Union Ministry wants to set up the university in Srirangapatna

Should the Union government set up the proposed university for minorities in Srirangapatna, in Mandya district, or in one of the northern Karnataka districts where the population of minorities is high?

This question is being raised by academicians and leaders from minority-dominated areas in the State, even as Union Minority Affairs Minister K. Rahman Khan has urged the State government to find 200 acres of land in Srirangapatna to set up the university.

Thorat report

The debate gains significance as the Sukhdeo Thorat Committee — constituted by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs to go into various aspects of the five minority universities proposed to be set up by the Centre — had favoured setting up of the Central universities in minority-concentrated areas.

“We welcome the government’s decision to set up a university for minorities, but it will serve its purpose better if it is in a place with high concentration of minorities,” Khaji Arshed Ali, former MLC and editor of the Urdu daily Surkh Zameen, said. “What is the point of establishing a university there if it does not have the targeted population nearby?” he said.

The entire Mandya district (of which Srirangapatna is a taluk), he argued, had less than 5 per cent Muslims. In contrast, for example, the percentage of Muslims is 20 in the Bidar Assembly constituency and 25 in the Mangalore Assembly constituency.

Rev. Samuel Ramappa, who retired as the principal of Norma Fendrick College in Bidar, said that Gulbarga and Bidar were counted among the 90 minority-concentrated districts in the country which had a significant number of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Jains.

D.N Akki, Jain scholar and writer, added that placing the university between the two big cities of Bangalore and Mysore lacked logic “Between them, they have more than 10 universities. Why struggle to set up one more institution in an already crowded academic environment?” he said.

He said the 12th Plan spoke of setting up institutions in areas where students don’t have easy access to higher education.

Talking to The Hindu, Prof. Thorat reiterated that he had recommended that the universities should be established in “areas predominantly inhabited by minority population so that more and more youth from minority communities can join the higher educational streams.”

Not relenting

However, the Union government appears to be in no mood to relent on the issue. Officials in the Ministry of Minority Affairs told The Hindu that the decision to establish Tipu Sultan university at Srirangapatna was taken by Mr. Rahman Khan’s predecessors such as A.R. Antulay and there was “no going back on that.”

On the specific recommendation of the Thorat committee, they said that to accept and implement the committee’s recommendations was entirely the “discretion” of the Ministry.