|Died||3 May 1977 (aged 44)|
|Occupation||social reformer, thinker, activist, essayist, writer|
Early life and education
Dalwai joined the Indian Socialist Party of Jai Prakash Narayan in his early adulthood, but left it to devote himself to social reforms in the Muslim community, especially regarding women's rights. Despite living in a period when most people were staunchly religious and orthodox, Hamid Dalwai was one among the few religiously secular people. He strove towards a uniform civil code rather than religion specific laws.
To create a platform for his views and work, he established the Muslim Satyashodhak Mandal (Muslim Truth Seeking Society) in Pune on 22 March 1970. Through the medium of this Society, Hamid worked towards reforming bad practices in the Muslim community especially towards women, like injustice towards Muslim women by the Muslim community, practice of one sided verbal divorce by Muslim men, multiple wives, etc. He helped many Muslim women who were victimised by Muslim orthodox practices to get justice. He campaigned for encouraging Muslims in acquiring education in the State language rather than Urdu, their mother tongue. He also tried to make adoption an acceptable practice in the Muslim community.
He also established the Muslim Secular Society. He organised many public meetings, gatherings, conventions and conferences to campaign for better social practices. He was also a great Marathi litterateur. He wrote Indhan (Fuel) - a novel, Laat (Wave) - a collection of short stories and Muslim Politics in Secular India - a thought provoking book. He used the medium of his writing for social reform.
An un-preceded event in his social work was the Muslim women’s march that he organised on the Mantralaya (the administrative headquarters of Maharashtra in South Mumbai, built in 1955) to fight for their rights and for freedom in their attire (Muslim women are forced by their religion to wear a black robe called a burkha covering their entire body with a veil covering their face when in public). Hamid was one among the few in the Muslim community who rebelled against unjust religious practices. Sir Sayyed Ahmed Khan was another of the rare gems of Muslim social reformers. There were just a handful that had the courage and equanimity to fight for Muslim women’s rights like women’s education, practice of wearing burkha, divorce practice, etc. Hamid Dalwai dealt with opposition with tremendous equanimity and worked towards social reform without getting discouraged at the slow rate of success. It is because of these traits that the great Marathi genius P. L. Aka PuLa Deshpande described him as a great social reformer and put him in the same bracket as the great Indian leaders Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Ambedkar.
He introduced his ideology that only secularism and liberal humanism could help this world develop. He believed that people should have the right to change a religion that rejects reforms that are in the interest of the country and are appropriate to the current period. He detached himself from a religion that rejected social reforms and hid behind orthodox religious practices.
Dalwai worked as a journalist. His works include Lat (The Wave) and Indhan (Fuel) in Marathi, and Muslim Politics In Secular India in English, Islam che Bhartiya Chitr (Islam's Indian story) in Marathi, Rashtriya Ekatmata aani Bhartiya Musalman (National Unity and Indian Muslim) in Marathi.
Dalwai's brother Husain Dalwai is a Congress leader in Maharashtra, He is currently a member of Parliament upper house - Rajya Sabha. He also served as a Congress Spoke person in Maharashtra.
- Muslim politics in India. Nachiketa Publications, 1969
- Guha, Ramachandra (March 23, 2004,). "Liberal India on the Defensive". The Times of India.
- Chitre, Dilip (May 3, 2002). "Remembering Hamid Dalwai, and an age of questioning". Indian Express.