Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dr. A. Abdullah

Dr. A. Abdullah

Dr. A. Abdullah, Former Chairman, Board of Trustees and Founding President of The Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations (FAAA) is a scientist, social activist and an Urdu Poet living in Washington D.C. area in United States.

Abba LA

Dr. A. Abdullah was born in an aristocratic family of Pharia (old name-Farah), Azamgarh India. He is very closely related to Maulana Hamiduddin Farahi and Allama Shibli Noamani. He completed his primary education from Shibli School and Inter College Azamgarh in 1956 and obtained his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Statistics from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in 1961. He served AMU for six years as a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. He was a member and later captain of AMU Volley ball team. He came to USA on a scholarship to the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo for an M.S. degree (Statistics) in 1967, and completed his Ph.D. in Biostatistics from George Washington University, Washington, D.C. He initially worked for NASA and later joined GE, and for the last couple of decades he is managing his own company. He is well recognized for his role in expansion and advancement of Urdu language in USA. He has published a collection of his Urdu poems, Rait ki Lehrain and recently edited a book, Satyapal Anand ki Nazm Nigari. A number of his articles have been published in literary magazines and newspapers. Along with Nuzaira Azam, Abdullah has also produced a CD, Goongi Awazain; they have narrated and recited poetry of selected women Urdu poets of US and Canada. Additionally, he has been an invited guest for speeches and interviews on national and international audio-visual media on various topics mostly related to the growth of Urdu language in the west. In recognition of his contributions to Urdu, Abdullah has received numerous awards from national and international literary organizations such as the Bazm-e-Adab (New Jersey), Mohib-e-Urdu (Osmania University Old Students Association (Chicago), Bazm-e-Adab (Philadelphia), and Zinda-Dillan (USA).

Dr. Abdullah has been very active in community service. He was the founding president of India Association of SUNY (Buffalo), has been an office holder of the Indian Cultural Coordination Committee (ICCC), the American Federation of Indian Muslims (AFMI), Darul Musannifeen (Shibli Academy), and the Muslim Community Center (Silver Spring, Maryland). He has received awards and accolade from two successive Governors of the State of Maryland for his outstanding services to the community.

A well-known Aligarian, Dr. Abdullah is the charter member of Aligarh Alumni Association (AAA), established in 1975, in Washington DC and the founding President of FAAA in USA. For his dedicated service to the AMU, he has been recognized with Distinguished Services Awards from the Aligarh Alumni Associations of New York (Tri-State) and New England and is also a recipient of awards from the AMU Old Boys’ Association (Karachi) and Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (Karachi).

Although the seminal role of Aligarians in organizing Mushaira in Northern America was initiated as early as in 1960s in Canada, Abdullah organized first Mushaira in Washington, DC under the auspicious of AAA in 1975. His efforts made the event as an integral part of Sir Syed Day celebration program. Furthermore, he systematized Mushaira in a manner that now it has become an appealing and most-awaited exciting occasion in the cultural life of Urdu lovers in North America. Today, these series of Mushairas—organized by FAAA and managed by Dr. Abdullah—are held in every metropolitan city in United States and Canada and poets from all over the world participate in these events. Dr. Abdullah is the most communicative and vibrant Master of Ceremony (Nazim) of Mushairas and he conducts Mushaira in his inimitable style. Just when we started getting concerned about the fading standards of Urdu language in the Sub-continent, here is an event that rejuvenates and fortifies our zeal about the survival of the language in the western world. Dr. Abdullah has played a pivotal role in upholding the nostalgic thrill of Mushaira and keeping this institution alive in the west. Aligarians believe that what they have inherited must be valued and should be protected by organizing such events.

Dr Abdullah lives with his wife, Dr Sofia, their sons, Amir and Faisal, Amir's wife Farheen and a grand son Ali in the city of Potomac in Maryland, USA.


Dr. Abdullah with delegates of First annual Convention of The Federation of Aligarh Alumni Assoiations (FAAA) in Washington DC in 2001


Dr. Abdullah addressing the Second annual convention of FAAA in San Francisco, California in May 2002


Dr. Abdullah addressing the Third annual convention of FAAA in New York, in August 2004


Dr. Abdullah with Dr. Hasan Kamil (California) and Mr. Umar Farooq (Pennsylvania) in the Third annual convention of FAAA in New York, in August 2004


Dr. Abdullah opens a portrait of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan of 2nd Sir Syed Day in Phoenix Arizona on 17th September 200


Dr. Abdullah with poets and members of Aligarh Alumni Association of Arizona 2nd Sir Syed Day in Phoenix Arizona on 17th September 2004


Dr. Abdullah at the Annual Sir Syed Day Mushaira in San Francisco on 18th September 2004


Dr. Abdullah with Dr. Tariq Haqqi at the 6th annual convention of FAAA in Cleveland OH in July 2007

Convention_2005 146

Dr. Abdullah with his wife Dr. Sofiai at the 4th annual convention of FAAA in Chicago on 3rd July 2005

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nazir Ahmad

Nazir Ahmad

There is a tradition of humility among scholars of the classical mode; showing off knowledge is considered as lacking in etiquette and good manners. This group is, however, that behind the veneer of self effacement, there lie inflated egos and feelings of self-righteousness. One of the very few exceptions was Professor (Emeritus) Nazir Ahmad of department of Persian in Aligarh Muslim University. A highly respected Persian scholar with a humble attitude Nazir Ahmad was well respected the in the intellectual community in and outside of the country. His humility was an embodiment of the old virtue of "Kasar Nafsi" or self-effacement. There was nothing artificial here. If someone had a query, Nazir Ahmad would reply almost hesitantly. In this hesitance was not indicative of lack of self confidence, it was a true reflection of the realization that the ocean of knowledge is vast, almost infinite, it cannot be mastered by any individual howsoever bright or hard working he or she may be. Professor Nazir Ahmad had obviously grasped this fact which obviously eluded most of his contemporaries particularly in the disciplines of oriental languages and theology. The other characteristic of the departed scholar was his ever-smiling face betraying no irritation or stress and strain.

Professor Nazir Ahmad was born on 3rd January, 1915 in a small village Kalahi Gharib (Gharrah), Gonda (UP) India. After completing his primary education from this village, he successfully completed his middle school examination in 1930 and moved to Gonda city for higher education. He completed his high school in 1934 from Gonda with first division and with distinction in mathematics. After completing his high school from Gonda, he joined Christian College in Lucknow and cleared his Intermediate examinations with second division in 1936 and took admission in Lucknow University in B.A. (Persian). During his stay in Christian college, he cleared the examination of Munshi in 1935. He completed his B.A. (Hons.) with Persian in 1939 with first division and first position. He completed his M.A. (Persian) in 1940 with First division and received two gold medals and fellowship for higher studies. After completing his M.A. he started teaching in Government School in Deoria (UP) as Urdu and Persian teacher. Later on he was transferred to Government High School in Basti (UP) in 1943. He worked for ten years as school teacher but he never stopped his pursuits for higher education and continued his research work in Persian. Nazir Ahmad enrolled himself for Ph.D. under the guidance of Prof. Masood Hasan Rizvi and finished his research on Zahoori (Tarshezi) and received his doctorate in 1945. His interest in research convinced him to register for D.Lit. in Lucknow University. In five years, he focused his researched on the Persian poets of Aadil-Shah period and submitted his thesis for D.Lit. in 1950 and got awarded D.Lit. from University of Lucknow in 1950. Same year he was appointed as Lecturer in University of Lucknow. The highest degree of literature did not stop him to pursue for his interest in Urdu and he started his research on Nauras by Adil Shah. During his pursuit in Urdu, his interest in Persian was also alive and he joined University of Tehran (Iran) and completed his diploma in ‘Farsi Baastan-e-Pahlawi and Modern Persian’. His work on Nauras was still in progress and finally he received D.Lit. (Urdu) in 1956 from University of Lucknow.

Association with Aligarh Muslim University:

In March, 1957, the then Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, Col. Bashir Zaidi appointed Dr. Nazir Ahmad as Assistant Director of Aligarh-Taareekh-e-Urdu Adab in Aligarh Muslim University and later in August 1958 he was appointed as Reader in department of Persian in Aligarh Muslim University. In 1960 when Prof. Zia Ahmad Badayuni of Persian died, Dr. Nazir Ahmad was appointed as Professor and Chairman of department of Persian of Aligarh Muslim University. This was a beginning for this school teacher of Deoria. In 1960 when the quarterly journal “Fikro-Nazar” was started, he was appointed as its Founding Secretary and Prof. Yusuf Hussain Khan was appointed as Founding Editor. Nazir Ahmad was a trusted person for Prof. Yusuf Hussain Khan and Fikro Nazar gave an opportunity to Nazir Ahmad to flourish. Within 6 years of Fikro-Nazar’s start, it became a reputed journal and many of its articles got translated in different languages. Turmoil of 1965 in AMU campus directly affected Prof. Nazir Ahmad as his elder son Abdul Basit was expelled from the rolls of the University. Prof. Nazir Ahmad tackled it very patiently. When Prof. Yusuf Hussain Khan left Aligarh Muslim University, the editorial team was changed and Prof. Nazir Ahmad did not become a part of the new team. In 1969, he was appointed as Dean Faculty of Arts. In 1977 he was retired from his University services but was appointed as Professor Emeritus in the department of Persian in Aligarh Muslim University. In his excluded comment, Nazir Ahmad had compared the styles of Ghalib, Bedil and Abul Fazal to show that Ghalib had imitated and become influenced by the prose of the other two. He is convinced that only a writer of Mirza Ghalib’s stature could have gone the way of Abul Fazal and Bedil and achieved success as he did. There were other contemporaries of Ghalib, like Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who admired Abul Fazal but could not have imitated him with such great brilliance. In fact Sir Syed was brilliant in doing just the opposite: he wrote a conversational style.

Prof. Nazir Ahmad’s academic and administrative responsibilities never distracted him from his primary interest of research and development. He did not contain his knowledge to himself. He always encouraged and promoted his students to come forward and take a lead. He had guided numerous research papers and thesis. He has a long list of illustrious students who excelled in the fields of their interest and achieved recognition and due fame including President of India awardees Prof. Azarmi Dukht Safavi, Prof. S.M. Tariq Hasan, Prof. Khalid Siddiqi and many more.

Professor Nazir Ahmad was highly respected Persian scholar with humble attitude and was a real gentleman. On the request of Amir Khusro Society of America (AKSA) he took a leading role in translation of Aijaz-e-Khusrawi from Persian into English. He was a key element to organize First International Conference on Amir Khusro in Chicago, Illinois, United States of America in 1989. Many scholars from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Europe and North America deliberated in this 3-day conference. It was decided at the conference to have a project for translation of Amir Khusro’s work. Professor Nazir Ahmad reluctantly agreed to lead the project. He recruited many scholars for this effort and the project was funded by the Smithsonian and also partly supported by the late Hakim Abdul Hameed, founder of Jamia Hamdard of New Delhi and former Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University.

Award and Honors:

Even after retirement from his active services, his passion and commitment for his research work did not diminished and he continued to work as he used to do in past. He delivered numerous extension lectures, attended and chaired national and international seminars and conferences. In 1976, Ghalib Institute of New Delhi India awarded him GHALIB AWARD. In 1977 he received President of India Award and fellowship for his lifetime. In 1987, government of India conferred Padma Shri on Prof. Nazir Ahmad. In 1987, “Khusro Academy of United States of America” awarded him “Khusro Award”. Year 1988 was declared as “Year of Hafiz” by UNESCO. Prof. Nazir Ahmad edited and published two oldest manuscript of “Hafiz”. Iranian Cultural Council of India acknowledged this work and conferred a title of “Hafiz Sanaash” on Prof. Nazir Ahmad. In 1989, Government of Iran conferred “Jaizah Afshar” on him and later in 1990; University of Tehran, Iran conferred Honorary D.Lit. on this Non-Iranian scholar of Iranian culture for his understanding and knowledge of Iranian culture and civilization.

