By Muslim Mirror News,
New Delhi: Distinguished scientist, academician and Padam Shri Prof (Dr) Seyed Ehtesham Hasnain, who was deprived of UGC chairmanship, was awarded Germany’s highest civilian award ‘The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany’ also known as Federal Cross of Merit for his invaluable contribution to the Biological Sciences. He was adorned with the award at a ceremony held at the residence of German Ambassador to India, Michael Steiner here on Wednesday.
Prof Hasnain, who teaches Biological Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, is the first Indian Muslim who got the Germany’s most prestigious award that is considered to be equivalent to Bharat Ratna. He is also the first Indian elected as a Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and one of the youngest to be elected as a Fellow of TWAS, Trieste, Italy. Earlier, he was adorned with the prestigious Humboldt Research Prize, by the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation, Germany; as well as the very exclusive Robert Koch Fellowship, of the Robert Koch Institute, Berlin.
Prof Hasnain has made extraordinary contributions to Molecular Infection Biology and Epidemiology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the TB causing bacterium. With more than 200 publications in peer-reviewed journals of high impact and dozen patents, he has also mentored around 100 PhD, MD and Post-Doctoral students, four of whom received the INSA Young Scientist Medal. He has almost all major Indian Science Awards to his credit: G.D. Birla Award, Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize, FICCI Award, and J.C. Bose National Fellow Award, Ranbaxy Research Award, Goyal Award, Bhasin Award and several others.
Known as an institution builder and passionate academician, Prof Hasnain was Vice-Chancellor of University of Hyderabad. He was the first Director of the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, (CDFD), Hyderabad, and in less than 7 years he made CDFD a gold standard for DNA analyses services and research in basic biology.
Despite his international recognition, achievement and extra-ordinary contributions, Prof Hasnain’s name was overlooked by the then HRD Minister Kapil Sibal for post of UGC chairman. It to be recalled that the search committee had twice recommended his name as first choice for the post of UGC chairmanship but Sibal and his successor Pallam Raju had shown clear bias by nominating a charge-tainted person as the new chairman of UGC. Muslim MPs also strongly recommended his name and even complained to the Prime Minister in this regard but in vain.
On his achievement, the All India Milli Council has congratulated Prof. Hasnain saying talents of Muslims are being recognized internationally but they are being pushed to margin in their own country. Council general secretary Dr Manzoor Alam said instead of encouraging Muslim talent, the then HRD minister Kapil Sibal tried to destroy it and did a great injustice to Prof Hasnain by ignoring his name to the UGC which is supreme regulatory body for higher education in India.
Born on April 13, 1954 in Gaya, Bihar, Prof Hasnain did his schooling from Gaya High School. He did his B.Sc. (Hons) from the Magadh University and later obtained PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Before leaving for a National Cancer Institute postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Alberta, Canada, he worked at the University of Delhi, where he was subsequently selected for the ‘Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Fellow Award’ to work at the Department of Medicine. After spending several years at the Texas A&M University, USA, he returned to India in 1987 to work as a Staff Scientist at the National Institute of Immunology. He was appointed as the first director of Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) in February 1999.
Currently, he is also the Chairman of Biotech Advisory Council, Andhra Pradesh and a Member of Biotech Advisory Council of many other State Governments. He is member of Prime Minister’s Scientific Advisory Council and the UGC.
However, Prof Hasnain’s studies on of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the TB causing bacterium, will always help the society in combating the deadly disease. As saying goes, ‘Bacteria don’t stop at frontiers and neither should scientists’.