No place for Philosophy at KU

No place for Philosophy at KU
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Dismayed graduates turn to other subjects

Nazima Rashid

SRINAGAR: Amid a growing student interest in philosophy, Kashmir University’s lack of a philosophy department at post graduate level is leaving its alumni in the lurch.
Considered the Valley’s highest seat of learning, with more than 30 departments from all fields including science, social science, the humanities, applied science etc., Kashmir University has no emphasis on teaching the ‘mother of all subjects’ – Philosophy.
Prof Jaleel Ahsan, a noted professor of Philosophy, currently teaching at Government Women’s College, Anantnag, expressed anguish at not having a post-graduate department for the discipline.
“It is sheer injustice to the subject as it is the basis of all the social sciences; all their branches have emerged from it. Philosophy is not confined to the social sciences alone; if we talk about technology, the IIT pattern also includes two philosophy papers in their B.Tech. It is really surprising to see how Kashmir University is continuously ignoring one of the most important subjects,” he rued.
“Kashmir has a very rich philosophical tradition, which included Kashmiri Shaivism, Kashmir’s Sufi thought, also called indigenous Rishi Vaad and which produced great philosophers and thinkers like Abhinavgupta, Avantivaram etc. It is very unfortunate to see instead that philosophy has been highly neglected. I personally approached the Kashmir University administration many times with a proposal for introducing a philosophy department in the campus, but they never paid heed,” he told Kashmir Reader.
Philosophy as a discipline has been taught at many of the Valley’s colleges at the undergraduate level, but its absence at the Master’s level is a matter of concern for philosophy lovers. Students are left fuming as they have to switch to other subjects for PG studies or have to take admission in philosophy courses in universities outside the state.
“Students at undergraduate level are taking a very keen interest in philosophy, but the university has never showed any concern for such students. Either they have to kill their desire by opting for some other subject in their Master’s or they have to take admission in some other universities outside the state to pursue higher studies in Philosophy. This becomes very uncomfortable for many female students,” Prof. Ahsan added.
“Philosophy is something which enhances one’s perspective towards different things,” said Jesarat, a philosophy graduate, now a journalism student. “I did my graduation in philosophy and wanted to go for a Master’s in it, but unfortunately Kashmir University did not offer the subject. I am a philosophy lover but had to give up.”
“Why do they teach Philosophy at undergraduate level if they cannot manage a Master’s in this subject?” questioned PG student Shahneel Khan. “I always wanted to pursue my higher studies in Philosophy but here I am pursuing a Master’s in English because I was not at ease about taking admission outside the state. I had to kill my desire and opt for a subject I am least interested in because of the unavailability here of a philosophy department.”
Another student, Shaista Akhtar, who is currently pursuing a Master’s in Philosophy from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), said, “Philosophy is not just a subject for me, it is a passion. I never wanted to compromise with it as many philosophy lovers do because of the unavailability of a PG department at Kashmir University. I had to leave my family in Kashmir just to pursue my higher education in Philosophy.
“We have many Kashmiri students and scholars at AMU pursuing their higher education in Philosophy. Their story is no different from mine. We have to face this inconvenience only because our own Kashmir University cannot provide us what we were yearning for,” Shaista added.
For the university administration’s part, Dean Academic Affairs, Kashmir University, Prof Musadiq Amin Sahaf said, “This proposal was already discussed last year in the council, but they did not allow its creation. The only reason is the unavailability of its faculty position. We get the creation of positions not from the universities but from the higher education. Until and unless we will not have the clear faculty position for a philosophy department we cannot do anything.”