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Prof. M. N. Faruqi opened up the rot of AMU hidden since long

Prof. M. N. Faruqi, the Vice Chancellor of AMU during 1990-94, passed away on Friday 24 August 2012. The year of his arrival and my enrolment at AMU coincided. I was struck with the kind of warm reception he was given by the students. I had never even heard of such pomp and show despite the fact that I come from a family of an academic, an alumnus of one of the most prestigious universities of India.

Prof. Faruqi had to quit prematurely. He had brought a bright, Professor Yahya, of IIT Delhi as his Pro-Vice Chancellor who was forced out soon after joining. The one who succeeded him was considered good at his academic accomplishments but his tenure is remembered only for having sandwiched the AMU between the warring groups of the lumpens supposedly patronized by him and the Controller. The lumpen ‘students’ had turned dangerously violent against Prof. Yahya. Bombs were also used in the frequent shows of muscle strength. Soon, frequent group-clashes among the students became order of the day. Regional and sub-regional polarizations were the ‘ideological’ fodder given to the beastly student upsurges and mobilizations. Each of the SS Hall, Sulaiman Hall, SZ Hall, M. M. Hall, and the R. M. Hall came to be identified as dens of the lumpens from specific regions/sub-regions. They were determining which teacher will get what kind of academic-administrative assignment, which Department will have Selection Committee, and who will be recruited/ promoted. The notoriously patriarchic orientations of the AMU people started having lewd gossips about the male VC and the female Controller, who was also supposed to be patronizing a group of lumpens. The ring-leader of this group contested AMU Students’ Union elections not to win even once; still he went on to accumulate much wealth.

Prof. Faruqi, a bulky, tall, handsome man with husky voice was a kind-hearted soul with lots of sympathies for the human beings in general and for the students in particular. He had much larger heart with deep spirit of forgiveness for the erring students, and even teachers. This good quality of him proved to be a liability for his image as it was exploited by the crooks of the campus to the hilt. I have mixed memories of him. Arguably, many recruitments done during his tenure contributed towards breaking the academic backbone of AMU. Contemporary insiders know it pretty well that many people owe their jobs in AMU to Mrs. Faruqi; the access to the VC Lodge was too democratic; few “visionaries” had made their way to the “aunty” and her “kitchen”.

Students came to know it more clearly than ever before that there existed deeply entrenched vested interests in AMU whereby the lobbies of the teachers made use of student groups for their dirtiest possible narrow self-interests, not to say of the nexus with the land mafia. This is how the administration was paralysed; the heartrending lawlessness overshadowed his academic contributions and vision. His close associates tell that he had the tact of obtaining funds for AMU. He was the one who “computerized” the campus, brought new professional courses like the B.Tech. in Computer, M.F.C., and M.T.A.; and the Institute of Agriculture when Balram Jakhar, the Union Minister of Agriculture, was made the chief guest on the Sir Syed Day; added Urdu medium sections in the AMU schools.

He had to face turbulent days: 1990 and 1991 had communal riots in Aligarh; 1992 was the horrific year of the demolition of the Babri Masjid, when he went on to say, ‘refer the matter to the UNO’; this was either an innocent or a bold statement, unflattering to the government of the day; contrast it with the pliant VCs; 1993 had huge student upsurge; and in 1994 he had to quit.

Prof. Faruqi had to contend with many problems: The Leftists on the campus were undergoing moral and academic degeneration (they soon split), Rightists were in ascendance; few years before his arrival, they had already demonstrated their stick-wielding strength in protest against the youth festival; a considerable number of the students, teachers, and waiting-to-become-teachers came from an upstart, neo-rich, first generation entrants to the university education; they had their own cultural-behavioural specificities.

Prof. Faruqi should be appreciated for having opened up the rot of AMU hidden since long. “New groups” of students got access to the files and workings (rules of the games) of some offices. He, sort of, democratized the disorder in AMU, and the loot was no longer the monopoly of a few; it was rather much broad-based. He, perhaps wittingly, exposed the rot, laid the things bare open. This exposé has had an implication. The ‘holy’ and ‘sacred’ image of AMU started taking back-seat, creating spaces for airing criticism against its ailments, and its plunderers. Prof. Rasheed Ahmad Siddiqi’s flattering chauvinism about AMU had to give way to some iconoclastic critique about its academic and political culture. There started emerging a climate of opinion to enable AMU speak if not fight against such evils. The morbid logic of “Don’t expose the ills of AMU as it will bring a bad name to the university” was damned. The task, of course, remains still unaccomplished. Prof. Faruqi did a big job by publishing, My Days at Aligarh, even though he spoke in disturbingly good words for a particularly notorious section of the lumpen students operating during his tenure. He has been appreciably candid and unambiguous in putting many records of AMU straight. Even better thing about him is that he had courage of conviction, and had no hesitation in confessing his mistakes of having recruited a large number of incompetent people and kept reminding some of his successor VCs and other Aligs that such mistakes should not be repeated. He was so sad about this, that he remained reluctant about visiting AMU after having left it in utter disgust.

Dil mein zauq-e-wasl wa yaad-e-yaar tak baqi nahin
Aag is ghar mein lagi aisi ke jo tha jal gaya (Ghalib)

Notwithstanding, his human frailties, this feeling of contrite, remorse, and repentance should hopefully add to his merit of being a noble and kind-hearted human being, besides his many good contributions not only to AMU but also to the IIT Kharagpur which resurged back to number one with his gigantic efforts.

Mohammad Sajjad
Asstt. Prof., Centre of Advanced Study in History, AMU
(Excerpted from a post on AMU Network)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 September 2012 on page no. 12

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