, by MOHD. ASIM KHAN
From rags to riches the going has not been easy for this Fatehpuri Muslim Senior Secondary School alumnus. After completing his B.Com (H) from D.U., KAMAL FARUQI went for the Chartered Accountancy in the early 70s. From a small house in a dusky street in Old Delhi to a posh apartment in Nizamuddin East, he has seen many ups and downs. Today, his opinion is valued in the Muslim social circles. Excerpts from an interview with MOHD ASIM KHAN.
How did the idea of founding a school occur to you?
It did not occur suddenly. When I was at school there were very few Muslim educational institutes. After intermediate most of my batch mates found it hard to get admission in a good college. We went through that period and after sometime started coaching classes at Ghata Masjid. Then I got involved with Crescent Movement (the school at Darya Ganj, New Delhi). Later on, Lady Shakira Khalili and others initiated a movement for the New Horizon School. I became a part of this movement. In 1978 we got a piece of land and subsequently started the school.
Do you do anything for the Muslim students from financially weaker backgrounds?
In the first place we charge a fee that is about only 40 per cent of any good school of the city. Secondly we give fee concession to about 15 to 20 per cent of the total students every year. Besides, we have got some friends who help the poor students by taking care of all their needs from tuition fee to books and everything else. But this facility is provided for those students only whose performance is outstanding.
What can be done to raise the standard of education among the Muslims?
I think more people should be involved with this cause. Well off Muslims should come forward and take initiative like opening of schools where quality education should be imparted to Muslim children. New Horizon School is an example of it. But we need at least ten more schools of this type.
You also take great interest in Muslim politics. Now, why do you oppose a Muslim political party in Uttar Pradesh?
It’s simple calculation. I oppose the idea of a Muslim political party because I reckon we don’t have the required number in UP. What can you do with only around 16% of the total votes? Then again you are not going to get all the Muslim votes. Do you hope to win assembly seats in UP with such a meagre share of votes? The Assam experiment can’t be repeated in Uttar Pradesh. The socio-political conditions in UP are quite different from those in Assam.
Besides, I am not in favour of creating division in the society on communal lines. Muslims ruled this country for about one thousand years but they never tried to impose their culture and language on the natives. Instead, they mixed up with them and hence gradually a different culture evolved.
Post-independence Indian Muslims have been facing discrimination. Aren’t they?
There has been discrimination against the Muslims but is there any emotional solution to it? Do you think a Muslim political party will end all the discrimination against the Muslims? No. Then why bother about a separate party? Go for the secular parties instead.
Is there any secular party in India?
Well, not the entire Hindu population of this country is communal. There are only a few such people who preach hatred. It’s only that they make more noise. But the majority of people choose to ignore them. Why, during the Khilafat Movement a large number of Hindu Indians were with the Muslims. Similarly, the Muslim League did not have a widespread support among the Muslim community. It’s an evidence of Indian people’s respect for each others’ feelings.
Then what is the solution of Muslims’ problems in your opinion?
The solution does not lie in a separate political party. It lies elsewhere. We should think about the long-term solution rather than short-term, petty political gains. Muslims must evolve a philosophy of their own. As the first step in this direction we must provide quality education for our children. Education will give them knowledge and self confidence. They will be able to assert their rights and even get them constitutionally in case someone including the government, encroaches upon their rights. I would like to ask those who are shouting loud about a separate Muslim party that how many children in the Jama Masjid area are going to schools? And among those who go to school how many complete their graduation? The answer is: very few. Let me say if these self-proclaimed Muslim leaders want to solve the problems of Indian Muslims then they should first arrange for the education of the children in their localities. A lot of problems will automatically be solved.