Informed, far-sighted and pragmatic — these are the three words that befit the personality, style and functioning of K Rahman Khan, the former Union Minister of Minority Affairs and former Deputy Speaker of Rajya Sabha. If a person can be a knowledgeable, and at the same time, far sighted and pragmatic, this combination is set to do wonders. Khan has done what most political leaders do not do. He is a politician alright. But more than a politician, he is a visionary who understands the socioeconomic dynamics of the world. He has a philosophy and he knows how to put into practice.

K Rahman Khan is one of the most known Muslim politicians of the current India whose record as an educationist and a social activist has been no less impressive. From being one of the major architects of educational revolution in South, where he played a crucial role as one of the leaders of Al-Ameen Educational Movement, he went on to become Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha and Union Minister of Minority Affairs.

Even Former Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh recognized his great abilities when he was re-elected Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha. Mr. Singh appreciated Mr. Khan’s approach and said it was because of this attitude that the “bulldozer-type approach’’ was absent in the Rajya Sabha. It is no wonder that Khan was known as a “Smiling Speaker”.

“K Rahman Khan is a devout Islam lover and he never misses a prayer. In Bangalore, he is known as a man of action whose association with Al-Ameen Foundation saw the emergence of arguably the most successful Muslim social and educational movement of the country in Independent India. If Mumtaz Khan was the spirit behind the Movement, Rahman Khan was the brain and hands. The result was the establishment of more than a hundred institutions in South India, which included dozens of Engineering, Medical and Management colleges. He believes in the concept of Islam for the Nation and the world and not in that of Islam for Muslims.

Describing his career as Parliamentarian, the well-known political legend, Mr Somnath Chatterjee says,

“Sri Rahman Khan’s parliamentary career, which began in Karnataka, of over thirty years, during which he held important positions, has established him as a committed parliamentarian, always upholding the best traditions of the House, of which he has been an important member. As one of the Presiding Officers of Rajya Sabha he has always discharged his own duties in an exemplary manner, earning the respect and admiration of all. His handling of what one may describe as the volatile situations in the House, has enhanced his reputation as an ideal Presiding officer.”

Shri K. Rehman Khan, Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha (Upper House), Parliament of India was born on April 5, 1939, at Krishnarajpet, district Mandya(Karnataka).

Having graduated in commerce, a Fellow of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Shri Rehman Khan established his credentials as a successful professional in accountancy profession before his zeal for serving people at large propelled him to join politics. His political career began in1978, when he was elected as a member of Karnataka Legislative Council and rose to become its Chairman in1982 which he continued till 1984.He was appointed as Chairman, Karnataka State Minorities Commission (Cabinet rank) in1993 and continued till1994. Under his guidance as Chairman, it was for the first time painstaking effort was initiated to make a door-to- door survey of socio- economic conditions of ‘Religious Minorities’ in the State and a ‘Survey Report on Socio- Economic and Educational Conditions of Religious Minorities in Karnataka’ was prepared wherein recommendations for the exclusive 4% reservation for Muslims under 11B(applies to Muslims only) category in the State Government services and educational institutions were made which were consequently enacted by the State Government.

1. Education to Social Activism

Rahman Khan showed glimpses of his bright future right in his student life. He took part in the college activities as a social activist. For him politics, social campaign and profession were all inter-mixed. When he became Chartered Accountant, he also took active part in organizational activities. He contested various elections as a professional, and became a member of the Bangalore Chapter of the Chattered Accountants’ Association. Later he became its chairman. Then he was elected to the Southern Regional Council of Chartered Accounts and also remained its treasurer.

Rahman Khan was elected to the central Muslim Association of Karnataka and remained its President for a period of 12 years. He also remained associated with Millia Islamia. It was at this time he joined Al-Ameen Movement. If Mumtaz Khan was the founder and the spirit behind the movement, Khan acted as its chief planner and implementer. He remained associated with al-Ameen Movement from 1967 to 2000. During this period, the movement established Al-Ameen Medical Trust, a hundred bed hospital, Amnat Corporation Bank, which was the first scheduled bank of South India.

