Razmi Rizwan Husain and the Memorial Awards, Fellowships and Lectures at AMU, JMI and JNU

Who was Razmi Rizwan in whose name an Annual Award at the CAS in History is instituted?

During the course of the Sultania Historical Society function of the Centre of Advanced Study Department of History, AMU, an Award is given, year after year, to a student (for aquiring the highest marks in Medieval India in MA I year) in the name of Razmi Rizwan Husain. But unfortunately the students are not informed who this person was.

Razmi Rizwan Husain died in a road accident in Delhi on 1January 1982. He had by then completed his MPhil under the supervision of Professor Bipin Chandra at JNU and had been appointed as a lecturer in History at Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi.

Having started his primary education from Our Lady of Fatima Hr. Sec. School, Aligarh, Razmi went on to join the Centre of Advanced Study in History, Aligarh Muslim University in 1975 as a student of BA (Hons). He completed his postgraduation from the same department before migrating to JNU.

At Aligarh he was not only known as an excellent student but was also quite popular amongst his contemporaries for his independent views. He was a great debator and was known for his elocution as well as essays on various topics. We still remember his oratorial debate with Irfan Habib at a function held after Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s execution in Pakistan. He firmly but politely differed from what Habib had to say.

Though he himself could never qualify the Civil Service interviews, he qualified for the mains thrice. Many who did make it to IAS, are on record that they qualified through his endeavours and academic help.

Just a week before his death, as he was preparing to come home for his scheduled marriage, Razmi took a pillion ride on the bike of a fellow Alig who was at JNU in the chilling and morning fog of a freezing Delhi. A minor accident occurred which caused harm only to the rider: Razmi fell and his head hit the pavement. He was ultimately, after some unforgivable delay to AIMS, where he remained till 1st of January, a date when the doctors declared him dead. He was ultimately brought back to Aligarh where he was buried in the University graveyard.

While in JNU, he not only devoted his time to his academic pursuits but was also instrumental in leaving his mark on the JNU student’s politics. He could not remain bound by the traditional politics of SFI or AISF, but charted his own path by floating a new student’s political organization.

Soon after his death, the well known poet, and a family friend, Akhlaq Muhammad Khan Shaheryar composed and dedicated the following ghazal in his memory:

عہد گل کا کوئ قصہ نہ سنا ئیں گے تمہیں

تم بہت جاگ چکے اب نہ جگا ئیں گے تمہیں

تھی کشش وسعت افلاک میں ہم سے بھی سوا

ورنہ سوچا تھا کہ اس دل میں بسائیں گے تمہیں

وقت رخصت تمہیں اک بار نہ دیکھا مڑ کے

گرچہ معلوم تھا ہم بھول نہ پائیں گے تمہیں

تم پہ کیا گزرے گی یہ سوچ کے جی ڈرتا ہے

ہم کہ جب بھیڑ میں تنہا نظر آئیں گے تمہیں

سر بر ہنہ ہیں سبھی پیڑ ہوا چپ چپ ہے

اور سبب کیا ہے ابھی یہ نہ بتائیں گے تمہیں۔

The famous painter from Pakistan who was on a visit to Aligarh soon after the death of Razmi composed the script to be put up on the cenotaph stone of the grave.

Soon after his death, on the initiative of another bohemian scholar, Late Dr. Iqbal Ghani Khan (simply IG to his friends), the Board of Studies, CAS in History, AMU instituted a “Razmi Memorial Award” to be given to the student who secured the highest percentage of marks in Medieval India in the first year. The Award was to be given during the Annual Function of the Sultania Historical Society of the CAS in History. The student who tops in MA gets the Sultania Gold Medal.

The first Razmi Memorial Award was given in 1983. It went to, if I remember correctly to Ms. Fatima Ahmad Imam, currently teaching at University of Toronto in Canada. The second recipient was Farhat Hasan, now Professor at Delhi University.

For a number of initial years the undersigned, along with IG had to literally fight for the continuance of this Award.

In the past it was only in 2020 that no award could be given as due to Covid-19 no function could be held that year. It was resumed from 2021 onwards.

The Razmi Memorial Award for 2023 has been given to Ms. Najia Aiman Rizvi who secured the highest marks in MĀ first year amongst the students who offered to major in Medieval Indian History.

Razmi Rizwan Memorial Fellowship, JMI

Later in 2008, the Executive Councl of the Jamia Milia Islamia in its meeting (EC-I/2008) held on Tuesday, the 11th March, 2008 under the Vice Chancellorship of Professor Mushirul Hasan, intituted a Scholarship in the name of Razmi. Noting in its minutes, clause 4.2 , it approved the following modalities for regulating the scholarship namely “Razmi Rizwan Hussain Memorial Scholarship” to be awarded to the best student of M.A. History from the Academic Session 2007-2008:

1. The name of the scholarship shall be ‘Razmi Rizwan Hussain Memorial Scholarship’.

2. The scholarship shall be awarded for academic achievements, keeping in view of the financial need of the best student in M A History.

3. Students shall apply to the Head, Department of History and Culture after the declaration of their result of M A previous year, following the notice to be issued by the Department.

4. The student shall attach an attested copy of his/her marks sheet of the M.A. (previous examination) along with the proof of income for the related academic year.

5. Selection of the candidate shall be made on the basis of the candidate’s academic achievements, financial position, and performance in the interview to be conducted by a committee consisting of (a) Dean, Students’ Welfare-Chairman (b) Head, Department of History and Culture– Member; (c) Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Languages– Member

6. No award shall be made unless there is a candidate of sufficient merit available.

Razmi Rizwan Husain Foundation (RRHF), JNU

Ultimately, some former students of JNU got together in 2012 and formed the Razmi Rizwan Husain Foundation (RRHF), which was registered as a society in Delhi with certain social and literary-cultural objectives and to perpetuate Razmi’s memory. To begin with, they have started organising Memorial Talks, to be taken further for more constructive outcomes in near future.

Two such Memorial Talks have been organized so far, the first in 2012 itself, and the second in 2013. The 1st Razmi Memorial Talk was held at India International Centre, New Delhi on March 30, 2012. Mr. Raja Mohan, noted scholar and social scientist spoke then on Indo-Afghan strategic relationship. Noted historian, Prof. Harbans Mukhia presided over the function and Sh. D. P. Tripathi, MP was the Guest of Honour. More than 60 friends from JNU participated in that function. The second lecture, organized on 8 September 2013, organized at IIC, New Delhi, was delivered by Professor Emeritus Irfan Habib.

The memory of Razmi is thus being perpetuated by three well known institutions of India: AMU, his original alma mater, Jamia Milia Islamia, where he briefly served, and JNU which was his ideological home.

Razmi was the son of an English Professor, Prof. Rizwan Husain, and my eldest sister Najma Rizwan Husain. One of his brother, Bazmi Husain, is Managing Director, ABB, while the other, Fehmi Husain is Assistant Vice President ( East) at HT Media Limited.