Published On:05 July 2013
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

XII Annual Convention of Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations in Houston a great success

By Shaheer Khan

Houston, Texas: The twelfth annual convention of the Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations (FAAA) was held on June 28-30, 2013 at Crown Plaza Huston River Oaks, Houston, TX. The theme of the 2013 convention was "New Generation Alumni & Aligarh Movement" and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Alumni Association of Texas hosted the convention. Representatives from across the United States and Canada attended the convention. It has been one of the most widely attended conventions of the Federation.
The program started on Friday, June 28th with alumni reunion and dinner followed by a cultural program in the evening in which participants showed their talent.

The Saturday program started with a recitation from the Holy Qur'an by Dr. Tahir Hussain. The official proceedings of the convention were kicked off with the first session chaired by Mr. Perwaiz Jafri, and a welcome address by Dr. Moyeenul Haque, Chairman of Board of Trustees of the host Association followed by the presentation of annual reports by Drs. Irfan Beg (Treasurer), Nausha Asrar (Secretary), Tariq Haqqi (President), and Mr. Perwaiz Jafri (Chairman, Board of Trustees). The second session was chaired by Prof. Wasi Siddiqui and included the introduction of various Alumni Associations' official representatives from across USA. Each representative presented a brief account of the background and activities of their associations in the previous year.

The theme of the third session was "Alumni and Alma Mater", chaired by Ali Rizvi and included a presentation by Faisal Saleem, entitled, "Interaction between alumni and AMU". Mr. Saleem summarized the results of recently conducted survey among the random sample of alumni to determine how they can help their alma mater which will have the maximum positive impact. The second presentation of the session was given by this writer, entitled, "Contribution of alumni towards AMU". In this presentation, contributions of various alumni associations and individuals for the spread of Aligarh Movement in general and their contributions towards their alma mater and its student community were highlighted. It was emphasized that alumni have to get involved in organized philanthropy for the greater good of the university and its student body. It was suggested that the department of alumni affairs should be created at Aligarh Muslim University. This department should be managed by someone well known, with impeccable credentials, supported by professional staff who knows how to interact with alumni - with clear objectives.

The fourth session started after lunch break, Chaired by Prof. Habib Zuberi included a presentation by the Vice Chancellor.

Vice Chancellor Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah spoke for about an hour and used a PowerPoint presentation. It is not possible to incorporate all the details of his speech in this report. Only main points of his talk will be presented here. Vice Chancellor started off by thanking the federation for the invitation and providing the opportunity to interact with AMU alumni spread across North America. He said that his mission (God willing) is to make AMU a top ranking university in India within two years. He said that he was going to Insha'Allah turn the University around so that its graduates can meet the new demands of both the market and the nation.

Vice Chancellor Shah said that he faced some immediate issues and pointed out student indiscipline on campus as the main cause of concern. He added that these problems were difficult but were not insurmountable.

He said that he is on "head hunting" mission and looking to add more new and qualified faculty at AMU. Shah Sahib did take the opportunity to visit the campuses of University of Houston and Rice University.

Lt. Gen. Shah said that AMU would continue to be a liberal-secular institution but primarily for the Muslims. "It is a secular institution, primarily for the Millat as Sir Syed wanted it, and we are going to keep it that way," he said. He added that the focus should remain on "modern-scientific education,". He said that AMU needs to move beyond the blackboard and chalk era into the computer age. He also said that unfortunately the university had a setback on its minority character status and that he would focus on getting it restored.

The Vice Chancellor said that foreign dignitary visits to the campus have dried up in recent years mainly due to its own fault. Indiscipline and rebelling against visitors has caused damage to our reputation. He said that will have to change and that some important foreign dignitaries have already accepted his invitation to visit AMU when they visit India next.

Lt. Gen. Shah Sahib dwelled a great deal on the need to improve the facilities at AMU especially the housing which is in pathetic shape. He added that this was one of the main reasons why foreign student's numbers have declined. He stressed the need of modernizing the existing facilities and the building of new ones on campus. He informed the audience that the government has sanctioned funds for the construction of a hall of residence for 1000 boys and another one for 1500 girls. He was seeking additional assistance from the government and the Aga Khan Foundation for upgrading the campus infrastructure. He said university is paying special attention to providing sports facilities for students. He said that AMU should produce well-rounded graduates.

