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Rafi Ahmed Kidwai (18 February 1894 – 24 October 1954) was a politician, an Indian independence activist and a socialist, sometimes described as an Islamic socialist He hailed from Barabanki District of United Provinces, now Uttar Pradesh, in north India.

Rafi Ahmed Kidwai
Rafi Ahmed Kidwai 1969 stamp of India.jpg
Kidwai on a 1969 stamp of India
Personal details
Born18 February 1894
Barabanki, North-West Provinces, British India
Died24 October 1954 (aged 60)
EducationAligarh Muslim University

Early lifeEdit

Rafi Ahmed was born in the village of Masauli, in Barabanki district (now in Uttar Pradesh).[1] Rafi had four younger brothers, including Shafi, who 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. The son of another brother, Mehfooz Ahmad, is Fareed Kidwai, a member of the Samajwadi Party and a Minister of State in the Uttar Pradesh government.[citation needed]

Politics (pre-independence)Edit

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.

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)Edit

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 in Delhi on 24 October 1954. He had heart failure after experiencing an attack of asthma while delivering a speech. His burial site, at his home village, was covered by a Mughal-style mausoleum.[1]

According to historian Paul Brass, "A formidable fund-raiser for Congress movements and elections, he distributed his largesse to all and sundry, but died in debt, leaving behind only a decaying house in his home village."[1]


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.[2]

In November 2011, the Postal Staff College in Ghaziabad was named as the Rafi Ahmed Kidwai National Postal Academy.[3] There is also a street named after him in Kolkata,[4] statues in Indira Nagar,Mumbai, Lucknow and Krishi Bhawan, New Delhi,[citation needed] and the Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Inter College in Hardoi district.[citation needed]

The Parliament of India has a portrait of Kidwai in a Committee Room.[5]

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.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c "Kidwai, Rafi Ahmad (1894–1954)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/94954.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ "Merits & Awards". Archived from the original on 3 June 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2008.
  3. ^ A. Kumaraswamy (31 October 2011) rename of the Postal Staff College India. Ministry of Communications & IT, Government of India.
  4. ^ "Kolkata Yellow Pages". Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  5. ^ Rafi Ahmed Kidwai.

Further readingEdit

  • 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 linksEdit