The Aligarh Muslim University is likely to offer its MBA and L.L.B. programmes in Kerala from July. This is the first time that the university is getting set to begin classes outside its main campus in Aligarh. A look at the university's plan for the State.

Come July, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is set to create history. It will begin classes for the first time outside of its main campus in Aligarh. Kerala will be privileged to witness that historic moment when the special centre of AMU launches its academic programme from temporary premises in three months.

The briskness being displayed by the State government in acquiring land for the special centre at Chelemala near Perinthalmanna in Malappuram district has prompted the AMU authorities to start classes in the coming academic year itself. The university looks set to begin its prestigious programmes in law and management, which do not require laboratory facilities, in July.

“It will be a symbolic beginning,” said AMU Vice-Chancellor Prof. P.K. Abdul Azis. The Departments of Law and Management Studies are famous and among the strongest on AMU campus. According to top officials of AMU, the university will set the ball rolling by starting its MBA and L.L.B. programmes in Malappuram. A final decision, however, will be taken by the Academic Council soon. The local authorities in Perinthalmanna have identified a temporary building at Cherukara for the university to begin its academic programmes in July. This building, which formerly housed a cooperative hospital, has facilities like water, power and parking.

“We will begin our programmes either from the building identified or from Calicut University campus,” said AMU Registrar Prof. V.K. Abdul Jaleel, who, as well as Mr. Azis, visited the site for the special centre on different occasions.

AMU, according to Mr. Azis, is planning to replicate its original campus in its five special centres, including Malappuram. It is for the first time that the university is stretching out to other regions in the country. The Malappuram centre will be for the entire South India.

The other States where special centres are being planned are West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh. Mr. Jaleel told The Hindu-EducationPlus that most of the popular schools and colleges of AMU would be replicated on its Malappuram campus. Apart from the Departments of Law and Management Studies, the campus will have a medical college, a dental college, a women's college, an engineering college, and several polytechnics. However, the university will consult with the local stakeholders before starting its departments in Malappuram. AMU has currently 92 departments on its Aligarh campus.

Kerala, West Bengal, and Bihar have made headways in offering land for the special centres of AMU. The university authorities have decided to launch academic programmes in Kerala and Bengal simultaneously. Bihar, however, will not be considered in the coming academic year.

The Centre has given AMU Rs.35 crore for beginning programmes in Kerala and West Bengal. “We won't be able to begin our programme in Bihar in 2010 with that fund,” said Mr. Jaleel. The Bihar government has begun to acquire 250 acres at Kishanganj for the proposed special centre of AMU.

In West Bengal, about 300 acres of land belonging to Central authorities has already been handed over to the Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD). Mr. Azis met West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in Kolkata on Monday and held discussions on launching academic programmes from AMU special centre at Murshidabad.

According to Rahat Abrar, spokesperson of AMU, no land has been made available for the proposed centres in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. With the State governments of Kerala, West Bengal and Bihar responding positively to the AMU move, the Visitor of Aligarh Muslim University (President Pratibha Patil) is expected to give her consent to the special centres. “Now it is just a matter of technicality,” said Mr. Jaleel.

The Kerala government has already handed over 122 acre at Chelemala to AMU authorities. It was Mr. Azis who accepted the documents of the land from Education Minister M.A. Baby at a grand function held at Perinthalmanna five weeks ago.

Mr. Baby said the remaining land would be handed over by mid June, so that the university can symbolically start its academic programmes. The 122 acre was acquired from 103 land owners. They were given Rs.13.13 crore in compensation.

The revenue authorities have completed the measurement of the remaining land. Purchase committee chairman M.C. Mohandas will inspect the land in a few days, and the landholders will be called for negotiation soon. “We will be able to complete the land acquisition process in a few weeks,” said V. Sasikumar, MLA, who has been in the forefront of identifying the land and setting off the procedure of land acquisition at Chelemala.

“Now that we have ensured enough land for the university, we are hopeful that AMU will kick-start its academic programmes this year itself,” said Mr. Sasikumar. AMU had asked the government for 250-300 acres of land for the special centre. The government has offered to give up to 392 acres at Chelemala spread in the villages of Anamangad, Pathayikara and Elamakulam.

AMU will appoint a consultancy firm to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) and a feasibility report (FR) only after the government hands over the land in complete. The DPR and FR are required for the sanctioning of funds by the Planning Commission.

Any Central project costing more than Rs.160 crore needs special consent of the government. That means, the DPR has to be approved by different Central government bodies, including the Planning Commission. Each special centre of AMU is estimated to cost Rs.400 crore. This figure may go up as the estimate was made a couple of years ago.

It was in tune with the recommendations made by the Sachar Committee that AMU Court in December 2007 decided to set up Centres of Advanced Study and Research in Malappuram (Kerala), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Pune (Maharashtra), Katihar (Bihar), and Murshidabad (West Bengal).

The university chose Malappuram as it was the district with the lowest higher education gross enrolment ratio (GER) in the State. According to the University Grants Commission, Malappuram remains at the lowest tier with a GER of 8.4, way behind the national average of 12.4. According to Mr. Azis, the proposed AMU centre will be a symbol of national unity and a part of India's secular tradition. “This centre is not for Muslims alone. It is for the entire South India. And it should be given due importance,” he said.

AMU is a unique model where school education and polytechnic education are blended with higher education. AMU is one of the institutions of national importance listed in the Schedule VII of the Constitution of India. It does occupy a unique position among the universities in the country. It is proudly an Islamic and proudly an Indian institution, a living symbol of the composite culture of India and a bulwark of secular ideals. The institution has contributed significantly to the intellectual and social renaissance of the country and has produced a galaxy of freedom fighters, eminent political leaders, scientists, jurists and technocrats.

One of the important objectives of the university is to work for the educational and social advancement of Muslims in the country. The purpose of starting regional campuses is to address this issue in the context of the social and educational exclusion of Muslims highlighted in the Sachar Committee Report.