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Minority status will not help Muslims but may open Pandora’s box


By Firoz Bakht Ahmed

Since the government has done away with the minority status of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), a debate has set in for and against the minority character and reservations.

Recently, at a conference at Delhi’s Constitution Club, one heard several so-called Muslim leaders very generously voicing their lip-service concerning the minority character of AMU. It reminded one of the saying that the way to hell is paved with good intentions.

The fact remains, and history has proved this, that the minority character and reservations on communal lines are not in the interest of national unity and integrity as it starts a chain reaction of demands amongst religious groups, within and without. The ostrich mentality of reservations or minority status of some universities will not help Muslims. But it will open up a Pandora’s box. They either have to perform or perish on their own.

Those vying for the minority status of AMU and Jamia Millia Islamia should remember what India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, a Congressman and not a lesser lover of minorities, had stated while speaking on democratization during an important session of the Constituent Assembly on May 26, 1949: “If you seek to give safeguards to a minority, you isolate it… Maybe, you protect it to a slight extent, but at what cost — at the cost of isolating and keeping it away from the main current.”

Dr. Zakir Hussain founded Jamia Millia Islamia in 1920. He could have made it a minority institution if he had wanted to. But he did not want the institution to be linked with any one community.

It would be worth examining what the other founding fathers say about minority character and reservations. While a vote was sought for the charter of providing political safeguards to the minorities, according to articles 292 and 294 of the 1949 draft constitution, five leaders (all Muslims) out of seven, namely Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Hifzur Rehman, Begum Aizaz Rasul, Hussainbhoy Laljee, and Tajammul Hussain had voted against it. Interestingly, Sardar Patel strongly supported the charter.

K.R. Malkani, a former RSS think tank member, wrote in his treatise on Indian Muslims, ‘The Politics Of Ayodhya and Hindu-Muslim Relations’, that according to the United Nations, the group that’s identified as a minority is one that by religion, language, ethnicity, or culture constitutes less than 10 percent of the population of a state. As per this statute, the Muslims were a minority decades ago, but now they are not, he wrote.

Malkani also states that nowhere in the 52-odd Muslim countries or, for that matter, anywhere in the world where Muslims are a majority, do non-Muslims have the privileges, protection, and rights that India offers to the minorities. As a matter of fact, Maulana Azad did not like the majority-minority syndrome and hence called Muslims as the second majority.

Be it Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Muslim Dalits or other so-called minorities, reservations are a menace for the entire system. On the otherwise secular and composite fabric of India, reservations are a thorn in its neck.

Rather than extending the begging bowl for quotas, Muslims must tell the government to open more schools and a system for general uplift in their areas rather than police stations. Instead of fighting over smaller slices of a small pie of national income, what is needed is the expansion of the national pie, which would help everyone to get their rightful and bigger share. The oppressed and the marginalized people need expansion of opportunities rather than favors from the state.

Words such as reservation, minority, majority should be deleted from the Indian Constitution in the context of quotas based on caste or religion. Umpteen reservations including the minorities, SC/ST, Kashmiri migrants, and army personnel have already skewed the scales of merit.

The problem with this kind of lopsided minority character and reservations is that the real beneficiaries may be the economically well-off “backward community” members who generation after generation reap the benefits at the expense of the real needy from the general sections who, actually, are becoming the “minority” as has been seen in the case of the 22.5 percent quotas in the institutions of higher education like the IIMs and IITs, etc. The government needs to put a stop to such abuses. So many reserved places lie unfilled and the ineligible poor general category suffers.

The minorities should have an honorable place by having to stop looking at charity in the form of quota and accept the challenge of a competitive life. So far as the Muslim community is concerned, the reservations’ process will be wrought with imperfections as the community is divided into umpteen castes and sub-castes, a system that has percolated in them through their Hindu neighborhoods.

Instead, financial aid should be granted on the basis of performance. If Muslims compete, participate and become go-getters, India will prosper.

Battered by the populist rhetoric and provocative militancy of its myopic, ill-educated clerics, the nation’s cultured and high potential minority stands at crossroads. Afflicted by utter educational backwardness, administrative apathy and political expediency, the Muslim community in India is caught in the asphyxiating tweezers-grip, owing to their opportunistic leaders, both inside the Parliament and outside, who are crying hoarse and indulging in pernicious vote-bank manipulation and who, finally, leave the poor Muslims to the mercy of God.

These so-called Muslim representatives have outrightly ruined their followers emotionally, economically, socially, and educationally. Such leaders are not seriously interested in dealing with the main problems of the community. Muslim leaders and petty politicians are becoming richer day by day, while the people they represent, are going down the poverty line.

It is time that we Indians give up this ghettoized minority-majority mindset. Voices of reason demand that educational standards and qualifications should be uniform, whatever the language, religion or region. (IANS)(Photo:

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Aligarh Muslim University to Tie Up with Uttar Pradesh’s Wildlife Department

The conference has been organized jointly by the Department of Wildlife Sciences, AMU and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun

Aligarh Muslim University, Uttar Pradesh, Wildlife
We have already written to AMU...we can use their expertise in wildlife conservation. Pixabay

Research scholars in the Department of Wildlife Sciences, Aligarh Muslim University, will now share their expertise with Uttar Pradesh’s wildlife department. The experts will lend a helping hand in the conservation of many species on the verge of extinction in the state.

This was stated by the state’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Sunil Pandey while speaking at the inaugural function of the three-day international conservation conference at JNMC auditorium. “We have already written to AMU…we can use their expertise in wildlife conservation.”

The conference has been organized jointly by the Department of Wildlife Sciences, AMU and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun.

“We are already using technology for conservation of wildlife. For this IIT-Kanpur and DRDO have helped us. We have Vertical Take off Landing instrument for surveys of an area which can also be used for tranquilising animals safely. We have Aerostat, a helium filled balloon for surveying the forest. For the technological aspect, we need experts and in this area AMU can help us by providing the expertise,” he said.

Aligarh Muslim University, Uttar Pradesh, Wildlife
This was stated by the state’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Sunil Pandey while speaking at the inaugural function of the three-day international conservation conference at JNMC auditorium. Pixabay

Earlier presiding over the function, Pro Vice Chancellor, AMU Prof Akhtar Haseeb said, “Wildlife conservation should be taken in a holistic way. It involves several aspects. Due to rapid industrialization, urbanization conservation has become an uphill task.”

He also stated that several animals, insects and even medicinal plants have become endangered. He urged young researchers to focus on multidisciplinary research work for better results.

Earlier, Prof Wazahat Husain was conferred a lifetime achievement award jointly by AMU and WII for his exemplary services. Husain has been rendering selfless service to the department for the past two decades.

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The inaugural session of the conference was also addressed by Dr William McShea from Smithsonian Institute, USA, and Prof Qayyum Husain, Dean, Faculty of Life Sciences. (IANS)