New Delhi: Every year, on November 11, the nation celebrates National Education Day to celebrate the birth anniversary of Independent India’s first Education Minister, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.

It was on September 11, 2008, that the Ministry of Human Resource Development had decided to celebrate November 11 as National Education Day to remember Azad’s contribution to the cause of education in India.

Born on November 11, 1888, the scholar served as the first education minister of independent India from 1947 to 1958 and laid the foundation for an educated India.

His contribution as an Educationist

Understanding the fundamental role education plays in the development of the nation, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad gave impetus to adult education at a time when the country was faced with perils of illiteracy.

What’s interesting is that even though Azad did not receive formal schooling, he was well versed in many subjects like Urdu, Persian, Arabic, and Hindi besides being a scholar of mathematics, philosophy, world history, and science.

It was this love of learning that led to him championing and advocating the cause of education. Azad gradually became a strong advocate of universal primary education, girls’ education, free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14, vocational training and technical education.

He is also credited for establishing some of the prominent educational and cultural institutions including the Sangeet Natak Academy, Lalit Kala Academy, Sahitya Academy and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Also, the first IIT, IISc, School of Planning and Architecture and the University Grants Commission were established under his tenure.

His contribution as a freedom fighter

A man of many talents, Azad was not just an educationist, but also a freedom fighter and was known for his politically and religiously radical beliefs. Azad became the youngest person to serve as the President of the Indian National Congress at the age of 35 in 1923.

As the Congress president from 1940 to 1945, the Quit India rebellion was launched under his leadership. He also started a weekly journal in Urdu called Al-Hilal to criticize British Raj. Later, Azad became the most prominent Muslim leader to oppose the creation of Pakistan and advised Muslims not to go into Pakistan after it was divided.

He was awarded Bharat Ratna in 1992 for his contribution as an educationist and a freedom fighter.

Netizens and leaders alike paid their respects to the great visionary on Twitter and remembered his contributions: