In Urdu University, 40 percent faculty doesn’t know Urdu

Hyderabad: Surprises never cease to happen. Imagine a language university where a large number of faculty members are themselves unaware of the language. This is true of Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU). Nearly 40 percent of the faculty here is not familiar with Urdu. More shocking is the fact that they teach lessons in English to students who enrolled in the university primarily to pursue education through Urdu language. The university has a regular faculty of 300 besides 400 non-teaching staff.

Authorities are simply not in a position to do anything about this paradox since these faculty members joined the university through proper selection committees. Efforts to motivate them to learn Urdu at least now are not having the desired effect. Why not initiate action against those who selected them? “Look my job is to look forward and not turn back to make corrections”, says MANUU vice chancellor, Dr. Mohammad Aslam Parvaiz.

Interacting with presspersons here on Saturday, Dr. Parvaiz candidly admitted that it was ‘not a rosy picture’ as far as knowledge of Urdu among the staff was concerned. MANUU was running a short duration course of Urdu learning for the faculty but it had not achieved cent percent success. “I can motivate them but can’t remove them from jobs”, he expressed his helplessness.

The only action he could now take is to reject the application of those who are due for promotion unless they acquire requisite Urdu skills. MANUU has the Parliament mandate to promote Urdu but some faculty members are not integrating with this directive. However, ever since he assumed office in 2015, he had ensured that all appointments were made in accordance with the University rules which say knowledge of Urdu is ‘essential’. When he took over as Vice Chancellor many expressed fears how the university would fare under the BJP regime. But dismissed it with this couplet which says the threat is not from outside but from unwise friends:

Mera azm itna buland hai ke paraye sholon ka dar nahin

Mujhe kauf aatishe-gul se hai ke kahin chaman ko jala na de

Dr. Parvaiz saw nothing wrong in appointment of retired academicians. If a person is competent and able to teach his retirement elsewhere should not come in the way. Moreover, the age of retirement differed from 58 years to 60 and 65 in Universities. “But if a competent youngster comes he will be given the first opportunity”, the vice chancellor said.

Dr. Parvaiz, who completed four years in office, said his biggest achievement was to usher in transparency and to translate books in Urdu. So far 60 course books were published and many more were in the offing. Here again the problem faced by MANUU was shortage of writers. “I am ashamed to say that we have to engage translators from outside to write books in Urdu”, Dr. Parvaiz said.

He wanted to make MANUU a mission-driven university and succeeded in getting it accredited as ‘A’ grade institution with 3.09 GGPA on four point scale by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council. MANUU was the only Indian language university to find 20th position among 25 shortlisted Central Universities in the Outlook-ICARE list. Other important measures taken were introduction of online feedback system. Students can freely express their opinion about teachers, their teaching methods and syllabus before appearing for examination. Again in a first students are being shown their answer sheet to check their marking and report grievance, if any.

Dr. Parvaiz said two new campuses were being established at Kadapa and Cuttack where ITI and Polytechnics are functioning now in rented premises. New buildings were expected to be ready by next year. New campus buildings were also under construction at Nuh (Haryana), Darbhanga, Bhopal and Srinagar.

J.S. Ifthekhar

J.S. Ifthekhar is a senior journalist with nearly four decades of experience. Ifthekhar cut his teeth in journalism at the Indian Express before he moved to The Hindu. He was also associated with the Siasat Daily, Telangana Today, Deccan Chronicle, Onlooker magazine, Newstrack, Detective Digest and a few news agencies. He has written on different subjects and aspects of Hyderabadi life. However, his passion remains literature in general and Urdu poetry in particular. He is equally concerned with culture, heritage, civic affairs and problems confronting the man in the street. As a journalist he has taken up cudgels on behalf of the underprivileged and many of his stories in The Hindu saw the government promptly taking corrective measures. Ifthekhar has authored two books - Hyderabad - The Nawabi City on The Move and Haj - The Spirit Behind it. He has also translated two books from Urdu to English. Currently he is working on his third book - Poets and Writers of Deccan.

Loves to write and writes to live. Can't imagine doing anything else.

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