AMU intransigent on ‘Muslim’ tag; calls UGC’s secular idea of dropping tag 'preposterous'

AMU intransigent on ‘Muslim’ tag; calls UGC’s secular idea of dropping tag 'preposterous'
Apratim Chatterjee | Sep 6, 2018 - 9:42 a.m. IST
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NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 5: The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) rebuking the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) idea of dropping ‘Muslim’ from the University name, is intransigent on keeping the tag. Further, the 1875-established University has termed has this UGC’s idea a “preposterous” one.

The University in its reply to the UGC has said that the ‘Muslim’ in its name postulates the historical significance of the University’s establishment. Javaid Akhter, Registrar, AMU was quoted saying, “The name of the University gives us an idea about its history, purpose and character and preserving the same is our bounden Constitutional duty.”

The UGC, in October 2017, through one of its panel had suggested a 15-point suggestion which also included recommendation of the removal of tags like ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ from the Universities’ names. The recommendations were made with reference to Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University. The government had sought Aligarh Muslim University’s response to the recommendations.

The UGC panel pointed out that the 15-point suggestion would secularize university nomenclature.

Further, the AMU Registrar was also quoted saying, “The committee incorrectly draws the conclusion that by renaming AMU as Aligarh University would instill secular values. One must recall that in India the concept of secularism arises more from the discourse of justice and equality than from an anti-religious position mostly practiced in the West.”

However, the Union Minister for Human Resources Development (HRD Ministry), Prakash Javadekar, on October 10, 2017, had declined the possibility of any such action being implemented. “AMU and BHU are very old institutions, and we do not intend to change their names. We formed a committee to look into the administrative, academic and research audits of universities,” the Union Minister of HRD had said.

The ‘un-necessary’ questions

What can be seen as another snowball effect is the emerging controversy from different media houses. It’s believed that the UGC’s panel had made recommendations outside its audit mandate which on the other hand was restricted only to academic, research and financial operations in the ten universities.

In May this year, Satish Gautam, the BJP MP representing Aligarh had written to AMU Vice-Chancellor, Tariq Mansoor, asking him to explain why the university displays a portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

The letter had snowballed into an ugly conflict that resulted in lathi charge at the university, leaving scores of students injured.

If media houses’ report is to be believed, then the UGC panel had also made recommendations to the selection procedure of the university’s VC.

The UGC audit panel comprised IIT-Madras Professor Shripad Karmalkar, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati University VC Kailash Sodani, Guwahati University Professor Mazhar Asif and IIM-Bangalore Professor Sankarshan Basu.

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