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Govt has no intention to change names of BHU and AMU, says Javadekar

Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on Monday said the government has no intention to change the names of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Banaras Hindu University (BHU).

education Updated: Oct 09, 2017 23:52 IST
Sudhir Kumar and Pradeep Saxena
Sudhir Kumar and Pradeep Saxena
Hindustan Times, Varanasi/Aligarh
Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on Monday said the government has no intention to change the names of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Banaras Hindu University (BHU).(PTI file)

A University Grants Commission (UGC) audit committee’s suggestion to drop the words Muslim from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and ‘Hindu’ from Banaras Hindu University caused a flutter among those associated with the two universities on Monday.

The panel said the words should be dropped as they do not reflect the secular character of the universities.

Amid the uproar, union human resource development (HRD) minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters in Ahmedabad the government had no intention to change the names of AMU and BHU.

“The mandate of the (UGC) committee is to look into the administrative, academic and research audits of universities. We will not take cognisance of what they have recommended outside of this,” he said.

Meanwhile, a section of the AMU fraternity described the UGC panel’s suggestion as a political move.

Siddiqui also said: “The AMU is a secular university. The first graduate of AMU was a non-Muslim, Ishwari Prasad.”

Mohd Shoeb, AMU student leader, said: “Removing the word ‘Muslim’ from the university’s name is the BJP’s hidden agenda. If the central government takes any step to change the AMU’s name, we will approach the court.”

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan had founded the Mohammadan Anglo Oriental College (MAO College) in 1875. The MAO College was incorporated into the Aligarh Muslim University ( AMU ) with all its properties, infrastructure and resources by the AMU Act 1920 which was amended many times.

Parliament passed the amended AMU Act in 1981, giving the university the responsibility of uplifting and educating Indian Muslims.

Students and professors of the BHU are also not in favour of the recommendation. They said the word ‘Hindu’ in the institution’s name has never caused any problem on the campus.

The BHU was founded in 1916 and produced luminaries in various fields, they said. Its initial name was Central Hindu College.

Ram Pravesh Pathak, who teaches political science at BHU, said, “The word Hindu is connected with the identity of the BHU. Students of all castes and creeds and also from foreign countries study together. Therefore, dropping the Hindu from BHU would not be pertinent.”

BHU public relations officer Dr Rajesh Singh said, “The university hasn’t received any official or verbal communication from the UGC so far. Therefore, it is not appropriate to comment over the matter.” He, however, accepted that he came to know about the development through media reports.

The Banaras Hindu University Bill was introduced in the Imperial Legislative Council in March 1915 by Sir Hartcourt Butler, member (education) in the council.

Dr Vishwanath Pandey, who is associated with the project for rewriting the BHU’s history, said Butler had stated, “The main features of the university, which distinguished it from the existing university, will be a teaching and residential university; secondly, that it will be open to all castes and creeds.”

While supporting the bill as a council member, BHU founder Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya had said, “My Lord, the university will be denominational institution but not a sectarian one. It will not promote narrow sectarianism, but a broad liberation of mind and religious spirit which will promote brotherly feeling between man and man.”

Pandey said, “Hindu in the name of BHU is part of the BHU Act passed by Parliament and amended time to time. Technically, it will not be easy to drop the word Hindu. For that, the BHU Act will have to be amended.”

He recalled, “An attempt was made in the mid 1970s to rake up a similar issue by MC Chagla in Parliament. The move triggered nationwide protests, including in Varanasi, and the idea was eventually dropped by the then government.”

Mani Pandey, a research scholar at BHU, said, “The BHU has a great history. It is not appropriate to change its name.”

Anshu Kumar, a student at BHU’s political science department, said Hindu was a Persian word.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Oct 09, 2017 19:26 IST