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As A Proud Alumnus Of AMU, Here’s Why I Think Media Shouldn’t Defame Its Legacy

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I consider it to be my destiny that I was born and brought up “Mecca of Education in India”. While I was sent to a normal school, in my surroundings, I always heard of the academic achievements and excellence of the Aligarh Muslim University(AMU). Every child in the Aligarh aspires to study in AMU and to be part of the AMU fraternity.
I also tried once but didn’t succeed, so I resolved to once again try in the higher class and fortunately got the opportunity to be called a proud student of AMU. Before moving to discuss about the varsity, I would like to mention that AMU appeals to parents because of its affordability and the added prerogative provided to the students over there. For many, this university attracts students of not only from all over the country, but also from the foreign countries. This clearly establishes that the university provides an excellent education. With keeping in mind these thoughts, I was prepared to enjoy every single opportunity.

Stepping into the premises of the university was an entirely different, but exciting, experience for me. I met with many students from different states as it reflects the social values in them of their society. While the outside world supposes AMU to be just an educational institution, the inside story is completely different. The institution doesn’t only focuses upon the education but also on the personality development of the students. I have grown up in a disciplined school which asks students just to follow the status quo and bandwagon the others. However, AMU doesn’t want its students to be just bandwagoner of others but to challenge the status quo. It imbibes the critical thinking from the very early stages into them which made us stand on the other side of the authorities and the stakeholders of power.

It is not that the students are desperate to entail themselves in any protest or moment. It is the spirit of the very “Aligarh Movement”, under the aegis of the great social reformer and revolutionary per se Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, that strikes the students to stand before the oppressed. It inspires them to speak against the injustice all around the world, to be on the forefront to uphold the constitutional rights and values in the society, to think first for the society and then for themselves. Renowned Hindi poet Dushyant Kumar’s famous poem can be used here to understand this spirit of Aligarh Muslim University.

हो गई है पीर पर्वत-सी पिघलनी चाहिए,

इस हिमालय से कोई गंगा निकलनी चाहिए।

(This pain that has frozen into a mountain must melt now,
a river should flow out from this mountain {Himalaya} )

आज यह दीवार, परदों की तरह हिलने लगी,

शर्त लेकिन थी कि ये बुनियाद हिलनी चाहिए।

(These walls should shake like a like a veil,
And not just the walls, the foundation should shake)

हर सड़क पर, हर गली में, हर नगर, हर गाँव में,

हाथ लहराते हुए हर लाश चलनी चाहिए।

(In every street, alley, city, and village,
even the corpse should rise up and rally.)

सिर्फ हंगामा खड़ा करना मेरा मकसद नहीं,

सारी कोशिश है कि ये सूरत बदलनी चाहिए।

(My aim is not to create a ruckus,
I strive to bring a change.)

मेरे सीने में नहीं तो तेरे सीने में सही,

हो कहीं भी आग, लेकिन आग जलनी चाहिए।

(If not in my heart, then in your,
But the fire must burn.)

The legacy of the confidence that this varsity instils in the students can be traced back to the independence movement.  AMU provided many charismatic and strong leaders like former President Zakir Hussein, “Lion of the Kashmir” Sheikh Abdullah, former Vice President of India Mohammad Hamid Ansari, among many others to the nation. Many renowned Bollywood actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Javed Akhtar, and Anubhav Sinha are also AMU alumnus.

Apart from the contribution in the national interest, it provided the intellectual capacity to other nations as well, as in the First Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan, president of Pakistan, Fazal Illahi  Chaudhary, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Mohammad Mansur Ali, Freedom Fighter of Indian Independence Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan popularly known as “Frontier Gandhi”. In the contemporary period, many of the public figures are there because of the enlightenment they got from AMU  like Shahid Jameel, Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Laureate, renowned Historian Professor Emeritus Irfan Habib, Justice Saiyed Saghir Ahmed, Supreme Court of India, Justice Ram Prakash Sethi, Supreme Court of India, Prof. Talat Ahmed, Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, Faizan Mustafa, Vice- Chancellor of Nalsar University of Law. In tandem to Academics, but sports too got some amazing sportsperson like the Father of India Hockey, Dhyan Chand, Former Indian Cricket Team Captain Lala Amarnath and Former Olympian Akhtar Hussein.

There can’t be any obscurity to acknowledge its academics. Its “tradition and culture” is also the factor behind activism and humanitarian nature of the students. If we go into in-depth analysis, AMU culture wants its students to follow some of the traditions.

With the strengthening of globalisation and American values penetrating deep into the roots of indigenous culture, AMU is reviving the AMU and Indian culture within its society.

This is not the case that it happens only within the premises of varsity, we can see some testimonies of its culture outside the university as well. While many forget about the values and memories of the college when they achieve success, AMU alumni always attribute their achievements to the varsity and its culture.

Meanwhile, many mainstream media channels portray AMU culture as illegitimate because it bans shorts and slipper outside hostel room and issues dressing advisory to the students. Before being judgemental, we must realise that it’s not coercion on the part of the administration, but the students are supposed to imbibe these traditions because they are part of AMU’s heritage that has been represented by its alumni on the highest platforms of the world.

Every year, there is an exhibition in the peripheries of the city. Usually, a camp being set up there for the convenience of AMU students. University administration provides the advisory to all students to wear ‘Black Sherwani’ so that it reflects the values of cultures of its university. When any local person interacts with the person in Sherwani, he makes perception of talking to a decent person with a charm of prestigious Sherwani. That sherwani which Jawaharlal Nehru and Zakir Hussein used to wear. Even contemporary leaders like former President Pranab Mukherjee and former Vice-President Hamid Ansari wear in their daily lives.

When the incumbent President Ramnath Kovind came all the way for the Annual Convocation of 2018, he talked much about the AMU culture and precisely got impressed with gown adorn by the embroidery of golden threads, which dates back to the establishment of the university. On the other hand, on ceremonial occasions, the Chancellor of Oxford University wears a black silk lay-type gown with a long train, decorated with golden lace. The Chancellor’s mortarboard has a golden tassel, like that of the former noblemen commoners. So, a great university always preserves its traditions and cultures.

There have always been some of the selected cohorts who try to defame AMU in the name of human rights, democratic values, and doing something which is considered to be against the country. However, we need to understand that AMU not just provides the educational space for the students only, but to the society in toto as well to learn whatever they can for the development of the nation. By saying this, I accept there are some genuine issues which need to be resolved only by the discussions. But, at the same time whenever any person tries to make a false allegation against the university or emasculate it, the university fights back. It can be seen in the recent case where AMU was attacked for defending the hanging of a portrait of Mohammad Ali Jinnah saying that Jinnah was the founder member of University Court and granted life membership of the student union. “Traditionally, photographs of all the members are placed on the walls of the student union,”  AMU spokesperson Shafey Kidwai told PTI.

So at last my assertion and submission is that AMU believes to be the protagonist of the moment to revive communitarian values, welfare societies to be established again and preserving the culture of our civilisation which has been there with us for more than Five Thousand Years from the early Vedic Periods.

I conclude this with one of the lines of AMU Anthem, which any Aligarian would feel proud to hear, by Poet Majaz Lakhnawi-

Jo abr yahan se uthega vo sare jahan par barsega. (whoever will study once over here, will reach to the top everywhere.)

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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