Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar, who visited Jamia Millia Islamia Wednesday to inaugurate a girls’ hostel, said India had lost out by “keeping women as slaves”.
“By keeping women as slaves, or as a commodity for several years… the country lost out on enormous potential as today, we see women not only participating but excelling in various fields,” he said. Javadekar inaugurated the Begum Hazrat Mahal Hostel, which can accommodate 400 students, and emphasised the importance of hostels, saying many parents felt reassured that their children were safe in a hostel. Congratulating the university, the minister promised students and faculty that he would return for an interaction with them.
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He also said the central government had started, and stood firmly by, the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign to give a fresh impetus to girls’ education. “When a boy studies, only he studies. But when a girl studies, the entire family studies,” said Javadekar.
The minister also said that India exemplified the motto of unity in diversity. “I visit all religious places because I believe all religions teach the same things – brotherhood, non-violence, truth and how to be a good human being. The purpose of education is not only to impart knowledge from various disciplines but also shaping students into good human beings, which Jamia does,” he said.
Earlier, some residents of the girls’ hostel had written an “open letter” to the minister, to protest the Provost’s direction to be present during Javadekar’s visit to the campus. They had said that the minister was “not welcome” on campus. However, hours before Javadekar’s visit, the university issued a fresh notification, withdrawing the earlier notice and “cordially inviting” students to the event.
“The warden may have felt the need to change the notice, so she did that. It’s not a big deal. The warden showed me a letter signed by about 200 students saying that they had not written that open letter and they had no problem with Javadekar’s visit,” said Jamia Media Coordinator Iftikhar Ahmed.