‘It reflects the faith people have in an Army officer’
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Former Deputy Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen (retd) Zameer Uddin Shah has been appointed vice-chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, which had been left headless after a court battle and which had been rocked by campus violence. In this interview, he describes how he hopes to restore the institute to its original stature.
What are your plans for AMU?
I am going to restore AMU to its pristine glory. I will ensure there is proper education, that students gain confidence in themselves, and are equipped to meet the requirements of modern-day jobs. But discipline must be ensured if there has to be an atmosphere conducive to learning; we cannot have strikes and lawlessness on the campus.
We have brilliant academics but I find that over a period of time, the quality of research has taken a little dip... I will motivate them to spend more time on research, study and self-improvement. However, I will tighten selection procedures so that we ensure we draw the best material from all over the country.
What signal does your appointment give?
It signals that everybody connected with AMU is looking for a change. They are looking at AMU regaining its original place, where it was among the top-notch universities of the country. I think what they are looking for and the parents are looking for is a peaceful environment on the campus so that students get all the time in the world for academic pursuits and not pursuits of an undesirable nature... I have the President's mandate. I have the mandate of the AMU court. They elected me by an overwhelming majority. So I am quite certain I have their confidence.
How would a former Army officer deal with an academic job?
I have been an Army officer. I have dealt with insurgencies, with the 1971 operations. I joined the Army after high school. The Army educated me. I did an M Sc from Madras University and an M Phil from Indore University. As Deputy Chief of Army Staff, I handled the Army budget of several thousand crores. I administered 30,000 to 40,000 troops in the whole of the Northeast. I have managed five educational institutions of the Army. So, you cannot say I am not an academic. You cannot say I am an administrator, I am not an administrator. I am a happy blend of both.
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