Aligarh Muslim University held 61st Convocation

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ALIGARH, March 29- The Vice President of India, Mr. Mohd. Hamid Ansari lamented the substandard undergraduate teaching and the resulting incapability of students to “pursue scientific research and innovation and opt instead of lucrative callings”. He said, “The base line of literacy in 1947 was 12 percent. It reached 74 percent in 2011 and is still below the global average of 84 percent. The Right to Education as a Fundamental Rights has certainly enhanced enrolment but is yet to translate itself into quality education.”

Mr. Ansari was delivering the Convocation Address at the Aligarh Muslim University’s 61st Annual Convocation. He pointed out that in view of students’ inability to imbibe college and university learning, mediocrity prevailed with both the teachers and the taught wallowing in it. Its impact is reflected in the various employability assessments in public domain as also in the modest quantity of scientific research emanating from institutions of higher education and research. He said, “Our universities have been converted into degree awarding machines for the benefit of youth who do not receive sufficient guidance on career options at the school leaving stage and therefore drift through a degree course aimlessly”.

He called upon teachers and students to eschew mediocrity for excellence and pursue it in curricular and extra-curricular fields. He said, “We are living in a highly competitive global knowledge society with receding horizons in which mediocrity means irrelevance”.

The Vice President of India cautioned that a younger generation, confident and assertive had emerged to seek right to equality and its share in decision making. He said that different studies including the Sachar Report suggested there was a gap between the Muslims and others in some important fields and this “gap needed to be bridged at the earliest”.

Mr. Ansari felt our society had a lot to do to ensure gender parity and the onus lied on the youth to eliminate “structured disempowerment” by helping realising the 21st century targets of gender parity, which entailed equal opportunity to women in educational and economic emancipation.

Mr. Ansari urged the Aligarh Muslim University to take up reform in “social customs without transgressing basic values”. He said that this institution had played a pioneering role in the field of Muslim women education beginning from the year 1906.

Mr. Hamid Ansari also pointed out state’s responsibility to maintain the pluralistic character of society and secular polity. He said, “Ours is a plural society, a secular polity, and a state structure that is democratic and based on Rule of Law. Plurality is thus an existential reality. We steer clear of notions of assimilation and adaptation, philosophically and in practice.”

He emphasized the need for integration of minds and hearts as an ongoing national priority. “By the same token”, he said, “every citizen has to contribute to it. Segregation, seclusion or self-imposed isolation is un-civic and a transgression of the spirit of a plural society”.

He said that this imposes obligations on the state to promote equal treatment. This is enshrined in our Constitution, however, the challenge is to universalise and deepen its implementation.

Expressing a deep sense of gratitude on conferring D. Litt., honoris causa, on him, the Uttarakhand Governor, Dr. Aziz Qureshi said that it was the “best honour” in his life and the degree added a lustre to his career.

Paying rich tributes to Sir Syed, Dr. Qureshi said that he bowed his head to his memory for the services he rendered in upliftment of Muslim Community and bringing them out of darkness. The Muslims of India would have remained confined to the Class III and IV positions in services without his leadership.

Dr. Qureshi also acknowledged the efforts of the Vice Chancellor, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah in maintaining discipline in the campus and upgrading the quality and standard of teaching and research in the University. He said that the Vice Chancellor deserved all praise for his sincerity.

Dr. Aziz Qureshi also thanked the team of AMU doctors which rendered services during the strife after natural calamity in June 2013. He said, “The people and Government of Uttrakhand and myself shall ever remain grateful to them”.

Referring to the restoration of R.D. Estate, a valuable property of AMU in Ranikhet, the Governor said that he has already initiated action and took up the matter and hopes to get the needful done at the earliest so that the AMU would be having the wonderful place from the point of tourism.

The other recipient of honoris causa degree, Mr. Yusuffali M.A., an Indian origin highly distinguished entrepreneur of UAE, felt humbled by the award of D. Litt. degree on him. He paid his respects to Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and said that he was one of the architects of modern educated India who thought for the future generations.

Mr. Ali urged the students to work hard to attain excellence in their higher studies and not consider their parents outdated or illiterate. He said that we should never treat them with contempt or with a business like attitude. This will be a ladder to success.

Mr. Ali announced a donation of Rs. 5 crore for the construction of a sports complex for female students in the name of his mother. He has already donated a separate sum of Rs. 5 Crore for boys’ sports complex.

Presenting the annual report of the University, AMU Vice Chancellor, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah highlighted the significant points of his Vision Document for the University for 2020. He reiterated his resolve to take the University to number one position among Indian universities by 2017 and secure a rank for it among 200 universities of the world by 2020. He said that AMU will become a brand name by then while preserving its Tehzib and unique traditions at the same time. He said that the INDCAT/INFLIBNET, the largest detabse of Indian universities has placed AMU as 5th among 25 largest doctoral thesis producing universities of India.

Gen. Shah said that the AMU has launched an innovative and historic one-year “bridge course” for Madrasa graduates to equip them to qualify in entrance examinations for various courses in AMU.

He mentioned that Prof. S. M. Hadi of Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Life Sciences is the most cited scientist of the University, while several other teachers have also brought laurels to the University by garnering awards and honours received in the country and abroad.

Gen. Shah said that the University has restored the Moinuddin Art Gallery after a long period of time and it has become an epicentre of fine arts. Quranic Centre is also giving impetus to the art of calligraphy. Besides, the University has established a full-fledged Training and Placement Office to facilitate our students with job placements. He said that during the last two years 78 companies visited the University and selected 1141 students from other than Engineering and Medicine faculties, got selected. Similarly, 467 Engineering students have got campus placements in renowned companies so far. For the first time 41 undergraduate students of Women’s College secured jobs in software companies.

The Vice Chancellor said that AMU will soon become the first green university of India. He said that the University is investing Rs. 20 core on a solar power system to feed the University’s power grid. He said that this investment will hopefully be recovered within 3-4 years.

Gen. Shah said that soon there will be a new Faculty of International Studies in the University with Departments of Strategic Studies and five Foreign Languages.

He said that responding to his call for a ‘pay-back’, the AMU alumni from across the world visited their alma mater this February and participated in the Alumni Meet organized by the AMU Alumni Affairs Committee. The Vice Chancellor said that AMU has received generous donations and endowments to AMU Alumni Fund.

AMU Pro-Vice Chancellor, Brig. (Retd.) S. Ahmad Ali and Registrar, Group Captain (Retd.) Shahrukh Shamshad also took part in the proceedings of the convocation. On this occasion, about 5000 undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral degrees were conferred on the students by their respective Deans.

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