By Manzar Imam
New Delhi: Lack of proper management of resources, poor academic infrastructure, poor health facilities and recurrent floods are reasons for backwardness of Seemanchal. These views were expressed by academics, intellectual and media persons at a public meeting here at Hotel River View on 3rd March 2018, jointly organized by Seemanchal Media Manch (SMM) and Buniyad Foundation.
The issues confronting Bihar’s most backward region and their possible solution have been discussed by the Manch’s different programmes held in Delhi and Bihar with speakers raising questions of accountability and lack of interest both by public representatives and governments.
Speaking on this occasion, Prof Talat Ahmad, Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia, said, “Lack of standard education and basic infrastructure has kept Seemanchal backward. Therefore focus must be on standard primary education. Till that is done, there will be no increase in the number of students in universalities.” Citing the example of Kerala, the VC said that madrasas in Kerala taught modern subjects together with religious disciplines. He appealed to heads of institutions to “shun personal interests for public good”. Had Sir Syed thought of personal gains he would not have established the Aligarh Muslim University. There is no dearth of talent in Seemanchal. All it needs is proper guidance, he added.
Prof Irteza Karim, Director of National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) warned against emotional approach to issues stating that “We have to proceed with a positive approach. And instead of shifting blame we need to think how we can avail of the available opportunities and get our rights form the government.” He said that a demand for special status similar to what existed in Jammu and Kashmir and Northeast India could possibly me made for Seemanchal. He promised any possible help from NCPUL for educational uplift in the area.
Dr Ahmad Ashfaque Karim, Chairman of Katihar Medical College asked Muslims to take lessons from Jews and Christians and spend their energy in opening their own educational institutions instead of begging for help. Seemanchal is deprived of most facilities and there is need to start movements for improving the condition, he asserted.
There are Navodya Vidyalayas in every district of Seemanchal but our children do not qualify due to lack of better primary education, Engineer Mohammad Aslam Alig, Managing Trustee of Buniyad Foundation, said. He further said that the entire region did not have industries leading to serious unemployment and forcing people to migrate to other states for jobs. Kaleemul Hafeez (Hilal), Chairman of Al-Hafeez Educational Academy said that the primary reason for Muslims’ backwardness was ignorance and the only solution to ignorance was in education.
SMM office-bearers Abid Anwar, Dr Abdul Quadir Shams, Dr Noman Qaisar, Manzar Imam, Minhaj Ahmad Qasmi and Absar Siddiqui also spoke on this occasion. Dr Mohammad Ajmal Qasmi of JNU, Abdul Mannan of Indian Information Service, Mufti Athar Javed also spoke. Mrs Samreen Alam, Mrs Seema Aslam of Buniyad Foundation, Mrs Zakira Khatoon and other women participated in the programme.
Buniyad Foundation presented the Sitara-e-Seemanchal award in the form of a citation to Sahitya Academy award-winner litterateur Haqqani for his literary and educational services whereas SMM presented a memento to Er Mohammad Aslam Alig in recognition of his struggles for social and educational services.
[Manzar Imam is a Ph.D. Fellow at the Academy of International Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org]