The mission of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, a symbol of Muslim renaissance in India was not only to establish an educational institution at Aligarh but his vision was that this institution gains the central position among Muslims by providing them leadership in educational matters and all Muslim institutions are affiliated with this. It is a great moment that the dream of Sir Syed is going to materialize with the establishment of Aligarh Muslim University’s centres in Murshidabad (West Bengal) and Malappuram (Kerala). It looks pertinent to turn attention to the chronology of events that culminated into establishment of new centres of AMU.
On February 8, 1873 while addressing a meeting of Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College Fund Committee, Sir Syed’s illustrious son, Justice Syed Mahmood submitted the plan of proposed Aligarh Muslim University and suggested that the University might establish schools in the University town and “elsewhere”.
Laying the foundation stone of Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College on January 8, 1877, Sir Syed said before Lord Lytton that “from seed which we sow there may spring up a mighty tree whose branches, like those of Banyan of the soil, shall in their turn strike from roots into earth and themselves send forth new and vigorous saplings; that this college may expand into a University whose sons shall go throughout the length and breadth of the land to preach the gospel of free enquiry of large hearted toleration, and pure morality”
While welcoming the then Governor General Lord Rippon at MAO College in 1884, the founder of the college, Sir Syed said that “the aim is to extending these schemes to places other than Aligarh”.
After the demise of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in 1898, Sir Syed Memorial Fund was created in different parts of country and the effort for the establishment of a Muslim University was sped up. All the persons associated with this movement wanted all Muslim institutions of India to be affiliated to the Muslim University.
Dr. Sir Ziauddin, while presenting the idea of the Muslim University at Lahore session of All India Muslim Educational Conference in 1898, discussed at length the concept of a University and emphasized the importance of the right of affiliating colleges. Moving a step ahead, Maulvi Rafiuddin gave his own plan of the proposed Muslim University in a British periodical ‘Nineteenth Century’. He contemplated to widen its jurisdiction to all Muslims who lived in the British Empire and recommended affiliation of colleges all over the globe to this proposed University.
Theodore Beck, the Principal of M. A. O. College also advocated that such a Muslim University should have the power to affiliate all Muslim Institutions spread all over the country. In 1903, while addressing the annual session of All India Muslim Educational Conference, Sir Agha Khan delivered a very impressive speech in favour of a Central Muslim University at the Mumbai session. He wanted this University to be given the power to affiliate colleges all over the country in order to achieve the goal of establishing a Central Muslim University.
On April 17, 1911, a special debate was organized in the new building of Students’ Union in which affiliation of all Muslim institutions was emphasized. The same year in November, the draft constitution of the proposed Muslim University was submitted to London by the Government of India with the recommendation that the power of affiliation could be granted as there will be no abuse of it, if properly controlled.
The British Government was very apprehensive that in the name of Muslim University, Muslims of India might get united once again and the Aligarh movement might take a political turn, for the students of Aligarh were prominently active in the freedom struggle and the Jamia Millia Islamia came into origin on the very stairs of University Mosque.
On December 17, 1920, AMU Act came into force and the University was permitted to establish and maintain intermediate colleges and schools but very restricted powers of affiliating colleges and schools in the Aligarh district were given.
In 1968, the Beg Committee proposed to the Government of India that Aligarh Muslim University may be granted power to establish institutions of higher education and research outside the University campus.
On October 17, 2002, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Digvijay Singh while addressing the Sir Syed’s birth anniversary celebration announced to provide free land for setting up of a Centre of the Aligarh Muslim University or a similar minority educational institution in Madhya Pradesh besides allocating one crore rupees.
After the announcement of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, the Gharib Nawaz Foundation invited the Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor, Mr. Nasim Ahmad at a function organized in Bhopal on July 21, 2003. On July 24, 2004, the Gharib Nawaz Foundation presented a memorandum to the Union Minister of Human Resource Development, Mr. Arjun Singh demanding for the establishment of a centre of Aligarh Muslim University in Bhopal. MHRD forwarded the proposal to UGC for action.
The University Grants’ Commission on January 28, 2005 informed Gharib Nawaz Foundation that the Aligarh Muslim University has been asked to submit a detailed proposal in this regard. MHRD drew the attention of AMU to a resolution passed by the ‘national monitoring committee for Minorities education’ held on July 11-12,2006 indicating that AMU might be permitted to open another campus.
