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Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

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Maulana Azad, as he is popularly known was a prominent political leader of the Indian Independence Movement. A highly learned Muslim scholar, he was one of the major proponents of Hindu-Muslim unity and opposed the partition of British India (into modern day India and Pakistan) along communal lines.

Abul Kalam Muhiyuddin Ahmed Azad was born on November 11, 1888 in Mecca. Azad's family descended from a line of eminent Islamic scholars. His mother was of Arab descent, the daughter of Shaikh Muhammad Zahir Watri, and his father, Maulana Khairuddin lived with his family in the Bengal region until he left India during the First Indian War of Independence and settled in Mecca, the holiest city in Islam. He came back to Calcutta with his family in 1890. Azad mastered several languages, including Pashto, Urdu, Arabic, Hindko, Persian, Bengali and Hindi. He was also trained in various topics such as Shariat, Mathematics, Philosophy, World History and Science. An avid reader and brilliant student, Azad ran a library, a reading room, and a debating society before he was twelve, and was contributing learned articles to Makhzan (the best known literary magazine of the day) at fourteen. He was teaching a class of students, most of whom were twice his age, when he was merely fifteen and succeeded in completing the traditional course of study at the young age of sixteen, nine years ahead of his contemporaries, and brought out a magazine at the same age. As a young man, Azad was also exposed to the modern intellectual life of Kolkata, the then capital of British-ruled India and the center of cultural and political life. He learned English through intensive personal study and began learning Western philosophy, history and contemporary politics by reading advanced books and modern periodicals.

He rose to prominence in the Indian Independence struggle through his work as a journalist, publishing works critical of the British Raj and supporting Indian nationalism. Azad became the leader of the Khilafat movement during which he came in contact with Mahatma Gandhi and his ideas. He soon became an enthusiastic supporter of Gandhi's teachings of non-violence and Swadeshi, and was very active in the Non-Cooperation movement. In 1923, at the age of 35, he became the youngest person to serve as the President of the Indian National Congress. He again served as Congress President from 1940 to 1945, during which the Quit India movement was launched, and Azad was imprisoned with the entire Congress leadership for three years. He became a vocal Muslim opponent of the demand for a separate Muslim state of Pakistan and served in the interim national government. Amidst communal turmoil following the partition of India, he worked for religious harmony. Following India's independence, he became the first Minister of Education in the Indian government. During that period, he oversaw the establishment of a national education system with free primary education and modern institutions of higher education. He is also credited with the establishment of the Indian Institutes of Technology and the foundation of the University Grants Commission, an important institution to supervise and advance the higher education in the nation.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad passed away on February 22, 1958. In 1992, he was posthumously awarded Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor for his invaluable contribution to the nation.

Dr. Najma Heptullah, modern day Indian politician and Aamir Khan, the popular movie actor both come from Maulana Azad’s lineage.

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Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

Kalpana Chawla - Biography of a Shining Star

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Our tribute to a great Indian lady, Dr. Kalpana Chawla….

Kalpana Chawla's story is an absolutely inspiring one! It’s the story of an ordinary girl who dreamt big and reached for the stars…literally. As most people know, Kalpana Chawla was an astronaut and space shuttle mission specialist for STS-107 (Columbia). She was killed in a spacecraft accident when at the end of its mission, Columbia disintegrated after reentry into the Earth's atmosphere.

Born in Karnal, Haryana, India on July 1, 1961 to Banarasi Lal Chawla and Sanjyothi, Kalpana was the youngest of four siblings, after 2 sisters, Sunita and Dipa, and a brother, Sanjay. She completed her earlier schooling at Tagore Public School in Karnal. Chawla's mother has mentioned in an interview that her daughter was "different." "She used to cut her own hair, never wore ironed clothes, learned karate." One of her teachers remembered a project she had done on the environment, making "huge, colorful charts and models depicting the sky and stars." From her earliest childhood, she and her brother shared an interest in flying.  Her interest in flight was inspired by J. R. D. Tata, India's first pilot. To pursue her dream of flying airplanes and becoming an Aerospace Engineer, she earned her Bachelor of Engineering degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College at Chandigarh in 1982. She was at the top of her class and had been offered a job in her own college. But when she learned that she was accepted at the University of Texas for a Master's in Aeronautical Engineering, she moved to the United States in 1982. There she obtained M.S. in Aerospace Engineering in the year 1984. In 1988, she received her Doctorate from University of Colorado. The same year she married Jean Pierre Harrison whom she had met on the day she landed in America for the first time. Harrison was a freelance flying instructor, and introduced Chawla to scuba diving, hiking, and long flying expeditions. She kept her brother informed of her budding relationship, and it was he who helped persuade their parents to let his sister marry Harrison.

