By Raja G Mujtaba

University of Gujrat

I was invited by Mr Muhammad Yaqoob, (a friend of mine and a social media geek) who is working as a consultant at university; I on my part for paucity of time was not able to make it. Gujrat has been a very fertile area as for art and culture are concerned. Initially Gujrat was known because of Zamindar College, this college had the fame far and beyond. Zamindar College was established during the British rule by the local people of Gujrat. Although this college had the potential to grow into something like a university but the nationalisation of educational institutions by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto destroyed the potential for advancement and growth.

This University Of Gujrat has been established under the spiritual shadow of Hafiz Muhammad Hayat, a saint who lived

Zamindar College, Gujrat

here some 300 years back. Little is known about the life and history of Hafiz Muhammad Hayat, who came to Wazirabad from Delhi during the Mughal rule. Here, he met a saint Hazrat Baqi Shah, who asked him to cross the river and settle near the fort of Raja Kaladhvi. The mound on which be settled belonged to the Raja and was surrounded by a dense forest. Hafiz Muhammad Hayat helped the local people with his spiritual powers and soon became famous.

The Mughal administrators of that time granted him several bighas (acres) of land. Emperor Jahangir abolished tax on this land at the request of his wife Nur Jahan. The saint donated the entire land to state authorities for the cause of education. The main campus of UOG has been constructed on that very land donated by Hafiz Muhammad Hayat more than three centuries ago.

I took Brig Malik Afzal, commandant Military College, a friend of mine along so we both could visit it together and see things from different angles. Once we arrived there, the whole campus looked a different world. It had its majestic look, a grandiose view, a blend of modern and traditional architecture.

Before taking a round of the campus, we were introduced to Professor Syed Shabir Husain Shah, Director Planning and Development. I found him a person of immense intellect with an open mind to discuss and develop the conversation. His in depth knowledge of the region was commendable. He is a person whom I would like to meet frequently for exchange of views and thoughts.

Each wing of the campus had a different look from the rest and well segregated for the convenience of administration. In a short span of time, the UOG has made its impact, now it’s a respected name in the field of education. It has a strength of over 5000 students of which more than 50% are girls. Here one finds students from almost all over Pakistan.

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Besides some faculties like social sciences, medical college, pure sciences etc., that are standard to any university, UOG has the distinction of having a School of Art and Design. I was given a detailed briefing by its head Khawaja Fawad. After having visited it in detail and understanding its scope, purpose and potential, I can safely say that School of Art and Design is the Crown of UOG and Mr Fawad is the jewel of the crown.

Going through the credentials of Khawaja Fawad, one can only feel proud of having such a person who is giving a new directions to make Pakistan move into future by designing futuristic products. He has very ambitious programme that he is following to make Pakistan compatible and competitive in the world market through innovative designing that’s both functional and pleasing to the eye.

For establishing such an institute, the credit goes to the Vice Chancellor Dr Mohammad Nizamuddin. Who has shown his vision to equip Pakistan with such fields without which Pakistan cannot stay abreast with the world.

School of Art and Design

The School of Art and Design (SAD) at the University of Gujrat (UOG) has a strong commitment to the promotion of arts

Some work of the students

and crafts. Having an accomplished faculty and impressive facilities, The School’s curricula provides the students with an excellent opportunity to specialise in different disciplines and explore their interest in various mediums.

SAD fully prepares the students to work in a complex and rapidly changing multicultural environment at the national and international level. Combining studio work with academic studies, the BS (Honours) programme is especially designed for those students who want to get a specialised degree in fine arts and design. The development of the students is enriched by a combination of intense studio experience and study of the liberal arts. Therefore, they learn to think clearly, critically and creatively, besides getting an understanding of the history and theory of art and design.

SAD aims at providing the students with creative and technical skills needed to thrive in today’s fast-changing art and design world. After graduating from the School, the students will leave with professional-level portfolios of well-crafted design and artwork that will provide them with a solid foundation for their careers. The courses are taught by a faculty of established artists and art critics, and comprise lectures, rigorous studio work and field trips.

In addition to spacious brand new classrooms, there are several large, all-purpose studios and painting classrooms with professional lighting and easels, and a prop room containing items and fabrics for still life compositions. Each room has model stands for the students to elevate and view different poses.

