Raj Thackreys of AMU

By Ehtasham Khan,

They cried in unison when notorious Raj Thackrey and his henchmen started rioting against poor north Indian migrants in Mumbai and its adjoining areas. It appeared as if we were all against regionalism and its ugly politics. The fact, as it may seem so, is different. We all react as per our need. We all speak for our interest. It happens, at least in Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

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AMU is an institution, which manipulates the sentiments of Muslims, to further its own interests. It fortifies itself in the name of so-called minority character when it comes to accountability. But it actually works to cater to the whims and fancies of those who control the wealth of AMU that runs into billions of rupees.

Here is one such example.

Just a few days ago, AMU convened its meeting to formulate admission policy for 2009-10. It decided to replace Pune with Hyderabad as one of its entrance tests centres for 2009. This is apparently because Pune failed to attract good number of students this year. The choice of Hyderabad, which already has two central universities, could be understood because of a large Muslim population. The idea may have been to attract students from a different culture and background.

Maulana Azad Library of AMU. Photo by Sameer Rizvi

But the most surprising element is the addition of Lucknow as one of the test cetres from next academic session. The choice of Lucknow could have been rejected for two reasons.

Firstly – Lucknow’s proximity to Aligarh. Students from Lucknow may not face much problem in coming to Aligarh for the test.

Secondly, it already has good academic institutions/universities.

Having said this, I do not find any reason to oppose the centre in Lucknow. If AMU can afford to conduct tests at as many centres it can, then it should do it. There are underprivileged students everywhere. Even in Aligarh, where AMU has not yet been able to reach out.

But I could not find any reason why Patna has not been able to figure out in the new list. Patna should have been the test centre for following reasons.

Bihar is one of the most backward states in terms of infrastructure and availability of good academic institutions. Academic sessions in most of the universities in Bihar and Jharkhand are running late by six months to one year.

Bihar/Jharkhand has the potential of some of the most talented students in the country. Many of whom make out in the list of IITs and AIIMS. Why doesn’t AMU reach out to those students?

The states also have large Muslim population.

Students, especially women students, from these states face a lot of problem in coming to Aligarh for the entrance test. Traveling and lodging are the main obstacles.

Also, the first generation learners and those who do not have any contacts in Aligarh are entirely left out. I have personally faced such problem. My initial days at Aligarh was a horrifying experience for me.

Those who oppose Patna being a test centre may give two reasons.

Firstly, Kolkata is one such test centre. Let me tell you, it hardly makes any difference for some one to travel from Muzaffarpur or Hazaribagh to travel Kolkata or Aligarh.

Secondly, one may argue that Patna is notorious for leaking entrance papers. This would be an ostrich like approach. Instead of strengthening the system, should we abolish the entire process?

Even the IIM and AIIMS papers were leaked in New Delhi. And just this month, the entrance paper of railway exams was leaked in Lucknow and the kingpin of this racket was arrested in Kanpur.

So should we ban these places? It is for the AMU authorities to make their system fool-proof and corruption free.

Therefore, I see no reason why Patna has not been added as the new test centre. One reason, that I could imagine, is sheer regional bias in the minds of some of the bigwigs who run the institution with their whims and fancies. And even those, who play dirty politics in the name of representing Bihar, would not open their mouth to raise genuine demands. They wear the mask of regional identity when it helps them serve their own interest.

How far can we go? Do we have a heart?

Ehtasham Khan is a MA-Journalism from AMU and a Legal Correspondent for IBN7.