A G Noorani gets IOS Lifetime Achievement Award
May 23, 2015 at Deputy Speaker Hall, Constitution Club of India Annexe , New Delhi
L-R: Prof. Z.M. Khan, Secretary General, IOS; Dr. M. Manzoor Alam, Chairman, IOS; Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah, Vice-Chancellor, A.M.U., Aligarh; Justice A.K. Sikri, Hon’ble Judge, Supreme Court of India; Mr. A.G. Noorani, Eminent constitutional expert, writer and political commentator; Justice A.M. Ahmadi, Former Chief Justice of India; Mr. Asaduddin Owaisi, Member of Parliament
New Delhi, May 23: The Institute of Objective Studies organised an impressive investiture ceremony at the Deputy Speaker Hall, Constitution Club of India Annexe here today to confer the Sixth IOS Lifetime Achievement Award on the eminent constitutional expert, author and well-known political commentator, Mr. A G Noorani. He was presented with the Scroll of Honour by the Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah. While former Chief Justice of India, Mr. Justice A M Ahmadi, handed over a cheque for one lakh rupees, the judge, Supreme Court of India, Mr. Justice A K Sikri presented the memento to him.
Presiding over the function, Justice Sikri recalled that as a student of law at the Delhi University he used to read Mr. A G Noorani’s books. He said that some people were sent by God to accomplish the important job assigned to them. They performed the job well by creating a milestone. Noorani was one of them, who by his works, carved out a niche for himself. Everybody was not that fortunate. He said that for great people, money did not matter. What mattered to them was recognition and honour. It was difficult to say who was honoring whom; whether society was honouring Mr. Noorani or by honouring him it was honouring itself. Either way, it was a win-win situation. Both of them must feel honoured, he remarked. He observed that the text of the scroll of honour was testimony to his deep and incisive knowledge of a variety of subjects he had been writing on. Praising the IOS for the work being done by it in the field of research and publication, he urged the Institute to undertake research on the topics suggested by Mr. Noorani. He wished Mr. Noorani good health and a long life.
Speaking as the guest of honour, Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah said that the Aligarh Muslim University stood for secular and pluralistic outlook with the promotion of modern education and concern for marginalised sections. He informed that girl students constituted 40 percent of the total strength by claiming that the fee structure of the university was cheaper than other universities in the country. Detailing the projects undertaken by the university, he said that recycling of water and close cooperation with clean-up Ganga and Yamuna campaigns were part of them.
He informed that the AMU was also the first green university in the country. As 80 percent students of the university were Urdu speaking, it had retained the distinct flavour. The university was also known for its tehzib and culture. He said that during the last three years of his tenure as Vice-Chancellor, he experimented that the problem why the Muslim students failed to compete with others lay in the lack of good schooling. He noted that the problem lay in the lack of good schooling. Denying the charge of discrimination against Muslims, he pointed out that the non-availability of best educated hands came in the way of better opportunities of employment. In order to give proper education to children, Sir Syed Public School had been opened for all sections of society. In a bid to build bridges between madrasa education and modern scientific education, AMU was also focusing on madrasa education. This experiment had yielded encouraging results with some of the students getting admission to the Jamia Millia Islamia and the Hamdard University, he added.
Justice A M Ahmadi described A G Noorani as a prolific writer who wrote on various issues confronting our socio-political life. Commenting on the country’s current political situation, he said that India was passing through trying times. Attempts were being made to scare away the Muslims who constituted the largest minority. A calculated move was on to marginalise them by denying the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. In this connection, he made special mention of the Keshavan and Bharti case decided by the Supreme Court, which ruled that the fundamental rights formed part of the basic structure of the Constitution and as such they could not be changed or abolished. This was next to impossible so long as the Indian judiciary remained independent, he pointed out. He said that ever since an autocratic government had assumed reins of administration at the Centre, perception of threat to the minorities had gone from bad to worse. Congratulating Mr. Noorani for the award, he said that he deserved it. It must have come to him much earlier, he remarked.
Mr. A G Noorani referred to a speech of the late President of India, Dr. Zakir Husain who had said that the AMU will look at India will decide the future of Muslims in the country and the way the country will look at AMU will decide the future of democracy in India. The then Union Education Minister, Mr. MC Chagla took upon himself the responsibility to reduce the AMU to a department of the Ministry of Education. The erstwhile Vice-Chancellor of AMU, Nawab Ali Yavar Jung could not resist him. This was the beginning of a process to undermine the status of the university as a centre of high academic excellence. Luckily, the present incumbent, Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah had done a yeoman’s job in restoring the past glory. He asked the IOS to document information it gathered in various areas of study, particularly riots and human rights. Calling for selection of target areas, he suggested that the detailed studies should be undertaken by focusing on the states like Assam, Maharashtra, Telegana, Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir etc.
Referring to riots he said that they took place first in the minds of people. He observed that the commissions of inquiry set up to probe the circumstances leading to riots, had conclusively found that they were aided, abetted and organised by the RSS and its organisations like Bajrang Dal and BJP. Laying special stress on school-level education, he said that the lack of education among Muslims continued to be a problem area. Education, he noted, was essential for securing jobs as also for setting up good business. That discrimination against Muslims was growing could be gauged from the fact that two Muslim young boys were denied jobs by a diamond business house in Mumbai recently, he concluded.
The chairman of IOS, Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam held that in honouring Mr. A G Noorani, the institute was honouring the finest of values of humanity. These values were held sacred by our religions, faiths and the Constitution which entrusted us with the task of building a humane society. He said that Mr. A G Noorani’s achievements as an advocate, his body of writings as a scholar and his faith in the Indian Constitution were indeed inspiring everyone. “For our young nation, we need role models who stood for harmony and represented the diversity of our great country”, he remarked. Today, there were innumerable challenges we faced as a nation. We were witnessing tyranny in the process of democracy. Our nation today stood divided between the super rich and the super poor. He opined that there was discord in our society and it was growing. He concluded by saying that as a think-tank, IOS was constantly striving to build bridges between academics, intellectuals, organisations, NGOs and the activists.
In his welcome address, the Secretary General of IOS, Prof. Z M Khan remarked that Mr. Noorani was a well-known figure in academic and intellectual circles. He was known nationally and acclaimed internationally. His comments on and analyses of issues were of high order. He said that the IOS was modestly contributing to the study of the plight of the have-nots and the marginalised sections of society. He explained that it was an effort to come closer to the people.
Earlier, the function began with the recitation of a verse from the Holy Quran by Hafiz Athar Hussain Nadwi. While the citation was read out by Mr. S M Shafiq, the proceedings were conducted by the Prof. of Law, GGSIU and the Assistant Secretary General, IOS, Prof. M. Afzal Wani, Advocate-on-Record, Supreme Court of India, Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad proposed a vote of thanks.
The function was attended by a galaxy of intellectuals, academics, diplomats, politicians, journalists, bureaucrats and social activists. These included former chairman of National Commission for Minorities, Prof. Tahir Mahmood, Dr. Asaduddin Owaisi, MP, Mr. Siraj Husain, IAS, Mr. Ahmad Rashid Sherwani, senior journalists, Mr. Siddharth Varadarajan, Mr. Iftekhar Geelani, Mr. Qurban Ali and Dr. Zafrul Islam Khan. Dr. Pervez Miyan, Chairman of Delhi Hajj Committee, and the Ambassador of Egypt to India were also present.