Note: Recently, the biographical segment (Karwaan-e-Aligarh) of the web site, www.aligarhmovement.com carried an interesting article on late Dr Ziauddin Ahmed authored by a distinguished Political Scientist. While the article is indeed informative, it is felt that it needs to be supplemented by inputs to more comprehensively capture the phenomenon called Ziauddin Ahmed whose career and contributions not only span an important era of Modern Indian History but his legacy has proved enduring precisely because his was a multi-dimensional personality – as is invariably the case the personality had its pros and cons. In order, therefore, to supplement the account in the article just referred to, here follows a somewhat edited biographical assessment of one of the greatest Indian Muslim based on the author’s unpublished tract, “Reflections on Aligarh Vice Chancellors” in the hope that this will enable the readers to more fully grasp the personality and its impact on the ethos of post independence South Asian Muslim ethos generally and on the institutional evolution of the Aligarh Muslim University.
We will endeavour to analyze the life and impact of Dr Ziauddin Ahmad (1878-1947 ) mainly in the light of his three tenures as Vice Chancellor (the first from 13th April 1935 to 29th April 1938 and the next two from 24th April 1941 to 23rd April 1947). He had a brilliant academic career at Aligarh and reputedly prefering the job of a Junior Lecturer (immediately after passing B.A in 1897) in his alma mater, to that of a Deputy Collector. While a teacher, he continued his education, obtaining M.A degrees of Calcutta and Allahabad Universities and also a D.Sc from the latter in 1901. Later that year, he proceeded to Europe for higher studies on a scholarship from the UP Government and with supplementary financial assistance from the Agha Khan. He passed the Natural Science tripos from Trinity College Cambridge in the First Division, and later obtained a PhD in Astronomy from Goetingen University in Germany in 1906. In 1904 he became the first Indian to receive the coveted Isaac Newton Medal and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the London Mathematical Society. After spending some time at Bologna in Italy to do further research in Astronomy he headed back home in 1907 with a couple of months’ halt at the Al Azhar University in Cairo to understand the academic methodologies of one of the oldest institutions of Islamic learning. He was appointed Professor of Mathematics at MAO College and later (1918) became its Principal for which Ross Masud was considered a hot contender. His interests appear to have diversified around 1915 to public affairs (general condition of economy and the representation of Muslims in Government services etc) and technical and vocational education. In 1924 he was elected to the UP legislative Assembly from the Muslim Constituency of “Mainpuri, Etah and Farrukhabad”- from then onwards, he continued to be member of either the provincial or the central legislatures except for brief interludes.
While serving as a legislator he held the office of Pro Vice Chancellor of the recently upgraded University up to 1928 apart from being the Vice Chancellor for the periods already noted. His manner of governing the University bore a strong imprint of political methods employed in the legislatures – this turned out to be a ‘mixed bag’; his political methods arguably promoted Muslim interests with many baneful consequences to a University that had started making its presence felt under his predecessor. It will thus be rewarding to use his election / reelection as Vice Chancellor in 1935, 1941 and 1944 and his failure in 1938 to demonstrate his unusual modus operandi when he believed that means justified desirable ends.
First Election in 1935:
When Ross Masud resigned in April 1934, the University Court decided to appoint Nawab Mohammed Ismail Khan, then the Honorary Treasurer to officiate as Vice Chancellor. There was a general feeling in the Press that Ismail will be elected unopposed in the next meeting particularly as the Chancellor, Nawab Hamidullah Khan of Bhopal, had made an appeal to that effect. It, however, appears that the active role played by Nawab Ismail in the Khilafat movement made the Government rather apprehensive about an activist being at the helm of Aligarh affairs. From contemporary Press reports it appears that Sir Fazl-i-Husain, member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, used his personal influence with a large number of the members of the Court to support the candidacy of Nawab Ismail Khan. Simultaneously, rumours were spread that the Nawab Ismail was a ‘closet Congressman’. An election did take place and Dr Ziauddin managed to secure more votes than the officiating VC. An off-shoot of this episode was the resignation of the Chancellor who, in a communication to the Nawab of Chhatari mentioned that he found it totally unacceptable that someone who was found by an independent committee to be unfit to hold the position of the Pro Vice Chancellor a few years earlier should suddenly become worthy of a superior office . The resignation of the Chancellor became something of a cause celebre and was covered for a long period by the Press particularly, in the Hindustan Times. While there is hardly any direct incriminating evidence against Dr Ziauddin of personally using ‘underhand means’ to secure his election, there is strong circumstantial evidence to the effect that he was privy to the campaign to malign and spread disinformation about his opponent – a public figure with a rare reputation for absolute integrity among friends and foes alike.
