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Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, hitherto less known contribution to the freedom struggle was highlighted in a lively discussion organized on the occasion of his 125th birth anniversary at India Islamic Centre in New Delhi today.

The discussion was based on a recently published book ‘Islam Pluralism Nationhood: Legacy of Maulana Azad’, by the well-known historian, Professor Mushirul Hasan. The title is a compilation of confidential facsimiles of notes, memos and letters which unfold Azad’s story like never before. It has been published by Niyogi Books.

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In addition to Prof. Hasan, eminent scholars, Shri Muchkund Dubey, Syed Shahid Mahdi, Shri Irfan Habib and Shri Sirajuddin Qureshi participated in the discussion around the book. Shri K Natwar Singh chaired the proceedings.

The participants highlighted Maulana Azad’s work as a journalist, who took up cudgels against British Raj in the early 1920s and said that his sway over the Muslim communities was considered a threat by the government which looked for every opportunity to clip his wings and restrain his activities. But Azad took these tribulations gracefully and played a very decisive role as a senior leader of the Independence movement. Like his pen-name Azad, which meant free, he was a man who relentlessly strove to remove the shackles of incapacious thinking, challenging its rigidity, wisely integrating the munificence of Islam and pluralism into the folds of nationhood. He was a powerful writer and an equally stimulating orator.

The discussion centered around the detailed ‘history sheets’ compiled by the Intelligence Bureau and contained in the book which are not only informative but entertaining too,  conveying the tentativeness at the heart of an anxious and apprehensive government. The other documents reflect government policies in relation to the popular upsurge that had taken place in some parts of the country, an agitation that also drew Azad into the nationalist fold. Post-Independence communications on policies that were gradually shaping the young independent India also shed ample light on Azad’s robust conviction of combining the essence of Islam and pluralism in building a new nation.

Mushirul Hasan has, among other notable contributions, explored the lives of the Congress Muslims, who survive on the margins of the dominant discourse on Indian nationalism. He is a biographer of Mohamed Ali, M.A Ansari and has published their correspondence and speeches. He has edited a collection of essays on Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and co-authored a major biography of Jamia Millia Islamia. He has introduced the proceedings of the Indian National Congress, of which the first volume is already out. His much-awaited new book Political Prisoners, with Niyogi Books, is due to be published soon.

Mushirul Hasan has served as Vice- Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia, and as Director-General of the National Archives of India. Professor Hasan has recently been awarded the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship for his project—Roads to Freedom: Prison, Prisoners and Colonialism.

The publisher, Niyogi Books has over 250 books on its active list. It is recognized for its high-quality illustrated books on a range of subjects from art and photography to heritage, culture and history of South Asia.

These books have won several awards and prizes, including those from the Federation of Indian Publishers. Its three titles won ‘Excellence in Book Printing Awards’ recently. The first prize in Art Book Category has also been claimed by Niyogi Books. Two of its travel books The Alluring North and The Vibrant West received the prestigious National Tourism Award, 2011-12 from the President of India in March this year.

Niyogi Books’ publication, Secrets from the Kitchen, compiled by Bhicoo Manekshaw and Vijay Thukral has been selected as the ‘Best Easy Recipes Book’, 2013 published in the country. The book has also qualified for the next ”Gourmand Best in the World” competition.