The Duty Society of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), which was founded a quarter of century before the establishment of AMU, celebrated 200th birth year of the legend Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of the Aligarh Muslim University, at a function on Wednesday, 18th Oct, 2017at Kamla Devi complex of India International Centre, New Delhi. This society has played a very significant role in the development of AMU, whose alumni are spread all over the world, occupying respectable positions. A good number of these alumni have benefited from the activities of the society in one way or the other.

Sir Syed’s birth anniversary in the Aligarh community is more popularly known as the ‘Sir Syed Day’. He established the Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College in Aligarh in 1877. In 1920, by the efforts of Duty Society which had raised a fund of Rs.30 lakhs to get the Charter of Aligarh Muslim University, the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College was given the charter of the university. Since then Duty Society has been engaged in the services of the University. Taking it as an opportunity, the Duty Society celebrated the Bicentenary of Sir Syed by discussing the great works done by him and the scope of widening the mission and vision of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, as he would have wanted it to be.

Distinguished invited speakers devoted their talks with great enthusiasm. The list of speakers on this occasion included persons associated with Aligarh Muslim University like Mr. Salman Khursheed whose birth place is the VC Lodge of AMU; Prof. B.S. Panwar (VC- Sharda University)-former alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University and a Faculty Member who secured  high position in IIT- Delhi and other educational institutions in India and abroad; Dr. Syed Shahid Mahdi- AMU alumnus, former Faculty Member of AMU, former IAS, important functionary of World Food Organisation and former VC, Jamia Milia Islamia, Delhi; Padma Shri Prof. Iqbal Hasnain- AMU alumnus, Faculty Member of AMU and JNU and former VC- Calicut University; Padma Shri Hakim Syed Zillur Rehman- Director Ibn Sina Academy, Aligarh.

There were galaxy of other distinguished members of public life, academicians, administrators, social activists from India and abroad who actively participated in this function. To name a few, Mr. Arif Mohd. Khan and Mr. M.A.A. Fatmi- former ministers in Government of India, who have helped AMU in various ways. They eloquently narrated their experience and the service they rendered to AMU; Mr. Mohd. M.M. Ansari- Ex- Information Commissioner, Government of India and member of UGC; Engr. Moonis Kidwai; Mr. Khwaja Iftikhar, Prof. Humayun Murad, Prof. Mrs. Naushaba Murad, Dr. Ataat, Ms. Mariyam, Ms. Shahin Ghayas, Engr. Hasan Kamal, Ms. Shakila Ahmad, Prof. M.B. Khan and a large number of senior Faculty Members of Jamia Milia Islamia, Jamia Hamdard, Gautam Buddha University and Sharda University.

The office bearers of the Duty Society themselves are highly qualified. The President, Dr. Nadeem Tarin is a distinguished philanthropist, widely travelled person, current member of AMU Executive Council and Court; the Vice- President, Prof. Mohd. Miyan is former VC, MANUU and former member of UGC; the Keeper, Prof A.H. Siddiqi is former PVC of AMU, a distinguished Mathematician and current President of ISIAM and also holding various academic responsibilities; Prof. Azra H. Siddiqi is the Director of Duty Society Coaching and Guidance Center which is rated as one of the best in Aligarh. More details about the functioning of Duty Society can be found on the official website of Duty Society-

The programme started with Tea Party followed by presenting of Bouquet to Guests of Honour by Dr.Nagma Irfan and Ms.Sana Arif, as a token of love and respect. Programme Convenor, Prof.Abul Hasan Siddiqi (Keeper, Duty Society) delivered the welcome address. Prof. Siddiqi briefly highlighted the works and achievements of the Society. He emphasized on the fact that we need to take Sir Syed’s mission forward by concentrating on innovation, research, building knowledge-based society and taking the reputation of the country to new heights. He also discussed active participation of Duty society towards Muslim education and helping students from weaker sections of our community to achieve their goals and fulfill their dreams. A brief welcome address was then given by Prof. Mohd. Miyan, the Vice- President of Duty Society, followed by Dr.NadeemTarin, the President of the Society. He emphasized in his speech to expand the role of Duty Society. In his dynamic leadership and guidance the functionaries and their team may achieve the above mentioned goals, besides completion of his own pet project- construction of Riyadh Hall at AMU Campus.

