Erudite, Educator, Empowerer—Who Was Prof. Nusrat Andrabi?

Nusrat Andrabi

The passing of a reputed academic has literally triggered a mass-mourning with who’s who in town taking turns to pay a tribute to Nusrat Andrabi for her glorious educational cause.

By Nasir Bhat

CIVIL servant Nirupama Kotru recalls the tumultuous time of nineties when Kashmir badly needed a crisis manager to keep the promise of education alive. The constant curbs and curfews had disrupted the classroom ecosystem of the valley. But while many would hesitate to put home in order, an academic—whose cause and contribution made her ‘a lady with a lamp’ during her lifetime itself—rose to the occasion.

Amid the raging strife in her homeland, Prof. (Dr.) Nusrat Andrabi would lead from the front and keep the spirit of education alive, especially among the female folks of the valley. Her thrust on women education even made many to draw parallels between her and Kashmir’s legendary educationist, Begum Zafar Ali.

“Dr. Nusrat Andrabi did yeoman service towards educating the girls of Kashmir,” Nirupama said.

This glorious tribute came on Sunday when Nusrat Andrabi breathed her last. She was a Professor of Urdu for over three decades, former Principal, Govt. College for Women, Srinagar, and had served as Principal of three Women Colleges in the erstwhile state.

“Nusrat Sahiba was an abiding symbol of our syncretic culture, a wonderful human being and someone who always stood up for the right values,” said Amitabh Mattoo, a noted academic.

Described as an ardent champion of women’s rights, Nusrat Andrabi during her lifetime served as a member of Ehsaas group and "actively worked to mitigate the sufferings" of Kashmiri women. Her cause, many say, made the professor a perfect example of feminism and women empowerment. She also penned down several books on women issues and attended many international conferences.

Apart from her academic treasure, she has left behind a swarm of students describing their departed “mam” as the “finest, decent, intelligent and amazing human being”.

Prof. Nusrat Andrabi is also being recalled as a mood-lifter and conversation-carrier in family gatherings. She would be a friend to young and old, said scribe Shuja Ul Haq. “She’ll be missed.”

For youngsters—with whom she would rub shoulders in seminars, debates and discussions—the late academic was not one of a kind, but only one among her pantheon.

“She was aggressive in debate but soft in conversation,” said Danish Iqbal, a policy analyst at National Conference. “She personified the aura and ambience of the Urdu language.”

An alumna of the Kashmir University’s Department of Urdu, Prof. Nusrat Andrabi had joined Women’s College M A Road Srinagar as a staffer in 1968 and later headed the campus as principal.

She also served J&K Waqf Board as a member during the NC-Congress coalition government. During her tenure, she threw her weight behind the Islamic University of Science and Technology and greatly advocated the campus cause.

“I had the opportunity and good fortune to work with Nusrat Andrabi Sahiba for 6 years in the Waqf Board,” Omar Abdullah, former J&K chief minister, said. “Her advice and suggestions were always well considered and practical. She was a firm believer in the power of a good education.”

Her husband Dr. Mohammad Amin Andrabi was an authority on Iqbaliyat who died of cardiac arrest in 2001. Their son, Mujtaba and daughter, Tabish couldn’t make it to her funeral, as both of them live overseas. The demise, however, as PDP described it, is a huge loss to her family, friends and society.

Much of this overwhelming homage has to do with the fallen academic’s strong beliefs and personality she exhibited throughout her lifetime.

Lately, when the reports surfaced about the name-changing of the campus she headed as principal, she reacted sharply: “My long association with the college has been for decades. I am a Kashmiri, love Kashmir and Kashmiris and my college. Recently I have heard a nasty news about renaming the college after the name of a person who had nothing to do with the institution ever. I am shocked and very unhappy.”

Keeping her academic brilliance and crisis-managerial skills in view, former J&K Governor N. N. Vohra appointed Prof. Nusrat Andrabi as Honorary Secretary, Regional Red Cross Committee.

But it’s her literacy legacy and women education cause and contribution which is making masses mourn her demise.

“We’ve lost a great friend, a well-read and a highly-emancipated lady to whom we will never find a substitute,” said Dr. Abdul Wahid, a noted medic of Kashmir.

“Our society will never be same without her.”

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