Historic occasion: (from left to right) Railway minister Lalu Prasad, former prime minister V.P. Singh, former chief justice of India A.M. Ahmadi and IOS chairman Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam at release ceremony at India International Centre, New Delhi


New Delhi, April 14: “People living in a plural society have to learn to accommodate each other by accepting their distinctive identities”, former prime minister V.P. Singh said today. He was releasing a book called 100 Great Muslim Leaders of the 20th Century at the India International Centre.

Mr Singh said now that a lot of people were busy distorting history, it was necessary to pressure the distinct identities of different segments of our society. The book has been published by New Delhi’s Institute of Objective Studies (IOS).


Mr Singh said he was enlightened by reading the book which profiled leaders who served their societies and humanity at large. He said the book would remove misunderstandings about Muslims as a whole and create a better understanding.

Railway minister Mr Laloo Prasad said the book would help create an understanding of the realities of the Muslim world in the 20th century.


Two of the five editors of the 523-page book Prof. A.R. Momin and Prof. Z.M. Khan explained the content and scope of the book.


In his address, Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam, chairman of Institute of Objective Studies, and the Editor in Chief of the publication, said, “What we had conceived of as a dream-project has now become a reality today with the release of this prestigious publication.” Looking into the future, he said, “Over the next two years, we will be releasing more meaningful and path-breaking publications that will highlight the role of the Muslims in the freedom struggle.” The year 2007 will mark the 150th anniversary of India’s first freedom struggle and the IOS chairman revealed that several volumes of historical research would be published to mark the 150th anniversary of the 1857 rising. He also said that IOS would be formulating its research strategy and working towards a publication titled 1000 Great Muslim Leaders of the last 1000 Years.


“Muslims, Dalits and other marginalised communities will continue to be the focus of our future research,” he said, as he exhorted the august gathering of politicians, scholars, intellectuals, diplomats and mediapersons to “sit together, think together and act together for the benefit of the ummah and the nation”.


Former chief justice of India Justice A.M. Ahmadi, in his presidential remarks, said, “It is a historic occasion that a volume of this nature has been released through the IOS.” He described it as “a veritable explosion of knowledge in a beautifully presented volume”. Referring to the remarks of former prime minister, Mr VP Singh, regarding equality and the Indian Constitution, the former chief justice of India said, “While equality is fundamentally important in our Constitution, it is the ‘equality of opportunity’ that should be focused upon by legislators and the executive”. He said that there was a fine line of difference between “affirmative action” and “discrimination” and law-makers should be aware of this difference and work towards making affirmative action one of the platforms for nation-building.


Justice Ahmadi hoped that in the months ahead various aspects about Islam and its leadership would be analysed and discussed by various sections of the society. He felt that 100 Great Muslim Leaders of the 20th Century would provide the trigger for these discourses and meaningful discussions that would help societies and communities come together with greater understanding.


The vice-chairman of IOS Dr Manzoor Ahmad proposed a vote of thanks at the end.

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