Zakir Hussain (politician)

3rd President of India (1897-1969)

Zakir Hussain (Urdu: ذاکِر حسین‎, Telugu]: జాకీర్ హుస్సైన్), ; February 8, 1897May 3, 1969) was the 3rd President of India, from 13 May 1967 until his death. An educationist and intellectual, Hussain was the country's first Muslim president.

I have after years of thinking on the subject come to the conviction that work is the only instrument of effective education.

Quotes edit

Quest for Truth (1999) edit

In: Z̤iāʼulḥasan Fārūq Dr. Zakir Hussain, Quest for Truth, APH Publishing, 1 January 1999

  • I may be forgiven the assumption that my choice to the highest office is mainly, if not entirely, made on account of my long association with the education of my people.
    • In: Foreword.
  • The aim of a student’s life should be to overcome any illusions or prejudices he may have and to give up mean habits. He should, and it is his duty to, propagate education among his illiterate brothers and to consider the propagation of education as part of his own education. He ought to acquire knowledge for the sake of knowledge and he should not be unaware of the needs of life.
    • In his first school essay, while in Class VIII, expressing his ideas and ideals, in: p. 28.
  • Such an environment of love and affection (at school) had not as yet allowed my life to be exposed to hardships. Depending on others was my habit. You will be surprised to know that prior to my journey to the college I had never bought a train-ticket myself...the very first day I realized that moving out of the controlled school life and stepping into the free college life is no less than inviting all sorts of hassles to yourself. Nobody tells you how to read. Nobody tells you what to do, where to go, when to sleep, and when to wake up. The one who is used to restrictions gets perturbed by this freedom.
    • In: pp.32-33.
  • The edifice of my educational thought is almost entirely beholden to the views of Kerschensteiner. At later stages, however, Gandhiji’s influence and his elaboration of some of the finest points on the subject provided the much needed depth and expansion. Words turned into projects and a mere conceptual and transient framework became an insuperable part of my life.
    • In: p. 145.
  • If you ask me to continue as the Chairman of Rajya Sabha, I am not so weak as to refuse this challenge...If you ask me to go to the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, I am not so strong as to refuse this offer.
    • When I. K. Gujral came to meet him at the behest of Indira Gandhi to know his mind for contesting to the post of President of India, In p. 328.
  • I have pledged loyalty to the Constitution of is the constitution of a new state, enacted by independent citizens for the first time in the history of the country. Ours is a young and new state, though it represents an ancient community that has sought to attain eternal, constant values over the centuries with the help and cooperation of other communities and its own unique style… Our past is neither static nor dead. Rather, it is a living and dynamic entity. It has its bearings upon our present and helps us in constructing our future…I perceive it clearly that education should play an important role in the renewing our past. I firmly adhere to the truth that education is the real means for realizing national objectives. The essential features of a nation are determined by its educational plans
    • In his a first address on 13 May 1967 as as President of India delivered in the central hall of the Parliament, in: p. 337.
  • Had your mother not been so well-organized, so simple, so virtuous and so resourceful, I would not have been what I am today.
    • P.353.

Uniqueness of Zakir Husain and His Contributions (1997) edit

Ikram Ahmad in: Uniqueness of Zakir Husain and His Contributions: Birth Centenary Volume, Daya Books, 1997

