OPINION: Jamia’s Beautification at the Cost of its Quality of Education

Jamia Millia Islamia, being a central university and situated in New Delhi, the capital city of India, has gained a lot of repute and grown up to emulate some of the best educational institutions in the country. Its location apparently, makes a difference, because many central universities in India despite offering a plethora of courses and being grandiose in size remain secluded. One of the best examples of such a university is the Aligarh Muslim University.

Lack of exposure and opportunities for students in the town, and failed attempts by the authorities to lure companies for the campus job placements has adversely affected the efficiency of Aligarh Muslim University to culminate its potentially talented students for the greater good of society and be mutually benefited.

Jamia Millia Islamia was founded in Aligarh in 1920, but due to certain circumstances it was later shifted to Delhi in 1925. It is widely believed that orthodox Muslims viewed Jamia as a threat to Aligarh Muslim University, which was also known as the “Muslim Oxford.”

Jamia is known to have one of the best infrastructures among all the universities in Delhi. There has been a massive construction work on campus and many buildings have been erected in recent years. Some of the grand projects were the construction of department of dentistry, the new school building, the faculty of law, and a couple of hostels; budget of which are estimated to be in billions of rupees.

And in another big change on campus, the boundary walls of the university along the road were replaced by fancy metal fences, and the main gates on campus, popularly known as “bab”, were renovated in the style of giant Mughal city-gates.

The locals residing around the university say, seeing the pace of construction one can simply guess that there have been no laxities in funding the university for the purpose.

Last year, the Commonwealth Games proved pivotal for the beautification of the university. The Government of Delhi awarded a multi-million project to the university for the construction of a sports complex for practice sessions of Rugby 7’s and Table Tennis, and consequently it has upgraded its games and sports facilities. The university now hosts a world class sports complex.

No doubt these developments are beneficial, or in particular, it is a high money yielding asset for the university; but it does not purely justify the logic behind its existence.

Jamia Millia Islamia is a university, not a shopping complex to lure customers in with high standing towers with a glass facade.

The emphasis in an educational institution should be laid on the quality of teaching and learning, and to create an ambiance which could enhance the personality and the hidden talents of the students, taking them to a whole new learning avenue and preparing to vie in the outside world. Here we see this university to be devious.

There are many departments where seats for faculties are vacant for years. Class rooms lack facilities such as white boards and projectors. The departmental works are done at the pace of a snail, and students need to run between offices for days just to get a paper signed or get a certificate issued. Sometimes it feels like being an unemployed laborer claiming a job under the NREGA scheme.

On the condition of anonymity, a faculty member in the university said, “If just a quantum of investment out of the total expenditure incurred in the university was diverted towards facilitating the class rooms with some technical equipment such as projectors, it would have made a lot of difference. They [authorities] just end up spending money on constructing buildings but do not furnish them well.”

In the academic year 2010-11, the head of department for the department of commerce and business studies, left office after completing his tenure. Consequently, the head of department for the department of economics, was also handed the charge for the department of commerce and business.

However, a new head in the department of commerce and business studies is yet to be appointed.

“Our department is not as autonomous as other departments in the university are. We are dependent on [the] department of economics to get our clerical works done,” lamented Fabeha Amin Qureshi, a final year graduate student in the department of commerce and business studies.

She further added, “The whole syllabus of few subjects were hardly covered in the class in first two years of our course of study.” But showing gratitude towards the present vice chancellor, Mr. Najeeb Jung, she said, “In the current session (2011-12) students as well as teachers are strictly held accountable for the minimum required percentage of attendance and both the sides are afraid of the consequences if found dormant. I hope this year the whole syllabus will be covered and taking private tuitions will not be required.”

Mr. Najeeb Jung, a former civil servant, was appointed in the year 2009 as the Vice Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia.

Though Jamia has achieved many landmarks and have reached a milestone by hosting a practice venue of an international sporting event, the emphasis still has to be laid down on the academic well being of the university, which is apparently lacking.

I’m not against the beautification of Jamia. I’m not against constructing multi-storey buildings on campus. I’m not against developing a practice venue for Commonwealth Games. I would be the first person to cheer, celebrate and feel proud of any of Jamia’s achievements; but I will only do that if the basic reason of its existence is not undermined, which is to grow as a formidable educational institution and play a promising role in developing an educated India.

About Mohammad Behzad Fatmi

Mohammad Behzad Fatmi (Class of 2012) is a former staff writer for Jamia Journal, and a 2012 Bachelor of Commerce graduate. He can be reached via email at: behzad.fatmi[at]gmail.com

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  1. This is a very sensible piece.
    Also I would like to add that during the CWG 2010, the hostels (girls) were renovated. Everything right from the furniture to the bathrooms. Couldn’t Jamia use this money to provide coolers in each room? The hostels were amazing just the way they were. What’s with the over beautification? Academically, according to friends Fine Arts department hardly ever holds classes due to which hardly 20 students have taken admission this year. And library is hardly ever updated. Even the books required for the course are available in the most ancient of editions and in the worst of conditions.
    Jamia is a beautiful place and a wonderful institution. We have great faculty and courses. If only the administration can keep a balance we will do just great!.
    great article. I am glad some one highlighted the point

  2. Quite an insightful piece from Mr Fatmi!

    The author is spot-on about the strategic advantage that Jamia has over some other prestigious institutions such as AMU, in terms of its location. Over the last few decades, successive Jamia administrations seen to have been conscious of this advantage, and have strived to make the most of it.

    However, as the author rightly points out, merely spending crores on beautification and facelifts, without investing in the upgradation of core academic & teaching facilities, would really not do much good. Hope this timely voice is heeded by the authorities.

    Looking forward to more such insightful pieces from this young and budding journalist in the making.

  3. grt behzad i really appreciate your work,gd context evaluated,keep it bro

  4. Good insight Behzad. Really appreciate. Its up to the students to question what is happening around them and I believe you have chosen the best medium for the above-said purpose

  5. Hi Behzad,

    Though I am a late entrant, I should not hesitate to say that I enjoy reading your articles, particularly those discussing issues with Department of Commerce & Business Studies, reason being I have been there for about 6 years, during 2005 through 2011. I also happened to teach a couple of courses to B. Com. (H) program.
    Well, the issue of erecting infrastructure at the cost of quality of education is really very saddening. We all know that good infrastructure is an important element of quality institutions. But lack of good faculties or other resources make it nonfunctional, even if there exists state-of-the-art infrastructure.
    You raised very good point about the Head-less department of Commerce; there are many such issues pertaining to the department such as nonfunctional computer lab, out-dated curriculum, scrapping of BIBF program, an almost unbearable admin. personnel, attitude of (some) faculty members, and many more.
    I just pray present and future students get the best out of what is available over there.
    I again appreciate you for your write-ups. Looking forward to reading many more in coming times..

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