P.A. Inamdar: An Iconic Architect of Modern Education Era of Indian minorities

PA INAMDAR

By Danish Reyaz | Maeeshat | Mumbai 

Defeating the travails of poverty, if a man achieves success with sheer hard work and yet shies away from glorifying himself, he surely must be big-hearted. Dr.  P.A. Inamdar from Maharashtra is one such great human being.

He is a successful  Promoter builder and as well as a banker. However, most significantly, he is a visionary educationist and a philanthropist dedicated to working for the poor, needy students of all communities for their  welfare and education.

Furthermore, he is a public intellectual with an excellent grasp of various subjects such as law, Indian constitution, all  religion, education, agro-economics, social welfare , minorities Educational  rights of Religious & Linguistic minorities under Article 29 & 30 of the constitution of India,  of all religion, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhist, Parsis & Jews and more.

As elected President of Maharashtra cosmopolitan Education society , Pune he is a pivotal figure at Pune-based Azam Campus, a top-quality nationally know education and learning hub for all minorities. He is also instrumental in establishing many other educational trusts and institutions in different parts of the country.

His abundant contributions to education had  led him to be the Government of India  established  Maulana Azad Foundation, New Delhi, as Vice-President  and member of the Planning Commission on higher education, along with  many such coveted posts.

Despite having multiple feathers on his cap, Mr. Inamdar remains modest and unassuming.

“All thanks to Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala ,who enabled me to chase education and knowledge even in the worst of times and made me pay back to the society in whatever ways I could,” says Inamdar in all humbleness and gratitude to the Almighty.

While he is modest and cares a fig for personal glorification, he is exuberantly dedicated to his mission in life, i.e., working for the communities  welfare and education of poor, needy and deserving.

He is an enthusiastic man loaded with innovative ideas and indomitable zeal to take the such  communities  forward.

A pragmatic leader

Uncharacteristic of other Muslim leaders, Mr. Inamdar doesn’t believe in painting a dismal picture of the past performance of the Muslims. But, according to him,  prior to 1950 1% of Muslim and other communities girls were going to school after Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Constitution today i.e. 2022,  75% girls of all communities are going to schools  he sincerely feels, dwelling on the negatives can impair all and educationally backward  poor communities  chances of progress & bright future.

He says, “To move forward we must first recognize that as a community we and other financially and educationally poor have done well since our Constitution came in 1950. Now No one can take that away.”

“It is the confidence of the past that will propel all of us to do better in the future.” He adds with a lot of conviction.

He is a rare breed of intellectual who kindles hope and sparks enthusiasm among the all  community youths.

He says, “We all have suffered enough from the inferiority complex. Now, we have to talk the language of optimism and hope.”

There is no speech by him that talks about the negative of the past. Moreover, the speakers at functions held in Azam Campus are invariably told not to mention failures and victimhood but the positives so that the youths are filled with a “yes we can do it” attitude.

Poverty-stricken early life

To achieve so much in life, Mr. Inamdar had to wrestle against acute poverty in his childhood. “Today, I own almost everything. You name it, and I have it. But these things haven’t come easily to me,” he says.

Although his father was a police inspector by profession, on retirement    from the service. He started a business moving back to his hometown Bijapur (now in Karnataka).

But as ill-luck would have it, his father’s business tanked, and the family consisting of 13 siblings slipped into extreme poverty. Nevertheless, despite every odds, Mr. Inamdar managed to pass his matriculation from a Marathi Vidhalay High School of Bijapur(Now Vijaypur)  with flying colours.

Recalling those days, he says, “He has seen the kind of poverty you wouldn’t have seen, or heard, or even read in a book.”

With mere 15 rupees in his pocket, he arrived in Pune in 1965, unsure about his future. He had come to the city to study, but, with no money in hand, he had to manage on an ‘earn and learn’ basis.

Mr. Inamdar completed his BA (Hons) from the prestigious Shivaji University, Kolhapur, and ever since, there has been no stopping him.

Successful Promoter and Builder

Mr. Inamdar has varied colours of achievements, but his first job was at the land records department. After 15 years of service and amassing immense knowledge about land matters, he took a plunge into the real estate business on a partnership basis.

His role was to provide real estate knowledge and devise business strategies for his partners who lacked that knowledge but had the money to finance the projects.

Mr. Inamdar was an astute realtor and became successful in a very quick time. He amicably parted ways to form his own real estate company called Ahura Builders, one of the best Builders and Developers in Pune.

