University of Kashmir (KU) Vice Chancellor, Prof Khurshid Iqbal Andrabi, will be heading Institute of Kashmir Studies (IKS) from June 1, 2016, as well.
“The order in this regard was issued on Tuesday (May 31, 2016),” an official said. “The Vice Chancellor will himself be the director of the IKS in addition of his own charge.”
This marks the end of Dr Gul Muhammad Wani’s three year stint as Director IKS. He is expected to join his parent department, Political Science, from June 1. “It was Wani’s personal choice,” an official quoted the order issued by the Vice Chancellor.
This will be second time that any Vice Chancellor itself takes over as Director IKS. Earlier, Prof Riyaz Punjabi took over reins of IKS while he was VC of University of Kashmir.
The IKS, a distinct department at the KU Hazratbal campus, has students from across South Asia. It offered research programs, including MPhil and PhD, besides MA Program.
However, research programs have been stopped and currently third batch is studying ‘Kashmir and South Asia Studies’ as part of their MA course, designed by Prof Sidiq Wahid, IKS former Director.
In the first batch, which started in 2013, fourteen students including one Bangladeshi national completed MA degree while in second batch graduating this year, 22 students including nine foreigners from Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan completed their MA program. In the current batch, five foreigners are pursuing MA course from the IKS. Besides a Bangla national is a PhD scholar at the Institute.
With an intake capacity of 30 students a year, the Kashmiri students have expressed disappointment as authorities have not yet started research programs in the Institute. “So far over a two dozen students have completed their MA program in Kashmir and South Asia Studies but the IKS has failed to take any initiative to make a case for our research program (MPhil/PhD),” a student who graduated from the IKS in March 2016 said.
“We are hopeful the Vice Chancellor, who is seen as pragmatic when new initiatives are taken up, that he will take our case on priority,” a student said.
Notable to mention, the IKS has an MoU with Jamia Millia Islami New Delhi and students are supposed to study two semesters of their MA Program for the New Delhi based University. So far, MA second batch of the IKS studied one semester in 2015 at HRD centre of Jamia while third batch has recently returned from Union capital after finishing their one semester from Jamia and is scheduled to go back for its fourth semester in coming winter.
“The foreign students receive monthly scholarships from South Asia Foundation (SAF, san NGO) while Kashmiri students pay from their own pockets,” a student informed. SAF has an MoU with KU wherein it finances only foreign students of the IKS. 16 foreign students from SAARC member nations are supposed to get admission every year to study two year MA program.