He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in April 1994 and successfully completed his first term. He was re-elected in May 2000 for the second term and served ad Deputy Leader of Indian National Congress in the Rajya Sabha during 2001–04. He had the distinction of being inducted in the Union Cabinet as Minister of State for Chemicals and fertilizers and thereafter was elected Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha on July 22,2004 and served till April 2,2006.When he was re- elected to the Rajya Sabha for the third term in April 2006, he was re- elected as Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha on May 12,2006 and continued in that position till 2013.
 Since Shri Rehman Khan was elected Member of Legislative Council(Karnataka) in 1978, he has proved himself as a dynamic administrator, eminent Parliamentarian and a respected personality within the State as well at National level serving the country and the people with distinction incorporating various facets of governance and paradigms of development. During his many years in public life, he has always worked for the uplifment of poor and the downtrodden specially among the Minorities in the state of Karnataka and at the apex level at the Centre and therefore has earned the respect and admiration of the people for his dedication, sense of public service, innate simplicity and honesty. Today, he has come to be known as a lawmaker of repute both at the State and the National level and friend of the people in need. He is widely known to be enjoying high public goodwill and trust as a political leader representing great Secular ethos of India and a mainstream minority leader.

Shri Rehman Khan has also been deeply connected with a wide spectrum of social, cultural, literary, educational, artistic, scientific and other social interests. He has been involved with several trusts and foundations for promoting education and uplift of the weaker sections of society including Minorities in southern India and has come to be known as a popular philanthropist. His mantra is to accord top most priority to education for all round development of the people.

As Chairman, Al-Ameen Education Society, Bengaluru, which runs several technical and other educational institutions of repute, and as Chairman, Central Muslim Association of Karnataka, Shri Rehman Khan’s onerous efforts inspired community at large to promote education for themselves on similar pattern. Besides as chairman, Joint parliamentary Committee on Wakfs, his pioneering role in recommending revamp of the Wakf Act for eviction of encroachment and mobilizing incomes from Wakf properties for the overall welfare of the community and recommendations to the Prime Minister on Hajj reforms to free Haj pilgrims from any exploitation are his other noteworthy contributions.
 He has also rendered commendable services in the field of ‘journalism’ and was instrumental in modernizing Urdu journalism by introducing newer printing technologies when he started editing ‘Salar’ Urdu daily in 1978 and remained its editor for four years. During the tenure he contributed landmarks editorials and columns on various social and political issues. He also established first evening English daily newspaper ‘Southern Speaker’ which was published from Bengaluru and in a short span became one among prominent evening English newspaper. He was also the promoter and Chief Editor of ‘Tarjuman-e-Junub’(Urdu weekly) where he also contributed regular columns on vital issues on minority education and there empowerment.

As a political leader he is an ardent champion of all-round inclusive development and growth of the people of India, a secular par excellence and a proponent of peaceful co-existence of our people and progress of the nation. He has been an active participant in the various conferences within India and abroad and in these fora he has articulated his views on various topics including-Parliament, Democracy and Governance, Economy and Business, Muslims and Socio-Economic Issues, Equity and Justice and Secularism, Women-Empowerment and Development.

His active participation at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has earned him a prominent place amongst the leaders of International Community.

Shri K. Rahman Khan, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is also a recipient of an honorary Ph.D. degree (honoris causa) from the Integral University, Lucknow for his continuous efforts in creating social cohesion within society. Among the several Awards that he has been honoured which include Sahakara Ratna Award for excellence in promotion of cooperatives by the Government of Karnataka and Tipu Sultan Award for promotion of education.

2. K Rahman Khan’s Vision

K Rahman Khan is certainly on the top Muslim politicians of the country whose political career blossomed as a result of his extraordinary vision and concern for society, and his untiring efforts as an educationist and social activist. In this way he is different from common politicians who enter politics mainly to pursue their career as party functionaries.

His views on various important aspects and his achievements in different capacities are being given below the way he perceives them himself:

3. Views on Muslims

Muslims of India should opt for becoming self-dependant rather than the parasite of the government. They should make efforts for their economic empowerment separately from what the government provides. The government can only be a facilitator but the real efforts are to be done by the community itself. We have to stop being seekers, and should instead try to achieve a stage where we can be providers. We have to become the guides of society rather than remaining meek followers.

Unfortunately, Ulama have not provided the kind of leadership they should have provided. They have stressed too much on the otherworldliness creating an impression as if success in this world is not required. The truth is that Allah wants successes in both worlds.

We Muslims have to define our priorities. Leaders have different priorities mostly thinking about their own priorities rather than the priority of the community. Nobody has defined the priority of the community as a whole. It needs to be debated now and properly defined. Political stand should focus on the priority as well.

4. On West-Muslim confrontation

Confrontation between Christianity and Islam continues, with Christianity now taking a different shape. During Crusades, they waged a military battle against Muslims. Once they failed there, they chose other courses. First they imperialized the world. To weaken the Muslim World, they created sects like Qadianism and Bahaism, and later fanned the flames of sectarianism. Then after the world war, when the Muslim world started choosing its own course, they planned to keep them under their control one way or the other. It was for this purpose that Israel was created and enmity between Jews and Muslims highlighted. The Christian West recognizes the potential threat from Islamic world particularly after the Oil boom came in the Middle East. This is why they did not promote democracy in the Muslim world and helped autocratic rulers there. Now when Muslims are trying to have their own kind of democracy, West is creating all sorts of trouble in the Muslim World.

