New Delhi, April 7: The second day of the 20th anniversary celebrations of Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) was marked by interesting observations of the former awardees of IOS scholarships many of whom are rather well-placed in life today.

Largely because of timely financial help from the IOS and academic guidance by the Chairman Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam, General Secretary Prof. Z.M. Khan and other academics holding important positions in the institute, they were able to do well in their academic pursuit, the former awardees said. This was even truer in the case of PhD students.

Prof. Z.M. Khan made some incisive remarks on the need to have a proper plan of study and methodological correctness. The Islamic economist Prof. Nejatullah Siddiqui, who chaired the session, said in his presidential remarks that academic rigour and the need for a more correct approach to social sciences, including historiography, were essential. However, he admitted that only democratic societies can do it properly because there is no scope for free thinking in an autocratic environment.

Dr Ishtiaque Danish, who conducted the first session of the day, proposed a vote of thanks.

The second session, with the theme "Resurgent India: Challenges and Prospects for Indian Muslims", witnessed some substantial presentations. Yusuf Hatim Muchchala, an advocate in Mumbai High Court, spoke on Constitutional Framework and Democratic Participation. Among several other things, he raised the question of who will police the judiciary. He said by and large the judiciary is independent and impartial. However, once in a while it commits aberrations which, happily, "are often corrected within the judiciary" as in the case of the latest single-judge order of the Allahabad High Court regarding the minority status of UP Muslims.

Mr Muchchala said despite such corrections, certain judicial errors remain because there is an unfounded fear among people regarding the contempt of court. He said people need not fear as well-argued and reasoned criticism of a judgement does not amount to contempt of court.

He said that over the years the extent of participation in Indian democracy has grown and spread to village panchayats, taking deep roots. But that needs the support of the legislature, executive and judiciary. He ended on a cautionary note: no parliament, no court can keep freedom alive if it dies in people’s hearts. Hence, the need for "eternal vigilance" that is said to be "price of liberty".

Speaking on the same theme Prof. M. Afzal Wani, Dean School of Law and Legal Studies, Indraprastha University, averred that holding elections every five years is only one part of democracy. The others are rule of law, public participation and fair-play. He said the country have to work harder on these areas, and Muslims have to strive to get their due.

Dr Kumar Rajiv, visiting professor Deptt. of Management Studies, Jodhpur University, while speaking on the theme of social justice said Muslims have to organise, educate and work consistently for their socio-economic empowerment. Nobody would get them social justice until they organise and take the initiative.

Speaking on the same theme Digant Oza, an eminent journalist from Gujarat, said all imaginable injustices are being done to Muslims in his state, but no Constitution, no judiciary comes to their help because of tyrannical misrule. He said there is a groundswell in favour of change of rule, "but we have to learn to use this groundswell to usher in change."

Dr Abusaleh Sharif, the eminent economist who was member secretary of Sachar Committee, said Muslim OBCs have not got anything out of reservation. Although they are eligible for a substantial share of jobs, they have not done well at all. He emphasised community initiative in education and economic participation. "Knowing Hindu culture is important for us," he said, "because this is how we can interact better with our country people and work towards our own betterment."

In his presidential remark Saiyid Hamid, Chancellor of Hamdard University and former Vice-chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, cautioned Muslims against internal division of sects and castes.

He said that Muslims are not able to take advantage of even existing government schemes. "We need to have a greater awareness of such programmes and try to benefit from them," he said.

Another sagely advice of this respected elder of the community was for Muslims to participate more demonstratively in national celebrations and programmes benefiting common Indians. "Though the skies are dark at the moment, the light of dawn will soon spread. It is time to be up and about," he said to thunderous applause.


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