Quashing the Status
The Court Verdict on AMU ignores Ground Reality
The Allahabad High Court, in a recent order, has quashed the minority status of Aligarh Muslim University and cancelled the 50 per cent reservation quota for Muslim students in professional colleges. Currently the nationwide percentage of Muslim students in medical, engineering and management courses is less than 3 per cent as against the Muslim population of 13 per cent. This is largely due to poverty and their lack of resourcefulness in getting admission to public schools from where most of the intake for elite institutions like IIT or AIIMS and government professional colleges comes. Admissions in public schools are affected by sectarian and status biases, besides the affordability of tuition, hence positive discrimination in favour of the disadvantaged at the college level has a perfect rationale. It is a different matter that the economic status is the most discriminating factor and reservation on the basis of caste or religion helps only very marginally the economically under-privileged among them. Yet for a reasonable representation of all communities in technical professions and administration, so as to keep them free from sectarian leanings and make them more sensitive and professional, efforts must be made to enroll motivated students from all communities in a reasonable share.
In independent India, Aligarh Muslim University has been the most inspiring centre of learning for Muslim students all over the country where environment is not hostile to their religious background. Learning in a congenial atmosphere always brings the best out of you, hence the level of education at AMU is at par with the very best in the country. Indeed our goal must be to create an atmosphere in universities free from sectarian prejudices. As it happens need for reservation shall vanish. At the moment, the court verdict has the potential to be misused by communalists to arouse passions.
(The writer teaches Physics at IIT, Delhi)