The proposal by the new Union Minorities Minister Rahman Khan to create new universities for Muslim minorities is an eye-catching, but short-sighted gimmick, which can only be detrimental to Muslim interests in the long run. Already, through the policies of Muslim-baiters, Muslims have become alienated from the mainstream, as far as education, jobs or housing is considered. This latest move will only accelerate the ghettoization. When the percentage of Muslims in the Indian population is 13%, and percentage of Muslim literates even less, filling up of 50% of the seats in university from Muslims can only lead to substandard candidates getting entry, and thus devaluing the image of the university. We have the ready example of Aligarh Muslim University, whose degree counts for nothing with employers in metropolitan cities. Further, when the quality of the students is low, only mediocre teachers will come to teach here. Muslim students are as entitled as anyone else to select the best institution to nurture their talents and to meet with the best people, irrespective of religion. By cutting this freedom of choice, how are the interests of Muslim students served? We should also remember that segregation can lead to effective targeting of Muslims by hostile forces–if a new government hostile to Muslims comes to power, it will take its revenge upon Muslims by selectively cutting off the funds to the minority university, thus targeting only Muslims.
The need of the hour is to promote education by starting schools in Muslim localities, giving assistance to needy students and creating reservation for Muslims in the elite educational institutions. I hope the public will emphatically reject the politics of gimmicks.
M. M. Chishty, Bangalore