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Biography of Bharat Ratna “Dr. Zakir Husain Khan” complete biography for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Dr. Zakir Husain Khan


Dr. Zakir Husain, a man of deep learning and profound thought, stood as a true symbol of composite Indian culture, epitomising in himself what has been proved to be good and noble in Indian traditions. As President of Republic of India, with his faith in selfless service, humanism and democracy, besides dignity and charm of person, he brought to the office of President a rare lustre and grace.

Essentially a teacher and educationist, this great son of India was born on February 8, 1897 at Hyderabad in a well known family of Afghans of the upper-middle class who had in the 18th century settled at Qaimganj in the Farrukhabad district of Uttar Pradesh. His grandfather Ghulam Husain Khan who had a distinguished military career migrated to Aurangabad from Qaimganj. Zakir Husain’s father Fida Husain Khan moved to Hyderabad (now in Andhra Pradesh) in 1888, at the age of twenty, studied law and soon became a successful lawyer. Fida Husain Khan was widely known for his honesty and integrity as Munsif and Magistrate and had married Naznin Begum when he was twenty three. Fida Husain died in 1907 when he was only 39 and his son Zakir Husain just ten-years old. Fida Husain had seven sons and Zakir Husain was the third.

Zakir Husain had his early education in a residential school, now called Sultan Bazar Government High School and his up-bringing was in a fashionable style with an English tutor at home. A setback, in the passing away of his father made the family to shift to their ancestral state. In 1908 Zakir Husain was admitted in a well-known residential school, the Islamia High School at Etawah established in 1888. His mother Naznin Begu m died of an epidemic of Plague in 1911 at Qaimganj.

He had keen interest in politics since childhood but he was shy and studious. After doing Matriculation in 1913, he joined M.A.O. (Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental) College at Aligarh (now Aligarh Muslim University). As early as in 1915 at the age of 18 he was married to Shah Jahan Begum. After doing B.A. with Honours, in 1918, Zakir Husain simultaneously joined M.A. (Economics) and law classes. He was then a student-lecturer, an accomplished speaker, a budding writer and a prestigious student leader.

He left his Alma Mater in response to the call for non-cooperation with the British rulers issued to Aligarh students on 12 October 1920 by Gandhiji together with his colleagues, famous Ali Brothers (Maulana Mohammed Ali and Maulana Shaukaut Ali). He was very prominent among students and very popular with a large section of the staff. He was able to persuade leaders like Hakim Ajinal Khan and 9r. An ri  who founded a rival institution n 29 October 1920 which came to be  known as  the Jamia Millia Islamia (National Muslim University) Was given an appropriate academic and administrative  on 22 November 1920. The senior students taught the juniors and they themselves attended lectures delivered by eminent members of the academic council and the executive council. Zakir Husain half-student and half-teacher was 23 at that time.

There was hardly any current issue on which he was not well informed. He regularly contributed articles to the college magazines under the pen-name ‘Rip’. He was elected as Vice-President of the powerful students union. He also earned respect and admiration as a speaker when he won the Harold Cox and Cambridge Speaking Prize. Dr. Ziauddin, the Principal of his college held him in high regard and in a bid to dissuade Zakir Husain frorn leaving the college he assured him the post of Deputy Collector within a year of his passing the M.A. Examination. Zakir Husain never owed allegiance to any political party or political leader and there was universal admiration for him. He was a strong nationalist. Throughout his life Zakir Husain regarded Maulana

Abul Kalam Azad as the finest intellect who moulded his religious thinking.

Zakir Husain went to Germany on a transit visa. In Germany, he met Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, Sarojini Naidu’s elder brothe, on whose advice he got a visa for 2 months which was further extended and he finally joined the University of Berlin for a regular Ph. D. Course.

In Berlin he met Abid Husain, Khwaja Abdul Hamied, Mohammed Mujeeb, Madame Halide Edib, Miss Gerda Philipsborn and Mrs. Nambiar youngest sister of Sarojini Naidu. At the famous Kaviani Press, Berlin, he got published an edition of Diwan-e-Ghalib which was partly composed by himself. He co-authored with Alfred Ehernteich a book in German entitled Die Botschaft Des Mahatma Gandhi (Volkserzieher Verlag, 1924). Zakir Husain got his Ph. D. in Economics from the University of Berlin and returned to India in early 1926. He became famous as an educationist and not as an economist.

On his return from Germany in February-March 1926, Dr. Zakir Husain rejoined the Jamia and from then onwards Zakir Husain was Jamia and Jamia was Zakir Husain, each losing its identity if separated. At the age of 29, Zakir Husain was appointed Shaikh-ul-Jamia (Vice-Chancellor) when Jamia was housed in a building in Karol Bagh, Delhi. Dr. Zakir Husain and his family lived in a rented house in Karol Bagh till they moved to the Jamia Campus at Okhla. He had a happy and contented married life with his wife and three daughters Saeeda, Rehana and Safia. He was a man of very simple habits. In 1948, when he left the Jamia he was drawing Rs. 80/- per month.

Politically, Zakir Husain was a radical. He was a staunch nationalist. Zakir Husain met Gandhiji at Sabarmati Ashram for the first time in June 1926. Zakir Husain paved his way to the national platform not only for his service to the cause of education but for his self-less dedication and transparent integrity and above all the nationalist in him. Zakir Husain was invited at Kashi Vidyapeeth—the sister institution of Jamia, on 14 August 1935 to deliver its convocation address.

