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Politics & War

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
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  • Maulana Sayyid Abul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin Ahmed bin Khairuddin Al-Hussaini Azad (11 November 1888 – 22 February 1958) was an Indian scholar, activist and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress during the Indian independence movement.
  • Following India’s independence, he became the First Minister of Education in the Indian government Minister of Human Resource Development (until 25 September 1958, Ministry of Education).
  • Azad became the leader of the Khilafat Movement, during which he came into close contact with the Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. Azad became an enthusiastic supporter of Gandhi’s ideas of nonviolent civil disobedience, and worked to organise the non-cooperation movement in protest of the 1919 Rowlatt Acts.
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  • Azad was born on 11 November 1888 in Mecca, then a part of the Ottoman Empire. Azad’s father was a scholar who lived in Delhi with his maternal grandfather, as his father had died at a very young age. During the Sepoy Mutiny, he left India and settled in Mecca.
  • His father Maulana Sayyid Muhammad Khairuddin bin Ahmed AlHussaini wrote twelve books, had thousands of disciples, and claimed noble ancestry, while his mother was Sheikha Alia bint Mohammad, the daughter of Sheikh Mohammad bin Zaher AlWatri, himself a reputed scholar from Medina who had a reputation that extended even outside of Arabia
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  • Maulana Azad settled in Calcutta with his family in 1890.Azad was home-schooled and self-taught.Azad began to master several languages, including Urdu, Hindi, Persian, Bengali, Arabic, and English.
  • He was also trained in the Mazahibs of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali fiqh, Shariat, mathematics, philosophy, world history, and science by tutors hired by his family.
  • He was publishing a poetical journal (Nairang-eAalam)and was already an editor of a weekly (AlMisbah) in 1900, at the age of twelve and, in 1903, brought out a monthly journal, Lissan-us-Sidq, which soon gained popularity.
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  • At the age of thirteen, he was married to a young Muslim girl, Zulaikha Begum. Azad compiled many treatises interpreting the Qur’an, the Hadis, and the principles of Fiqh and Kalam.
  • Azad developed political views considered radical for most Muslims of the time and became a full-fledged Indian nationalist.
  • Azad’s education had been shaped for him to become a cleric, but his rebellious nature and affinity for politics turned him towards journalism. Maulana Azad worked for Vakil, a newspaper from Amritsar.
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  • He established an Urdu weekly newspaper in 1912 called Al-Hilal. and openly attacked British policies while exploring the challenges facing common people, but it was banned in 1914.
  • With the onset of World War I, the British stiffened censorship and restrictions on political activity. Azad’s Al-Hilal was consequently banned in 1914 under the Press Act.
  • Azad started a new journal, the Al-Balagh, which increased its active support for nationalist causes and communal unity. In this period Azad also became active in his support for the Khilafat agitation.Azad saw an opportunity to energise Indian Muslims and achieve major political and social reform through the struggle.
  • With his popularity increasing across India, the government outlawed Azad’s second publication under the Defence of India Regulations Act and arrested him.
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  • Upon his release, Azad returned to a political atmosphere charged with sentiments of outrage and rebellion against British rule. The Indian public had been angered by the passage of the Rowlatt Acts in 1919, which severely restricted civil liberties and individual rights.
  • The Khilafat struggle had also peaked with the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I and the raging Turkish War of Independence.
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  • This period marked a transformation in Azad’s own life. Along with fellow Khilafat leaders Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari, Hakim Ajmal Khan and others, Azad grew personally close to Gandhi and his philosophy.
  • The three men founded the Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi as an institution of higher education managed entirely by Indians without any British support or control.
  • Becoming deeply committed to ahimsa (non-violence) himself, Azad grew close to fellow nationalists like Jawaharlal Nehru, Chittaranjan Das and Subhas Chandra Bose. RATNA • In 1923, he became the youngest man to be elected Congress president. Azad led efforts to organise the Flag Satyagraha in Nagpur.
  • The political environment in India re-energised in 1928 with nationalist outrage against the Simon Commission appointed to propose constitutional reforms.
  • Azad endorsed the ending of separate electorates based on religion, and called for an independent India to be committed to secularism.
MAULANA ABUL KALAM AZAD PART 2

 

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  • At the 1928 Congress session in Guwahati, Azad endorsed Gandhi’s call for dominion status for India within a year.If not granted, the Congress would adopt the goal of complete political independence for India.
  • When Gandhi embarked on the Dandi Salt March that inaugurated the Salt Satyagraha in 1930, Azad organised and led the nationalist raid, albeit non-violent on the Dharasana salt works to protest the salt tax and restriction of its production and sale.
  • When elections were called under the Government of India Act 1935, Azad was appointed to organise the Congress election campaign, raising funds, selecting candidates and organising volunteers and rallies.
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  • Azad supported dialogue with Jinnah and the Muslim League between 1935 and 1937 over a CongressLeague coalition and broader political co-operation.
  • Intensive and emotional debates took place between Azad, Nehru, Gandhi and Patel in the Congress Working Committee’s meetings in May and June 1942.
  • In the end, Azad became convinced that decisive action in one form or another had to be taken, as the Congress had to provide leadership to India’s people and would lose its standing if it did not.
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  • Supporting the call for the British to “Quit India”, Azad began exhorting thousands of people in rallies across the nation to prepare for a definitive, all-out struggle.
  • With the end of the war, the British agreed to transfer power to Indian hands. All political prisoners were released in 1946 and Azad led the Congress in the elections for the new Constituent Assembly of India.
  • While attacking Jinnah’s demand for Pakistan and the mission’s proposal of 16 June 1946 that envisaged the partition of India, Azad became a strong proponent of the mission’s earlier proposal of 16 May.
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  • Azad had been the Congress president since 1939, so he volunteered to resign in 1946. He nominated Nehru, who replaced him as Congress president and led the Congress into the interim government.
  • Azad was appointed to head the Department of Education. However, Jinnah’s Direct Action Day agitation for Pakistan, launched on 16 August sparked communal violence across India.
  • Azad remained a close confidante, supporter and advisor to prime minister Nehru, and played an important role in framing national policies.
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  • Azad masterminded the creation of national programmes of school and college construction and spreading the enrolment of children and young adults into schools, to promote universal primary education.
  • Elected to the lower house of the Indian Parliament, the Lok Sabha in 1952 and again in 1957, Azad 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. Azad 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 1959.
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  • As India’s first Minister of Education, he emphasised on educating the rural poor and girls. As Chairman of the Central Advisory Board of Education, he gave thrust to adult literacy, universal primary education, free and compulsory for all children up to the age of 14, girls education, and diversification of secondary education and vocational training.
  • He oversaw the setting up of the Central Institute of Education, Delhi, which later became the Department of Education of the University of Delhi as “a research centre for solving new educational problems of the country”.
  • Under his leadership, the Ministry of Education established the first Indian Institute of Technology in 1951 and the University Grants Commission in 1953.,
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  • He also laid emphasis on the development of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and the Faculty of Technology of the Delhi University. He foresaw a great future in the IITs for India
  • His birthday, 11 November is celebrated as National Education Day in India.
  • On February 22, 1958 Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, one of the foremost leaders of the Indian freedom struggle passed away. For his invaluable contribution to the nation, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was posthumously awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the ‘Bharat Ratna’ in 1992.
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  • Ghubar-e-Khatir (Sallies of Mind) is one of the most important works of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, written primarily during 1942 to 1946 when he was imprisoned in Ahmednagar Fort.
  • The book is basically a collection of 24 letters he wrote addressing his close friend Maulana Habibur Rahman Khan Sherwani. These letters were never sent to him because there was no permission for that during the imprisonment and after the release in 1946, he gave all these letters to his friend Ajmal Khan who let it published for the first time in 1946.