I have always wondered if somehow Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and his associates came alive today how they would take the present position of AMU University, a thought that always punishes my mind.
By Syed Suhail Yaqoob
The bus usually stops in Shamshad Market. Come down, the passengers will witness countless people sipping tea and discussing vehemently. Of course a person with a keen eye will see only boys sipping tea, not girls. May be the accepted or received local culture doesn’t allow them to move outside their homes in later hours.
The stoves work with full energy to cater to the demands of students who swallow the finest tea produced anywhere in India. Don’t worry, tea is cheap within the budget of students. With the sipping of tea a student gets acquainted with all types of politics, day-to-day happenings and what is going on in others’ lives. Beware “Dealing” is a concept that is produced in Aligarh Muslim University. For university students “Dealing” is fun sometimes and it invisibly inculcates the diplomatic character among students. This may be the basic reason why Aligarh Muslim University has produced politicians of colossal repute.
Aligarh is best known for its lock and key industry. You can have key for every lock within minutes for a petty sum. It may be a coincidence that AMU is placed in the region which is known for locks and keys. AMU is a key to knowledge and the world around. Knowledge is everflowing here and locks of minds are opened everywhere all the time. The university has many entrances; renowned are Babe-Syed and the Shamshad Market Entrance. The many entrances to university signifies ethos of diversity, culture and amalgamation of thoughts. Students are very careful when entering from Shamshad Market. On Entering eyes get fixed at the white marbled dome which shines majestically. This is the mosque where Sir Syed Khan and his closest people reside. It is remarkable that the South Hostel is made on the lines of Oxford University. The attachment of mosque to western architecture depicts the history of Sir Syed’s fight for the right of Muslims for western knowledge for the betterment of Muslims and Islam in India.
How wonderful is to take to the lawns of AMU either by rickshaw or bicycle? A motorcycle will quickly take you out of the lawns of AMU without getting a good feel of the university’s rich cultural past. A conversation with the rickshaw wala is juicy. It is astonishing to find how much they are usually acquainted with day-to-day politics and happenings in the AMU.
And see, bicycles and rickshaws are without bells. There are two reasons for this. An Aligarian is not expected to walk in the middle of road, but make way for transport. Second, as it turned out in previous times, the bicycles had bells but somehow it was replaced by the sound of “Shuuuuushhhhhhh” that emanates from the mouth of its driver. Students use this sound in the library to make others keep quiet and enjoy reading. In the library “Shuuuuushhhhhhh” brings a smile to many students and is embarrassing for the student it is targeted at.
Maulana Azad Library has one of the best collections of books running into thousands. Enter the main gate, piercing words are sketched “Taught Man what He Knew Not”. Of course here the word “Man” is referred to human civilization. Little further, your eyes get stuck at the portrait of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. A large sized portrait with majestic eyes pierces deep into the heart of any visitor. A closer check at the figures right and left of Sir Syed will reveal how much hard work has gone into building this university and what these stalwarts have left for us, a legacy, priceless vision and progressive thought.
I have always wondered if somehow Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and his associates came alive today how they would take the present position of AMU University, a thought that always punishes my mind. No doubt AMU has made great strides in the past and is continuing to do so now as well. It is ranked among the best of the universities of the world, especially in India. Still we need to take care of the present difficulties it is going through. More and more interaction with other universities is essential. It is necessary that our university is to be presented in true picture. There are some elements which are constantly trying to malign its image. To protect its image the teachers, especially students union has to work much harder to present the university as the beacon of hope in the otherwise disturbing world around us.
Ah! How can you forget hostels? In hostels the institution of seniority and juniority is embedded. Unlike other universities, here this institution is based on love and affection. Seniors like to advise juniors on several issues and give them proper suggestions about careers. A word “Bhaai” is particularly used by the juniors to refer to seniors out of love, affection and respect. A junior in front of senior is never expected to pull out his wallet, seniors pay the money. So the trick is to always have tea or something in the company of seniors and not pay. This is the most fun side of this relation. Here hostels cultivate among students the idea of universal love, affection and respect for the elders. So take a trip to AMU and relish its food, tea, culture and its history of teaching and learning.
—The writer is pursuing PhD at Aligarh Muslim University in Dept. of Economics and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.