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Remembering Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

- Dr. P. C. Dhanda
from Spandan 1997

My chequered career nearing seventy years has conferred many privileges on me. The two privileges that I value most are my twenty years’ association with the Irwin (now L.N.J.P.N) Hospital, and with its later affiliates Maulana Azad Medical College and Govind Ballabh Pant Hospital; and my close association with these illustrious sons of India whose names these institutions proudly bear.

When approached by the Editor of Spandan to write for the next issue of the College Magazine I thought it would be in the utmost fitness of things to pay homage to that man of many talents whose name adorns our college

His erudition and scholarship was equaled by his humanity and humility;but his sharp intellect did not suffer fools easily. Once a visitor asked him if Maulana Sahib remembered him and was politely told “Of course”.

But the fellow went on persisting and asking “esjk uke D;k gS \"

Ultimately exasperated Maulana Sahib retorted “Áidk uke ukekdwy ! vc ÁirÓjhQ+++ ys tk ldrs g® A"

The clarity of Maulana’s vision could envisage the future through the surrounding fog befogging some of his contemporaries. In recognition of his outstanding ability he was elected President of the Indian National Congress in 1940 by an overwhelming majority. If this patriot of patriots had had his way, India would today be undivided and free of the problems of partition.

His life illustrated the saying that love of one’s country equals the love of God, and he loved his country dearly through life’s vicissitudes till his death in 1958. He spent more than ten years of his life in jail which he called his second home.

If the past and present alumni of their Alma Mater would only imbibe some of  his ideas and ideals, that would be the most fitting tribute to Maulana Azad’s memory and the values in life he held aloft like a beacon.

In his many-splendoured life his eminence as a scholar and educationist was outstanding. Therefore after the attainment of our Independence, he was befittingly given charge of the Ministry of Education which included art, culture and scientific research. The great impetus and encouragement he was able to impart to the development of scientific research are demonstrated by the establishment under his guidance of various academies and research laboratories and institutes which have put India in the rank of scientifically advanced countries.

His life epitomized the best of Indian culture which cherishes all worthwhile human values and achievements and absorbs what is good, noble and beautiful artistically, morally and spiritually. Maulana Sahib and Sardar Patel both had a stiff and stern public image but were quite soft hearted and affectionate in personal life. Maulana Azad knew of my close relations with Sardar Patel and when news of Sardar being on his death-bed in Bombay filtered through, it was he who sent for me and told me “csVk, news of Sardar’s condition is really very bad”. That was the time I saw tears in his eyes through tears in my own.

The following story of the birth of their college would interest the present generation of students. I, with some of my colleagues from the Irwin Hospital had ventured to go and meet Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru and plead with him to sanction a medical college based on the Irwin Hospital as it would fulfill a great need of Delhi.

He retorted that there were quite a number of medical colleges already and his government's financial resources did not permit the luxury of another. At this point one of our colleagues in typical Delhi dialect blurted out -

“Panditji, even Karela has three medical colleges”

Panditji shouted back “Kerala, my dear chap, not Karela. Kerala is not a vegetable !”

To restore Panditji’s good humour, I quietly ventured the bait that if a Medical College could be sanctioned, it would be most fitting to name it after his illustrious colleague Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who was very close to him.

We all watched with bated breath as the frown on Panditji’s face melted into a faint smile and the pronouncement came from the Prime Minister’slips “vPNk] ns­xs” That was enough for us as we beat a hasty retreat before another faux-pas could be committed.

That is the story of the start of your college and how the name it bears helped to launch it.

Editor’s note:

Dr. P. C. Dhanda, after graduating with honours from King Edward Medical College and completing his postgraduate studies in England and America, joined the Indian Medical Service in 1939 rising to the rank of Lt. Colonel as a Medical Specialist. In 1945 he joined the medical department of Irwin Hospital, which he later headed, till he was appointed Director-Principal of M. A. M. College and associated Irwin and G B Pant Hospitals. During his term of office, various developments took place including closure of public roads through the campus thereby integrating the whole Institution-Complex; allotment of the vacated site of the Central Jail for the College Campus and further development of the multi-speciality G. B. Pant Hospital. Dr. Dhanda is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of England and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences of India. He has had close personal and professional relations with many leaders of the Pre and Post Independence era. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1962.

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Copyright (c) 2004, Nikhil Goyal. All rights reserved.