A citizen educator
Dr Syed Saleheen Qadri. Photo: Collected
Dr Syed Saleheen Qadri. Photo: Collected
In the grip of the fight against the scourge of Covid-19, Bangladesh unfortunately lost many of its illustrious sons in the not so distant past. Much to the dismay of many, there has been another addition to this list. This heavy-hearted writer remembers his special association with Professor Syed Saleheen Qadri PhD, a distinguished professor, whom the cold hands of death tore from among us on the morning of September 1.
It was in the Rotary Fellowship in 1994 where I had the benefit of knowing and interacting frequently with this soft-spoken personality. The sweetness of manners coupled with a kind disposition were the hallmarks of his character and one couldn’t resist being friendly and attracted to him. Whenever he deliberated on the standards and nuances of Rotary that he was very proud of, all Rotarians listened to him with great care. He would volunteer to offer valuable and thoughtful suggestions when needed and would go out of his way to read articles and materials carefully, encouraging young Rotarians to acclimatize to Rotary culture. In fact, his company rightly brought to light the wisdom of the famous saying that “God has given us relationships, but we can always choose our friends and acquaintances whom we wish to cultivate and cherish for a fuller, healthier life.”
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His passing has deep meaning to me and to many of his admirers and colleagues, as he passed away at a time when the stubborn pursuit of money impoverished the mind, shriveled the imagination and withered the hearts of many.
Dr Qadri was Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Dhaka and most recently at the Independent University of Bangladesh. His intellectual curiosity and his ability to think clearly made him a true teacher worth emulating. He believed that what we need today more than anything else is moral leadership, based on courage, intellectual integrity and a sense of values. Such a belief takes on its full meaning when real life experience shows that intellectual integrity is a much rarer quality than financial integrity. He was quietly determined to support his outlook on life and had the courage to stand up for it.
Dr Qadri had high goals in life and so it was only natural that he stepped away from the safe provision of personal gratification. His empathetic character and admirable civility made him love him very much. It is therefore not surprising that he was a distinguished Rotarian for more than four decades and held various leadership positions to his name. He sought the cooperation of all discerning people in the active work of voluntary service. Gifted with the gift of chatter, meticulous at the forefront and mastering the rules and regulations of the Rotarian world, Dr. Qadri has often animated the course of many events.
Dr. Qadri was, in a real sense, a total Rotarian as he embodied the ideals and principles of Rotary in his personal and professional relationships. This is no exaggeration as readers may know that the Rotarian invocation is as follows:
“We Rotarians are dedicated to the ideal of service to maintain a high standard of ethics in our business and profession and to honor our calling by strengthening international understanding, goodwill and peace through united people. in the ideal of service ”. His sincerity, his fairness, his good will and his best friendships and especially his concern for the well-being of others, made him a true gentleman.
In achieving Rotary’s lofty goals, Dr. Qadri was an effective and trusted partner of society, providing volunteer service of the highest ethical standards with leadership for the purpose of social development. He seriously envisioned a scenario where Bangladeshis come together and take action to create lasting change across the world in our communities and within ourselves.
His passion for education, especially science education, was manifested in his founding of the Institute for Developing Science and Health Initiatives (ideSHi), of which he was the scientific coordinator. IdeSHi’s mission is: “to create awareness, build capacity and stimulate innovations to make Bangladesh a world leader in biomedical sciences and translational research”. The organization’s vision is “to improve the lives and help improve the health of Bangladeshis”.
Dr Qadri’s public spirit lies in his tireless efforts to raise awareness and organize blood testing of potential and actual thalassemia patients in Bangladesh. During his advocacy and motivational talks, he had visited many public and private offices in addition to colleges and universities, and spoke with the zeal of a missionary.
Dr Qadri has had a number of representative scientific publications in national and international journals in his area of specialization as a biochemist and molecular biologist. I hope his colleagues yesterday and today will comment on his scholarship in the appropriate forums. He was known for his research in industrial microbiology.
Dr Qadri contracted Covid last July but has recovered. Unfortunately, he was readmitted with pneumonia. He tested negative for Covid but his lungs were in poor condition and he was put on a ventilator. He died while on life support.
Professor Saleheen Qadri is survived by Dr Firdausi Qadri, Principal Scientist at icddr, b and recipient of several international awards, including the recent Magsaysay Prize, as well as two scholar sons and a daughter. May his soul rest in eternal peace and may the Almighty grant courage and strength to his family to bear the loss.
Muhammad Nurul Huda is a former PGI from Bangladesh.