Above: (L-R) AMU and BHU
AMU has also been asked to take measures to prevent ‘inbreeding’
Within the religiously charged atmosphere existing in the country, and with hatred being the overriding emotion all around, the University Grants Commission (UGC) could have waited a bit to let sentiments settle before one of its panels coming out with a high-brow suggestion that universities surviving on its grants have “secular” names.
It has suggested that two pre-eminent universities of the country – one of them involved in a recent not too savoury issue of molestation, followed by some horrific comments by its then vice-chancellor – change their names. It said that the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) should drop the “Hindu” and the “Muslim” parts of their names to reflect their secular nature.
The suggestion was made by one of the five committees set up by UGC to conduct an “academic, research, financial and infrastructure audit” of 10 centrally funded universities. Even though BHU was not among the 10 universities, it found a mention in the report.
In the audit report of the AMU, the panel has recommended that it should either be called ‘Aligarh University’ or be named after Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. “The suggestion stems from the logic that AMU, being a centrally-funded university, is a secular institution,” The India Express quotes a panel member as saying.
The same logic was stated behind the suggestion to rename BHU.
Among other recommendations to the AMU, the panel has asked for measures to elevate the condition of poor Muslims on campus and prevent “inbreeding”, in which a majority of faculty appointments are of its former students. The panel has suggested a five-year gap for all ex-students before they can be recruited as teacher in AMU.
According to previous media reports, AMU has also been recommended to align the vice-chancellor’s selection process with the appointment procedure of other central university. Currently, AMU itself shortlists the candidates for the post while for most other central universities, the screening is done by a government-appointed selection committee.
However, the report refrained from commenting on the institutions’ minority status as the matter is sub-judice.
The committees were set up by the UGC after the HRD ministry demanded an investigation into complaints of irregularities against central universities. Apart from AMU, an audit has also been done on institutions including Pondicherry University, Allahabad University, Central University of Jammu, University of Tripura and Madhya Pradesh’s Hari Singh Gour University.
—India Legal Bureau