The Unsuccessful Attempt of 1938:
There were widespread allegations against the Vice Chancellor of making attempts to ‘pack’ the Court with his supporters from various ‘feeding zones’ so that he could secure his reelection. This time round, however, he was categorically advised by Mr. Jinnah to withdraw in favour of Sir Shah Mohammed Sulaiman, then a judge of the newly established Federal Court. It was widely believed that Mr. Jinnah had decided not to back Dr Ziauddin on account of fervent pleas of some leading members of the Muslim League of which his rival Nawab Ismail Khan was a leading light; while the motive for the action of Mr. Jinnah is difficult to verify, it is to be noted that soon thereafter Dr. Ziauddin joined the Muslim League party in the Central Legislative Assembly.
Election of 1941:
It is this election which provides employment of ‘political methods’ by Dr Ziauddin. This time round, Mr. Jinnah had publicly announced his ‘neutrality’ in the election and a powerful section of the Court backed by the Chancellor, the Nizam of Hyderabad, persuaded Sir Abdul Qadir a former Judge of the Lahore High Court and member of the Secretary of States’ Advisory Council (more famous as the editor of makhzan and a benefactor of poet Iqbal) to be a candidate for the post. As Dr Ziauddin was reluctant to withdraw, certain leading members of the Court, notably, Sir Akbar Hydri and Sir Mohammed Yaqub met in Hyderabad and sent telegrams to both the candidates urging them to postpone the election till October that year (this was in April 1941 hardly a month after the death of Sir Sulaiman the last Vice Chancellor). Sir Abdul Qadir agreed to the suggestion under the impression that Dr Ziauddin, too, was agreeable to it and advised his supporters in the Court that the matter of appointment of Vice Chancellor will be adjourned. In the event, Dr Ziauddin’s group did not agree to the move for adjournment; ugly scenes followed wherein Mr. Abdul Jabbar Kheiri, an ardent Ziauddin supporter, was ‘persuaded to leave the meeting hall for his unseemly remarks’ (the remarks were evidently directed against the Nizam of Hyderabad). After a walkout by those demanding adjournment, Dr Ziauddin was declared elected unopposed. Irrespective of his motives and intentions, the episode tends to substantiate the allegations of his opponents that Dr. Ziauddin’s political methods reflected floor management tactics of legislatures when it came to achieving ends which he deemed desirable. Soon thereafter, the newly elected Vice Chancellor led a delegation of his group in the Court to wait on the Nizam to seek his pardon.
Reelection of 1944:
Unlike the earlier election Dr Ziauddin was the ‘official’ Muslim League nominee. Press Reports and the Court proceedings do not indicate any remarkable occurrence in the meeting wherein the Vice Chancellor was reelected unopposed.
Ever the pragmatist, after the elections of 1946 he realized that irrespective of the permutations and combinations of political alliances, in the event of acceptance of the demand for Pakistan, Aligarh and most of North India is bound to remain part of “India”. This led to an abatement of his ardour for the Muslim League which had by then consolidated its hold over the students’ community in Aligarh (and elsewhere among Muslim students). Muslim League, too, nominated one of its ‘committed bureaucrats’ Mr. Zahid Husain to be its candidate for Vice Chancellorship. Dr Ziauddin was confined to his office by certain hooligan elements among students demanding his resignation – he obliged them willingly and soon left on a tour of the US to study the state of technical education in that country. He developed many ideas for promotion of vocational and technical education and urged Indian Muslim students in the US and UK to go back to India (and not Pakistan) and seek self employment to help the common Indian Muslims in the changed circumstances. While on his way back to India, he succumbed to a cerebral stroke in London on 23rd December 1947, and was buried in Aligarh in January 1948. In one of the many ironies of Aligarh, the student community virtually rioted when the University authorities initially refused to allow his burial next to Sir Syed – he was interred at the desired spot when the powers that be realised the futility of any counteraction.
