Prof. Syed Anwarul Haq Haqqi
By Naved Masood
I learnt with sorrow the passing away of Prof Haqqi former Professor and Head , department of Political Science, AMU, at Aligarh earlier this mornining. As most of the younger members of internet forums may not be aware of his life and times, it is appropriate to post a short obituary of the departed scholar with brief personal observations that will help appreciate his academic and personal stature.
Syed Anwarul Haq Haqqi was born in 1922 in a distinguished family of landholders and theologians who based themselves in Hardoi District of UP. after his grand-father migrated there from Plawal in the then Gurgaon District. (Incidentally, Palwal is located on the northern banks of the river Jamuna with the southern bank forming the boundary of Aligrah District). His father Maulvi Syed Mehmoodul Haq established himself as a lawyer in Hardoi. His elder brother, Maulana Shah Syed Abrarul Haq was a well known scholar and spiritual guide to a large section of society. He had his education at Lucknow University from where he obtained the degrees of LLB and M.A (Political Science) in 1943. He was handpicked by the late Pof Muhammed Habib as Lecturer in Political Science in the Department of History in 1945 – till then, the University did not have a separate Department of Political Science. He obtained his first PhD in Histrory, writing his thesis on Genghis (Changez) Khan in 1951 with Prof Habib as his supervisor. Interestingly, this thesis was published in book form only a short-while before his death; thus his first research work was his last publication, He later obtained another PhD, this time in Political Science 'proper' from London University in 1959 for his work on the “Colonial Policy of the Labour Government”. While in London, he came in contact with one of the foremost Political Scientists of the times, Sir Ivor Jennings, who had made an incisive study of the Indian Constitution as the political agenda of a newly liberated nation rather than as a dry statute. Subsequently,he made an in-depth study of Union-State relations in India from the perspective of a Political Scientist under the influence of Jennings and can be said to be amongst the pioneering Indian Political Scientists to have directed their attention to essentially constitutional issues from a non-juristic, Social Science perspective. His edited studies on Pluralism and Indian democracy, and Secularism did much to focus attention of the academics and lay intelligentsia alike to some of the major contemporary issues of the Indian polity and society.
Having never been a student of Political Science, I knew Haqqi Sahib initially as a handsome, charming man who was our next door neighbour on the campus and from whose library I would occasionally borrow books one of which (World Constitutions) I never bothered to return! His true academic stature was brought home to me when I joined the ‘Foundational Course’ of the IAS at the National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie in 1977. Those were the days when the IAS and IFS would still attract some of the brightest intellect of the country, most of them with Social Science background. Those were also the days when “Seminars” were major policy formulation forums – what with the ‘kitchen cabinet of Mrs. Indira Gandhi consisting mainly of Social Scientists. I found none of the bright intellectuals to be indifferent to Haqqi Sahib. Those with ‘left-of-the-center” views, castigated his ‘venal diligence’ and ‘impressive but misplaced articulation’ in such seminars. Others were, of course, full of admiration. Other than Prof Irfan Habib, I doubt if any other Aligarh academic got such attention from Social Sciences brightest boys and girls (who were eventually sucked in the vortices of bureaucracy, World Bank and United Nations etc). I can not help wondering if Haqqi sahib had moved out of Aligarh to one of the Social Science outfits in Delhi, today there would have been much greater attention to his passing away!
It is also a relatively unknown fact that Prof Haqqi was among the precious few Aligarh academics who worked tirelessly but discreetly for dismantling the undemocratic and retrograde governance structure foisted on the AMU by a vindictive and self-righteous Mr. Chagla. He was a living encyclopedia on the movement for ‘restoration of minority character’. He was, however, acutely aware that the movement was essentially a failure insofar as achievement of minority character was concerned. Had he read the recent unwarranted observations of Prof Imtiaz Ahmad about the minority character of AMU destroying its academic standards and equally misplaced angry retorts to Prof Ahmed by Aligarh Aficionados, he would have found the situation truly ironical.
A man of unfailing politeness, courtesy and fortitude he bore his immobility of years with dignity and fortitude. He had the satisfaction of finding his doting and dutiful son, Prof Tariq Mehmood Haqqi, attain academic excellence and honours – what greater reward an academic can expect?
I am not too sure, if the community will take much notice of this brief obituary reference from someone who had come in his contact fortuitously. Living communities have an innate capability to recognize the worth and talent of its members during their life-time. Let us hope that in this case there will be a posthumous realization of what has been lost. I also hope that many of his worthy pupils will find time to pen more insightful tributes to their departed colleague and teacher.
Mr. Naved Masood is an AMU Alum and a senior Civil Servant in Govt. of India and he is based in New Delhi. He can be reached at email@example.com