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Published in the 1-15 Feb 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Pune's Azam Campus: a beehive of education

By Mushtaque Madni

Until a decade ago literacy occupied a very low priority among Muslims. The low ratio of literacy among a community with a past full of glorious traditions of learning and knowledge had received adverse attention from analysts and critics. Despised and suspected by sections of society and deserted by its own leaders, the community had grown skeptic about everything in life. Poverty, ignorance, superstitions and frustration had induced in them a negative thinking which in turn had thoroughly demoralised them. But unbelievably within a decade things have changed radically, particularly in Maharashtra, with education becoming the focal point of attention. One institution that has played a vital and historic role in this transformation is none other than the Haji Gulam Mohd Azam Education Trust of Pune.

Located in the eastern part of the city on a once dry and desolate vast piece of land, today it is a fascinating beehive of activities, the dreariness having given place to eye catching greenery and multiple activities. Where once stood a stone structure housing a boys' and girls' schools in what was called Anglo Urdu Compound, today stand 16 elegant modern buildings "in a beautifully landscaped educational heaven of learning where one can seek and pursue education upto and after SSC or HSC. There are institutions which cater to needs of candidates belonging to any faculty, be it arts, science, commerce, computer science, management courses, dental sciences, law, vocational guidance, ITI, architecture or Unani medical science, Azam Campus has a wide variety of courses for genuine career seekers. It has five hostels to accommodate 400 girls and 150 boys. It boasts of 18,000 students and a team of 700 teaching and non teaching staff. There is a beautifully designed assembly hall, a heritage building, where ceaseless educational, cultural, religious, literary and social functions continue throughout the year. Unending arrival of poets, writers, educationists, philanthropists, scholars from all over Maharashtra and India as well as abroad gives a touch of cultural elegance to this paradise of education.

Though many institutions have recently come up to cater to the needs of the community, Azam Campus is perhaps the first and fastest growing educational institutional chain, where no less than ten institutions were started within a decade. Under the dynamic leadership of PA Inamdar, the President of the Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education Society, the Campus has witnessed a series of institutions being established one after another, each complete in itself. Mr Inamdar, a builder by profession, has truly tried to rewrite the history of Muslims of Pune by giving them a stirring slogan 'Aage badho, Waqt hamare saath hai' (March ahead, time is with us). He worked tirelessly days and nights to gather professionals from all walks of life and inspired them. He travelled all over the sub continent and Middle East to collect funds and generate new enthusiasm among the youngsters, and at last succeeded in building institutions which the community badly needed. He has been fortunate enough to have a competent and dedicated team of professionals and activists who are totally. determined to make his dreams come true.

Then there is the congenial personality of Munawar Peerbhoy, the seven time elected chairman of Haji Gulam Mohd Azam Education Trust. Shy, sober, understanding, humble in approach to every thing and every body, he is indeed a balanced personality with a healthy combination of tradition and modernity. A true lover of art, culture and literature, he has proved himself to be a perfect choice as the Trust's chairman. A successful businessman, he has dedicated himself totally to the development of Azam Campus, the upliftment of Muslims and creation of educational awareness and prosperity among them. He looks after numerous matters such as handling the staff, dealing with contractors, receiving guests, arranging functions, corresponding with institutions all over India and abroad and maintaining public relationship with politeness and perfection. Little wonder, he has complete and dedicated support of all Committee members and hardworking staff.

As of today Azam Campus has 16 institutions, a grand mosque in the center which can accommodate around 2,400 people and a prestigious gymnasium. Thanks to Mr Inamdar's efforts, the trust has now a steady income sufficient to conduct its multifarious activities. A seventy year old institution "The Deccan Muslim Institute and Research Centre" housing a library for the lovers of books and research students, a meeting hall and computer classes is also located on the eastern side of campus.

The members of the management of the Azam Campus are set not to rest content. They have more ambitious ideas and plans for future developments. There are generous philanthropists and organisations ready to help them achieve their targets and on their part they never fail in meeting their goals. They believe in delivering the goods. Mr Inamdar is busy designing newer educational programmes for the young generation and generations to come. Periodically a new programme is announced and translated into action.

Recently the campus has introduced a new scheme of providing intensive coaching to the students of XI (Science) with a view to train them to excel in SSC and HSC board and various entrance examinations for admission to professional courses.

People of earlier generation marvel at the achievements of the management and the present generation looks to them for inspiration and guidance. Truly, where honesty, sincerity, dedication and hardwork form the bedrock, dreams come true. For the career seekers Azam Campus has plenty to offer.

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