Aligarh: One of the first students from a Western country to have graduated from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), 89-year-old, Dr David Dichter passed away after a courageous battle with health issues in the United States of America.
After his graduation from AMU in 1954, Dr David undertook a motorcycle trip from India to Eastern Europe. Many pictures of this trip adorn the walls of his study at his New Jersey residence. He later joined the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA for a MA degree and Birkbeck College, London University for a Ph.D.
“Dr David could tell you amazing and interesting stories of his stay in AMU for days. In the letters he wrote, Dr David described how he fondly remembers his tutors Prof Mohammed Habib (Department of Political Science); Prof Muhammed Ali (Department of Geography); his principal instructor, Prof Matin Uzzaman and the then Vice Chancellor, Dr Zakir Hussain”, said AMU Vice Chancellor, Prof Tariq Mansoor.
He added: “In the many letters, Dr David wrote to his friends at AMU, he mentioned that he always considered his studies at AMU and stay at SS West and Amin Hostel as one of the highest points in life”.
Dr David’s legacy, will live in the hearts and spirits of the AMU community, said Prof Mansoor.
“Boston based alumni, Mr Ali Rizvi informed us about the Dr David’s sad demise, when we tried contacting Dr David for the 2021 AMU Alumni Meet. His name was approved for the guest of honour by the Vice Chancellor”, said Prof M M Sufyan Beg (Chairman, Alumni Affairs Committee).
Prof Sufyan Beg added that Dr David was eager to attend the 2021 AMU Alumni Meet.
“When we invited Dr David for the 2018 AMU Alumni Meet, he was unable to reach due to some engagements. In the reply to the invitation, Dr David promised to attend the next Alumni Meet,” he said.
“I am most grateful for your email communication. I wish you to know that I was deeply touched by your desire to have me come to AMU in order to take part in the Annual Alumni Meeting on October 16, 2018. Truly, I wish I was able to do so for many, many reasons, especially as I have so many pleasant and fine memories along with wonderful friendships, with both staff and students, which were part of my great Aligarh experience along with my fine educational program,” wrote Dr David in the reply to the invitation.
He further said in the letter: “Unfortunately I am afraid I must decline your wonderful offer – at least for this year. There is simply just not enough time for me to prepare myself for such a long journey including obtaining the necessary entry visa and also arranging my personal affairs at this end. But, your kind and generous offer is noted with thanks and appreciation. Indeed, it would have been a great pleasure for me to see AMU once again after so many years; it seems like yesterday when I was a student at AMU and having my late afternoon tea with friends at Shamshad Market.”
“I realize that I was sort of a rarity in Aligarh at the time; given the fact that so many young Indians were eager to go to the United States for their education. But, I was convinced, as someone who was anxious to learn about India and Asia that it was necessary for me to obtain such an education and as it turned-out, and it was most fortunate for me, that AMU was where that happened”, emphasised Dr David.
AMU alumnus, Dr David was also a candidate for Congress in 1968. During his stay in Geneva, Switzerland, Dr David worked for an intergovernmental organization (ISVS) that led to the creation of a U.N. Volunteer Program and then founded a service organization, ‘Technology for the People’, that was active in the transfer of technology and management know-how between companies in Western countries and the Third World business enterprises.
He travelled extensively to many African and Asian countries. After the retirement in the early 2000s, Dr David returned to New Jersey, where his unequivocal passion for improving the quality of life for communities never left him.
Dr David is survived by his wife, daughter, son and three grandchildren.