You are set to complete 4½ years as vice chancellor. How has it been?
It’s great, much more challenging than commanding a troop of 50,000 Army men and seven Northeast states fighting insurgency. But I have a sense of satisfaction at what I achieved here… The university was not shut for even a day… A US ranking has [placed] AMU second best in India… We have restored most of the historical buildings, anything beyond repair has been demolished. We are carrying out research… recycling water and waste through plant technology… I told the Prime Minister you won’t get rivers clean unless you get eco-battalions for Ganga and Yamuna… More than anything else, it’s the psychological impact of AMU being involved in Project Ganga, shows that the river is sacred to us also, not just sacred to Hindus.
Your appointment has been challenged in the Supreme Court [on grounds of inadequate academic experience]…
Dr Zakir Hussain was a schoolteacher, Hamid Ansari was in foreign service. They did great as VCs. I am a military man. It’s a misconception that we are uneducated baboons. We spent a lifetime in learning and getting educated… Education is very much part of a military officer’s life.
Watch what else is making news:
The AMU Teachers’ Association secretary was suspended, students are on dharna, arson has taken place. Why all this on campus?
I haven’t suspended the AMUTA secretary, I have suspended a teacher who failed to perform his duty. He decided to sit on dharna rather than take classes; he should have taken [leave]… When I asked him, he lied and filed an application, backdated. He misbehaved with me… What was shocking is that he later conducted a meeting to discuss the misbehaviour of the VC… The arson was by outsiders, goons and criminals of Aligarh and very few students who have been rusticated.
You got a lot of support from female students. What are you dong for them?
Yes, I accept that girls have supported me… I have promised them an international swimming pool which is under construction at the women’s hostel. They were earlier mugged on their way as they were living outside. We are going to have a hostel for 2,100 girls at Rs 75 crore… Former HRD minister Smriti Irani asked me why I am wasting money on a swimming pool. I said I am not wasting money, I want girls to be confident.
Your equation with Irani was seen as not smooth. How is it with Prakash Javadekar?
I am yet to meet him. We did shake hands at the VC conclave. Smriti Irani has some allergy to AMU.
The HRD ministry has sought the President’s permission for an inquiry on the AMU VC over various irregularities.
I am ready to face any inquiry any time. AMU is always in the hit-list of the HRD ministry but I must say it’s a conspiracy by those who are not very happy with the development work. All this is the handiwork of one person, a member of AMU’s executive council. We caught him filing fake travel bills and he started a war against the university and me… I must say, an audit inquiry cannot be ordered on the complaint of one person. Still, I welcome an inquiry, it will clear the air.
Has the BJP government helped AMU?
I never had problems with the central government. I have issues with fund allocation. In fact all governments at the Centre were biased against AMU. They never treated us well. When the Congress government was there, we got Rs 100 crore less than BHU. Jamia, which is one third our size, got Rs 50 crore more… But I am sure the Prime Minister will take care of AMU this time.
Why did your statements about the RSS create a controversy?
Because I speak the truth. About RSS, I am talking to them. If somebody is extending his hand to you, you should never neglect it.
So do you agree with RSS’s ideology.
No I don’t. Because they have very insular ideology. I think it has to be secular… I have spoken to top leaders.
I tried to convince them not to meddle with AMU in any way as the sentiments of our community are involved. They shook their heads but never gave any commitment. Even the PM shook his head but didn’t give me any commitment.
AMU expelled a Kashmir student for a post on the Uri attack.
I regret the attack. Our soldiers lost their lives. I also regret the large-scale loss of life in the Valley… AMU
will not tolerate any anti-national activity.