Prof. Nazir Ahmad authored several books including, Zahoori- Life & Work (English), Tahqeeqi Maqaley (Urdu), Nauras (Urdu), Nauras (English), Makaateeb Sanashi (Persian), Tareekh aur Adabi Mutaaley (Urdu), Beewan-e-Hafiz (Persian), Farhang Qawaas (Persian), Dasturul Afzal (Persian), Kitabus Sidna (Persian), Deewan Saraji (Persian), Taarekh aur Ilmi Maqalat, Naqd Qatey Burhan (Urdu), Deewan Ameed Lawaiki (Persian), Zafaan Goya (Persina), Fazala-e-Balakh(Urdu), Ghalib per Chand Maqaley (Urdu), Farsi Qaseedah Nigari (Urdu), His academic excellence was dully recognized and he served in different academic committees and editorial board of national and international repute including the editorial board of “Ma-arif”, monthly journal of Darul Musannefin Shibli Academy Azamgarh India. Ma-arif is one of oldest journal of India started in 1914 and is uninterruptedly published till date.

Prof. Nazir Ahmad died on Sunday, 19th October 2008 in Aligarh and buried in University graveyard.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Naseeruddin Shah

Naseeruddin Shah

Born : 20th July, 1950, Hyderabad (AP) India
Wife : Ratna Pathak Shah (Cine Actor )
Children: Imaad Shah, Heeba Shah
Brothers: Zaheeruddin Shah,
Lt. General Zameeruddin Shah (Deputy Army Chief of India)

1973 : B.A. from Aligarh Muslim University
National School of Drama New Delhi.

1980: National Film Awards for Best Actor, Sparsh
1980: Filmfare Best Actor Award, Aakrosh
1981: Filmfare Best Actor Award, Chakra
1983: Filmfare Best Actor Award, Masoom
1985: National Film Awards for Best Actor, Paar
1984: The Volpi Cup (Award for Best Actor) at Venice Film Festival for Paar
1987: Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian award
2000: Sangeet Natak Akademi Award
2000: IIFA (International Indian Film Academy) Award -
Artistic Excellence for Performance in a Negative Role for Sarfarosh
2003: Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian award
2004: 7th International Film Festival of Mumbai - Award for contribution to Indian cinema
2006 Honorary Tribute Award : Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA)
2007: National Film Awards for Best Supporting Actor, Iqbal

Naseeruddin Shah was born in Hyderabad, Andhra Pardesh on 20th July 1950. At the age of 5 years he was sent to boarding school, St Joseph's School, in Nainital with his elder brother Zameeruddin Shah who was 7 years old. His eldest brother Zaheerudin Shah stayed with their parents. In fact Naseer’s sibling elder brother Zameer was staying with their aunt in Sardhana, near Meerut in western UP until Naseer was 2 years old. Naseer was failed in 9th grade so he departed from his brother Zameer and joined a different school. After completing his school, Naseer joined Aligarh Muslim University for his graduation in Arts and his sibling brother Zameer went to NDA (the National Defense Academy in Pune, Maharashtra) and later joined Indian Army in 1969. Naseer was very much interested in cultural activities and was an active member of AMU Drama Club. As we have a saying in Aligarh “Those who can face AMU crowd/audience, can face any crowd/audience in the world”. After a great success in AMU Drama Club, Naseer joined National School of Drama in Delhi and decided to make acting as his career.

Naseeruddin Shah made his acting debut in Shyam Benegal's 1975 film, Nishant. He established himself as a good actor and won the Indian government's National Film Award for Best Actor in 1979 for an effective portrayal of a blind man in the film Sparsh. This was also the time when several young directors were making movies that were different from those produced till then. This movement was termed the New wave, with actors such as Shah, Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil and Om Puri appearing together in offbeat Parallel Cinema art films like Bhumika (1977), Bhavni Bhavai (1980), Ardh Satya (1982) and Mirch Masala (1986). He also won three Filmfare awards during this period. His performance in the 1982 film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, a comedy, displayed his versatility but at the same time, also made it difficult to categorise him. In the interim, he was considered for the title role in Richard Attenborough's Gandhi, but finally the role went to Ben Kingsley. Shah was very disappointed that he could not bag the role.
Like many of the other actors of his genre, Naseeruddin Shah was first noticed by Shyam Benegal. He acted in Benegal's Nishant (1975), Manthan and Bhumika (1976). One of his most intense performances was given in Saeed Mirza's Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai ("What makes Albert Pinto angry?", 1980). In the movie, he plays a garage mechanic from Goa who dreams of the expensive cars that he repairs but that are far beyond his reach. The film is set in a Catholic setting, primarily because Mirza did not have the courage to tackle Muslim issues. Naseeruddin Shah has also acted for other New Indian Cinema directors including Mrinal Sen (Khandan, 1983) and Sai Paranjpye (Sparsh, 1979). Besides these "serious" roles, he has a penchant for comedy.

His roles in Ketan Mehta's films and also in films like Mandi, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, and Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho! (1983), have endeared him to the Indian public. He has also not shied away from accepting roles in mainstream Hindi movies where he has played a variety of characters, though his slight frame has ensured that he is most often cast in a comic role. However, directors also utilize his great acting talent when a "character role" has to be played. What is surely most arresting about him is the sheer versatility of his talent. Naseeruddin Shah has also played and directed English and Hindi plays. This is not unimportant, since many of the most brilliant film actors came to the cinema after a long stint as theater actors. With his wife Ratna Pathak, Naseeruddin Shah continues to act regularly in plays, often at Shashi Kapoor's Prithvi Theatre.
Naseeruddin Shah worked in numerous movies, some of them are mentioned here;
Nishaant, Home Delivery, Paheli, The Great New Wonderful, Valley of Flowers, Asambhav, Main Hoon Na, Maqbool, The League of Extraordinary, Gentlemen, 3 Deewarein, Encounter, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Moksha, Kasam, Monsoon Wedding, Mujhe Meri Biwi Se Bachaao, Guru Mahaaguru, Gaja Gamini, Hey Ram, Tune Mera Dil Le Liya, Bhopal Express, Sarfarosh, Sar Utha Ke Jiyo, Bombay Boys, Such a Long Journey, China Gate, Dand Nayak, Dhoondte Reh Jaaoge, Daava, Lahu Ke Do Rang, Agni Chakra, Private Detective, Rajkumar, Himmat, Chaahat, Takkar, Naajayaz, Mr. Ahmed, Mohra, Ponthan Mada, Droh Kaal, Triyacharitra, Sir, Bedardi, Game, Hasti, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Lootere, Chamatkar, Vishwatma, Daku Aur Police, Electric Moon, Tehelka, Time Machine, Lakshmanrekha, Ek Ghar, Mane, Shikari, Chor Pe Mor, Police Public, Khoj, Tridev, Hero Hiralal, Rihaee, The Perfect Murder, Zulm Ko Jala Doonga, Libaas, Maalamaal, Mirza Ghalib, Pestonje, Ijaazat, Jalwa, Yeh Woh Manzil To Nahin, Karma, Genesis, Shart, Ek Pal, Musafir, Trikal, Aghaat, Ghulami, Khamosh, Mirch Masala, Khandhar, Lorie, Holi, Maan Maryaada, Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho, Paar, Party, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, Woh 7 Din, Ardh Satya, Haadsa, Katha, Mandi, Masoom, Dil... Akhir Dil Hai, Aadharshila, Bazaar, Sitam, Swami Dada, Tahalka, Tajurba, Chakra, Bezubaan, Sazaye Maut, Umrao Jaan, um Paanch, Sparsh, Aakrosh, Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai, Bhavni Bhavai, Shaayad, Sunayana, Junoon, Bhumika: The Role, Manthan, Mixed Doubles, Iqbal, Omkara, Krrish, Valley of Flowers, Parzania & Ek Dhun Banaras Kee.

Naseeruddin Shah’s hard work paid him and he achieved numerous awards including Padam Bhushan from Government of India in 2003. He had played all kind of role from character to lead actor to charismatic Indian Hero to typical Bollywood villain. In 2006 one of the pioneers of the parallel cinema movement in the 1970s, Naseeruddin Shah was honored by the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA), which was held from April 19 2006 in Los Angeles in United States of America. IFFLA presented 2006’s honorary tribute to Naseeruddin Shah by showcasing some of his best cinematic works over the last three decades. As part of its celebration of the works of Naseeruddin Shah, who has starred in over 120 films over the years, the IFFLA hosted the Los Angeles premiere of his latest film 'Parzania', a film which features him alongside actors Sarika and Perizaad Zorabian. On April 21, 2006 at IFFLA, he participated in a question and answer session with the audience after the screening. Best known to Western audiences for his roles in 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen', 'Monsoon Wedding', and 'The Perfect Murder'. He had also won the prestigious 'The Volpi Cup' at the Venice Film Festival for the film 'Paar' in 1984. In 2004, Mumbai International Film Festival bestowed him Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to Indian Cinema.

Naseeruddin Shah made his Directorial debut with Yun Hota to Kya Hota but did not made an impact as he is doing with his acting. Naseeruddin Shah is married to a fellow cine artist Ratna Pathak, daughter of Deena Pathak and sister of Supriya Pathak and lives in Bollywood capital Bombay (Mumbai). Imaad Shah, son of Naseeruddin Shah, who is playing the lead role in the upcoming film Dil Dosti etc is not really keen on pursuing a career in acting.

My brother Zameer : by Naseeruddin Shah

Naseeruddin Shah recounts growing up with our recently-appointed deputy army chief, Gen Zameeruddin Shah
(As told to Piali Banerjee of Mumbai Mirror)

It's unfair that every news report which talked about Zameeruddin Shah becoming deputy army chief, mentioned that he's my brother. But I guess life is unfair. My name is attached to his ('by the way') all the time. However, I don't think he minds. In fact, he once wrote an article in a fauji magazine where he mentioned six questions he is asked most often about me. The most popular among them is, 'Is Naseeruddin Shah your real brother?' “Zameer is two years elder to me. Since my mother was very unwell when he was born, he was sent to live in our village, Sardhana, near Meerut, and was brought up by an aunt of ours. He came to live with us only when he was around four years old, and I was two. It took me a while to get used to Zameer after he came from the village. He was very different from my eldest brother, Zaheer, and me. For instance, he couldn't speak English, and he had some different habits. He was also still very attached to our aunt in Sardhana “Then, when I was 5 and Zameer, 7, we both were sent to boarding school, St Joseph's School, in Nainital. In school, of course, he turned out to be a big hero, and I, an idiot. He was tall, good-looking, athletic, a boxing champ. And he even had a girlfriend in from St Mary's School. I envied him this like hell! Meanwhile, I failed in my ninth standard and left this school to join another.

