The TrickyScribe: The biography, ‘Wings of Destiny: Ziaur Rahman Ansari – A Life’ published by Highbrow Scribes, provides an excellent account of the life journey of Ziaur Rahman, the son of Freedom Fighter Habibur Rahman, who had also participated in the Quit India Movement while he was just a teenager.
It is an interesting description of Ziaur Rahman Ansari’s life. He had experienced a childhood marred by financial constraints but his conviction in religion and a literary bent of mind helped him withstand his hardships. His father’s frugal life impacted him deeply and as a result, when he grew up to become an advocate, he too never charged any fee from his clients.
The book goes on to detail his political journey in a very interesting and intriguing manner; starting from the anecdote of his UP assembly elections, to being hand-picked by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi herself as a Lok Sabha candidate to represent Unnao and eventually, the book details how he was inducted as the Deputy Minister in the Council of Ministers in July 1973.
Wings of Destiny also unravels certain different and interesting aspects of the Emergency imposed under the leadership of Indira Gandhi in June 1975. Perhaps, this book provides the only account enumerating the positive angle and the benefits of the Emergency such as an increase in revenue generation and the fall in prices.
Equally interesting is the input how Ziaur Rahman was able to strike a rapport with Sanjay Gandhi despite contrary views during the period of the Emergency. The narrative which describes why he opted for an official residence, which was not accepted by anyone else for superstitious reasons, indicated his visionary mindset.
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The book also speaks well on the ‘Secularist and Nationalist’ neutral views of Ziaur Rahman, as he rightly states that in a Secular State, everyone has the right to profess his or her religion but the State itself has no religion. His repeated triumph from the Unnao constituency with an overwhelming non-Muslim population itself was an endorsement of his secular outlook.
It also reflects Ziaur Rahman’s exemplifying qualities of a thinker and natural orator- well-read and at ease with multiple languages.
As one dwells further in the narrative of Wings of Destiny, one realises that Fasihur Rahman, a trained Environmental Scientist who has served in both the public and private sectors alike and has taken up several assignments as Visiting Scientist at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, Canada besides writing for Indian and international press, had a broad vision and believed in the utilitarian approach towards socio-economic development rather than working for the benefits of few individuals or a section of the society.
Most importantly, Ziaur Rahman’s take on Private Member Bill related to the judgment on the Shah Bano case has been elucidated regarding which he remained in the limelight in 1985. Fasihur Rahman felt it mandatory to provide a factual account of the contribution of his father towards the public life which has, at several places, been misquoted or misinterpreted based on the perception of varied genres of the society.
Along with his turbulent political journey, the insights on his unwavering passion for fine arts, literature, poetry and music have been given. The three decades of his life as President of All India Momin Conference guides the readers through evolution, historical significance, mandate and contribution of the conference in the social upliftment of Muslim artisans.
Overall, an excellent read!