The recent affidavit filed by the Centre to Supreme Court regarding Minority status to AMU will be quite damaging in the final outcome of the case pertaining to it. Representing Government of India, the Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told a bench of Justices (J S Khehar, M Y Eqbal and C Nagappan), “It is the stand of the Union of India that AMU is not a minority university. As the executive government at the Centre, we can’t be seen as setting up a minority institution in a secular state.”
It’s important first of all to understand the meaning of Minority status. Article 30 of the Indian Constitution states that:
“(1) All minorities whether based on religion or language shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
(2)The state shall not, in granting aid to educational institutions, discriminate against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language.”
This article of the constitution was incorporated to provide equal opportunities to the deprived section of the society, like the minorities who were lagging far behind in education and other areas. In a pluralistic society like India where various minorities exist with different cultures and traditions, it becomes incumbent upon a democracy to provide provisions to these minorities to safeguard their culture and traditions.
It is important to note that the vision of Sir Syed Ahmad while establishing MAO (which is the nucleus of AMU) was very clear – to promote quality education among Muslims in India so that they can uplift their socio-economic condition in the society.
No nation can progress if a section of its society is lagging behind in any sphere of life like education, skill development or modern technologies and thus Article 30 gives right to the minorities to establish institutions and other centres to overcome the disadvantages they suffer in these areas and acquire necessary skills to be active participant in strong nation building.
Minority status of AMU should be seen in this light only. It will not only help the minorities to get quality education but also contribute to the growth of the nation by producing capable and skilled individuals.
There are many legal perspectives involved in this and one can get a detailed information on it by going through a detailed blog post by Ziad Arif here.
I would like to emphasise on the importance of minority status of AMU in present times. As per Sachar committee report minorities especially Muslims are lagging far behind in every sphere of life, be it education, employment, skill development or healthcare facilities. Thus it becomes all the more important that an educational institute like AMU should be provided with minority status so that it can help the minorities, especially the Muslims to bridge social gaps in education and skill development areas.
Poverty is the biggest challenge to minorities as this is the prime reason behind majority of dropouts of minority students in the higher education segment. AMU being one of the cheapest universities in India, will certainly help in preventing these dropouts as minority status will grant them the right to reserve the seats for minority students. Also opening up of new centres of AMU in regions where minority population is in large number, will help combat the educational disadvantage of minority community.
No government should see this as a vote-bank issue but as something which will go a long way in bringing more people from the minority section contribute to national development. An institution like AMU is surely capable enough to realise this truth. And as Sir Syed Ahmed khan said in his speech on the occasion of foundation of Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College, “from the seed which we sow today, there may spring up a mighty tree, whose branches, like those of the banyan of the soil, shall in their turn strike firm roots into the earth, and themselves send forth new and vigorous saplings”
—Zartab Haider Jafri works as a business head for Mimer Energy Limited, India.