Producer: Smitha TK
Video Editor: Vivek Gupta
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address at Aligarh Muslim University’s (AMU) centenary celebrations on Tuesday, 22 December, elicited a range of sharp reactions, especially in the backdrop of the anti-CAA-NRC protests, the violence against students on campus, and the PM’s remarks on nation-building and women empowerment.
The PM’s 34-minute speech steered clear of any references to the violent police action on AMU’s campus against CAA-NRC protesters.
“His speech actually legitimises the status of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) as an important educational institution of the country, especially its agenda to promote Islamic intellectual discourses,” said Hilal Ahmed, Author & Associate Professor, CSDS, New Delhi.
Shahid Siddiqui, former MP and senior political analyst, pointed out that though the PM didn’t mention key issues, he did render an affirming speech which is the need of the hour for “Indian Muslims who have had the worst year in 2020, since Independence.”
S Irfan Habib, historian & former Maulana Azad Chair at National University of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi, said that Modi’s silence on police violence doesn’t come as a surprise.
“I knew he won’t comment on this because he has hardly made comments on what the UP CM is doing, what is going on inside AMU.”
Many in the right wing have long demanded revoking the minority status of AMU. Students had submitted a charter of demands asking the Centre to support the minority character of the institution.
Shahid Siddiqui opined that PM Modi’s speech was not aimed at just the thousands of students of the university but lakhs of alumni living across the world. “These alumni members are now in positions of power in important Muslim-majority countries. They are very instrumental in international ties with India.”
Another topic that was criticised was the prime minister’s comments on the education and welfare of female Muslim students.
“School dropout rate among Muslim girls was more than 70 percent and this situation persisted for 70 years. After the Swachh Bharat Mission built toilets in villages and toilets for school-going girls, this rate has fallen to nearly 30 percent,” he said.
Several scholars slammed the PM, saying for decades women have been seeking education from the university and excelling in various fields across the world.