What the FAQ: Who was Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and why is his birthday celebrated as Education Day?

Maulana Azad was a great Independence leader who became the first education minister of free India
Pic: Edexlive
Pic: Edexlive

It is November 11 and the 133rd birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. The day is observed as the National Education Day in honour of him. Besides being a renowned Independence activist, what was Azad's role in the field of education? We've got you covered on this and more.

1. Who is Azad and why is he a revered figure in Indian history? 

He was the leader of the Khilafat movement and in 1923, he became the youngest president of the Indian National Congress at the age of 35. Post independence, he became the first education minister in the Indian government.

2. What was Maulana Azad's role in pre and post-independence India?

Maulana Abul Kalam grew in stature in the Independence struggle with his role as a journalist. He published works critical of the British rule and embracing the ideas of Indian nationalism. 

3. What did he focus on as education minister?

His emphasis lay on the education of the rural poor and girls. He gave impetus to issues like adult literacy, universal primary education, free and compulsory for all children up to the age of 14, women education, and diversification of secondary education and vocational training.

4. What were the institutions that were setup under his stewardship?

He oversaw the starting of the Central Institute of Education, Delhi, which later became the Department of Education of the University of Delhi. Under his guidance, the Ministry of Education set up the first Indian Institute of Technology in 1951 and the University Grants Commission in 1953. He also emphasised on the importance of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and the Faculty of Technology of the Delhi University. 

5. What were some other causes for which he was well-known?

He was a strong opponent of the partition of India. He also worked for Hindu–Muslim unity through the Al-Hilal newspaper. For his service to the nation, before and after independence, he was awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1992.

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