Haji Iqbal -- a politician unlike politicians, educationist and philanthropist
Haji Iqbal is a politician, educationist, philanthropist, and humanist. Currently, he is MLC from Uttar Pradesh and is the Founder and Chancellor of Glocal University, Saharanpur.
Haji Iqbal is a politician but he is very much unlike politicians. He may not be a man of words but he is a man of word. He does not have a big academic qualification to boast of but unlike politicians he is known to keep his promises and has already founded a university, which he dreams to become an institution of highest class. He is much simpler than anyone can think of a person with a wealth like his. His popularity was evident from the fact that his election as Member of Legislative Assembly proved to be a cakewalk for him. He has been associated with Bahujan Samaj Party throughout his life because he thinks that “BSP alone has been able to give Muslims the kind of representation in Assembly and Legislative Council they deserve”.
Haji Iqbal was born on First Januray, 1965. His father Haji Abdul Wahid belonged to Village Mirzapur of Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, and was a farmer. At the age of 28, he joined politics. He has 5 sons and 3 daughters. He is a highly religious man, having already performed Hajj three times and Umrah more than a dozen times.
Iqbal the Educationist
Still just 50, Haji Iqbal has already emerged as an educationist of highest calibre. He is the founder and the inspiration behind Glocal University, Saharanpur, which started functioning around two years back. He may not be a man of many words but he is a man of vision and action. Despite not being in academics himself, he has already unfolded an academic institution that will make his name permanently embedded in the history of academics.
In an interview given to a magazine, he describes his vision of the university. Here are a few excerpts:
“Talking to Haji Iqbal, a MLC from Uttar Pradesh, one can clearly feel the gleam of pride in his eyes when he talks about his dream project. When asked how he developed this dream, he recounts the difficulties he faced in getting his son an MBA degree from a big institution. He said that “he thought a university of high standards must be available as an option to the students who cannot get the place in the high-profile institutions of the country.” He hopes and plans to run the university in a way that “it provides high quality education to all those who have passion for studies including the children of poor families.” Haji Iqbal told that he was going “to develop a mechanism by which students from poor background can complete their courses on highly subsided rates”. When asked how he arranged all the finances required, he thanked God and said “I and my family members contributed what we could manage, and the bank loans provided the rest.”
Establishing a university in a massive campus of 300 acres, with dozens of departments including Engineering, Management, Humanistics, Laws and Culture is no fun. It is huge from all standards. Yet the humility does not leave Haji Iqbal’s face for a moment. He is down to earth in dealing with his team of workers. Working for nearly 19 hours a day, immediately after undergoing heart by-pass surgery, shows his resolve in plenty. But still he hardly seems to be tired. “My passion has taken hold of my tiredness”, he tells with a hint of wetness in his eyes.”. “This cannot be possible without Special Help from Almighty”, he says with a visible sense of gratitude to God. And he is all thanks for his dedicated team of workers – planners, architects and advisors, who have made it possible through strenuous efforts. The university will be formally inaugurated in July. From next year, its Medical College will also start functioning.
Haji Iqbal does not simply want this to be an institution that distributes degrees and produces employees. He wants it to be an institution that “safeguards the moral values” and “inculcates love for God and humanity.” He visualizes Glocal University as a place that has “Global reach with Local Impact”. And “local” does not merely mean the area in the vicinity. “Local” to him is “India”. And he wants Glocal University to be a true symbol of Secularism and Youth Power. He clarifies that “though it will certainly help Muslims getting educationally empowered, this university is for all Indians”.
He is rightly interested in combining the traditional and modern values, “We, at Glocal, believe in providing the best of all worlds. A traditional value system with roots in the past, modern hands on approach to education and a focus towards providing a generation better equipped to deal with the future for the betterment of both the student and the society.” (From “Islam, Muslims & the World)
Haji Iqbal is also running three intermediate colleges as well, which are Gyan Kalash School in Saharanpur, Thapar Inter College, Deoria and Nishi Memorial College, Badshahi Bagh. He is about to establish an advanced Hospital in Glocal University, which will become functional in June 2015.
Iqbal the Politician
Haji Iqbal is MLC from Uttar Pradesh. He took the oath of MLC on 15th January 2009 and his period willend on 14th January 2016. Throughout his political career, which began more than two decades back, he has been associated with Bahujan Samaj Party of Ms Mayawati. He thinks BSP as the party of his choice because “it represents 85 percent of Indians, who are deprived, and does not believe in politics of division”. Iqbal has done a lot of developmental work in his constituency, ranging from ther construction of roads to bridges, and monitoring the various governmental institutions in district Saharanpur. He is known as a man of the masses, and regularly meets the people, hears their grievances and try to help them in the best possible way.
Iqbal thinks that Muslims in India are backward “because they have no platforms, social as well as political, and division of their votes helpsd the communal parties in their agenda.” He believes that Muslims in India are at least 23 per cent, and their underrepresentation in census and voters’ list is “owing to their not filling forms at the time of census, not listing as voters and not having Aadhar cards, PAN cards and nirwachan cards”. He is a strong advocate of Muslim reservation in jobs as well as educational institutions.