  • Politics, especially in our country, is like a mountain stream which suddenly overflows and soon recedes, while educational work flows not only during monsoon but also in the summer by melting the hearts of mountains. Politics is concerned with the strengthening of national existence and is impatient by nature, education is dedicated to social ideals, it is inherently patent. Which is why education is the master and politics its servant.
    • In:p.6.
  • It seems that institution has a great role to play in the development of India’s national life. Were I not convinced of this I would not have come to Aligarh leaving the Jamia work, to which intellectually and emotionally I am so deeply committed.
    • In:P.7/
  • I have after years of thinking on the subject come to the conviction that work is the only instrument of effective education. It may sometimes be manual work, at others, non-manual work.
    • In p. 14.
  • Our country does not need warm blood oozing out from our necks, but it needs the sweat of our brow that would flow twelve months in a year. The need is great for work, serious work. Our future would be made or marred by the broken hut of the farmer, by the dark roof of the artisan, and by the straw school of a village. It is possible to settle the disputes of a day or two in political strife, in conferences and congresses, but those places which I have indicated have been centuries the centers of our destiny. Work in these areas requires patience and perseverance. It tires you much and it is thankless too. It does not yield quick results; but yes, if someone holds on for long, it would give him sweet fruit.
    • In: p. 18-19.
  • Our sweat is the answer to all our problems, and that the tiller, the artisan and the teacher are the three agents who feed the body, mind and soul.
    • In: p. 19.
  • Life is immense, comprehensive and dynamic. It includes spirit and matter and idealism and pragmatism and rotates round the axis of the noble and the ignoble. Life strives for higher ends. It is a mission, a service, and finally worship.
    • In: p. 22.
  • Placed under the sway of conflicting urges of the Indian masses we are yet given the poetic quality of composing a harmonious life. There are thousand stands of culture that make of the cultural life of our people a variegated pattern of exquisite beauty and richness.
    • In: p. 25.
  • To seek to exclude any of these because of age or association with some particular elements of our national being would almost be an act of treason. In the rich history of our country nothing is good or bad because it is new or old...Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian or Parsi.
    • On the past inheritance of India, p. 26.
  • Something deep down in me seems to furnish me with the belief that Providence has destined India to be the laboratory in which the greatest experiment of cultural synthesis will be undertaken and successfully completed. India’s mission in the world history seems to be evolution of a distinct type of humanity, combining and harmonizing in itself lives of the diverse types which history has produced, all blended together to form a new type that might evolve a characteristic and, perhaps, more satisfactory patterns of civilized existence than those in vogue at present.
    • In: p. 36.

Philosophy of Education edit

Dr. Zakir Hussain in: of Education (Dr. Zakir Hussain) University of Mumbai (

  • Feeble beliefs must be replaced by healthier habits and irrelevant institutions by progressive institutions. Our will should get guidance not form the twilight of the intellect but from the broad daylight of true beliefs.
    • In: p. 83.
  • Humanities and science are not something mutually contradictory but complimentary. One should realize the fact that science is devoid of values especially moral and ethical values. Science is a system of philosophy without ethics. Science devoid of ethical judgment becomes an ally of everyone – of the good as well as the bad and is of service in changing the world into a paradise or reducing it to a veritable hell.
    • In: p. 86.
  • I maintain that education is a prime instrument of national purpose and that the quality of its education is inseparably involved in the quality of the nation.
    • In: p. 86.
  • The scientists and technologists must keep in mind social welfare. Education thus should develop the totality of the child. Indian education is lacking in the following major drawbacks.
    (1) Indian education has been like stagnant water for quite some time.
    (2)Indian education ignores new ideas and fresh thinking in educational matters.
    • In: p. 86.
  • I have after years of thinking on the subject come to the conviction that work is the only instrument of effective education. It may sometimes be manual work and sometimes non-manual work. Although it is work alone that can educate, I have also come to the conviction by long observation and experience that all work does not educate.
    • In: p. 88.
  • Education should be able to distinguish between the heritage that helps and that heritage hampers the tradition that undermines and the tradition that fortifies.
    • In: p. 89.

About Zakir Hussain edit

  • He was a much tested person whose patriotism was unquestioned , whose nationalism was unsullied and whose integrity was of a high order.
    • P.N.Chopra in: "Uniqueness of Zakir Husain and His Contributions: Birth Centenary Volume", p. 7.

