Minority status for Jamia Millia Islamia: Government has no regard for freedom fighters

The historical identities of our institutions ought to be safeguarded rather than distorted and manipulated.

 |  3-minute read |   08-08-2017
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The minority characters of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jamia Millia Islamia have been a matter of debate for a long time in our country. Both the institutions established long before Independence have played an outstanding role in India’s freedom struggle.

The recent call of the central government to withdraw its support to Jamia Millia Islamia’s minority character has given a fresh twist to the political folly.

Distortions and misinterpretations of historical facts are not recently added practices, but educational institutions have been larger victims of vote bank politics.

Dating back to history, Jamia Millia Islamia was born out in 1920 with the concerted efforts of Muslim leaders involved in the freedom struggle. The very idea of establishing this institution was to heed Mahatma Gandhi’s call to boycott the British control of educational intuitions.

Since its inception, Jamia Millia Islamia has striven successfully to live up to the ideals it was established for.

It is continuously contributing to the nation building in every sphere. The institution was established to train the Muslim youth with definite ideas of their rights and duties as Indian citizens and to coordinate Islamic thought and behaviour with Hindu line of thought.

The general aim was to create a harmonious nationhood without Muslims losing their Islamic identity.

jamia_080817032344.jpgBhim Rao Ambedkar, the chairman of the drafting committee of the Indian Constitution and a staunch advocate of social justice, strongly voiced for minority rights.

If the legal system is to be observed minutely, the concept of "minority institution" was itself incorporated once the Constitution was adopted in 1950.

The Constitution, under Article 30 (1), confers on all minorities, whether based on religion or language, the right to establish and administer educational institutions "of their choice".

The minority institutions can reserve 50 per cent seats for their own communities. The law under Article 30 (2) also guarantees that governments will not discriminate in granting aid to educational institutions on the ground that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language.

Under the constitutional mandate, the quasi-judicial body, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI), set up in November 2004 declared Jamia Millia Islamia to be a minority institution.

The commission, while examining historical facts, noted that Jamia Millia Islamia was established and managed by the Muslim community and hence fulfilled the basic criteria of being a minority educational institution under Article 30(1) of the Constitution.

The commission also observed that the institution was founded by Muslims for the benefit of Muslims and it has never lost its identity as a Muslim minority educational institution.

Therefore, minority status was given to Jamia Millia Islamia for maintaining the secular credentials of the nation and for securing minority rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

Bhim Rao Ambedkar, the chairman of the drafting committee of the Indian Constitution and a staunch advocate of social justice, strongly voiced for minority rights.

According to him, minority rights should be absolute. They should not be subject to any consideration as to what other parties may like to do to minorities within their jurisdiction.

Thus, the democratically-elected government at the Centre is expected to preserve the multiculturalism and pluralism of the nation as has been the hallmark of India.

The historical identities of our institutions — be it academic or non-academic — ought to be safeguarded rather than distorted and manipulated.

Ensuring equal treatment, safeguarding the fundamental rights of every citizen of the country and making special provisions in favour of the weaker sections of the society are few of the tenets of this democratic setup.

The historical glory of the institution established by the vigorous efforts of Muslim leaders needs to be flourished in maintaining the honour of freedom fighters rather than demeaning their contribution towards their community and the nation.

Also read - Jamia Millia Islamia: Do minority students not deserve higher education?


Shah Alam Shah Alam

An alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University, currently working as an assistant professor of Women’s Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

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