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

K. Rahman Khan

A personal appreciation by
M. Nasir Jawed

Muslim India may still be waiting for a leadership that could raise the wilting community to a dignified status, but there have often been individuals who by their shining examples, have set before the community a roadmap to success and dignity. They did not wait for any messiah, nor lamented adverse conditions while carving a niche of their own. 

It is for this reason why K Rahman Khan’s becoming minister at the centre followed by his elevation to the post of deputy chairman, Rajya Sabha, did not surprise me. Mr. Khan simply deserved it. 

As India underwent some fast-paced political transformation, and Khan started hogging the limelight, the proximity I enjoyed with him during 1996-98, took me down to the memory lane. We first met in 1996, building a relationship with some cherished moments. 

K. Rahman Khan

Thus, in his individual capacity, what Mr. Rahman Khan did, remained unmatched in comparison to many a self-styled Muslim chairman and president who run institutes and organisations in the name of Muslims, and serve none but themselves. 

We had got together on some agreements, partly fulfilled, partly forgotten. But that did never blur my impression of a man whom I had the opportunity to see from close quarters, blending together his three marked but different personalities: chartered accountant, educationist and politician. I saw him making it possible. 

Rising from a humble background, as his family members would tell me, Rahman Khan would often wait at the bus stop to pick up his children coming from school. 

But as he had learnt to play from the front, after becoming a chartered accountant, Khan launched his own company and spent little time to grab the attention of many prominent institutions including Al-Ameen Educational Society. 

He never looked back. Khan kept ascending the rough and tough path to success, prominence and making history. Chartered accountancy did no longer remain his sole fort. 

The chartered accountant joined Al-Ameen Society and soon became its chairman. Together with its founder, Mumtaz Ahmad Khan, he took the institute to the pinnacles of glory. The society today is one of the most respectful educational organisations in Bangalore.

Politics was his next milestone. Congress was his choice, to which he remained loyal despite many hiccups and turbulances which saw many politicians changing their bed fellows overnight. But Khan would never feel alienated as assignments flowed to him in piles, thanks to his foucssed intelligence and concentration. Khan served, in several capacities, the Karnataka State Board of Wakf, Karnataka legislative council and State Minorities Commission as chairman, to name a few. 
He was soon felt needed in Delhi. In 1995-96, Khan entered Rajya Sabha. Parliament found in him a mine of talents. He was soon working on many an assignment of national importance like several parliamentary and standing committees, including those of external affairs, finance, and Konkan Railways (as convenor). He was also on the court of AMU as a member. 

This is beside other innumerable bodies and schools and banks he served, and is still there in some, including Amanath Co-operative Bank as its president, and KK Education & Charitable Trust as chairman. 

His vision and timely initiatives would often keep him a step ahead of times: as an MP, he was given a laptop computer in 1996. It was still a new technology. I had only heard “Internet” at the time but didn’t know much about it. Khan was among the first to use it, and so would beam like a child while surfing and seeing the world of information inundating his private room. Every now and then he would call me to show the Internet doing wonders on his lap. Even before dawn, he would wake up to open it to read a variety of newspapers across the world. 

How does it all relate to his being a man of vision and leadership? Well, the technology led him to think of hundreds of thousands of people and students who were unaware of the development. He swerved into action and, I still remember, within one year, in 1997, he got the government of the day to finance a huge project for the educational society, Al-Ameen Institute of Information Technology and Cyber Centre, which was established within the precincts of the Society. 

Thus, in his individual capacity, what Rahman Khan did, remained unmatched in comparison to many a self-styled Muslim chairman and president who run institutes and organisations in the name of Muslims, and serve none but themselves. Khan’s efforts on the other hand were to benefit people in general rather than a certain community. He would think about Muslims in national perspective rather in any narrow, ghettoic stretch. 

Rahman Khan invited many a curious person to show him the institute and would lecture him on the new technology, like an expert. He called me too to Bangalore to visit the institute. I learnt basics of Internet there only.

In Delhi, I was director of his Al Ameen Information Centre, the aim of which was to educate NGOs who had little idea of several governmental schemes and programmes for the people in general and the minorities in particular. That association gave me a privilege to assist him in his parliamentary affairs. He treated me as though I were a member of his family. Being with him for two years in his bungalow was quite an experience. He would take me along for his evening stroll, and sometimes to the parliament library.

His heavy engagements in Bangalore apart, Khan saheb would be in Delhi right before a session began. Working till late night and waking up early for the fajr prayers was his schedule, without fail. Time was never a constraint for him. And yes, I never saw him missing any prayers. That was the kind of zeal and labour that would keep him in the steady gear. 

Even during the long political hiatus of the Congress, he never slackened his loaded schedule. It is little wonder then that even during that time, he was not only made the deputy leader of the Congress in the Upper House, but also re-nominated when his six-year term came to an end in 2000.

After I became a special correspondent with TV LIVE, headed by one of the leading anchor persons of India, Ms. Nalini Singh, I was given an extra charge of handling her special programme, Nishan, a weekly panel talk show for Doordarshan. During one programme, we ran short of a discussant on a subject of financial importance. I somehow got Khan invited for the show. Ms Singh was quite hesitant as she had never had the opportunity to have interaction with him. Quite confident as I was, I reassured her. 

Later that evening, she said, "Khan is quite knowledgeable. Please put his name on the list of our regular invitees". Khan saheb after that graced our show many times.

If Khan was busy hitting the mark, his wife, Ayesha, whom we lovingly called bhabi, was relentless in her prayers and charity. Truly, her prayers never went unanswered. 

MP sahab’s favourite secretary, Saxena, would say "I have never seen a gentleman like our saheb". And would dream, "When saheb will become minister I will serve him as his secretary". 
Rahman Khan may have covered many miles, but there seems no end to his road. He is on a steady and confident track and sure to mark many more milestones. 

It may be time now for Khan to give a pause and look back. He may find his millat still lagging behind in many areas. The leadership has failed it time and again. It stands bruised and scarred and scary. In the words of Saeed Naqvi, the eminent journalist, "Muslim leadership needs a visionary leader, a leader with a healing touch, someone who can boost morale." 

Khan is due for a major role vis-a-vis the Muslim community, other minorities and weaker sections. 

I had once suggested to him to press the centre for a special package for the 41 minority areas that the government had identified as educationally most backward. It can still be a humble beginning. 

I was not there in Delhi in person to congratulate him on his new dispensation, but when he was having his day there, I was here in Makkah al-Mukarramah giving thanks to Allah on his behalf. May He bestow His mercy on him, his family and all the people of India! 

Nasir Jawed is currently based in Makkah Mukarramah; he may be contacted at

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