Muslims, Christians left out from Centre’s minority cultural studies projects

Even though Muslims form the largest minority community in the country, no funds were allotted for Muslim cultural studies as part of this initiative

The Union ministrty of minority affairs recently approved multiple projects for minority religious and cultural studies at various Universities across India. These include establishment of centres for Gurumukhi, Buddhist, Jain Manuscriptology, and Himalayan cultural studies. However, no funds were allotted for Muslim or Christian cultural studies as part of this initiative.

An official release by the ministry said that the projects were approved in the spirit of ‘Virasat se Vikas’ (progress through heritage) and inspired by five pledges of Prime Minister Modi. The pledges include moving forward with a bigger resolve of a developed country, and erasing all “traces of servitude.”

For Centre of Gurumukhi, set up at Khalsa College, University of Delhi, a fund of Rs 25 crore was approved. “The objective of this centre would be to facilitate collaboration between the University and the Ministry to enhance educational opportunities for minority communities in India, particularly in the field of Gurumukhi Studies, through establishment and strengthening of the required infrastructure for undertaking Undergraduate, Postgraduate, Ph.D and research programs,” said an official press release issued on March 14.

MS Education Academy

The ministry, under Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram, also approved the proposal from the University of Delhi for establishment of ‘Centre for Advanced Buddhist studies’ at an estimated cost of Rs 35 crore.

“Focusing on the increasing demand and need for reviving the Buddhist Studies language not only as a subject for higher education but also to preserve the heritage and culture of the minority communities and recognizing the significance of promoting education and research in the field of Buddhist Studies, the Ministry of Minority Affairs has approved the proposal for establishment of the ‘Centre for Advanced studies in Buddhist Studies’ at the University of Delhi,” said another press communique.

The ministry has also approved Rs 40 crore for Infrastructural Development at the Centre. “The proposed centre aims at connecting international scholars to share their research in social, historical, linguistic, religious and other cultural matters,” the ministry said.

Moreover, the ministry released Rs 40 crore for the Centre of Jain Manuscriptology at Gujarat University. This Centre aims at academic support for development of apabhramsha and Prakrit language of Jainism in the University. Also, financial assistance of Rs 25 crores was approved for the establishment of a Centre for Jain Studies in Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya’s Indore Campus.

Even though Muslims form the largest minority community in the country, no funds were allotted for Muslim cultural studies as part of this initiative.

A senior policy analyst, requesting anonymity, said, “Leaving out Muslim and Christian cultural studies is not surprising. This is bound to happen in any regressive education system where the political leadership sets the research and teaching agenda. In developed and progressive systems, Universities decide the kind of work they do and take up interesting and difficult areas to study. Then they approach the government and other sources for funding. Unlike in India, where a politicised UGC and even an ICSSR decide what should be studied and promoted.”

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