Quest for Truth (1999) edit

Z̤iāʼulḥasan Fārūq in: Dr. Zakir Hussain, Quest for Truth, APH Publishing, 1 January 1999

  • The history of India’s independence is replete with lives of many a great men and women who serve as beacons and role models for generations to come. He was one of them and his contribution was unique in its creativity. Using education as the instrument of his expression, he served the motherland with devotion and Gandhian faith.
  • A quiet strength of character was his hallmark. He never looked back once he undertook a step, indeed as he did when he left Aligarh is response to Gandhiji’s call...Deeply inspired and influenced by Gandhiji, he was determined to translate into reality a dream of an educational institution which would give Swaraj a wholesome dimension in education and would nurture intellectual leadership for independent India. Thus was born Jamia Milia, a unique national institution and an innovative experiment in education. Today, as Central University, Jamia Milia is a thriving monument for his tireless and unprecedented vision.
  • The story of a life so active and creative, so refined and dedicated, so fearless and fulfilled with national recognition, cannot but be a source of light and joy
  • It is extremely gratifying that you remained steadfast on the course charted by the Father of the Nation when the fury of tempest of chauvinism had either uprooted or shaken many a stalwart. We have established a secular polity in our country in which no distinction based on religion will have a place. By your words and actions you have fortified this secular ideal. Now in the form of Vice President and also as an incumbent of our Democratic Republic we will get your guidance.
  • He was perfect Muslim as envisioned by Iqbal. He possessed the inherent passion for which the Arabs are known and the delicate temperament for which the Persians are acclaimed. He was soft in private audience and action-packed when involved in some task. He was like a drew drop which smoothens the fire in the heart of tulip and like a storm which terrifies the heart of the sea. He was like that hermit whose humbleness bears magic character. He knew how to keep the lamp glowing in the tempest. He was a model of culture and refinement.
    • Z̤iāʼulḥasan Fārūq in: p. 1-2.
  • The Muslims, whom I have seen in my time i.e., the 20th century, appearing on the scene of history, were of both kinds, truthful and hypocritical. We confess with grief that amongst the Muslims generally artificial materials were more popular than the genuine ones because it possessed outward, whose popularity is still limited to few, but the temporary glitter of gilded material has started fading out and the genuine gold is stable with its permanent radiance. Now perhaps the Indian Muslim will start appreciating him.
  • His mental alertness and oratorical skills were at their best particularly [in his college days] in his rebuttal to the speeches of his opponents. In no time he would notice the fallacies of their arguments, which he would make a target of his satirical and sarcastic remarks in quite a dramatic way in his own repartee. He quipped and gibed so wittily that at times he held the audience spell bound and at times made it roar in laughter.
    • In p. 36.
  • He displayed this [summarization, translation, writing and editing of books] talent right from his school days. He got an ample opportunity to cultivate this habit when he joined college...he prepared a summarized Urdu translation of Professor Brown’s English article on the religion of Mohamad Ali Bab. He participated in essay-writing competition in 1917 and won the first prize on the topic Muslim Education in India. Around the same time he started translating Plato’s Republic.
    • In: p. 38.
  • During his student days (In Aligarh University), he and Rashid Ahmad Siddiqi used to write interesting articles about the college life and activities; under the pen names of Rip and Bohemian respectively…He distinguished himself by his style both in English and Urdu, a fact acknowledged even by his teachers. Mr James Bottham, the Vice-Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University was also one of his admirers.
    • In p. 39.
  • He found him a tall figure, with a slightly flabby body, shining hair and well-trimmed beard. He appeared impressive, well-dressed and his eyes were exceptionally eloquent that drew everyone’s attention. There was deep note of mystery about his eyes...His style of conversation was always accompanied by his smile and too attractive which cast a spell on his addresses...He had a remarkable ability to assess others and immediately found out their mental level and their taste. Likewise, he had an enviable understanding of the context and situation in which he found himself placed.
    • Dr. Mujeeb, his friend during their stay in Germany in 1922, p. 75.
  • There was an apparent disorder in his personal life style...resented any restriction on his freedom...for him freedom meant a constant movement of the intellect and imagination...He moved in different directions at the same time that he could only look forward and beyond.
    • Dr. Mujeeb, in p. 75.
  • ...his varied interest is exemplified at its best in his publication of an attractive Diwan-e Ghalib brought out from Khiwani Press, Berlin.
