Tuesday, April 3, 2012

In the memory of late Syed Wadal Shah

In the memory of late Syed Wadal Shah

Dr S.M Qureshi,
Pro Vice Chancellor Engineering University, Jamshoro

Since long time, I aspired to write something on how I observed and understood the honorable personality of late Syed Wadal Shah. I dedicate this article to a great person, a friend, a companion and comrade, though who is no more physically with us but he will always remain in our memories. Mr Shah was one of the comrade and leader of our caravan who dreamed to see the University of Sindh as esteemed academic and research nucleus both at national and international levels. I wish to shed light on this great cause, so that our present and future generations, directly or indirectly related to University of Sindh can learn the lesson from Mr Shah’s life.

I first time met Mr Shah in 1966 on his return to Engineering College, University of Sindh after completion of his PhD from England. During that period, college was in its infancy and we were worried because of shortage of qualified teachers. In such time, joining of Mr Shah was blissful and a great support. Our students of first year were using facilities available in Department of Chemistry (Now called Institute of Chemistry) for experiments.  Mr Shah felt the importance of chemistry laboratory and with the support of College administration established chemistry lab in Engineering College and our student were relieved to visit Department of Chemistry.

It was Mr Shah’s strong affection with the College which made him to think for development and flourishing of the institute. Most of times, Mr Shah used to come College before time and worked for long hours till nights. In those days, I was also busy in College affairs and mostly we accompanied to leave office for home in nights. After long periods of working and while returning to homes, we felt satisfaction and were happy on the day used in development of the University and particularly the college.

Since early education to higher education, Mr Shah remained bright student and his personality glowed in every phase of his education. After completing his MSc and PhD he was highly inclined to research in his field. As earlier said, chemistry was being taught to first year students of the Engineering College and there were scanty research facilities at the College. In this situation, Mr Shah affiliated himself with Department of Chemistry for research work. This way he engaged himself in not only teaching but research as well. Meanwhile, he secured one year research opportunity from Tokyo University, Japan in Chemical Engineering. Though he married just one week before his departure to Japan but his thrust for knowledge and education derived him to seek consent and support from his newly married wife and his family for departure to Japan. He successfully completed diploma in chemical engineering and returned to country and engaged himself in teaching and research.

After his return from Japan Mr Shah struggled for establishment of chemical engineering department in Engineering College. As he was more inclined to research and teaching as well, therefore, he was transferred to Department of Chemistry (today’s Institute of Chemistry, University of Sindh) and established chemical engineering department which was then shifted back to Engineering College.

After shifting of Chemical Engineering Department to Engineering College, Mr Shah gained more time for research and he encouraged students for PhD research. It was first time in the history of University of Sindh, Mr Shah engaged many students (Translators note: Initially 5 students were enrolled in PhD program) in PhD research from Faculty of Science. It was his God gifted ability and untiring effort, which, made successful completion of enrolled PhD students possible, within 3 years. His students are now Professor, Assistant Professor and author of scientific books. This great achievement also encouraged Mr Shah to do more in his field and he decided to establish dedicated research laboratory in his specialized field (Translators note: his field of specialization was organic chemistry).  To achieve this objective, he prepared many research schemes and secured approval and funding from University Grants Commission and Pakistan Science Foundation. Through these schemes many students secured jobs as well as completed PhD research.

I was in Islamabad working in Pakistan Science Foundation as a Member (Science) when he forwarded research schemes for approval and grants. Pakistan Science Foundation approved his schemes as well as he succeeded to secure funding from National Science Foundation America on his research proposals. This achievement encouraged him, and he remained concerned to seek financial assistance from foreign organizations for further development and facilitation of his research laboratory. Many times, Mr Shah talked to me for advice on his proposals and I always found him more and more concerned about his mission.

When I was leaving for Islamabad to join Pakistan Science Foundation, late Mr Shah along with other friend came to Hyderabad railway station for farewell. I still remember, and Mr Shah was also well aware about the reasons of my relieving from Engineering College, but he advised me to join Pakistan National Foundation because he thought that through this platform more services and work can be done for University of Sindh and by the time this was proved. His affection with the University can be judged from his thoughts.

Mr Shah’s valued efforts for Science Society are remarkable. Two science conferences were held under the umbrella of two to three years old Sindh Science Society. Its office was under construction and a plan for publishing scientific books was being prepared. I was very much conscious about this work before leaving Islamabad, but presence of Mr Shah and his support made me comfortable. Despite of his several engagements, he offered his services to undertake the responsibility of Sindh Science Society and successfully fulfilled his obligations. Dr Muhammad Sharif also provided support to him in Society’s activities. He organized and managed 3rd International Science Conference held in Nawabshah and credit of its success goes to him. On this occasion he published five books on science in Sindhi language. Besides, he regularly published monthly “Science” magazine in Sindhi.

Mr Shah, in a very short span, contributed and served University of Sindh and Sindh province in general in every aspect such as teaching, research and producing scientific literature. He was a legendary son of Sindh. His efforts for scientific research and its progress in University of Sindh will remain affiliated with his name. He was an example and symbol for young generation. We strongly feel absence of Mr Shah and another comrade of this caravan Mr Noor Muhammad Talpur after their sad demises. Probably no body will fill their gap. Struggle and hard work is required to follow their path and to move their mission to its destination. There is a need to bring their dreams come true about University of Sindh. The glow which is dim after their deaths needs to be reenergized.  In the end, I hope and expect from young teachers of University of Sindh and student to feel the responsibility and follow the path of late Syed Wadal Shah to complete his uncompleted mission, so that we may not feel his absence.

Blogger’s notes:
1. The article is translated from Sindhi to English. The original article was published in a Booklet produced by Dr Syed Wadal Shah Memorial Society. The booklet was earlier uploaded in Sindhi version.
2. The translation is done by the blogger and may contain language mistakes, which may please be ignored by the audiences. It is a mere effort to facilitate the audiences with the hope that message is properly conveyed.  

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