WB Minorities Department’s loss of control of Aliah University: Why protests are not the answer

By Sheikh Khurshid Alam for TwoCircles.net

The news about the change of guard at Aliah University shows yet again the looming crisis of Muslim leadership in West Bengal. On September 27, TwoCircles.net reported that “The West Bengal government’s decision to transfer the control of state-owned minority institution Aliah University from Minority Affairs and Madrassa Education Department (MA&ME) to Higher Education Department has not gone down well with the community.” The report covers the views of the stakeholders and interestingly there is a mixed response from all the quarters.

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The ‘sarkari musalman’ sees no fault with the change of guard and naturally the punching bag is the student community. It is no surprise that the West Bengal’s Minister of State for Minority Affairs and Madrasa Education, Giasuddin Molla, has said that the University would not have faced such a situation if students did not commit any hooliganism in name of students’ protest in the campuses. So, the question is who failed Aliah? Is it the protesting students or those who let the matter go out of control due to their sheer lack of required ability to control situations? Moreover, a section of the community has also figured out the solution to this crisis; “if the government executes the order, a massive protest march would be arranged”

I tried to figure out the reasonableness of the apprehension of the community with the change of guard. It seems to me that people are worried about the admission of all those students, who would be refused admission to other institutions. It is very convenient to cite data and tell that a very negligible percentage of students get admission in premier institutions like Presidency and Jadavpur Universities but have we ever pondered over the reasons that lead to such phenomena! One of the very quick responses would be to blame biases or partiality of the administration but is that the complete picture? Isn’t the deservingness of the students a factor? Do we have the data which tells us the number of candidates rejected because of administration’s bias and those who were rejected because they were not deemed good enough?

Aliah University was established not only as an answer to the crisis of educational institution for higher studies only but also as an answer to the crisis in the culture of our educational institutions. Is the student community the only standard bearer of culture? Why don’t the elders admit their responsibility in failing the vision of Aliah University? Today’s youth is the collective product of the society’s misguided efforts. The community has no right to expect cultured youth when it cannot present itself as an ideal. Where have the youth learned the dirty politics from? Where have they learned the art of ugly protests, arson, riot and havoc from? I am not ready to buy the story that the youth is misguided all of its own, that the youth lacks dedication, hard work and perseverance. Had that been the case, the results of state board education would have had a different story to tell. Record of the past few years tells us that many from the community have come out with flying colours. Those who succeeded in these competitive examinations were from amongst those who made an effort towards it. The event to be looked into is the number of applicants for these examinations and their capabilities. It would not be wrong to say that those youth who have been guided rightly by the community have never failed them, they have always performed. But the majority is lurking in the darkness because they have no ideal elder to look up to, no helping hand to catch on and no support system to rely upon.

Our issues will not be solved by sporting black bands during Eid, massive protest marches and mudslinging at each other for the failure of our institutions. The revolutionary Mohammed Iqbal has pointed out the will of God in his following couplets: Koi Qabil Ho To Hum Shan-e-Kai Dete Hain, Dhoondne Walon Ko Duniya Bhi Nai Dete Hain! It is time to realise that we deserve what we get and we don’t get what we don’t deserve. It is very plain and simple. Will our elected and self-appointed leaders only remain busy in updating their Facebook walls with stolen poetries, visit high-profile get-togethers, rhetoric comments and self-appraising ‘selfies’ or show some action by taking the situation head-on?

The circular dated 08.09.17 issued by the Cabinet Secretariat, Government of West Bengal states that “ WHEREAS Aliah University was set-up in the year 2008-09 under the Aliah University Act 2007 as a minority educational institution and an autonomous university under the Department of Minority Affairs and Madarsah Education, Govt of West Bengal… it has been decided by the order of the Governor of West Bengal that henceforth the said University, while remaining under the administrative control of the Department of Minority Affairs and Madarsah Education, shall be guided by the Department of the Higher Education, Science & Technology and Bio-Technology, in academic and administrative matters.”

The matter to be looked into is that how much viable the circular is, because, a plain reading of the words will tell you that the circular stands in contradiction of its own words. At one point it says that Aliah University will remain under the administrative control of the Department of Minority Affairs and Madarsah Education and later on it says that the University will be guided in the matters of administration by the Department of the Higher Education, Science & Technology and Bio-Technology. It is like saying the father will decide whether son can go to a picnic or not but the mother will guide the decision of whether son will go to a picnic or not. It will be wise to seek competent counsel on the matter of the change of guard and deal the issue as it requires to be dealt with, i.e legally before the proper forum rather than hot-headedness of crazy massive protest march.

The author is alumni of Aliah University, Department of Islamic Jurisprudence and Law, batch of 2014-16. Currently, he is pursuing Law and Development from Azim Premji University, Bangalore.