BY | February 16, 2013

Congress party president and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi was chief guest at AMU Convocation, but failed to turn up. Students were disappointed when they knew that she wouldn’t hand over their degrees

ALIGARH: UPA Chairperson, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi assured the Aligarh Muslim university community that she would lend support to AMU to preserve its historical character and its autonomy.

Addressing the 60th Annual Convocation of the Aligarh Muslim University in absentia though tele-conferencing, Mrs. Gandhi said that she was very well aware of the history and the contributions of the Aligarh Muslim University and the role it had played in the freedom struggle of the country. She said that the minority character issue of the University was pending in the Supreme Court of India, however she would extend her cooperation to maintain the autonomy of the University.

Mrs. Gandhi, regretting her inability to participate in person in the convocation proceedings due to adverse weather conditions, congratulated the students who were awarded medals and degrees for their educational accomplishments. She also gave her compliments to the parents of these students who would be happy to witness this historical moment.

Mrs. Gandhi said that no assessment of Muslims’ educational development could be made without discussing the life and contributions of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. The role that Sir Syed played for educational empowerment of his community, was exemplary and borne promises for the future. He felt the importance of education and dreamt of a University that would be a sign of wisdom and ration. He worked for the propagation of scientific quest and knowledge by establishing Scientific Society and publishing a reform journal, Tahzibul Akhlaq. She said that the AMU has also contributed remarkably to the freedom struggle of the country and has produced a number of nationalist leaders like Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Maulana Mohammad Ali, Maulana Shaukat Ali, Dr. Zakir Husain, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, Abdul Majeed Khwaja and Saifuddin Kichlu.

Mrs. Gandhi appreciated the role of Sheikh Abdullah in the promotion of women’s education in the country and expressed happiness that eminent Progressive writers like Rasheed Jahan and Ismat Chugtai were the products of this great institution.

Mrs. Gandhi, appreciating the secular foundation of this great seat of learning, said that it has contributed a lot in nurturing the democratic and pluralistic culture of the country. She remarked that the University stood as an epitome of secularism and communal harmony. Mrs. Gandhi said that Islam has completely merged into the Indian characteristics and its services to the development of Indian culture and civilization are remarkable.

She said that she had received a memorandum of the Students’ Union of the University and she would talk to the government to take appropriate actions to implement the suggestions.

The UPA Chairperson acknowledged the special relationship of Nehru-Gandhi family with this institution. She said that India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, despite his pressing engagements, visited AMU five times and the University awarded him honorary degree of D. Lit. while the AMU Students’ Union felicitated him with its life membership. The University has always lent its support to the Nehru family and there are several buildings in the University named after the members of the Nehru family.

Terming students as the builders of the nation, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi urged the AMU students to rely on their wisdom and remember there were so many worlds beyond the stars. She assured that no injustice will be made against them.

Former Indian Hockey Captain, Mr. Zafar Iqbal was give the D. Lit. degree Honoris Causa. He said that it was for the first time in the history of AMU that it has awarded a degree to a sportsperson and it was a good sign for the future of sports in the country. He urged the University to include sports in the University curricula.

Mr. Iqbal said that he has been a student of this University from Abdullah Nursery to Minto Circle and was a Hockey Captain of the University in 1982. He said it was a proud moment for his family to receive this great honour.

Presenting Annual Report on this occasion, the Vice Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University, Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah said that this 60th Annual Convocation of the University was a historic one. The last time a lady, Nawab Sultan Jahan Begum of Bhopal delivered the Convocation Address in 1925 and it was the second time when another distinguished lady, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi was invited to deliver this address, he added.

Gen. Shah said that restoration of minority status was biggest issue for the University and it was his lifetime dream that the University’s minority character was restored at the earliest and it became the number one university of the country. He said, “We look forward to the stewardship of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi for the restoration and recognition of the minority character of this historic institution”.

He also urged the government for special grant to the University for hostel accommodation and making the AMU a totally green University.

On this occasion, 223 students were given medals for their exemplary results in various undergraduate and postgraduate courses and about five thousand research, PG and Undergraduate students were given away degrees.

University Registrar, Group Captain (Retd.) Shahrukh Shamshad and Controller, Prof. Pervez Mustajab also addressed on the occasion. Nawab Ibne Saeed Khan of Chhatari graced the occasion as chief guest in absence of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.

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