All India National Educational Conference held at Wardha in 1937 on October 22-23 under the Presidentship of Gandhiji, where Zakir Husain was one of the invitees, brought him to limelight asan authority on Basic Education Scheme. He was nominated by Gandhiji, the Chairman of the Conference, as Chairman of the Committee to draft syllabus for the scheme. He submitted the report on 2 December 1937. The contribution of the concept of basic education has been his significant achievement. At the Jarnia, a school for the training of teachers for Basic Education was set up.

Dr. Zakir Husain’s responsibilities towards the Jamia still increased with the passing away of old stalwarts like Maulana Mohammed Ali, Hakim Ajmal Khan and Dr. Ansari.

There were riots in the country in 1946 when Jamia was celebrating its Silver Jubilee on November 17. To mark the occasion, Dr. Zakir Husain brought out a pamphlet What is Jamia?, which reflected his concern over the problem of Muslims’ role in Free India. Both the Leaguers and the Congressmen participated in this Jubilee Celebration meeting. Among those present, were : M.A. Jinnah, Miss Fatima Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan, Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and C. Rajagopalachari. The address, Dr. Zakir Husain delivered on the occasion, was memorable and a masterpiece, befitting the situation. During riots Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, General Cariappa and M.S. Randhawa Deputy Commissioner, Delhi visited the Jamia to see the security arrangements. He was very close to those who ruled the country and was one of the most outstanding Nationalist Muslims with Maulana Azad and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai. The story of the Jamia is the life story of Zakir Husain.

Dr. Zakir Husain twice declined the offer made by Maulana Azad for Vice-Chancellorship of Aligarh Muslim University. Finally, he was unanimously elected Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University on 28 November 1948. Zakir Husain took up this challenging post to bring about harmony between Aligarh and the rest of India. On 29 November 1951, he was reappointed for six years but he did not complete his full term and relinquished the office in 1956.

He held lofty ideas and ideals about the values of education. To him education was not mere getting a Degree as a means of employment or livelihood. Education is for the improvement of conditions in the society. Education means building up of personality by cultivating the qualities of humanity.

Besides, serving as Vice-Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University for eight years till 1956, his other academic assignments were: President, Hindustani Talimi Sangh, Sevagram (1938-1948); Member, University Education Commission (1948-1949); Member, Educational Reorganisation Committees of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh & Madhya Pradesh; Member, Press Commission (1952-54); Member, Indian Universities Commission (1948-49); Member of the World University Service (W.U.S.), Chairman of its Indian National Committee (1950) and Chairman of W.U.S. (1956); Representative of India on the Executive Board of UNESCO (1956-58); Chairman, Central Board of Secondary Education till 1957; Member, University Grants Commission till 1957; etc.

He was twice nominated as Member, Rajya Sabha, for his distinguished contributions in the field of literature, art and social service. He was sworn-in on 11 August 1952 when first nominated and on 26 April 1956, the second time. Dr. Zakir Husain served as Governor of Bihar from 7 July 1957 to 1962.

Dr. Zakir Husain was sworn in, as the second Vice-President on 13 May 1962 in succession to Dr. Radhakrishnan who in turn became the second President of India in succession to Dr. Rajendra Prasad. The honour of this high office on Dr. Zakir Husain was on account of his close involvement in the field of education.

As Vice-President, Dr. Zakir Husain made goodwill visits to Ethiopia, Sudan and the U.A.R. (1963) and Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco (1964). In 1965, he visited Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and Greece. He met his friend Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in July 1966 when he was on an official visit to Afghanistan. In October, the same year he went to Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore and Malaysia.

The Congress Party nominated Dr. Zakir Husain for the President ship. He was declared elected as the President of the Republic of India on 9 May 1967. On 13 May 1967, he took over as the third President of India. He held the highest office of the country with exemplary grace and dignity till his last breath.

In almost every respect, Zakir Husain epitomized India’s composite culture, deeply steeped in the ethical, moral and spiritual principles of its saints and sufis. His nationalism, a reflection of his allegiance to the highest moral value, rested on a democratic approach, self-discipline, and an identification with the good of society that gives substance and meaning to the individual. All this notwithstanding, he had the sufi’s indifference towards the externals of religion and, even though a deeply religious man, did not wear his faith on his sleeve. He was an inspiration for secularism and endeared himself to men of different religious communities.

Zakir Husain translated Plato’s Republic and Canon’s Elementary Political Economy into Urdu (1920); he published a biography of Mahatma Gandhi in German and wrote short stories, mostly for children. His convocation addresses at various universities were later published under the title The Dynamic University.

Tall and well-built, Dr. Zakir Husain had a broad forehead, a well-kept beard and was, invariably, neatly, and tastefully dressed. An imposing embodiment of culture and refinement, he was sensitive to beauty in all its forms and had an intense passion for excellence. His varied tastes and hobbies—for roses, collections of cacti, fossils, paintings and specimens of calligraphy, objects of art and curios, and books—speak of a remarkable breadth of vision and versatility.

Dr. Zakir Husain—truly a cultured person and personification of everything good, pure and pious was the first President of Indian Republic to die in office before completing his term. He breathed his last, all of a sudden on the morning of May 3,1969. He was buried in the Jamia Campus. No other site would have been more appropriate than the Jamia Millia, an institution to the building of which he had devoted his entire life.

Zakir Husain was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1954 and the Bharat Ratna in 1963.


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