Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Rabi-Ul Akhir / Jamadiul Awwal 1423 H
July 2002
Volume 15-07 No:187

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Editorial


A Strategy for the SFS Era


A Strategy for the SFS Era

Sweeping changes are in evidence in the educational and employment sector. These call for change in strategy which pre-supposes stock-taking and SWOT(strength, weaknesses, opportunitiesand threats) analysis by the Muslim community. But the community has so far not given any indication if it is aware of the transformation taking place in the fields and as to how the community plans to fit into the emerging pattern. Though several institutions that abound in the four South Indian states have brought in new courses and affected changes, the motivation largely seems to be not to miss the Info-tech and Bio-tech bandwagon and the monetary benefits that go with it. Tapping the NRI potential and luring dollar-rich foreign students too seems to be at the heart of the initiative. All these could not be discounted in situations obtaining in India where infrastructural costs are soaring and the Government is largely in a mood to wash its hands off the higher and professional educational responsibilities. But this should be no reason to ignore the genuine needs of the Muslim community which should primarily deserve the benefits as most of these institutions carry the minority tag and claim all those protections that Article 30(1) of the Constitution offers. But sadly enough, no cogent scheme seems to be working behind these institutions in order to bring them in line with the community's genuine needs and urges. The community needs to take a look at its special socio-economic circumstances. Unless funded by special endowments, scholarships and stipends, the Muslim students may not be able to benefit from the high-cost of education these institutions offer, given their self-financing scheme (SFS) character. As could be gleaned from the professional education scene in South India, Muslims have been able to set up nearly 40 engineering, 15 dental, an equal number of management and teachers training colleges and a fair sprinkling of nursing, architecture and MCA institutes, a good number of polytechnics and around half a dozen medical colleges. This is no small number of institution going by the humble socio-economic profile of the community. But a deeper look suggests that motivation has largely been to benefit from the liberal mood of the regimes ruling the state, nay to make hay while sun shines, or to acquire institutions that bring prestige, pelf and power.

There could be no denying the fact that the community has acted with alacrity at the appropriate turn in policies. Yet, this is no substitute for lack of planning which leaves their utility for the community in doubt. SFS institutions, by their character serve only the upper crust of the society; boost the lust for dowry in marriage market; are aimed and designed more at the emergent technologies with ready niche in the market and less on the traditional needs of the community; are less eager to spend on the research on development; but more willing to pounce upon the readymade curriculum without any suitable accommodation for the community's ethos or needs. Moolah being the presiding deity of the pantheon of lust and greed, these are not affliction that would be typical of the Muslim institutions alone. India's IIMs, IITs and specialist medical research institutes have all betrayed these characteristics in that, their graduates are headed for Chicago and California, get absorbed by the Daimler-Chrysler and Deutsche or Citibank and wrested by Dell or Intel. In the backdrop of this psyche, it is not difficult to gauge the utility of SFS education. It is rather sad to find that a Muslim trading family in Mangalore runs a dental and medical college, but cares a damn for establishing a network of schools which are a bigger necessity for the poor Muslims. A Muslim medical college has come up in remote Cuddappah in Andhra Pradesh. Tamil Nadu has 12 SFS Muslim engineering colleges even while a Government survey by Dear ( Directorate of Evaluation and Applied Reseach) has established that only 1.9 per cent of the state's total 32 lakh or so Muslims are actually categorised under rich Muslims with an annual income of Rs. one lakh. But pragmatism demands that rather than discouraging these modern educational entrepreneurs, the community should evolve a strategy for benefitting from these SFS institutions and impart to them a social vision. A better way would be to develop enough number of endowments, scholarships and stipendary institutions whereby studies in such courses by poor and meritorious students could be supported. The community could channelise the sadaqah and zakah for the purpose as it directly goes into making such families self reliant. These entrepreneurs could also be persuaded to set up Industrial Technical Institutes, polytechnics, Krishi Vigyana Kendras (KVKs), Job Oriented Courses (JoCs) etc on parallel lines and locate them near slums and rural areas. The higher-end and skill-imparting institutions could be clubbed under cross-subsidisation financing programme. Though this is easier said than done in case of institutions run by individuals or families with purely commercial interests, it will be less difficult to implement for educational bodies or societies.

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