His reputation in the field can also be gauged by the fact that he has served as President of the Promoters and Builders Association i.e CREDAI  of Pune for 7 years. Also, he was elected as Vice President of the Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry.

A smart banker

His genius was also on display in the banking sector after being elected as Chairman of Muslim Co-op Bank, Pune.

The bank was in financial doldrums with only Rs. 6 Crores deposits, but after Mr. Inamdar took over and set the ball rolling, the bank’s deposits increased to 400 Crores within a few years. What’s more, the bank’s branches increased from 4 to 10, widening its client base and income. Once stagnant in growth, this  Pune Co-op Bank is now a thriving bank, serving first and foremost the poor and the needy. It became possible because of Mr. Inamdar’s vision and befitting execution of his ideas.  Bank has 26 branches with Rs. 6.50 Crore deposits Mr. Inamdar has never taken loan through out his life not even “Hand Loan” either from his or any other bank.

A sharp legal luminary

Mr. Inamdar has a sharp legal brain as well quashing of state Govt. quota in private unaided educational institutions  to many other important cases, he has always taken the cudgel on behalf of the victims, of all communities.

It was his dogged fight that helped to include as many as 80 Muslim communities under the OBC category by the state of Maharashtra. It remains a seminal work that one could have done for the community.

He is an expert in laws related to linguistic and religious minorities, Other Backward Communities (OBCs), Co-operative Banking and Co-operative Societies Acts, Land Acquisition Acts, Construction Industry, laws etc.

Given Mr. Inamdar’s wealth of knowledge in the matter of laws, it is immaterial to ask whether he has a qualified law background or not. No, he doesn’t have one.

But he is such an authority on law-related matters that people from all walks of life, including the professionals and the government officials, consult him on various legal issues.

“I am approachable to all, however, people from linguistic and religious minorities and OBCs are more than welcome. Whether it is about their right to establish and administer educational institutions or any other rights guaranteed under  the constitution I am always ready to guide and fight for their causes.” Inamdar says quite assuredly.

A health care entrepreneur

A versatile achiever, Mr. Inamdar has also dabbled in the health care system. “Hospitals are as important as the schools and colleges & financial instiutions , I would say even more. What value is education or wealth if humans suffer from diseases?” says Inamdar.

According to him for Poor & needy please provide 1) Education 2) Financial Support 3) Health care facilities. By this your responsibility for poor is satisfied.

His Inamdar Multispecialty Hospital at Pune  is one of the best hospitals, providing quality health care to all at an reasonable  cost.

Mr. Inamdar has roped in a distinguished panel of doctors equipped with advanced medical tools and equipment to treat patients. No wonder the hospital has a high success rate in sending patients back home smiling.

Mr. Inamdar makes it a point to donate generously to establish hospitals elsewhere in India and other public health causes in the same way as he does for educational institutions and charitable trusts.

Transforming minority education

Mr. Inamdar is a man with impeccable commitment and passion for serving the people. No doubt, he has been doing laudable works in various areas of public interest, but it is the education field where he has poured most of his blood, sweat, and tears.

The Azam Campus stands as testimony to his steadfast commitment to revolutionize education for poor.

Centrally located in Pune on sprawling 24 acres of land, the Azam Campus today is a wellspring of modern education, producing thousands of poor  students who serve the country  and abroad in various capacities every year.

The Azam Campus derives its name from Haji Ghulam Mohammed Azam’s a Mumbai-based Gujrati businessman who provided the fund for the land and infrastructure in 1925.

Hon’ble Haji Gulam Mohammad Azam’s  main aim was to provide education to the students from the Muslim minority and other weaker sections in Pune, the city  in those days which was fast becoming a hub of education back then.

In 1948 the campus came under the Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education Society (MCES). Azam Campus, since the beginning, it was performing decently, but the real transformation came about only after Mr. Inamdar was elected as its president.

He has been getting elected as its president since 1982 till today on the back of his stellar work for the campus till today.

“I know how poverty can affect one’s education. I have seen that from very close quarters. I don’t want today’s generations, especially the poor, to go through that hardship,” says Inamdar.

He further adds, “It is my mission to make available finest education to the poor and the minority so they can compete with the best of the best.”

Under the stewardship of Mr. Inamdar,and his Governing Board hard working members the Azam Campus, from its initial 2 primary schools and 2 high schools, has expanded to house 32 educational institutions (from primary to Ph.D.) and 12 professional colleges while teaching more than 27,000 students compared to 1,500 students it has in the early days.

