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What kind of a world do you want to leave for the next generation?

Muhiyuddin Ahmed, known widely as Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (a pen name) was the first Education Minister of freshly divided India. “A person of the caliber of Plato, Aristotle, and Pythagoras”, Azad was an intellectual scholar, educationalist, and fearless journalist. His philosophy and ideology were influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolence.

Maulana Azad, a staunch nationalist, envisioned a United India, and was strictly against of India-Pakistan division, he decided not to leave Indian soil. Much to be said about his words and prophecies. In a prophetic historical interview in 1946 (before partition), Azad warned against the creation of Pakistan based on communal hatred and separatist politics. He said, 'we must remember that an entity conceived in hatred will last only as long as that hatred lasts'.

He was instrumental in setting up the University of Grants Commission (UGC) in 1953, a strong higher educational foundation for which we have about 800 universities and 50,000 colleges in India today. India’s first Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) that now produces brilliant engineers of the world was founded by Azad, in 1951. Modern technical and higher education focus that Azad had, I wonder, without it where would India be today?

A prominent quote from the presidential address of the Congress session in 1923, Azad said, "If an angel were to descend from the clouds today, settle on the Qutub Minar of Delhi and proclaim from there that India will attain Swaraj provided Hindu-Muslim Unity is renounced, then I would renounce Swaraj and not sacrifice Hindu-Muslim Unity, because if Swaraj is delayed, it is the loss to India, but if Hindu-Muslim Unity is lost, it is the loss to humanity."

Violence, hatred, and communalism create division. Today we have identity politics, which also is splitting people into small groups on the basis of culture, ethnicity, race, religion, skin color or political differences. One doesn’t have to travel far in history to see proof of divisive impacts separatism politics had on people, a community or a country.

Strong advocate of peace and inter-communal harmony that Maulana Azad emphasized then, trying to strengthen community and country and bringing people together, is equally pertinent today.

What kind of a world do you want to leave for the next generation?

Until next time,

~Purnima Nath


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