Schemes for minorities should be planned in a manner where the Centre is responsible for implementation, disbursal, monitoring and evaluation and the state government is not in the picture, says Dr Zahir I Kazi, President, Anjuman-I-Islam. In conversation with ENN, Kazi says that timely implementation of central schemes for minorities is the need of the hour. Excerpts from an interview
Anjuman-I-Islam is running educational institutions for more than a century now. Do you see a shift in the aspirations of minority youth?
The shift is so visible that minority community youth do not have any inferiority complex now. They are aware of ample opportunities and challenges they have to face. This is a big shift. They realise they are part of the competitive world and need to be gogetters.
Are minority educational institutions able to meet the growing aspirations of youngsters?
Minority educational institutions run by Anjuman take care of content and container, which translate into the quality of content and the infrastructure. We get the best of equipments and faculty for our students. Minority educational institutions (MEIs) like Anjuman Islam invest the money they get back into the institution. MEIs create a brand for themselves and for those who are associated with it. Otherwise, we would have been unable to attract students even from the minority community.
Anjuman Islam and other minority educational organisations run colleges and institutions. Why shouldn’t they try to build a university?
We have more than one hundred schools, colleges and polytechnics, and we have enough land too. But Anjuman is not getting funded by the government like Jamia Millia or Aligarh Muslim University. Nor are we a private company running educational services on a commercial basis. However, we are thinking of having our own university.
What is the time frame you have set to establish such a university?
We will establish it in the next five to six years.
Is Anjuman expanding abroad?
We had got offers. But nothing concrete has materialised. We are in the process of due diligence on the offers we get.
How do you view the budgetary allocation for minority education?
Frankly speaking, I have not understood the Union Budget. What I know is that in the 12th Five Year Plan, there was a certain amount to be given to minority community for education. I was the Chairman of the Sub-Committee on implementation of schemes aimed at minorities set up by the Union Human Resource Development ministry. We spent some time on that. Several problems emerged during the meetings. The central government has to talk to state governments over the implementation of central schemes. There are too many speed-breakers. We have to ensure implementation of minority schemes on time. With regard to the budgetary allocation, all I can say is that it looks rosy on paper. Timely implementation of central schemes is what matters. Let me illustrate this with an example. The government has earmarked 100 girls’ hostels in the minority-concentrated districts. Now, the government has been unable to find land for the same. But if you involve organisations like Anjuman, we can take the responsibility of setting up these hostels.
With a strong desire to see the Muslim Community advance in education and social standing, Anjuman-I-Islam was founded in 1874 by a small group of devout and progressive Muslims led by Dr Badruddin Ty bji, the third president of the Indian National Congress and the first Indian Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court. 140 years in existence has seen it grow from one school to over a hundred schools, colleges and polytechnics
“Anjuman is not getting funded by the government like Jamia Millia or Aligarh Muslim University”
Does setting up of a separate minority education board serve any purpose?
Again, it will be faced with the same problems. It will not have authority over state governments. The schemes should be planned in such a way that the Centre is responsible for implementation, disbursal, monitoring and evaluation and the state government should not be in the picture. Currently, Centre gives 75 per cent and there are delays by state government which has to give 25 per cent. It should be funded 100 per cent by the Centre.
Would increased representation of education leaders from the community in the decision- making process improve the situation?
Yes. There is a case for better representation of minorities in decision-making bodies. Competent leaders from the minority community should be engaged and their inputs should be taken into account by the government while designing policies and schemes.