“In school we didn't get together much because it wasn't cool for a senior to hang out with a junior. But Zaheer, Zameer and I bonded during the holidays. That's when we'd play cricket, learn to swim, and learn to ride a bicycle. Of course, Zameer managed to learn everything first. We had huge fights too; we kicked and punched and hit each other over usual things like who'd bat first.“Then Zameer went to NDA (the National Defense Academy in Pune) and changed completely as a person. He got rid of his wild, colorful ways and straightened out. He almost became austere in his ways, which he still is today. Today, he only has what he needs, there are no luxuries in his life. “I still remember the day when Zameer came home in his cadet's uniform. I was so inspired the moment I saw him get off the train. He was actually saluted by the policeman at the station who wouldn't even let me in! And although I knew that I wouldn't be a soldier, the idea actually appealed to me for a couple of days after that. (I had gone through NCC camps and I knew that getting up at 5 am on a winter morning to wear a starched uniform wasn't my scene.)“But the change in Zameer, changed, or rather straightened out, my life too. I was really inspired by the determination with which he quit his old habits and thinking. And I figured that if I focused in the same way on my acting, I could make a serious career of it too. His being a good soldier inspired me to be a good actor.

“In fact, I don't know whether I'd have been an actor if it hadn't been for my brothers. Were it not for the two of them, I'd have probably lost faith in myself. They were the only people in the world I could talk to about my acting aspirations. They were the only ones who listened to me, and didn't laugh at me. (Today, they do watch most of my films and, I believe, are proud of me.)“Soon after his graduation from NDA, Zameer went away to fight in the Longewala battle in the 1971 war. And that's a period in his life that's more or less blank for me. I was scared, of course, at that time, but I was more interested in knowing all the details about what was going on at the warfront. Meanwhile, my parents reacted in their own ways. My dad had a ball worrying, my mother retreated into prayer. Even now, Zameer never talks about those war days. If I ask him questions, he only answers in monosyllables, so now I've learned to leave him alone. They must be his private memories, which he'll talk about whenever he's ready.

“So, I guess, we're close in a way, but not so close in other ways. We don't meet often, but when we do, we pick up from where we left off. Since neither Zameer nor I are too fond of talking, we communicate in other ways, like playing tennis, or going riding together…“Zameer follows a typical military discipline. Even on holidays, he is almost always erect, and maintains his regular routine. Yeah, he can be rather funny when he wants to be but nowadays, as a general, he is almost always surrounded by people and does have an image to live up to.“Right now, of course, he has a good life. A big house, plenty of staff… In fact, I've got to see plenty of interesting places, where I wouldn't otherwise have gone, because of his postings. However, what's interesting is that Zameer is very aware of what a general's life is, after retirement. He has seen his seniors go through it, and is well-prepared. In that sense, he is a true realist.”* “I was really inspired by the determination with which he quit his old habits... His being a good soldier inspired me to be a good actor”

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Mohammad Shamim Jairajpuri

Mohammad Shamim Jairajpuri

Born : 8th April 1942, Jairajpur Azamgarh (UP) India
Father : Dr. Mohd. Moazzam Jairajpuri
Wife : Prof. Durdana Jairajpuri (Department of Zoology, AMU Aligarh)
Children : 3 daughters (Dr. Zeba Jairajpuri,….. )
Grandfather: Maulana Hafiz Mohammad Aslam Jairajpuri,
One of the greatest Muslim Scholars of the sub- continent
and Founding member of Jamia Millia Islamia

1959,1961,1964 : B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph. D. Aligarh Muslim University.
1970 : Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) was awarded to him in Zoology
by Aligarh Muslim University in 1970 on his outstanding
work on Neuratology in particular on Taxonomy, at a young
age of 28 years only

1964,72, 83 :Lecturer, Reader, Professor Department of Zoology, AMU Aligarh
1988-89 & 97-98 : Chairman, Department of Zoology, AMU Aligarh
(1993-95 & 1997-98) :Dean, Faculty of Life Sciences, AMU Aligarh
1977-79 :Chief Editor of the Indian Journal of Nematology
1979 -81 :President, Nematological Society of India
Fellow , National Academy of Sciences,
Fellow, Academy of Sciences,
Fellow, National Academy of Sciences
Fellow, Asian Academy of Sciences,
Fellow, Zoological Survey of India,
Fellow, Zoological Society,
Fellow, International Body of Life Sciences
Fellow, Indian Society of Parasitology
1978-81: Secretary of the Helminthological Society of India
1989-91 : Vice President of the Zoological Society of India
1989-91 : Director: Zoological Survey of India
(Ministry of Environmental and Forests)
1981-83 : Principal Nematologist: Commonwelath Agricultural
Bureaux International, United Kingdom
1991-93 : Coordinator: Agriculture Center AMU Aligarh
1993-96 : Founder Director: Rafi Ahmad Kidwai Institute of Agriculture,
AMU Aligarh
9th Jan. 1998 to
8th Jan. 2003 : Founder Vice Chancellor: Maulana Azad National
Urdu University
Honorary Professor : School of Life Sciences,
University of Hyderabad
March 2000: Fellow, Third World Academy of Sciences, Trieste, Italy
1999-2003: Vice-President of Indian National Science Academy
2000-2005: President of the Indian Society of Parasitology (ISP)

December, 1999: First recipient of the Janaki Ammanl National Award in
Taxonomy awarded by The Ministry of Env. & Forests
June, 2007: Shiksha Ratna Puruskar along with Certificate of Exellence"
by the India International Frienship Society (IIFS).
1977 & 1998: Gold Medal : The Zoological Survey of India

Books Authored:
1. Chand Yaadein Chand Baatein: Autobiography
2. Dorylaimida: Free-Living, Predaceous and Plant-Parasitic Nematodes
3. Snakes and human welfare
4. Predatory Nematodes (Mononchida) with special reference to India
5. Morphology and variability of dorylaimus stagnalis dujardin, 1845, and
their juvenile stages
6. Nygolaimina of India

Mohd. Shamim Jairajpuri was born on 8th April 1942 in a well educated and learned family of Maulana Salamatullah and Maulana Hafiz Mohammad Aslam Jairajpuri in the village Jairajpur, District Azamgarh, U.P. His father Dr. Mohammad Moazzam was having his resident-cum clinic in mohallah Takia in Azamgarh city. His great grandfather Maulana Salamatullah Jairajpuri was a well known scholar of Hadith. His grandfather Maulana Aslam Jairajpuri was one of the greatest Muslim Scholars of the sub- continent and a strong supporter of Aligarh Movement. Maulana Aslam Jairajpuri was a founding member of Jamia Millia Islamia. Maulana Aslam Jairajpuri was a faculty member of Islamic Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia. The young Mohammad Shamim completed his primary education in Azamgarh. After completing his Intermediate from Shibli National College of Azamgarh in 1957 he joined Aligarh Muslim University in July 1957. He obtained his B.Sc. in 1959, M.Sc. in 1961 and Ph.D. in 1964 The degree of Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) was awarded to him in Zoology by Aligarh Muslim University in 1970 on his outstanding work on Neuratology in particular on Taxonomy, at a young age of 28 years only. He was first appointed a Lecturer (1964) then a Reader (1972), Professor (1983), Chairman (1988-89 & 1997-98) of the Zoology Department and Dean (1993-95 & 1997-98) of the Faculty of Life Sciences, AMU. Shamim Jairajpuri married to Durdana Jairajpuri. Her family belongs to Sitapur. She completed her Ph.D. in Zoology from AMU Aligarh in 1967 and joined the department of Zoology as a faculty member. They have three daughters.

Prof. Jairajpuri has done pioneering research on plant and soil nematodes for which the Zoological Survey of India awarded him with gold medal in 1997 and 1998. He is considered a renowned world authority in this subject. He has published over 20 Books and Monograms, over 350 research papers and contributed numerous book chapters and general articles in reputed Journals of the world. He has the distinction of publishing over 80 research papers in Nematologica (The Netherlands) and over 40 papers in Revue de Nematologie (France), the two top most international journals in the subject of Nematology. He has traveled widely within India and abroad (USA, UK, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Australia, Switzerland, Canada, South Korea, Egpyt, Pakistan, Bangladesh) in pursuit of his scientific work and has inaugurated and chaired many national and international conferences, seminars, symposia, workshops etc. Prof. Jairajpuri is Fellow (FNA, FASc, FNASc, FAAS, FISP, FZSI, FZS, FIBOL etc.) of several learned societies of the world. He was the President of the Nematological Society of India (1979 -81), and Chief Editor of the Indian Journal of Nematology (1977-79), Vice President of the Zoological Society (1989-91), and Secretary of the Helminthological Society of India (1978-81). He is on the Editorial Board of a number of national and international journals. He has guided 28 students in their Ph. D and equal number in M.Phil degrees. He was the Principal Nematologist to the Commonwelath Agricultural Bureaux International, United Kingdom from 1981-83. He has held the higly prestigious and coveted position of the Director of Zoological Survey of India from 1989-91 under the Ministry of Environmental and Forests and in that capacity he was advisor to the Government of India on all matters pertaining to Zoology.

In 1991, Prof. Jairajpuri was appointed Coordinator of the Agriculture Center at AMU and became the Founder Director of the Institute of Agriculture in 1993 and worked in that capacity until July 1996 and through ceaseless efforts he developed it into an organization of national status. He was the Dean, Faculty of Life Sciences and also simultaneously Chairman of the Department of Zoology, Museology and Wildlife Sciences. Prof. Jairajpuri is member of several high powered committees of the Government of India. After the early exit of AMU Vice-Chancellor, Prof. M.N. Farooqi in December 1994, the Executive Council of Aligarh Muslim University recommended a panel of five names including the name of Prof. Shamim Jairajpuri to AMU Court for the coveted position of Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University. The AMU Court did not recommend his name in the final list of three names to the Visitor of Aligarh Muslim University.

Prof. Jairajpuri has a great love for his mother tongue Urdu. His biography in Urdu Chand Yaadein Chand Baatein is hailed by the critics. On 9th January 1998 Prof. Jairajpuri was appointed as the Founder Vice Chancellor of newly established The Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) in Hyderabad. Simultaneously he was also appointed as the Honorary Professor in School of Life Sciences of the University of Hyderabad. He worked very hard to make MANUU as working University. Numbers of new courses were introduced. The facilities and head office of the University was established in Hyderabad in his leadership.

In December, 1999 the Ministry of Environment & Forests chose him to be the first recipient of the Janaki Ammanl National Award in Taxonomy for his work in the field of Nematology. In order to encourage work of excellence in taxonomy and also to encourage young students and scholars to work in this science, the Ministry has instituted a National Award in Taxonomy, named after the late Prof. E K Janaki Ammal, an eminent botanist of International repute. Taxonomy is the science of identification, classification and naming of organisms. Taxonomic work involves study of morphological characteristics and phylogenetic relationship of organisms which is essential for applied biological sciences including medicine, agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Current requirements of taxonomic work and available expertise and studies indicate a dire need to encourage excellence and motivate experts to do work in hitherto neglected groups of organisms e.g. microbes, lower groups of plants, animals etc. Professor Jairajpuri has made notable and very substantive contributions in the field of Nematology. Nematodes constitute a highly diversified group of invertebrate animals occurring in all biotopes. Commonly called roundworms, nematodes are parasitic or free-living worms. These are not only important from biodiversity point of view, but are also of immense economic importance from agricultural point of view. The monumental work of Prof. Jairajpuri has immensely contributed to the systematic, structural, behavioral, developmental biology and the biological control of nematodes. He has discovered over 500 new species and about 100 new genera of nematodes. Prof. Jairajpuri has been a prolific researcher and author. He is amongst the pioneer scientists in the country who have initiated studies on plant-parasitic nematodes. His work led to the understanding of biological control of the nematodes pests, thereby contributing to an increase in agricultural productivity. The ceremony was held on 11thApril, 2000 at New Delhi. Thiru TR Baalu, Minister, Environment and Forests, presented the first Janaki Ammal National Award for Taxonomy to Prof M S Jairajpuri. The award carries a cash prize of Rs. 50,000 and citation.

In March 2000, the Third World Academy of Sciences, Trieste, Italy has elected Prof. M. Shamim Jairajpuri as a fellow. In he same year he also got elected as President of the Indian Society for Parasitology (ISP). After becoming the President of ISP, he has given a call to Scientists and academicians interested in research and teaching of parasite and the diseases these cause to man, animal and plants to join the ISP in large numbers. Those scientists who are are already members are requested to convey the message to non members and encourage them to join. All those working on the distribution, structure, biology, ecology, pathogenicity and insects of medical, veterinary and agricultural importance are invited to become a life member. There is enough room for all of us in this Society. The protozoologist, helminthologists, animal, plant and soil nematologist, medical and veterinary entomologists etc. are all most welcome. His sincere efforts were very fruitful for ISP. His leadership abilities were vital to the organization and he became the longest serving President of Indian Society for Parasitology. He served in his office till 2005.

A major tragic event in the spring of 2002 devastated the family of Prof. Jairajpuri. On the eve of Eidul-Azha in the first week of March 2002, Prof. Jairajpuri’s younger brother, a well known heart specialist Dr Muhammad Salim Jairajpuri, his son Dr Yasir Salim Jairajpuri and daughter Dr. Suman Salim Jairajpuri had been brutally killed at their residence in Azamgarh by some unknown Kachha Banyan gang. Dr Salim’s wife too was beaten by iron rods, but she survived at the time but died later in the hospital. This incident has sent waves of shock for the family and community. Dr. Salim Jairajpuri was also an AMU alumnus and his children, Yasir and Suman were still students. Yasir Jairajpuri had set a record after he topped in MBBS in Aligarh Muslim University at a very young age and was pursuing higher education in London. The death of the entire family has sent waves of shock among the family, friends and people of Azamgarh and the surrounding areas.

In June, 2007 Prof. Jairajpuri has been selected for the "Shiksha Ratna Puruskar along with Certificate of Excellence" by the India International Friendship Society (IIFS), New Delhi. India international Friendship Society is a voluntary organization established to forge greater unity and integrity among the people of Indian origin living anywhere in the world. This award was conferred on July 7 at New Delhi. The award is an ultimate mark of recognition to Professor Jairajpuri for his landmark achievements in academics, research and society in India and abroad. Dr. Abu Sufyan Islahi of Department of Arabic, AMU Aligarh had compiled literary essays and articles of Prof. Jairajpuri and has published in form of a book “Mir-e-Karwaan”.

Professor Mohammad Shamim Jairajpuri had retired from his services from the department of Zoology, AMU Aligarh on 30thApril, 2004 but still associated with research projects of various research institute of national and international fame. He still has a laboratory in the department of Zoology in Aligarh Muslim University and conducts research. He is living in Aligarh with his wife Prof. Durdana Jairajpuri.

Aligarh March 12, 2009: Prof. M. Shamimm Jairajpuri, INSA Senior Scientist, Aligarh Muslim University and former Vice Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University has been appointed Chairman of the High Power Appeals Committee of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). The first meeting of the committee was held recently to address the grievances of the accredited Universities and institutes pertaining to their grading and other related matters.

The Committee was constituted by Prof. G. Mehta, Chairman, EC, NAAC. Prof. Suranjan Das, Vice Chancellor, University of Calcutta and Prof. Rupa Shah, former Vice Chancellor, SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai are the two other members of the Appeals Committee of NAAC while Dr. Jagannath Patil, Deputy Advisor, NAAC is the Member Convener of the Committee.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Syed Zillur Rahman


July 1, 1940: Born in Bhopal (M.P)

1955: Did Alimiat Course from Nadwatul Ulema, Lucknow
1960: Graduated BUMS from Ajmal Khan Tibbiya College, AMU Aligarh.

1963, 73, 83: Lecturer, Reader, Professor Ajmal Khan Tibbiya College, AMU Aligarh
19th Dec., 1978 to 5th March 1985: Chairman Ilmul Advia, A. K. Tibbia College, AMU, Aligarh
March 25, 1988 to March 24, 1991: Chairman Ilmul Advia., A. K. Tibbia College, AMU, Aligarh
January 7, 1992 to Dec 20, 1995 : Chairman Ilmul Advia., A. K. Tibbia College, AMU, Aligarh
Dec 21, 1998 to Dec. 20, 2001 : Chairman Ilmul Advia., A. K. Tibbia College, AMU, Aligarh
1989-90: Dean, Faculty of Unani Medicine, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh
1996: Appointed as Short-term Consultant, World Health Organization (WHO) to the South
East Asia Region for development of Unani Medicine in Bangladesh.
1997: Visiting Professor, Hamdard University, Karachi, Pakistan

2001: Inauguration of Ibn Sina Academy Medieval Medicine & Sciences in Aligarh and became
Founder President of Ibn Sina Academy of Medieval Medicine & Sciences, Aligarh.
Started (1) Publication Division, (2) Division of History of Medicine & Sciences, (3) Centre
for Safety & Rational Use of Indian Systems of Medicine (CSRUISM).
2002: Founded Karam Hussain Museum of Art, Culture & Sciences. “AIDS Cell” came into
existence in January 2002.

2003: Visit Munich, Stutgard (Germany) & London, Scotland (UK)
2007: Elected Member of Majlis-e-Amala, All India Majlis-e-Mushawarat, New Delhi

2006: Entitled with Padam Shri by President of India;
1995: Awarded Certificate of honours for outstanding contribution to Persian, (President of
India Award)
1997: Awared lmtiaz-e Mir Award

Books/Journals Edited/Published:
1958: Edited Shaikh al Rais (Ibn Sina) Special number, Tibbia College Magazine, AMU, Aligarh.
1963: Published first book namely Daur Jadeed Aur Tibb
June 1965: Started editing AI-Hikmat (Monthly), Delhi. It was published till November 1970.
1967: Published Tarikh llm Tashrih
1969: Published Ilmul Amraz
1971: Published Resalah Judia
1972: Published Tajdeed Tibb
1974: Published Bayaz Waheedi
1976: Published Matab Murtaish
1978: Published Tazkerah Khandan Azizi
1980: Published Kitabul Murakkabat
1983: Published Safvi Ahad Main Ilm Tashreeh Ka Mutala
1983: Published Hayat Karam Hussain
1983: Published The Azizi Family of Physicians
1984: Published Aligarh Key Tibbi Makhtootat
1986: Published Qanoon lbn Sina Aur Uskey Shareheen wa Mutarjemeen
1986: Published Risalah Nabidh
1990: Published Tibb Feroz Shahi
1990: Published Research in Ilmul Advia
1993: Published Risalah Atrilal
1994: Published Studies in Ilmul Advia
1995: Published Delhi aur Tibb Unani
1996: Published AI-Advia al-Qalbia
1998: Published Iran Nama
2000: Founded Ibn Sina Academy (Trust) in Delhi
2001: Published Tibbi Taqdame
2001: Published Aina-e Tarikh Tibb
2001: Started Editing Newsletter of Ibn Sina Academy (NISA) – A quarterly Newsletter
2002: Published Asmaul Advia
2002: Published Maqalat Shifaul Mulk Hakim Abdul Latif
2004: Published Hakim Ajmal Khan, National Book Trust, India; Qanun Ibn Sina and its Translation and
Commentators (In Persian), Society for the Appreciation of Cultural Works and Dignitaries, Tehran,
Iran, pp 203. Visit Hamadan, Qum, Mashhad & Tehran (Iran); Karachi, Lahore, Sukkar, Multan and
Islamabad (Pakistan).
2005: Edited Musalmanon Ke Sainsi Karname by Zakaria Wark, Centre for Promotion & Advancement
of Science, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh;
2006: Founded Ghalib Study Centre; Published Safar Nama Bangladesh, Ibn Sina Academy, Aligarh.
2007: Published Jawami Kitab Al-Nabd Al-Saghir of Galen; Risalah Fi Auja Al Niqris of Qusta Ibn Luqa

Conference/Seminar Organized:
1968: Organized, Medical Exhibition on the History of Science in India, National Institute of Sciences,
New Delhi
1990: Organized, National Seminar on Unani Medicine, AMU, Aligarh
1989: Organized, Scientific Seminar on Unani Medicine in Allahabad
1991: Organized, International Seminar on Ilmul Advia, AMU, Aligarh
1993: Organized, 1st National Seminar on Ilmul Advia at Binapara, Azamgarh

Professor Hakeem Syed Zillur Rahman has made extensive and highly significant contributions in the field of Unani Medicine, which is an ancient and still practicing system of Medicine. His entire work concerns this exceedingly important branch of indigenous medicine. In India, Unani Medicine was prevalent since ages, but, due to industrial revolution and biased feelings, Europeans and other countries gradually deserted this age-old medicine. Somehow, it is being tried to bring back its past glory. Hakeem S. Zillur Rahman is among the few devoted physicians in this country who actually also introduced this system of medicine in other parts of the world where Unani Medicine had died. He made 22 foreign visits. Besides his work in India, where he moved many cities, he also traveled through Spain, Germany, England, Iran, Uzbekistan, Scotland, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and many Arab Countries, like, Jordan, Syria, Oman and U.A.E, making many discoveries, which have placed his name high among the restorers of letters.

The main contributions of Hakeem S. Zillur Rahman concern the history of Unani medicine. In fact, he is the only one in India who is doing research on primary sources, after his long academic pursuit for 40 years, he is now carefully thought as an authority on history of Unani Medicine. He is a diligent explorer of the Unani Medicine for old manuscripts of Arabic and Persian classics, while he formed a precious collection of his own. It is noted here, Hakeem S. Z. Rahman belongs to a family of Hakeems and learned scholars and this family is known also for its participation in 1857 Independence struggle.

As a scholar of repute, Professor S. Zillur Rahman has to his credit 31 voluminous published books, 10 Addresses, 2 Monographs, more than 150 research papers in both national and international journals. He also contributed 21 important chapters / articles in other reputed books. He edited, AI-Hikmat, a classical monthly journal of Unani Medicine from 1965 to 1970 in addition to 7 other acclaimed volumes of the Conferences. During his academic period, he supervised 25 MD thesis (Post-graduate) in Unani Medicine, attended 20 International Conferences overseas and 83 National Conferences, whereas, acted as chairman / co-chairman of about 75 learned conferences / gatherings. He is involved with /member of 61 learned educational bodies, has written a preface of 37 books of other scholars. He organized himself several national and international conferences, seminars, symposia & lectures, where he amply proved his standing and worth in the Unani field of his choice. Five of his books secured awards of learned academies of Govt. of India. Many scholars and institutions have cited his works. Six scholars dedicated their books to his personality. Scholars in Iran have translated 7 of his important books into Persian. National Book Trust, India and Delhi Urdu Academy (Govt. of India) among other publishers published his books. His name is entered in about a dozen Who's Who the world over. Noteworthy, in the recognition of his expertise, he became short term Consultant to World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for South East Asia Region, on the assignment of which he visited Bangladesh in 1996. Hamdard University, Karachi, Pakistan invited him as Visiting Professor in 1997. However, the most significant recognition of his scholarship is the 1995 President's of India Award for Persian literature given to him on independaence day for his in-depth study of Primary Source-material in lndo-Persian. In 2006, he was entitled with Padam Shri by Government of India. Prof. Rahman was one of the senior most and respected professors of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). He had been working in various capacities: Chairman, Department of Ilmul Advia, AK Tibbia College, AMU, Aligarh (December 19, 1978 to March 5, 1985, from March 25, 1988 to March 24, 1991, from January 7, 1992, to December 20, 1995 and from December 21, 1998 for three years); Dean, Faculty of Unani Medicine, AMU, Aligarh (December 2, 1988 to December 1, 1990), Member of the AMU Executive Council and of the AMU Court; vice-president of All-India Unani Tibbi Conference, New Delhi; president, All-India Unani Tibbi Conference (UP Chapter) and Chairman, Drug Formulary Sub-Committee, Ministry of Health and FW, G.O.l., New Delhi. Presently, he is the member of AMU Court, Pharmacopoeia Committee (Unani), Ministry of Health and FW, G.O.I.; Drug Technical Advisory Committtee, Ministry of Health and FW, G.O.I.; Governing Body, National Institute of Unani Medicine (NIUM), Bangalore and founder president, Ibn Sina Academy of Medieval Medicine & Sciences (Trust), Aligarh. He is also a Chief Editor of the international newsletter of Ibn Sina Academy (Aligarh / India), member internatioanal advisory board of the Journal for the History of Arabic Science (Syria) and Journal of International Society of History of Islamic Medicine (Turkey). Besides his aforementioned distinguished academic records and administrative achievements, Prof. S. Z. Rahman is also a man of avocations. His library-cum-museum is an eye-catching. He has to his collection more than 500 rare and important manuscripts, besides more than 15 thousands printed books on various subjects, a large collection of postal stamps, coins, old pens and many important memoirs. He is also quite well known in the community of the prominent citizens of this University City of Aligarh.

Contribution / Service to Society and Nation

Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman by his personal efforts made the department of Ilmul Advia (Ajmal Khan Tibbia College, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh) a center of excellance. A new building of the department with all modern facilities in the laboratories was constructed under his abled guidance and chairmanship. He raised both name and fame of this department at national and internation level. Former vice-chancellor, AMU, Aligarh, Prof. M. N. Farooqui, in his Autobiography, My Days at Aligarh, remarked (at page 40), "The Ministry of Health gave special recognition to the department of Ilmul Advia. Under the guidance of Prof. Syed Zillur Rahman the progress of the department was excellent".

Prof. Rahman represented India on Unani Medicine at various national and international gatherings. He assisted in the establishment of Ibn Sina Tibbia College at Beenapara, Azamgarh of which he laid the foundation stone on January 25, 1981. In 2000, Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman founded a national academy, namely, Ibn Sina Academy of Medieval Medicine & Sciences (Trust) at Aligarh. He established his personal library-cum-museum in early sixties of the twentieth century. After the establishment of Ibn Sina Academy, this Library and museum have now become a part of the Ibn Sina Academy Trust. The library of IAMMS at present houses one of the most precious and valuable collection of 15000 printed books, 500 manuscripts, some rare books, microfilms, compact discs and a large number of periodicals. Books in many languages like Arabic/ Persian/ Urdu/ Sanskrit and English, on a variety of subjects like History of Medicine and Sciences, Unani/ Greco-Arab Medicine, Ilmul Advia/ Pharmacology, Urdu Literature with special reference to Ghalib, Aligarh and Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, besides thousands of bound volumes of magazines are extant in the library of the Academy. On an average a dozen of people daily come in the library and avail its open access facilities. Scholars both from across India and foreign countries visit the library regularly. Apart from the library, various sectors in the Ibn Sina Academy also exists such as Karam Hussain Museum of Art, Culture & Sciences, Publication Division, Division of History of Medicine & Sciences (DHMS), Centre for Safety & Rational Use of Indian Systems of Medicine (CSRUISM), AIDS Cell & Ghalib Study Centre. Prof. Rahman assisted in the Regimental Therapy Project of Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. A Project on “Hammam” included in the programme for Regional Research Institute of Unani Medicine (RRIUM), Srinagar was done under his guidance.

Prof. Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman is a man of many interests. On one hand, he is an expert in Unani Medicine, a historian and a scholar of repute; on the other hand he is a philanthropist and a great bibliophile. He established his personal library-cum-museum in early 1960s. After the establishment of Ibn Sina Academy of Medieval Medicine and Sciences (IAMMS) in 2000 AD, this Library and Museum have become a part of IAMMS, which is a Registered Trust.

The Library of IAMMS houses at present one of the most precious and valuable collection of over 500 manuscripts; 15,000 printed books in many languages like Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Sanskrit, Hindi, even Russian and evidently English; 10,000 periodicals; a few hundreds special number of magazines and many specimens of oriental calligraphy. Most of the manuscripts are very rare and some are unique. The extant copies of the Holy Quran are extremely beautiful specimens of the art of calligraphy. A few illustrated copies of the Holy Quran, having beautiful frontispieces and embellished borders, are so alluring and eye-catching that any one who looks at them is dazzled and stands spellbound in wonder.

Following sections in the Library are noteworthy: History of Medicine and Sciences, Unani Medicine, Ilmul Advia/ Pharmacology, Ghalib Studies, Sir Mohammad Iqbal Studies, Biographies, Bhopal Studies, Aligarh and Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.
(Ref.: Hakim Zillur Rahman Library – Idrak, Gopalpur, Bakarganj, Siwan, Bihar, 223 & 229:No. 3, 2003)

Reference of the above library could also be found at the website of Directory of History of Medicine Collection, History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine, USA (

1. Tibbi Kulliyat, By Hakim Ehteshamul Haq Quraishi, Principal Takmil-al Tibb College, Lucknow, 1983.
2. Kanzul Advia Mufrada, By Hakim Mohd Rafiquddin, Publication Division, AMU, Aligarh, 1985.
3. Mazamin-i Sehat, By Professor Hakim Abdul Hannan, Principal College of Eastern Medicine, Hamdard University, Karachi, Pakistan, 1992.
4. MD Thesis, By Dr. Syed Ziaur Rahman, Department of Pharmacology, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, AMU, Aligarh, 2000.
5. History of Non-Resident Students' Centre (1910-2000), Aligarh Muslim University, By Dr. Syed Ziaur Rahman, Ibn Sina Academy of Medieval Medicine & Sciences, Aligarh, 2000.
6. Minhajul Saidla wa Kemia, By Hakim Mohd Rafiquddin and Hakim Saleem Akhtar, Aijaz Publishing House, New Delhi, 2001.
7. Tauzihat Kulliyat-e-Advia (Basic Principles of Pharmacology & Pharmaceutics) by Dr. A. Latif, Ibn Sina Academy, Aligarh (ISBN: 81-901362-0-8), 1st Edition, 2002.
8. Tauzihat Kulliyat-e-Advia (Basic Principles of Pharmacology & Pharmaceutics) by Dr. A. Latif, Ibn Sina Academy, Aligarh (ISBN: 81-901362-3-2), 2nd Edition, 2004.
9. Shahad ki Makkhi, by Dr. Tassawwer Hussain, Centre for Promotion & Advancement of Science, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, 2004.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Syed Zahoor Qasim

Syed Zahoor Qasim

Born : 27th December 1926, Allahabad (UP) India
Father : Syed Zamir Qasim
Wife : Nawabzadi Begum Sahiba of Rampur. A royal dissident of Nawab of Rampur.
Children:Three daughters.
Brother: Dr. Syed R. Qasim, Professor Emeritus, University of Texas, Arlington. Dr. S.R. Qasim had completed his B.Sc. Engineering (Civil) in 1957 from Aligarh Muslim University.

1949 : B.Sc. AMU Aligarh
1951 : M.Sc. (Zoology), AMU Aligarh with First Position
1956 : D.Sc. & Ph.D. University Coll of North Wales, UK


Secretary, Gymnasium Club, AMU Aligarh
Joint Secretary, Games Committee, AMU Aligarh
1951 : Lecturer, Department of Zoology, AMU Aligarh
1957 : Reader, Department of Zoology, AMU Aligarh
1962-64: Professor, Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Bombay
1964 :Assistant Director, The Directorate of International Indian Ocean
Expedition (IIOE) under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research
1970-73:Director, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute at Cochin
1974 :Director, National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa
1976 :Fellow, Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore
1977 :Fellow, Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi
Fellow, Indian National Science Academy, Bangalore
President, Indian National Academy
1976-80:Chairman. Working Committee of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.
1981 :Secretary, Department of Environment (DOE), Government of India
1981 :Leader of India's First Expedition to the Antarctica.
1982 :Founding Secretary, Department of Ocean Development
1989-91:Vice-Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
Vice-Chairman, Society for Indian Ocean Studies
Chairman, Society for Indian Ocean Studies
Chairman, World Environment Foundation
1991-96:Member, Planning Commission of India
1995 :Member, Dr. D. Swaminadhan Research Foundation (DSRF)
2003 :Fellow, Third World Academy of Sciences
Honorary Fellow, Muslim Association for the Advancement of Science, Aligarh
Honorary Member, Asian Fisheries Society

1974 : Padam Shiri
1975 : Chandra Hora Memorial Medal
1975 : Golden Jubilee Trust Gold Medal
1982 : Padam Bhushan
F.I.E. Award

Dr Syed Zahoor Qasim was born on 27th December 1926 at Allahabad, UP. He completed his early education in Allahabad and joined Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh in 1947. During his student life, he was resident of Muzammil Hostel in Viqarul Mulk Hall (VM Hall). He took his B.Sc. in 1949 and M.Sc. degree in Zoology in 1951. He stood first in the order of Merit for which he was awarded University Gold Medal. For a few years, he was a lecturer in the Department of Zoology at Aligarh before proceeding to the United Kingdom for higher studies in 1953. He returned to India in December of 1956 and joined the Department of Zoology of AMU as a Lecturer. He became Reader in 1957 and started a new laboratory of Fish and Fisheries in the Department.

In 1962, he joined the Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Bombay (Mumbai) as a Professor of Fisheries Biology and in 1964, moved to Cochin as Assistant Director in the Directorate of International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE) under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Here he extensively worked on biological oceanography especially on the primary productivity of Kerala Backwaters and on the atolls of Lakshadweep. From 1970 to 1973, Dr. Qasim was the Director of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute at Cochin. He also held the additional charge of the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Cochin for about one year. Here he promoted new lines of work in Fisheries Biology and initiated the development of mussel culture and pearl culture techniques for the first time in India. This work earned him the prestigious award of "Padma Shri.". In January 1974, he took over as the Director of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa. In February 1976 he was responsible for the commissioning of the first Oceanographic Research Vessel Ganeshani for NIO. He initiated many new programs on the productivity of the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal.

In May 1981, Dr. Qasim was appointed Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Environment (DOE) and within a year (April 1982) he took over as Secretary of the newly established Department of Ocean Development. He has been responsible for the acquisition of a second Oceanographic Research Vessel "Sagar Sampada" for the Indian Oceanographic research. Dr. Qasim led India's First Expedition to the Antarctica and successfully organized and guided the other seven expeditions to the frozen continent from 1981 to 1988. His work on Fisheries Biology, primary productivity, mari-culture particularly mussel and pearl culture, estuarine ecology, environmental pollution and Antarctic research will always be quoted profusely. He has published more than 200 original research papers in national and international journals. For his original work and distinguished services, he won many honors and awards. He led many delegations of India in several international conferences and meetings.
Dr. Qasim is a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, Indian academy of Sciences, Bangalore, National Academy of Sciences, Allahabad, among many others. Under his guidance nearly 40 students obtained their Ph.D. degrees from various universities in India. He is Editor for several journals and member of the Editorial Boards of many national and international scientific journals. he is an Honorary Professor of several Universities including Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai in Tamil Nadu, Annamalai University, Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (Chennai) in Tamil Nadu, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh and the Jamia Millia Islamia(University) in Delhi.

Dr. Qasim played a key role to establish Dr. D. Swaminadhan Research Foundation (DSRF) with the help of his colleagues Prof. Dr. D. Swaminadhan and Dr. Jayant Patil. Dr. D. Swaminadhan Research Foundation (DSRF) is a non-profit and non-governmental forum established in 1995 with the laudable objective of contributing towards development based on eco-friendly, pro-poor and gender equity parameters. It is registered as a Society and as a Trust under Indian Societies and Trusts acts. Social Action, sustainable development, social empowerment, application of advancements in science & technology for rural development and promotion of human values are the focus. The Foundation has been recognised by the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt. of India as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (SIRO) and by the Ministry of Finance for the purpose of Income Tax Exemption. DSRF is also registered with Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India under the Foreign Contributions (Regulations) Act of 1976.

Dr. Qasim is blessed with three daughters and lives in New Delhi.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Irfan Habib

Irfan Habib

Born: 12th August 1931, Baroda (Vadodra) in Gujrat India.

Father: Prof. Mohd. Habib (A noted historian and Alig)

Mother: Sohaila Tayabji (Grand daughter of Justice Badruddin Tayabji of Bombay)



1951: B.A. AMU Aligarh with First Position

1953: M.A. (History), AMU Aligarh with First Position.

1956: D.Phil. from New College, Oxford.


1953: Lecturer, Department of History, AMU Aligarh

1960: Reader, Department of History, AMU Aligarh

1968: Jawaharlal Nehru Fellow.

1969: Professor, Department of History, AMU Aligarh

(Retired on 30.08.1991)

1952: Editor, Aligarh Magazine (English)

1982: Watumull Prize of American Historical Association.

(Jointly with Tapan Raychaudhuri)

1975-77 &1984-88: Chairman, Department of History, AMU Aligarh

(14th June, 1984 to May 1988)

1975-77 & 1984-96: Coordinator, Center of Advance Studies (CAS), Department

of History, AMU Aligarh. (14th June 1994 to 13th May 1996).

: Dean, Faculty of Social Science

1986-90: Chairman, Indian Council of Historical Research New Delhi, India

(9th September, 1986 to 1st July 1990)

1981: President, Indian History Congress.

1997: Elected Corresponding Fellow, British Royal Historical Society.

2005: Padma Bhushan, Government of India

2006: Muzaffar Ahmad Memorial Prize

2006: Vice-President, Indian History Congress.

2007: Professor Emeritus in Dept. of History AMU Aligarh

Selected publications:

Books Authored:

  1. The Agrarian System of Mughal India 1556-1707. First published in 1963 by Asia Publishing House. Second, extensively revised, edition published in 1999 by Oxford University Press.
  2. An Atlas of the Mughal Empire: Political and Economic Maps With Detailed Notes, Bibliography, and Index. Oxford University Press, 1982
  3. Essays in Indian History - Towards a Marxist Perception. Tulika Books, 1995.
  4. The Economic History of Medieval India: A Survey. Tulika Books, 2001.
  5. People's History of India - Part 1: Prehistory. Aligarh Historians Society and Tulika Books, 2001.
  6. People’s History of India Part 2 : The Indus Civilization. Aligarh Historians Society and Tulika Books, 2002.
  7. A People's History of India Vol. 3 : The Vedic Age. (Co-author Vijay Kumar Thakur) Aligarh Historians Society and Tulika Books, 2003.
  8. A People's History of India - Vol 4 : Mauryan India. (Co-author Vivekanand Jha) Aligarh Historians Society and Tulika Books, 2004.
  9. A People's History of India - Vol 28 : Indian Economy, 1858-1914. Aligarh Historians Society and Tulika Books, 2006.

Books Edited

  1. The Cambridge Economic History of India - Volume I: 1200-1750 (co-editor Tapan Raychaudhari)
  2. UNESCO History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Vol 5 : Development in contrast: from the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century. (Co-editors Chahryar Adle and K M Baikapov)
  3. UNESCO History of Humanity, Vol 4: From the seventh to the sixteenth century. (With various co-editors).
  4. UNESCO History of Humanity, Vol 5: From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. (With various co-editors).
  5. The Growth of Civilizations in India And Iran
  6. Sikh History from Persian Sources
  7. Akbar and His India
  8. India - Studies in the History of an Idea
  9. State & Diplomacy under Tipu Sultan
  10. Confronting Colonialism
  11. Medieval India - 1
  12. A World to Win - Essays on the Communist Manifesto (co-editors Aijaz Ahmed and Prakash Karat)

Irfan Habib was born on 12th August, 1931 in Baroda (now Vadodra) Gujrat in a very aristrocrate family of learned scholars. His father Professor Mohammad Habib was a well known historian and a professor in department of history in Aligarh Muslim University.Irfan Habib’s grandfather, Mohammad Naseem was a famous lawyer in Lucknow and a staunch supporter of Aligarh Movement and female education. His mother Sohaila Tayabji was daughter of Abbas Tayabji and grand-daughter of Justice Badruddin Tayabji. Abbas Tyabji was an Indian freedom fighter from Gujarat, who had served as the Chief Justice of the (Baroda) Gujarat High Court. He was son of son of Shamsuddin Tayabji and nephew of Justice Badruddin Tayabji. He was a key ally and supporter of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel during the 1918 Kheda Satyagraha, and the 1928 Bardoli Satyagraha. He was also a close supporter of Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress. In 1919-20, Abbas Tyabji was one of the members of the Committee appointed by the Indian National Congress to review the charges against General Dyer for the Amritsar Massacre, which occurred during the fight for independence from the British. Tyabji became the national leader after leading major protests against the arrest of Mahatma Gandhi in May 1930. He was married to Amina Badruddin Tayabji, daughter of Justice Badruddin Tayabji. Justice Badruddin Tayabji was First Indian to be called to the English Bar (1867), and then the first Indian barrister in Bombay. He entered public life after three years at the Bar. Along with Kashinath Telang and Pherozeshah Mehta, he formed the "Triumvirate" that presided over Bombay's public life. Justice Badruddin Tayabji was President of the 3rd session of the Indian National Congress in 1887 which was held in Madras. He was one of the founders of the Anjuman-i-Islam, his brother Camruddin being President. He was Justice of the Bombay High Court from 1895, acting as Chief Justice in 1902, the first Indian to hold this post in Bombay.

Irfan Habib started his education in Aligarh Muslim University and completed his B.A. in 1951 securing first position and a gold medal and M.A. in History in 1953 with honors and joined as Lecturer in Department of History in Aligarh Muslim University at a very young age of 22 years. He obtained his D.Phil. degree from New College, Oxford. His research “Agrarian System of Mughal India” was well taken by the research community was published in form of a book in 1963. He was appointed as “Reader” in 1960 and “Professor” in 1969 in the Department of History, Aligarh Muslim University. His major publications including, Agrarian System of Mughal India, Essays in Indian History: Towards a Marxist perception and Atlas of the Mughal Empire gave his due place in the academic community. He is also the editor of Peoples History of Indian Series, besides having edited UNESCO publications and Cambridge Economic History of India, Volume I. He has authored and edited number of books, over hundred research papers on various fields of Indian and world history. Prof. Irfan Habib has worked on the historical geography of Ancient India, the history of Indian technology, medieval administrative and economic history, colonialism and its impact on India, and historiography. Amiya Kumar Bagchi describes Habib as "one of the two most prominent Marxist historians of India today and at the same time, one of the greatest living historians of India between the twelfth and eighteenth centuries."

Prof. Irfan Habib had served as Chairman of Department of History of AMU from 1975 to 1977 and from 14th June, 1984 to May 1988. He had also served as Coordinator of Center of Advance Studies (CAS) in Department of History, AMU Aligarh from 1975 to 1977 and 14th June 1994 to 13th May 1996. In 1986, Prof. Irfan Habib was appointed as Chairman of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) New Delhi, India. He served as its Chairman from 9th September, 1986 to 1st July 1990. He had also served as President and Vice-President of Indian History Congress in 1981 and 2006 respectively. Indian History Congress is India's largest peer body of historians. He delivered Radhakrishnan Lecture at Oxford in 1991. In 1998, he was elected as Corresponding Fellow of British Royal Historical Society, a unique honor earned by his scholarly contribution, recognized by the international community. Prof. Irfan Habib, formally retired on 30.08.1991 has remained associated with the Aligarh Muslim University for all these years without a break, displaying unusual academic interest and scholarly activity that stand out as a model par excellence for every one. Prof. Irfan Habib remains a towering personality fully wedded to the secular values of the Indian Republic. He has illuminated the minds of millions of Indians by his in depth, path breaking erudition of Indian History with a new insight that was so refreshing to the promotion of secular ideals in India. The nation has bestowed on him the coveted civilian title “Padma Bhushan” in 2005. In December 2007, Aligarh Muslim University appointed Prof. Irfan Habib as Professor Emeritus in the department of History. The presence of such a brilliant scholar in the Aligarh Muslim University will add to the academic glory of the institution. He will remain a beacon light for teachers and students of History for several years to come.

A tribute to Irfan Habib: ASHOK MITRA

The Making of History: Essays presented to Irfan Habib edited by K. N. Panikkar, Terence J. Byres and Utsa Patnaik; Tulika

WHY not say it, Irfan Habib is an extraordinary phenomenon. As a historian, he has few peers. His research on The Agrarian System of Mughal India, published in the 1960s, immediately became a classic. Recognition as a fearless exponent of Marxist historiography rained down on him. His initial work pertained to the medieval era of Indian history. He has ceaselessly produced tracts on aspects of this historical period, each of which bears the stamp of his intellectual depth and clarity of writing. His mind and interest did not, however, long stay confined to any particular, narrow phase of events and occurrences. He soon spread out; nothing from the very ancient period to the outer fringes of modern Indian history has escaped his attention. The point has to be emphasised over and over again: whatever he has written has been the product of scholastic endeavour of the highest order: reasoning, primary data not unraveled in the past, application of such data towards formulating credible hypotheses, and the entire corpus built, stone by stone, into a magnificent edifice which can be held in comparison only with other products emanating from Irfan Habib's mind and pen. It is the combination of quantity of output and quality of excellence which has enabled his works reach the reputation of being the other word for supreme excellence.

Inevitably, he has attracted attention as much within the country as outside. Honours have come to him easily. What is of stupendous additional significance, his interpretation of data, building of premises based on such data and expansion of the underlying reasoning, have never strayed away from their Marxist foundation. He has been unabashedly Marxist in his scholastic activities, and has never made a secret of his intellectual and emotional inclination. No run-of-the-mill braggart, his output, every line of it, every expression of his format, has spelled out his faith and belief. Ours is a hide-bound society; it breathes reaction from every pore. Nonetheless, it has been unable to either bypass or be indifferent to Irfan's towering scholarship. Not only has he been accorded the highest academic distinction in an educational institution which has its fair share of retrograde thoughts and demeanour. Even the country's administrative establishment could not fail to take cognisance of his intellectual prowess. Thus the Chairmanship of the Indian Council of Historical Research was offered to him. He held this position for well over a decade, and it was no vacuous adornment of a throne. He used the opportunity to wonderful effect, guiding and counseling historical research at different centres of learning in the country. The result shows in the secular advance in the quality of history teaching and writing in the different Indian universities.

