Sunday, December 25, 2011
It is a great honour and privilege to be given an opportunity to speak at the inaugural ceremony of one of India’s most respectable educational institution’s off-campus facility, in my home town.
I personally am in consensus with the people in my land, with regards to the fortune our future generations are going to enjoy. It is said fortune favours the brave and luck is the residue of hard work and design.
The history and glory of the Mohammadan Anglo Oriental College, that has come to be called the Oxford of the East and its illustrious alumni ; is in itself proof of this sentence. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s vision for the community and thereby the whole of British India the, evolved into this grace, because of his ardent commitment to his belief in how education could transform people .Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s foresight and vision needs to be appreciated in the light of the fact that he lived in the 19th century while India was still British India.The motto of AMU, is a small phrase from the holy Quran, Allama al-insān mā lam y'alam “Taught man what he did not know”. Amongst the innumerous sayings that promote education and knowledge, he chose the strongest one in Quran.
Words fall short to describe that visionary’s foresight. This college was planned for uplifting Muslim community as a whole in the British India; and yet so contemporary.
Though Muslims of India have grown long since the evolution of this college in the late 19th century, still lag behind in the frontier of the nation and is still looked down upon in some parts of the nation.
A look at Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s formative years would shed some light on what inspired him to take up this motto. He was a very much law-abiding citizen during his life time. Born and brought up in a noble Muslim family , he adhered to the view that the fall of the Mughal dynasty reflected an attack on Muslims. His transformation began during his education in Britain. Education in Britain has been a big inspiration to a lot of visionaries worldwide. It is in these circles, where ideologies like communism and freedom struggles originated; this intellectually stimulating atmosphere helped Sir Syed to shed his long held traditional views.
A devout Muslim and an intellectual , he saw that the future of Muslims was threatened by the rigidity of their orthodox outlook, Sir Syed began promoting Western-style scientific education by founding modern schools and journals and organizing Muslim intellectuals. Towards this goal, Sir Syed founded the Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College in 1875 with the aim of promoting social and economic development of Indian Muslims.
We can see that the insight Sir Syed had back then still holds true today.. Islam and Quran uphold education, neverthless the Muslim community has not embraced this fully and hence we have lagged behind in many ways.
Kerala however is different from the whole of India. Muslims here have been more successful than their counterparts in other states, thanks to the in-borne secular and social etiquette we have inherited from our predecessors. Where else in the world would you see the Prasad from the largest hindu temple, to be delivered from a Muslim mosque, apart from in Sabarimala, in Kerala ?
Coming back to AMU, this off-campus branch of AMU is both a boon and a responsibility for us Perintalmannites. The selection of Malappuram district for this off campus, primarily was because of the social scenario of a minority community; that is; Muslims being a majority in this part of the country.
AMU has produced many illustrious alumni who have major influence in many different aspects of India. Would our off campus be able to live up to that tradition ? We should hope to and make it our responsibility to utilize our boon, to utilize the off campus to give India well educated smart young men and women from Perintalmanna who can pave the way for the country’s prosperity and progress. .
Let me give you a few names of some of the alumni of AMU so that we in Peritalmanna know what AMU can do for our youth. Can Peritalmanna be a fertile ground for the likes such as the freedom fighter Bharat Ratna Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan Dr.Zakir Hussain, our former President, our current Vice president Mr. Mohammed Hameed Ansari, whom I feel has a better persona than our president herself, are all included in the Alumni
And I am leaving out the innumerous names in politics, both national and international, so that we get a smaller list to match up. But let me add Mohsina Kidwai too, because, the list should not be an excuse for our girls saying that it is without females. Indeed the heroine of the first Indian talkie Zubeida Begum Dhanrajgi was an alumnus of AMU.
And though the list is long, let me pick three names that are contemporary and famous enough for the youth here to associate with.
The famous Lyricist Javed Akhtar; for the much younger ones who do not know him, he is the father of Farhan Akhthar; The actor without peers Naseerudheen shah, Who I have also had a chance to work with in one of my films
and the recent hot director Anubhav sinha of Ra-one
If even we can make a name close to this list, then only would we have given back something for this favor by the Indian Government and AMU.
