On Tuesday May 16, Prof Dr Tariq Mansoor, the Dean of the Medical College at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), assumed charge as the next Vice-Chancellor of the university for the next five years. It is a great news that once again a distinguished academic, rather than an administrator, has become the leader of this great university - a big hope of the Indian Muslim community for its educational advancement.
AMU became a university in 1920, almost a hundred years ago, as a result of the untiring efforts of Muslims from all parts of India. At that time, one more higher education center, namely the colleges of Anjuman Islam were also established in Bombay. Several decades ago AMU was founded by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan as a high school, whereas Anjuman Islam was established as a high school by Tayebjee. In these ten decades both institutions have blossomed to provide higher education to the India's Muslim community and each has built a variety of colleges in various fields of study.
Today, the enrollment at AMU has reached about 28,000. Thus it has been successful in 'quantity education'. Significant improvement in 'quality education' has also occurred at AMU in all these years. Yet, AMU has a long way to go in acquiring the same success in 'academic excellence'. Unfortunately, successive vice-chancellors in recent years, have lacked the vision to emphasize academic excellence and push for it. Their vision has been more on development of buildings. AMU needs both infrastructure and academics.
For instance, the level of academic achievement at the colleges of engineering, medicine, physical and natural sciences needs substantial improvement to reach the levels at IITs, IIMs, IIScs. Often, some AMU folks say that this is not a realistic expectation. That is not healthy. For, a hundred year old premier university of the Indian Muslim community that gets attention from most of the community, it must raise its expectation and launch a time bound program to bring the academics at these colleges to the levels of the very best Indian universities mentioned above.
The community is very hopeful that Prof Tariq Mansoor, the new VC who is a relatively young man of 60, and who is known to be a high quality, action oriented academic, with high level management experience, will implement the new vision of academic excellence in all faculties and departments.
We are hopeful that he will replace the currently North-Indian regional complexion of AMU with an all-India complexion. Having been a professor himself he could motivate the heads of various departments and colleges into substantially upgrading research and into adopting latest methods of teaching that are in use in IITs, IIMs, IISCs etc. Importing faculty members from outside will also help.
The Indian Muslim community offers its fullest help and prayers for success to the new AMU VC Prof Tariq Mansoor. We are confident that he will be successful in making AMU a center of academic excellence.
[Kaleem Kawaja is Executive Director of Association of Indian Muslims of America, Washington DC.]