A tragedy befell CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria when his mother, Dr. Fatma Zakaria, 85, took her last breath at a hospital in Aurangabad, India, on April 6, 2021.

The accomplished journalist took to his Twitter the next morning to break the news to the world. In the same tweet, he shared a vintage monochrome photo of his beloved mother, which he claimed was her favorite. 

A Padmashri Awardee

Fatma was a renowned educationist, journalist, and the chairman of Aurangabad’s prestigious educational institution Maulana Azad Campus, and spent the latter years of her life serving her country's education sector. 

The wife of the late Rafiq Zakira, former minister and founder of Azad College, was also the founder of The Maulana Azad Education Trust. With support from her influential husband, Fatima completely transformed the educational institutions of the historic city. So much so that the region was held as the best centers of learning in all of Asia. 

For her contribution to the betterment of education and educational reforms in India, she was also awarded the Padma Shri, one of the highest civilian honors awarded by the state of India, in 2006. 

Her Career In Journalism

Her successful career in journalism saw her as the editor of Mumbai Times and later the Sunday editor of The Times of India. She was also an editor with Taj magazine. She was also the recipient of the Sarojini Naidu Integration Award for journalism in 1983.

Shobhaa De, a columnist with The Print and an apprentice of Fatma, described the late Begum as "an unruffled editor and gracious host." In her obituary, she tried to contain Fatma's editorial prowess as so:

Fatma’s faultless eye for detail ensured the magazine retained its glory to showcase all that we can be rightfully proud of – our priceless heritage.

The words resonated so strongly with Fareed that he featured the piece on his Twitter, thanking the columnist for capturing his mother so well.

She Was Also A Social Activist

Apart from her contributions in education and journalism, Fatma was also a social activist from early on in her life. After she completed her education in Lukhnow and Mumbai, the Begum worked tirelessly for the upliftment of women in Mumbai. 

In 1958, she went on to establish childcare and a women's industrial home in Mumbai. The establishment provided daycare and education to 500 underprivileged children while their mothers were provided with employment opportunities. 

She is now survived by her children: Tasneem, Manzoor, Arshad, and Fareed. Maulana Azad College principal Mazhar Farooqui has confirmed that her last rites will be performed on the campus on Wednesday morning.