Actions speak louder than words. The Central government has not released any funds for the functioning of the Kishanganj campus of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in Bihar, which was started in 2013 during the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government. That the Narendra Modi government does not seem well-disposed towards the Centre is an open secret amongst the academic circles.
Four years after its launch, the Kishanganj campus of AMU runs only two courses – Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and B.Ed. The total number of students on its rolls is a meagre 135 — 57 in the master’s programme and 78 in B.Ed programme. Since the NDA government came to power at the Centre in 2014, no money has been released to it.
According to campus director Raashid Nehal’s 2016-17 report dated May 31, 2017, accessed by National Herald, only ₹10crore has been released till date, against the approved fund allocation of ₹136.82 crore. “Whatever money we have got, was released before the BJP-led government came to power. This has aborted the expansion plans of the campus,” said a faculty member on the condition of anonymity.
“Development plans are held up for lack of funds. A team from the Ministry of Human Resource Development is scheduled to visit the campus on July 7 to assess the fund requirement,” added Nehal.
Subtly expressing the helplessness of AMU Kishanganj’s officials and faculty is a statement on its website, which says, “Depending upon the commitment and generosity of the Union government, the AMU Kishanganj centre strives to add three departments of studies and research every year.” This plan has been stalled, along with the work a new campus building and hiring of faculty.
In sharp contrast to the Centre’s attitude, Nitish Kumar-led government in Bihar has extended support for the development of the campus. It temporarily functions out of two buildings, provided by the state government. These buildings are used as Academic Complex, Administrative complex, library and hostels for the boys and girls. Nitish government also made available 224 acres of contiguous land – again free – for the construction of a permanent campus. The land is located on the bank of Mahananda river.
AMU, a central university under an Act of parliament, set the Kishanganj campus with an aim to carry forward the legacy, inclusiveness and pluralist cultural ethos of the varsity. Its setting up was part of efforts to make education accessible to the educationally, economically and socially backward communities. Incidentally, the Seemanchal area of Bihar, comprising of Purnia, Katihar and Kishanganj districts, is underdeveloped and inhabited by Muslims in large numbers.
“It is regrettable that the choking of funds towards the AMU Kishanganj has become a minorities issue. AMU is a central university and ignoring an issue related to 22 per cent of the population is our mahabadkismati (great tragedy)’, and certainly not good for Hindustan,” said Razi Ahmad, secretary of Gandhi Sangrahalaya, Patna. Even otherwise, education has become a tamasha (farce) both at the Centre and states, Ahmad rued.