Session-I started with the speech of Mr. Salman Khursheed, Ex- Cabinet Minister, Government of India. Mr. Khursheed delivered a remarkable address dealing with the special features of the character and contributions of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan towards modern education. In his address Mr.Salman highlighted the importance of modern education and the need of more universities like Aligarh Muslim University for educational and cultural development of any nation. He talked about the Minority status issue of the Aligarh Muslim University and commended the works of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan which brought the Aligarh Muslim University into existence. He expressed the serious concern of the scientists, engineers and all well-wisher of our nation on dwindling standard of higher education of Muslims.  He asserted that the sorry state of education in the country could not be improved without the joint effort of Government and all segments of our nation. He congratulated that AMU students have achieved remarkable and prestigious positions upto High Court judge. However, it should be extended to Supreme Court. He congratulated the Duty Society for constantly working towards the improvement of the state of education in the country.

Next, Dr. Syed Shahid Mahdi, former IAS and Ex-VC of Jamia Milia Islamia discussed the mission of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan to provide best education to his people. After Dr. Mahdi, Prof. B. S. Panwar, Vice-Chancellor of Sharda University, Greater Noida addressed the gathering. Prof. Panwar recalled his days at AMU as a student and commended the efforts of Sir Syed in the field of education. Himself an excellent academician, Prof.Panwar talked about the various fields of education that the Aligarh Muslim University can progress in. He said that he has visited many educational institutions across the world but he found very different sense of discipline and decorum among the students of AMU. He emphasized on introduction of studies of new emerging fields like artificial intelligence, compressed sensing. After Professor Panwar, Mr. Arif Mohd. Khan, Ex-Cabinet Minister of Govt. of India while explaining the importance of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan told that Sir Syed was futuristic and a great visionary who understood that uplifting of the community can be achieved through providing them modern education and particularly education in English language. The last speaker of the first session was Mr. Mohd. Ali Ashraf Fatmi, former Minister of State, MHRD. Mr. Fatmi impressed upon the importance of elementary education and the need of spending more and more in the field of education, not only higher but also primary education.

Both Mr. Salman Khursheed and Prof. Panwar focussed on the achievement of Noble Prize or an equivalent prize from AMU. Duty Society also took this opportunity to honor the distinguished speakers with a memento. After a small pause the Seminar proceeded towards its next session, Session-II. The first speaker of the second session was Prof. Hakim Syed Zillur Rehman, Director of IbnSina Academy, Aligarh. He emphasized upon the great works of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and how to carry forward his legacy as an educationist. Next, Prof. Razaullah Ansari, Ex- Professor of AMU and a distinguished science historian of Medieval India shared his thoughts on education of the masses. After Prof. Razaullah, Prof. Mushahid Husain, Ex- VC, M.J.P., Rohilkhand spoke on the progress of education in Jamia Milia Islamia and offshoot of AMU. The session was then carried forward by Prof. Syed Iqbal Hasnain, Ex-VC, Calicut University. Prof. Hasnain shared his thoughts on spreading of education. He was followed by Mr.Qurban Ali, a senior journalist who appreciated the efforts of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and lauded the education system of the Aligarh Muslim University.

The second session culminated into a Prize Giving Ceremony in which some meritorious students of the Duty Society Coaching and Guidance Centre who have secured very high positions in various entrance examinations were given out prizes by Mr. M.A.A. Fatmi and the functionaries of the Society. This was followed by the much-awaited program of the night- the musical event. The performance was given by great musician Johny Foster- the voice of AMU Tarana. Mr.Johnny Foster and his team started off by reciting two of his self-composed Nazm on Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. As per the tradition followed in all the functions of the Aligarh Muslim University, the Duty Society Bicentenary Celebration of Sir Syed ended with AMU Tarana followed by the National Anthem. AMU Tarana is considered one of the best anthems written for any educational institution. The guests then proceeded towards Fountain Lawn of India International Centre for dinner.

In a nutshell the seminar went off successfully. There were three concrete suggestions that can be highlighted-

  1. The Aligarh Muslim University should endeavor to get Nobel Prize or an equivalent prize in any field. This suggestion came from none other than a well known educationist and legal expert Mr. Salman Khursheed.
  2. AMU should focuss on emerging areas of Science and Technology like Artificial Intelligence, Computational Linguistics, etc., emphasized by several speakers specially Prof. Panwar, Vice-Chancellor, Sharda University.
  3. Creation of organizations of institutions and associated persons who are engaged in carrying forward the mission and vision of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.

All invited and eminent speakers on this occasion echoed the same sentiments of Sir Syed mission towards modern education. This event provided ample opportunity and an enjoyable experience of meeting innumerable talented Aligarians and friends of AMU and discussing Sir Syed mission towards education.