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An inside view of Aligarh Muslim University

I have been in this university for the last 22 years, first as a student and later as a faculty, and I have never witnessed any deprivation or discrimination.

 |  3-minute read |   14-11-2014
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The recent statement by the vice-chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Lieutenant Gen Zameeruddin Shah regarding not allowing the girls of Women’s College to access the Maulana Azad Library (MAL) gained lots of media attention and brought the university into the limelight. Was the issue interpreted and represented in the right way? I don't think so. Hype was created out of nothing. It would be wrong to accuse the vice-chancellor of having a gender bias or a sexist attitude. Second, it was made to seem as if the girls of this university are being deprived of library facilities or books, which is simply not true.

AMU has been a leading institution not just for men, but women too. Many of the students who come to AMU might have remained deprived of education had the university not been there. I have been in this university for the last 22 years, first as a student and later as a faculty. I have never witnessed any such deprivation or discrimination on the basis of gender. I joined in 1992 as a student of B.Com. At that time B.Com. for girls was in the department of commerce and not the Women’s College. We had free access to the Maulana Azad Library, not only to issue books but also to sit and study. The same continued at the postgraduate and doctoral levels. Currently, About 2,700 girls are registered with the MAL and they use the library actively.

So one thing is clear: gender bias is not the issue here. It is related to the Women’s College.

To understand this, we need to understand the history of the institution. The Women's College, Aligarh Muslim University, is a 106-year-old institution dedicated to the cause of women's education in India. It was established at a time when girls from Muslim families were rarely sent out for their studies. This college, with the promise of preserving the social and cultural ethos and safety of girls, encouraged girls from across India to study. This was the foundation on which the college was established. Luminaries such as Ismat Chughtai, Mohsina Kidwai, Professor Rehana Khatoon, Begum Para and many more are the glorious outcomes of this initiative. Even now, a majority of parents send their daughters here, seeking a safe environment for them. I think the same applies to students in many other girls colleges across India. This is not gender discrimination, it is the cultural and social norm of our country. So why single out AMU when it happens everywhere?

The problem is that access to books must be provided in the college itself. The Women’s College itself holds a self-sufficient library, like any other department in the university. An internet facility has also been installed in the library. The college library has also been connected to the AMU Libnet. An Inter-Library Loan Desk facility through which books from the MAL are loaned to the college library, is also provided to the students of this college. Work of library automation is in the pipeline and access to OPAC facility in the MA Library will be started in the near future. If there are some shortcomings, these will be addressed.

The Aligarh Muslim University has been steadfast in its commitment to development and progress. Various instances prove that the vice-chancellor has been making ceaseless efforts in this direction. How can anyone compare it to “Talibani” rule? The huge number of girls coming out the very next day in protest against the wrong representation of facts and in support of the vice-chancellor, validates this.

Writer

Asiya Chaudhary Asiya Chaudhary

The writer is a senior assistant professor, Department of Commerce, Aligarh Muslim University.

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