Muslim World will have to learn the diplomacy like the other powers. They have to learn the art of balance, and should keep their relations on par with Russia and China as well instead of giving allegiance to West alone. And of course, Muslims have to give up forever their sectarian biases. Unless they stop fighting with one another, they cannot face the onslaught of the enemies.

5. On present government under Narendra Modi

Modi should be seen in an ideological perspective rather than as an individual. Modi is simply a pawn in the hands of RSS, which is the real concern. Hindu Mahasabha did not participate in the Freedom Struggle. After Independence they could not play any role. They superficially opposed the Partition but from inside supported it because they feared that in united India, Muslim population will be too high to allow the dominance of Hindus. They wanted to divide Muslims to ensure their dream of Akhanda Bharat dominated by Hindus and controlled by the forces of Hindutva. Their opposition to the creation of Pakistan was therefore only symbolic without any ideological conviction. British succeeded in convincing a section of Muslims led by Muslim League that they cannot achieve their rightful status in a united India. This suspicion created in Muslim minds helped Muslim League in its plan. So Partition was the result of mischievous games played by the British, the forces of Hindutva and Muslim League.

After Partition RSS built its cadre during last 60 years and that cadre has been instrumental in bringing Modi to power. Modi cannot function independently even if he wants. The day he tries to carve an independent strategy he will be thrown out. His ministers like Rajnath give the statement that “We all belong to RSS” and Mohan Bhagwat continuously talks of Hindu Rashtra.

6. On Congress

Despite various mistakes, and dominance of certain communal forces within Congress, the party is committed to secularism and empowerment of all. This is its greatest strength. It lost power due to bad planning and campaigning for elections, but sooner than later it will come back with a bang.

7. His special efforts as Minority Minster

Mr K Rahman Khan remained Minister of Minority Affairs for a period of 18 months between July 2013 and April 2014. He describes his experiences and achievements in this capacity as follows:

“I have always maintained that the government is only a facilitator, and the real work has to be done by the community itself. But the community tends to have expectations from ministers which are beyond their capacity. There had been a move to induct me in the government for a long time, and I always desired to become Minority Minister. This desire got particularly strong in recent years when I was planning along with Dr Javed Jamil, renowned thinker and writer, how to develop a big plan for the empowerment of Muslims on all fronts on the line of the work of the Planning Commission. On my advice and consultation with some other personalities, notably Mr Siajuddin Qureshi, he came up with “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination & Road-map”, which gave a comprehensive plan of how Muslims can develop socially, economically and politically. So when soon I became Minister, I had my priorities already well-established in my mind.

“I have been working on Waqf issues since 1976. Our ancestors dedicated huge property for the cause of Muslim welfare, and India has the largest number of Waqf properties in the world. Unfortunately, Muslims of India have not been able to make proper use of them. It is Muslim community itself, which has exploited, encroached and misused Waqf properties for their selfish ends. The government enacted legislations but they were weak. So there was a need of an effective legislation and organized development of Waqf properties.

“My second priority was to streamline the programmes introduced by the government in the wake of Sachar Committee Report. My third priority was to set up 5 universities for minorities. My fourth priority was to revamp the administration and establish an institutional mechanism for the management of Haj on the line of Tabung Hajji Model of Malaysia, . Lastly, I wanted to facilitate the mobilization of savings of the community and exhort them to invest as per Sharaia laws for those who would not like to use regular bank services for savings.

“My achievements were according to my priorities. First, the new Waqf Act was passed amending the 1995 Act. This Act will be a strong tool in removing all the irregularities in the Waqf properties, and illegal encroachments will be removed. Second, we established National Waqf Development Corporation (NAWADCO) to develop Waq properties. Third, we introduced monitoring system for implementation of schemes, as we realized that the schemes were good but their implementation was tardy. We accepted the long standing demand of changing the basic unit of multisectoral developmental programmes from district to block. From 90 Muslim Concentration Districts, we now covered 190 districts which comprised 700 blocks. I also commissioned a Committee to evaluate the implementation of Sachar Committee under Prof. Kuddu. Fourth, I initiated steps to restructure Hajj Management, and Hajj affairs were transferred from Ministry of External Affairs to Ministry of Minority Affairs. I got the Cabinet approval for the adoption of Tabung Haji Model of Malaysia. Ministry took up the matter and commissioned a study through SBI capital market and succeeded in pursuing the cabinet resulting in the formation of a cabinet subcommittee to look into the matter with Chidambaram, Ghulam Nabi Aazad, Salaman Khurshid and I being its members. Based on the report of SBI, I succeeded in establishing an organization on the line of Haji Tabung Model.

