Post Independence Activities of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.

Post Independence Activities of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

Post Independence Activities

Many people plant trees but few of them get fruit of it.

The process of Maulana Azad’s Educational stewardship found his culmination in his becoming the first ever Education Minister of India. He joined Education Ministry on 15th of January 1947 and continued to serve it for a decade i.e. up to 22nd February 1957.

He endeavoured to transform the department of education, took over the charge of a full fledged Ministry for the purpose of providing direction, content, meaning and philosophy of Modern India’s Education and Culture. An eloquent and effective member of the Nehru cabinet, he took the opportunity to actualize his own ideas on educational reform in the country.
Post Independence Activities of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad 1
Maulana Azad had earlier worked very hard to bring his own community folk in line with the national upsurge which in his own opinion was to set the stage for a programme of national re-construction on a very sound basis.

Democratization of education was of paramount relevance in Modern India’s Education Policy. India emerged on 15th August 1947 as world’s largest democracy on the face of the earth. Education therefore was meant and conceived to educate the people in the art of democratic living. Maulana himself being a staunch democrat took the challenge as an opportunity of making education as a vanguard of democratic life in India. The promotion and advocacy of new education policy involved three pronged approach :

  1. Educating people for democratic citizenship
  2. Equalizing of Education opportunities to every Indian Citizen, and
  3. Indianising the medium of Education.

The estimated 85% illiteracy on the eve of independence was the most serious impediment in democratizing education. Azad introduced two important reform measures for the purpose of making education free and universal for younger generation of India :

  1. Universalising elementary education
  2. Launching a nationwide drive for Adult Education

His second major contribution to the objective of democratizing education was equalizing educational opportunities in Indian Society. A society ridden by class and caste disabilities did not permit certain sections of society to even receive education. In the traditional Indian society education was the domain of Brahmins. Shudras were kept aloof of it. Maulana held the state responsible for fighting this discrimination and advocated for providing every individual with what he defined as the means of acquisition of knowledge and self betterment.

On 30th September, 1953 in a Radio broadcast from AIR Maulana Azad put forth the idea of the state obligation of providing every citizen the necessary amount of education for the purpose of personality development. The idea of ensuring certain level of development for all members of the Indian community was itself impossible when the country as a whole had not yet succeeded in universalizing education even upto an elementary stage.

In the implementation of such scheme the most disconcerting factor was the lack of necessary funds with the government of India. The central government did not spend on education more than 1% of its annual revenue. Maulana pleaded with all his eloquence to increase education spending by 10% in line with the practice adopted by advanced states of the West and his tiring efforts yielded the central govt’s budget to gradually increase the education funds from 20 million rupees to 300 million. Maulana felt little relieved that the spending on education during his tenure of Education Minister had increased fifteen times.

Maulana believed most significantly in the expansion base of the educational facilities in India where by all inequalities of caste, class and sex could be overcome. He was successful in framing an official policy of instituting special stipends and scholarships. For students coming from scheduled castes, backward classes and female genera. Women who had been socially discriminated against for a very long time had to be brought into the fold of education as women education alone was considered as an important input for family’s growth. So Maulana first believed in educating women and then extending the educational facilities to the female child.

On May 31st 1948 Maulana Azad remarked at a press conference, “If women take to education, more than half of our problems will be solved. Educated mothers will mean children who can easily be educated.” The chronic problem of the women’s education, Maulana sought to resolve through educational administrators whom he constantly persuaded to adopt measure for equalizing the facilities for female education. He advocated to the constituent assembly of multiplying educational opportunities for Indian women.

The third and perhaps the most important contribution of Maulana Azad was the democratization of education in India in what he termed as higher sphere of knowledge for India’s national life. For the advancement of higher realms of learning and culture. What was needed immediately was the making of the national language or languages as the medium of education. Unfortunate for India that English as a language had already been accepted as it was the most common medium of expression during the British Raj.

Azad somehow believed that none of the Indian languages were adequately suitable for the purpose of the advent of the modern education. Under such circumstances a national government does have the responsibility of developing these languages as a medium of instruction as had happened in other parts of the world where English had been replaced by local language. Such linguistic inadequacies in major Indian languages led initially into acceptance of English as the medium of education. A very bad situation as Indian language alone did not change but also their minds and thought processes will also change in accordance with the ethos of English language.

Maulana Azad, as Education Minister, advocated gradual replacement of English by indigenous language of the people of India. Before the constituent assembly he put forth his plan of a switch over from English to regional languages as the medium of education. At the secondary stage of education he granted five years time for the shift over from English to local language and English to continue as the second major language. However at the high level i.e. post graduate level he argued that English be allowed to be the language of instruction. With regard to Hindi the official link language, Azad always stressed that a shift over from English to Hindi ought not to take place before 1965, a date for the switch over from English to Hindi as laid down in the Constitution of India.

Maulana Azad believed that if university education is allowed indiscriminately to all and a substantive number of graduates and post graduate do not find adequate gainful employment then there is a risk of developing sense of despair and disregard or education. Therefore he believed that the number of graduates and post-graduates who could easily find placement in employment should only be educated at the university.

Azad felt so much seized of the problem that he proposed on 15th of April 1953 a strong agency for universities in India at second educational conference held at New Delhi with representative from Central and State Government. Indian universities had strongly proposed, “The creation of a strong agency which will jealously guard their standard and coordinate their resources and facilities if the universities are to gain their old prestige and become the centre of a new educational awakening.”

Maulana Azad have had the honour of installing such a strong agency on 28th of December 1953 under the name of the University Grants Commission (UGC). There was yet other dimension of the gradually falling standards of education in the country which made a claim on Azad’s attention. The English language enjoying a place as literary language. Any step towards affecting this in any unimaginative and unplanned switch over from English to any other language was bound to produce lowering down of educational standards.

This necessitated appropriate arrangements for the preparation of text books and other referral material in Indian languages. However, Azad continued to believe that English as the medium of instruction at the higher levels to continue as most standard text books of higher learning in discipline of science, humanity and social sciences were in English only.

Another, reference books were in English language. As shift over from English to any other language in the absence of text books in other language would have been detrimental to the growth of science and other subjects. As those educated at the universities had to interact and maintain a permanent link with English speaking countries for seeking knowledge as well as employment. Therefore he conceived a body which would engage itself in preparation of text books. The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) was conceived by him.

Maulana Azad had observed that the previous system of technical education in India had almost failed to make available to her the necessary type of scientific-cum-technical manpower and expertise. Emphasising the intimate relationship between education and economic development Maulana even went to the extent of expanding the scope of technical education to include industrial education as well and attributed India’s industrial and agricultural backwardness to non-availability of scientifically trained technical manpower in the field of technical and industrial education and therefore recommended that only in exceptional circumstances selected people ought to be sent abroad for higher training than having foreigners been attracted to India for their higher and scientific technical excellence. Maulana’s educational vision was as broad as his life itself.

Maulana Azad could not afford to overlook education for leisure. In his attempt to broaden the outlook and scope of education he even conceived recreational education as well. He strove to bring it in line with the spirit of India’s democracy and her growing national economy.

Azad’s role in broadening the outlook on education in India touched upon improving the quality of teachers. He pronounced that the status of teacher in line with the ancient tradition be upgraded and raised. Also a more comprehensive and detailed educational teacher’s training programme was envisaged by Azad for preparing competent teachers.

Research in education also formed an integral part of Azad’s broad vision of education as he thought that research in education will help improve curricula for teachers’ education. The Central Institute of Education, Delhi was established with a view to promote a central college for teachers’ education. The Central Institute of Education, Delhi was a new name to the Central College for Teachers as originally suggested by the Central Advisory Board of Education in 1944.

Azad was keen to promote teachers’ education in India and he, at a very difficult juncture in national life, pushed the proposal of setting up the Central Institute of Education. The jurisdiction of which extended to the whole of India. Although, initially it was intended with a limited purpose of instituting an institution for research in the field of education.

Azad endeavoured to raise the status of Indian teachers and liberally funded the institutions such as Jamia Millia Islamia and Shanti Niketan for promoting educational research in India. Azad sounded sympathetic to the misery of the conditions under which teachers were working. He never made any discouraging remarks against teachers of any class or region. He valued teachers devotion to their duty and spirit of the service.

Azad was fully confident that professional betterment of teachers will have a corresponding improvement in standards of education and a fortnight before his demise he announced his future plans to improve not only the quality of teachers but the morale of teachers as well at all levels

The stressed need and professed policy to setup technical institutes resulted in prolific rise in the number of technical institutions in India.

In 1947 the number of degree institutions were just 28, in 1955 it had gone up to 43, five additional degree colleges were going to be established in Punjab 1 in MP, 2 in Orissa, 5 engineering colleges, 21 technical schools and three major institutes of technology and higher learning were going to be established by the government of India very soon. This not only resulted in institutional building as it did in the prolific rise of the output of degree holders in India.