The account of his election/ reelections and how these were accomplished will stand us in good stead in briefly capturing the salient points – good and not so good – spanning the entire career of Ziauddin the Vice Chancellor. His positive contributions may be summarized as under;
• Looking ceaselessly for opportunities for enhancing the scope of academic programmes of the University. Thus the establishment, first of a Department of Technology (1935) and later the Engineering College (1942), were in response to opportunities offered by certain schemes of the Government and the demand for Technicians and Engineers by the World War – it is doubtful if any other Indian University could capitalize so quickly on such opportunities.
• Using his access to forums like the central legislature and organisations like the Railway Board and the Directorate of Supplies and Disposals etc he could promote Faculty members (particularly, those towards whom he was well disposed!) to be inducted in positions of responsibility and prestige. For instance, the elections of Dr. Mohammed Ishaq (Physics) and Dr Mohammed Shareef Khan (Zoology) to the Fellowship of the National Institute of Science (since rechristened the Indian National Science Academy) at exceptionally young ages were ostensibly due to his ‘networking abilities’.
• Similarly, through his contacts and enterprising skills, he could mobilize significant funds and procure stores for a Medical College, though the project did not materialize owing to the upheavals preceding and immediately following independence/ partition of the country.
• Again, his contacts came in handy for getting Government scholarships for teachers, who had long crossed the prescribed age limit, for obtaining higher qualifications abroad on such grants. M.A.H Qadri (Zoology- Cambridge), M.A Basir (Zoology- McGill), Abid Ahmad Ali (Arabic- London) M.Ishaq, R.M Chaudhri (Physics- Imperial College) and Abul Lais Siddiqui (Urdu – SOAS, London) were some of the beneficiaries. This led the eminent Scientist Birbal Sahni of Lucknow university to bitterly complain in one of the meetings of the Central Advisory Board of Education that Government of India’s research scholarships were evidently meant for brilliant young students of ‘Presidency Towns’ (Calcutta, Bombay and Madras) and older teachers of Aligarh!
• Yet again, there were envious references in the Board of Inter University Education for India and Ceylon, that for appointments in Railways, Indian Council of Agriculture Research, Meteorology Department and Provincial Governments, where recommendations of Public Service Commission were not required; Aligarh boys were getting in through the backdoor thanks to the extraordinary contacts of its Vice Chancellor.
Even the most sympathetic writer would, however, be hard put to reduce the ‘debit side’ of Dr Ziauddin to balance ‘assets and liabilities’. On the debit side the entries will far outweigh the positive features. Some of the more glaring of these were;
• A virtual witch-hunt and expulsion of the brilliant people brought by Ross Masud. R.K Asundi, R. D Desai and D.D Kosambi, hallowed names in Indian Science, were informed that they could not continue as they were working on ‘surplus posts’! All the three were left in the lurch and had to fend for themselves for some time before finding their niches in various institutions where they gained positions of prime eminence in their respective disciplines. Similarly, Dr Ibadur Rahman Khan, Professor of Geography was sent back to his parent Education Department in the UP Government evidently at the instigation of a younger teacher who later gained considerable notoriety.
• Standards of research were ironically maintained in Departments like Zoology where the head, Prof M.B Mirza, a known supporter of the League, was not exactly a crony of the Vice Chancellor.
• Transparency and fair play in selections to teaching and other posts were at a discount; an extreme case was the selection of the younger brother of the son-in-law of the Vice Chancellor as Lecturer in Agriculture on the recommendation of a Selection Committee where the father of the successful candidate was an expert! Similarly, there were instances where the Vice Chancellor extended a personal loan to the University and realised interest on the amount advanced. Likewise, the Vice Chancellor charged rent for one of his own building ‘loaned’ to the University to be used as ‘VC’s Bungalow Office!
