Thursday, August 6, 2009

Only Article-370 can save J&K from burning again

Two Central Universities for JK; reality or an illusion?

*No decision on the issues taken so far, let us hope for justice, equality and regional balance: Sibal

*As per Central University Act one state can have only one Central University: Goni

*All Valley based politicians; BJP leaders at Centre are backing the demand for setting up Central University in Doda: Wani

*Under Article-370 J&K enjoys special status so the state is likely to get benefit of it by getting two Central Universities: Bhalla

Ajmer Alam Wani

JAMMU, AUG 6: Though, the Jammu and Kashmir Government is pursuing hard to get two Central Universities one for Kashmir while another for Jammu division but if one goes by the Central University Act, the attempt seems an illusion more than a practical reality. However, Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister, Kapil Sibal when contacted cleared that no decision on the issues has been taken so far, yet, he mentioned, “Let us hope for justice, equality and regional balance.” When asked about the possibilities of establishment of a Central University in Jammu region in erstwhile Doda district, Sibal said, “At the movement no comments”, However, he added that matter has been discussed with the J&K Govt and ‘hopes are there’.

When contacted, Political Advisor to the Union Minister of New and Renewable Energy Dr. Farooq Abdullah and senior National Conference (NC) leader and former Advocate General to J&K Govt (law luminary) Mohammed Aslam Goni said, “According to the provision of Central University Act, one sate can have only one Central University.” However he added that J&K Govt has taken the matter with Prime Minister (PM) Dr. Manmohan Singh seeking two Central Universities for the state and the PM has shown passivity.

Relevant to mention here that in January this year, the Central University of Jammu and Kashmir was established by an Act of Parliament while to establish two Central Universities in Jammu and Kashmir amendment to the Central University Act will be needed. If so is done other states will also raise the vice for more than one university. However, possibility of two Central Universities in Jammu and Kashmir State can not be completely ruled-out but indications are that it seems more illusion than a practicable reality.

But if one goes by the version of Revenue Minister, Raman Bhalla, than J&K will get two Central Universities on for Jammu while the other for Kashmir regions to end the regional disparities.

When asked about the Central University Act, according to which J&K state can have only one Central University, Bhalla said, “leave that aside, J&K enjoys special status under Article -370 and the issue has been discussed with the Prime Minister (PM), HRD Minister and others and the response is positive”. He mentioned that Jammu as well as Kashmir, both the regions will get the Central Universities.

Bhalla added, I visited the proposed site at Samba today and now we are ready with details of 3916 kanal land which has been proposed for setting up Central University.

Here, the people of Jammu and Kashmir should realize the benefits of Article -370. It is the only article which can help in establishing two Central Universities in the Jammu and Kashmir State. If this article (which grants special status to J&K) would have not been in place, than no one will be able to stop Jammu and Kashmir State from a big regional divide and violent clashes at both the regions, (Jammu, Kashmir) were invited.

Those who had been opposing the Article-370 and demand its abrogation should now realize that this is the only ‘Article’ which will save the state from burning again.

Sources said that JKPCC Chief Saif-ud-Soz has received a latter from PM and Union HRD Minister, Kapil Sibal assuring regional balance which indicated that the chances for J&K of getting two Central Universities are maximum.

The positive response from the Centre is the outcome of the meeting between a delegation of J&K Govt and PM Dr. Manmohan Singh, Congress President, Sonia Gandhi and Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal on Monday in which two Central Universities for the state - one each for Jammu and the Kashmir region were sought by the delegation. CM who was leading a delegation of the State Ministers and Members of the Parliament (MPs) from the State, urged the PM to establish two Central Universities in J&K one in Jammu region and the other in Kashmir region. The delegation included Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Resources, Prof. Saif-ud-Din Soz, President J&K PCC, Tara Chand, Deputy Chief Minister J&K, Members of Parliament Mohd Shafi Uri, Madan Lal Sharma, Ch. Lal Singh, Shrief-ud-Din Shariq, Dr. Mehboob Beg, State Ministers Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, Ali Mohammad Sagar, Taj Mohi-ud-Din, S.S Salathia, Sham Lal Sharma, Raman Bhalla, Abdul Gani Malik, R.S Chib and Political Advisor to Chief Minister, Devender Singh Rana.

It will be worthwhile to mention here that the University Grants Commission (UGC), which maintains standards for university education in India, formulated National University Act for the establishment of 30 Central Universities in the country. During the 11th Five-year plan (2007-12), the government proposes to establish one Central University in each state (where it does not have one) and provide assistance for establishing one college in each district with a low Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education. The financial requirement for these universities is estimated at Rs 4,800 crore during the 11th Plan period. Currently, around 20 per cent of the budgeted expenditure on higher education is met by the Central Government. Functioning of these Central Universities will be modeled on the lines of the New Delhi-based Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). The government is planning to have world-class standards for the Central Universities, which would be located in or near selected large cities. The universities will be multidisciplinary with a national and international faculty pool.

The state government had identified a place close to Samba near Jammu for the site of the Central University. But later there was a proposal to open it in the Kashmir Valley triggering a series of demonstrations by student groups, who were supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and some trade bodies.

Central University Andolan Samiti (CUAS), a group of various students’ and social organizations that spearheaded the protests, had threatened to hold mass agitation if the matter was not resolved by Aug 7.

Though some demands from others parts of the Jammu region are being raised for the setting up of Central University but the possibilities and feasibility are remote keeping in view several aspects like connectivity, feasibility, atmosphere and the reach.

Former Minister, senior Congress leader and Member Legislative Assembly (MLA) Doda, Abdul Majid Wani claimed that a resolution has been submitted to Central Government seeking the establishment of Central University in erstwhile Doda district.

According to Wani, all Valley based politicians, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders at Centre and the others are backing the demand for setting up Central University in Doda district (in Jammu region). When asked about the Jammu based politicians including majority of BJP MLAs, Wani said, “They have not supported the demand and will not support it.”

Wani said Jammu, Srinagar and few other cities have already well-established universities, whereas the Chenab Valley Region in Jammu region (erstwhile Doda district) lacks facilities of higher education.

Wani mentioned that for the last six decades, Doda district remained neglected as far as overall development except works started during last five years. Surprisingly, Doda district does not catch the attention of planners.

Backing Wani’s demand, Political Advisor to Dr Farooq Abdullah, Aslam Goni said that that if the Central University is established in erstwhile Doda district, what will be wrong in that. Doda is a vast district, centrally located form Kashmir as well as Jammu and needs educational boost so if a Central University is established in the erstwhile Doda district, it will help in minimizing the educational backwardness, Goni added.