Epitome of Shah Latif’s missionary man and Moulana Rumi’s scholar seeking knowledge from cradle to grave with the Oyster’s passion for a raindrop, late Nisar Ahmed Siddiqui, the founding Vice Chancellor of Sukkur IBA University, embarked on his last journey to eternity on Monday, the 22 June 2020 to join the august assembly of the noble souls of Hassan Ali Effendi, Mirza Qaleech Beg, Noor Muhammad Wakil, Allama Omar Daudpota, Allama I.I. Qazi, Tufail Ali Abdul Rehman, Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah and many torch bearers of education leaving his students, colleagues, friends, admirers, educationists and knowledge seekers in grief and sorrow. He was laid to rest within the compound of the University, the legacy of this ‘one man team’.
Mr. Siddiqui was a day dreamer and visionary with a pragmatic approach. He had learnt the art of putting his vision to practice. His story of life is not so different from those who believe in the virtue of hard work and constant struggle in accumulating knowledge and building their intellectual capacity. But he stood apart for his will and determination to surmount the daunting fear of the paucity of resources in actualizing his vision in sharp contrast with many day dreamers. He started his career as a school teacher in the periphery of rural Sindh. He did not let loose the reins of industry seeking new vistas of knowledge and building his intellectual capacity. This stood him in good stead and he qualified the Provincial Civil Service Competitive Examination in 1975. He served his province in many capacities – Assistant Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Commissioner and Secretary to the Government of Sindh. He was known for his honesty, uprightness, rectitude and fairness in his career as a civil servant. He did not use his position to amass wealth for his children. He was obsessed with different dreams.
His devotion to education kept him restless even during his privileged career in the civil service. He was right in the middle of his career that destiny, taking mercy on his passion for education, threw in his way an opportunity to explore new vistas of education in Harvard University. He had the honour of acquiring his Master’s Degree from the University. The education and teaching in Harvard University gave a fillip to his passion for teaching and revived his old dream of having a state of art Institute for higher education in Sindh. His voyage to Harvard University proved a watershed in strengthening his belief in man’s power to scale over mountains with minimum tools. This was the time to make a commitment to his conscience; to his land and to the teeming people of Sindh who want good education for their children but their dreams do not come true because of endemic poverty and powerlessness.
With his life-long dream coming true, he earned his laurels in his post-retirement life. Once free from the regimental discipline of public service, he devoted all his time, attention and energy in developing the modest Sukkur Institute of Business Administration into a viable and grand educational seat that he had started in two-rooms of Sukkur Public School at the end of his innings in the public service. A strong believer in merit and fair play as he was, he jealously guarded the Institute as an oasis of meritocracy and fair play in admissions, scholarships and career building as it kept growing in size and capacity.
He had a unique style of leadership leading by example in discipline, punctuality, transparency, rectitude, fair play in teaching and administration. He stood like a strong wall and all his colleagues and students took comfort under its shadow. As the founding Director of the Institute, he withstood all the pressures of the traditional tribal way of life of the rural Sindh for undue favours in admissions, recommendations for scholarships or academic favours. The spoilt bureaucrats from the provincial administration and the politicians of tribal background felt awe and fear in his presence because of his uprightness and his known abhorrence for favoritism and corrupt practices. A right person at the right job makes enormous difference. We have practically observed this but remain oblivious to the merits of such bold decisions.
As the Institute grew in size and acquired all the paraphernalia of a full-fledged University with PhD teachers and Professors, it was upgraded into Sukkur IBA University with Late Nisar Ahmed Siddiqui as its founding Vice Chancellor. Today, the University has its modern and spacious building with a splendidly equipped library with rows and rows of rare and new books as compared to other public libraries deprived of new purchases of books. He passionately loved the library of the University and used to show it to all the visiting guests. The library reflected the variety of his choice of books and his favorite subjects apart from the text books. He was reputed as a hard task master working untiringly from dawn to dusk having meetings, conferences and supervising teaching. He spent his last two days having tele conferences and meetings due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. This reflected his belief in the virtue of hard work.
He established over 50 standard public schools and community colleges in Sindh affiliated with the Sukkur IBA University grooming students with required merit for the University. The University has created hundreds of PhDs and academically groomed a substantial number of students for foreign scholarships for PhD. The University also has preparatory classes for CSS and PCS aspirants. The ratio of success of candidates groomed by the University has been impressive. Thus, Mr. Nisar Siddiqui was not only a devoted teacher, a selfless educationist and mentor par excellence; he was an institute in his multifaceted persona – an exemplary role model, a visionary, a humanist and a pragmatic man of action. He has left his indelible imprint on the brow of his land with such monumental achievements in education and teaching.
All these achievements failed to inflate his ego. He remained humble and modest to his last breath. He was shy of publicity and worked silently to spread the light of education and enlightenment to break the stronghold of tribalism in his land. Within a short span of a few years, he accomplished the task of transforming a two-room institute into a high ranking University. Educationists rank the University among the top ten Universities of the country. This is a miracle that was made by the toil and selfless labour of Late Nisar Siddiqui. He never tried to put his person ahead of the institutional interests of the University.
Goodbye Mr. Nisar Siddiqui. Sindh will miss you with a profound gratitude.