Panel seeks central varsities with focus on minorities

Rejects proposal to set up 5 minority varsities

 A high-level committee has struck down Union Minority Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan’s proposal to set up five “minority universities” in the country.

Instead, the committee headed by Indian Council of Social Science Research chairman Sukhadeo Thorat suggested that the institutions be set up as central universities, with a special focus on minorities.

The committee constituted by the minister recently submitted its report to the Minority Affairs Ministry.

“As there is no provision in the law to set up minority universities by the government, the panel had recommended establishing central universities,” sources told Deccan Herald.

“These proposed universities should be like any other central universities established by the Act of Parliament and their authorities and officers should be in accordance with the existing practices. Besides, universities shall be open to all, irrespective of gender, caste, religion or creed.

However 50 per cent seats in all courses shall be reserved for students who belong to minority communities namely Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis,” said the report. Interestingly, nowhere in the report did the committee mention “minority universities.” Rahman Khan told Deccan Herald that the ministry is studying the report.

“As the report suggested setting up central universities instead of minority universities, we will establish a central university at Srirangapatna in Karnataka. The decision to establish the university at Tipu’s birth place was taken in 2008 and there is no going back,” he said.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by the Ministry of Minority Affairs said six central universities would be set up at places predominantly inhabited by the minority population, Murshidabad (West Bengal), Mallapuram (Kerala), Kishanganj (Bihar), Ajmer (Rajasthan), Srirangpatna (Karnataka) and Raebareli (Uttar Pradesh). Though Article 30(1) of the Constitution states that religious and linguistic minorities have the right to “establish and administer educational institutions of their choice,” there is no provision in the law for setting up universities exclusively for the minorities.

Even the decision to grant minority status to Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia by acts of Parliament were challenged in court.

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