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Some of the available facilities include: digital photography studio, digital video lab, glass studio, Mac Pro lab, model making studio, painting studio, printmaking studio, print shop with Heidelberg press, rapid prototype studio, sculpture studio, sheet metal studio, vacuum framing studio and woodwork studio. Six days a week, the School offers full-time classes, so that the students can practice their skills. The entire campus of UOG and adjoining fields are also used for outdoor painting and sketching assignments.

After graduating, the students have a wide choice to choose from various careers. For example, they can become 3-D animators, art administrators, art consultants, art critics, art directors, background painters, ceramists, digital videographers, fashion designers, gallery owners, game designers, graphic communication designers, motion graphics experts, muralists, museum curators, painters, portrait artists, pottery designers, printmakers, product designers, prototype designers, sculptors, textile designers and visual effects artists.

The School of Art and Design (SAD) has the following five departments that offer different courses:

Pakistan Product Design Center:

Product Design/Industrial Design is a socio-scientific phenomenon of the human society. It is emerging profession of the modern day civilization. Human civilization is consistently and its needs are getting ever changing dimensions. Creativity, Functionality, Safety, ease of use and Aesthetics in all products throughout our homes, offices, on the roads, in the air and in the water, are the essential requirements in a finished product.

Conventional thinking and traditions are the hindrances in product design education and development. Product design articles include from household articles to an airplane, in fact if you exclude walls from buildings and homes, roads and highways from infrastructure, everything else is a product and thousands of Product Designers are working round the clock in the world designing from spoons to space shuttles, except in Pakistan. Prof. Khawaja, who has been educated in the US and has worked in New York for 35 years, said his passion to work hard and smart.

Dr Khawaja is a professional who is totally committed to his work. He is a living example of following in the Quaid’s saying “Work, Work and just work.” He has very effectively blended it with the modern technology and right tools to produce all we need to live with and contribute to the national economy with a sense of pride.

India introduced this field much ahead of us. They produced 700 Product Designers in 2006 with a target of 5000 for 2010. For this reason alone, Indian products find their place in the international market on the premium shelves of Macys and other such like chains in the US.

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SAD has given the lead, it has established a center for excellence in the field of product design which is second to none. With this sort of inputs and impetus, very soon Pakistan will find itself in the ranks of high value finished products.

Prof. Fawad Khawaja has briefed several trade and commercial delegations from within the country. Last such delegation was from Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). He emphasizes on every delegation to spread the word around that SAD of UOG is a fully capable and competent faculty to change product designing trends in the country. It’s imperative upon such bodies to fully patronize and utilize the capabilities of SAD for a better industrial growth.

LCCI delegates were on a visit to First Annual Fine Art Thesis Exhibition 2010 at School of Art, Design & Architecture at University of Gujrat.   Prof Khawaja explained all the significant aspects of the product design research and creative process including a state of the art automatic 3D model making equipment known as Rapid Prototype Machine imported from the US. Complete with computer and 12 other work studios. Later the delegates moved around the campus and visited the venue of the exhibition. During her visit to the exhibition Ms. Talat Hafeez leader of delegation appreciated the student’s work in Product Design, Graphic Communication, Multimedia, Textile Design and Fine Art Departments, and termed the standard of work at par with the any national institution or elsewhere abroad. She termed the institutions as real state of the art. Architecture quality of academic planning and infrastructure has made the campus proud worthy. She hoped that the time will come when the UOG will be recognized as the world class university.

For providing socio-political stability and proper guideline to Pakistan, I would suggest the following to the Vice Chancellor, Dr Mohammad Nizamuddin.

  • Pakistan being an Islamic State, it would be in line if Qur’an is introduced as a subject. Normally it must be introduced from Higher Secondary level but for graduate and post graduate classes it must be compulsory.
  • An Allama Iqbal seat must be established where Iqbal’s vision and philosophy must be taught. Not only in Pakistan, Dr Iqbal is respected and studied in almost every Muslim country.
  • Islamic socio-political thought should be part of regular curriculum.

For further integration, UOG should offer 20 seats to Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO). This would be a good

Dr Fawad conducting Norwegian Ambassador, HE Robert Kevile

gesture to bring the future of the region in direct communication. This case can be initiated through ECO desk in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Islamabad.

School of Art and Design has also captured the fancy of the Diplomatic Corps in Pakistan. The last Ambassador to visit the UOG was Robert Kevile, Ambassador of Norway to Pakistan.