Tuesday, August 19, 2014


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Sunday, May 3, 2009

The AMU in the Firmament of Future India: Q A Ahmad

The invitation, the establishment and the role that has been played by the Aligarh Muslim University in the town of Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh- India, through all these past events to date is a clear indication of its importance and the potential it continues to have to play the most important role in future – to bring peace, contentment and harmony to the region of South Asia.

It may seem a little boastful, but only to those who don't conceive how great illuminaries and persons of great sacrifice and integrity have changed the tide of history towards harmony and peace by channeling all the forces, even the wicked ones, for constructive and positive thinking and actions. Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, Muhammad, Sir Syed, Matin Luther, Gandhi, Iqbal and Maudoodi made great sacrifices in thinking and acting upon the attainment of their cherished goals for the betterment of humanity.

Here we have the success story of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in his Aligarh Movement, his education scheme, and his mobilisation for the establishment of an entirely unique and counter-current institution. His Education Movement was opposed with tooth and nail from every corner except for the help, cooperation and encouragement of his very few British friends and Indian companions of different classes and creeds.

Though, at the beginning, this scheme was designed for the most disillusioned, confused and degraded Muslim community in India in the last decade of the nineteenth century after the turmoil of the mass-killings by the British in 1857, basically it catered to the needs of the whole population of India in general and of North India in particular as it adopted the Indian culture of that time followed by all the people of different religions – Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs & Christian alike. The Aligarh Muslim University attracted the persons of different ethnic group that desired for education, culture, courage and righteous in all works of life. The AMU because the training centre for youth that wanted to take the leadership of the country for freedom struggle. What a great amazement that many Hindu and Muslim students both learnt the skill and positive thinking, presentation of their viewpoints in the most logical and orderly manner and played leading role in Congress, Communist Party, Socialist-group, INA, Bharatiya Sevak Sangh and of course Muslim League after graduating from the Aligarh Muslim University. This shows the freedom of the school of thought to be followed after getting the education in such an enlightened University.

Sir Syed inculcated a new spirit, a new outlook, a new direction to the Muslims of India in general and the Aligarh Muslim University in particular. The AMU has a deep-rooted tradition which can be observed consistently throughout its history.

Firstly, its motto is ‘to think and decide yourself without caring as to what the society or the ancestors will think’. Secondly ‘take the pragmatic and realistic approach. Don’t be utopian on one side nor the opportunist on the other hand ready to yield to anyone’s pressure for your material benefit.

The history of the AMU reveals how strictly it adheres with the above two basic principles of dealings. Let us analyse the past and then in its light, suggest the role for the future.

The AMU from the very first day of its inception has taken care and responsibility of leading the Muslim community of India.

In its first phase, the AMU was the only institution in India which carried the tradition of Oxford and Cambridge, that is to think and express freely. From the very beginning, the AMU students, whilst studying as well as after graduation, were bold to think independently and take a decision as to what they thought was right. The first era of the AMU can be considered a pro-British era in which the modern education was taken very seriously. The AMU produced the brilliant scholars of western education.

In the second era of the efforts for the freedom of India, the AMU again took an independent view and from it emerged all the three trends of the politics of freedom. The Muslim nationalists, the Muslim League’s and the Progressive Communist groups all the three carried their activities side by side in the AMU.

After the unplanned and non-envisaged partition of India, that is, the establishment of the countries Pakistan and India, the AMU played a very important role in both countries - Pakistan and India, the two sub-territories of the subcontinent of India.

The Muslim League’s went to Pakistan and they played the role of establishing the homeland of Muslims. It was a great role they tried to play in Pakistan but unfortunately they could not succeed. The Aligarians who went to Pakistan are still trying to put Pakistan on the right track.

The Muslim Nationalists and the secular group of the AMU were not disheartened after the partition. They took an active role and carried on their efforts in different ways.

In the meantime, just a decade before the partition a new trend was developed in the western-educated class of Muslims by the writings of Maulana Maudoodi (r). The AMU, being sensitive to any call warmly welcomed the idea of Maudoodi and a new class of Islamic-oriented Muslims emerged both in India and Pakistan, coordinating with the Muslim League in Pakistan and Muslim Nationalists in India. This movement of Islamic minded group was strengthened by the simple but effective movement of Tabligh by another great worker of Islam, Maulana Ilyas (r).

The AMU then had the trend of Islamic thinking and working of Islam since 1950 to 1970 about two decades. The Indian politics for 25 years since independence was quite stable and the Congress enjoyed the majority party to form the governments. As time passed on, Hindu communalism and in its reaction Muslim communalism came to the upper surface and for the last twenty five years there is political unrest in the country.

Unfortunately the leadership of the Muslims was unsure what strategy should be adopted for the peaceful living of Muslims in Hindu-majority India specially when a separate homeland was assigned for Muslims in Pakistan. Muslims in India could not live with the idea of the two-nation theory in their subconsciousness. The only thing which the Muslims and their leaders could think of was to fight for their rights as minorities. The Congress, the ruling party could not live upto its motto of multiculturalism and work for multi-religious society. Unfortunately Hindu communalism became dominant after the involvement and the dominance of the BJP in the political arena.

The background has been given to show the present situation of chaos and confusion. The leaders, the masses, the intelligentsia, the Islamic workers all are confused as to what step should be taken. Naturally the AMU is not playing any important role as the goal is not set and the destination is not clear. Having Muslim nationalism in their subconsciousness, the Indian Muslims still think in terms of the future of Muslims and not think deeply about the future of Islam. The result is that the totally unlslamic ideology of secularism is preferred over the religious Hinduism. How much distorted Hinduism may have become from the original teachings of the prophets who were sent to India, still there are morals, concepts about divinity, reverence for the messengers of God in Hinduism which is far better than the naked Western secularism with total refusal of God, and total freedom of man being sovereign to formulate his code of conduct without any guidance from God.

There is a need of taking a bold step by Indian Muslims. Again the education and leadership for the new and correct outlook should be taken by the AMU. Following should be the clear manifesto for the Indian Muslims propagated and acted upon by the AMU.

Muslims are not a group of any nation, country or ethnicity. They belong to the ideology of Islam and only those who adhere with Islam in theory and practice are Muslims in the real sense. Islam is not the property of born Muslims. The Holy Quran is the Word of God for all the humanity and the life of the Prophet Muhammad(s) is the model for the whole of humanity to follow. If a born Muslim has understood Islam and is willing to live for Islam, it is his/her duty to make the truth of Islam known to all his/her country fellow persons, to all Indians. A true advocate of Islam should not discriminate between the so called Muslims and the so called Hindus. For the daawah work of Islam, these denominations don’t mean anything. All human beings are required to listen to Islam, to think about it and then, being convinced about its truthfulness, must act upon it.

The Aligarh Muslim University, if it really means to exist honourably in India with the blessings of Allah, has to undergo a complete overhauling. First and foremost, it's task should be to teach Islam in each and every discipline, science, medicine, engineering and humanities etc. Without knowing Islam, the students and staff cannot determine their line of action. Secondly the AMU should concentrate on the development of India. There are many universities that can produce engineers, doctors and scientists but without proper training regarding the principles of living, without becoming aware of basic values, and without becoming the persons who can honestly, sincerely and positively build up the country on sound footings.

If the products of the AMU become true models of Islam, they will be honoured, respected even followed by the Hindus once they prove that they are not communal and they are not going to take the sides of the present Muslim community. They should be just and honest in all their dealings. They should have full

knowledge of the Quran, the ideal life of the Prophet(s) and the detailed teachings of Islam. Then they should act upon Islam in every walk of life. They should boldly preach Islam among the Hindus and Muslims alike and try to bring all of them towards Islam, not necessarily by converting and changing names. The main thing is to get all the Indians realise that Islam is the solution for all their social, political, economic and ethical problems.

It is the task of the AMU to establish the supremacy of the ideology of Islam and to convince all the Indians that Islam is not anything new but is true Hinduism, true message of the prophets and pious people of India. Islam is the real message of Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and others whom you respect and worship. Islam totally condemns any fight between Hindus and Muslims. The AMU should completely detach itself from the communal conflict between Hindus and Muslims. The AMU should neither be interested in Congress or BJP Dalits or Milli Majlis etc. The AMU has to convey its message to all and persuade them to correct themselves in the light of Islam.

It is the wrong adherence with dirty politics of the day. The Indian politics and politicians are the real hurdles in the path of peace and love. In the heat of the heart no Indian Hindu or Muslim is communal. The play of dirty politics and the vested interests of the politicians create communalism and hatred. Hence the time is now on to finish harping the melodies of politics. We all have to work for making each and every Indian educated in real sense and come for the socio-economic development of the whole community. To preach Islam does not mean toconvert to Islam. It means to convince the moral values to people and the servitude to the One Almighty in the correct perspective. Islam also teaches religion pluralism ie. To live with other religions without hatred against anyone in the world.

It looks very simple but when comes the question of acting upon this policy, the AMU should have the courage, wisdom and patience of the Prophet Muhammad(s). How he changed the life of Quraish - the idol-worshippers of his own country. The true Muslims of India can also do the same if they change themselves and then be willing to sacrifice all their individual and collective rights.

One word of caution! The AMU has to avoid the two extremes in which the Indian Muslims are at present motivated. One is to worry about the rights and demands of the Muslim community and always fight with the government and other agencies to gain maximum benefit for the Muslim Ummah. This is wrong. This will lead to hatred, and rivalry and help in the establishment of Hindu State. The other is to pacify the Muslim, condemn them and praise the government and its policies. This is wrong because of the opportunistic trend and getting some personal benefits at the destruction of the Muslim community.

The AMU has not to flatter the government and its agencies and should not beg any favour from them nor should it criticise the political regimes whoever they may be. For an ideal group of the followers of Islam it is redundant. A true Muslim should love all humanity and care for their success both in this world and the hereafter.

I sincerely believe that AMU India is the only place where the seeds of love, peace, prosperity for the entire subcontinent could be sown. It is the place where the seeds can sprout and develop in the form of a huge tree under whose shade the subcontinent may find tranquility, peace, love and cooperation.

But, and it is large BUT that Aligarh is allowed to play its role. Provided, and it is a strong proviso, that Aligarh itself rises to play this vital role in the future India. It is very unfortunate that still, even today there hangs a cord of mutual suspicion and misunderstanding between Aligarh and the ever-changing governments of India. We can be frank, even at the cost of being misunderstood that practically nothing has been done to remove the suspicions and misunderstandings till today. Aligarh for example

Aligarh, for example, suspects that the government is bent upon, by hook or by crook, to destroy the Aligarh character by making intrusions, explicitly or implicitly, to change the Aligarh complexion, by reducing to minority the number of Muslim students, teaching staff and the administrative staff, further by severing its relationship with the Muslim community of India at large. The Government of India suspects that Aligarh is a mini-Pakistan, that is the hotbed of machinations against the integrity and safety of the country, that it is an arsenal for carrying out communal activities, rebellious tendencies, and all types of anti-national efforts and striving.

I very sincerely urge that this atmosphere of mistrust that is charged with mutual suspicion, distrust, discontentment and misunderstanding must be cleared away.

This mutual distrust is neither in the best interest of Aligarh nor it serves any useful purpose for the government of India. I humbly and very emphatically appeal to all the patriotic Indians Muslim and Hindus to come forward and imprint in the minds of those Government Authorities who deal with Aligarh that being the more stronger of the two, they must show magnanimity towards Aligarh. Even a show of kindness, of leniency, of soft heartedness would be more than enough to win Aligarh over to their side. It is not enough that Aligarh has been declared as one of the centrally governed Universities of India or that the Government provides funds for Aligarh. A change of heart and attitude is what is the need of the time. It would do no good to the Government or Aligarh that it is ruled as a police state.

On the other hand, and more importantly, the Aligarians, especially we, living in Western countries, have this solemn duty towards our Alma-mater that we go to the students studying at Aligarh, contact the teaching staff there, meet the administrative staff and impress upon their mind the futility, the unreasonableness, the sheer nonsense of unnecessarily and without any reseanable cause , nurturing, creating, promoting distrust again the Government of India. Tell them with sympathy and love, but firmly and frankly that being Indians, being the sons of the soil, being the part and parcel of Indian nation, and being the successors of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan you as a Muslim must contribute towards the development, upliftment and advancement of not only Muslim community, but the Indian nation at large. We should hammer upon their minds that they should prove to be efficient and to be useful and highly qualified and indispensable for the progress and advancement of India. Otherwise they would not only lag behind, but would be discarded and the world would crush them as ants. If they prove ? to be efficient, highly qualified and indispensable, no amount of discrimination could seal their fate.

The influential Muslim scholars, religious and political leaders all should stop using the AMU and Muslim masses for their vested interests: They should humbly serve the community and by dirty politics they should earnestly work for the socio-economic and intellectual uplift of the Muslims.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

List of Captains, AMU Cricket Team

List of Captains, AMU Cricket Team

1. Abdul Hameed Khan (1920-25)
2. Tasadduq Husain (1925-26)
3. Aseem (1926-28)
4. Inamul Haq (1928-29)
5. Mumtaz Ali Khan (1929-30)
6. Zahid Saeed (1930-32)
7. Jameel Mohammad Khan (1932-34)
8. Akhtar Husain (1934-35)
9. Zaheeruddin Bassi (1935-37)
10. Abdul Aziz Khan (1937-38)
11. Inam Ahmad (1938-40)
12. S. Maqbool Alam (1940-41)
13. Khan Saeed Ahmad (1941-42)
14. Muzaffar Khan (1942-43)
15. Abdul Majeed Khan (1943-45)
16. Bashir Ahmad (1945-46)
17. M. S. Khan (1946-47)
18. S. M. Mazhar (1947-48)
19. A. H. Wadee (1948-49)
20. S. Mohsin Hussain (1949-50)
21. S. Zameeruddin Alavi (1950-51)
22. S. M. Zia (1951-52)
23. Qasim Ibrahim Jeeva (1952-53)
24. Salahuddin Mehmood (1953-54)
25. Md. Saleem (1954-56)
26. Md. Abdullah Khan (1956-57)
27. Ziaul Haq (1957-60)
28. Abdul Hai Mohmed Wadee (1960-61)
29. Ahsan Hafeez (1961-62)
30. S. Viqaruddin (1962-63)
31. Iqbal Mustafa Khan (1963-64)
32. N. S. Nazarai (1964-65)
33. Tahir Husain (1965-66)
34. Mohammad Sahid (1966-67)
35. Ahmad Mohsin (1967-68)
36. Fasahat Ali Khan (1968-69)
37. S. Nurul Abidin (1969-70)
38. Rafiullah Khan (1970-71)
39. Suhail Ahmad (1971-72)
40. Javaid Rafiq Ansari (1972-74)
41. Haseen Ahmad (1974-75)
42. Aslam Ali (1975-76)
43. Arif Husain (1976-77)
44. Altafur Rehman (1977-78)
45. M. Tasleem Khan (1978-79)
46. Qamar Ullah Khan (1979-80)
47. Bayar Mustafa Khan (1980-81)
48. Shahab Ali Khan (1981-82)
49. Imran Masood (1982-83)
50. M. Arif Farooqi (1983-84)
51. Hikmat Ali (1984-85)
52. M. Ehtisham (1985-86)
53. Miraj H. Khan (1986-88)
54. Qasim Zain (1988-89)
55. Ahmad Sajid Khan (1989-90)
56. Qasim Zain (1990-91)
57. Rizwan Shamshad (1991-92)
58. Syed Javaid Israr (1992-93)
59. Rais Ahmad (1993-94)
60. Adnan Shamshad (1994-95)
61. Javedur Rehman (1995-96)
62. Abdul Mufakhir Adnan (1996-97)
63. S. Wajih Jaffar (1997-98)
64. Mohd Feeroz Khan (1998-99)
65. Mohd Tariq Khan (1999-2000)
66. Faisal MRK Sherwani (2000-2001)
67. Masoodul Zafar Amini (2001-2002)
68. Salman Shamshad (2002-2003)
69. Imran Ali (2003-2004)
70. Mohd Rashid (2004-2005)
71. Mohd Masihuddin (2005-2006)
72. Mohd Amir Anwar (2006-2007)
73. Danish Ahmad (2007-2008)
74. Mohd Asif Intezar (2008-2009)

Submitted by
Syed Ziaur Rahman, MD
Ibn Sina Academy,
Aligarh, India

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An Obituary to AMU Canteen

She is no more. Our beloved AMU central canteen has passed away. No way had she deserved such a silent death but it happened. Our Cleopatra was silently killed and no one came to her rescue. All her lovers left her in last time.
I cannot understand what happened to all those admirers who used to shed their love over her? Mercilessly she was poisoned by the authorities. The administrators ignored her status and the people remained tight lipped!!! It is unbelievable.
Last time I attended her, she was looking healthy and young as ever, surrounded with many of her admirers. This will happen in no time is out of my mental sphere. The more I try to look into the matter, more I am confused.
May be the met her fate in the same way all the beauties used to. This brutal world is the admirer of outer beauty. In this materialistic world no one is there to look after an aged. Once the beauty is lost women has no value. But she wasn’t a prostitute. She loved all out of grace. Her love was like a torrential rain, equal and just for all.
But I think she may have been misunderstood. Girls were jealous of her beauty and so did many of the people. Authorities couldn’t bear up her burden. In today’s mean world no one has time for real parents so how can we hope for the part time care takers to come up for her rescue. If the care taker is an imported man with different culture surely we should not expect anything from him. In this case the care taker of the house is a man with different culture and he has nothing to do with our golden traditions, I think so. If he had some love our beloved shouldn’t have died this way. Alas… it is too late. All we can do is to pray for the demised soul.
Inna Lillah e Wa Inna illaha Raj’un…

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Gender Experience At AMU

Aligarh Muslim University is a romantic dream for Muslims all over the world. True that in the late 80's, the university, then, the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College, revolutionized education for the backward Muslim community. The founder Sir Syed Ahmad Khan envisioned that this institution would educate men and women who would lead Muslim community to modern thought, liberation and progress. A vision that progressive Muslims globally are still trying to achieve.

Whenever I talk about Aligarh Muslim University to its alumni, many have been offended by what they think is criticism by a westernized wannabe-feminist Muslim girl who has forgotten her roots and culture. It has been difficult for me to not express concerns not just as a present student of the institution but also as a member of the Muslim community wanting to uphold the sanctity of an institution as great as AMU. After enough contemplation I have decided to share my experiences even if it may raise discontempt from any quarters.

When I joined Aligarh Muslim University, I had in mind a grand central university fulfilling international standards in adult learning. An institution that would expose young men and women to radical thinking and action. Where, the community would find a vent to overcome the backwardness it has been crippled with educationally and socially. Unfortunately my four years has revealed the reasons why we cannot break through the great cultural divide between education and progress. One of the reasons being my gender that pre dominates categories for judgment in the still biased university.

It was only after a month in the university that I discovered that classes in bachelors degrees and courses till twelfth grade were separate for men and women. Well the question might be "is this a genuine issue that needs deliberation"? My answer being, yes, it is.

The reasons that women still are restricted in Abdullah Hall, an exclusive hall for women, including all facilities from classes to shopping to play grounds is succumbing to the so called Islamic view that women need to be protected. And since the authority, every one from the watchman to the Proctor claim that Aligarh Muslim University upholds Islamic values, they have to cater to women's education within these so-called values.

These values made it very difficult for the men to accept my presence in the arts center, in the debating societies that were exclusive to men, the drama club that hadn't cast female roles in years and even the university roads and playgrounds. Women were expected to take rickshaws and not walk. And all the while, you are a subject of scrutiny to male eyes examining righteousness and piety in your clothes, actions and speech.

Power has always been a male phenomenon here. They make the rules, to their convenience and enforce it in the guise of Islam and the need for protecting women. Isn't education about equipping individuals to protect and defend themselves. If the system endorses your cripple status, who will liberate you? Here begins the concern to take Aligarh Muslim University for the values that it truly upheld at one point in history.

