Remembering Maulana Azad
- March 3, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Remembering Maulana Azad
Context: Historian S Irfan Habib’s biography, Maulana Azad: A Life, throws light on the man who stood against Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan
- He born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 1888, his family relocated to Calcutta (now Kolkata) two years after his birth.
- He studied a variety of languages such as Persian, Urdu and Arabic, and subjects such as history, philosophy and geometry.
Contribution to freedom struggle
- In 1912, Azad started publishing a weekly called Al-Hilalwhich he used as a weapon to attack and question British policies. The publication gained immense popularity among the masses, so much so that the British finally banned it in 1914.
- Azad soon started another weekly, Al-Balagh, which ran until he was externed under Defence of India Regulations in 1916. The governments of Bombay, Punjab, Delhi, and United Provinces had banned his entry and he was deported to Bihar until 1920.
- After his release, Azad, already inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-cooperation to fight the British, started leading the Khilafat Movement, launched by Indian Muslims to demand that the British preserve the authority of the ‘Ottoman Sultan as Caliph of Islam after World War I’.
- He became the youngest party leader in 1923.
- In 1942, he along with the rest of the leadership was arrested and put in jail for four years for participating in the Quit India movement.
- A little before Partition, he stuck his neck out against Muslim League’s demand for a separate homeland for Muslims and beseeched the minority not to leave the trusted shores of India for the untried waters of Pakistan.
- Azad was a strong believer in the co-existence of all religious communities. He was deeply affected by the violence witnessed during India’s Partition. Azad travelled through the violence-affected regions of Bengal, Assam and Punjab and contributed in establishing the refugee camps and ensured supply of food and other basic resources.
- The 7th schedule of the Constitution lists subjects on which the central and state governments can enact legislation. Under British India, education had been listed as a subject, for which only provinces could enact legislation. Maulana Azad was strongly against leaving education to the states.
- As first education minister of the country from 1947 to 1958, he advocated for free and compulsory primary education for all children up to the age of 14 as he believed it was the right of all citizens,with an emphasis on rural and girl’s education
- Later, he went on to establish the Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi and contributed to the setting up of the IITs.
- He was also one of the brains behind the University Grants Commission, India’s higher education regulator, and played a key role in the establishment of other educational institutions.
- He built literary and cultural bodies like the Sahitya Akademi, Lalit Kala Akademi and the Sangeet Natak Akademi, etc.
- His birthday, 11 November, is celebrated as National Education Day.