Glory and downfall of Insan School
Author: Dr. Equbal Wajid
Publishers: Arshia Publications, Delhi - 110095
Pages: 183 h/c
Price: Rs. 300
Asif Anwar Alig
Educational institutions run by Indian Muslims often remain in the news for varied reasons. Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) and Jamia Hamdard (JHU) et al are pathfinders. Dr. Equbal Wajid’s A False Alarm: The Rise and Fall of INSAN Mission disseminates both nostalgia and nuisance. This former teacher of erstwhile Insan School and College in northeastern Bihar’s Kishanganj attempts to write an autobiography.
This book takes Insan School alumni down memory lane. Readers come to know how the dilapidated institution was once a model residential school in India. This school used to attract students from regions of Bihar, adjoining Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal and North Eastern states the neighbouring Nepal and Bhutan for enrollment in the early 80s.
Dr. Wajid saw its overwhelming glory and equally did he witness profligacies of downfall in a time span of just three decades. This book vividly expresses causes of the institution’s downfall. He mentions what popularised it and how it fell into the doldrums.
The missionary zeal of Insan School founder director late Syed Hasan (1924 - 2016), a 1946 graduate from JMI and PhD from the US, brought it to the zenith of success. The group’s institutions-Insan School, Insan College and Insan Adult Education School as part of Taleemi Mission Core (TMC) maintained glory from 1970 until 1995. It was spread over an area of approximately 120 hectares at Shiksha Nagar in Kishanganj. During its heyday it groomed students for overall personality development. Today, its alumni serves the nation and abroad as civil servants, doctors, engineers and successful businessmen.
Highlighting the role of this institution to bring educational revolution in Kishanganj this book points out how it was once a site of learning and culture under Dr. Hasan’s guidance. Ironically, its doom came before his death. This book discusses different shades of his personality. A psychotherapist, he would treat abnormal people with success. He groomed budding minds with patience and transformed them.
Dr. Equbal Wajid was appointed lecturer when Insan College was established. He and his colleagues were assured that by 1985 the college would become Insan University, which never happened. They imagined a big leap in their careers, but it didn’t materialise. By 1994 the college virtually collapsed while new admissions stopped. Previously enrolled students faced a bleak future. Teaching staff weren’t paid salaries for years. Dr. Hasan hardly changed his stance and didn’t realise that the institution he founded was gradually collapsing.
Summing up the plights of Insan College lecturers the author mentions that they were forced to cook food for themselves and for students. Their families starved for several days until locals came forward to help them. Instead of finding worthwhile solutions Dr. Hasan demoralised them with negative sermonising. Outspoken ones were terminated from service.
In the glorious times of 1980s Insan College faculty selection was a rigorous exercise. Candidates had to participate in cultural programmes, teaching performance presentations and written tests for selection. Lecturers felt proud of their association with the college. Young lecturers walking through the streets of Kishanganj would smile in response when people gazed at them with respect and pride. It was a period when Insan Group of Institutions received highest accolades.
Had Dr. Hasan kept a hidden agenda for the institution he founded? Whether it truly aimed to promote Muslims? The then governor of Bihar Akhlaqur Rahman Kidwai proposed to him in 1980 to get for Insan institutions minority character. In that case it could take shape like AMU and JMI, but Dr. Hasan blatantly rejected the idea.
Quoting eminent Islamic philosopher of modern times Maulana Waheeduddin Khan on the rise and fall of Insan Institutions the author brings his observations of 1980 in this book. After learning that Dr. Hasan didn’t want help from government and intended to run the institutions privately he opined: “It should be ready to face either of the two consequences-Dr. Hasan’s successors would readily hand it over to government, or it would face discredit of a shrunken identity of a local school to enrol the children of the foolish.”
Maulana Waheeduddin Khan’s second prophecy proved right. Sooner it shrank into a local school sitting on its past glory. Maulana Waheeduddin Khan had also observed: “Dr. Hasan seemed a clever man.” He was advised to forego his emotional attachment with Insan because its acquisitive management allured its downfall.”
This book is a good research on Dr. Hasan. It cursorily discusses his life from birth to studies to pursuit of higher education until his decision to leave a lucrative career in the US and open an educational institution in the remote Kishanganj area where he breathed his last.
It concludes with an assessment of Dr. Hasan if he had the hidden agenda to acquire huge personal property he founded, he would avoid maintaining any viable relationship with government authorities for possible recognition. Hardly had he believed in community service. If he intended sacrifice for the country, he could follow a model like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan who founded Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College in 1875 that became Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in 1920. It is a globally reputed university today.
Observers often predicted that Insan School would in future become a Muslim university. Former diplomat, politician and thinker Syed Shahabuddin writes in this book about what led to such a grim scenario. The downfall came because of constant conflicts between the academic community and authorities. Dr. Hasan polarised the teachers to ruin the institution’s image. Remaining the central authority on everything until death he hardly built any institutional heirarchy.
Syed Shahabuddin further points out that this institution could regain the lost glory in recent past by availing of an opportunity to merge its campus with AMU Kishanganj Extension Centre. Dr. Hasan’s blatant rejection of this idea proved the biggest failure. In his last days it was suspected whether he truly meant to serve the nation.
This book outlines facts on the glories and downfall of Insan Institutions that were not known till now. Ironically, the institutions were doomed by the person who had nurtured them. With the deliberate destruction of the institutions Muslim-dominated Kishanganj lost an avenue for its educational empowerment.
The book required thorough editing and proof-reading to engage readers. Even though it has many typos it still captivates readers.
The reviewer is an assistant professor and media relations specialist at Saudi Ministry of Education. He had earlier worked with ETV, MDI and PMU. He may be contacted at email@example.com.