Aligarh Muslim University has never had a female member in the students union. It has never had women representation in intervarsity sports and games competitions, for thirteen long years, women did not represent the university in the national youth festival. It was in 2000, the year I joined college, the secretary of the literary club convinced the Coordinator that the girls could be part of the team. After severe deliberation, finally the university took its first mixed group of men and women. Though it was historical and might sound primitive for an age old institution, the opposition and the criticism and scrutiny the girls had to go through can't be stated in words. We are not talking about a team of students here. But a team of men who have renounced the student status and taken upon themselves to guard women in their university from the clutches of modernity and liberal influences. They would watch whom you talk to, the way you talk and tell you when to move, when to sit and when to eat.

When I am at Aligarh Muslim University, I am quite often reminded that I am a girl and how indecent it is for me to be moving with men, even if there is an educational cause. Scared of these value judgments, girl students restrict themselves to their hostels. Which means a life of only lectures and classes in a residential university where a student spends on an average at least three years. I see a few of my class mates, girls who had come with ambition and talent who are now silent residents in their respective halls. There is no life beyond tutors and classes in the university campus for women while on the other hand men play football and basketball in the playgrounds, learn sitar and tabla in the music club and spend their night hours in the university's 24 hour Maulana Azad Library.

Who will take up our cause? Is it that Muslim girls don't deserve quality education?

Or is that they are second to men and should only live in the shadow of their male members always? Or is it that Aligarh Muslim University for women is only an elitist qualification for a good social marriage?

Whatever it has been, I don't think I would be one of those to silently accept the majority endorsed status of segregated education. Our identities can't be crushed within the walls of the university campus. For all I know, as the students gain more exposure, they will stand up for themselves. And if the university does not shed its feudal and dictatorial qualities, it is going to go down on quality, both in terms of education and students. We need professors and lecturers who can give us the strength to attend to our minds and the needs of higher education. We need guardians who will come out of the 50's mindset and adapt to the changing scenario. We want support from students, academicians, scholars and most importantly from the alumni who share with us the love for and spirit of our alma mater. From this short piece, I surely hope that I can draw attention and support to revive a great institution which otherwise might kill its own self because of an identity crisis or an imposed identity. I hope the coming years spell change and action for this inevitable cause.

Nazia Y.Izuddin
Student of Law
Aligarh Muslim University

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Pakistani-American in India

The call came a few months earlier. Cousin “N” was going to be married in late November and the wedding was going to be in Aligarh. The year was 2004 and as one who had not visited the region for over 15 years, and had been contemplating taking the plunge back into memory lane, this seemed like a great opportunity.
The stars that make up life, career and family appeared to be somewhat aligned. Along with that, several troublesome identity questions had also begun to appear, like those faced by many an immigrant who comes close to the age of 50. International events certainly added to this quest. And last but not least my mother was very happy about the prospect of my going with her. So the forms were downloaded from the Indian Embassy website, and it was time to test the waters.

Now is a good time to elaborate since the introductory paragraph above this trip will illicit nothing more than a shrug from any Indian reader. So what? What I have failed to mention was that I had lived in the United States for over 30 years then, and as a person from Pakistan, who had not visited India in over 40 years, the visit would be an attempt to revisit many childhood memories. This was my late midlife “Roots Tour” as one friend so accurately put it. It had been so long since I had been in India that the prospect of going there now even seemed scary. Cousin “N” was not even born when I visited our ancestral town there last. Many immediate relatives of my parent’s generation were no longer with us, and my mother was my last connection to the remainder. And since my father had passed away long ago, the thought of visiting one of his most cherished places on earth made my decision a little easier. All my life with him in Pakistan and what is now Bangladesh, I had interacted with people who were often called “Partner.” And their sense of identity was tied to one unique place in India called Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

But as is often the case there is always more. The Partition of India in 1947 was not only a political event. It was a division of culture, family and memories as well. And a question can be asked: Can memories really ever be divided? Or are they really only be passed on? In either case the answers may appear to be simple, but they are not as I was about to find out.

The plane landed in Delhi from Taipei in the darkness as it was around 4:00AM. And by 5:30 in the morning I was in Okhla, a Delhi outgrowth which includes my uncle “S” amongst its founders. And as I walked out of house of my hosts (after contemplating long on how to use an Indian toilet) the sheer shock of being in another world hit my senses. It was both strangely alien and familiar. The narrow streets, the closely built houses and most of all the architecture and window designs were something that I had seen before. For someone who had grown up near the “Delhi Colony” or the area around “Riaz Masjid” in Karachi, Okhla was a certainly a reminder of where some of my neighbors had come from. The connection was there even for Karachi’s Nazimabad area. Strange as it may seem, as I carefully looked around for an Internet CafĂ© to email my wife in California, Okhla appeared to be a reminder of where I grew up. And there was more.

From the very beginning of my various encounters with numerous relatives, I got the distinct impression of how much they cared, and that made me almost feel guilty. In Delhi it seemed that my mother had immediately found a caring comfort zone within all of these people who were complete strangers for me. But the love and respect they showed towards her (their Apa/Phuppo/Chachi) moved me greatly. We all live in relative comfort here in America, but the affection, charm and cultural richness that I found amidst these new surroundings was something truly wonderful to experience. And the fact that people there try and feed you ten meals a day can become trying (and here let me leave the subject of the Indian toilet because sooner or later you are bound to use one).

I got a chance to rest for a while and let “Dilli” take over my senses. This was no longer my country (Pakistanis are a separate line item for the Government here and if you have ever been one you cannot own property in India even though you are an American now) but if this was not home, the sights, the sounds and even the aromas were very familiar.

Our caravan took off for Aligarh for the wedding festivities and I was with several people who were still strangers who called me either by my old nickname (almost everyone there had one here) or “Bhai”(Brother). They must have been puzzled by my blank reaction to all of this and things got even more surprising for them as the journey got under way. We passed through NOIDA which is certainly a picture of the new and future India, leaving me quite impressed. But what I loved more was the journey beyond. On the way to Aligarh the countryside was both colorful and beautiful. And my only request along the way (because I already carried Chota Bisleri bottled water) was for “Amrud” (Guavas), sold on carts on the roadside. The other high point of the trip was a two Rupee Roti I had with my Chai at a small eatery in Bulandshehar. Now my relatives were either really appreciative or amazed, I do not know which, yet some of them certainly must have been thinking that I was a bit touched in the head. But that was one of the best tasting Rotis and tea that I had had in a long time. It almost made up for my fear of the traffic on the road and the thought that I would not make it to our destination alive.

It was dark by the time we arrived in Aligarh as I tried to absorb the fact that we had just passed the walls and one of the gates of the AMU campus. And within a few more minutes, in Doodhpur when I viewed for the first time the distantly familiar faces of my cousins, whom I had never seen before that day; it was indeed a moving sight. Cousin N was getting ready for her wedding as everyone present at the festive house looked at me with equal wonderment. That was the day that I discovered that memories cannot be divided. It also brought me back to AMU.

It was the early 1940’s. A group of young men had just made history by being amongst the first few Engineers to graduate from Aligarh Muslim University, a real feather in the cap of not only their families but the institution that a visionary named Sir Syed Ahmad Khan founded. This feat gave them an opportunity to acquire much needed technical skills. One from this group was near and dear to me. He was my late father. And now, over 60 years later, in November and December 2004, my mother and I visited his cherished AMU ourselves for the first time in search of his long faded footsteps. It also brought back many memories.

Sir Syed stressed the need for a “Modern English Education” because people could not survive on grand memories and the Urdu language alone. Urdu poetry is beautiful and its verses will continue to reflect the spirit of our people and express the sentiments of a unique culture. But even poets need to earn a living and have to acquire other marketable skills. Our family feels to this day feels that it was Aligarh that made the difference for us and that whatever we can do to appreciate the impact of AMU and Sir Syed’s vision in our lives (through my father) is not enough.

We tapped on the resources of many memories to try and locate where my father lived while he was in Aligarh. Memories become weak over the years but the final verdict was that it was at Mumtaz House at AMU. And it was to Mumtaz House towards which we walked. I just regret that we did not know which room he lived in there or else we would have knocked on that door too. My father loved this place. It was a part of him and he carried AMU with him wherever he went. The liberal modernist streak in religion in my father was of Aligarh origin. And for that one educator who founded this campus was responsible.

My mother and I walked slowly through the AMU campus. We started off at Strachey Hall and went on to the main university Mosque. In its main compound we were directed to the area where Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and his grandson Sir Ross Masood are buried along with other dignitaries. Under the grass topped grave before us were the remains of a great man. He was neither a politician nor a military figure. He conquered minds instead of land and reached into the heart and soul of a dejected community to offer it hope. He offered his people the wealth of education and for that millions today are grateful. And as we stood in front of his grave, the idea was not far from my mind as to where we would be today without his immense contribution to our lives?

I finally visited my ancestral town in UP and father’s house (thankfully still standing) a week later and slept in the same spot that Jawaharlal Nehru once sat (my grand uncle was a leading Congress Party leader). Cousin T now lives in a part of that house with her family. Her hospitality was truly amazing. Another plus was the visit to my Grandfather’s mango orchards (too bad that I was there in winter).

Due to length constraints (I could go on and on) let me conclude here by mentioning that when this middle aged Pakistani-American walked down a road in India named after his Great Grandfather, several thoughts came to mind. Today as the 60th anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan approaches, I wish that many more Indians and Pakistanis will get the opportunity to go to each other’s countries and revisit their fading ancestral memories and connections. And most of all, our collective wish should be for a lasting peace between the two homelands, so that they do not spend the next 60 years foolishly.

AMU - A dream came true

As I have been a resident student of this university for six years, I am in a better position to comment on this university than those who have/had their friends studying at AMU. Like most AMU students, I had that ambition to be a part of this institution since my childhood. At this moment, I would like to mention that I am a second generation ’’ALIG’’ . ’’ALIG’’ is the term given to one who has studied in Aligarh Muslim University. Since my father completed his engineering education from AMU, I used to hear a lot about the university and its traditions.

