“Get rid of old and useless rituals. These rituals hinder human progress.” Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University once said.
Change is a constant in life. With the change in times everything needs an upgradation. Be it technology, lifestyle or education. Progress is not possible without bringing some changes in our daily life. Sheikh Abdullah was the pioneer of female education. He was the founder of Women’s College in Aligarh Muslim University. It is said that he strongly believed in the uplift of females. Chief Guest on founder’s day of Women’s College, Prof. Abad Ahmad said that Sheikh Abdullah believed that female education was the most effective way to transform the community and can draw it out of passivity and depressing socio-economic distress and educational backwardness.
“Abdullah Hall is a world in its own” are the words scribbled on the walls of T.W Hostel. “I wouldn’t say that Abdullah is a fortress. You have sports facilities available within the hall and shops that sell almost everything. Certain events and music concerts are organized from time to time. And girls are allowed to join various clubs in the university.” a second year B.Sc student and resident of Abdullah Hall Shamaila Fatima says.
On the other hand, Arshi Zeba a first year student said “I find a lack of exposure in the college. All the major events and majority of the guest lectures are organized in the main campus. Unlike other graduates from B. Tech, BSW, Law etc, we Abdullah girls have to go through a tedious process to get the permission to attend even the day’s lectures let alone the evening ones.”
There are two sides of a coin. This is the side from a student’s perspective From Aligarh Muslim University. Every place needs upgradation from time to time in order to grow. The rules and regulations implemented are mended with the changing times. The rule applicable during the civic conditions of the 80’s might not be successful in the current era. Abdullah Hall of Aligarh Muslim University faces such an upgradation crisis.
“Although the excuse given is- Abdullah girls live within the same campus where their college is located. Implying that they have no reason to go out. But all the other hostels have outing timing that still leaves several hours of room even after the college hour’s end.” Said Aiman Jafri, a third year History Honors student at women’s college. She further continued “So that argument is inconsistent. It’s high time that it is realized that the residents of Abdullah Hall are adult women capable of having a life and not kids to be locked up in crutch facility.”
Stepping-out has always been an issue at Abdullah Hall. The residents of the hostels inside the hall are permitted to go out only on Sunday, for a duration of seven hours that is from 10am till 5pm. The Graduate female students residing at other halls are permitted to stay out daily till 6:30 pm. Whereas the other girl hostels consider “18 year and above” graduate female students adults enough to allow them stay out till 6:30 pm to attend private tuition or to provide tuition as means of part time job, the girls in Abdullah remain devoid of such amenities. “The reason given for the restriction on outings is that it is meant for our security. I believe if a person is adult enough to decide the future of the country she is surly old enough to look out for herself” says Yashfeen Fatim, a student of third semester, B.A Linguistics.
The discrimination faced by the Abdullah girls is at various levels. It’s not just the issues of outings that have been creating havoc inside its high walls. “It’s (the seats in college) almost one-sixth than that of boys. And the facilities available are also inadequate. Boys have been shown fossil samples in every lab for past 3 months and we haven’t seen them yet. We have just seen its 2D diagram.” Shamaila Fatima, a student of third semester Geology Honors at women’s college put her plight.
A student of third semester Statistic Honors at Women’s College, Tuba Khanam lamented about labs. “These labs are poorly equipped making it hard to perform the practical. With the faulty apparatus that are being used, the students have to manipulate their readings which does not give a correct result. Due to this the girls are having to compromise with their studies. “It took us three weeks to complete one experiment that should have been done in one.”
The timing of the Women’s College library is yet another issue. In 2014, this issue was taken up at a massive level. The reason being that the college library failed to provide sufficient amount of reading/reference materials and closing time at 4pm. The issue remains the same till date. “Our library does not provide even 50% of the books recommended for our respective subjects. And there is just one copy of most of the books which creates problems for the students.” Tuba Khan, a student of English Literature at Women’s College spoke with a tone of disappointment. She also said that many books had copies of older editions and subsequent new editions have not been properly maintained.
The previous Student Union of Women’s College was able to get the girls permission to go to the Maulana Azad Library but only on Sundays. This didn’t turn out to be feasible as the only day the girls can go out is Sunday. On being asked that why all these issues are not being worked upon, Naghma Shareef the President of Women’s College Union-2016 said “All these issues are on my list, the union is working upon them. Applications have been signed and submitted to get new books in the college library. We are taking one issue at a time, but we will cover them all.”
Old ways cannot open new doors. There is a need to change with change in times to assure the progress of women. Even for the most basic and essential things the girls have to follow long and tedious process. “I was suffering from typhoid and the dispensary’s doctor wasn’t able to diagnose it and eventually referred me to the medical. I had to rush to get an application sighed by the warden. Same horribly long process followed when I had to get my blood test reports. This is hideous. I mean a girl’s health can suffer badly while following and filling the long paper work” said Hifa Kulsum, a resident of Abdullah Hall.