AMU ‘mini-India’, its diversity nation’s strength: PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that “politics can wait but development cannot”, and stressed that ideological differences should be set aside for the sake of national goals.
Modi was delivering the keynote address as chief guest at the centenary celebrations of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) — the first time an incumbent Prime Minister has participated in an AMU event since Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1964.
Addressing the university’s students, teachers and staff through a video link, the PM said: “There are elements in society who get uneasy when steps are taken for progress. They try to create negativity but sooner or later get marginalised. We have to understand that politics is an important aspect of society. But in society there are also issues other than politics and one has to rise above them for nation.”
Though the address was delivered virtually, elaborate security preparations were made — including a police contingent deployed at the campus’s Bab-e-Syed gate — with a section of the university’s students opposing the PM’s participation in the event.
The AMU has been a site of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, or CAA. Things came to a boil on the night of December 2019, when students and police clashed on the campus.
In his speech, Modi rooted for the mission of making an “Atmanirbhar Bharat”, or self-reliant India, and said that time should not be wasted, like it was in the past, on differences. “We are aiming to build a New India where youth and students of AMU can play a major role,” he said while describing the university as “mini-India”.
“The AMU campus is like a city in itself. We see a ‘mini-India’ among different departments, dozens of hostels, thousands of teachers and professors. The diversity which we see here is not only the strength of this university but also of the entire nation,” Modi said, hailing the contribution of the AMU in nation-building and in elevating India’s position internationally through extensive researches.
As a premier institute of higher learning, the 100-year-old AMU has seen its students and faculty members being awarded with the prestigious Padma awards, President’s Award, and Sahitya Akademi awards. There are about 34,000 students at present.
The PM also stressed on AMU’s diversity. Urdu and Hindi, Arabic and Sanskrit are all taught on the campus, he said. Along with Quran, the translations of Gita and Ramayana are kept in the library. “This diversity is the country’s strength. We have to neither forget it nor let it get weakened,” he said.
Modi spoke about the efforts taken by the government to ensure that people — he made a specific reference to Muslim women — stayed in school. “The drop-out rate among Muslim girls was more than 70% and this situation persisted in India for 70 years. The government started Swachh Bharat mission, built toilets in villages, and toilets for school-going girls. Now this rate has fallen to nearly 30%,” he said, while applauding that 35 % of all AMU students are women.
“I assure you that no citizen, irrespective of religion, cast and creed would be left behind on the path of Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas,” said Modi.
The Prime Minister also spoke about the pride that former students have in their AMU roots.
“It is fascinating to see how the history of education attached to the AMU buildings is India’s valuable heritage. I often meet AMU alumni during my foreign visits, who very proudly say that they have studied at AMU,” he said.
“At AMU, the researches are done in Urdu, Arabic and Persian. This is commendable,” Modi said. “The research conducted in Islamic history elevates the position of India in the Islamic world and gives new energy to India’s relations with them.”
AMU public relations officer Omar Peerzada said it was a historic and successful event.
AMU vice chancellor professor Tariq Mansoor said: “Today is a historical day...our university not only completes 100 glorious years of its inception, but after a gap of 56 years, an incumbent Prime Minister of the country took part in the celebrations. “
“The presence of the Prime Minister has ignited possibility and hope among all of us. For centuries despite diversities, we are living as a people in oneness and this is what makes Bharat unique and this is a message to the whole world,” he emphasised.