But research interests have not held back Irfan in a narrow mooring. Alongside his individual research activities and the scholastic work he has encouraged around him, his focus of attention has continued to be his students. He has lived for his students , and it would be no exaggeration to claim that he is prepared to die for them. A little facetious research will prove the point: about half of his colleagues on the faculty of history in the Aligarh Muslim University happen to be his former students. It would still be a travesty to infer that he built his students in his own image. He has been a radical thinker, a weather-beaten socialist prepared to combat all ideological challenges, and yet his catholicism as a teacher is by now a legend. Even those whose stream of thought is not in accord with his wave-length have nonetheless found in him the most painstaking teacher who would not deny a student, any student, what he, rightfully or otherwise, can expect of a teacher. Irfan's style of exposition has an elegance of its own: he is an accredited socialist, and yet his command of language, and the manner in which he puts it across, have the hallmark of the legatee of a benign, civilised aristocracy. Maybe in this matter his heredity has been a natural helper.

That does not still tell the entire story of his dazzling career. It is possible to come across scores and scores of arm-chair socialists and radicals whose faith has not nudged them into political activism. From that point of view too, Irfan Habib is al together out of the ordinary. He has been, for nearly three decades, an accredited member of a revolutionary political party; he has not concealed this datum from any quarters. Quite on the contrary, that identity has been his emblem of pride. He has bee n prepared to serve the cause of the party whenever called upon, without however compromising or neglecting his academic responsibilities. It is this blend of intense - if it were not a heresy, one could say, almost religious - belief and fearless participation in political activism which has marked him out in the tepid milieu of Indian academia. His activism, one should add, has widened beyond the humdrum sphere of political speech-making and polemical writing (although, even in his absent-mindedness, his polemics has never descended to the level of empty rhetoric). Irfan's social conscience has prodded him into trade unionism, what many academics would regard as waywardness of the most shocking kind. Irfan could not have cared less for such snobbery. He has also encouraged his students to combine radical thought with political engagement. He has been at the forefront of organisers of teachers' movements. To cap all, he has been the main inspirer and mobiliser of the non-teaching employees of his university and elsewhere. He has suffered on all these accounts including, for a period, suspension from his university. This was an outrage, and social pressure forced the university to revoke its insensate decision.

TO fail to mention his relentless opposition to communal revanchists of all genres will be an unpardonable omission. Muslim fundamentalists have made him their favourite target; of late, Hindu communalists have joined the ranks of this motley crow d. Irfan has not for one moment cowered before this rabble. A quiet, tranquil person in his natural disposition, there is a reservoir of fire in him which has been continuously directed against society's reactionary scum.

For this truly extraordinary scholar, his friends, colleagues and admirers have now assembled, in the form of a festschrift, an extraordinary collection of 23 essays. The Making of History is a labour of love and regard; it is, at the same time, a compendium of much of academic excellence as of social awareness. And it is a magnificently produced volume, for which full credit devolves on the publishers.

THE festschrift opens with a perceptive and comprehensive Introduction covering the major aspects of Irfan Habib's pursuits and fascinations. The essays that follow are arranged in five sections, each of which reflects Irfan's research interests i n different phases. In this brief survey, it is not possible to render justice to each of the different contributions and their authors. The reviewer therefore proposes to draw attention to only some of the essays and seeks forgiveness from the other aut hors.

An additional preliminary comment is perhaps necessary concerning the nature of the contributions: barring one or two exceptions, each essay bears the imprint of a Marxist approach. That is understandable in the light of Irfan's personal inclinations. In that sense, The Making of History is a fusion of subjectivity and objectivity. The contributions include one British, one from Bangladesh and two from Japan.

The first section covers a span of ancient Indian history. Romila Thapar, in her commentary on Rigveda as a mirror of social change, is as incisive and scintillating as ever. She and Suraj Bhan who discusses the Aryanisation of the Indian civilisation, arrive at more or less the same conclusion, Romila a little elliptically and Bhan much more directly: the post-Independence endeavour on the part of some groups to invest Vedic culture superiority over other civilisations of the ancient world constitutes a much overdrawn picture; all that can be said to its credit, or discredit, is that the social stratification which has been the perennial curse of Indian civilisation has its genesis in Vedic times.

The articles in the second section combine analytical rigour and historical insight to explicate the social processes unleashed toward the end of the Mughal period and the accompanying transition of society from the feudal to the semi-feudal mode. Iqtidar Alam Khan traces the antecedents of market formation and narrates the tales of peasant exploitation as well as peasant resistance. Muzaffer Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam dig into both archival accounts and contemporary literature. Theories are formulate d in this section on the basis of prior intuitions. These are emended via ferreting of data; new hypotheses thereby rear their head. A charming example is provided by J. Mohan Rao's excursion into production and appropriation relations in Mughal India. I n what is almost an aside, Hiroyuki Kotani discusses rural and urban class structures in the Deccan and Gujarat in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; the piece is both a throwback to ancient times and a preview of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century social complexities.

The third section pushes us into the proximity of the colonial era. The four essays in this section divide themselves into two even groups. The first two papers, by Terence J. Byres and Amiya Kumar Bagchi, are pristine examples of the inter-meshing of economic theory and economic history, with emphasis on building new theoretical constructs. Byres posits an inverse relationship between land productivity and size of holding for Mughal India, basing himself on Irfan Habib's pioneering work and laments the lack of a study, a la Irfan, on the agrarian system of British India. Bagchi's tract on the working class as the historian's burden is breathtaking in its sweep. His premise does not have an altogether specific Indian context; the essay connotes a historicity which has a universal appeal; the endless saga of the repression of the working class and their resistance to it is nonetheless illumined by examples picked from Indian annals, north and south, east and west.

The other two essays in the section are gems of statistical exploration intended to reveal the extent and magnitude of colonial exploitation. Shireen Moosvi painstakingly gathers together data from different sources, adding her own collation of primary data, to establish the empirical truth of the stagnation, and in certain periods, the actual delcine of both per capita income and real wages in the colonial era. On the other hand, Utsa Patnaik wades into the Luxemburgian theme of external exploit ation. Her fresh estimates of eighteenth century British trade as a transfer device from tropical colonies will be quoted, this reviewer has not the least doubt, in future texts attempting to describe the colonial nightmare.

Section four again has a theme-wise bifurcation. The first two essays, the contributions of Javeed Alam and Aijaz Ahmad, constitute a devastating critique of a genre of academic pretensions that have gained prominence in recent years. To be fair, the pro tagonists of such scriptures are often well-meaning in their interpretations. They have, however, been affected by the malady of either left-wing adventurism or straightforward frustration. Both Aijaz Ahmad and Javeed Alam are punctilious in the construction of their hypotheses, and the common conclusion one reaches from assimilating the message of their two essays is that modernity and post-modernism have added at best some footnotes to Marxist historiography. The articles by Mihir Bhattacharya, Ratnab ali Chatterjee and Malini Bhattacharya dwell on the two-way relationship between historical occurrences and the cultural process. Mihir discusses the impact of the grim Bengal famine of the 1940s on the sensitivity of two outstanding Bengali novelists, Manik Bandyopadhyay and Bibhutibhusan Bandyopadhyay. Ratnabali Chatterjee analyses the archaeological evidence of the early traces of nationalism in the cultural nuances of medieval Bengal. Malini Bhattacharya is severe in her attack on the modern-day trends to package so-called ethnic products, including folk songs, musical tunes and handicrafts, for crass commercial purposes. She tells us that the indigenous artists, whatever their sphere of creativity, articulated a deeply felt secularism, from which we should draw inspiration.

Section five ushers in many of the themes of contemporary controversy. K. N. Panikkar analyses the links between culture and nationalism and their anti-thesis represented by communal politics. He does not stray from solid facts, and yet spares no invecti ve for the social reactionaries where such invective is richly deserved. Mushirul Hasan revisits Indian partition. He invites the new generation of historians to cast away the conventional format of Partition studies and concentrate on stressing the hitherto neglected literature on inter-community relations, Partition and national identity. Mushtaq H. Khan sheds light on a problem which has till now scarcely drawn the attention of Indian scholars: what he describes as class, clientelism and communal politics in Bangladesh. K.M. Shrimali's meticulous review of the archaeological evidence pertaining to earlier times has two objectives: first, to question the empirical foundation of the alleged conversion of Hindu religious structures into mosques, et al, in the Muslim epoch, and second, to prove how flimsy is the claim of a Rama temple predating the Babri Masjid in the Ayodhya location.

The final section relates to economics of the modern era. C.P. Chandrasekhar discusses the ongoing economics reforms focussing on the public sector undertakings and suggests that these reflect the construct of a true pompadour non-civilisation. Th e last essay in the volume, by Prabhat Patnaik, is of an altogether different genre. Prabhat depicts his essay as a simple model of an imaginary socialist economy. His modesty is misleading, for his construction is not of an imaginary socialist system, b ut of an idyllic system, which carries forward the Marxist-Leninist ideological postulate beyond Rosa Luxemburg, Oskar Lange and Michal Kalecki. Prabhat's conceptual model of an internally consistent socialist economy, this reviewer is firmly of the view, will still the disquiet of many doubting Thomases.

The volume ends with a detailed and conscientious list of Irfan's publications, which will be of immense use to future research scholars.

All told, The Making of History is a most appropriate tribute to Irfan Habib's unrelenting commitment to history and the social sciences. Several of the contributions in the volume, one is tempted to suggest, are bound to make history!

January 5, 2001: The Rediff Interview/ Professor Irfan Habib

The Rediff Interview/ Professor Irfan Habib

The saffronisation of Indian history has been a controversial subject ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party assumed power at the Centre. This has angered many leading historians in the country.

The apprehension of historians like Professor Irfan Habib arises from the fact that this process will result in a distorted interpretation of Indian history.

In Calcutta to attend the 61st session of the Indian History Congress, Professor Habib, a former head of the Indian Council of Historical Research, spoke to Rifat Jawaid about the revival of the Babri Masjid controversy and other issues pertaining to Indian history.

The 61st session of the Indian History Congress is being held at a time when the Babri Masjid issue is once again being debated. What does the IHC make about the revival of the Ayodhya controversy?

It's not historical evidence that is being talked about today. The position of the Indian History Congress in the past was that irrespective of the origin of the Babri Masjid, the structure should not have been demolished. Whether those who said there was a Ram temple underneath and those who said there wasn't -- the point is that once a structure is established and it becomes an ancient monument, it can't be disturbed. These two controversies must be absolutely delinked.

Therefore, in the Warangal Resolution of March 1993, the History Congress specifically criticised the Government of India for referring the matter to the Supreme Court. We have maintained all along that the structure that upholds must be preserved as it is.

The only thing which has revived the controversy is Vajpayee's assertion that the destruction of the Babri Masjid was a kind of a national movement. So obviously, historians are perturbed with the prime minister's interpretation of what was an act of vandalism.

An ICHR offical recently stated that there was no Babri Mosque at the disputed site in Ayodhya. How do you react to his statement?

Sushil Kumar, the person whom you are referring to, is merely a director of the Indian Council of Historical Research. He is not a historian. By making such statements, he probably feels he could please his masters.

Do you think people without a background in history should be allowed to hold key positions in an organisation like the ICHR?

Ask this question to the present regime.

How do you compare the National Democratic Alliance government with its predecessors?

Other regimes were not interested in a particular ideological myth. The present regime wants to impose a specific mindset or ideology which is not an ideology of science. This is how I find the present government different from the regimes we had in the past.

As a historian, how disturbed are you by the reported attempts of the saffronisation of Indian history? There are reports that saffronisation is taking place in text books, educational institutions such as the ICHR, the Indian Council of Social Sciences Research and the National Council for Education, Research and Training.

You are asking me two different questions. First, we must understand what value education the HRD ministry in the BJP government is talking about. To me, value education is another name for religious instructions as it is clear from the curriculum and filling up of posts in the NCERT with those practicing the ideology of the Sangh Parivar. But that is declared illegal by the Indian Constitution. By our Constitution, no State-supported institutions can impart religious instructions on a compulsory basis. It is unconstitutional.