With her Ph.D. in hand, Chawla began working at the NASA Ames Research Center in the San Francisco Bay area. The simulation of complex air flows encountered around spacecraft was the focus of her research. Later on, Chawla took a position with Overset Methods, Inc. in Silicon Valley. She served as the Vice President and as a research scientist. Her work and its results were presented at conferences and published in various professional journals.

 

Chawla was chosen for the astronaut program in December 1994 and was selected for her first flight in 1996. She spoke the following words while traveling in the weightlessness of space, "You are just your intelligence". She had traveled 10.4 million km, as many as 252 times around the Earth. Her first space mission began on November 19, 1997 as part of the six-astronaut crew that flew the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87. Chawla was the first Indian-born woman and the second Indian person to fly in space, following cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma who flew in 1984 in a spacecraft. During STS-87, she was responsible for deploying the Spartan Satellite which malfunctioned, necessitating a spacewalk by Winston Scott and Takao Doi to capture the satellite. A five-month NASA investigation fully exonerated Chawla by identifying errors in software interfaces and the defined procedures of flight crew and ground control.

 In 2000, she was selected for her second flight as part of the crew of STS-107. This mission was repeatedly delayed due to scheduling conflicts and technical problems. On January 16, 2003, Chawla finally returned to space aboard Columbia on the ill-fated STS-107 mission. Chawla's responsibilities included the microgravity experiments, for which the crew conducted nearly 80 experiments studying earth and space science advanced technology development, and astronaut health and safety. On February 1, 2003, after completing their assigned duties, the crew of mission STS-107 was all set to return to Earth. Everything looked alright until US space shuttle Columbia gained entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. During its final descent, just 16 minutes prior to landing, the space shuttle exploded into pieces. The entire crew perished along with Kalpana Chawla. Since then, the tragic and untimely death of this extraordinary woman has remained in the memories of many.

Many awards and memorials have been instituted in the honor of Kalpana Chawla. The Outstanding Recent Alumni Award at the University of Colorado, given since 1983, was renamed for Kalpana Chawla. At least 30,000 schoolchildren and citizens joined hands to make a 36.4 km-long human chain to support the demand for a Kalpana Chawla medical college in the city of Karnal to demonstrate that they continue to revere Kalpana Chawla as an outstanding astronaut. Haryana Government accepted this long pending demand of the people of Karnal and the establishment of Kalpana Chawla Medical College is in progress. The Government of Haryana has also made a Planetarium after her name called Kalpana Chawla Planetarium in Jyotisar, Kurukshetra. Shortly after her last mission, India renamed its first weather satellite 'Kalpana-1' in her honor. Steve Morse from the band Deep Purple created a song called "Contact Lost" in memory of the Columbia tragedy. The song can be found in the album Bananas.

Kalpana Chawla lived as a role-model for many young women, particularly those in her hometown of Karnal where she periodically returned to encourage young girls to follow in her footsteps. And in the end, she died a hero. Her brother, Sanjay Chawla remarked, "To me, my sister is not dead. She is immortal. Isn't that what a star is? She is a permanent star in the sky. She will always be up there where she belongs”. 

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Kalpana Chawla - Biography of a Shining Star

Babur – Founder of the Mughal Empire

The Mughal (Moghul) Empire was established in the Indian subcontinent around 1526 AD. It was founded by Emperor Babur, who was a descendant of the Timurids (from father’s side) and also Genghis Khan (from mother’s side). His full name was Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur and he was originally the ruler of the Ferghana valley in Central Asia (modern day Uzbekistan). Although Babur hailed from the Barlas tribe which was of Mongol (Moghul in Persian) origin, his tribe had embraced the Persian culture and language, and converted to Islam.

Babur encountered a series of setbacks during is reign of Ferghana and after losing his principality there, he wandered towards the Indian subcontinent in hopes of acquiring territories in Hindustan. He raided Kabul in 1504 and started to move southwards with the establishment of a base camp in Peshawar in 1524. In 1526, after his fifth attempt, Babur defeated Ibrahim Shah Lodi, the last of the Delhi Sultans and annexed Delhi and Agra. This fight is called the First Battle of Panipat.

