Why we need Minority Character for Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia or Hamdard
“Nothing is more disgraceful for a nation than to throw into the oblivion its historical heritage and the works of its ancestors”
(Sir Syed Ahmad, Khan Bahadur, Founder of Aligarh Muslim University)
As per Wikipedia, the Indian Independence Act 1947 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that partitioned British India into the two new independent dominions of India and Pakistan. The Act received the royal assent on 18 July 1947, and Pakistan came into being on 15 August at the same time as Indian independence. However, due to Mountbatten's need to be in New Delhi for the transfer of power, Pakistan celebrated its formation a day ahead on 14 August 1947 to enable the viceroy Lord Mountbatten to attend both events.
Based on the above definition—Is it correct to say that India (or Pakistan) came into existence by an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom so all the freedom struggle and the sacrifices should be ignored and forgotten? Every sensible person will disagree with this and will out right reject the notion and will not accept this even for a moment.
This is exactly true for Institutions like Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Millia Islamia or even for Jamia Hamdard and many other institutions of their likes which have a claim to be Minority Institutions and came into existence after the efforts, sacrifices of many individuals and groups of people. Just imagine if Aligarh Muslim University did not have Minority character, how many of us even knew who the founder of Aligarh Muslim University is. Let’s say the Alumni may knew this but rest of world for sure forgotten the fact that Sir Syed, Sir Syed Mahmud, Nawab Mohsinul Mulk, Nawab Viqarul Mulk, Nawab Ishaq Khan, Nawab Muhhamd Ali, Raja Mahmudabad, Sahbzada Aftab Ahmad Khan, Begum Sultan Jahan, Sir Sultan Shah Agha Khan, Nizam of Hyderabad Mir Osman Ali Khan and many others played a key role in the establishment as well as survival of the institution till India became an independent country and created University Grant Commission and which took over the rein of all Universities including Aligarh Muslim University.
People may outright reject the notion that the contributions and sacrifices of above mentioned people could have been intact even if Aligarh Muslim University was not a Minority Institution. For them I will just furnish 2 simple examples, University of Lucknow and Osmania University in Hyderabad. By the way I have personally asked the alumni of these 2 Universities and they even did not knew even a single name who played any role in the establishment of these Universities.
Let’s begin with Osmania University which is a Central University situated in Hyderabad. Most of the people are aware that Osmania University is named after its founder, Nawab Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad who rather through a farman or Royal Charter, brought the University into existence in 1918. But most of the people including the University’s official website does not even mentions the people’s name who worked tirelessly to make it happened like Sir Muhammad Akbar Nazar Ali Hydari, Sir Ross Masud and Nawab Muhammad Habibur Rahman Khan Sherwani. Sir Muhammad Akbar Nazar Ali Hydari, also served as the Prime Minister of Hyderabad State from 18 March 1937 to September 1941 during the reign of Mir Osman Ali Khan. Sir Ross Masud was grandson of Sir Syed and in 1916 he joined the Government of the Nizam of Hyderabad as the Director of Public Instruction in Hyderabad and was later promoted as Secretary Education Department of the same government, a position that he retained till 1928 when he took over as Vice Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University. Nawab Muhammad Habibur Rahman Khan Sherwani was Sadrus-Sudur and served as Founding Vice-Chancellor of Osmania University.
How many people know about the contributions of these people. When I pose the question, I mean even among the alumni and staff members of this University. Osmania University was conceptualized as a complete Urdu medium University and now Urdu is even disappeared from its logo too. Now lets have a look at University of Lucknow which is a state University and is situated in Lucknow Uttar Pradesh.
As per University of Lucknow’s official website, the idea of starting a University at Lucknow was first mooted by Raja Sir Mohammad Ali Mohammad Khan, Khan Bahadur, K.C.I.E. of Mahmudabad, who contributed an article to the columns of "The Pioneer'' urging the foundation of a University at Lucknow in 1919. It was the time when Sir Harcourt Butler, K.C.S.I., K.C.I.E, was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the United Provinces and his well-known interest in all matters under his jurisdiction, specially in the field of education, gave fresh life and vigour to the proposal of a University in Lucknow. The first step to bring the University into being was taken when a General Committee of educationists and persons interested in university education appointed for the purpose. On January 26, 1920, their proceedings were considered and discussed, and the reports of the sub-committees were, subject to certain amendments, confirmed. At the close of the Conference donations of one lakh each from the Raja of Mahmudabad Sir Mohammad Ali Mohammad Khanand Nawab of Jahangirabad, Mohammad Ishaq Khan were announced.
Once again, how many people know about the contributions of these people? When I pose the question, I mean even among the alumni and staff members of this University.
Let’s analyze the same about Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia. If not all, most of the alumni as well staff are at least aware about the founder and the main people around him and their major contributions and role played in the establishment of the institutions. If you do a poll, I am sure majority of the Alumni as well staff members of Osmania University as well University of Lucknow will show their ignorance about their founders. The same poll will show totally opposite results for Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia. And for sure the poll results are only due to their Minority Character which keep them reminding about the sacrifices and contributions made by the individuals and groups of people who cared about their future even before their existence.
Afzal Usmani is an alumnus of AMU (M.Sc.Engg(Electronics)-1997 Batch) and settled in Baltimore, Maryland, USA and is founder of aligarhmovement.com