Underlining that “a lot of time was wasted last century in the name of differences”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a gathering of Aligarh Muslim University Tuesday that “the country is progressing on a path where none can be left behind because of religion, where all get equal opportunity to move ahead, and fulfil their dreams”.
Describing the AMU campus, its history of education as a “priceless heritage” of the country and praising its alumni across the world as “representatives of India’s culture”, the Prime Minister, addressing the centenary celebrations of the university via a video link, said: “There are ideological differences in a society, it is natural. But when it comes to attainment of national goals, then these differences should be kept aside.”
“When you young friends decide to move ahead with this thinking, then there’s no goal that we cannot achieve together. Be it education, economic progress, better living, opportunities, women’s rights, security, nationalism, these are every citizen’s requirements. These are some issues on which we cannot disagree because of our political, ideological compulsions,” he said.
“We must understand that politics is an integral part of society, but there are issues other than politics in society. A country’s society is much larger, far more pervasive than the thinking of politics and power. Even beyond politics, there is enough space to take the society forward. It is very important to keep exploring this space. A campus like AMU can do this work, all of you can.”
He said the development of a country or society should not be viewed through the prism of politics. “When we come together for a larger objective, it is possible that some elements get troubled. Such elements can be found in every society of the world. These are people with vested interests. To suit their own interest, they will employ every ploy, and spread negativity. But if building India is uppermost in our hearts and mind,then the space for such people will shrink on its own,” he said, adding that “politics can wait, not society, not the development of the country, not the poor”.
“A hundred years ago, in 1920, the youth of the country got a chance to dedicate themselves to the country, struggle and make sacrifices. That generation’s sacrifices gave India independence in 1947. Today’s generation has many opportunities to reach the goal Atmanirbhar Bharat, New India. That was 1920, this is 2020. The next 27 years are very important for you. In 2047, when India completes 100 years of independence, you will witness the historic moment, and you will also be part of the making of modern India. You must think of the country’s welfare,” Modi said.
“Today, the entire world is looking at India… There is curiosity about this being India’s century. We must have a single goal to make the country Atmanirbhar. It should not matter which family one was born in, in which religion one was raised…,” he said.
“AMU has given several freedom fighters and I would like to say that they came from different backgrounds, but worked together for the independence of the country. What was done for the freedom of this country, you have to do the same for the country. We have to work for a common ground. New India must be self-reliant, and the benefits will reach everyone equally. The youth can do it.”
In December 2019, AMU was one of the centres of protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, and clashes on the campus had left over 70 people injured. Police arrested 26 people, including AMU students. Following the incident, university authorities announced an extended winter break.
In his address, the Prime Minister also spoke on the dropout ratio among Muslim girls which he said had declined from 70 per cent to 30 per cent. “I met an AMU alumnus recently who is also an Islamic scholar. He told me something very interesting which I would like to share with you. Under the Swachh Bharat mission, when more than 10 crore toilets were built, everyone benefited. Toilets were built without discrimination. But there is one aspect of Swachh Bharat which has not been discussed much. There was a time when the dropout rate of Muslim daughters was more than 70 per cent. It was a big hurdle in the development of the Muslim community.”
“For 70 years, the situation was that 70 per cent of Muslim daughters could not complete their education. Under these circumstances, Swachh Bharat mission started. Toilets for girl students was built on mission mode by the government. Now, the dropout ratio of Muslim women is just 30 per cent — from 70 per cent. Lakhs of Muslim daughters had to quit studies earlier due to lack of toilets. The government is doing everything to ensure that fewer Muslim women drop out. At AMU, there is a bridge course for dropout students. I have been told that at AMU, the percentage of women students has increased to 35 per cent,” he said.
“The government has special focus on the education and empowerment of Muslim daughters. In the last six years, the government has granted scholarships to one crore Muslim daughters,” he said.
While speaking on the importance of educating women, Modi said, “Even today, AMU can say with pride that the founder chancellor was Begum Sultan one hundred years ago. Given the circumstances 100 years ago, it was a big thing. The attempt to build a modern Muslim society had begun. With the end of the triple talaq malpractice, it has been moved forward. It used to be said earlier that if a woman is educated, then the whole family is educated. This is correct, but this has meaning beyond the education of family. Women should be educated, so they can use their rights correctly. So, she can decide her future. Education brings employment and entrepreneurship, which brings economic independence, which gives way to an empowered woman, who is equal to all others, whether it is about giving direction to the family or the country,” he said.
The Prime Minister also released a postage stamp dedicated to AMU on the occasion. AMU Chancellor Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, Vice- Chancellor Tariq Mansoor and Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank also took part in the virtual event.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines