Welcome to Zakir Husain Delhi College (Evening)

Institutional distinctiveness refers to the unique characteristics, qualities, and attributes that distinguish one institution from another within a particular sector or industry. These distinctive features can include a combination of factors such as mission and vision statements that outline its purpose, goals, and values. These statements help define the institution's distinct identity and direction. The history, founding principles, and traditions of an institution can contribute significantly to its distinctiveness. Historical milestones, notable achievements, and longstanding traditions often shape its identity and culture. Unique programs, interdisciplinary approaches, and innovative curricular offerings contribute to institutional distinctiveness.

The calibre and diversity of faculty and staff play a crucial role in shaping the academic environment and reputation of the institution. The student body contribute to the institutional identity. Factors such as demographics, backgrounds, perspectives, and campus activities shape the student experience and contribute to the institution's distinct character. The physical infrastructure, facilities, and resources available on campus can also contribute to institutional distinctiveness. The geographic location of an institution and its engagement with the local community can influence its distinctiveness. Proximity to urban centers, cultural attractions, and opportunities for community involvement can enhance the institution's identity and impact. Institutional distinctiveness encompasses a combination of factors that contribute to the unique identity, character, and reputation of an institution within its respective sector or industry.

Zakir Husain College Evening has been sincerely following its philosophy of “Live by Love” by holding its historical legacy of knowledge building in inclusivity. College often strives to differentiate itself from other institutions through various distinctive features that appeal to students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders. Here are some common distinctive features of college.

Specialized academic programs offer unique or specialized academic programs that are not commonly found at other institutions. These programs could focus on emerging fields, interdisciplinary studies, or niche areas of expertise. Strong faculty-student relationships prioritize small class sizes and close interactions between faculty and students. This leads lead to personalized learning experiences, mentorship opportunities, and strong academic support systems.

Experiential learning opportunities emphasize hands-on learning experiences such as service-learning initiatives. These experiences can enrich students' education and prepare them for future careers. Innovative teaching methods empower students to navigate and explore research oriented disciplines for a better learning outcomes. Our college campus culture and community holds a unique atmosphere and distinct academic excellence. Factors such as campus traditions, student organizations, diversity initiatives, and social events contribute to the overall college experience.

Location of our college and its proximity to cultural attractions, outdoor recreation, internship opportunities, and job markets are the distinctive features that attracts students with specific preferences or interests. Emphasis on diversity and inclusion materialize the credo of the college. College prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and often stand out for its commitment to fostering a welcoming and supportive campus environment for students from diverse backgrounds. Our College prioritizes sustainability initiatives and environmental stewardship that appeals to students who are passionate about addressing the challenges such as climate change and resource conservation.

The history of Zakir Husain Delhi College can be traced back to the last decade of the 17th century when Ghaziuddin Khan, one of generals of Aurangzeb’s army, and the grandfather of the Nizam of Hyderabad, founded a Madrasa at Ajmeri Gate, just outside the walls of the old city of Shahjahanabad. Within the next hundred years, with the decline of the Mughal Empire and the growing power of the Britishers, the Madrasa was closed down in 1790-91 and was replaced by an oriental college of arts and science. The oriental college that replaced the Madrasa was run primarily by the contribution and support of the local nobility who had significant interest in promotion of modern knowledge and learning. The building of the Madrasa that stood outside the walled city was incorporated into the city with a wall that enclosed the oriental college and was now referred to as the College Bastion.

In the era of the British East India Company the oriental college was reorganized and developed as the ‘Anglo Arabic College’ until 1828 when a liberal humanist curriculum of English Language and Literature was added to the existing disciplines of science and mathematics. With the introduction of the English curriculum, almost at the same time as it was introduced in England for the emancipation of the English middle class, the Anglo Arabic College came to have a section that was dedicated to studies in oriental languages and the other that was devoted to learning in English. Behind the extension of the curriculum was Charles Trevelyan, the brother-in-law of Thomas Macaulay, who believed that learning of English language would ‘uplift’ the ‘uneducated and half-barbarous people of India’.

After its transformation from a Madrasa, an institute of traditional learning, into a relatively modern college where oriental texts were being read, interpreted and translated, the building of the college was shifted to a more central location, which was the building of Dara Shikoh’s library at Kashmiri Gate. The promotion of modern education did not come to the mixed religious community of Delhi without attendant apprehensions. The apprehensions came true when, furthering the British cause, Rev. Jennings began secret classes of the Bible in an otherwise secular Delhi College. In July, 1852, two prominent Hindus of Delhi, Dr. Chiman Lal, the physician of Bahadur Shah Zafar, and Master Ramchandra, a lecturer of Mathematics at Delhi College were baptized at a public ceremony at St. James’ Church, the nearest in the new vicinity. This period marking the intersection of British religion and culture with the traditional cultural practices of the Indians also points to the Indian Society being opened up and exposed to western modernity. In terms of intellectual cross fertilization this period is, therefore one of the most fruitful periods in the intellectual history of Northern India and Anglo Arabic College, or the old Delhi College has a significant share in these developments. A bit more about Master Ramchandra.

