By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
Recently, there was a meeting of the teachers and the Management at the historic 324-year old Anglo Arabic School. Besides interaction, speeches were delivered by eminent personalities like Mr SY Qureshi, the previous Chief Election Commissioner (ex-student, Anglo Arabic), Mr Sirajuddin Qureshi, President, India Islamic Cultural Center (ex-student, Anglo Arabic), Mr M Afzal, previous MP and editor (ex-student, Anglo Arabic), Mr Shahid Siddiqui, editor, “Nai Dunia” Urdu weekly previous MP (ex-student, Anglo Arabic), and other dignities.
The alma mater of the school include Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the eminent educationist and the founder of Aligarh Muslim University, Liaqat Ali Khan, Pakistan’s first Prime Minister, Maulana Mohammed Hussain Azad, the father of Urdu prose, Deputy Nazir Ahmed, the Urdu essayist and I.C.S., Akhtar-ul-Iman, a great poet, Mirza M.N.Masood, an Indian hockey Olympian, Khwaja Ahmed Farooqui (literatteur), Prof. A. N. Kaul (pro-vice chancellor, Delhi University), J. N. Dixit (defence analyst), Prof. Gopi Chand Narang (president, Sahitya Akademi), Pankaj Vohra, (associate editor Hindustan Times), Sikandar Bakht, Jagdish Tytler, Haroun Yousuf (all political luminaries) and many more.
As an institution of learning, Anglo Arabic School has survived over three centuries. Opened by Ghaziuddin Khan, an influential courtier and brave general of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, the seminary has been serving the cause of education under the labels of Madrasa Ghaziuddin Khan, Anglo Arabic School, Anglo Arabic College, Delhi College and Zakir Hussain College for centuries.
Much was expatiated upon the “purposeful activities” by the present Management. Nevertheless, not much concrete was seen on the ground. The meeting went off very well ending with a biryani session that was ignored by some teachers.
However, what was noticed according to a senior teacher who wanted to remain anonymous, was that nobody remembered the immense work done by the previous team, especially by Atyab Siddiqui and Prof Azra Razzack, the manage and the secretary respectively of the Delhi Education Society that runs the school.
According to him, it was this earlier team managing the Delhi Education Society (that runs the school) that was responsible for the building of the new auditorium, the plush football ground, the table tennis tables, the basketball court, the wood work including the umpteen new doors, benches etc., whitewash and painting of the entire campus, plastering of walls and laying of floors of tens of rooms.
The entry of girls, especially for the science courses in the three-century old male bastion too was a wonder worked by the previous team. Atyab Siddiqui was able to get an aid of Rs 1.5 crore owing to which, the façade of the school got glorified. Being a football connoisseur, he also conducted inter-school football tournaments of which there is no mention. The ground that was done to perfection by the previous Management, has now turned into uneven patch of sharp stones protruding all over.
Likewise Prof Razzack got funds from various other agencies to look after the computer department and the library. The library that had leaking roof and walls, was perfected and thoroughly cleaned of the vermin and dust. Since she has sacrificed many of her best hours of comfort to support the school, she laments at its present state of pathetic affairs.
Besides, the academic levels of the schools under the previous team rose to 90 per cent and beyond in the Boards results. The recent CBSE exam results were pathetic and plummeted to lower levels. The present team has all honourable, highly qualified and well placed people who are all intent in the uplift of all walks of the school; however, things are not clicking.
Vivek Shukla, a historian on old Delhi opines that there has to be a perfect connect between the Management, Principal, teachers, students and parents that the historicity of the glorious institution is regained.
Residents of old Delhi are worried that the kind of improvement they had witnessed during the previous decade, is notably missing. Abdul Mubeen, father of Abdur Rahim stated that during the previous years, many PTA meetings too were conducted; however, nobody is concerned.
According to Dr Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmad, chairman, Interfaith Harmony Foundation of India and a previous student, Anglo Arabic needs a kiss of life and by all the people who are well-wishers of the school must come together to let it regain its lost glory and erstwhile grandeur.
*Grandnephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and social commentator. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org