The BJP government is visibly concerned because religious instructions mean, to that extent, a scientific approach is automatically curtailed. Be it Islam or any other religion, the very nature of religion is that you accept it. No archaeologist worth his name can say that Ibrahim founded the Kaaba, yet Muslims believe this. So clearly, religion must be separated.

Secondly, history deals with religious beliefs that the Kaaba was founded by Ibrahim. Therefore, I believe religion does not prove its beliefs by history and history does not accept the fact of the religion unless of this kind. If these two issues are mixed in Indian education, it will mark the demise of scientific and rationale education in the country.

How difficult is it for independent researchers to carry on with their work under the BJP government? Not so long ago, two historians -- Sumit Sarkar and K N Panikkar -- had alleged that two of their volumes on the freedom movement were withdrawn because they refused to toe the Sangh Parivar line.

So long as India continues to uphold the dignity of democracy and civil rights, there is no reason why historians should feel intimidated. As for the withdrawal of the two volumes edited by two eminent historians, I feel it is a matter for the ICHR. The Indian History Congress has that matter on its agenda and we will get a resolution on it during our three-day conclave. The general body of our Congress will debate this issue extensively.

The BJP government is being singled out for recruiting scholars who toe their line. But the Left Front government in Bengal has often been accused of appointing people with a Marxist background to sensitive positions. As a Marxist, how can you justify this?

Even I have come across such reports in a section of media. As for Bengal, all the appointees here were never been short of basic prerequisites. They have always fulfilled the academic standards. The only difference between the BJP government and the non-BJP ruled states including Bengal is that the latter did not regard Marxist views as totally unacceptable.

History is based on fact. Yet one often sees historians divided on any given issue. Many people say personal prejudice and political lineage influence researchers.

Every individual sees a particular set of historical facts differently. It may be because of his experience, affiliation and political allegiance. However, there is very little doubt that they are all historians. On the other hand, the kind of things the Sangh Parivar is busy doing today? It is not adhering to any historical facts.

A true historian can never say anything outside the framework of historical facts. The only satisfying revelation is that those who believe in distorting

facts. The only satisfying revelation is that those who believe in distorting history are very few in number. There are many who owe political allegiance, but they do not necessarily follow them while researching certain subjects.

Coming back to the Babri Masjid controversy, what is your personal reading? Was there really a Ram temple on which Babar constructed a mosque?

I have no different opinion than what some eminent historians have already said on this issue. Actually, this historical evidence was collected and a detailed report issued by four historians of repute in the past. They observed that when the Babri Masjid was being constructed, there was no memory of a Hindu temple in Avadh, which was then a medieval town.


The nation that is India: Prof. Irfan Habib

The article was published in The Little Magazine.

When Benedict Anderson published his Imagined Communities in 1983, with the subtitle Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism, the text was widely hailed as an unanswerable critique of the claims to nationhood by peoples outside Western Europe. Very few readers of Anderson apparently had the patience to reflect that too much was perhaps being read in the new word ‘imagined’. Earlier writers had used words like ‘consciousness’, ‘belief’, ‘consider’ (the last in Seton-Watson, quoted by Anderson himself), to indicate that a nation comes into existence when large numbers become convinced that they form one. But in this respect, the nation is no different from any other ‘community’ or association, whether a religious community or family or tribe or caste or even profession. It is only in our ‘imagination’ that a fellowship in faith, or a common ancestry, or a similar way of doing things makes us see some of us as a community or a class. Indeed, it is our ‘imagination’ that makes us so different from animals.

If there is a point in Anderson’s book, of which a reminder would be useful, it is that consciousness of nationhood is of comparative recent origin: for the world at large, outside Western Europe, it is mainly a post-French Revolution (1789) phenomenon. But this was not, unlike what Anderson tells us, simply because the exciting ideas of the French Revolution first caught the imagination of ambitious individuals in Latin America, starting with Simon Bolivar. The crucial basis for emerging nationhood was provided by colonialism, which was no imagined phenomenon either for Latin America, or for Asia and Africa. Colonialism was ruthlessly exploitative, and it could be opposed only if people, who were oppressed, were brought together on the largest scale possible. The ‘nation’ provided precisely such a unifying platform.

Colonialism was also an unconscious agency for a momentous transfer of ideas. Based in Europe (and the United States), its economic framework rested on the capitalist economy of the metropolitan countries. It was necessary for colonialism itself that parts of capitalist infrastructure, such as railways, processing factories, and some technology, should reach the colonies; and that certain numbers of colonial populations should learn the languages of the rulers for convenience of governance. These steps opened the doors to the transmission of ideas and knowledge from Europe. Marx described this as a source of ‘regeneration’ of the exploited people (he was speaking in 1853 with reference to India), in contrast to the ‘destructive’ role that colonialism had simultaneously played in the sphere of economy and society of the colonial peoples.

This notion of a dual process of destruction and regeneration was challenged by Edward Said in his Orientalism, the first edition of which came out in 1978. Despite his disclaimers in the ‘Afterword’ appended to the 1995 edition, Said clearly argues in his main text that European studies of eastern countries and peoples fundamentally distorted the pictures of the latter’s true cultures. Soon, one began to hear of ‘colonial discourse’ and even ‘colonial knowledge.’ In Imagining India, first published in 1990, Ronald Inden asserted that "the agency of Indians, the capacity of Indians to make their world, has been displaced in these [Orientalist] knowledges (the plural shows that we are now in the framework of post-modernist ‘knowledge’ on to other agents." Edward Said concedes in his Afterword that he did not wish to deny the ‘technical’ achievements of the ‘Orientalists.’ He should, however, have paused to examine what these technical aspects amount to. In essence, these flow from the assumption that non-European peoples can be studied by the same methods and criteria as the European. The concept of the ‘other’, the initial point of colonial discourse, was thus continuously undermined by the universality of the scientific method that the Orientalist needed to be committed to. That is often why the prejudices and aberrations of one generation of Orientalists were exposed and rejected by the next.

It is in fact the concept of universality that is of particular importance in the transmission of ideas from the West to the East. ‘Liberty’, ‘Constitution’ and ‘Nation’ were not just principles suited to Europe, but were applicable, under similar circumstances, to all of mankind. Countries in the East could also, therefore, become ‘nations’. When Raja Rammohun Roy, in an 1830 letter, asserted that India was not a nation because Indians were "divided up among castes," he implicitly accepted that India could become a nation if its people shifted their primary loyalties from caste to country. In 1870, Keshav Chandra Sen was already looking forward to this prospect in the light of India’s educational development and social reform. By the very name that the moderate Indian leaders gave to the organisation they founded at Bombay in 1885 — the Indian National Congress — the proposition that India is a nation was widely proclaimed.

But why was India chosen as the nation, and not individual territorial divisions within it? Perhaps it was because India alone was seen as a country. Several nations have been created, such as the United States, Ecuador, Bolivia or Congo, which had no previous existence as countries; but such instances belong to areas where for one reason or another there was no preceding accepted concept of country. Where such concepts have existed since pre-modern times, the country already existing in the popular mind becomes a natural candidate for nationhood. It is clearly for this reason that Ba’athist or Nasserite Arab nationalism has found it so difficult to replace the separate nations of Egypt, Syria and Iraq with one, single, indivisible ‘Arab nation’. The existence of India as a country had long preceded British rule. It was due undoubtedly in part to facts of geography, with the Indian peninsula separated by mountains and the sea from the Eurasian continent. Within the limits so set, cultural affinities had developed which led people to distinguish those in India from the rest of the world. Many of these affinities appear as aspects of the Hindu tradition. That the caste system and Brahmanical ideas and rituals were important among the culturally shared elements is undeniable. But it can be shown (as I have tried to do in a couple of essays) that the concept of India as a country is stronger in writers like Amir Khusrau (d.1325) or Abu’l Fazl (d.1603), writing in Persian, than in any identifiable preceding writer in Sanskrit. This is surely because the cultural affinities were not exclusively religious. Tara Chand, in his Influence of Islam on Indian Culture, observed that extensive political structures like the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire helped to generate larger political allegiances, and so made the consciousness of the country’s unity still stronger. Even in the eighteenth century, when he had lost all power, the Mughal emperor was seen as the natural sovereign of Hindustan. And when the rebels of Avadh, in the name of Prince Birjis Qadr, penned their defiant reply to Queen Victoria’s Proclamation of 1858, they spoke of the wrongs that the British had done to the princes of Hindustan, referring to both Tipu Sultan of Mysore and Maharaja Dalip Singh of the Punjab. In their words, it was "the army and people of Hindustan" that had now stood up to challenge the British. The 1857 rebels thus saw India very clearly as their country, and their natural reserve of supporters. If the India of their perception was still not a nation, it was only because they did not yet have any notion of establishing a single state over the country — and a unified political entity is the crux of nationhood.

The unification of the country on an economic plane by the construction of railways and the introduction of the telegraph in the latter half of the nineteenth century, undertaken for its own benefit by the colonial regime, and the centralisation of the administration which the new modes of communications and transport made possible, played their part in making Indians view India as a prospective single political entity. Modern education (undertaken in a large part by indigenous effort) and the rise of the press disseminated the ideas of India’s nationhood and the need for constitutional reform. A substantive basis for India’s nationhood was laid when nationalists like Dadabhoy Naoroji (Poverty and UnBritish Rule in India, 1901) and R.C. Dutt (Economic History of India, 2 vols., 1901 and 1903) raised the issues of poverty of the Indian people and the burden of colonial exploitation, which was felt in equal measure throughout India.

We see, then, that three complex processes enmeshed to bring about the emergence of India as a nation: the preceding notion of India as a country, the influx of modern political ideas, and the struggle against colonialism. The last was decisive: the creation of the Indian nation can well be said to be one major achievement of the national movement.

The idea once propounded had to be defended against numerous critics. The Simon Commission Report (1930) pointed to India’s cultural diversities, its religious divisions and the multiplicity of its languages. One could retort by citing the classic example of Switzerland, a land of Catholics and Protestants and four languages. But beyond these technical quibbles was the stake that the people could be persuaded to see in a unified, free India. The real answer to the Simon Commission was, therefore, the Karachi Resolution of March 1931, in which the Congress spelt out the political, social and economic contours of the future free India in which the state would ensure ‘fundamental rights’ to all. The Indian state, it was pledged, would observe ‘neutrality in regard to all religions’, and the cultures and languages of ‘the different linguistic areas’ would be protected.

Religious divisions undoubtedly undermined this notion of a secular, single nation of India. That a divide-and-rule policy was of advantage to colonialism may be taken for granted. Such a policy could not, however, succeed if the seeds for division did not exist. The same new conditions, notably the rapid means of communications and the press, which had so helped the nationalist cause, also provided platforms for communalist propaganda, both Hindu and Muslim, on a scale and of a type no one could have imagined in the pre-1857 period. In the earlier stages, one strand of nationalism also played with religion: it could supply a source of mass mobilisation when other instruments were lacking. Tilak’s agitations in the 1890s against the Age of Consent Bill and plague inoculation, together with his espousal of the Shivaji cult, offer classic illustrations of this tendency. Aurobindo Ghosh provided simultaneously the theoretical basis for a ‘Hindu Nationalism’. Tilak’s senior contemporary Jamaluddin Afghani similarly propounded the doctrine of pan-Islamism to unite all Muslim peoples against European colonial powers — the unifying factor was again religion. Afghani’s exclusion of India from his scheme did not mean that the vision once propounded would not exert any influence on Indian Muslim minds.