I write this letter not only as an ex-secretary of AMU Students’ Union but also in my capacity as a young Indian, who has created around 60 jobs for India through my different entrepreneurial ventures and plan to create 300 jobs more in next couple of years. Even though slightest, but I feel my contribution to the country’s economy is substantial enough for my voice to be heard.
AMU Minority character issue might be very crucial for the AMU fraternity, but it also has a significant impact on India’s economic prosperity. How?
When I was 21, I was not comfortable with the concept of providing special privileges to uplift a specific section of society. Why do we need the reservation for any specific section in jobs and education? Why are some constituencies in elections or some seats or compartments in public transports reserved for the specific gender? My concept of equal opportunity was - one criteria that apply to all. In the last five years, I have had an opportunity to travel different parts of the world, understand different cultures, appreciate the history and science of civilisation and the society and work with diverse sets of students, employees, colleagues, employers and clients. It forced me to challenge some of my preconceived assumptions and reconsider my opinion on a lot of things. I don't intend to present my views for or against the Minority character of a University- but would like to present some logical arguments that would allow you to form an opinion yourself.
One of the main reasons for my apathy for the system was an underlying assumption that success is the outcome of only an individual’s efforts and talent. Why do you need a reservation system, if any individual has the same odds of success if he puts in the same amount of efforts and is equally talented. But unfortunately, this is not the way it works. In his #1 BestSeller “The Outliers- Story of Success”- famous author Malcolm Gladwell explains how all successful people or group of people in the past and the present were an outcome of the right opportunity and environment- and not only their personal perseverance or hard work. Malcolm outlined that genius is not the only or even the most important thing when determining a person's success. Using an anecdote to illustrate his claim, he discussed the story of Christopher Langan, a man who ended up owning a horse farm in rural Missouri despite having an IQ of 195 (Gladwell claims that Einstein's was 150). Gladwell pointed out that Langan has not reached a high level of success because of the dysfunctional environment in which he grew up. In other words, success is a combination of right opportunities and favorable circumstances and not just hard work. "No one—not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses—ever makes it alone." How can we expect bright young minds from low socio-economic groups to make it alone?
It is quite evident from Census data, independent surveys and reports like Sacchar Committee that Minorities make huge percentage in the low socio-economic demographics. This implies that they don't even possess the privilege of an environment, parenting, peers, elementary education to have the capacity to compete for higher education on the same level with students from a high socio-economic background. I couldn't appreciate it until I experienced something similar in an entirely different environment. I experienced it when I appeared on an IQ test for Mensa Australia. Their IQ test consisted of a set of questions that relates to English vocabulary that would have put at a disadvantage as English is not my native language when contrasted with other native English speakers who appeared in the test. But to address this challenge, Mensa also provided an alternative test that only have diagrams and shapes as questions and answers so that a non- English speaker can also have the equal opportunity to score in the test. If Mensa had followed One Criteria, I wouldn't have qualified for its membership despite having high IQ. The Same principal applies everywhere that’s why boxing have different weight class, and boxers from different weight class don't fight each other. Same standards would mean that there is one door for everyone- no access for disabled in the building and no concessions for students and pensioners. Lack of adequate opportunity for everyone would ultimately result in low socio-economic class going more lower, but the vice versa is not necessarily true. This would lead to a greater disparity and inequality in the economy of India.
Now, it is established that it creates economic inequality and disparity, what impact would it have on Indian economy as a whole? It's impossible to develop a sustainable economy by educating only one section of society and leaving the other behind. Research has shown an inverse link between income inequality and social cohesion. In the equal societies, people are much more likely to trust each other, measures of social capital (the benefits of goodwill, fellowship, mutual sympathy and social connectedness among groups who make up a social unit) suggest greater community involvement, and homicide rates are comparatively lower. On the other hand, Crime and corruption grow virally in an economically diverse society.
The Indian government seems to be taking some concrete steps to develop the Indian economy through initiatives like Start-up India, Digital India and Make in India. But the success of these initiatives heavily relies on the bright minds of India to deliver it. Though we already have an enormously skilled workforce, as there is still a lot of untapped talent in the low socio-economic sectors. India is not only losing on this talent, but if these minds remain uneducated and malnourished, they’ll turn out to be counterproductive for the economy. A country can never advance abandoning a specific segment. For Instance, if I talk about Australia, there are also particular regions where the unemployment rate is relatively higher because of lack of opportunities and unskilled population. The Government of Australia is taking measures to alleviate the crisis by creating education and employment opportunities for the people.
AMU was established with the vision to educate and instruct the entire society however with the special accentuation on the low financial parts of the society, one of them being the Muslims. AMU has made a portion of the brightest personalities in India in all fields. Minority character of AMU was never about isolating a few areas or giving an undue influence to a specific segment of society. Minority character intends to address the identified difficulties that a few areas of the general public face and provide them the right impact. AMU assumes a critical part in instructing and sustaining the grass root ability is to improve them as an individual, and it's un-denying commitment to the Indian economy. While on one hand when you require foundations like IITs and IIMs to sustain the officially prepped capable learners regardless you need colleges like AMU to encourage the just as capable learners who didn't get equal opportunities and environment to prepare themselves. Since minorities in India frames a unique piece of this area, keeping up the minority character of an establishment such as AMU turns out to be exceedingly critical for the economy.
I don't see it as a challenge for a University, but a challenge for the whole Nation. I believe every Indian irrespective of their caste, creed, religion or political inclination should support the upliftment of low socio-economic sects of the society because this will have an impact on everyone’s life.
[Aamir Qutub, Ex-Secretary- AMU Students’ Union is CEO, EM Australia Pty Ltd. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org]