Coming to the highlights of university, I would list them as:
* Most Inexpensive Education Provider
* Variety of courses of study
* Vast campus
* Good Academic Infrastructure
* State-of-the-art Hostel Facilities
* A residential university of more than 15000 students
* Students from all economic and religious sections of the country
* Self-volunteered cultural grooming

AMU students have won great laurels in the past and are continuing to do this even at the international levels. The quality of education has been declining for quite a long time. The ratio of exceptional performing students to the total number has seen a decline, too. There have been a number of instances when AMU was in news for poor administration and disturbance.

Looking at the number of students and especially the resident ones, one can easily make out that how difficult it could be to manage a large student community as this. One main reason behind the inefficient control and improper functioning is lack of zeal and commitment in the staff. Like many government colleges and universities, complacency has crept in here, as well. AMU is facing the shortage of personalities who served it with a great sense of duty and responsibility.

With increasing numbers of students, the self-volunteered and self-advocated discipline among the students has suffered a loss, too. Nevertheless, the role of media in getting a bad name to AMU can’t be denied. Hungry for sensational news, the newspapers and TV channels fill the space with news about disturbances in AMU but seldom do they cover the achievements of AMU students and alumni.

Even after all these hurdles, AMU is managing to come back on the right track. The academic environment is improving, day by day. The students of AMU are performing well in external competitive examinations, as well.

Apart from the education, the cultural grooming helps the students become the best they can be. There are literary and cultural societies in every hostel and they organise annual extra-curricular events. There are clubs like Drama Club, Music Club and Film club and they keep organising plays, music concerts and film festivals round the year.

In sports, AMU Cricket team, Skating team, Swimming team and Hockey Team does really well in regional and zonal events. AMU can boast of having one of the oldest Horse-riding clubs, functioning even to this date. It has a sports complex which has green tennis courts, a hockey ground, an athletics ground, a football ground, a cricket stadium, a gymnasium, a skating ring and an indoor swimming pool.

The Alumni Network of AMU can be termed as one of the largest in the world. There is a great sense of belonging between them and they come forward to help ’’Aligs’’ wherever they come across one. One important thing which is lacking in AMU is official Student-Alumni interaction. Once this can be ensured, things can definitely be made better and better.

To sum up, i would say that AMU is an institution which creates a permanent place in the hearts of all its students. Wherever they go, the feeling of being an Alig goes with them. The ultimate testimony is that most of them carry this ’’Alig’’ tag with great pride and honour. What else can speak better for an educational institution.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Naseeruddin Shah: Life beyond films... real and special!

Monday, Mar 24, 2003

Naseeruddin Shah has said goodbye to masala films and is busy doing meaningful theatre in a big way. Along the way, he has found time and space for disabled children. In New Delhi this past week to help children with special needs, he shares special things with RANA A. SIDDIQUI about his career, his joys, his disappointments... .

Naseeruddin Shah... no more "Encounter", time now for meaningful theatre. Photos: Anu Pushkarna.
NASEERUDDIN SHAH is visibly upset. He is not facing the camera, nor giving sound bytes to scribes. Dressed in arrogance to go with his purple shirt and grey jeans, his demeanour is akin to that of an Army-man. "I wanted this affair to be less high-profile," he reveals the reason for the creases on his forehead. He is in New Delhi to celebrate the silver jubilee of Aadi, Action for Ability Development and Inclusion, formerly The Spastic Society of Northern India. The organisation is holding painting and theatre workshops for children with disabled artists of repute. Naseeruddin Shah is now the brand ambassador for Aadi "for an absolute giving" which has opened "a significant chapter" in his life.

To begin with, he is making a contribution along with his wife Ratna Pathak Shah and daughter Heeba Shah in the form of three stage productions. "Ismat Aapa ke Naam", his repeat plays based on three women-oriented stories by famed Urdu writer Ismat Chugtai and `Manto, Ismat Hazir Hain" based on five stories of Saadat Hasan Manto that includes Manto's "Kali Shalwar" for the first time. "These plays have brought tremendous response, more than other plays put together in my lifetime," Naseer reveals. They will be will staged at FICCI auditorium this Monday to raise funds for Aadi.

"I wanted to spend some time with children here rather than giving interviews and boasting of what I have just begun to do. I wonder just because I am here today to contribute a bit to this segment of society, cameramen are overactive. Nobody bothered to write about Aadi who have been silently making significant changes in their lives for last 25 years!"

After venting his uncomfortable feelings, he seems to be calm. "I am here to make friends with disabled kids. Share their experience and then know what they need from us. Though for me disability is not an absolutely alien subject as one of uncles at home was blind. And during my school days in Aligarh Muslim University I had a few blind students in my class. I always used to be amazed at their fascinating behaviour. But I could only observe them closely later during the making of `Sparsh'." And we all know, this film of early 1980s, had established him as a class performer.

"It is not difficult to be motivated by a personal tragedy but it is definitely difficult to be motivated only for the sake of it," he philosophies.

"It is not a secret anymore that actors are more for entertainment, over-paid, over-privileged. But one can always do best in the area he is in. What bothers me is very little interest that we show towards hard work," Naseer is getting absolutely overwhelmed by the alarming ratio of disabled in India out of which only 45 per cent have access to education while 2000 organisations are working for them across the country.

He is here to make a tangible difference "not through entering into politics, never," he warns those who are trying to read between the lines.

So does it mean goodbye to films? "Yes! The kind of commercial cinema that is being made these days, I will never work in it. I am fed up of masala films. The very thought of working and watching those films makes me puke," Naseer minces no words, hides no disgust and contempt.
Is this the reason that he has not been seen on the big screen after his last film "Encounter"? "Yes."

So what is his next move? "Theatre. Meaningful theatre which is proving to be more satisfying for me as an actor as well as a human being," he emphasises.

So what is he doing in theatre that has quenched his thirst of artistic pursuit? "I have started taking our classical writers for plays. Ismat and Manto to begin with. I teach theatre to small children in Mumbai. I take theatre classes for some young and aspiring students of the National School of Drama for which I come from Mumbai very often."

What does he aim to do with that? "If as an actor, I make some contribution in the field of acting, I will feel I have done something significant."

How does being a brand ambassador of Aadi help? Hasn't the thought come a little late in his life? "Yes, but came, which is more significant. Better late than never. But I alone will not be make a difference. I feel sorry for talking about my being here before glaring camera flashes. I never craved for space in print. I have just begun today. And they are doing it for 25 years! My salute to them," he is emotionally charged.

His contribution to theatre through classical writers has opened a new chapter in this realm. But how far is he satisfied with what others are doing in this realm? "Lot of work is being done and it is a must because it is only out of the lot that the best can be picked up."

Mumbai breathes theatre. What about Delhi? "In Mumbai also people are making third-rate bedroom farces but the fact goes that theatre is more vibrating here."

In Delhi, it is Naseer's name that draws crowd. People are just not watching others. "Is it my fault", he shoots back.

Would he do stage on all stories of Manto? "I intend to. God willing."

Would he do something substantial for spastic children in future? "Inshallah!"

"Hello Uncle", a wheelchair-bound little girl touches him. Naseer turns back. "Oh! Hi. Sorry, I forgot your name."

"I want your autograph. My papa loves you very much. He has sent his hello to you," the child has clear speech, though she takes some time in articulating. "Definitely," he signs an autograph and returns her father's greeting. He ruffles her hair, moves to other children. He wishes to spend time with them, not media.

Majaz Luckhnawi : Nazr e Aligarh

This is the complete nazm of Majaz titled “nazr-e-aligarh” written in 1936. It was later abridged and adopted as the lyrics of A.M.U. Tarana.

ye meraa chaman hai meraa chaman, maiN apne chaman kaa bulbul huuN
sarshaar-e-nigaah-e-nargis huuN, paa-bastaa-e-gesuu-sumbul huuN

(chaman : garden; bulbul : nightingale; sarshaar : overflowing, soaked; nigaah : sight; nargis :flower, Narcissus; paa-bastaa : embedded; gesuu : tresses; sumbul : a plant of sweet odor)

har aan yahaaN sehbaa-e-kuhan ek saaGhar-e-nau meN dhaltii hai
kalioN se husn tapaktaa hai, phuuloN se javaanii ubaltii hai

(sehbaa-e-kuhan : old wine; saaGhar-e-nau : new goblet)

jo taaq-e-haram meN roshan hai, vo shamaa yahaaN bhii jaltii hai
is dasht ke goshe-goshe se, ek juu-e-hayaat ubaltii hai

(taaq-e-haram : vault in the sacred territory of Mecca; roshan : glowing; shamaa : flame; dasht : wilderness, desert; goshaa : corner; juu-e-hayaat : stream of life)

Islam ke is but-Khaane meN asnaam bhii haiN aur Aazaar bhii
tahziib ke is mai-Khaane meN shamshiir bhii hai aur saaGhar bhii

(but-Khaanaa : temple; asnaam : idols; Aazaar : Abraham’s father, an idol-worshipper; tahziib : culture; shamshiir : sword; saaGhar : wine goblet)

yaaN husn kii barq chamaktii hai, yaaN nuur kii baarish hotii hai
har aah yahaaN ek naGhmaa hai, har ashk yahaaN ek motii hai

(barq : lightening; nuur : light)

har shaam hai shaam-e-Misr yahaaN, har shab hai shab-e-Sheeraz yahaaN
hai saare jahaaN kaa soz yahaaN aur saare jahaaN kaa saaz yahaaN

(shaam-e-Misr : evenings of Egpyt; shab-e-Sheeraz : nights of Sheeraz, a famous city of Iran; soz : pain)

ye dasht-e-junuuN diivaanoN kaa, ye bazm-e-vafaa parvaanoN kii
ye shahr-e-tarab ruumaanoN kaa, ye Khuld-e-bariiN armaanoN kii

