The journey from UP Village to Kuwait: The Academic, with a zeal to excel and with a heart to give back to where he came from: `Dr. Anis Ahmad’
Sunday, September 25, 2016
One evening I went up to Dr Anis Ahmad and placed before him a difficult proposition of admitting a child who had never been to school till about 8 years of age due to family conditions. Immediately
Dr Ahmad said `we shall do something for her, she has the right to be educated, I shall work out a dedicated teaching faculty to train this child after school hours and make her ready to join school in the coming academic year’. On this note let us walk the journey of Dr Anis Ahmad...
M.V: The journey from Village Asara, Baghpat district (Previously Meerut) of UP to being the Director of SIMS, Kuwait certainly would have been one of resilience. Let us know more about it.
A.A: I belong to a peace loving village Asara in Baghpat District. My father, a pre independence person was the first to be educated from the village. He studied till class 8th and then had Munshi, Adeeb Kamil, Adeeb Mahir urdu Diplomas and certificates and went on to complete Primary Teacher Training and moved to the Delhi Municiapl Corporation in 1944 as a teacher. He stayed on till 1947 and returned to our village during the disturbance and trauma of partition. Eventually he was recalled to join back when the turbulence was over.
Over time he got promoted and remained an academic model for every student of our hometown. While in Delhi, he would often see to it that everyone known to him or even remotely associated with his village and nearby places should be lodged at our home and helped in gaining education and jobs in various government departments and schools. Thus the seeds of education and helping others got sowed early in our minds.
M.V: Your father seems most likely to be your first Guru. Did you always wish to be in academics or was it your father’s wish that you pursued?
A.A: As you rightly said, my father’s influence was immense on everyone from our village and reasonably so was huge on me too! Frankly, I could have never gone against his will .I had never wanted to be a teacher but always wished to join the Armed Forces and earnestly desired to appear for the CDS Exams. My father saw a lot of promise in me, his ninth child and felt I was the harbinger of goodness in the family. He inspired me to complete my BA in 1980 in Political Sciences, with English Literature and Economics and B.Ed. and join MA.I had just then planned my Masters at JNU that there came a vacancy in Sainik School Chittorgarh, Rajasthan and I was summoned by my father to go and appear in the written test and interview there in Chittorgarh. Eventually was selected and joined it since it would serve the purpose of teaching and also my dream of being associated with `Armed Forces’(in a way..) as the students of this prestigious School would be joining our Armed Forces .Thus began my tryst with teaching (quite unwillingly though..) but stayed on till date as my life’s purpose. I joined Sainik School as the youngest teacher in August 1982 and went on to complete my incomplete Masters in English, as advised by Maj Randhir Singh then, my Head Master. Let me add that coincidently the present Chief of Army staff, General Dalbir Singh was a student of Sainik School, Chittorgarh.
M.V: How inspiring were your initial days in the academic scene during the 80’s in India?
A.A: Undoubtedly, those years left an indelible print on my mind. On joining school I was exposed to the IPSC-Indian Public School Conference. I got involved in organizing training events for teachers across Amravati Nagar, Coimbatore, Kapurthala (Punjab) and Hyderabad to mention some. These experiences harnessed and sharpened my administrative and teaching skills. On my father’s insistence I moved to Delhi Administration in 1989. Here everything around was not inspiring. I often felt saddened by the apathetical attitude of Delhi administration teachers towards the `Juggi Children’ and the `Resettlement colonies’ where I was initially posted as an English eacher. A year later I was moved to `Model School’ to cater to better education initiatives.
The big moment came in 1991 when I got selected by the Government of India for the Youth- Exchange program to JAPAN for 30 days under the aegis of JICA. Mamata Banerjee was the Minister for Youth Affairs at that time. Our delegation met her on 1st Oct, 1991. We were in Japan for a month and visited Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokyo, Hokaido and almost whole of Japan. A very enriching experience in values for me was my stay with a Japanese Industrial Family for three days, whose simplicity and culture, steeped in traditionalism was a revelation. Later in 1997, I was involved with the golden jubilee event of India’s Independence in Delhi as the organizing manager of the Delhi Team. Children from all over India (about 2500) came to Delhi to take part in various Educational Competitions. The best part of the event was a visit to the Golden Triangle(Delhi, Jaipur and Agra). The Finale was at Vigyan Bhavan, Delhi. I was awarded as the `BEST COORDINATOR. Once again this event allowed me to come closer to children and teachers from remote areas. In the mean time I also completed my M.Ed. from Jamia Millia Islamia and joined them as a part time lecturer for distance courses run for different Universities.