Mr. Inamdar is a pro-active administrator. Instead of waiting for complaints to emerge, he makes the round of the campus on foot every morning. He meets the department chiefs and staff and asks for their problems to solve then and there.

“By doing this I save time and you know time is the money,” he says smilingly.

Soon after his regular morning rounds, he could be seen wrapped in work- planning, reviewing, brainstorming with colleagues, or taking meetings in his office with no hint of tiredness. He is a workaholic.

When asked about the never-ending energy, he says with another smile on his face, “What I do is my passion. And passion doesn’t give you pain.”

While one can’t be left unimpressed by his energy and prolific ideas, another very important aspect of his personality has led to the fast transformation of the Azam Campus. Speaking clearly and convincingly, he comes across as a great communicator. And this communication skill has resulted in drawing lofty donations for the campus from unexpected places. He always with great respect mentions names of two families one Mr. Mohammad Ali Rangoonwalla, Mrs. Banubai M.A. Rangoonwalla and their son Asif M.A. Rangoonwalla and  second Late Abdul Razzak Allana  his dynamic son Mr. Irfan Allana, Mrs. Fatima Allana for their financial support for establishing many professional colleges at Azam Campus named as Rangoonwalla and Allana colleges.

At the same time, by making good use of every penny donors  gave, Mr. Inamdar has always earned their trust, thus keeping the door open for further donations.

Trust on computer-based education

Mr. Inamdar is a visionary educationist who knew quite early  i.e 2007 how technology would transform the ways of teaching  learning. Due to his foresight, now education at Azam Campus is fully digitized with the help of computers and other technologies.

He says, “It’s a crime to teach students with chalks and blackboards in a modern fast-changing world. This process will not make them ready for the world that has already taken a giant leap in terms of technology.”

Azam Campus has thousands of computers, and all are interconnected. In addition, every lab is equipped with LCD screens to make the learning process more productive. At the same time, all kinds of books are digitally available so that students can access them anytime and from anywhere inside the campus.

Mr. Inamdar says, “All children have  same level of talent irrespective of religious, social, or financial backgrounds. It is the lack of opportunities that drags them behind. However, technology can be a great leveller.” For poor and hence he opted for it.

Mr. Inamdar walks the talk. About 16,000 students in Azam Campus are from weaker and marginalized sections, but from Nursery , they are online; from class 3, they carry their email addresses; in class 5, they skillfully type in English, while from class 6, they can type in Hindi, Marathi and Urdu typing

A 5-year-old student from the Azam campus can surprise you by repairing or making a computer  and mobile from scratch. There are hundreds of such poor students. This each student can do in 15 minutes.

The students are so proficient in Information technology that more than 7,500 students, even before class 6, have passed MS-CIT, an IT course exam mandatory for any state government job in Maharashtra. In addition, about 3,000 students have cleared CCC, course which is a central government’s IT literacy program.

Explaining the reason behind students sitting for these exams, Mr. Inamdar says, “When students from poor sections pass these exams and have a way with computers, it boosts their self-confidence and worth essential to do well in the future course of their journey.”

It is important to mention that apart from e-learning and e-teaching, the Azam Campus is also e-administered with only a little pen and paperwork.

In addition to above Mr. Inamdar in 2007 onwards introduced spoken English course in 37 Pune Municipal Corporation Urdu, Marathi, Hindi school and other 45 school from nursery to 8th standards 45000 such students have been trained in spoken English so far, from the financial support  for this course by Azam campus. These poor back ground students speak fluent English better then me he says with smile.

Cleanliness is half of faith

Much as education is essential, so is a clean environment for it. The brain needs peace to be productive, and if the surrounding is not clean, it can’t be productive. Also, as per Islamic teaching, cleanliness is half of faith. And Mr. Inamdar is mindful of it.

The Azam Campus treats you with an immaculately clean environment. There is expansive lush green ground just as you enter. You can also find several flower gardens and numerous trees lining the streets inside the campus. In addition, the roads and streets are clean and free of squalor.

Besides the campus, the Pune Muslim Co-operative bank and other institutions Mr. Inamdar was associated with tell the same story about hygiene and cleanliness.

A staunch secularist

Mr. Inamdar is uncompromisingly secular. He is quite well-versed in scriptures and has participated in many comparative religion discussions and activities to achieve peace and harmony among different communities.

