Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, an intellectual, nationalist par-excellence, a stiff opponent of division of the country and institutional builder of modern India as the first education Minister post-Independence was born at Mecca in 1888. He became a tolerant Muslim after coming in contact with revolutionaries/freedom activists, during extensive tours to Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. Later, he began an Urdu paper ‘Al-Hilal’, which promoted a passion among Indian Muslims against British Raj. He was interned in Ranchi during 1916-17 for provocating/inciting Indians for independence. He joined ‘Khilafat/Non-Cooperation Movement’ and became an associate of Gandhiji /Congress, besides joining the National Movement.
He also issued a fatwa, captioned ‘Hizrat’ exhorting Muslims against the Britons. During his tenures as Congress President (twice, in 1923 & 1940), he spearheaded various protests/programmes, integrating Hindus and Muslims for the freedom of the country, besides stiffly opposing the partition of the country on the basis of religion, as envisaged by Jinnah led Muslim League, however, faced the partition of the country with broken heart. He became 1st Education Minister of India and was credited to found the structure of education including formation of UGC, declaring Jamia Milia and Vishwa Bharati as an autonomous universities, introducing technical/business/adult educations and putting education in the concurrent list.
The unparalleled nationalist and the proponent of Hindu-Muslim unity, died on February 22, 1958, however, the foundation of communal harmony and mutual tolerance laid by Azad is required to be strengthened further.