Syed Mujtaba Ali (1904-74)

The eminent Bengali litterateur and novelist, Syed Mujtaba Ali was born in 1904 in Sylhet. He had his early education at a Government school in the district. In 1921 he came to Santiniketan and was among the first students of Visva-Bharati. 

After leaving Santiniketan he took up a teaching assignment in Kabul at the invitation of the then Amir Amanullah. The term in Kabul over, he went to Germany where he did his research in Bonn University and received his doctorate. He then joined the Al Azhar University of Cairo to teach Comparative Philology. 

On his return to India, he received an invitation from the Gaekwad of Baroda and he taught as a lecturer there for two years. Giving up teaching, he came to Calcutta; where he started writing for Anandabazar Patrika under the pseudonym, Satyapir. His column became the talk of the town. 

He stayed at Raman's asrama at Arunachal, Chennai for some time. He then joined the Ministry of Education in New Delhi. He could not stick at any routine job for long and in between jobs he was literally a wanderer. He started writing about his travels in Desh in 1948. In the early fifties he joined Akashvani as Station Director and served at Patna, Cuttack, Calcutta and Delhi stations. But he left all this, too, and went back to Santiniketan and resumed his literary pursuits. 

At Visva-Bharati he was appointed Professor of Islamic History and Culture. He also taught German language. 
Dr Ali was awarded the Narsinghadas Prize in 1949 and the Ananda Puraskar in 1961.