Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Response to Khalid Anis Ansari's article on Jamia

This is my short response to the article "Ghettoes of the Mind: Khalid Anis Ansari on ‘minority status’ for Jamia Milia Islamia" published on Kafila.org

Dear Khalid,
While I agree with your most of your analysis, I have a serious problem with your concluding remarks about the “secularists ghetto” and Muslim elites etc. I am fed up with this argument that anyone who is against the reservation must be elitist (and you are not the only one who is saying this). Do you think that the "secular" Muslim elites are some kind of monolithic entity, and all cut-off from the ground reality? I have been observing the situation in Jamia very closely, and let me tell you that those who are religiously supporting the 50% quota are no less elitists themselves. I will obviously not give any names, but many of these are people with cushy jobs or powerful positions in the establishment. The progress of their careers (and often, vote-banks) depends on the implementation of minority status. Of course, it will benefit the poor or educationally “backward” Muslims too, but many others have their indirect stakes in it. The other question (which I raised in my earlier articles and blog - iamnotaminority.blogspot.com ) is that why are we so stuck with this one institution Jamia Millia? Why can’t Muslims de-centralize their claim of reservation by spreading it out to all institutions rather than just Jamia? Jamia’s quota will not address even a fraction of the recommendations made by Sachar report. Govt. will probably wash off its hands by saying “look, we’ve already given you 50% seats in Jamia – what else do you need?” One major argument often given in favour of the minority status is that the mainstream institutions are biased against Muslims, which may be true to a large extent. But my question is: by creating our own exclusive institution, do we want to bypass the prejudices in the mainstream institutions? “Let them remain communal or get even more communal, but let us create our own ideal place” – isn’t this exactly what was the motto of the 1947 Partition? To me frankly, Jamia’s minority status is nothing less than another Partition.

Yousuf Saeed, 22 March 2011

(Dear Shama Zaidi, just to share the information that Banaras Hindu University has departments of Urdu, Persian and Arabic where entire faculty and most students are Muslim.)

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