Upon conquering Delhi and Agra, Babur summoned his son Humayun to secure the treasures and resources looted during the battle. Humayun found that the family of the Raja of Gwalior was seeking shelter in Agra after the Raja himself had died at Panipat. He guaranteed their safety in return for the family's most valuable jewel, a very large diamond, called the Koh-i-Noor or "Mountain of Light'. The conquests of Delhi and Agra were followed by a fight with the formidable Rajputs Rana Sanga of Chittor and Raja Hasan Khan Mewatpati. This fight is popularly known as the Battle of Khanwa in which the Rajputs were defeated and the foundation for the Mughal empire was laid by Babur.

Soon thereafter, Babur fell seriously ill. Humayun, his son, was told of a plot by the senior nobles of Babur's court to bypass him and appoint Mahdi Khwaja, Babur's sister's husband, as his successor. He rushed to Agra and arrived there to see that his father was well again. But Mahdi Khwaja had lost all hope of succession to Babur after arrogantly exceeding his authority during Babur's illness. Upon his arrival in Agra it was Humayun himself who fell ill, and was close to dying. Legend says that Babur is said to have circled the sick-bed, crying to God to take his life and not his son's. Babur soon fell ill with a fever and Humayun began to recover. Babur’s last words were apparently said to his son, Humayun, "Do nothing against your brothers, even though they may deserve it."

Babur died at the age of 47 in 1531 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Humayun. Though he wished to be buried in his favorite garden in Kabul, a city he had always loved, he was first buried in a Mausoleum in the capital city of Agra. Roughly nine years later his wishes were fulfilled and Babur was buried in Bagh-e-Babur (Babur Gardens) in Kabul, Afghanistan. The inscription on his tomb reads – If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.

Babur wrote his memoirs in a book called Baburnama and this work is considered the first true autobiography in Islamic literature. Babur travelled the country, taking in much of the land and its scenery, and began building a series of structures which mixed the pre-existing Hindu intricacies of carved detail with the traditional Muslim designs used by Persians and Turks. To remind himself of the lands he had left behind, Babur began building exquisite gardens in every palace and province, where he would often sit shaded from the fierce Indian sun. He tried to recreate the gardens of Kabul, which he believed were the most beautiful in the world. Babur is popularly believed to have built the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. However, from the three inscriptions which once adorned the surface of the mosque it becomes apparent that the mosque was constructed during his reign on the orders of Mir Baqi, who was one of the generals of Babur's forces sent towards this region.

Babur – Founder of the Mughal Empire

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LAS VEGAS (AP) Police were called after hundreds of job seekers on Thursday flooded a board meeting for the new Oakland Raiders stadium in Las Vegas and turned irate when they discovered they'd been had by a Amari Cooper Jerseys hoax.A flyer promoting "pre-job recruitment sign-ups" attracted more than 700 people to a regularly scheduled meeting of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority board.Tensions flared among some attendees after officials explained there were no jobs as of yet on the $1.9 billion project, which has many steps Bruce Irvin Jerseys that must be completed before construction can begin.Las Vegas police closed off access to the county building's parking Charles Woodson Jerseys lots after the size of the crowd ballooned.Board chairman Steve Hill denounced the flyer after the meeting, saying, "If folks were brought to the meeting under a false pretense, I think that's too bad, that obviously shouldn't happen."But he added that the attendance "exhibits a real Latavius Murray Jerseys desire on the part of a number of people in the community to go to work."The fake flyer specifically targeted black men and women and advertised for union and non-union positions.Raiders executives and members of the group that the team has assembled to carry out the project spoke at Thursday's meeting and said they are working on an agreement that will address minority hiring and reaffirmed that they will meet a state-mandated 15 percent contracting of small businesses."The Raiders take this obligation very seriously," Raiders Executive Vice President Dan Ventrelle said of the so-called community benefits plan, which will outline the hiring of a diverse workforce. "We embrace working within the outline of the legislation and meeting all of its requirements."The board is expected to discuss the plan at its August meeting, as well as an agreement that would allow the football team of Khalil Mack Jerseys the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to use the 65,000-seat stadium that will be built near the Las Vegas Strip. The board must approve those two and other documents before any ground breaking. The team wants to play in Sin City starting in 2020.Guests of hotels and other lodging facilities in the Las Vegas area are contributing $750 million through a room tax increase. On Thursday, the board learned the tax increase yielded more than $13.1 million from March through May. That's 16 percent ahead of projections.The team and the NFL are expected to contribute $500 million to the project. In addition, the team has secured a $650 million loan from Bank of America to cover the rest of the project's cost.