New Delhi: In an exclusive interview with BeyondHeadlines, Dr Aslam Parvez, principal of Zakir Hussain College, formerly Anglo Arabic College and the oldest educational institution of Delhi, shares his views with Aqsa Anjum on the Indian education system, quota system for Muslims in the other backward class (OBC), madrasa education, minority character to Jamia Millia Islamia and other issues.
Question: How do you feel as the principal of such a renowned college, which is a symbol of communal harmony and has its own history, and how much pressure and responsibility do you have?
It’s a privilege to be associated with an institute, which holds a historical legacy. Zakir Hussain College is the oldest educational institution of Delhi and is an intrinsic part of University of Delhi. Formerly known as Anglo Arabic College, it was started as a madarsa, which was later, during the British era, renamed as Delhi College. But today, it is called Zakir Hussain College. It has always remained a secular institution where majority of students are non-Muslims. It is a misconception that the college is a minority institution. We select students only on the bases of merit. In comparison to other colleges, our students come from educationally and economically weaker section of the society and therefore, it is a challenge for us to nurture them. We work hard on them. I am really happy to see that girls are performing well. They are giving good results. A large number of girls come in the college from the walled city, and we select them on the basis of merit only. Two of our girl students have been appointed as lecturers as well in our college. Zakir Hussain College has the honour of producing alumni like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Sardar Jahri and J N Dixit, and it hopes to produce many more great personalities in the future.
Question: What do you think about the Indian education system?
The education system in India is lacking in giving knowledge. No doubt, people are attaining degrees but unless it make you ponder over issues and make you question the wrong things in the society, the use of such degrees are insignificant. If you cannot become a good human being and cannot behave in a civic manner, such education is questionable. I believe getting a job is not difficult but gaining education for the sake of getting a job is awful and that is what happening in today’s world. Earlier, people used to get education to gain knowledge. They used to think, ponder and had debates on various issues, but unfortunately, a complete industrialization of education has taken place. We have acquired the British legacy, which believed in churning out clerks without giving them knowledge.
Every year, thousands of students pass out from different colleges but unfortunately, they fail to use their thinking and questioning ability. There is no urge in them to know more. Those who are either glued to the TV or surfing on the Internet and all the time are seen with earphones, I call them the generation of “earplugs.”
Question: Do you think there is a need of quota system for Muslims in the OBC category as recommended by the Sacchar committee? What are your comments on the minority status granted to Jamia Millia Islamia?
Every society should be inclusive and treated as, without any prejudices. But unfortunately, in India, there are so many prejudices and divisions on the basis of caste, creed, and religion. Therefore, in this situation, a section of people needs reservation to compete with the rest. It is justified in this context because educationally and economically backward classes of the society need an opportunity to come in the mainstream. So excluding Muslims from these privileges is not in favor of making the country more prosperous. They need reservation in educational institutions as they are educationally backward.
There is no harm in declaring Jamia Millia Islamia a minority institution. If it had been unconstitutional, it would not have been allowed at the first place. If the reservation can exist in the institutes like St. Stephans and Khalsa and they are minority institutions, why not Muslims should be given reservations in Jamia Millia Islamia and why the varsity cannot be given minority institutions. The Constitution of India gives special rights to the minorities. Universities like Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jamia Hamdard have already been declared minority institutions and therefore, I see no harm in declaring Jamia a minority institution.
Question: How do you see the madarsa education system?
Well! It’s an education system that is confined to the sub-continent only. It is high time that madarsas should be revamped. The madarsa educational system has still not evolved and is still following the old system, which disconnect itself with the modern world. Restructuring of education system in the Islamic world needs to be done. Some madarsas in Mahahashtra and Hyderabad impart religious with modern education. This type of practice should also be followed in Northern India as well. A system needs to be evolved wherein those who are studying in madarsas can also apply for different course in reputed universities of the country if the students want to pursue further education in science, commerce or any other stream. The ministry of Human Resource and Development (HRD) should think on it.
Question: We have been witnessing that the Urdu language is gradually dying; do you think the language will die?
Urdu is a part of our culture, which help us understand our culture and link us to our past. The usage of the language has seen a major downfall, but I won’t say that it is a declining phase of the language. There are people in this country who are working hard to preserve it, especially in Maharashra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerela. The other prominent reason I see for its gradual decline is it has been linked with a religion. This is completely wrong. It is a misconception that Urdu is a language of Muslims. Some of the best Urdu poets are Hindus such as Brij Narayan Chakbust, Rajendra Singh Bedi, Gopi Chandra Narayan, among others.
Parents should take the initiative to preserve the language. They should teach children the language at home if they are not being taught it at the school level. I am really sad to see today’s generation, which uses SMS language everywhere, is not comfortable with any language.