Dr Zakir Hussain was the third President of Independent India from May 13, 1967 until his death.Among the Muslim leaders of the early twentieth century Zakir Hussain was among those nationalists who could see the reality without any personal interest and ambition. His contribution to the development of modern Indian thought through his educational and social philosophy is invaluable.Dr Zakir Hussain was one of the biggest exponents of education in India and it was under his leadership that the National Muslim University was founded. Till today, the National Muslim University exists under the name of Jamia Milia Islamia, a central university in New Delhi, and continues to flourish, producing some of the best students each year.
Dr Zakir Hussain was born at Hyderabad on February 8, 1897. He came of a Pathan family of the upper middle-class settled in the Kaimganj district of Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh.Though he was born an Indian, his family history can be traced back to the Pushtun tribes that occupied the border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is said that his ancestors migrated to Uttar Pradesh during the 18th century. Zakir Hussain’s father, Fida Hussain khan, died when he was ten years old. And his mother was died when he was fourteen years old. Hussain completed his school education from Islamic high school Etawah.In 1913 attended the Anglo-Mohammedan Oriental College in Aligarh (today known as the Aligarh Muslim University).He passed his B.A. with Honors in 1918 and joined M.A. and Law classes, but due to political upheaval in the country in 1919, could not continue his studies.Zakir Hussain became the leader of a young group of students who together founded the National Muslim University in Aligarh on October 29, 1920. Ten year later it yet again shifted base this time permanently to Jamia Nagar, New Delhi and was named it Jamia Millia Islamia). He was merely 23 years old when he established the educational institution
For two years Zakir Hussian taught in the Jamia Millia. He left for Germany in 1922 to pursue higher studies. During his three year stay there, he acquired a deep love for European art and literature on music and he also got a Doctorate from the University of Berlin in Economics.
Though Dr. Zakir Hussain visited Germany for his education, he returned soon after to provide academic and administrative leadership to Jamia Milia Islamia. The university was on the verge of being shut down in the year 1927 and it was due to the efforts of Dr Zakir Hussain that the educational institution has managed to stay afloat. He continued to lend his support, providing academic and managerial leadership to the institution for twenty one years. It was due to his efforts that the university immensely contributed in India's struggle for freedom from the British Rule. As a teacher, Dr Zakir Hussain propagated the learning’s of Mahatma Gandhi and Hakim Ajmal Khan. He was an active member of several educational reform movements in the country in the mid-1930s.
Dr Zakir Hussain was elected the Vice Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University in independent India. During his stint as Vice Chancellor, Dr Zakir Hussain was able to avert several teachers within the institution from lending their support in creating a separate state of Pakistan. Dr. With the end of his term as Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, Dr Zakir Hussain was nominated to the Rajya Sabha and thus, became a member of the Indian Parliament in 1956. However, he held this position only for a year after which he became the Governor of Bihar, a post he occupied for five years from 1957 - 1962.With the end of his term as Governor, Dr Zakir Hussain soon succeeded to the office of Vice President of India, becoming the second Vice President of the country for a period of five years. It was on May 13, 1967 that Dr Zakir Hussain created history by being the first Muslim President of India to be elected for such a prestigious position. He was also the third politician to occupy the office of the Indian President, after Dr Rajendra Prasad, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.
Zakir Hussain was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 1954.Zakir was honored with the Bharat Ratna award in 1963.He was awarded D.Litt. (Honoris Causa) by the Universities of Delhi, Calcutta, Aligarh, Allahabad and Cairo.
Zakir Hussain died on 3 May 1969, the first Indian President to die in office. He is buried on the campus of the Jamia Millia Islamia (or Central University) in New Delhi.