Special Reports

IOS celebrates its 30th anniversary

New Delhi: The Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) on 5 November celebrated its 30th anniversary at the Constitution Club here by organising a conference on "Towards Equality, Justice and Fraternity in Contemporary India". The inaugural session was chaired by the former chief justice of India, Justice A. M. Ahmadi.

Chairman of IOS, Dr. Manzoor Alam, said the problems our country is facing are because Muslims are not following Qur'an and Hindus are not following their rules. Therefore, we are deliberating on issues of justice, equality and fraternity. He said the institute during all the past years has focused on these issues. He recounted the work done by the institute during the last three decades as 370 research projects, 360 major publications, 1170 conferences, seminars and workshops and 934 scholarships awarded. This is in addition to many print and web journals and newsletters brought out by IOS. He said, the institute faced many problems and opposition during these past but it also received generous appreciation from serious non-Muslims. IOS faced problems from the government also and no one was ready to concede it institutional space. He said he started this work at the age of 40 and has now crossed 70. Now let the younger generation come forward to shoulder this burden. He said, ivory towers are of no use. Let us fill the space between the ground and the ivory towers. He said we have not lost hope yet we are concerned if the preamble to the Constitution of India will still be relevant in our country.

Former Union minister and Congress leader, Dr. Shakeel Ahmad said the basic responsibility for change and progress lies with the intellectuals. He said we are concentrating too much on science and technology and have stopped reading history. The number of people going to mosques for prayers has increased but we have developed a distance from Islam itself. Let there be inter-communal dialogue to bridge the gap between Muslims and Hindus. Misconceptions will be removed if we sit together. He said, there is a lot of misconception about the spread of Islam in India. Some people think that Islam spread by sword. Nothing can be farther from truth. Islam was spread by Sufis and scholars. Rulers had no time for Islam. Both Delhi and Agra were seats of Muslim powers for centuries, yet both are surrounded by large non-Muslim populations. He said we should work hard to erase misunderstandings.

Former minorities affairs minister K. Rahman Khan said conferences and seminars are transitory but books are a permanent contribution. He expressed his satisfaction that IOS has published so many books on a myriad of subjects relevant to the country and community. He said deliberate attempts are being made to vitiate peace today but dialogue is the only solution. Brig. Ahmad Ali, pro-vice chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University said all of those who are skilled are not educated and all those who are educated are not skilled. He said the dropout rate among Muslims is the highest, therefore Muslims must give their full attention to education.

Prof. Akhtarul Wasey, vice chancellor of Jodhpur's Maulana Azad University said we have many organisation but it is only IOS which has filled the gap of a think tanks for the Muslim community. He said we are not afraid of the current challenges. Islam survived after Karbala and faced the Mongol invasion too.

Prof. M. Aslam, vice chancellor of IGNOU, said we blame others but fail to look at ourselves. He said IT is not a solution but it can help find solutions. If you want to invest in future, invest in education, he said.

Justice Ahmadi recalled his long relationship with IOS which started soon after his retirement from the apex court in 1997. He said our constitution is based on broadmindedness reflecting the liberal ideas of the members of the Constituent Assembly. He said the basic features of the Constitution cannot be amended and there is a ruling by the Supreme Court to this effect which limits the powers of Parliament. He said our fundamental rights cannot be taken away as Article 32 protects the fundamental rights. He emphasised on education as the only source of enlightenment.

Later, educational issues in the country were discussed over five business sessions.