ON NATIONAL EDUCATION DAY, WE REMEMBER MAULANA ABUL KALAM AZAD

 “Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role model.” – Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

 

Since 2008, India celebrates November 11 as the National Education Day to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sayyid Ghulam Muhiyuddin Ahmed bin Khairuddin Al-Hussaini Azad, also fondly known as Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. He was India’s first Minister for Education and a leading figure in India’s freedom movement against the colonial empire. In 1992, he was posthumously honored with the Bharat Ratna – India’s highest civilian award. From being a journalist, to a politician to an upholder of education and national freedom, Maulana Azad created a true integral space for understanding the idea of India, along with upholding the rights and dignity of her people. 

The ruling BJP has upheld Maulana Azad today, statements from both Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Narendra Modi are out. “Tributes to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad on his Jayanti. A pathbreaking thinker and intellectual, his role in the freedom struggle is inspiring. He was passionate about the education sector and worked to further brotherhood in society”, tweeted PM Modi on his birthday. But it is ironic that Azad could never support or even sympathise with the politics of the Hindu right in the country that breeds on division and casteist functioning of society.

Being a pioneer for inclusive, modern education he’s one of the founding members of the leading Jamia Millia Islamia University, which was established in 1920. He also played a very vital role in the higher education system in India by overseeing the setting up of the UGC, AICTE, Commissions for University Education and Secondary Education. He also contributed to the launch of IIT Kharagpur, one of the top IITs in the country today. 

As an educationist, Azad believed in the equal opportunity of women as well, in a time when men were advantaged way more than women in studies. He stressed on it, “No program of national education can be appropriate if it does not give full consideration to the education and advancement of one-half of the society that is the women”, he once said. He became a close ally of Gandhi’s values of non-violence and non-cooperation. He held close to his Muslim identity and Hindu-Muslim Unity in the country. He became the leader of the Khilafat movement which is still a debate among enthusiasts of Indian polity. He became the president of the Congress party in 1923 and then served in the post from 1940-’46, he was the youngest leader to do so at the time. He was imprisoned along with other leaders in the congress during the Quit India agitation against the Empire. Today, in these divided times of unrest in the nation, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad will be remembered as a pioneer of unity and harmony among citizens. His legacy thrives bright in the country, both as a leader of the Indian National movement and as a front runner of education rights for all.

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