(dasht : desert, wilderness; junuuN : frenzy; bazm : gathering; vafaa : faithfulness; shahr-e-tarab : city of mirth; Khuld-e-bariiN : sublime paradise; armaan : hope)

fitrat ne sikhaii hai ham ko, uftaad yahaaN parvaaz yahaaN
gaaye haiN vafaa ke giit yahaaN, chheRaa hai junuuN kaa saaz yahaaN

(fitrat : nature; uftaad : beginning of life; parvaaz : flight; saaz : song on an instrument)

is farsh se hamne uR uR kar aflaak ke taare toRe haiN
nahiid se kii hai sargoshi, parviin se rishte joRe hain

(farsh : base; aflaak : heavens; nahiid : Venus; parviin : Pleiades)

is bazm meN teGheN khenchiiN haiN, is bazm meN saGhar toRe haiN
is bazm meN aanKh bichaa’ii hai, is bazm meN dil tak joRe haiN

(teGh : swords; saGhar : goblet)

is bazm meN neze khenche haiN, is bazm meN Khanjar chuume haiN
is bazm meN gir-gir taRpe haiN, is bazm meN pii kar jhuume haiN

(neze : spears; Khanjar : dagger; bazm : gathering)

aa aa kar hazaaroN baar yahaaN Khud aag bhii hamne lagaayii hai
phir saare jahaaN ne dekhaa hai ye aag hamiin ne bujha’ii hai

yahaaN ham ne kamandeN daalii haiN, yahaaN hamne shab-Khuun maare haiN
yahaaN ham ne qabaayeN nochii haiN, yahaaN hamne taaj utaare haiN

(kamand : a noose; shab-KhuuN : night raids; qabaayeN : flight)
har aah hai Khud taasiir yahaaN, har Khvaab hai Khud taabiir yahaaN
tadbiir ke paa-e-sangiiN per jhuk jaati hai taqdiir yahaaN

(aah : sigh; taasiir : effect; taabiir : interpretation; tadbiir : forethought; paa-e-sangiiN : firm footing; taqdiir : destiny)

zarraat kaa bosaa lene ko, sau baar jhukaa aakaash yahaaN
Khud aankh se ham ne dekhii hai, baatil kii shikast-e-faash yahaaN

(zarraat : dust; bosaa : kiss; baatil : evil; shikast-e-faash: clear defeat)

is gul-kadah paariinaa meN phir aag bhaRakne vaali hai
phir abr garajne vaale haiN, phir barq kaRakne vaali hai

(gul-kadah : garden; pariinaa : ancient; abr : cloud; barq : lightening)
jo abr yahaaN se uThThega, vo saare jahaaN par barsegaa
har juu-e-ravaan par barsegaa, har koh-e-garaaN par barsegaa

(abr : cloud; juu-e-ravaan : flowing streams; koh-e-garaaN : big mountains)

har sard-o-saman par barsegaa, har dasht-o-daman par barsegaa
Khud apne chaman par barsegaa, GhairoN ke chaman par barsegaa

(sard-o-saman : open and shelter; dasht-o-daman : wild and subdued; qasr-e-tarab : citadel of joy)

har shahr-e-tarab par garjegaa, har qasr-e-tarab par kaRkegaa
ye abr hameshaa barsaa hai, ye abr hameshaa barsegaa

(shahr-e-tarab : city of joy; qasr-e-tarab : citadel of joy)

Majaz Lucknawi

Saturday, November 3, 2007

AMUSU: Its Glorious Past, Period of Decline and Uncertain Future

Aligarh Muslim University Student's Union has a long history, which is replete with instances of excellence as well as of chaos and it has often been a center of controversy. The genesis of all these characterizations would take volumes to enumerate. After partition, members of the faculty and students left the university in large numbers, creating a void. The new cultural ethos and social milieu that took over after independence had very different attitudinal values and perception objectives. The background from where students came also differed a lot from the past. Aligarh Muslim University student body was once considered to be the trendsetter in the cultural, educational and social movements of Muslims and rightly became a great institution of learning, which is not true anymore. Regrettably, it is now a difficult and nearly impossible task to refurbish and restore the values and ethos of Student's Union at Aligarh. AMU Student's Union was an extremely progressive, forward thinking and innovative institution for generations. Reform movements, progressive ideas, and dynamic thoughts pertaining to our national identity and existence, were initiated and accomplished in this institution.

We hope that this brief account of AMU Student's Union will enable the alumni living abroad as well as the new generation of students to understand and appreciate its significance in the context of the present situation. Many of us, who have studied at AMU in the 50s and 60s, must have long-lasting impressions and memories of the role of AMU Student's Union on our lives during that time.

Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Student's Union Club was established on August 26, 1884, and named after Mr. Henry Siddons (the first Principal of the M.A.O. College). Theodore Morrison, the 3rd Principal of the M.A.O.College, laid the foundation stone of the Union Building on February 22, 1905, and the building was completed in 1911. Through the AMU Act passed on December 1, 1920, Siddon's Union Club was renamed as AMU Student's Union. It was formed exclusively to edify students in the aptitude for and elegance in public speaking, civilized argument, energetic debate, and to systematize their pragmatic and scholarly activities. AMU Student's Union was principally an educational and cultural center of Aligarh. It created among its members, astuteness of thinking and enlightenment through competitive educational, political, social, economic and religious forces. For the longest time, the AMU Student's Union carried out these tasks with great distinction, playing an important role in Muslim politics before and until short of two decades after independence. It allowed students to debate on all issues in a civilized manner and produced some leading personalities in India.

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan inaugurated and presided over the Siddons club's first public debate held on November 13, 1884; the debated in the Union Club was “The spread of female education is to be desired by home tuition, not through schools and colleges."

The first recipient of Siddon's Union Club award was Sahibzada Aftab Ahmad Khan in 1888. Other prominent recipients were Ghulamus Saqlain (1892)Shaukat Ali (1896) and Shaikh Abdullah (1898). The Metson Assay Oxford Prize, and Cambridge Speaking Prize, instituted by Prof. Herald Cox(professor of Mathematics and Political Economy) were introduced in 1914.The first topic debated was "Whether the existence of parties in a state was or was not favorable to good government."

In 1921, both Cambridge and Metson Oxford Prized were merged. Khawaja Ghulam-us-Saiydain was the first recipient of the combined club prize of AMU Student's Union. The last recipient of the medal was Syed Shabihul Hasan Naunaharvi in 1945. The club remained suspended since then and finally was abolished in 1961.

Along with Aligarh Muslim University Student's Union, there was an Intermediate Student's Society, which elected office bearers. The Intermediate Student's Union was abolished in 1957, with the introduction fore-university course. This society was working as a sub-body of the Student’s Union.

Until 1952, the Vice-Chancellor was always the President of AMU Student's Union, whereas, the student body elected the Vice President, Librarian and Hon. Secretary, with 10 cabinet members. Afterwards, the Vice Chancellor became the Patron; the position of Librarian was abolished in 1958 and replaced by that of the Vice-President. The first President was Ahmad Seed(Anda) in 1952. An Honorary Treasurer used to be a staff member elected by the Executive Committee of the Union.

A nominal monthly membership fee of the Union was charged from each student. Dr. Abidullah Ghazi was a pioneer in founding the Rafi Relief Society Funding 1958. Its purpose was to provide financial help to extremely needy students. Funds were generated through annual contributions from AMU students. Though the funds were awarded by the Union office bearers to maintain transparency, a representative from each Hall of Residence was also included in the award committee.

One interesting and very important triumph of 1950s was the establishment of the Union School for the wards of class-4 employees of the university. President Amin Bulbulia, a citizen of South Africa started the school in a small building near the mosque. It was fully funded and managed by donations from students. In 1967, after exhaustive efforts of President Mohsin Raza, the Union School was renamed after professor Abdul Basir Khan, Head, Zoology Department and MLA from Aligarh, who was arrested on April 25, 1965 on charge of inciting students during the murky reign of Ali Yawar Jung. This Union School progressed at a very fast pace. Now, a few thousand boys and girls are enrolled and housed in a brand new building. This indeed is a great contribution of the Student's Union to the university employees and has no match in any other of the hundreds of universities in the country.

At the installation ceremony of AMU Student's Union in 1954, Dr. Zakir Hussain Khan, the then Vice-Chancellor of AMU said, "It seems to me that AMU Student's Union has a role of great significance to play in the development of India's national life."

In fact, it was the direction and training from the AMU Student's Union, which primed the early generation of Muslims in playing a pivotal and leading role in India's struggle for freedom. Maulana Mohamamd Ali, Hasrat Mohani, Zafar Ali Khan, Dr. Zakir Hussain, Shaikh Abdullah, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, Sardar Jafri, Majaz, and Ansar Harvani (a devoted follower of Subhash Chandra Bose) where all influenced by and participated in union activities. AMU produced 43 active freedom fighters many of whom were active in the Student's Union.

Three gold medals were introduced in 1952:

a) Saifi Imad Ali Medal for the best English Speaker: Mohammad Ahmad Saeed (ANDA) was the first winner in 1952. Mohammad Ameen Bulbulia from South Africa (1953); Syed Ziaul Hasan Hashmi (1957); S. K. Malohotra (1958);Syed Shahid Mehdi (1960) and Afsar Akhtar Hussain (1961) also received the medals at the convocation.
b) Saifi Burhanuddin Medal for the best Essayist was awarded to a prominent and prolific writer and the winner was Ishtiaq Hussain Abidi in1958-59.

c) Saif Fida Hussain Medal for the best Urdu Speaker was also instituted and the first winner was again Mr. Mohammad Ahmad Saeed (1953-54); Abidullah Ghazi (1954-1955); Mohammad Sagheer (1959-1960) and Basir Ahmad Khan, Founder, Muslim League in U.P. (1960-1961).

The School of Public Speaking and Parliamentary Practices was started in 1955-56. Veteran parliamentarians were regularly invited to deliver lectures on various topics of parliamentary practices. Few prominent visitors were Anant Shannam Ayanger (Lok Sabha Speaker, 1958); V. K. Krishna Menon (Foreign Minister, 1959); Pundit Anand Narayan Mulla (1962), Jai Parkash Narain (1968); Justice Hidaytullah (1971); G. S. Dhillon (Lok Sabha Speaker,1972); Piloo Mody (1974); Dev Raj Urs (1976); Tarkeshwari Sinha (1978); and H. B. Bahuguna (1979).

