Rafi Ahmed Kidwai

Rafi Ahmed Kidwai
Born 18 February 1894
Barabanki, North-West Provinces, British India
Died 24 October 1954 (aged 60)
Education Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh
Organization Indian National Congress
Movement Indian Independence movement

Rafi Ahmed Kidwai (Hindi: रफ़ी अहमद क़िदवई رفیع احمد قدوائی Urdu), (18 February 1894 – 24 October 1954) was a politician, an Indian independence activist and a socialist, sometimes described as an Islamic socialist.[1] He hailed from Barabanki District of United Provinces, now Uttar Pradesh, in north India.

Early life

Rafi Ahmed was born in the village of Masauli, in Barabanki district (now in Uttar Pradesh), the eldest son of Imtiaz Ali Kidwai and his wife, Rashid un-Nisa. Imtiaz Ali was an affluent Zamindar (land-owner) who had added to his position in society by entering government service. His wife, Rashid-un-Nisa, dies when Rafi was still a child.

Rafi received his early education from a tutor at the home of his uncle, Wilayat Ali, a politically active lawyer, and in the village school. He attended the Government High School, Barabanki, until 1913. He then attended the Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College, Aligarh, where he graduated with a BA in 1918. He began work towards the degree of LLB, but never completed it. This was because he got swept up by the khilafat and non-cooperation movements of 1920–21 (the first of Mahatma Gandhi’s major all-India movements) and was jailed for his participation.

In 1919, Rafi was married to Majid-un-Nisa, a girl of his own community and similar background and hailing from the same province. The match, which was arranged by their families in the usual Indian way, was harmonious and lasted to the end of their lives. The couple were blessed with only one child, a son who died of an unexplained fever at seven years of age.

Rafi had four younger brothers, namely Shafi Ahmed, Mehfooz Ahmad, Ali Kamil and Hussain Kamil Kidwai. His brother Shafi was married to the communist activist and writer Anis Kidwai, a Rajya Sabha member. They were the grandparents of Ayesha Kidwai, a communist and feminist ideologue active in politics at JNU, and of Seema Mustafa, a journalist. Mehfooz Ahmad's son Fareed Kidwai is a member of the Samajwadi Party and a Minister of State in the Uttar Pradesh government. Rafi's other nephews include Rishad Kamil Kidwai (s/o Mehfooz Ahmed Kidwai), Mumtaz Kamil Kidwai (s/o Ali Kamil Kidwai) and Hasan Javed Kidwai (s/o Husain Kamil Kidwai).

Politics (pre-independence)

After attending Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College in Aligarh, Kidwai entered politics through the Khilafat movement. In the 1926 elections, he was elected to the Central Legislative Assembly as a Swaraj Party candidate from Oudh. He became the Chief Whip of the Swaraj Party in the Assembly. Kidwai's political acumen helped maintain an unity in the party on controversial issues. In 1929, Kidwai was elected the Secretary of the Swaraj Party in the Assembly. He had utmost loyalty towards Moti Lal Nehru. The Indian National Congress made a demand of Purna Swaraj on 19 December 1929 and Mahatma Gandhi launched the Civil Disobedience Movement in January 1930. In January 1940, Kidwai resigned from the Central Legislative Assembly in response to the Purna Swaraj resolution by the Congress Working Committee and plunged into the Civil Disobedience Movement.[2] After the passage of the Government of India Act 1935, he held an office for the Indian National Congress.

In 1937, Kidwai became a minister for Revenue and Prisons in Govind Ballabh Pant's cabinet in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh (UP) under the Provincial Autonomy Scheme. Under his stewardship, UP became the first province to curtail the zamindari system. In April 1946, he became the Home Minister of UP.

Politics (post-independence)

Kidwai was a major ally of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. After India gained independence from the British Raj in 1947, Kidwai became India's first Minister for Communications. (Kidwai and Abul Kalam Azad were the two Muslims in Nehru's central cabinet.)

After the first general elections in 1952, Mr.Kidwai elected from Bahraich. Nehru entrusted Kidwai with the portfolio of Food and Agriculture at a time when there was food rationing in the country.


Kidwai died on 24 October 1954 aged 60, while still in office as a Minister. He was buried with full state honours in a mosque in his hometown.

Legacy in Modern India

The Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Award was created in 1956 by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in 1956 to recognize Indian researchers in the agricultural field. Awards are distributed every second year, and take the form of medals, citations, and cash prizes.[3]

In Nov 2011, Government of India decided to rename the Postal Staff College, Ghaziabad after him as Rafi Ahmed Kidwai National Postal Academy.[4] The National Academy is entrusted with the task of imparting training to the officers of Indian Postal Service selected through Civil Services Examination conducted by the UPSC. The Academy is in the same league as its counterpart Administrative and Police academies named after stalwarts like Lal Bahadur Shastri and Sardar Patel.[5]

The Parliament of India has a portrait of Kidwai in a Committee Room.[6] In Kolkata, a major street has been named after him to glorify this hero of the Indian independence movement.[7] His Statue is also located in Indira Nagar, Lucknow and Krishi Bhawan, NEW DELHI to honour his service towards the nation

In his honour, Veteran educationist Sri Asad Ali Farooqui established RAFI AHMAD QIDWAI INTER COLLEGE in Hardoi district of Uttar Pradesh.The college was started in 1958 as a junior high school and later became an inter college.Recently Rafi Ahmad Qidwai Inter College completed 50 years of its establishment.Sri Asad Ali Farooqui became the Founder and the first principal of the college and after retiring in 1992, now serves as the president of the college committee.In Makrana, Rajasthan there is a football stadium named after him, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Football Stadium.

Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology is named after him.He played a major role in donating 20 acres of the Campus land and Rs. 100,000 for the Radiotherapy machine.


  1. "Indian Muslims". Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  2. Remembering Our Leaders. 8. New Delhi: Children's Book Trust. 1998. p. 106.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 June 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2008.
  4. http://www.indiapost.gov.in/Pdf/No.2-04-2009-Trg_31-10-2011.pdf
  5. http://www.raknpa.gov.in
  6. https://web.archive.org/web/20180324065731/http://rajyasabha.nic.in/rsnew/picture_gallery/ra_kidwai_6.asp
  7. "Kolkata Yellow Pages". Retrieved 13 December 2011.

Further reading

  • Paul R. Brass, Kidwai, Rafi Ahmad (1894–1954), politician in India in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004)
  • M. Bassien, ed., Who's who in legislature, 1 (1953)
  • M. Weiner, Party politics in India: the development of a multi-party system (1957)
  • P. N. Chopra, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai: his life and work (1960)
  • S. Sunder and S. Shyam, Political life of Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant, 1: 1887–1945 (1960)
  • Sampurnanand, Memories and reflections (1962)
  • A. P. Jain, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai: a memoir of his life and times (1965)
  • P. R. Brass, Factional politics in an Indian state: the Congress Party in Uttar Pradesh (1966)
  • S. Gopal, Jawaharlal Nehru: a biography, 2: 1947–1956 (1979)
  • V. Menon, From movement to government: the Congress in the United Provinces, 1937–42 (2003)
  • M. Hasan, From pluralism to separatism: qasbas in colonial Awadh (2004)

External source

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