Dr. Sprenger, the third principle of the college after J.H. Taylor and Felix Boutros, presided over the founding of the college press and the first college periodical, a weekly, was started by the name of Qiran us Sa’dain in 1845. Significantly, the same name, which means ‘the meeting of two auspicious stars’, was given by Amir Khusrau to one of his books hinting at the meeting of Indian and Persian cultures. The use of the same name by the Britishers not only hinted at their optimum exploitation of oriental learning but also the reference to the new cross fertilization between the Indians and the British. Master Ramchandra, a noted scholar of Mathematics and a lecturer at Delhi college, at times seen as a British agent by the people of Delhi, was in fact one of the champions and advocates of modern learning. According to Amar Farooqui, in its formative years, the college was grappling with the issue of modernity. After almost half a century of its establishment, the college found itself in the position of one of the premium Institutes of higher learning which promised to impart not only traditional oriental knowledge but infused that knowledge with the new blood of modern learning. At this initial stage, the college came to define what education was going to be for the people of Delhi, at least for the coming century.

The events of 1857 were the first of the many upheavals witnessed by the Delhi College. The college was attacked by the rebels at the time of the mutiny of 1857 and the library was brutally plundered mainly because the rebels saw the college furthering British interests. Many books were damaged yet many were saved by the efforts of the teachers and students who supported the new era that the college had brought about.

When the city was taken over by the British teachers and students fell victim to the British atrocities and were forced to leave Delhi in large numbers. Maulvi Imam Baksh Sehbai, an important scholar was shot dead on charges of mutiny. The college could not start functioning again till 1864, after being affiliated to Calcutta University. In 1877, the college was completely closed down and the faculty was merged with the Oriental college of Lahore.

According to Amar Farooqui, traditional classical learning remained very important for the curriculum of the college even as the students and the teachers tried to come to terms with the western developments in modern education. In this period, the project of translation became one of the major purposes of the college. The academicians associated with the college understood that if any higher education was to be imparted to the people of Delhi and the neighboring areas it could only be through the medium of Urdu. Master Ramchandra himself saw urdu as the only viable medium for imparting modern education, at least to the people of northern India.

Zakir Husain Delhi College, then known as the Delhi College, or the Anglo Arabic College, in the era after the mutiny, produced several eminent scholars like Deputy Nazeer Ahmed and Maulvi Zakaullah. While Zakaullah was a renowned mathematician and rationalist who laid great emphasis on the translation of the major scientific and mathematical treatises from Arabic. Deputy Nazeer Ahmed, himself an urdu novelist and a scholar of Arabic is credited with providing us the first authentic translation of the Indian Penal Code from English into Urdu.

In this early phase, often referred to as the period of the Delhi Renaissance, Delhi college produced eminent scholars like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder of Aligarh University and Maulana Mohammed Quasim Nanautvi, the founder of the world renowned Madrasa at Deoband.

Zakir Husain College in the 20th Century

The college was revived again as Anglo-Arabic College in the 1920s and was one of the four constituent colleges of the Delhi University along with St. Stephen’s college, Ramjas College and Hindu College. The college started giving university undergraduate degree classes in 1929 while the M.A classes started taking place in 1941.

The college suffered its second upheaval in September 1947 due to the historic partition of India. It was handed over again to the authorities in March 1948 by the Madras regiment. All its records had been burnt or looted. For a brief period the college had to accommodate about four hundred refugee families in the college hostel. The college was in a bad state until a donation of Rs. 10,000/- by the sunni majlis-e-aukaaf enabled it to make a new beginning. The college was finally put back on its feet with the efforts of people like Professor Mirza Mehmood Beg and Professor Hari Shankar. These people mobilized support from the government to restore the lost glory of the old Delhi College. With the selfless efforts of Mirza Mehmood Beg, the University of Delhi agreed to the reorganization of the college on un-denominational basis. A governing body was constituted and Dr. Zakir Husain was made its Chairman.

