It was a good day to start with, doing workout at the Jamia Sports Complex, some brisk walk and running on the track. After completing my span of workout, I headed towards the badminton court planning to play for a while. I asked the guard outside whether the badminton court was open or not. He responded by asking me in a very rough and rude way whether I was a staff member (Gym inside the sport complex is only meant for the staff; the rule book says so) or a student? When, I told him that I was a student, he fired back that I was allowed only to use the running track. Then I asked if I could play badminton? He again replied very rudely, with no sense of decency, that it was only accessible when the games were happening. To that I replied, I have seen students playing there. And then also requested him to talk to me politely. I said:“Thora tehzeeb se to baat kije.” To which he angrily yelled back: “Tumse seekhenge hum tahzeeb!” (Now I have to learn manners from you?!).
Instead of getting into an altercation with him, I felt it better not to get into an argument and not say anything back. I did not want to ruin my mood and rest of my day because of it. The whole experience was unexpected and quite disturbing.
I wish I could say this was a one-off incident in my time at Jamia; but unfortunately it is not. I can cite many examples of such bad behavior by Jamia employees. Guards appointed at the library entrance, guards at the main gate, clerical staff in Dean’s office, clerical staff in the office of the controller of examinations, clerical staff in the office of director physical education and then a guard at the sport complex are all instances of my being treated badly by a Jamia staff member. But this is nothing unique to me. I have seen several times, Jamia employees (Clerical staff and Guards) treating students unkindly.
In all fairness, I know and can understand that a hectic work-schedule and workload, sometimes, may leave staff members tired and frustrated, which can lead them to take it out on students. But no matter how tired or frustrated they might feel, it gives them – No Right – to treat us badly. We are as much deserving of respect as they are.
I am reminded of a similar incident as the one that took place in Jamia sport complex. This one took place in the office of director of physical education. In an intense debate on some issue, this person started to shout at me and my friend. When I objected to his deed and asked him to at least not to behave like this while he was part of Jamia Millia Islamia, he repulsively replied: “What Jamia Millia Islamia?” What does this have to do with “Jamia Millia Islamia?”
I was so disappointed to hear him ask such a question that it brought an iota of doubt in my mind about the courteousness of Jamians, though only for a fraction of time. The man had no idea of Jamia’s inherited tehzeeb (discipline and etiquette). The founders of Jamia were highly sophisticated and cultured people having great respect for kindness, generosity and politeness in daily social interaction, a legacy Jamia has inherited as part of its culture. However, this man was completely unaware of it.
In another incident, I remember a day when I fell into a quarrel with an office clerk at Jamia. When I entered his cabin, I found him engaged on Facebook. I was there just to get a form signed and wanted to inquire about something. He apparently did not like me interrupting his Facebook time with my questions, so like a brute, he yelled back the answers to my questions.
Another incident happened in the office of the controller of the examination (Natural Science section). When I asked the clerk about my friend’s documents, he said: “Ek baar poochhne aaoge phir lene aaoge, Jaan kha rakhi hai tum logon ne” (First you will come to inquire then you will come to receive the documents; this attitude of you people is parasitical).
I can cite several similar instances of Jamia employees behaving foully with me and with other students including my friends. I am sure if asked, many students can relate similar personal stories of harassment they have suffered at the hands of Jamia staff members. Nonetheless, above-mentioned incidents are enough to judge their behaviour, and to get a sense of how prevalent this problem is at Jamia.
Let it be known, I don’t have any personal issue with any one of them. I am speaking on behalf of others who face similar moments of disgust in Jamia offices.
It should also be stated, most Jamia employees are good, well-mannered people. I have seen several staff members with a very generous demeanor and with good humour. They always behave in a very gentle way with a pleasant smile on their face. But there is a significant number of them who are ill-mannered and lack the most common of courtesies. For such employees, I request the Jamia administration to take them to task. They urgently require a class in Jamia tehzeeb.
[Abu Turab Naqvi (2015) is a student of French language in the Centre for Spanish and Latin American Studies, JMI. He can be reached via email at: abuturabamrohvi[@]gmail.com]