Some are born great, some are thrust into greatness and some achieve greatness. Undoubtedly, this stalwart from Bihar belongs to the third category. His success story may seem to be woven on the lines of a Bollywood rags to riches filmy story, but the stark truth is much more than that meets the eye. The person in mention is Dr M J Warsi, a world renowned linguist and researcher who teaches in the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures at Washington University in St. Louis, the best institution in the world for linguistic magnificence.

Already acknowledged as an ‘unsung hero” by the students of UC Berkeley for his "extraordinary contribution" in academic and personal matters in the year 2005, Warsi’s life is an inspiration for all those middle class Indians who dream to make it big but are devoid of even the basic amenities.

“My journey has been a long and tumultuous one. I had to face great adversities. Being born in Darbhanga, Bihar and coming from a very humble background, I completed my primary and higher education in Bihar. Then I took admission in Aligarh Muslim University. I was not a bright student. In fact I anyhow passed my intermediate exams. That was a life turning incident for me. After that I never looked back and went on to complete BA in English, Geography and Linguistics, completed Masters degree in linguistics earning a gold medal for highest achievement in masters program by any candidate at AMU,” narrated Dr Warsi.
He continued his efforts and was honored with a PhD in psycholinguistics in 1998 while on a full scholarship at AMU. His current academic merits have 25 papers and four books under his belt.

Believing in ‘nothing is impossible’, Dr Warsi says that hesitation is the hindrance to success. “The greatest drawback witnessed amongst Indian students is hesitation to speak their mind. In Western countries this is where they score. So, one should always say what they feel and think without worrying how others will react,” says Dr Warsi.
Upon completion of his doctorate work Dr Warsi held a number of notable positions. For example, he worked as a linguist for Center for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC). Here, Dr Warsi formulated language rules for various computer programs for machine translation.

A visionary, he has reacted sharply to the criticisms against the modernization of Madrasas and has firmly defended the policy for providing practical tools to the students in the Islamic seminaries. Dr. Warsi reasons that a purely theological education, devoid of any scientific or tertiary training, will produce Maulavis who will have no other avenue but to return to villages and be preachers. He finds such a narrow scope as an impediment for the socio-economic advancement of these students.

Notably, contrary to the popular opinion expounded in the Western media, Dr Warsi argues that the Indian civil sector does not institutionally discriminate against minority groups. His faith in merit based opportunities makes him critical, by virtue, of the affirmative action program currently in place in the educational and civil employment sector in India.

M J Warsi stands as a true icon, scholar and leader of the Indian community at the University campus.

Last year he was awarded a USD 25,000 grant from the South Asian Language Resource Center to develop an online curriculum for South Asian Languages. According to Warsi, the course design would be based on communicative method which is very modern and scientific way of teaching languages and linguistic courses.

Dr Warsi may have journeyed a long way from being a little school boy in Bihar to the current position of Indo-Aryan Language and Linguistics professor at the World’s renowned academic institution in US he, however has never faltered in conscience and practice in his duties to family and community. As a proud Indian he has made inestimable contribution to the awareness, advancement and representation of Indian culture to the footsteps of Washington University.           

Recently his book “Evaluation of Media Reach and Effectiveness: A Linguistic Exercise” published from Germany is becoming widely appreciated book worldwide. Some of his publications has become the part of course curriculum at many universities.    

The toil and struggle, rags to riches story of this Darbhanga boy who grew up to be a champion of Indian education and values may very well churn out into a bestseller if penned down, but what stands out is his belief that India is an all inclusive institution where religious identity is and should be secondary. For example, he was proud to proclaim, “I am an Indian first and then a Muslim”.

(JPN)