Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

November 2005
Cover Story Focus Minorities in Muslim World Muslim Perspectives Community Round-Up The Islamic World Editorial Opinion Bouquets and Brickbats State of the Community Update Trends Essay Pick A Book Features Issues People Track Quran Speaks to You Hadith Our Dialogue Religion From Darkness to Light Soul Talk Spirituality From Here and There Fiqh Women in Islam What's New Career Guidance Event Diary Globe Talk Book Review Names of Allah Matrimonial
ZAKAT Camps/Workshops Jobs Archives Feedback Subscription Links Calendar Contact Us


Travesty of Justice

AMU Ruling

It will be travesty of justice and fairness if the Aligarh Muslim University is stripped of its minority character. Its founder Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s entire struggle revolved round modernising the outlook of Muslims and moulding a generation through liberal education. That’s of course history. Going by the steep decline suffered by Muslims in education and employment (the community representation in Central services hovers round two per cent currently), special affirmative measures to uplift them socially and economically are imperative.

Judicial precedents from southern states suggest that honourable courts have even considered the reservation of seats for SCs and STs in the state-aided minority institutions as serious inroad into the freedom of the minority institutions. The Madras High Court verdict in the Director vs. V. Arogiaswamy case in 1971 throws ample light on how the courts have viewed the implications of the freedom of choice under Art. 30(1). The case pertained to regulation of admission to Basic Training School run by the Christian Society at Palayamcottai by the government reservation of seats for SCs and STs.

Delivering the verdict, the Chief Justice Veeraswamy had observed: “What is the effect of the impugned order? It throws the students of the minority community into a competition with the generality of students belonging to that and all other communities. The result is the students of the Roman Catholic Community, which is said to represent less than 10 per cent of the total population, when in competition, obviously will have but slender chance of admission, contrary to the protection afforded by Art. 30(1). It is true the impugned order is conceived in public interest to ensure proper safeguards in the matter of admission to training schools. That is good by itself. But when applied to minority institutions its effect is not to its benefit from its own point of view. That is forbidden by Act. 30(1)”.

However, the AMU should also concentrate on improving the standard of the feeder schools in its hinterland states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in order to avoid dependence on the crutches of reservation for long. The section 5 (2) (c) of the AMU Act 1981 makes it imperative for the University to undertake initiatives for the educational and cultural advancement of the Muslims of India. Not much initiative has been seen in this direction. The Centre for Educational Promotion and Economic Advancement of Muslim Indians under the AMU has paltry allocations under the AMU budget for the purpose. The Centre needs to be strengthened with a full time director and necessary paraphernalia to primarily prepare an overview of the Muslim educational scene in the country and think of ways to enhance the performance of the existing institutions.

In Step with Decency

The introduction of dress code and ban on fashion parades and beauty contests in its affiliated colleges by Anna Technological University of Tamil Nadu has to be hailed by all those who cherish decency and modesty in public life. It had earlier banned use of mobile phones in campus and dresses like jeans, T-shirts, short tops and other body- hugging dresses.

Liberalists are likely to read moral policing and curtailment of individual freedoms in the diktat issued by the vice- chancellor. The reasoning that dress provokes indecent behaviour from the opposite sex also makes sense, even though the feminists might be tempted to argue that it stems from male chauvinist mindset.

Arguments on these lines betray the archaic and often orthodox understanding of gender relationship which urges absolute equality of the two sexes with parity in law being the natural corollary. Advocates of the theory gloss over the fact that equality does not mean identicality. Conventional wisdom suggests that men and women are guided by psyche typical to their own gender rather than being similar. What constitutes harassment to women from the opposite sex, may be just pure fun for the men, hence the asymmetry in law.

Women have been given protection in law against rape as they are victims of the biological and social consequences of the offence. But men have no similar legal defences against seduction. Given this premise, the Anna University’s proscription of dresses that accentuate the physical angularities does not seem to be misplaced. The University is well within its right to urge decent dressing within the campuses.

There is even less scope for criticism against ban on beauty contests and fashion parades in campuses. They certainly do not gel with the academic activity and are rightly considered the stepping stone for commodification of female gender physique. Commercialisation of something that is not earned but naturally gifted and has less to do with human qualities essential for progress, is certainly alien to campuses.

However, ban on mobiles in campuses may not win the approval of all in similar measure. Though undoubtedly it might be a reason for distraction in classes, and a source of malpractice during examinations, it is also a help for families in keeping track of and touch withstudents, especially the girls, in our unwieldy cities. A ban on use of mobiles in classes rather than campuses could have remedied the situation.