University Grants Commission wants AMU to drop ‘Muslim’, BHU to drop ‘Hindu’ from their Name

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Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Benaras Hindu University (BHU) are one of the oldest university, in our country.These two universities has ancient roots and has played a very crucial role at the time of independence.

The formation of the two institutions is deeply rooted in the political situation of the 20th century British Raj, when, needless to say, the idea of secularism, as enshrined in our Constitution, was missing.

both AMU and BHU have witnessed major changes after India’s independence,

The University Grants Commission after discussing with an audit committee has suggested that the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Benaras Hindu University (BHU) should drop the words “Muslim” and “Hindu”  from their institution’s name respectively.

UGC recommendation overlooks the reason why the two institutions came into existence, which precedes the secular narrative of the post-independent India. As per the report, the committee argued that as AMU and BHU are Centre-funded institutions, it needs to adopt a more secular character.

Both the University has roots connected with the ancient India after the Britishers came to the Muslims lost their socio-economic dominance to the British, after the 1857 War of Independence.In order to help Muslims adjust to the new English-centric ruling class, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan felt that the Muslims needed to receive Western education. So, in 1877, Khan established the Muhammadan

At that time Sir Syed Ahmed Khan felt that the Muslims needed to receive Western education and in order to help Muslims adjust to the new English-centric ruling class, Khan established the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College in Aligarh in 1877. The institution grew by leaps and bounds, and by 1920s, it was granted the university status by the British. The importance of the institution can be determined by the belief that the foundation for the idea of Pakistan was laid here.

University website shows that the college gave rise to a new educated class of Indian Muslims, who were active in the political system of the British Raj. The products of AMU were the Leaders like:

  • Ali Khan, the first prime minister of Pakistan
  • Khwaja Nazimuddin, the second governor-general of Pakistan
  • And Malik Ghulam Mohammad, a leading Pakistan movement leader

In 1905 the Bengal got divided west Bengal and East Bengal (Bangladesh) which was later annulled in 1911 and the idea to give separate electorates to Muslims were some of the moves played by the British to fuel the divide.

Early 20th century was a period when the British first began playing the “divide and rule” card. The Bengal partition in 1905, which was later annulled in 1911 and the idea to give separate electorates to Muslims were some of the moves played by the British to fuel the divide.

A former Congress leader named Madan Mohan Malviya decided to establish the Banaras Hindu University in 1916It was during such a turbulent period. Malviya’s idea of the University was quite similar to that of Khan. Like Khan, Malviya wanted to give the best western education to Indians.

Malviya wanted to couple it with the ancient knowledge that Indian institutions like:

  • Takshshila
  • Nalanda

The choice of Banaras as the site for the university itself is symbolic. According to this biography, Malviya chose Banaras as it was the site of the centuries-old tradition of learning, wisdom, and spirituality inherent to the place.

With the Article 30 of the Indian Constitution allowing reservations for minority communities, BHU has no special quota for the Hindu majority in free India, On the other hand, AMU tried to reserve half of the seats for Muslims. But the issue is now subjudice as non-muslim students went to the Allahabad High Court appealing against it.

There are classifications the word “Hindu” and “Muslim” will do away with the history of these institutions that the UGC needs to address now as far as the latest suggestions go weather dropping it or not. It may be a superficial exercise just changing the names of organisations having “religious overtones.”

If the idea UGC’s persists in the same way then soon Madras Christian College, an autonomous college, to would have to drop “Christian” from its name.

Then there will be many colleges who will need to undergo a change of name like:

  • Jamia Millia Islamia, the reputed Delhi college, roughly translates to Community Islamic College.
  • Including several other minority-run institutions like the several St Xavier’s colleges across India, which are administered by Jesuits priests.
  • The Mumbai branch of St Xavier’s is also an autonomous college, which gets grants from the UGC and the Maharashtra government. On same, it also reserves 50 percent of the seats for Catholics.

So, do these institutions to change their name from St Xavier, the patron saint of Jesuits, to reflect secular credentials? Only the HRD ministry has the answers to these questions.

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