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Sensibilities of a prof

You cannot miss that eagerness in his eyes. An eagerness to learn more and more each day. It?s another matter that he?s a professor, writer, essayist and an expert in South Asian history who?s already penned 12 books.

india Updated: Apr 21, 2006 00:23 IST

You cannot miss that eagerness in his eyes. An eagerness to learn more and more each day. It’s another matter that he’s a professor, writer, essayist and an expert in South Asian history who’s already penned 12 books.

Professor Emeritus, South Asian Languages, Chicago University, CM Naim is quick to explain “You always need to research and update yourself!”

With four decades of teaching experience at Chicago University, he is at pains to see the deteriorating condition of his alma mater, the Lucknow University.

He completed his graduation and postgraduation from LU but today. He says, “What is the point of having police and politicians on the campus where you come to study,” says Prof Naim.

Comparing differences between the western and Indian students, he says, “There, students are well informed, teachers are always on their toes trying to refresh their databases and themselves with the latest developments.” Though the Professor appreciates Indian students and IITs, but believes still a lot needs to be done. Prof Naim has also taught at Aligarh Muslim University and considers the Indian education system only a ‘degree-minting’ one.

Prof Naim feels the system of education needs to be improved and greater attention paid to the children’s individual personality and pursuits.

After traversing through England, Turkey, Italy and finally, settling down in the US, Prof Naim still has a special bond with his motherland.

Nowadays, he is busy writing a book about his native town Barabanki where he spent his youth.

“It will be a recollection of the past and the present,” he tells you. Recounting  his old days in Lucknow, he adds, “The old tehzeeb is no more. Everyone is ready to fight on petty issues. Perhaps, it is not Lucknow,” he says. Attributing this to the drift of the populace from the native language, the professor says, “When you read poetry you are bound to develop softness towards life”. Obviously today’s younger generation has hardly any time left for poetry.

In the US now, Prof Naim has carried poetry and Urdu with him everywhere.

Though, he himself has not penned anything in Urdu yet, he translates some great Urdu works into English for his students. These works include the translation of the autobiography of legendary Urdu poet Mir (Ziqr-e-Mir) in English from Persian!

These days, busy solving crosswords in his leisure time, which he hardly gets though, Prof Naim says his the satisfaction of students is his greatest reward.