For this, we need to prepare our kids to the standard of the aspirants that join the main campus. For that our schools should have more focus for the kids, our PTAs should be more active and ensure that our kids use this opportunity fruitfully. We, in our youth considered AMU as the epitome of education. Our kids might not know that. We should be the ones that makes them feel the same.
Saying that, I would like to return to the broader issue, which is the essence of what AMU represents, that is, uplifting the Muslims of India. We the Muslims of India, are in a very fortunate society, Minorities worldwide suffer a lot from inequalities and no special support from the governments there, while India is one country that does that. So, we should be grateful enough and prepare our children in such a way that, they turn out to be the assets of the nation, than victims of indoctrination of the agents of our enemies.
Post 9/11, we Muslims have been looked down upon by the world community, as illiterate thugs. The enemies of world peace have been successful in propagating the same agenda through various media and social networking. This despite the successful non-violent revolutions at the beginning of this year , in two nations where the Muslims form the majority. I would say, as Sir Syed believed that this can only be changed, with more scientific education of our believers male and female, and getting them into every known ethical strata of life.
Not just Muslims, but even my town, Perinthalmanna, also has many a mile to climb up; with regards to the identity and respect that we deserve. I have been at the receiving end of many contemptuous remarks while in my struggling expat days. Ridicule and contempt for a malabaris famed aversion to education, people expected each and every malabari to be a manual labourer a coolie. My office personnel status did not save me from such contemptuous teasing remarks , I got questions like do people from your place go to school ?How did you arrange your pass certificate ?
I am indebted to those comments, because that is when I realized the importance of education, that is when I built a commitment to myself, which inspired me to complete my ACCA, that is when I decided, that even if I am not able to give my children anything else, I will make them well educated.
A lot many fathers like me, might have gone through such pain and made such decisions. The system we enjoy in India has made this possible today.. My son, who came back from England after his post-graduation, gifted my younger son a T-shirt, which in the back read:” All doctors might be Indians, but all Indians are not doctors”. This transformation was possible only through education; and educating everyone is the motto of this university.
Now, the relevance of this university that is designed for uplifting a community, might not feel appealing for a person outside that particular community. Let me bring in to your notice that our mode of reservations and support for minorities is now being observed various institutions in the west, which are now focusing on minority uplifting and national integration.
While surfing on the net, I came across a research work in the Michigan University, on the uplifting of Afro-American community. The suggestions for the uplifting and inclusion of the Afro-American community included opening more exclusive institutions, inclusion of more teachers from different ethnic backgrounds and also giving double the scholarship for Afro-Americans, so as to motivate them to consider it as an income earner during the period of education.
Another study on migrations in France, also suggested that the French government should consider aiding Jewish and other schools, along with the present aids they provide to catholic schools to effectively accommodate the permanent immigrants from other nations.
Now, isn’t this what our poor India was doing for the last 60 odd years, of reservations?
Isnt this what AMU represents?
That precisely is why I said earlier, that this is a huge responsibility; a responsibility of which, we shall be the prime beneficiary.
A responsibility that God bestowed upon us.
Like I said earlier, luck is the residue of hard work and design.
This campus, which was first proposed to be opened in Panakkad, which was a dream of late Panakkad Muhammedali Shihab Thangal. It was on the verge of being due to some political tug of war by the members of the previous government. Despite the efforts of the previous MLA, who was a party member, the chances were diminishing. That was when, I thought, that I should at least begin a co-operative society in my constituency then, to operate an arts and science college. I am a little proud to say that, it has turned out to be a good campus, in comparison to the innumerous others of the Calicut university.
I am thankful to Mr. Sasikumar, the ex-MLA for pushing out the ego in his party and being successful in finally bringing in the university here into Perinthalmanna. A lot of parents would have prayed for the UPA to come back to power and help them realize their dreams for a good university campus here in Perintalmanna. Fortune does favour the brave and here I am, fortunate enough, to speak on this esteemed occasion.
Let me end my speech with the hope that we in Perintalmanna and the Malappuram district can honour our responsibility, to our nation, to our government and to the AMU. Let us pledge to utilize this system that provides us with opportunities for our upliftment and our progress. Lets us use it today so as to progress and develop and provide the same opportunities to others who might need it tomorrow. Let us pledge that we will educate our youth and guide them such that we can be proud Indians who will be respected, as true Indians aiding the progress and unity of our great nation.