During a little over a decade following independence, a period with which this article is primarily concerned, the union did not see a dramatic change from its workings compared to earlier eras. In fact, it was at the peak of its power and influence. Some of the most eloquent student leaders, who also excelled at their studies, were actively involved with the union activities, as we shall discuss below.

One of such students was Jafar Mehdi Tabaan, President of AMU Student's Union and a distinguished Urdu poet:

Julwon mein nahata hai ek Taj Mahal bun ker
Jub hud se guzarta hai mahboob ka ghum saqi

He was closely associated with the leftist student group and with the administration, except that he bitterly opposed Zakir Sahib's action in reducing the Moharram holidays from 10 to only 2 days. Jafar Mehdi Taban was among those who fasted in front of the V.C. lodge. He also wrote a poem, which was printed and distributed through out the university. The title of the poem was:

Zakir Hussain roke hai zikr-e-Hussain se

Shah Hasan Ata, a prolific writer and speaker in Urdu, English, Arabic and Persian was the Vice-President of the AMU Students Union in 1948-49, which was the highest elected position in those years. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the Education Minister of India, came to address the annual convocation in February 1949. He made an "I-told-you-so" type of speech, which was his usual style in those years. It was very similar to a more famous speech, which he delivered in the Jama Masjid of Delhi before that. Moreover, Maulana Azad criticized Sir Syed Ahmad Khan on this occasion, which did not sit well at all with the AMU community. (Courtesy: Dr. Khalid Omar Siddiqui, California).

There was a reception for Maulana Azad in the Student's Union later in the evening, according to a long established tradition. Shah Hasan Ata took Maulana to task in his welcoming speech delivered without a written text. Heanswered each and every point raised by the Maulana in his convocation address earlier in the day and severely condemned his attack on the founder of the Aligarh Muslim University. When the Maulana got a chance to speak, his only response was,

Mein yahan kuchh kehne ke liye aaya tha.

Mujhe m'aloom naheen tha ke mujhe kuchh sunna bhi paRe gaShah Hasan Ata was also a good Urdu poet. When he visited Aligarh in 1957 on the golden Jubilee of Student's Union, he recited the following:
Muddat ke baad teri ziyarat hui naseeb

Mera salaam mere Aligarh qubul kar

In those days, union elections were contested with great enthusiasm and zest and the student body took part in them and in other union activities most energetically. Dr. Abidullah Ghazi, a former secretary and later president of the union has provided an absolutely fascinating and riveting glimpse into union politics in the fifties through his articles which have appeared serially in this "Sir Syed Day Magazine' of previous years, later to be part of his forthcoming autobiography. However, in the context of the history of AMU Student's Union, some of this information has to be included in this article as well with particular reference to four noteworthy elections of that era; Shah Inayat Aftab vs. Ahmed Saeed Anda (1951), Ameen Bulbulia vs. Saeed Anda, (1952), Mohammed Shafi vs. Ameen Bulbulia (1953) and Abidullah Ghazi vs. Mobashir Mohammed Khan. (1955)

The period immediately following independence was of great uncertainty and rapidly changing attitudes of the university community. The perception was widespread that the communists were being officially favored by the university administration as an antidote to the deep-rooted sympathies towards Pakistan that a significant section of the AMU community still harbored. In contrast to union elections of other Indian universities, the national or regional political parties were not involved or influenced the elections of the AMU Student's Union. Essentially two groups, the religious Jamat-e-Islami and the communists controlled the election. Student's Federation (S.F.) a communist front organization of the students controlled by the leftists of AMU was structured during the 50's, and was vigorously opposed by the religious group. The S. F. had a strong network supported by some senior teachers and often allegedly by the administration also. The rightists of AMU branded them as "Nayee Tahzeeb Waley". The communist group included such stalwarts as the Niazi brothers, Obaid Siddiqi and Ameen Bulbulia whereas the charismatic, mercurial and spellbinding orator Saeed Anda was the undisputed leader of the anti-communist block. The communists and members of Jamat-e-Islami had very clear-cut ideology whereas the anti-communist group comprised of an odd collection of former Muslim leaguers, Congressites such as the youth Congress of which the late Hashim Kidwai was a leader and others ideologically opposed to the communists. No party member of the Jamat-e-Islam ever made it to the presidency until 1962,but their support sometimes proved to be pivotal in close elections especially when the specter of "Islam is in danger' was strategically raised to roil up the student community and gain political advantage. An example of such power was the commotion that followed the assassination in 1951 of Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan, prime Minister of Pakistan. Sahabzada Liaqat Ali Khan was an illustrious old boy of the university of whom most of the university community was proud and those with strong sympathies towards Pakistan especially so. It was a custom at that time that the university siren used to be activated at 8:00 p.m. every night and also when some important person passed away, although the executive council had prohibited the latter practice in a recent decision. The news of the assassination gripped the entire university community with a deep sense of loss, grief and apprehension. The students led by Saeed Anda demanded the blowing of the siren and one day holiday, which despite the objections of Dr. Zakir Husain, was enthusiastically endorsed and carried out by the students after a stormy meeting arranged by the president of the union, Shasbih-ul-Hasan Nonaharvi to discuss this matter.

In the Union elections, according to the prevailing tradition, the aspiring candidates, dressed in black Sherwani and Jinnah cap would attend a ‘declaration party ' arranged by the all powerful "seniors" at which the supporters of the candidates would make a case for them. The same evening, the candidates would distribute a list of their qualifications and a “manifesto" through their volunteers who used to go from room to room of all residential halls. The candidates for particularly the office of the president would make arrangements with printing presses to be available for printing campaign materials almost round the clock. Each camp had at its disposal the services of volunteers adept at composing, witty and hard hitting pamphlets, anti, and anti-anti pamphlets within a matter of hours. As soon as a pamphlet hit the residence halls, an anti-pamphlet would appear within a very short time sometimes carrying an eye-catching heading such as

"Aap bhi sharmsaar ho mujh ko bhi sharmsaar kar"

distributed to mock one candidate's meager qualifications. Another pivotal strategy used to be to remove the opponent's literature before the students to whom it was delivered had a chance to read it. Here the strength and size of the volunteer force played a pivotal role. Candidates for cabinet and positions other than the president and secretary had more modest but often highly imaginative means to convey their message. In the 1955election, a candidate, Nawab Raza, bought camels for the students to ride on, which were decorated with banners urging students to vote for him; apparently the ride was not enjoyable enough because he lost badly. In1959, on the morning of the elections, resident students of all halls were panic stricken to find a telegram at their doors, which read "Vote for Shareef-Ur-Rehman Khan- your candidate". The innovative strategy paid off and propelled the candidate to victory. Another candidate named Masoodi had his supporters distribute a card, which read:


B 4 U


Who is who?

Elect Masoodi

Aligarh had a great propensity to falling for fads. At one time, a student with the Takhallus "Shola" was all the rage in the Mushairas and functions of a general nature. Not content with this notoriety, he turned his attention to politics and ran unsuccessfully for a cabinet position several times. His card contained a couplet in which the word vote had been substituted for an Urdu word for kiss.

Manga jo unsay vote tow kahnay lagay who yeh
Shola teray taqazay hain yeh baar baar kay

On the Election Day, the success or failure of the time honored "get the vote" strategy, which determines the outcome of the national elections even in the U.S was crucial in carrying a candidate to victory or to a humiliating loss. This in turn was dictated by the resources at the disposal of the candidate to attract greater number of volunteers.

As a result of his role in the campaign for a holiday and for ringing of the siren on Sahibzada Liaqat Ali Khan's assassination, Saeed Anda's name became identified with standing up to the forces which were disdainful of Aligarh's Muslim identity and had wrapped themselves in the flag of ultra-nationalism. He was immensely popular and was desirous of contesting the presidency. However, he committed a serious blunder by not seeking the blessings of the seniors who were the true kingmakers, and were miffed by his indifference and selected Shah Inayat Aftab as their candidate. Shah Sahib was no match for the oratorical skills of Saeed Anda but had total support of the "nationalist" seniors of every religion, which led to his unexpected victory over Saeed Anda. Another tradition of the union politics was the ritual of "Janazaa" in which seniors from the victor's camp went to the residence of several of the seniors of the defeated candidate's camp and recited mock elegies to lament their defeat. Only seniors of both sides were allowed to participate in this activity, juniors were not allowed to even come near the Janazaa ceremony. In case of Saeed Anda's defeat, the principal target was Peerji, the husband of Saeed Anda's niece who lived in Jubilee Hostel, V.M. Hall. One of the couplets in his Marsiya was:

Shikast au fatah tau Qismet say hai walay a pir
Muqabla teray Mamian susar nay khoom kiya

Dispirited but not eliminated from politics, Saeed Anda ran the next year carrying the banner of Islam against the firebrand card carrying communist from East Africa, Mohammed Amin Bulbulia. The communist block had scarcely600 solid votes but they received support from non-Muslim students, secular Muslims and sometimes from the nationalist group, which vacillated in its support; depending upon the circumstances and in this election chose to support Saeed Anda. The communist supporters of Bulbulia were fiercely committed to his victory and campaigned with a zeal that in retrospect reminds one of the passion of Pasha in Dr. Zhivago played so adroitly by Tom Courteny. This time Saeed Anda won the presidency, but because of the extreme bitterness generated during the elections, when seniors from Saeed Anda's camp went for "Janazaa Pitai" to Bulbulia's headquarters, they were beaten with sticks. Thus this tradition was ended and an element of violence in the conduct of elections was injected.

Mohammed Ameen Bulbulia contested the election the following year with even a more driven and motivated coterie of ideologues as volunteers. Pamphlets and anti-pamphlets from both camps were distributed with extraordinary efficiency and within a short response time with couplets like the following from the opposite camp:

Main Bulbul-e-Ghamgeen hoon ek ujray Gulistan kaa
Aur vote ka talib hoon mohtaj ko data dai
Roosi mera naghma hai aur thaat hain ungraizi etc.