“I also succeeded in drafting an Equal Opportunities Commission Bill and getting it approved by the cabinet. I also succeeded in preparing a separate legislation for treating Waqf properties as public premises on par with the governmental properties. I succeeded in introducing the Bill in Rajya Sabha before the term of the government ended.

“Finally, I introduced and succeeded in getting the cabinet approval for the Communal Violence Bill and made a valiant attempt to introduce it in Rajya Sabha, but could not do so because of the lack of cooperation by other parties, and then the elections were announced.”

8. Excerpts from his speeches and interviews

“Unfortunately, the Muslim community itself has not kept pace with the march of Islam. It has not imbibed the true spirit of Islam. It has not benefited from the light, power and faith of Islam by practicing Islam in all facets of life. There is a big gap between what Islam holds aloft for humanity and what Muslims practice in their everyday life. This gap is widening as we stand on the threshold of the new millennium.

As we are entering in the 21st century, three major revolutions have overtaken the developments in the new millennium. The Information Revolution, the Telecommunication Revolution and the Information Technology Revolution have all come together to make the whole world, a global village. Geographical borders, difference in time and even socio-economic conditions do not deter any individual to work and contribute to the welfare of the humanity. In the same manner, any individual can also be responsible for the damage/ destruction of the society as a whole because of the power that the new information based society has put at the disposal of mankind. This is totally changing our lifestyle, the way we think, work, live, communicate and progress in the society.

How does the Muslim community face the new challenges, brace up to its demands and organize itself to contribute to the development and progress of mankind in the new millennium? How does the community narrow the gap between what it should stand for, and what actually it does? How it can come out of the morass of the poverty, disease and blind emotional outburst? How can it play a constructive and dynamic role in nation-building? I take a few minutes to address these issues and make a few suggestions. My aim is to stimulate your thinking and excite your interest in finding solutions to these problems in the years to come.” (Rajya Sabha)

If we have to promote and market the Islamic Economic concepts in a competitive world, and also benefit the society then in my humble opinion, we need to take the following measures:

  1. Do not attach too much religiosity to the system, present the system as a viable alternative which is a natural economic system ordained by Allah for the benefit of human society.
  2. Present to the society how interest based system is unjust, inequitable and unfair for the society instead of just presenting interest as Haram.
  3. Subject the system for regulatory mechanism and establish uniform regularity and legal framework. Some of the Muslim countries where Islamic Banking is practiced are yet to develop a strong uniform regulatory mechanism. Through research and development we should develop a proper regulatory and legal framework which could be easily adopted by the non-Islamic countries also.
  4. Develop a sound accounting procedure. The western accounting system and procedure will be inadequate and will not be viable because of the different nature of instruments. Well-defined procedures and standards are crucial for information disclosure, building investor’s confidence and monitoring surveillance.
  5. Generate trained personnel, who can analyse and manage portfolio and develop innovative products, without trained personnel system can’t work.
  6. Develop uniformity in the religious principles applied. There is a need to evolve uniformity by forming a uniform Council representing different schools of thoughts to define cohesive rules and to expedite the process of introducing new product.
  7. Invest in Research and Development in human and financial resources to develop instruments to enhance liquidity, develop secondary money and interbank markets, perform assets/ liability and risk management; and introduce public finance instruments. In the Indian context, Islamic financial system can play a very vital role in economic development of India. In India more than150 million Muslims subscribe to the Islamic faith. In fact India is the second largest Muslim populated country in the word. The dormant savings which is being intentionally kept out of interest based financial channels by large sections of Muslims could be mobilized by developing by a capital market based on Islamic financial system. Such a system would enable savers and borrowers to choose financial instruments compatible with their business need, social values and religious faith.

“I am not among those who feel that political parties would do anything substantial for Muslims. I would not like the community keep begging or demanding. We are equal citizens. We seek Empowerment. We are the second largest majority. We are equal partners in the governance. If the nation changes for the better, it would improve the lot of Muslims also. What Muslims require is to develop into a community that can challenge the power. If they do that, no political party will take them for granted. As Muslims and as people who follow Islam, a positive approach should be the motto of our life. Negativity is not part of Islamic lifestyle or thinking. Muslims should think positively and be a vibrant community. We should work on the positive motto that we are here to lead, not to be led.” (Islam, Muslims & the World)

Originally published at