The Bugle is sounded, the trumpets are being blown and the buggy awaits its new rider, as the dust settles in Aligarh. The Executive Council of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Aligarh had shortlisted five names for its prized post of Vice-Chancellor on October 30, 2023. The list includes name of Prof Qayyum Husain (Vice-Chancellor, Cluster University, Srinagar, J&K), Prof Muzaffar Urooj Rabbani (Former Dean, Faculty of Medicine, AMU), Prof Faizan Mustafa (Vice-Chancellor, Chanakya Law University, Patna, and Former Vice-Chancellor, National Law University, Hyderabad), Prof Naima Khatoon (Principal, Women’s College, AMU); & Prof Furqan Qamar (Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Rajasthan and First Vice-Chancellor, Central University of Himachal Pradesh). Out of these five potential players, the final tug-of-war is anticipated between Prof. Naima Khatoon Gulrez and Prof. Muzaffar Urooj Rabbani, both candidates are yet to ride the Vice-Chancellor buggy while the rest three candidates have been either crowned as VC or are serving currently. Prof. Gulrez finds herself in a puddle created by her own circumstances and her candidacy has garnered controversies while a lesser-known face, Prof. Rabbani has been silently healing the hearts across the globe, performing his duties of the noble profession as a cardiologist.

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At a time when the world is witnessing trivial times geo-politically, AMU is no exception, geography and politics decide the fate of academic belligerents in Aligarh. The role of politico-academic mercenaries is equally important, as the AMU Court prepares for the final showdown, the students and teachers await the verdict with bated breath. The court members will be assembling from all corners of the country to vote for the top three candidates for the coveted post. What becomes most significant at this juncture of time is the collective conscious of the Aligarh fraternity spread across the globe, eyeing their Alma Mater and its fate for five years. The varsity has not seen any strong VC in quite some time but most of the people connected with it remember Late Mahmood Ur Rahman, IAS for his rigorous administration and discipline. Perhaps he realized that an institution of such stature needed stiffness and vigil of the highest order, consequently, he has been chronicled in AMU’s history as a successful Vice-Chancellor. Presently AMU is looking up to its office bearers and fate makers for healing her wounds given by time and time travellers.

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The founder of AMU, Sayyid Ahmad Khan was raised in the house of his maternal grandfather, in all lavishness and comfort. Delhi, in those days, was adorned by rich cultural practices, which have been imbibed by Aligarh’s first, second, and now third generations with substantial loss of inheritance. One peculiar tradition among Muslims of those times was the practice of marrying their daughters into socially higher classes, as the maternal grandfather of Sayyid Ahmad, Khwaja Fariduddin was a well-settled Kashmiri trader in Delhi. He got his daughter Aziz Un Nisa married to Mir Muttaqi to climb the social ladder, whilst Mir Muttaqi was convinced that he would enjoy a better lifestyle in a financially rich household. These dynamics of social engineering have been rowing the boats of many who anchored at the shores of Aligarh. The problems only started when these boatmen burnt their boats and claimed the ship that never belonged to them. The boatmen turned pirates and started breeding and building the empire of nepotism in an institution where even the founder’s children were not given a job or a house. An institution that stands on the great dream of lifting the fallen and helping the unprivileged, the same institution finds itself amidst nightmares today.

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There is a woman whose husband is the officiating VC of AMU currently, and absolutely nobody has questioned how the tenures have been revised under what sections and clauses. Then there are three Vice-Chancellors who have enjoyed the administrative academics so much so that their lust for becoming a VC again sees no end. Then there is a gentleman who has loved and served his Alma Mater like an able son and has been making silent progression against all odds and has emerged popular choice in the Executive Council voting that happened on 30th October 2023. It is that moment of introspection for the benefactors of AMU to finally find someone that could voice their concerns. A person who could include them in the mainstream as the AMU centres struggle for funding and for the first time in forever university had to use its funds which were never used in about a century of existence. What kind of administrators have been chosen in the past who could only extract and not contribute? AMU awaits someone who could sail it through the tough waters and not burn holes in the ship that finds itself in the middle of storms.

Dr. Faisal is a recluse from Terai region of Shivalik Hills. He received education at Bareilly College, Bareilly and attained enlightenment at Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. Currently he writes columns and articles and conducts independent research.

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