M.V: All the above certainly would have kindled the desire to lead which continues till date. Let us know more about your tryst with `Sadbhavana’ (goodwill) and also your earnest wish to uplift the `Minority’?
A.A: I would most definitely term the coming period to be very value based in my academic career. In 1998 my good fortune brought me in association with `Hamdard’ Educational Society lead by Mr. Saiyid Hamid, a prominent educationist and IAS Officer, who was running Hamdard Study Circle very successfully for Civil Service Examinations for Minorities and economically backward sections of the Society. I joined Hamdard Public School as Vice Principal, Administration and the learning and training began under the patronship of Mr. Saiyid Hamid Saheb. He was also Vice Chancellor of AMU (Aligarh Muslim University) when I was doing my graduation. .Thus began my desire to `lead by giving and understanding society and its needs’. Saiyid Hamid Saheb has had a big role in shaping my ideas to serve the society. He was my real Mentor.
Though my educational journey took me to Dubai, I kept coming back to my mentor for ideas. During such interactions began our desire to form `AREF Trust’ to start a school in our hometown. In 2006 the School began functioning with just 27 students with three dedicated teachers and a Manager. With this, ideas kept growing to do more and contribute more…I need to add here` when Mr. Saiyid came to our village to inaugurate this school, he was shocked to see the pathetic state of children, malfed and malclothed and he said that I need to work hard to alleviate these conditions. And we said to ourselves `We have to work to uplift our people’. Life is all about giving and not just receiving…
More spirited I invited the Gram Pradhan’s who are decision makers in village affairs to come together at a `CONFERENCE’ to discuss the future of the villages and its educative initiatives. It was organized at Hamdard Public School in 2009. Initially they had their own suspicion about our intent. Eventually about 50 village Pradhans’ joined in from in and around Baghpat, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut and Ghaziabad districts and the meet was very well received, ably inaugurated by Mr. Saiyid Hamid and also graced by Ms Parveen Talha,a Padma Awardee, and the first Muslim woman to serve in any Class 1 Civil Services, and Prof Mohammad Miyan the then Dean Faculty of Education JMI. Since then there has been no looking back. I had a deep desire to work towards communal harmony in my village. This resulted in the `RUN FOR FRIENDSHIP’`SADBHAVNA DAUD’ on December 28th 2014 inaugurated by Dr Satyapal Singh, the MP from Baghpat and Ex Commissioner of Mumbai Police. The participation was by all children across communities from neighboring villages and we got to honor all the Gram Pradhans. It was a grand success.
We also decided to felicitate the youth from these villages who had done the village proud by qualifying for the CIVIL SERVICES and other exams. We conducted workshops to inspire the youth to achieve their goals. We started awarding the meritorious students of the rural areas. The toppers with high achievements were awarded Gold Medals in a ceremony held at Islamic Cultural Centre, New Delhi. Our recent endeavor `WE INSPIRE’ a magazine to cover the achievers from our remote hamlet has touched a chord with many who have gone on to create careers from a very humble beginning. Through this magazine we have been able to connect to those people of these villages who have been high achievers and could motivate and inspire the youth. Some of them are settled in US , Middle East and Europe. In the first issue of “We Inspire” we paid tribute to Chaudhary Bahawal Baksh who was the first visionary to come from Punjab to start a school in our village, Asara Dist, Baghpat. Taking the dream of this great visionary forward, I sincerely hope and pray that God blesses us with the strength and ability to continue to contribute to ‘Where we came from’ for, I sincerely believe `We have to remain rooted’……
M.V: Thanks Sir that was a very inspiring journey and certainly, this is only the beginning and there is more to come. I sincerely hope that more and more get inspired by `The Joy of Giving’ and step back in their lives and take time off to look at the `Less Privileged’ and create a better life and a hopeful future for them! Being associated with an Art as ancient as Carnatic Music, which dates back to the Vedic times, I strongly advocate that our culture and our roots are our strength always! We live in times where the youth are increasingly devoid of a purpose, resulting in violence of all kinds...across continents. Certainly a serious thought has to be given to remain `ROOTED’!
Malini Viswanath:Is a passionate Exponent of Carnatic Classical Art,who firmly believes Cultural tenets serve as the strength of a society. Malini, a Masters in engineering, promotes Indian Classical Arts through Performances, Lec dems, Workshops,Cross cultural Collaborations with artists across genres, and has created a new rung of young students the World over, through her forum` Raag`N’Rhythm,in Kuwait.
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