• Perhaps, the greatest disservice to the University by the Vice Chancellor was to have allowed elements from outside the University to use students and faculty members for political purposes. For a while, the Vice Chancellor was known to be almost actively involved with quasi fascist Khaksar movement and allowed Dr Rafiq Ahmad Khan, Head Department of Botany to be associated with the movement as its ‘second-in-command’ for UP. He also extended many questionable benefits to the ultra conservative Abdul Jabbar Khairi (including appointing his nephew, Ahmad Wahab Kheiri as Dirctor Publicity against a non existent post and without calling for applications or holding a Selection Committee) after Khairi started needling the Vice Chancellor for his alleged sympathies for the Qadianis. Similarly, once he realised that the Muslim League had become a force to reckon with on the campus, he not only joined the ‘League group’ in the Central Legislative Assembly, but also allowed a University Branch of the League, distinct from its Aligarh City branch, to be operated with University teachers (Dr Syed Moinul Haque of the Deprtment of History, Dr Afzal Husain Qadri of the Department of Zoology and Mr. Mohammed Siddiq Ansari of the Botany Department etc) as its office bearers. As already noted, however, the Vice Chancellor started to distance himself from the League once he realised that AMU will not benefit from its association with this party.
It is not as if the Vice Chancellor was dishonest - an overall objective view of his tenure suggests an entrepreneurial, as opposed to an academic bent of mind. His life amply brings out the fact that a focused academic could be an equally focused ‘performer’ once he decides to reorient his bearings. As we shall presently notice, his main agenda was political and economic advancement of Muslims of the country, and like many personalities with similar agenda, means were to be justified with reference to the desirability of the intended goals.
Comparisons may be odious, but it may be necessary to briefly contrast Dr Ziauddin with Sir Ross Masud. Their personalities and value systems were obviously different which resulted in their visions of the institution to diverge sharply. While to Ross Masud quality of instruction and research were in themselves essential goals for a University, to his successor these attributes, if not altogether irrelevant, were subsidiary to the institution serving as a tool of economic and political well being of the Muslims of India. Without taking sides and passing judgments, it can be pointed out that the seeming divergence was more with reference to the time frame within which the University could promote the well being of the community. The issue may be viewed as one of promoting a merit based Muslim elite (the Ross Masud model) to a different paradigm (the ‘Ziauddin Model’) which envisaged emergence of highly skilled manpower which could reap the benefits that an emerging democratic polity will have to dole out to accommodate various segments of a composite society. Arguably, with a separate ‘Muslim homeland’ becoming ever more ‘feasible’, the few qualms which the former Newton prize holder may have had about deriving too radical a wedge between ‘masses’ and ‘classes’, had disappeared.
Lastly, the issue of why Ziauddin’s name continues to be known much more widely (on both sides of the ‘partitioned divide’) than that of Ross Masud needs to be addressed. We can safely say that this has nothing to do with how good or bad the two were as Vice Chancellors. The legacy of Ziauddin that lives on is largely due to his contribution in facilitating emergence of a Muslim middle class which derived its sustenance from ‘unconventional occupations’ i.e. employment or self employments from professions and trades with which Muslim elite and plebeians, alike, were hitherto unfamiliar. In his seventeen years of membership of the Central legislative Assembly, Ziauddin more than anyone from any community, managed to create ‘community specific constituencies’ in Organisations like the Railways, the Port Trusts, the Public Works Departments, the Ordnance Factories etc. Such ‘constituency creation’ was through systematic and sustained interest in the affairs of the organisation – an interest that was essentially ‘secular’ and pertained to issues like budget, efficiency, redress of grievances and future expansion plans etc. Through questions, call attention motions, piloting private legislations and ‘interventions’ in budget discussions he developed insights in many government organizations and emerged as a person to be at the same time admired and feared by the departmental bosses. This put him in a vantage position in pursuing and promoting Muslim sectional interests benefiting officers, employees, suppliers and the Muslim clients of the ‘targeted’ organizations. With his tremendous capacity for hard work, his systematic approach to collect facts and data and, perhaps most important, his detachment with conventional party politics he could make an impact unimaginable for a ‘native’ legislator of a country under imperial control and with very limited ‘local’ devolution. It is thus not surprising if many of the posthumous tributes paid to him in Urdu and English Press of the nascent Pakistan were from government employees, one of them making it bold to say that most of the ‘Muslim promotions’ in the non Gazetted establishment of the Railways, Post & Telegraph, Military Accounts and Audit Departments in the 1940s were due to the efforts of Dr Ziauddin - a blatant exaggeration but perceptions often supercede reality .
In fine, Dr Ziauddin was a father figure for a whole generation of an ‘atypical Muslim middle class’ which thrived and prospered particularly in Pakistan, and which was not lacking in gratitude. Ross Masud catered to no such constituency and was singularly unsuccessful in creating a solid intellectual phalanx among Muslims - the Court dominated by Zamindars and small time lawyers was in no mood to allow him that liberty !