In 1947 only 950 degree holders were there, by the year 1955 number had gone up to 3000. The increase had been more than 300%. As far as schools of engineering are concerned, there were 41 engineering schools awarding diploma in 1947, in 1955 this number had risen to 83. Likewise the number of diploma holders rose from 1150 in 1947 to 3472 in 1955 almost an increase of 300%.

Maulana was somehow aware that need based growth of engineering graduates and institutions will not allow a single person to be ever unemployed. However after his departure as Education Minister the subsequent Ministers of Education did not pay heed to this vital point and unemployment grew among engineering graduates. This was in essence technical, scientific and engineering education in India. Contemporary India sincerely owes to Maulana Azad a great deal as it enjoys and occupies a place of intellectual eminence in the comity of nations.

Azad as the first Education Minister of independent India formulated modern India’s first education policy. This was being done after a thorough review of the situation of scientific and technical manpower that it had in the early phase of its freshly acquired freedom. Maulana had a complete understanding of the potential resources of technical manpower of India, while representing India at the World Education Conference at Tehran, Maulana even went to the extent of extending the meaning and scope of the education to encompass individual cognitive development and over all improvement in the quality of life as an important contribution of Education as against education being merely a tool to earn livelihood.

This profound and wider vision of Maulana Azad on education as a basic instrument to change society and improve the development of its citizenry into a positive civil society was no less a contribution to which western philosophy and Philanthropists like Julian Huxley had to kneel down. Maulana’s personality was multifaceted. He was great visionary and worked with yet another visionary Pt. Nehru whose mission had been to build a better healthy and prosperous modern India based on principles of democracy, equality and justice indeed.

Both Maulana Azad and Jawahar Lal Nehru would have been thrilled working together while Maulana was contemplating about laying foundation of technical education, Jawahar Lal was busy improving the backbone of Indian Economy through building up economic resources base through the primary industries like agriculture, energy, steel etc. So in a very few years India had Bhakra Nangal on the one hand, Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Trombay Atomic Research Centre under the leadership of Homi Jahangir Bhabha.

Maulana was nowhere behind. He was establishing technical institutions and making India technologically sound by establishing HTs in four major states of our nation. Chain of engineering colleges and scientific laboratories of distinctions such as PRL (Physical Research Laboratory), Indian Council for Historical Research, Indian Council for Social Sciences Research. All these institutions were being conceived by the founding father and the first Education Minister of India.

Maulana Azad was among the first few World Education leaders who conceded to the concept of excellence in higher learning, while well realizing need of modernization of syllabi by re-orienting it as per the changing needs of society. He also laid foundations of universal primary and secondary education.

Further Maulana Azad instituted an All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). But the Council’s recommendations to promote technical education immediately would not materialize as Maulana felt the entire responsibility of funding would lie squarely upon the shoulders of the Governments as AICTE would not be able to do much in terms of funding.

The IIT Kharagpur was one of the four technical institutes which was going to be established in first plan phase. In order to develop the technical personnel requirements during the same period Kharagpur in West Bengal had been selected as location for the first higher technological institute considering that 80% of the industries in India were located in Eastern region and 90 to 95% of this 80% were located in West Bengal alone.

A sum of rupees 23 crores was allocated to technical education in the first plan but during that period only rupees 14 crores had been spent. It was the Minister of Education per se did not delay the establishment or utilization of the allocated fund in the first plan as the other projects initiated by the ministry for development of the technical manpower had not been able to take off as the country had not produced by then technical personnel required to execute the establishment of the other four proposed technical institute.

There were 10 degree colleges in Eastern region, 14 in Western, 21 in Southern and only 11 in Northern Zone. Southern India somehow having 21 engineering colleges but not a single technological institute of the kind Kharagpur was. Therefore the need for one such institute was being articulated by Sri TBB Rao who stressed on the need to have a sub-committee of the AICTE in order to make recommendation as to when will the institute of higher technological education would be established in the Southern Region.

It was not out of lethargy but based on firm assessments, Maulana assured the Lok Sabha and the Government of India that Institute of higher technological learning would be established in the second half of the second five year plan phase. Graduates passing out of the Kharagpur Institute of Technology would find employment sooner than they completed their course. Thus comparing the then requirement of the technical manpower. Maulana once said, “USA has six lakhs engineers while India does not have even 60 thousand.”

Maulana knew that a country has to go a long way and he therefore gradually paved his way towards establishment of the four proposed IITs.