Despite Azam Campus’ minority status, a large percentage of teachers, professors, and staff come from different religions. In addition, several students also come from other cast and communities and are studying without bias or favour.

Mr. Inamdar says, “At the campus, each individual is respected and rewarded as per merit irrespective of caste, creed, and religion.”

At Azam Campus, all the students are taught to be tolerant and respect each other’s customs and religions. The harmony is easily reflected by seeing the students’ camaraderie among themselves.

“I was never discriminated by any government or the people for grants or donations because I run a minority institution. Everybody helped me according to their capacity,” says Mr. Inamdar, citing his example.

“We are a secular nation. Not only constitutionally but culturally and temperamentally as well.” He adds.

Modernisation of Madrasa education

For long Madrasas have taken care of the educational needs of the Muslims; however, with changing times, the Madrasa education system needs improvement.

“Madrasa leaders students have as much right to a dignified livelihood as the students passing out from the formal education system.” Says Inamdar.

As part of modernising of Madrasa education, he has convinced several Madrasas leaders across the country to teach new subjects like computers, English, Mathematics, etc., alongside their religious syllabus.

He says, “We know that Madrasa students are extremely disciplined and hardworking. If they are given a chance they can successfully compete with the others.” Also in regular school education they can shine.

Mr. Inamdar suggests clubbing mainstream education with religious education so that students leaving Madrasas will have valid certificates to enter colleges or universities for further studies like any normal student.

According to him, “Madrasas should take advantage of National Institutes of Open Schooling (NIOS) which conducts exams for up to 12th standard and is recognised by all universities and education institutes across India.” His this initiative has started spreading in India Hon’ble Maulana Mahemood Madani sir and his team members have taken up the course to thousand of their Madrasa  students

A man full of gratitude :.

The kind of success Mr. Inamdar has achieved is awe-inspiring. With smart business acumen, vastly competent administrative skills, and an unbounded charitable heart, he has created great impact and transformation in every field he has worked in.

But when a tree is laden with fruits, it bends down. Similarly, Mr. Inamdar is a grounded man despite enormous achievements.

“I am nobody to do anything. Allah does this  All glory to him,” says Mr.Inamdar

When asked about his family’s role in his achievements, he expresses a lot of gratitude to all his family members, lauding their support through thick and thin.

“My 3 sons are well grown-ups, and are overseeing my businesses, allowing me enough time to spend on my labour of love which is working for the education of poor  and weaker sections of the society,” he says with much satisfaction.

He has special gratitude for his wife, Mrs. Abeda Inamdar. “I have utmost respect for my wife who started as a custom  and central Excise officer, raised our three children, and extended her helping hand in my businesses and also at Azam Campus,” says Mr. Inamdar. “I used to get amazed at her proficiency in dealing with so many things simultaneously,”

Today Mrs. Abeda Inamdar is a highly successful woman in her own right, standing shoulder to shoulder with Mr. Inamdar. She is now the Vice-President at Azam Campus, where two colleges are named after her  i.e. Abeda Inamdar Senior College  (Now University and Abeda Inamdar Junior College as she donated her fortune to these colleges to get them functioning.

Winner of the Maharashtra Government’s ‘Savitribai Phule’ award for her services in women’s education, Mrs. Abeda Inamdar is the President of Maharashtra Medical Education & Research Centre, Pune, as well as Deccan Muslim Institute.

“I don’t know how much I am behind the success of my wife, may be nothing, but she is more than 200% behind my success,” saying this, he laughs and then adds, “ I guess without her my journey could have gone astray.”

A consummate orator

An orator par excellence, Mr. Inamdar has the uncanny ability to enthrall the audience in multiple languages such as English, Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Kannada, etc.

During the interview, it was amply clear that he is also a fine communicator off the podium. He has a way with words and quickly draws you into his world of ideas and knowledge. And you can’t help but listen to him with rapt attention.

Final impression

Muslims have a preponderance of leaders, but very few are pragmatic, clear-headed, and visionary like Mr. Inamdar. Also, what makes him unique is his refusal to lament the backwardness of the Muslims perpetually.

His argument that self-flogging of the past could lead to a lack of confidence among Muslims to compete holds water.

Extremely hard-working and tech-savvy, Mr. Inamdar is determined to achieve fair access to quality education for

the poor and needy. He himself spends his wealth for this cause.

He could be the new age icon for the Muslim youths. His education model at Azam Campus is worthy of being replicated elsewhere for a better outcome. We hope

our community is listening.

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