The entire nation today celebrated the birth anniversary of one of the pillars of freedom struggle in India Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. A scholar of repute and an educationist par excellence, Maulana Azad’s name and face is synonymous not only with the secular character of India post-partition but also with the contribution of forward-looking individuals from among the minority community towards nation building.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid rich tributes to this freedom fighter and educationist on Twitter. “Scholar, freedom fighter and a man who devoted his life towards nation building, I salute Maulana Abul Kalam Azad on his birth anniversary,” PM Modi tweeted.
Other programs were held across the country to pay tributes to Maulana Azad. In Hyderabad, cricketer VVS Laxman and Senior Police Officer AK Khan flagged off the Run for Education and Urdu organized from Biodiversity Park Gachibowli by Maulana Azad National Urdu University. This was part of the Azad day celebrations that started on November 7th and continued till this day. Hundreds of students of MANUU, University of Hyderabad, Osmania University and others participated in the Run that wound up at the Open Air Auditorium of MANUU. The event also saw the release of University Tarana that was penned by leading poet-lyricist Gulzar, composed by noted music composer and filmmaker Vishal and sung by celebrity singers Sukhwinder Singh and Rekha Bhardwaj.
Another program was organized at IICC, Delhi to remember the first education minister of India. Maulana Azad’s role in freedom struggle besides his contribution towards development of education, particularly women education, was remembered. Also remembered was his great desire to see the women from minority community educated.
Despite all the glowing tributes and remembrance, what couldn’t escape the notice was the deplorable condition of education among minorities in India. A pertinent question went viral wherein Minister for Minority Affairs, Najma Heptullah was asked what she was doing for empowerment of women from minority community. A post on social media perfectly showcases the irony that goes behind celebrating birth anniversary of a person who was champion of education for women. The post said: “Maulana Azad believed in Education for Women; on his birthday , I would Like to ask the Minister for Minorities , as to why is literacy among Women from our largest Minority Community significantly lower than the General Population ( All other Minority Communities have literacy levels higher that the General Population ) . And why are girls are not even being allowed in the Maulana Azad Library in a Central Government run Minority Institution like AMU? The reason that the Hon’ble VC of AMU is giving is pathetic and cannot be digested? He says that girls are not being allowed because every girl will attract 4 boys and there is not so much space in the library. If this is the plea, then all libraries across the country should shun girls coming to libraries, citing the same ‘absurd’ reason.’”
Incidentally, a leading newspaper in the city had carried news report earlier today related to Maulana Azad Library in Aligarh Muslim University which has continued to deny access to female students on flimsy ground. The report said: “Turning down the demand of students of Women’s College, Aligarh Muslim University, for access to the varsity’s Maulana Azad Library, vice-chancellor Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah has said there would be “four times more boys” in the library if girls were allowed in.” Women’s College principal Naima Gulrez too is reported to have echoed the VC’s views.