Iqbal, the Philanthropist
Iqbal is known as one of the richest persons of District Saharanpur. But wealth does not make him arrogant. He is known as a God fearing man who cares for the poor and the needy. The philanthropist in him is surely more powerful than the politician. In recent years he has developed a Hatimtai kind of image with no seeker returning empty handed from his house. He is particularly known to generously donate to places of worship, orphan homes and destitute.
Messages for Humanity
* Live with simplicity without much pomp and show, because it is the simplicity that ultimately pays, both in the World and Hereafter;
* Respect all, irrespective of age, position or relationship. It is more important to respect the younger, the deprived and the week. Respecting elders is of course there in all the cultures;
* Be devoted to your country because the country provides the system, which governs your life. If the country grows, you grow, if the country slides, you slide. Devotion to country should be uppermost in mind and actions.
* Be loyal to whatever religion you believe in. Religion provides you the reason to live and guides you in your actions, telling what is right and what is wrong. Every religion stresses morality, honesty, dedication and commitment. One who does not believe in God cannot be a good human being.
* Unity is essential for progress at every level: family, community, locality, country and mankind. Everyone should endeavour to unite all irrespective of race, nationality, religion, colour or creed.
* Muslims in particular should behave in the most ideological fashion with devotion to God as well as the mankind, and countrymen are immediate neighbours, and Islam advocates most cordial relationship with neighbours.
Glocal University: Vision & Mission
Global canvass, local colours—that is what we, at Glocal, simply believe in. It is the prism that refracts all our endeavours—whether it is our architecture, curriculum design, pedagogy, hostel life, laboratories, café or the library. In short, we simply celebrate the liminal space where the ‘global’ meets the ‘local’. We are traditional, yet we are not. We are modern, yet we are not really so. We understand the hybrid nature of the global workplace and that is why no binaries constrain us. To flourish in the world today, one cannot afford substantive and rigid visions of the good life. One has to appreciate the negotiated nature of the contemporary. That is why we emphasize reflexivity, flexibility, diversity and accommodation as key values. While that is the ethos of critical engagement we aspire to craft, we are equally keen to develop top quality professionals for our customers: the corporate, public sector and the academia.
At the Glocal University, we are committed to producing top-notch professionals who have a zeal for perpetual learning and are capable of performing well in diverse professional and cultural settings. While we provide the students with all the tools required to successfully take on the world, we also endeavour to instil in them a healthy cultural rootedness that combines the best of traditional values with modern and progressive sensibilities.
Hence, we have conceived four pillars that encapsulate our vision and that act as a guiding light to further our ideas/practices of educational excellence:
The ‘global’ is mediated by the ‘local’ in our times. That has led to a crisis of modern universals, which were so far by default Eurocentric/Anglocentric in nature. Now there is an increasing realization that there is a ‘South in the North’ and a ‘North in the South’. Hence, there is no singular modernity; rather, there are many modernities shaped by diverse locations. Therefore, while we celebrate the spirit of critical enquiry entailed by the modern, we also give importance to local cultures/values/knowledge systems in arriving at our own version of modernity. We, at Glocal, are clear that the future is open-ended and in perpetual construction. Hence, no categories, ideals or visions are sacrosanct or should go uncontested. Therefore, we instil a questioning and critical attitude in our students. As Robert F. Kennedy said famously, "Some men see things as they are and say, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and say, 'Why not?”
Education, in the true sense, is about honing every facet of a student. Hence, apart from the emphasis on rationality and logical reasoning, we also make certain that each student is developed in the aesthetic, affective and spiritual domains as well. We ensure that the students learn to appreciate the best in world literature and art, develop keen sensitivity towards environment and acquire a sense of social responsibility towards the downtrodden sections of the society. Also, since we aspire to produce professionals who could perform in diverse settings, we not only tolerate cultural diversity, but we also celebrate it. Overall, we foster a multi- and interdisciplinary approach to education.
Our understanding of morality is multidimensional. The first level of meaning simply refers to basic etiquette, healthy interpersonal relationships, respect for parents, teachers and the elderly, and so on. The second level means a complementarity between ‘skills’ and ‘values’. However, there is a third level of meaning wherein morality refers to the art of taking quality decisions in the face of dilemmas emerging from a world in perpetual flux. At Glocal, we take all these three levels of meanings seriously. We ensure that our students have a nuanced understanding of power and the capability to make judgements and take timely decisions in order to excel professionally in the global marketplace.
Of what use is an education that finds no application in the world outside? That is why we insist on practical application of every subject. As Tagore said, ‘You can’t cross the sea by merely standing and staring at the water.’ However, we are aware that superior application can only emerge from a sound conceptual understanding. Hence, we encourage our students to go to the roots and spend quality time in appreciating the ‘first principles’ in their preferred area of study. It is only from the vantage point of such an applied approach, deeply intermeshed with the conceptual, that we ensure that our students learn to innovate and experiment.
How do we actualize our vision?