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Hindus 'helped set up' minority school in Gujarat: Philanthropist Dr AR Nakadar

By Mahesh Trivedi
 
Dr AR Nakadar, the Gujarat-born United States-based cardiologist who founded Dr Nakadar Institute of Knowledge (DrNIK), in 2004, is happy to see spectacular progress made by the school. He has helped and guided communities in building hospitals, schools, and other social institutions in the USA and India.
In an email interview, the self-effacing educationist-philanthropist elaborates on the purpose behind his pet project, its success in transforming the community in the region, plans for the next two years, and the new education policy: 
Q: How did the idea of setting up the school germinate?
A: I have been involved in educational activities since 1974. The first Dr Nakadar Gold medal was announced by the recently-formed community organisation (Patni Sunni Jamaat Kawme Bavahir Federation) living in 14 cities in different districts of Gujarat. It showed a marked improvement in the community's literacy rate.
Later in 1989, when I founded the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI), we replicated the AFMI medal programmes for all the states in India. For my educational message to continue, even after I am gone, I founded Dr. Nakadar Institute of Knowledge so that my educational message continues to improve the beleaguered community's life.
Q: Did you face any opposition from the local Hindus before building the school in Nandasan in 2004 given the fact that riots happened only two years ago?
A: No, I did not face any opposition from the Hindu community or anyone else. On the contrary, brothers from the Hindu community helped us get approval from the educational board of Gujarat for Higher secondary. I attribute this to the free medical camps that I conducted during my yearly India visit. Many families from the area had been my patients.
Q: Has the school progressed the way you had visualised?
A: Yes, I am happy with how the institute has progressed, barring some minor ups and downs. I am also happy as the school has been achieving 100% results in SSC Board exams in English medium, and that, too, by the students whose parents, majority of them, don't even know what ABC is.
I am more optimistic now than ever before as the dynamic Amanullah Shethwala is at the helm of Dr.NIK, and the dedicated trustees led by Dr. Siddik Kadiawala, M Saleh Nakadar, A Kader Shethwala are in charge. The mission is on target as far as my vision is concerned. My dream for this institution is that it becomes a university in the future, maybe after 70-90 years, or whatever it takes.
The community around the surrounding villages is happy seeing their children going to colleges and acquiring higher degrees, which they had never dreamt of. Some of those children are now in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Europe, etc. and other parts of India's different states.
Q: Plans for next two years? 
A: In a couple of years, I would like to see the implementation of a skilled development/vocational training programme, to be followed by graduate-level courses, and professional faculties, in due period.
Q: Your views on the New Education policy?
A: Overall, the New Education Policy is a welcome change for the better. There are more pros than cons. Raising the budget outlay from 4% to 6.6%, skill coding, and vocational integration from Class VI, digital learning, more holistic, and disciplinary approach at the undergraduate level are all welcome signs.
However, the main problem seems to be the introduction of teaching in mother tongue till Class V. Private institutions (especially English Medium) often employ out- of-state teachers (with different mother tongues) to maintain the school's standard. Such a policy will enhance or widen the existing disparity between the students from public and private schools. Another drawback is that leaving out the medieval and 20th century history and historical figures is not a holistic approach.
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*Senior Ahmedabad-based journalist. Click here to read about the minority school

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