After another hard fought and bitter election, Bulbulia emerged victorious and his supporters went wild with glee, dancing on the lawns of residence halls all night long celebrating his victory with shouts of "Sadar banaahai Bulbulia", "Raaj Karay Ga Bulbulia"

Sahabzada Nayyar Qadar was elected on S. F. support, in 1954 but Mobashir Mohammad Khan defeated Abidullah Ghazi the following year in another tough election in which the battle cry of 'Islam Khatray main hai' was once again raised and Ghazi sahib was accused of being a communist.( The communists for their part also falsely accused their opponents of being anti-nationalist or communalists). He lost the election partly because of this propaganda and partly because he was an undergraduate and although highly accomplished at public speaking in Urdu was not as adept at giving a speech in English as Mobashir Mohammed was.

Tariq Ghazi Sahib, the younger brother of Abdullah Ghazi Sahib and an accomplished orator and polished writer himself relates an interesting story, which underscores the fact that in those days the Student's Union was basically a debating society which groomed and produced some of the finest orators and debaters rather than professional politicians. During Mobashir Mohammed Khan's presidency, a set debate on the resolution "Aligarh Movement na-kaam ho gayee" was arranged at which Abidullah Ghazi Sahib was the only one slated to speak for the motion. Nobody else was prepared to speak for the motion and to declare Aligarh a failure, for fear of being booed by the audience. Abidullah Sahib was reluctant, but at the urging of Mubashir Khan, opened the debate for which the allotted time was eight minutes. However, when he began speaking, the president "forgot" to ring the first buzzer at six minutes and the final buzzer at eight minutes and Ghazi Sahib kept speaking for twenty-five minutes. When the speaker for the opposition came after Ghazi Sahib had finished his speech, his first sentence was: "Jistehreek nay Abidullah Ghazi jaisay muqarrir paida kiye hon ussay hargiz nakaam nahin kaha ja sakta".

In the 1957 student's election, between Sultan Ali Shaida and Ziaul Hasan Hashmi, the battle of pamphlets and anti-pamphlets was also waged fiercely. One anti pamphlet secretly distributed at night had the caption:

Utha ker pheink do bahar galee mein
Nayee tahzeeb key yeh andey hein gandey

As stated before, the Student's Federation was a formidable political power in union election in those days. When it did not have a clear candidate from within the party, it threw its support to someone who was not from the religious right. Therefore, in 1958, Abidullah Ghazi was elected unopposed as was Ishtiaq Abidi two years later, with the support of the S.F. and the administration. Likewise, Ms. Afsar Rasheed a vibrant S.F. member became an acting President for many months, when duly elected President Mr. Mobashir Mohammad Khan (a nephew of Prof. Abrar Mustafa Khan, strongly supported by the religious group) was expelled on some questionable charges from the university, though he was later permitted to appear in his M. A. Final Political Science and Law Examinations. In fact, only three people from the anti-communist group were elected to the top position of the Student's Union in the entire nineteen fifties and only one, Ahmad Saeed (Anda), completed his term, though in 1957, he was also rusticated from the university on some charges, considered to be flimsy by his partisans. The other two; Mubashir Mohammad Khan and Asif Ahmad (Saeed Anda's nephew), had to resign before finishing their term.

An interesting episode related to Saeed Anda, the legendry AMU Student’s Union leader is as follows:

The tradition to call an emergency meeting by the executives of the union was through ringing the bell on the roof of the Union Building, and students from as far as V. M. Hall and Russel Ganj used to rush to the union to attend such meetings. In such one emergency meeting, a resolution was introduced for a vote of no confidence against sitting President Mr. Asif Ali. Ahmad Saeed Anda in support of Asif Ali refused to leave the podium and delivered a very long speech defending him. The presiding officer, Mr. Qamruzzaman continually and repeatedly warned him to stop but was ignored by him. At around 11 p.m. the union bell rang and an emergency meeting was held presided by Qamruzzaman (who alleged that Saeed Anda has assaulted him) with bandages on his head and arms. The general body passed a resolution against Saeed Anda and demanded his rustication. The demand was presented to the acting Vice-Chancellor, Mr. Noorullah for action. However, the same night Saeed Anda left Aligarh for Kanpur, never to return and AMU lost a very talented orator. He died about 10 years ago in Karachi.

The trend of electing mostly left leaning student leaders to the Union presidency changed at the end of the decade and most of the presidents elected later were from the anti-communist/religious group. Jalees Hameedi (1959), Ishtiaq Abidi (1960, supported by S. F.), Qazi Jamaluddin (1961),Basir Khan (1962), Aneesur Rahman Sherwani (1963), Mufti Mohsin Akhtar(1965), Mohsin Raza (1966), Mohammad Adeeb (1967) and Sardar Ali (1968). None of them was S. F. supported except Mr. Ishtiaq Abidi.

In the scheme of union politics, the female students were relegated to an unequal position; only post-graduate girl students were allowed to contest elections.

Ameen Bulbulia's cabinet included a girl student named Zohra Naqvi, a post-graduate student in Physics. To our knowledge this was the first time that a girl student was elected to the union cabinet in the post-independence era. Since then, many female students were elected such as Afsar Rasheed (1955), Basra Fayez (1957), Rebuke Baja (1960) and Asma Bano (1968).

According to a posting from Tariq Ghazi Sahib, in the 1961 election, two girls contested the election but both lost. Soon after the election results were announced around midnight, Zia Uddin Hostel was attacked and a communal riot broke out in the city the following day which engulfed several other cities in western U.P. Colonel Bashir Husain Zaidi, the Vice-Chancellor used his prerogative as the patron of the union and appointed Tahira Rahman and two Hindu girls to the expanded cabinet. Tahira Rahman did not join the cabinet in protest because no girl was elected. However, although she did not attend three consecutive cabinet meetings, a cause for automatic loss of membership, the cabinet unanimously resolved to remove that clause and allowed Tahira Rahman and one Hindu girl to retain their seats.

During Qazi Jamal Uddin's tenure (1961), a resolution was tabled as was done in previous years demanding that the right of vote be extended to the undergraduate students of Abdullah College as well. The motion was soundly defeated with only one dissenting vote, that of Tariq Ghazi Sahib. When he stood up to speak in favor of the motion against the advice of Qazi Jamal and Basir Khan, he was greeted with catcalls and boos but he insisted that his vote be registered in favor of the motion. Qazi declared the motion defeated; by a majority' and overruled a point of order which had demanded that the word 'thumping' be added before 'majority' noting that no such word as 'thumping majority' existed in parliamentary language. He adjourned the house sine die which never reconvened until next year when Anis Sherwani won the election and took charge from the Vice-Chancellor Tayyabji since the entire cabinet of Basir Khan had resigned in February after taking charge in October - the shortest lived cabinet in the history of AMU. At that installation ceremony, Tayyabji announced that he did not believe in traditions and Aligarh should give up most of them, which seems to have happened indeed.

One of the Student's Union traditions was to hold a Mock Convocation, every year. Old records of Aligarh Magazine show that the then students of the university celebrated a lively Mock Convocation in which comical "Titles” were given to senior students and they were then addressed in a whimsical manner.

In early 60s, this old tradition was renewed with some improvements. This function was held strictly along the lines of the actual convocation. The difference, however, lay in the fact that while the convocation is the most solemn function, Mock convocation was a hilarious and witty function organized by the Student's Union.

An interesting episode of Mock Convocation recalled by one of us (Dr. Mohsin Raza) includes the proceedings of the event in presence of Tayyabji. He was sitting with his wife in the front row, curiously listening to the deliberations that comprised mostly of criticism and making fun of the administration in an interesting, polite but sarcastic language.

In this first Mock Convocation during his tenure, Tasawwur Ali Khan an English MA student (now in UK) whose eyes resembled Tayyabji's acted as mock Vice-Chancellor and he trained his tone of speech to be like his also. There was a beautiful Rose garden in front of Victoria gate that was removed and was converted into huge lawns on either side of the walkway on the advice of Mrs. Tayyabji. At that time, there was a German named Hedger who was in charge of AMU Gardens and was nicknamed as the POW. The Mock Convocation VC in his annual report stated that the "famous Rose gardens in front of Victoria gate have been converted into a green desert on the recommendation of a prisoner of war" (It was an indirect reference to Mrs. Tayyabji's actions). Tayyabji looked at his wife and laughed very hard.

Referring to the fact that former V.C. Bashir Hussain Zaidi Sahib had built so many buildings in AMU and Tayyabji made so many Roads, the mock VC said "my predecessor Zaidi Sahib is known as Shahjehan of AMU and I will be known as Sher Shah Suri of AMU for having constructed a network of roads in the campus, where you can see grass growing in the middle of roads". Tayyabji thoroughly enjoyed the proceedings and at the conclusion of the function shook hands with Tasawwur who had acted as the VC and with Maqbool Mahmood who had acted as Nawab Chatari and chatted with all members of the cast. Unfortunately, during the tenure of Ali Yawar Jung, this tradition ended because he insisted that the presentation of this program be pre-approved by his office.

The other major event associated with AMU Student's Union was the annual Mushaira, which was usually held before the annual convocation and ranked in prestige almost equal to the Delhi Cloth Mills (DCM) and the Lal-Qila Mushairas Those who have attended the Mushaira must have heard all the great Urdu poets of the time. Unfortunately, Shakeel Badauni Sahib on some pretext never graced the occasion. In one such Mushaira students were upset with a local poet, who refused to wear Topi. The Mushaira was close to being cancelled when Salam Machli Shahree took the mike and started reciting his Poetry:

Aye Aligarh key jawan sal Haseen shahzado
Dil mey koi Mahjabeen hai key nahin

The pandal echoed with the shouts of Hai Hai (yes, yes), the proceedings continued and it turned out to be one of the most successful Mushairas.

