Naziruddin Ahmad
1889

Early Life:

Naziruddin Ahmad was born on 25th December 1889 in Kulia village in Burdwan district. He graduated in 1911 with a law degree from Ripon Law College in Calcutta, after which he quickly rose to become an advocate in the Calcutta High Court, and later, a Senior Advocate at the Federal Court of India. In 1924, he became the Public Prosecutor for the Burdwan district, a post which he held until 1928. His first foray into politics was in 1919, when he was elected Vice-Chairman of Burdwan Municipality. 

 

Ahmad was also a vocal member of the Bengali Muslim community, and became the Secretary of the Burdwan Muhammedan Association, which was set up to air and address the grievances of this community. Additionally, he was the secretary of Muslim Institute in Calcutta for the year 1912-13.

 

A keen writer, he was the founder-editor of  Burdwan Vani, a weekly Bengali newspaper.

 

Role in India’s Independence Movement:

Ahmad was a member of the praja movement in West Bengal, a pro-peasant movement that fought for labour rights. He was the Secretary of the Bengal Raiyat Association, and in 1921 wrote an open letter to the Governor of Bengal exhorting him to tour rural Bengal and witness the plight of the peasantry. Later, he became member of the Bengal Legislative Council, where he served as Chief Whip under Fazlul Huq's Coalition Government in 1943.

 

Contribution to Constitution Making:

Ahmad was elected to the Constituent Assembly on a Congress party ticket from West Bengal. He criticized the work of the Drafting Committee and intervened in the debates on the national language.

 

Key Writings:

Some of Naziruddin Ahmad’s writing, including several letters he wrote to British officials, were compiled in Khola Chithi,published in 1921 by Gobardhan Press. 

Ahmad was not a member of any committees in the Constituent Assembly.

  1. Ahmad was one of the few particularly vocal critics of B.R. Ambedkar and the rest of the Drafting Committee, contemptuously terming them the ‘Drifting Committee’. He identified what he believed were serious procedural flaws in the framing of the Draft Constitution, specifically to do with a lack of transparency which he believed was anti-democratic. He also argued that the Draft was riddled with ‘errors, anomalies, redundancies, and repetitions.’
  2. Ahmad gave a speech about the official language of the new nation and the language of the Constitution. He advocated for the use of English in a more long-term capacity than was advocated by the Assembly.

The Great Speeches of Modern India (Ambedkar’s speech addressing Ahmad’s criticism).