    • P.85.
  • Among his teachers in Berlin Professor Sombart was a scholar of repute. He learnt much from him. However, he gained many insights from my teacher, Sprangner who was undoubtedly gifted with vision...He was much more keenly interested in education than his field of specialization [Economics]. He had tremendous regard for my teacher Professor Sprangner, an authority on the philosophy of education.
    • In: p. 85.
  • In 1937-38, Basic National Education or Wardha Scheme came into prominence. He had given a definite shape to the concept of basic education. He championed its cause as well.
    • In p. 122.
  • He was extremely pre-occupied with a varied plan of action he could find time to write stories and plays for children...with the gifts of creative expression made him write whatever he did... He wrote all the stories under the pen name Ruqaiyya, which were published under the title “Abbu Khan ki Bakri.
    • In: p. 152.
  • He differed with Pandit Nehru on some issues owing to his independent attitude. He was one of those who preferred unity and understanding, though it might delay the Partition or independence of the country.
    • When he was offered a ministerial post in the Interim Government before independence and partition of the country, p. 211.
  • Pakistan had spread in these countries wrong impressions about India’s attitude towards the Indian Muslims. It was generally accepted notion that after the creation of Paksitan, Muslims in India were either no more or were very few in number. Mosques and religious academies had been ruined. He (Dr [Dr. Hussein] had tried very hard to make even educated and high ranking people in several countries, particularly in Egypt, realize that Muslims in India exist in millions. His visit removed this wrong notion, and Muslim countries were apprised of the fact that the Muslims in India after the catastrophe of 1947 [partition of India] were living with dignity and Islam was safe there.
    • In: p. 313.
  • If a good and true Muslim cannot be a nationalist, how can a good and true Hindu be expected to be a nationalist.
    • In Hindustan Times during the time of his election to the post of President of India, on his secular claims in: p. 331.
  • Your victory [As President of India] stands as the victory of principles of tolerance and love
  • He was very sensitive about his particular views on national history and culture. Soon after Independence, both inside and outside India, Indian nationalism and culture were closely identified with Hinduism and its peculiar culture. After assuming the offices of Governor, Vice-President and President of the Republic, he regarded as his duty to present his above-mentioned viewpoint in an effective and moving manner. He wanted to keep the collective conscience alive on this view.
    • In: p. 339.
  • When Mian (Dr. Hussain) reached the Rashtrapathi Bhavan after taking oath as President of India, he said that only three rooms out of its 340 sprawling rooms would suffice for his family...when we moved there were my mother, my daughter, Neelofer, some domestic servants, two cows, a parrot and about five thousand books and other household items. Of the three rooms, one was exclusively for him while my mother, my daughter and I stayed in the other room and the third room was used for meeting visitors and for taking food.
    • His daughter when he became President and moved to live in the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, in: p. 339.
  • No one in our national life symbolized so well a national units as he [Dr Zakir Huassin] who had said “The whole of India is my home and all its citizens are his family”...He stood as symbol of multiculturalism. He raised the standard of public life by his word and deed. He was the last member of the generation that had not attained greatness simply on account of their contribution to the freedom struggle. Rather, he was one of those who had achieved greatness by dedicating himself to noble ideals. He was not a mere follower. Rather, he was a pioneer, full of new and creative ideas. He firmly believed that we are inheritors of our best tradition and glorious achievements. Beauty in all its splendor and charm was embodied in him.
  • Apart from being a true Muslim, he represented the secular character of our democratic constitution. People of all creed, colour and class sought his blessings and derived guidance from him. He expressed his views candidly on the whole range of national and international issues. He had won acclaim throughout the world. The whole world recognized him as a champion of peace and harmony.
    • Congress Working Committee, in: p. 347.
  • Our countrymen have mourned his death in a manner they would have lamented the death of their immediate family member. It is quite a record that more than half a million people assembled at Rashtrapathi Bhavan and waited for hours in long queues in order to have the last glimpse of their departed leader.
    • Quami Awaz, Urdu Daily,in: p. 347.
  • He had hardly had any pretence of the politicians. For him education was not confined to lecture halls and laboratories. Rather, it was an essential part of national survival. He always set his eyes on the objectives which are essential to the destiny of the nation.

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