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Central universities row in Jammu and Kashmir
MUSHTAQ MALIK | 07 Mar 2011

THE STATE of Jammu & Kashmir was sanctioned with two central universities but due to sanctioning of only one central university for the state took a shape of agitation in the valley and the Jammu region. The issue which created regional tensions between Jammu and Kashmir was the central university question.
 
However the Amarnath Shrine Board agitation was resolved but the tension of the Central university was taking same turn as was seen in the Amarnath land row, first there was only one central university sanctioned for the State of Jammu & Kashmir but due to the agitation and the regional tension between the people of both the regions of Kashmir and Jammu, they demanded that the university should be established in Jammu only or in Kashmir only.

Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh while announcing at University of Jammu in 2007, stated that at least one out of the 30 new central universities announced by the centre, would be set up in the state.” While he remained ambiguous about the location of the university, and most media sources and locals from either region uphold that while the CU was planned to be set up in Jammu, as an Indian Institute of Management (IIM) had been approved to Kashmir Valley. This confusion of establishment of the university took the shape of agitation in both the regions.

Much controversy started at the time when the Central University office started functioning temporarily from Srinagar, Kashmir where also notifications for different faculty and staff members were published. subsequently, agitations started gaining impetus in Jammu region, demanding that the university be returned to it. Where protestors alleged authorities that they have deliberately shifted the campus of the university in the Srinagar so that to establish the university in the Kashmir region thereafter.
 
However the land was already been identified in Samba district of Jammu region for the establishment of the central University. This attempt from the government was decoded by the people of Jammu as the deceiving activity of the government and they demanded that the campus should be closed and shifted back to Jammu.

To stop the agitation from becoming more fierce as the Amarnath land row, a delegation headed by the chef Minister, Omar Abdullah requested the Government of India to sanction one more central university for the state of Jammu and Kashmir because of the regional aspiration of the people, however after a gap of time another central university was granted to the state by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, and then it was decided to establish one university in each of the regions.
 
However the controversy has been put to serene, but the most concerned issues are taking place as the consultations conducted with different sections of the people of Jammu & Kashmir across the two regions revealed the unease among the existing universities especially with regard to the possibility of the disinterest of their teaching staff to work more in these universities. The Central Universities, with a more viable salary and benefits coupled with some other facilities like,  a higher retirement age limit has created a greater possibility of the state university faculty leaving to join the central universities, which cannot only slow down the performance of the state universities but can also laid down some academic problems also.
 
Moreover, cynic squabble, such a policy project, far from tiding over the regional divide might further polarize the state along regional lines. While talking with some professors at the University of Kashmir they said that setting up separate central universities in both the regions will make no difference in facilities and academic standard of students as the problem of indifference between the two regions will only create some difficulties for the students.
 
They said that the two regions are the important parts of the one state, there is no understanding of the shared history and culture of these regions. They said that some of the political leaders of both the regions think that they have made a better contribution in winning the faith of the people who at every time not only made big issues but also have created a gap between the people of two regions.
 
In some rural areas of both the regions of State, hundreds of students and other residents are complaining that they have poor infrastructure and many problems which did not have been addressed from last several years, despite of assurances by the authorities. Rural education is more pressing issue is strengthening the primary education system, especially in rural areas, which suffers from deliberate abandon, with little infrastructure and varied student-teacher ratio. Many people, not from Kashmir only but the Jammu region also are not happy with the sanctioning of two central universities for one state as they are concerned about a major issue of the state which is unemployment.
 
Two universities according to them was not such essential and necessary as to tackle the rate of unemployment. According to them the budget which is to spent on the one central universities is not a very little amount, by that amount at least some percentage of unemployment would have been addressed.

Recently, the seven central universities in India that were recently established  announced to conduct combined entrance examinations beginning this year for its 25 offered courses.

However the combined entrance tests were conducted  by only  Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).
 
The seven newly set up universities have designed in their curriculum a number of innovative courses which will be relevant to their local areas.
 
Although  Vice Chancellor of Central University of Kashmir, earlier  said that the students' performance in the admission test along with their preference for a university would be considered before admitting them.
 
The universities, which were among the 16 that were sanctioned last year under the Central Act, started offering courses from last year despite having not any proper infrastructure and other facilities. Some universities however denied to have combined entrance test and decided to conduct separate entrance tests. 

However there was a much debatable issue that who should be appointed as the vice chancellor of Central university of Jammu. State government of Jammu & Kashmir also asked the Ministry of Human Resourses development to reassess the appointment of Prof. Amitabh Matto as Vice Chancellor of Central University Jammu.
 
His appointment was made a political issue where Chief Secretary S.S.Kapoor also mentioned in his address that the appointment can cause some disturbance in the political sphere. Though it was denied by the government authorities later that they have any issue related to the appointment.