Abul Kalam Azad was elected to the Constituent Assembly from United Provinces: he was a freedom fighter, poet and the first Education Minister of independent India.
Azad was a prominent member of the Congress party and was elected as its President twice. He was elected to the Assembly on a Congress Party ticket. Azad was a member of key committees including: Advisory Committee, Sub Committee on Minorities and Union Constitution Committee. In the Assembly, Azad did not actively participate in the discussions. However on 14th September 1949 he spoke in length on the issue of national language.
The debate relating to national language had many voices to it: the floor was divided between selecting Hindi, Hindustani (Hindu + Urdu) and English. Azad believed that Hindustani should be India’s national language. However he noted that for the first 15 years English should be used. He gave two key reasons. First there is no other language which has a larger national reach as compared to English. It would take time to “evolve it, brush it, and polish it”. Second "is the non-existence of a common language in our country". Only a small section of southern India is familiar with Hindi. He went on to suggest:
The union of North and South has been made possible only through the medium of English. If today we give up English then this linguistic relationship will cease to exist.
Some historians’ term national language debate one of the most divisive conflicts in the Assembly. This was resolved through Ayyangar formula: Assembly adopted Hindi in the Devanagari script as the official language rather than adopting a national language.
In the post independent India, he was one of the two Muslim members in Nehru’s cabinet. He was appointed as India’s first Education Minister and played a crucial role in establishing IITs, IISc and School of Architecture and Planning. India celebrates his birthday, 11th November, as National Education Day – this year marked his 130th birth anniversary.