Jamia Millia Islamia, a prestigious university in New Delhi, India, has recently found itself at the centre of a heated controversy. The Acting Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Eqbal Hussain in a statement has suggested naming the future medical college on the campus after Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Hussain, while defending the proposal, claimed there’s no negative connotation to naming the college after the current Prime Minister. While equating his proposition with Aligarh Muslim University’s medical college being named after Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, Hussain argued how Jamia Millia Islamia should also have its own “Narendra Modi Medical College.”
The Acting Vice Chancellor’s statement has not been a crowd-pleaser within the university community. According to the critics, the move appears to be pushed by personal and political purposes.
Danish Pandit, an ex-student of Jamia University isn’t surprised by the acting VC’s proposal.
“I don’t understand what they want to achieve by repeating the same thing over, plastering the PM’s name everywhere and on everything, forcing it to resemble a single leader. They just want to appraise a fascist leader; hence, their focus is on one leader, on one person. It’s towards Narendra Modi, not even the BJP. People who voted BJP in 2014, did it because of Modi. He is the face of the BJP. So, they will cash on it, It’s not surprising at all,” said Danish.
A student of the MCRC department who wishes to stay anonymous said, “Naming the medical college after a politician just doesn’t sit right, be it Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, or any ex-prime minister. When it comes to medical sciences, the title of the education space should reflect the same, its name should be based on something or someone inspirational to the field, and it should carry a meaning for it.”
Hussain tried to explain that approval for the medical college as of now rests on paper, lacking a budget or physical existence on the ground. Regardless, he has declared that the historical ties of Jamia Millia Islamia with the country’s freedom battle and its progress warrant the establishment of a medical college.
While highlighting the university’s connection with Mahatma Gandhi, he also expressed optimism about the expected benefits for the nation and the community if a medical school is designated in the name of Prime Minister Modi.
Sakhi, the Secretary of the Student Federation of India (Jamia Unit) said she disagrees with naming the medical college after the Prime Minister. Appreciating the idea of a medical college in the university, she said there are distinguished departments on the campus, and Jamia Millia Islamia lacking a medical college doesn’t seem right.
She said, “When Najma Akhtar had announced the medical college in her tenure, she had said how it will be under PPP (private-public partnership), which as SFI we reject. We don’t want our university to be a PPP model, to begin with, and when everything is privatised, the university will lose its minority status. On top of it, labelling the medical college ‘Shri Narendra Modi Medical College of Jamia’ would be unjust for the university. Because we are aware how our current Prime Minister, the regime is very anti-minority”
Tasneem Zahra, another ex-student of Jamia Millia said during COVID-19, many frontline workers such as doctors, nurses and many medical professionals had lost their lives on duty towards the disease-stricken. Multiple headlines referred to them as the ‘Unsung Heroes’ for their tireless groundwork. And how when it comes to naming the medical institute, the title should have a history attached to it, a philosophical sense.
“Naming the college after a Prime Minister who may or may not re-elect in 2024, we are talking here about a personality who’s been flagged for his social stance and someone who’s been questioned for his human rights, you can’t use such a person name for renaming a medical institution, it doesn’t fit,” said Zahra.