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First woman postgraduate of Aligarh Muslim University passes away
August 24, 2015, 11:52 am

She could easily go unnoticed with her frail physique and short stature, yet she was among the few Indians especially women who grew in repute as years passed by, adding fresh achievement to the name she carried. When she passed away in New Delhi, a glorious chapter finally came to an end that for years will be a beacon of light for women empowerment.

Ninety-three-year-old Hamida Salim was the first woman post graduate of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) having garnered a degree in Economics; a forte which till then was male dominated in the 40’s. Those were the days when women segregation used to be enforced and yet, she defied societal norms by studying for a post graduate course.  It was also here that her love story with her class mate and noted economist Abu Salim unfolded and defying the tradition, they married.

Born in 1922 in Rudauli, a small village near Lucknow, she was the youngest daughter of a feudal young man, Siraj-ul-Haq, who was intent not only upon gaining higher education for himself but, after moving to the nearby big city, also upon facilitating the intellectual growth of his children. Four of them ended up becoming illustrious figures of letters and political praxis in modern Indian history: Asrar-ul-Haq Majaz (the poet, often referred to as the Keats of India), Ansar Harvani (the youthful freedom fighter who later served many terms as MP), Safia Akhtar (the renowned littérateur and author of the finest personal correspondence since the great Mirza Ghalib), and Hamida Salim, economist, educator. Noted film writer lyricist and now an MP Javed Akhtar was her nephew.

She taught at AMU, Jamia Millia Islamia and many other institutes. While her chosen field of study was Economics, Hamida Salim turned into a memoirist of formidable stature after a long career in academia.

Both she and her husband had long stint of foreign assignments that spread to Khartoum Addis Ababa and many other stations before they finally returned to Delhi to settle. Even till the end, both Abu Salim and she used to be spotted walking in the evening or sitting in their lawns proudly flaunting their seventy years of a beautiful relationship. Till the end, she supervised the kitchen ensuring everything was in place and the spread always had the stamp of the Salim.

Back in Delhi, Hamida Salim took to writing and penned several books which are considered as masterpieces of Urdu literature. Some of the books 'Shorish-e-Dauran', 'Ham Saath Thhe','Parchhaiyon Ke Ujale' 'Hardam Rawan Hai Zindagi’ earned tremendous popularity.

Write Salim Akhtar her nephew “she offered ample "aesthetic bribe", to use Freud’s definition of the pleasure generated by a creative writer but, in the end, her literary output was a testimony to how time impacts our inner and outer lives and culture-at-large. Her diction was quintessentially "Hindustani", her tone a blend of earthiness and optimism. She offered hope, which is a twin of love, to her readers. And, she bestowed love, which is a twin of hope, upon her children and grandchildren and also upon the entire clan of Salims, Shiblis, Ahmads, Harvanis, Farids, and even a few Akhtars. Remember: “Come and be fed” was her motto.”

She leaves behind her husband Abu Salim, son Irfan, daughter Sumbul Warsi and son in law Nawab Warsi .  Her grandson Sahil Warsi is a big name in the world of Jazz.


By S.A.H. Rizvi 


Share your views
Zain Abbas  Posted on : August 24, 2015 5:23 pm
As an Aligarian, I am overwhelmed to read this nice article. To know that late Hamida Salim was the first women post graduate of AMU, is a great information. Salutation to this remarkable lady and may Allah bless her soul

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