Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

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    • Recently, the Prime Minister of India paid tributes to Maulana Azad on his birth anniversary.

    Image Courtesy: Culture 

    Key Points

    • Born: November 11, 1888
    • Place of Birth: Mecca, Saudi Arabia
    • Association: Indian National Congress
    • Movement: Indian Nationalist Movement
    • Political Ideology: Liberalism; right-winged; Egalitarian
    • Publications: Ghubar-e-Khatir (1942-1946); India Wins Freedom (1978);
    • Passed Away: February 22, 1958

    Political Career

    • Early Revolutionary Activities:
      • In Egypt, Azad came into contact with the followers of Mustafa Kemal Pasha who were publishing a weekly from Cairo. 
      • In Turkey, Maulana Azad met the leaders of the Young Turks Movement. 
      • After his return to India from an extensive visit of Egypt, Turkey, Syria and France, Azad met prominent Hindu revolutionaries Sri Aurobindo Ghosh and Shyam Sundar Chakraborty. 
      • They helped in developing radical political views and he began to participate in the Indian nationalist movement. 
      • Azad fiercely criticized the Muslim politicians who were more inclined towards the communal issues without focusing on the national interest. 
      • He also rejected the theories of communal separatism advocated by the All India Muslim League.
    • Publications: 
      • Azad, inspired by the passion of Indian as well as foreign revolutionary leaders, started publishing a weekly called “Al-Hilal” in 1912. 
        • The weekly was a platform to attack the policies of the British Government and highlight the problems faced by the common Indians. 
        • The paper became so popular that its circulation figures went up to 26,000 copies. 
        • The unique message of patriotism and nationalism blended with religious commitment gained its acceptance among the masses. 
        • But these developments disturbed the British Government and in 1914, the British Government put a ban on the weekly. 
      • Unfazed by the move, Maulana Azad, a few months later, launched a new weekly, called “Al-Balagh”. Failing to put a prohibition on the writings of Maulana Azad, the British Government then finally decided to deport him off Calcutta in 1916. 

    Pre-Independence Activities

    • As an activist demanding the reinstatement of the Caliph in Istanbul, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad came onboard with the Khilafat movement during 1920. 
    • He became involved with the Indian freedom struggle through the Non-cooperation movement initiated by Gandhi, of which the Khilafat issue was a big part of. 
      • Although initially skeptical of Gandhi’s proposal to launch an intensified drive against the British Raj demanding independence, he later joined the efforts. 
    • He wholeheartedly advocated the principles of the non-cooperation movement and in the process became drawn to Gandhi and his philosophy. 
      • He worked closely with Vallabhbahi Patel and Dr. Rajendra Prasad
    • On August 9, 1942, Maulana Azad was arrested along with most of the Congress leadership. 
      • Their incarceration lasted for four years and they were released in 1946. 
      • During that time, the idea of an independent India had solidified and Maulana headed the Constituent Assembly Elections within Congress as well as led the negotiations with the British Cabinet mission to discuss the terms of independence. 
      • He vehemently opposed the idea of partition based on religion and was deeply hurt when the idea went forward to give rise to Pakistan.

    Post-Independence Activities

    • During the violence that erupted following partition of India, Maulana Azad assured to take up the responsibility for the security of Muslims in India
    • Towards this, Azad toured the violence-affected regions of borders of Bengal, Assam, Punjab. 
    • He helped in establishing the refugee camps and ensured uninterrupted supply of food and other basic materials. 
    • It was reported that in the crucial Cabinet meetings both Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Maulana Azad clashed over the security measures in Delhi and the Punjab.
    • The role and contribution of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad could not be overlooked. 
      • He was appointed as India’s first Minister for Education and inducted in the Constituent Assembly to draft India’s constitution. 
      • Under Maulana Azad’s tenure, a number of measures were undertaken to promote primary and secondary education, scientific education, establishment of universities and promotion of avenues of research and higher studies.

    Association with the Indian National Congress

    • While extending his support to Mahatma Gandhi and the non-cooperation movement, Maulana Azad joined the Indian National Congress in January 1920. 
    • He presided over the special session of Congress in September 1923 and was said to be the youngest man elected as the President of the Congress.
    • Maulana Azad emerged as an important national leader of the Indian National Congress Party. 
    • He also served as a member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and in the offices of general secretary and president on numerous occasions. 
    • In 1928, Maulana Azad endorsed the Nehru Report, formulated by Motilal Nehru. 
      • Interestingly, the Motilal Nehru Report was severely criticized by a number of Muslim personalities involved with the freedom movement. 
      • As opposed to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Azad also advocated for the ending of separate electorates based on religion and called for a single nation committed to secularism. In 1930, Maulana Azad was arrested for violation of the salt laws as part of Gandhiji’s Salt Satyagraha

    Legacy

    • Maulana was a firm believer in the co-existence of religions. 
    • His dream was that of a unified independent India where Hindu and Muslims co-habited peacefully. 
    • Although this vision of Azad was shattered post partition of India, he remained a believer. 
    • He was the founder of the Jamia Milia Islamia Institution in Delhi along with fellow khilafat leaders which has blossomed into a renowned University today. 
    • His birthday, November 11, is celebrated as National Education Day in India.

    Death

    • On February 22, 1958 Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, one of the foremost leaders of the Indian freedom struggle passed away. 
    • For his invaluable contribution to the nation, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was posthumously awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the ‘Bharat Ratna’ in 1992.

    Source: PIB