*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 firstname.lastname@example.org
 In his well researched article in “Naqoosh” Lahore “Shakhsiyat Number” (Vol II, 1956) Mohammed Khan Zuberi, a relative of Dr Ziauudin, mentions 1877 as the year of birth.
 This writer, despite considerable efforts, has not been able to obtain the titles of his D.Sc (1901) and PhD theses (1906). It is generally noticed that no attention was paid to the details of academic qualifications beyond noting the nature of degrees obtained. This writer has, however, found from a perusal of the Proceedings of the Indian Association for Cultivation of Sciences and the Proceedings of the Indian Science Congress that Dr Ziauddin published papers between 1907 to 1913- we can surmise with reasonable certainty that his research career came to an end in 1913 after which his interests shifted to public affairs including educational policies.
 The reference is to the findings of a Committee appointed by the Chancellor, Nawab Sultan Jahan Begum at the instance of the Lord Rector of the University (the viceroy of India) under the chairmanship of Justice (Sir) Ibrahim Rahimatoola to go into allegations of maladministration in the University affairs made by a number of people including the former Vice Chancellor, Sahibzada Aftab Ahmad Khan and the University Treasurer Shaikh Mohammed Abdullah. The Committee indicted Dr Ziauddin. This writer has dealt with this aspect in detail in Reflections.
 A number of contemporary newspapers like Hamdam and Zamindar carried news relating to Mr. Jinnah’s advice; apart from the fact that there was no denial on behalf of either the League or Mr. Jinnah later Al Bashir of Itawa a newspaper championing the cause of Dr Ziauddin also confirmed the fact.
 Dr Ziauddin gave statement to that effect to Payam of Huderabad.
 One of his last letters is addressed to his friend philosopher and guide (as also a relative) Maulvi Muhammad Bashir-ud-din of Itawa wherein he developed his vision of an economically self-reliant Muslim community in post independence India. The communication strongly suggests that Ziauddin intended to continue to be resident in India and advance the cause of self employment- particularly not expecting the government to provide them large scale public employment.
 Dr Ziauddin was hardly ‘pro qadiani’, yet, it is a fact that Dr Ataullah Butt M.D (Berlin), an avowed qadiani, was appointed by him as Principal of Tibbia College although he was an allopath - a fact that was resented in the Unani circles. There appears to be some substance in the allegation that Dr Butt and some other qadiani teachers were partial to students belonging to their sect and had selectively used inducements to convert students to their ‘faith’. Dr Butt was an ardent Ziaudddin supporter in the University politics and was allegedly a close confidante of Chaudhri M.Zafarullah, a member of the Viceroy’s Council and a trusted lieutenant of Jinnah. After Jabbar Khairi’s berating, Dr Ziauddin appears to have maintained a certain distance with Dr Butt. Incidentally, Dr Butt was the maternal grandfather of Salman Rushdie, and after independence he stayed back in Aligarh in his palatial house at Marris Road. This writer remembers a septuagenarian Butt with a smiling visage often distributing ‘lemon drops’ to the Mohalla kids without any apparent attempts at proselytization!
 The present author recently had occasion to go through the annoted Index of the India Office Records relating to the Crown Representative i.e. Viceroy acting on behalf of the British crown with the Indian Princely States. It appears that there was a major uprising of Meos in the Alwar State against the depredations and inequities of the ‘Alwar Darbar’ which had caused much unease to the Secretary of State for India (the Minister in charge for India in the Bristish Government) and had led first to the dilution of powers of the Maharaja and later his banishment from Alwar. It is clear that Dr. Ziauddin along with Ghulam Bheek “Neerang” and Chaudhri Yasin Khan (father of late Chaudhri Tayyab Hussain, a prominent old boy and the only person to hold the office of a Minister in three States), played a prominent part in the agitation of Meos. Though this role of Dr. Ziauddin is all but forgotten, it is likely that such activism enabled him to win the confidence of the community.
Such comparison may appear rather unnecessary to readers not having read the account of Ross Masud in Reflections. The present writer did have the option to altogether remove the concluding paragraphs; On deeper thought, however, it was decided to retain this part as the ‘pragmatic’ Ziauddin cannot be understood adequately unless he is contrasted with the ‘idealist’ Ross Masud.