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Outstanding services to popular science in Urdu

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M.A. Qureshi (1938-2011)

Mohammad Ashfaque Qureshi was born on June 10, 1938 in a Delhi middle class family and died on January 7, 2011 at Delhi after reaching the age of about 72 years. Most of his family members are engaged in business, but Qureshi was interested in higher studies and consequently he became the first postgraduate in his family.

Since the family of Qureshi had taken an active part in the freedom struggle, he preferred Jamia Millia Islamia for his primary education. After passing from Anglo-Arabic Senior Secondary School, he did his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in mathematical statistics from Aligarh Muslim University in 1962. After that he worked for two years for the Union Ministry of Food and in 1964  joined the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in New Delhi and retired in 1998 from its constituent institution, the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (NISTADS).

Qureshi showed keen interest in the subjects of science, technology and society (STS). He was consistently engaged in science policy studies for more than 45 years. The majority of his studies/research work pertains to this area. He contributed a number of monographs, reports, research papers and articles in English, Urdu and Hindi. He presented the results of his research studies in various national and international conferences and seminars. In this connection, he visited different countries including USA, UK, Germany, Canada, Malaysia, Korea, Thailand, Pakistan, and Iran.

Popular science writing in English, Urdu and Hindi, mainly book reviews, was his main interest. He had started writing in this field during his student life. During his entire service and even after retirement he remained actively involved in the dissemination of science through popular writing on science in simple language in English, Urdu and Hindi.

He was closely associated with the CSIR’s popular Urdu magazine, namely Science Ki Duniya, Published by the National Institute of Science Communication Resource (NISCAIR), of CSIR. In fact, he was a member of the Advisory Board of this magazine.

His contribution greatly increased, particularly, during 1970s, on various science based issues in Urdu. His articles were topic of discussion, especially those on benefits of science and technology to the common man, scientific interpretation in today’s  life,  science  and  environment,  global  warming,  science  and technology, etc. As project leader, he was associated with many national and international projects. He has published about a dozen books and more than 100 popular science articles.

In 2000, for his outstanding services to popular science in Urdu, Delhi Urdu Academy has awarded him Award Braye Sciensi Adab. A book titled, Muslims in India was published by Government of India. Part 2 of this book, pertains to the contribution of Muslims in science and technology after Independence, was contributed by Qureshi. This book was meant for distribution to the foreign missions and countries.

Qureshi was President of an NGO, Mewat Development Society (MDS), Chharora, Haryana, which shows his acceptance by other people, beyond his own community. In 2005 a book titled, Yoga ki Science Aur Sehat’ in Urdu written by Qureshi was published by MDS won an award by the Delhi Urdu Academy. Besides, he was also awarded by Bihar and West Bengal Urdu academies. His book in English, Indian Science and Technology Development Policies,  was published in 2006 by MDS and was well received. Qureshi was easily accessible, very polite and helpful to everybody and commanded respect. 

Mohammad Khalil

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 April 2011 on page no. 16

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