Bishwa Nath Singh
How many of us remember that great man as who had distinction to serve Indian National Congress as its President for longest period than any other person before Independence of India and honor to be the Seventh Muslim to become the President of Indian National Congress and had distinction to be the first Union Minister of India for Education during the post independence era of our country! One who was awarded the India's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna in 1992 and his birth day is being celebrated as National Education Day across India. He was none else than Dr. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
(Photo of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad)
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Bishwa Nath Singh :
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad who was born on November 11, 1888 in Mecca,.He was a distinguished scholar, a great poet, a true freedom fighter and independent India’s first Education Minister. He was the son of Maulana Khaiiruddin and Aliyah. His... forefather's came from Herat -a city in Afghanistan in Babar's days. Azad was a descendent of a lineage of learned Muslim scholars, or maulanas. His mother was an Arab and the daughter of Sheikh Mohammad Zaher Watri and his father, Maulana Khairuddin, was a Bengali Muslim of Afghan origins. Khairuddin left India during the Sepoy Mutiny and proceeded to Mecca and settled there. He came back to Calcutta with his family in 1890.As because of his orthodox family background; he had to pursue traditional Islamic education. He was taught at home, first by his father and later by appointed teachers who were eminent in their respective fields. He learnt Arabic and Persian first and then philosophy, geometry, mathematics and algebra. He also learnt English, world history, and politics through self study. He was trained and educated to become a clergyman. He wrote many works, reinterpreting the Holy Quran. His erudition led him to repudiate Taqliq or the tradition of conformity and accept the principle of Tajdid or innovation. He developed interest in the pan-Islamic doctrines of Jamaluddin Afghani and the Aligarh thought of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. Imbued with the pan-Islamic spirit, he visited Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. In Iraq he met the exiled revolutionaries who were fighting to establish a constitutional Government in Iran. In Egypt he met Shaikh Muhammad Abduh and Saeed Pasha and other revolutionary activists of the Arab world. He had a first hand knowledge of the ideals and spirit of the Young Turks in Constantinople. He then imbibed patriotism and was metamorphosed into a nationalist revolutionary. All these contacts metamorphosed him into a nationalist revolutionary. On his return from abroad, he came two leading revolutionaries of Bengal- Aurobindo Ghosh and Shyam Shundar Chakravarty,-and joined the revolutionary movement against British rule. He had found that the revolutionary activities were restricted to Bengal and Bihar. Within two years, he had helped setup secret revolutionary centers all over north India and Bombay. During that time most of his revolutionaries were anti-Muslim because they felt that the British Government was using the Muslim community against India's freedom struggle. He had tried his best to convince his colleagues to shed their hostility towards Muslims. In 1912, he had started a weekly journal in Urdu called Al Hilal to increase the revolutionary recruits amongst the Muslims. Al-Hilal played an important role in forging Hindu-Muslim unity after the bad blood created between the two communities in the aftermath of Morley-Minto reforms. Al Hilal became a revolutionary mouthpiece ventilating extremist views. The Government regarded Al Hilal as propogator of secessionist views and banned it in 1914. He then started another weekly called Al-Balagh with the same mission of propagating Indian nationalism and revolutionary ideas based on Hindu-Muslim unity. In 1916, the government banned this paper too and expelled him from Calcutta and interned him at Ranchi from where he was released after the First World War in 1920.After his release, he roused the Muslim community through the Khilafat Movement. The aim of the movement was to re-instate the Khalifa as the head of British captured Turkey. He supported Non-Cooperation Movement started by Mahatma Gandhi and entered Indian National Congress in 1920. He was elected as the President of the special session of the Congress in Delhi held in 1923. He was again arrested in 1930 for violation of the salt laws as part of Mahatma Gandhi’s Salt Satyagraha. He was put in Meerut jail for a year and a half. He had become the President of Congress in 1940 held at Ramgarh and continued to that the post till 1946. He was the Seventh Muslim to become the President of Indian National Congress,served as president of INC for longest period than any other person before Independence of India He was a staunch opponent of partition and supported a confederation of autonomous provinces with their own constitutions but common defense and economy. He and Nehru proposed an initiative to forge an agreement with the British in 1943. When they learnt of Gandhi holding talks with Jinnah in Mumbai in 1944, he criticized Gandhi's move as counter-productive and ill-advise Partition hurt him greatly and shattered his dream of a unified nation where Hindus and Muslims could co-exist and prosper together. He is also known for having predicted the future military rule and partition of Pakistan before its independence India's partition and independence on 15 August 1947 brought with it a scourge of violence that swept the Punjab, Bengal,Bihar, Delhi and many other parts of India. Millions of Hindus and Sikhs fled the newly created Pakistan for India, and millions of Muslims fled for West Pakistan and East Pakistan, created out of East Bengal. Violence claimed the lives of an estimated one million people. Azad took up responsibility for the safety of Muslims in India, touring affected areas in Bengal, Bihar, Assam and the Punjab, guiding the organization of refugee camps, supplies and security. He gave speeches to large crowds encouraging peace and calm in the border areas and encouraging Muslims across the country to remain in India and not fear for their safety and security. Focusing on bringing the capital of Delhi back to peace, he had organised security and relief efforts. He had distinction to serve as the first Union Minister of Education in Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's cabinet from 1947 to 1958. He had been appointed India's first Minister for Education and served in the Constituent Assembly to draft India's constitution. Azad's persuasion was instrumental in obtaining the approval of Muslim representatives to end the communal electorates, and was a forceful advocate of enshrining the principle of secularism, religious freedom and equality for all Indians. He supported provisions for Muslim citizens to make avail of Muslim personal law in courts. He remained a close confidante, supporter and advisor to Prime Minister Nehru, and played an important role in framing national policies. He masterminded the creation of national programmes of school and college construction and spreading the enrollment of children and young adults into schools, in order to promote universal primary education. Elected to the lower house of the Indian Parliament, the Lok Sabha in 1952 and again in 1957, he supported Nehru's socialist economic and industrial policies, as well as the advancing social rights and economic opportunities for women and underprivileged Indians. In 1956, he served as president of the UNESCO General Conference held in Delhi. He had spent the final years of his life focusing on writing his book India Wins Freedom, an exhaustive account of India's freedom struggle and its leaders, which was published in 1957.As India's first Minister of Education, he emphasized on educating the rural poor and girls. As Chairman of the Central Advisory Board of Education, he gave thrust to adult illiteracy, universal primary education, free and compulsory for all children up to the age of fourteen girls’ education, and diversification of secondary education and vocational training. He died of heart stroke on February 22, 1958 at the age of seventy at Delhi in India. He was awarded the India's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna in 1992.He is commonly remembered as Maulana Azad; he had adopted Azad (Free) as his pen name. His contribution to establishing the education foundation of India is duly recognized by celebrating his Birth day as National Education Day across India.
I SALUTE HIM