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Published in the 16-30 Jun 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

A giant leap for Gujarat Muslims
By Altaf Mohammad Abid

Nandasan (Gujarat): Gujarat state will have its first full-fledged Muslim university in 25 years from now, if the Gujarat-born American philanthropist and educationist Dr Abdul Rahman Nakadar’s vision blossoms into reality. It is a grand vision embedded in practicality and effectiveness. Words are not just a part of Dr Nakadar’s speeches; they translate themselves into credible and meaningful projects that see the light of the day as soon as they are conceptualized and conceived. 

Dr Nakadar (left) with SB Tirmizi of Gujarat Today after inaugurating the institute

Dr Nakadar (left) with SB Tirmizi of Gujarat Today 
after inaugurating the institute

While speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Dr Nakadar Institute of Knowledge (NIK) here, under the aegis of The Nakadar Charitable Trust, on May 30, he said, “There is not a single institute of higher learning for the Muslim community in Gujarat. I envision that this institute will be a one-stop venue for education in the next 25 years in the state.”

In the presence of over a thousand well-wishers and eminent personalities from Gujarat’s social, political and intellectual strata like Siraj Tirmizi, editor of Gujarat Today, Baldev Thakur, Congress MLA from Kadi and Nitin Patel, former BJP MLA from Kadi, Dr Nakadar and his wife Najma inaugurated the school. His two younger brothers, Abdul Latif and Gulam Rasul (who are respected figures in the community) stood by him as his pillars of strength. The ceremonies began with the recitation of a verse from the Holy Qur’an followed by the recital of the patriotic song, Saare Jahaan Se Achchaa Hindustaan hamaara by a group of schoolgirls.

The master of ceremonies, Dr Siddiq, interwove eloquent Gujarati verses in his introductory remarks. Dr Syed, an eminent professor in Gujarat University, stressed on the need for education among the Muslims and the importance of schools, like NIK, where English is the medium of instruction. He said education in Gujarati alone is not sufficient; it is English which will open doors in the corridors of knowledge and life.

Baldev Thakur felt honoured to be present at the inaugural function and expressed his heartfelt gratitude in no uncertain terms. He said he would always be available and the school will have his unflinching support in making it a great community success.

On the other hand,Nitin Patel stressed on the need for self-financed educational institutions in the country. He felt education was not the government’s priority anymore but a subject of people’s initiative. He added that schools like these would play an integral part in the development of an economically healthy country.

Mrs Hutokshy Shroff, principal of the school, offered a very relevant analogy to boosting a child’s imagination and creativity and how NIK will break all conventional barriers and systems of education and strive to create an atmosphere where students will ask and the teachers will answer, unlike the conventional style of functioning where children water down to being textual parrots and do not gain much from the 12 years of education during their school life. She said confidently, that this would change now with this school.
Dr Nakadar, speaking with a tone loaded in brevity, said that the school will not restrict itself to the welfare of Muslims alone but will be open to all, irrespective of religion, caste, creed or sex. He went on to say that “Quality education is imperative at the grassroots level. Away from the humdrum of the city, it is extremely important to create an ambience where education and children share a symbiotic relationship.”

There couldn’t be a better gift for the Muslims of Gujarat who had to suffer from the repercussions of petty politics, communal rage and natural disasters in the past few years. 

Profiling NIK
The 60,000 sq ft school campus is built on a 23-acres property at a cost of Rs two crores, owned by Dr Nakadar, painted in primary blue and white colours, designed according to international standards, keeping students’ comfort levels in mind. A lovely courtyard with classrooms opening into it and with a lone tree standing amidst it, a student couldn’t ask for more. The architectural design by a Baroda-based architect is commendable, giving the school the atmosphere it needs to ignite young minds in tranquil settings. The school has a majestic entrance with green fields as far as the eye can see with tall trees outlining the property. It has a playground with all amenities. Classrooms have been designed with a lot of thought application. Though the school is in its initial stages, it will be fully operational in a year’s time.

Principal Shroff, who comes from a Parsi family of educationists, has been involved in every aspect of making this school an experience that a student will cherish for life - from choosing the colour of the classroom walls to training teachers in the play-way teaching method to selecting the right shrubs and trees for the campus.

The school also promises to have an international faculty on campus for at least six months in a year. This international faculty will implement their global experience to a rural setting. As of now, the school has a young Danish educationist who is sharing her experiences with the teachers and is helping them in different facets of running a primary school.

Who is Dr Nakadar?
Dr Abdul Rehman Nakadar is a retired cardiologist with decades of medical experience in the US. He has been working ceaselessly in the field of education and community development for the past three decades. A Muslim by birth, a Gujarati by virtue of geography and an American by choice, he has been actively involved in many spheres of the Indian Muslim life here and the diaspora.

Dr Nakadar Institute of Knowledge is a personal project, a way of saying thank you to the community that has been an integral part of his upbringing. He has also instituted the Dr Nakadar Gold Medal, which is awarded every year to a meritorious student since 1974. He is also the publisher of The Muslim Observer, a community newspaper in America.

He was the founding-president of American Federation of Muslims of Indian origin (AFMI), a philanthropic, service-based and issue-oriented organisation formed by him in 1989. It strives to work towards the educational and economic uplift of Indian Muslims by seeking cooperation among American and Indian relief and educational organisations. 

AFMI also works in bridging the gap between Indian intellectuals, public officials and business people, and Indian-Americans — especially Muslims. It works at bringing them on a common platform for the betterment of the community in the long run. AFMI offers scholarships and educational aid and recognition in form of Gold, Silver and Bronze medals to Indian Muslim students from each state of India. AFMI is currently working towards a goal of hunred percent literacy among Indian Muslims and has also undertaken an ambitious project to fight AIDS in India. Dr Nakadar, currently divides his time between Detroit and his hometown Kadi.

Interview with Nakadar in the next issue.

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