In 1949, Mirza Mehmood Beg admitted around 900 refugee students, both girls and boys, from West Punjab, NWFP, Sindh, and Baluchistan. In order to provide sound education to these students Mirza Beg appointed a teaching staff constituted of refugee teachers from Punjab and East Bengal. Mirza Mehmood Begg introduced several new courses and improved the educational and library facilities of the college during this time. The maintenance of the college briefly passed into the hands of Jamia Millia Islamia until the formation of the University Grants Commission. The UGC gave an annual maintenance grant to the college but they were inadequate and a deficit began to accumulate as the salaries, the dearness allowance and various other allowances for teachers and karamcharis started increasing. The increasing deficit put a lot of pressure on the college administration and the college had to resort to taking loans from the building fund, until there were sufficient funds to pay off these loans. Some people suggested that the college be made a minority institution to get direct aid from the government, but this was vehemently opposed by the teachers who valued and cherished the secular character of the institution.

To add to the existing financial difficulties the college building was declared evacuee property by the custodian on the ground that some of the prominent members of the governing body had migrated to Pakistan. At this time Mr. Khursheed Alam Khan, raised this matter in the Parliament and said that the ownership of property cannot change with the change in the composition of the Governing body. Mr. Khursheed Alam Khan was supported by Mrs. Indira Gandhi in the motion and the property was eventually released by the Custodian. Mr. Begg then approached Dr. Zakir Husain for help. An ad hoc grant was subsequently released by the government to overcome the financial crunch faced by the college management. After the death of Dr. Zakir Husain, the education minister suggested that the college be taken over by the Dr. Zakir Husain Memorial Trust to solve its financial problems for good. It was because of the college being run by the trust that the college’s name was changed to Zakir Husain College.

The Birth of the Evening College (1958)

In the years after the partition, many refugees from Punjab and Sindh regions of Pakistan had come to Delhi. Some of these refugees had already finished their high school and graduation before they were displaced. A number of these refugees used to work in the public sector or the semi-public sector or some private institutions. A camp college was established near Birla Mandir and undergraduate, postgraduate and law classes began for refugees who were eager to further their education. The exams for these papers were initially conducted by Punjab University but the distance presented its own set of problems. The government in consultation with Delhi University decided that four colleges of the Delhi University should arrange for the classes of the refugee students to be taken in the evening, while the post graduate classes were to be held at the Delhi University Campus. Consequently, evening classes started taking place in the four colleges that were in the close vicinity of the main city: Delhi College (Ajmeri Gate), Dayal Singh College (Rouse Avenue), D.A.V College (Chitragupta Road) and Khalsa College (Pahar Ganj). Later the evening classes were changed to evening colleges and the Governing Bodies accepted the scheme because of the evening colleges getting a hundred percent grant for the UGC.

The evening classes that began on 18th July, 1958 had a total strength of 200 students. There were only four full-time teachers: Dr. M.M. Khullar, Late Dr. R.P. Dua, Late Dr. D. N. Kaul and Mr. Riaz Umar. There were two part time teachers in Urdu and one part time teacher each in Mathematics and Hindi. The first batch of commerce students passed out in the year 1961-62. There were 43 students in this group most of whom were paying their fees out of their own pockets and were relatively old for students of B.A.

The Evening College received a special grant from the U.G.C. in 1969 and new rooms and a library block were constructed for the students of the Evening College. The library had a modest 348 books for the benefit of its students at this time. Some of the eminent personalities who have been chairmen of the Governing Body of the College are:

Dr. A. R. Kidwai, – 1972-78
Dr. Badruddin Tayyabji – 1975-80
Prof. Moonis Raza – 1982-84
Mr. Khursheed Alam Khan and Mr. Salman Khursheed and Mr. Sikander Bakht.

One of the many instances that the college has always upheld the spirit of confluence and syncretic traditions is the translation of Arabic and Greek Classics and Persian works into Urdu. At the time when even Britain could not make higher education open to its own general public, the Delhi College was translating scientific and mathematical treatises from Arabic and Sanskrit into Urdu and making them available to the students of the college. Some of the best scholars of western and eastern sciences came together in the Delhi College and brought Delhi on the verge of the Delhi Renaissance just before the mutiny of 1857.

In its early stages of development the college became a center of learning for people from different states of north India. In this period it developed a high reputation as a centre of learning where a dialogue between the western and the eastern curricula was possible. According to Dr. Abdul Haq, a well-known historian of the institution, “Delhi college could do what Fort William College could not do” in Calcutta. The pre-eminence of the institution over the other institutions of the country was possible because even when English occupied the central place most of the men associated with the Delhi Renaissance had a traditional oriental education. They came into contact with western ideas through translations. These intellectuals gave secondary value to English in a primarily vernacular curriculum. The college from the very beginning had an atmosphere of relaxed coordination about it. Since the students were not forced to learn in a foreign language, there was nothing but respect for the western culture and language. The lack of animosity in the students and the ambience of the vibrant Ganga-Jamuni Urdu culture swept the British off their feet.

Even in the era after the partition, the college was always regarded as a nursery of scientific and language teaching. It played a pioneering role in popularizing science and rationality while producing some very eminent writers, actors and artists. The college taught its students to respect the past and yet be open to the possibilities of the future. One of the eminent academicians associated with the college, Khwaja Ahmad Farooqui that the Delhi College ushered in a new era—an era that still continues and has not ended.

Zakir Husain College, or the Delhi College as it was more popularly known, has always stood up for the ideals that represent India at large. These are the ideals of secularism and tolerance. The secular traditions of the college are well established and the close bond between the teacher and the taught in the college is well known. The students and teacher of the college in the present day, all come from a variety of backgrounds and communities. Even if there are teachers coming to the college from foreign lands, their boding with the college remains exemplary.

Despite being located at a politically, culturally and socially mercurial location, the college has never witnessed the dominance of any particular social, political or cultural group within it. All the college functions and festivals are designed to give voice and representation to students from all over the country and from every cast, colour, or creed. The socio-cultural contributions and the contributions in the field of art and literature of the college have been recognized by many reputed historians and scholars. Prof. B.S. Mishra in his celebrated work “Indian Middle Class” has observed that in the 19th century education was only an act of piety for both Hindus and Muslims but this gridlock was broken by the new college. Prof. Mohd. Mujeeb, in his book “Indian Muslims” says that education in the 18th and 19th century was only a vehicle for the propagation and interpretation of belief. The college made an attempt to make a breach in this wall between faith and reason. The education provided by the college, not only to the students the walled city, but also the people of the country at large, tried to break the shackles of outmoded orthodoxy and focused on a curriculum that developed rational thinking.

It is because of the college’s directive principle of accepting and nurturing dissent and disagreement that it has produced great thinkers and writers in almost all the major languages known and spoken across India and the world. In its early phase the college was associated with the figures of Mufti Sadruddin Azurda, Master Ramchandra, Deputy Nazeer Ahmed and Maulana Fazl e Haqq Khairabadi. In the post partition phase the college has had teachers like Bhishma Sahani and Khwaja Ahmed Farooqui. Eminent Urdu poets and writers like Ali Sardar Jafri and Akhtar ul Iman have been the Alumni of this college. In the more recent past it has been the Alma mater of political leaders like Sikander Bakht, Moti Lal, Bhairon Prasad and M. Afzal.

Zakir Husain Delhi College, Evening has been making steady progress in the last few years. The college is probably the only, but certainly one of the few colleges of the Delhi University that offers undergraduate courses to its students in subjects as diverse as Bengali, Urdu, Sanskrit, English, Hindi and Arabic. It prides itself in having students from various states of the nation who are like new lifeblood to the spirit of confluence and syncretism. It reflects the old values of the Delhi College of the 19th and the 20th century. Even today it is a proud representative of the Ganga Jamuni Tehzib of Delhi. The soul of the historical Delhi College still survives in its modern day avatar.

The college has been sincerely performing its social responsibility as an institution (ISR). Since its inception in 1959, the college was opened in order to give a chance to the people who were working/employed in various sectors to pursue further educational and academic interests. The college has been promoting the support of education of girls from the walled city in its vicinity. In addition to this, the basic focus of the college has been to help, support and encourage the people from the underprivileged sections of the society to get quality education.

5. Some of the notable faculty members of the College have worked in important government and non-government sectors.

* Dr. D.P.S. Arya of Hindi Department remained Vice-Chancellor of Gurukul Kangri University, Haridwar.
* Dr. G.P. Vimal of the Hindi Department worked as director of the Hindi Council.
* Dr. Khursheel Alam Khan remained the Chairman of the Governing Body of the College for a substantial period. The college witnessed a remarkable growth in during the period of his chairmanship.
* Mr. Haroon Yousuf, Minister of state, Govt. of Delhi (NCT), was an alumnus of our college.
* Mr. Shujauddin Sajid, IPS and a renowned urdu poet had been a teacher in the college in the 70s.
* Dr. Ghulam Rasool Samnani from the Dept. of English was a renowned linguist and a translator, who taught at the college.
* Prof. Sudhish Pachauri was the officiating Vice-Chancellor of the University, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of the University of Delhi had been a teacher in the evening college for a long time.
* Dr. S.Y. Qureshi who was the Election Commissioner of India had been an alumnus of the college.
* Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Dept. of History, who later became the longest serving principal of Hansraj College, D.U. had been a lecturer in the college.
* Dr. S.C. Sharma, Dept of Economics, became the principal of Ramlal Anand College, D.U.
* Prof. Chandan Kumar, Dept of Hindi, became the principal of the Satyawati College.