The events of 1965 changed the university Student's Union focus from constructive programs to politics. The mishandling of the agitation by the Vice Chancellor and his advisors resulted in a great blow to the name and prestige of the institution, attached a permanent stigma to the student community, lead to the quashing of the minority character of the university and to communal disturbances, massive rustications of students and destruction of the careers of hundreds of students. The campus had PAC camps in three places, which were a constant eyesore for the students and staff for many years.

The agitation for the restoration of University Act started in 1970 by Mr.Qaiser Mahmood, Iqtedar Khan, Arif Mohammad Khan, Zafruddin Faizan, Jawed Habib, Irfan Ullah Khan, S. M. Arif, Azam Khan and many others. All the subsequent cabinets of the union were involved in agitation until 1982 when parliament restored the act. The union became an instrument of the agitations only (like the student unions of other universities) during this time and came under the influence of political elements that was the process of mutation of the Student's Union activities and traditions. The present Student's Union is a "genetically mutated form" of the previous union.

In 1975, during the emergency period, and the Student's Union’s demonstrations at VC lodge, Azam Khan the then secretary of the union was arrested from the VC lodge. He was kept in Aligarh Jail for 17 months where he was mistreated and even denied medical treatment. When the emergency was lifted and Indira Gandhi lost elections, he returned to the university campus as a polished hard line politician accompanied by H.N. Bahuguna, the former Chief Minister of UP and received the warmest welcome in Kennedy House.

Instead of upgrading the past glory of the traditions of AMU union, which was initially modernistic in its approach, the AMU Student's Union kept pushing itself back into the ravine of obscurantism and retrogression. All the developmental activities of AMU Student's Union became inconsequential, and reached a dismally low level, beginning mid 1960s. Since 1970s, the AMU Student's Union has seldom operated normally. Sometimes, politics has influenced its affairs, at times fundamentalism and at other times sheer disruptiveness. Mr. Saiyed Hamid (Jun. 11, 1980 to March 26, 1985) dissolved the Student's Union and abrogated its constitution in 1982, and replaced it by an "Electoral College". Students holding positions in their respective Halls of Residences, classes, administrative ranks in the university, e.g. proctorial monitors, members of the academic, executive councils and games committees, members of the university games teams, academically brilliant students, best speakers and essayists were all part of the Electoral College. Mr. Syed Hashim Ali (April 8, 1985 to Oct. 4, 1989), the next vice-chancellor, rewrote the union constitution. However, the new constitution was never approved by the student body and the Academic or Executive Councils of the university. Under severe pressure from university staff and students, Vice-Chancellor Prof. Naseem Farooqui (Oct. 15, 1990 to Nov. 15, 1994) called general elections without any valid union constitution. The outcome of the election was disastrous. Prof. Naseem Farooqui, himself became a prisoner of the students. University staff started playing students against the Vice- Chancellor and vice versa. The office bearers of the union virtually took control of the university, especially the admissions and examinations. They humiliated teachers publicly and the Vice- Chancellor could not come to their help.

Based on the recommendation of the Electoral College, the then Vice-Chancellor, Mr. Mahmoodur Rahman reconstituted the Student's Union on August 28, 1997. He gave a very stern warning of immediate dismissal of the union, if any rowdyism occurred in the university. Surprisingly no serious law and order situation developed during his tenure; however, since the union was not dully elected by the students, it never enjoyed a very sound reputation.

At the end of Mahmoodur Rahman's term, Junior Doctor's crisis and involvement of the President of the Student's Union in unethical activities forced the administration to suspend the office bearers. Hamid Ansari Sahib decided not to renew the union partly due to lack of approved union constitution and his realization that the union might not serve the purpose for which it was established. The current Vice-Chancellor Mr. Naseem Ahmad Sahib also decided not to hold elections in his first year of office, mostly because of total lack of interest among majority of students who wanted to concentrate on their studies rather than get involved in union politics. Fortunately, AMU union elections are still not intruded upon by any local and national political parties.

On December 15, 1998, during my (Syed Naseem's) visit to Aligarh, Mr. Mohammad Asim, General Secretary, Student's Union, came to see me at my residence. It was a pleasant surprise for me to see him in proper attire of" Sherwani and Topi." He provided me the details and documentation of the union activities and was anxious to tell me that the union had lived up to the expectations, especially as far as organizing various literary and cultural activities was concerned. I told him that this should be the basic purpose of the union, rather than organizing strikes, humiliating teachers and disrupting university's academic atmosphere.

Unfortunately, the Student's Union at Aligarh is going through a very gloomy phase with a shaky future, mostly due to its own conduct and performance. Union leaders have failed to serve the function it was created for over hundred twenty-five years ago. Let us hope that the student body and university administration would take steps to rejuvenate the Student's Union culture and traditions. Students must also recognize the important role it had played in the past, and should preserve the dignity of the institution in educational development and character building of Aligarh students.

Very few students unions in India have played a pivotal role comparable to that of AMU in the life of its student community. AMU Student Union has contributed so much in every walk-of life of our alma mater. It gave us the aptitude, self-reliance, moderation, capability, and binding-force, which define an important aspect of our identity as Aligarians. It is important that AMU Student's Union be preserved as a quality institution, so that its spirit of positive thinking, nationalism, and secularism continues to inspire future generations.

Syed M. Naseem,
Ph. D.Washington D. C. USA


Dr. Mohsin Raza,
M. D.Former President AMU Students Union 1966-67
Cons Gen Surgeon

Cafe de Phoos

The tea stall Cafe de Phoos had a couple of nicknames: "Cafe De Richshaw" and "Cafe De Sentimental" and the owner was nicknamed "Maulana Chimgadard" and he opened the Tea Stall late in the evening (Usually around Maghrib) and would stay open till Fajr. It was frequented by students and Rickshaw pullers. His most famous preparation was "Band Kabab" - pretty much what a modern Hamburger is......and believe me it was delicious as well as very fulfilling....
This also reminds me of the reference to Kabir Tea Stall. I believe this probably is what in the early 70s was the "Tea House" in Shamshaad Market. It was owned by a person named "Kabir", who looked a lot like Mohd Rafi (Singer) and needless to add the music playing there would invariably be from the old movies from 40s, 50s and 60s. He also had a very well known waiter called Alam who was a hunchback. From what I heard, they both died very young, probably around late 70s or early 90s.

Anjam Khan
B.Com (Hons 1973
M.A. (Econ) 1975
Colorado Springs, CO
Courtesy :

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan Chronology

October 17
1817 Birth at Dehli.
1828 Death of Khwaja Fariduddin, maternal grandfather.
1837 Sayyid-ul-Akhbar started by Sayyid Muhammad Khan.
1838 Death of his father, Sayyid Muhammad Muttaqi.

1839 Appointed Naib Munshi at Agra.

December 24
1841 Appointed Munsif at Mainpuri.

January 10
1842 Transferred from Mainpuri to Fatehpur Sikri.
1842 Received the title of Jawad-ud-Daula Arif Jung from the Mughal court.
1842 Completed Jila-ul-Qulub bi Zikr il Mahbub.
1844 Completed Tuhfa-i-Hasan and Tashil fi jar-i-Saqil.
1845 Death of Sayyid Muhammad Khan, his brother.
1847 First edition of Asar-us-Sanadid appeared.
1849 Completed Kalamat-ul-Haqq.
1850 Completed Risala Sunnat dar radi bid'at.
1852 Completed Namiqa dar bayan masala tasawwur-i-Shaikh and Silsilat ul-Mulk.
1854 Second edition of Asar-us-Sanadid.

January 13
1855 Appointed permanent Sadr Amin at Bijnor.
1855 Edited A'in-i-Akbari.

May 10
1857 Revolt breaks out.
1857 Death of his mother at Meerut.

1858 Appointed Sadr us Sadur, Moradabad.
1858 Published Tarikh Sarkashi-i-Zilla Bijnor.
1859 Nominated member of special commission for hearing appeals about confiscated property.
1859 Published Causes of the Indian Revolt.
1859 Established a madrasa at Moradabad.
1860 Published Loyal Muhammadans of India.
1860 Famine in N.W.Provinces and relief work by Sayyid Ahmad Khan.
1861 French translation of Asar-us-Sanadid by Garcin de Tassy.
1861 Death of his wife.

May 12
1862 Transferred to Ghazipur.
1862 Edited Tarikh-i-Feroz Shahi.
1863 Published a pamphlet on education.
1864 Laid the foundation of a madrasa at Ghazipur.
1864 Transferred to Aligarh.

July 4
1864 Elected Honorary Member of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain.

December 30
1865 Sends a memorandum to the Government about the intention of the Scientific
Society to publish books on agriculture.
1866 Aligarh Institute Gazette started.

August 1
1867 Sends a memorandum to the Viceroy for establishment of a vernacular university.

August 15
1867 Transferred to Benares.

September 25
1867 Started homeopathic dispensary and hospital at Benares.

April 1
1869 Leaves Benares for England.

August 6
1869 Receives the insignia of C.S.I.

September 4
1870 Left London for India.

October 2
1870 Reached Bombay.

December 24
1870 Tahzib-ul-Akhlaq started.

December 26
1870 Established the Committee for the Better Diffusion and Advancement of Learning among Muhammadans of India.

1873 Scheme for establishing a college presented.

May 24
1875 Inauguration of the college.

June 1
1875 Regular teaching starts at M.A.O. College.
1876 Retired from service.
1876 Starts writing commentary on the Quran.

January 8
1877 Lord Lytton's visit to Aligarh.
1878 Nominated member of the Viceroy's Legislative Council.
1882 Appears before the Education Commission.
1883 Founded Muhammadan Civil Service Fund Association.
1883 Established Muhammadan Association, Aligarh.
1886 Established Muhammadan Educational Conference.
1887 Nominated member of the Civil Service Commission by Lord Dufferin.

1888 Established Patriotic Association at Aligarh. 1888 Received K.C.S.I.
1889 Received the degree of LL.D. honoris causa from Edinburgh. Circulates the Trustee Bill.

March 27
1898 Death at Aligarh