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Plan to set up 3 central varsities on wakf land

The government is working on a proposal to set up three central universities in the public private partnership mode specifically for educationally backward Muslims. The ministry of minority affairs, which is spearheading the proposal, has suggested that these universities be developed on wakf land. The plan has the in principle approval of the ministry of human resource development and ministry of finance, and is being currently vetted by the law ministry.

These universities will be modeled on the BR Ambedkar University and the Indira Gandhi Tribal university.

Both are central universities which seek to primarily serve educationally and socially groups. “The proposed universities are somewhat different in that the beneficiary group is contributing to the effort,” minister of state for minority affairs Salman Khurshid said.

This will be another model of setting up universities — public private partnership. The wakf board will donate the land on which these universities will be set up,” the minister said.

By opting to set up these universities on wakf land, the government hopes to pre-empt controversy over their minority status, thereby avoiding a legal controversy like the one Aligarh Muslim University has been embroiled in. The minority status of the AMU is a matter that is still being considered by the Supreme Court.

The university was stripped of its minority status first in 1968, then restored by Indira Gandhi in 1981. In 2006, the Allahabad High Court once again stripped the university of its minority status. It is argued that the AMU was set up by an act of legislature and not by a minority community. With the wakf board offering its land for the university, they become partners.

This would allow for classification as an institute set up for the promotion of educational interests of the weaker sections, as outlined in Article 46 of the Constitution. This would also allow the universities to set aside 50% of its seats for Muslims. The universities will be set up in Ajmer (Rajasthan), Kishanganj (Bihar) and Mysore (Karnataka).

The university in Karnataka will be called Tipu Sultan University of Science and Technology; the one in Kishanganj will be called Rafi Ahmed Kidwai University of Health Science; and the one in Ajmer will be named Khwaja Gharib Nawaz University.

The proposed universities would be “a right mix” of modernity and tradition. The decision to set up the minority universities followed several representations from religious leaders.

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