Sunday, December 9, 2007

Mohd Shafi

Mohd Shafi

Born: 1st August 1924, Jaunpur (UP) India.
Died: 9th December, 2007, Aligarh (UP) India.
Father: Husain Ali
Children: Prof. Mohd. Jamil (Civil Engg., AMU Aligarh), Dr. Bilquees Bano

Education: 1945: B.A. Allahabad University
1947: M.A. (Geography), AMU Aligarh
1956: Ph.D. from London School of Economics with Prof. Dudley Stamp

Career: 1948: Lecturer, Department of Geography, AMU Aligarh
1956: Reader, Department of Geography, AMU Aligarh
1962: Professor, Department of Geography, AMU Aligarh
1962-84: Chairman, Department of Geography, AMU Aligarh
1966-68: Dean, Faculty of Science
1959-62: Provost, Sir Shah Sulaiman Hall
1984: Professor Emeritus in Dept. of Geography AMU Aligarh
1972-74: Director Academic Program (DAP)
1979-80: Pro-Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University

1985-1993: Vice-President, International Geographical Union

1987: Member, Royal geographical Society of London.
1992-95: Pro-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University

2001: Padama Shri by the Government of India
2001: Bhoogol Ratna Award by Bhoovigyan Vikas Foundation, New Delhi.
2002: "Saraswati Award" in Environmental Science and Ecology by the UGC

Member: The Scientific Committee of the International Social Science Council

“Laureate d’ honneur” by the International Geographical union at Glasgow,
UK. 'Academician' by the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Member : Bureau for Promotion of Urdu

President : Indian Geographical Union, Indian Geographical Council.

Mohd. Shafi was born on 1st June, 1924 in historical city of Jaunpur in eastern Uttar Pardesh. In 1945, after completing his graduation from Allahabad University, he joined Aligarh Muslim University in M.A. in Geography.

Association with Aligarh :
Mohd. Shafi completed his M.A. in Geography in 1947. Like other part of the country, Aligarh Muslim University campus was also not safe from the socio-political activities of Indian Freedom movement during this time. But this did not affect the studies of young Mohd. Shafi. After completing his M.A., he joined AMU as lecturer in department of Geography. He completed his Ph.D. from London University in 1956 and was appointed as Reader in Geography department of AMU. His Ph.D. work was well recognized at International level. His research area Agricultural Geography got attention in the research community an department of Geography of AMU Aligarh was declared a center of excellence for the subject buy University Grant Commission and Mohd. Shafi was appointed its Coordinator. His research work on the Food System of India has been recognized with high honors in many countries, and by the United Nations.In 1962, he was appointed as Professor in the same department. In the same year he became Chairman, Department of Geography and served on this position till 1984. He has published 11 books and 130 research papers, and has supervised 34 doctoral works. He also served as Provost for 3 years and Dean Faculty of Science. In 1972, Prof. Abdul Aleem, Vice-Chancellor of AMU Aligarh appointed him as Director of Academic Program (DAP). He served as DAP till 1974. His academic excellence and administrative abilities were noticed by AMU Vice Chancellor Prof. Ali Mohammad Khusro and in 1979 he appointed him as Pro-Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University. He served as Pro Vice-Chancellor for two years. In 1984, he retired from his services but Department of Geography appointed him as Professor Emeritus.

Professor Shafi is the first Indian Geographer in the Indian sub-continent including SAARC countries to receive this prestigious award at the 30th International Geographical Congress held at Glasgow in U.K. More than 1800 geographers from 81 countries participated in the Congress. The Russian Academy of Sciences also conferred on him its highest award 'Academician'. The Royal Geographers Society, London made him its Honorary Corresponding Member of the Council and the American Geographic Society offered him its Fellowship. In 2002 he has been honored for "Saraswati Award" in Environmental Science and Ecology by the University Grants Commission. On April 22, 2001 at New Delhi Bhoovigyan Vikas Foundation awarded him the maiden Bhoogol Ratna Award, which consists of Rs One lakh and a citation.

In AMU Court meeting on July 5th, 1992, Professor Mohd Shafi was elected as Pro-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University for a period of 3 years.

On 9th December 2007, Professor Mohd Shafi died in Aligarh. He was laid to rest in University Graveyard 'Mintoyee'.

Mirza A. Beg

Dear friends from the Aligarian community:

Usmani saheb has perceptively included the name of Dr. Mohammad Shafi in his Aligarians series. His passing away is a very sad occasion as such occasions are. We know that our stay in this temporal realm is limited and by the time we get into seventies, the door to the hereafter is a little closer and a bit ajar.

Shafi sahib crossed to the other side, but did not leave a vacuum in the usual sense of the word. He left hundreds of grateful students to carry on his legacy in his chosen discipline of geography as well as many others whom he touched as dean and Pro Vice Chancellor. He has left behind a body of work that would carry forward the ideas and knowledge he left behind to carry on his name and legacy.

I was fortunate enough to have known him and benefited from his advice when I joined AMU as a youngster leaving a sheltered life in 1959. I had only heard of him from his older brother and mentor Sunhan Ali Saheb. Subhan Saheb, as he was known, was my teacher of mathematics and geography in high school. I will take this opportunity, to say a few words about Subhan Saheb, valued elder brother and mentor of Shafi Saheb. I know Shafi sahib would have appreciated it.

He talked of Shafi Saheb with such love and took such pride, in his accomplishments. All of us have some teachers whom we can only never repay, but we can not even praise them enough. Subhan Saheb was one of those rare teachers. Though I was not a student of Shafi Saheb, and I left Aligarh after B.Sc. about the time he became Professor and Head of the Geography Department. I knew he was in the mould of his older brother; a dedicated and good teacher and a mentor to all those who came close to him.

Subhan Saheb was a very strict, no nonsense kind of teacher, but he never had to raise his voice in the class. He had a bearing that impelled even the most disorderly disruptive student to behave. Even when the students who did not like math and found it hard that is why they did not particularly care for Subhan sahib as well, criticized him behind his back with respect. Subhan Saheb had a unique capability to nudge his students to do the best they were capable of achieving.

I did not visit AMU as often and did not get to see Shafi Saheb that often though I kept track of his achievements, but I made sure that every time I visited Jaunpur my hometown I spent some precious time with Subhan Saheb. He invariably talked of Shafi Saheb with great affection. I owe a lot to both the brothers, my mentors. With sadness,

Mirza A. Beg

No comments: