Hosaen, Delawar

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Hosaen, Delawar (1840-1913) the first Muslim graduate of Calcutta University, a civil servant, and a Muslim reformist writer. A native of Hughli district (village Baubnam in pargana Arshah) Meerza Delawar Hosaen Ahmed - (popularly known as Delawar Hosaen) began his civil service career in the highest position available at that time to Indians. He retired from civil service in 1894 as a Deputy Magistrate and Deputy Collector (First Class). Like his peers, Nawab abdool luteef and Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, he retired as a deputy magistrate. However, they had become renowned as public figures as well as government officials and were honoured with imperial titles in recognition of their services to the empire. But Delawar Hosaen was not favoured with equally exalted titles though he was the first graduate from the Muslim community of India and though he was an advocate of English education and British rule. However, at the time of his retirement Delawar Hosaen was awarded the title of 'Khan Bahadur', a title given to loyal Muslims of rank and status at that time.

Delawar Hosaen disdained agitating the masses and temperamentally abhorred public life. He preferred intellectual solitude to the clapping of the crowd. Until his retirement he chose to remain incognito as a writer. He used to write under the pseudonyms of 'Istniahu Ahmed', 'Mutazaleh' and 'Saeed'. It was only after his retirement that he began writing in his own name. He was a frequent contributor to The Moslem Chronicle and The Mussalman. For reasons best known to him, he did not like to write in vernacular, though he was very conscious of the reality that writing in mother tongue conferred greater distinction. Thus, as a civil servant and as a writer in an alien language, English, Delawar Hosaen remained elitist and passive all through his life and thus was a relatively obscure figure.

Delawar Hosaen is now increasingly drawing attention from scholars as an advanced thinker of the time. His two-volume work entitled Essays on Mohmmedan Social Reform, (Thacker Spink and Co, Calcutta 1889) and other writings reflect his originality. In his analysis, the Hindu-Muslim question is treated distinctively. No doubt he believed in Hindu-Muslim unity, but for it he had a definite timetable in mind. According to him, Muslims should maintain a separate political identity until they attain compatibility with their Hindu neighbours as regards education and material resources. In his opinion, if such a situation was achieved, it would make unity between the Hindus and Muslims not only feasible, but also a political necessity. [Sirajul Islam]