Debate on ‘Decline of Cultural Values in the City of Sir Syed’ held in AMU

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Aligarh: Are we losing culture and values as each successive generation is passing? A traditionalist might say ‘yes’, while a modernist might not be able to control his/ her urge to demean the person who asked the question. The common discussion topic of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) fraternity, ‘Decline of Cultural Values in the City of Sir Syed’ was put into a debate by the Creative Discussion Forum, University Debating and Literary Club, CEC, AMU to give fresh perspectives as the teachers and students shared their distinct and critical views on culture, values and tradition in the context of AMU.

While discussing the spirited and lively AMU culture, Prof Abdul Mateen (Founding Member, Creative Discussion Forum) said that vibrant traditions were enthusiastically practised by the Aligs (AMU fraternity) which added distinct charm to the personality of AMU students and teachers.

Prof Mateen pointed out that a decline of culture occurred as people became more money and career oriented. He emphasised the slowly disappearing use of Urdu language in daily conversations. “Urdu language bestows a kind of elegance upon its speaker,” he further said.

Prof F S Shirani (Coordinator, CEC) talked about the use of wit and humour in conversations which used to be the hallmark of Aligs. He narrated a brilliant satirical piece on the recent issue of ridiculously high electricity bills and the measures being adopted to contain it.

Professor Tariq Chattari pointed out that Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was an iconoclast and he never encouraged a blind adherence to cultural practices in the name of tradition. “Sir Syed went against the traditions of the time for the better of country and community,” said Prof Chattari adding that the tradition of AMU is to pick the best practices of time and inculcate the best values. He further said that adhering to age old practices without understanding the pulse of the time and age we live in is completely against the Aligarian culture.

Professor Abu Sufiyan also emphasised the use of Urdu language as an important aspect of Aligarh culture. He said that without accessing the knowledge produced by ancestors in the language they were written, the understanding of legacy remains incomplete.

Dr Mohibul Haque delineated the value of truth, and how important it is to uphold it in a place of learning. “When we talk of the culture of Aligarh we tend to confine it to wearing of Sherwani and Topi, which is a very shallow understanding of Aligarian culture,” said Dr Haque adding that Aligs need to rise beyond petty things and should try to revive the culture of boldness and audacity to speak the truth.

Professor Tassaduq Hussain very succinctly pointed out the negativities that have crept into us and stressed that we need to work together to revive the culture of Aligarh in all its sheen and glory.

Dr Imtiaz Ahmad highlighted the need for the betterment in behaviour and manners. Ms Alisha Ibkar (Assistant Professor, Department of English) analysed culture through the theoretical lens of Butler and the concept of performativity.

Meanwhile, Mr Kashif Ilyas (Research scholar, Department of English) explored the concept of culture critically and provided theoretical observations on the topic. Mr Riad Azam (Research scholar, Department of English) spoke about challenging Western epistemology and the importance of producing knowledge in universities. Ms Lubna Irfan (Research scholar, Department of History) provided a historical and architectural perspective to the discussion. Ms. Ayesha Suhail (Research scholar, Department of English) shared her experiences in the campus and stressed the importance of inclusive culture.

Prof Habiburrahman Cheghani, who chaired the discussion, congratulated the organisers for reviving the culture of debate and discussions with the Creative Discussion Forum. He appreciated the zeal and enthusiasm of all the speakers who brilliantly poured light on various aspects of decline in culture.

Dr Aysha Munira Rasheed moderated the programme.

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