Council of Aligarh Muslim University in its meeting held on 15.01.2005 authorized the Vice-Chancellor to constitute a committee to formulate a comprehensive admission policy. This committee went through various court judgments related to the minority institutions, historical background of the University, Section 2(ℓ), 5(2) (c) and 8 of the AMU (Amendment) Act 1981, and the past admission policy of the University.

The new admission policy was passed unanimously in the Admission Committee, Academic Council and the Executive Council of the University where Governor of UP and President of India’s nominees were also present, in addition to the elected representatives of the teachers. All these persons voted for this policy. Hence, to say, as was suggested by some reports in the media, that a large section of the University community is not in favour of this policy is incorrect. Nothing can be more untrue. There is total consensus on the campus as regards this policy. The bodies, which have passed it, are democratic ones, the Teacher’s Association has endorsed it, so also the Students’ Union. Even the Fourth Grade Employees Association has whole heartedly supported it.

It should be highlighted here that old admission policy favoured local Muslim as well non Muslim students. Due to geographical proximity of the University to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, around 80% of the students were from these states. More specifically, most beneficiaries of the earlier admission policy belonged to Aligarh district. In spite of best efforts of the University it could not attract better students from the length and breadth of Secular India. Taking all these facts into consideration the University decided to attract meritorious students from all castes, creeds and communities from every nook and corner of India. This process is consistent with the Section 2(ℓ), 5(2)(C) and 8 of the Act of 1981 by giving fair opportunity to “reasonable extent” to all the sections of the society as suggested by the apex court in its judgment in the T. M. A. Pai Foundation case.

The BJP which is crying hoarse against this admission policy has probably forgotten that it was the BJP led NDA Government, with Mr. Murli Manohar Joshi as the HRD Minister, which granted 50% reservation to Muslims in all courses in Jamia Hamdard University, New Delhi. AMU has decided for reservation in only 36 of its 289 courses, but the Sangh Parivar is finding it difficulty to digest. For them it was in the best interest of Muslims when they took this decision, but now when the UPA Government has endorsed the University’s new admission policy, they call it ‘appeasement’.However, when Mr. Atal Behari Vaypayee promised to appoint 2 crore Urdu teachers before the previous general elections, it was not appeasement. This is the Sangh Parivars’s double truth.

It should be realized that those who oppose the Nation’s commitment to the advancement of all her communities, as they are, and the principle of special mechanisms for the growth of particular communities, are wittingly or otherwise, themselves against Indian Secularism and the more basic principle of human equality and freedom of conscience that lie behind it. The media and most of all, the millions of decent people should take a new compassionate look at these issues and try to understand the logic behind this exercise. Such a reservation would significantly improve the overall quality of students and also create a congenial atmosphere in the campus for teaching and learning. There should not be any cause for further misgivings on this issue.

Prof Naeem Ahmad Khan is president, AMU Teacher's Association

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