A man of scholarship, charisma, and humility, Abul Kalam Azad was one of the finest political leaders that India’s freedom struggle was blessed with.
His birthday 11 November is celebrated as National Education day in India as he was the first education minister of a newly independent country.
Apart from being the head of India National Congress at the time when most of its top brass was languishing in jail (during the Quit India Movement), he was also influential in guiding the nation’s early step as a democracy.
Apart from his popularity among Muslims, he enjoyed equal admiration by Indians of all faiths, classes and age groups. His insistence on the development of youth has to date been the footprint to follow for people at the political helm.
He was an erudite scholar and laid the foundations of the Indian education system. He was one of the premier leaders who realized the potential of the press in terms of mobilizing public opinion and feverishly worked for the same through his weekly journal in Urdu called Al-Hilal.
For his peerless commitment for the same, he posthumously bestowed with the highest civilian award of the country in1992, the Bharat Ratna.
He was versed in several languages like Urdu, Persian, and Arabic and supported the use of English for imparting higher education (primary education in mother tongue).
He believed in universal access to primary education which is free, robust and welcoming to all irrespective of gender, social status, wealth, faith, etc.
He wanted to institutionalize compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14, which was realized through the RTE (Right to Education) Act in 2009. This act enshrined education as a basic and fundamental right in the constitution of the country.
Azad was also a huge votary of vocational training and technical education which not only imparts theoretical knowledge but also instills life skills and technical abilities to earn livelihoods and become employable.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad became the first education minister of independent India. To commemorate his legacy, his birthday i.e. 11 November is celebrated as the National Education Day Azad himself.
Through his leadership, he guided the birth of institutions like the University Grants
Commission, IISc, IITs, etc. were all realized under his leadership.
Moreover, it was due to his efforts that various incubation centers of arts and literature like Lalit Kala Academy, ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations), Sahitya Academy, etc were established.