Focus

Discord in Jamia Hamdard over the VC

By Muhammad Iqbal
Professor of Botany and an ex-acting VC, Jamia Hamdard
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Located in Tughlaqabad, south Delhi, Jamia Hamdard (deemed university), is a unique institution. Its founder, late Hakim Abdul Hameed, set up the campus with the Indian Institute of Islamic Studies in 1963. Institute of History of Medicine and Medical Research was added in 1970, and Hamdard College of Pharmacy emerged in 1972. The college of Unani medicine was shifted from old Delhi to this campus in 1980, and Rufaida College of Nursing came up in 1984. However, the dream of the founder came true when the Ministry of HRD recognized this complex of educational institutions as Jamia Hamdard as a deemed university in May 1989. Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, inaugurated this university in August 1989.

Jamia Hamdard soon began to evolve as a university with a difference. It focused specifically on indigenous systems of medicine, pharmaceutical sciences, nursing and allied health sciences, environmental and biological sciences, information technology, management studies, and the Islamic and federal studies. It also laid due emphasis on value education and community integration. The student community of Jamia Hamdard represents not only the various states of India but over two-dozen Asian and African countries.

Teachers are able to tap sponsored research projects worth crores of rupees and publish hundreds of research papers every year. Quite a few of them are fellows of national science academies and on government committees.

Most of the science and pharmacy departments have the distinction of being sponsored under the Special Assistance Programme (SAP) of UGC and the Funds for Improvement of S&T Infrastructure (FIST) scheme of DST. Very many students clear the national level tests of GATE and NET every year. The university has signed MoU for academic collaboration with several reputed research institutes, including those in Iran, South Africa, the UK and the USA. In the year 2002, Jamia Hamdard offered itself for assessment by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and received ‘A’ Grade in ranking. This distinction continued even after the second assessment. JH was one of the few universities selected by the UGC in 2004 for promoting the Indian higher education abroad. The same year the Ministry of HRD approved its minority character, and thus made it the first minority university in India. Recently, PN Tandon Committee of UGC on the Deemed Universities (2009) put Jamia Hamdard on second place in the order of merit among the 120 deemed to be universities. Thus it stood next to the Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore, which was on the top. According to the Scimago Institutions Ranking (SIR) World Report (2010), available at www.scimagoir.com, Jamia Hamdard occupies 22nd position among all the Indian universities, IITs, research councils and institutions of higher learning.

It is a pity, however, if such an institution falls prey to bad governance and administrative malpractices for any reason. Unfortunately, Jamia Hamdard is at present faced with a chaotic situation. Dr GN Qazi, who superannuated as Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Hamdard on August 14, 2011, is not prepared to step down. He continues to hold reign illegally thanks to his contacts with authorities in the Hamdard National Foundation and the UGC.

According to his appointment letter, issued on 22 September 2008, Dr Qazi was appointed as Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Hamdard “for a period of five years or [when] he attains the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier”. He took over the charge on October 13, 2008. Five months later, he chaired a meeting of the Executive Council of Jamia Hamdard on 14 March 2009, and approved an amendment in the age limit for Vice-Chancellors in Jamia Hamdard, extending it up to 70 years. According to UGC directions, a deemed university will have to amend its Memorandum of Association to incorporate such a change in age limit of the Vice Chancellor, before putting it to practice. This condition is not yet fulfilled in the case of Jamia Hamdard. It was also clarified that this change will not apply to the incumbent in whose regime it has been adopted. In 2010, the HRD Ministry compelled Professor Abhay Maurya, the then Vice-Chancellor of the English and Foreign Languages University in Hyderabad, to leave office on his attaining 65, though the varsity had extended the age limit to 70 years. More recently, on December 9, 2011, the Delhi High Court clarified in its verdict on the petition of Javed Rahmani vs. M. Hamidullah Bhat that a new rule cannot be implemented with retrospective effect and hence shall not affect appointments made earlier.

Nonetheless, Dr Qazi is so firmly stuck to the chair that despite categorical directives, he is avoiding stepping down for the last six months with an ambition to continue up to the age of 70 or till the upcoming Medical College project, involving expenditure of hundreds of crores of rupees, is completed. Teachers’ Association, Employees’ Union and some senior Professors have raised voice against this irrational attitude. An impartial inquiry into various cases of alleged financial bungling, misuse of power, excessive favouritism, and open violation of rules and regulations during his regime has also been demanded. Even the UGC has written to the university to take immediate action in this regard. However, JH administration has given a deaf ear to all these submissions, and the authorities responsible for maintaining supremacy of law, i.e., the Chancellor of Jamia Hamdard, the UGC, and the Ministry of HRD, are acting as silent spectators despite being fully aware of the situation. On top of it, the UGC Chairman (Dr Ved Prakash) and the JH Chancellor (Saiyid Hamid) are still seen sharing stage in public functions with Dr Qazi acting as Vice-Chancellor. A widespread unrest, involving litigations and protests, seems to be in the offing.

The questions that require to be answered are: Can a citizen defy rules and ignore law of the land in a sovereign democratic country like ours simply because he is well connected? Does the law apply only to those who do not have guts to flout it? Will the Govt of India and its law-enforcing agencies find time to heed to the utter failure of law and order under their nose, and take immediate steps to restore normalcy and supremacy of law in the JH campus?

Jamia Hamdard is undoubtedly a pride possession of the community and the nation today. In an ominous situation, when its own custodians are bent on ruining its peace and prestige, it is incumbent upon all stakeholders and well-wishers to come forward to its rescue.
 
MG comment: According to sources in Jamia Hamdard, the issue raised here has divided the Jamia Hamdard community but the VC Dr GN Qazi enjoys the support of the Hamdard National Foundation and the current Chancellor.  The sources added that there is also an element of personal discord between the author and the current VC.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 February 2012 on page no. 1

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