News has just come in that Dr Mehdi Hasan, Professor Emeritus, King George's Medical College Lucknow and former Professor of Anatomy and Dean Faculty of Medicine passed away at around 1900 Hrs IST in a hospital at Lucknow today due to complications arising out of carcinoma of prostate. His mortal remains will be laid to rest after Zuhar prayer at Imambara Ghufran Ma'ab Lucknow.
The first ever MS (Honours) in Anatomy he worked as Demonstrator and then Lecturer in Anatomy at his alma mater, the KGMC before being appointed as Reader in the nascent Medical College of AMU in 1963 where he spent the next thirty-two years of his academic career till retirement. Possibly, the most distinguished Anatomist of his generation he was elected Fellow of all the National Science Academies of the country which is a rare honour for people from Medical Sciences and was possibly the only faculty member of AMU to be so honoured in the post independence era** (Dr Shamim Jairajpuri also shares that honour with him but he received these honours while serving as Director Zoological Survey of India). He has so far been the only Human Anatomist to receive the Padma Shri Award.
A remarkable and indefatigable teacher, he was instrumental in initiating many 'general enrichment programmes' in the General Education Center in association with the maverick Ahmad Surti Sahib - that gave a glimpse to the rest of the University community of his talent in teaching and his mastery over all aspects of medical sciences.
I came in contact with Mehdi Sahib who was our neighbour in Tar Wala Bangla around 1966 when he became a family physician of sorts. The Anatomist was a good clinician whose prescriptions will invariably carry the name of the manufacturer in brackets. He was always available and not only examined the patient but also explained to him/ her the nature of the ailment, its causes and course like the good teacher he was. in the last forty six years he kept in touch even though at times I was remiss. Last Eid he called, as was his wont, though he had difficulty in talking and mentioned that it was possibly the last time that he was wishing me - a prognosis that turns out to be uncannily correct.
A man with a powerful, ever inquisitive mind he had a heart of gold with child-like curiosity and enthusiasm - something which, while earning him many admirers also begot a few jealous souls. In the fitness of things in the AMU tradition the University did not deem it fit to recognize his extraordinary contributions as a teacher and researcher though he had the pleasure of seeing himself as the cynosure of his students during the recent golden jubilee celebrations of the JNMC where he came on a wheel chair despite his frail physical state. How the AMU community chooses to perpetuate the memory of one of its stalwarts remains to be seen.
He leaves behind an incapacitated Begum Mehdi and his enterprising son Dr Abbas Mehdi, Professor of Biochemistry at KGMC; he can be reached at 91-9415007706.
**In pre independence India several faculty members had the distinction of being Fellows of the Indian National Science Academy (then called the National Institute of Science), the Indian Academy of Science and the now peripheral National Academy of Science (Allahabad). They were Drs Mohammed Ishaq and Rafi Mohammed Chaudhari of Physics Department, Dr R.K Asundi of the same Department, Dr Mohammed Sharif Khan who was briefly with the Department of Zoology and Prof Desai of Chemistry.
In post independent India several academics of AMU were Fellows of one Academy or the other - among them were Profs P.N Ganju and Fakhruddin Ahmad of Geology Department, Profs Kafeel A Chowdhury, Reyayat Khan and Abrar Mustafa Khan to name a few.
*Mr. Naved Masood is an AMU Alum and a senior Civil Servant in Govt. of India and he is based in New Delhi. He can be reached at email@example.com