In the meantime, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Shri Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr. Manmohan Singh on March 30, 2007 requesting for establishment of the Aligarh Muslim University centre in Murshidabad. MHRD forwarded the letter to AMU and suggested that the proposal be examined in terms of Section 12(2) of the AMU Act. MHRD again requested the University that the proposal be approved by the appropriate bodies of the University before the Ministry could process the request for obtaining necessary sanction to the visitor.
On November 21, 2007, the Education Minister of Kerala, Mr. M. A. Baby met the Union Minister of State for HRD, Mr. M. A. A. Fatmi and requested to establish Aligarh Muslim University campus at Malappuram.
Earlier to this, while addressing AMU Court, the apex body of the University on January 21, 2007, the former Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, Mr. Saiyid Hamid suggested that the Government should either establish new Universities in India to meet the educational need of the minorities or Aligarh Muslim University should be allowed to start its campuses throughout the country.
Prof. P. K. Abdul Azis, after accepting the responsibilities of Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University on June 11, 2007, focused on the all round development of the University to fulfill Sir Syed’s dreams. On December 2, 2007 at the meeting of University Court, Dr. Mohammad Asif Khan moved a resolution that the University should establish Specil centers in North, South, East and west covering different regions under section 12(2) of AMU Act. The supreme governing body of the University approved the resolution.
The proposal to establish five centres at Katihar (Bihar), Pune (Maharashtra), Malappuram (Kerala), Murshidabad (West Bengal) and Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) was put before the Executive Council in its meeting on January 17, 2008 which was unanimously approved. Later, the proposal for Katihar was changed over to Kishanganj on request of the Chief Minister of Bihar. The Academic Council of the University endorsed the above resolution to establish the centres and authorized the Vice Chancellor to take necessary follow up actions. He was also urged to take initiative in the context of the mandate given to AMU by the Parliament “to promote especially the educational and cultural advancement of the Muslims of India”.
Honoring the decision of the EC, AC and the University Court of the University, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. P. K. Abdul Azis submitted a proposal to the government of India for the “establishment of new five centres of AMU in the Muslim dominated educationally backward and under developed regions of India’. The proposal represented the biggest and most far-sighted initiatives of AMU in the context of Sachar Committee and Fatmi Committee reports.
AMU Vice Chancellor also wrote a letter to the Chief Ministers of all five states requesting them to provide 250-400 acres of land free from all encumbrances and free of cost to the University for the establishment of AMU Centres. The Kerala, West Bengal and Bihar governments responded positively and assured the University of their Full Cooperation in the establishment of its Centres.
The Aligarh Muslim University had submitted a detailed proposal to the Government of India for establishment of AMU Centres along with an estimate of expenditure on February 13, 2008. Responding to AMU’s proposal the Central Government allocated Rs. 25 Crore each for the establishment of Malappuram (Kerala) and Murshidabad (Murshidabad) centres in its 2009-2010 annual budget. The President of India in her capacity as the Visitor of the University provisionally accorded approval for the establishment of these centres under Section 12(2) of the University Act.
When Sir Syed Ahmad Khan established M. A. O. College in 1877, its area was only 78 acres of land but now it has reached to one thousand acres and with the addition of six hundred acres of land given by the Kerala and West Bengal governments free of cost, the University has taken a big leap in this direction. Today the products of Sir Syed’s institution are spread over 92 countries and perhaps this is the only University of India whose students are found in every part of the world. Sir Syed was the first Muslim social reformer who exhorted Muslims to gain modern education and helped them come out of the ghettos of ignorance.
The establishment of these two centres should be considered as a glorious chapter in the history of Aligarh Muslim University. These centres would pave way for an educational revolution among Muslims and the institution considered a symbol of Muslims’ glory would expand its area of activity. Its centres would be established in other states as well and when the University would be organizing its centenary celebrations in 2020, new Muslim Universities would be taking birth from the Aligarh Muslim University.
---Dr Rahat Abrar, PRO, AMU, Aligarh (UP), can be contacted at email@example.com, Cell: Phone: 09358259107
AMU Special Centres By Syed Shahabuddin