On entrance standards for AMU he said that all aspiring students should pass an entrance exam (not just for engineering and medical students). He also added that foreign languages, including Chinese, French, German and Hebrew need to be taught on campus. He also encouraged AMU students to consider training for and joining India's defense services and said that he had already started working on required logistics where the students could be prepped for the competition. He also said that he would like to share students with other campuses like Jamia Millia and Jamia Hamdard, in areas where these universities excelled. "I would like to send students, who want to study mass communications to Jamia's AJK Mass Communication Research Center and to Jamia Hamdard for training students for civil services and AMU can train students for the defense services," Shah said.

Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah expressed pride in Aligarh Muslim University Alumni all over the world and hoped that they could assist him in his mission to achieve top spot for AMU in the nation. He mentioned the need for "Smart Class Rooms" equipped with modern teaching tools and asked for the help from alumni. He added that the Alumni's help will be appropriately acknowledged, and complete transparency will be maintained in financial matters. He also said that department of alumni affairs is already on the cards and he has identified a person to take charge of the department. The VC took questions after his speech.

The fifth session was chaired by Umar Farooq and included the panel discussion. Panelists included, Profs. Habib Zuberi, Wasi Siddiqui, Tariq Haqqi, and Tahir Hussain. Panelists debated on the topics which were discussed in earlier sessions and made recommendations for plan of action moving forward.

The proceedings of the day were concluded in this session with the election for the post of president. The names of all office bearers of the federation along with their contact details will be listed on federation's website (www.aligs.org). This marked the closing of the day-long sessions of the convention.

All guests then proceeded to rest for a little while to gather again at 6:00 pm for Banquet Dinner. The program began with the recitation of Quran by Shakeib Mashood followed by welcome by Dr. Syed Abuzar, President of the host association.

The guest of honor P. Harish, Consul General of India (Houston) was introduced by Latafath Hussain. Mr. Harish spoke eloquently and suggested the AMU alumni should move from ritual of Sir Syed Day celebration to spread of Sir Syed's mission of imparting modern education. His speech attracted a great deal of interest from Aligarh alumni and local Houston community.

Chief Guest of the evening, Lt. Gen (Retd) Zameer Uddin Shah was introduced by Prof. Tahir Hussain, newly elected president of the federation. Mr. & Mrs. Shah were presented with bouquet of flowers and symbolic gifts. Dr. Nausha Asrar, "Nash" presented a framed copy of his Nazm (poem) which he recited the previous night. Lt. Gen. (Retd) Shah started off by thanking everyone for the honor and the wonderful gifts. Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Shah reiterated many of the pointes he mentioned in his talk earlier in the day and affirmed his core mission of making AMU one of the top universities in India through pursuit of excellence in teaching and research. This goal also happens to be close to the hearts of many AMU alumni in the US who would like to see their alma mater present even better opportunities for future generations of AMU students.

Vice Chancellor's speech was followed by presentation of community service Awards to Dr. Moyeenul Haque and Omar Farooq by the Vice Chancellor.

After a vote-of-thanks by Perwaiz Jafri, the official proceedings of the convention concluded with the singing of university anthem, "Tarana-e-Aligarh". Vice Chancellor, Zameer Uddin Shah enthusiastically participated in the singing of the Tarana.

The night was still young and the audience was anxiously waiting for the final portion of the program. The floor was then given to Ugayan Parikh to begin the Ghazal program of the evening. He took the center stage and mesmerized the audience with his captivating voice. His magical and soulful vocals transported the Houston community and visiting alumni into an evening of fun and loud cheers. He was ably assisted by Alaap on Tabla. The program continued till 1:00 am in the night with requests for favorites pouring in from the audience.

The next day was marked by a semi-formal round of discussion with Vice Chancellor Shah who urged the AMU community to support their alma mater in every possible way. He discussed his plan to organize World Alumni Summit in Aligarh in March 2014 to coincide with the annual convocation. He invited the alumni to Aligarh Muslim University for participation in the summit in large numbers.

Dr. Saif Sheikh also invited every one to XIII annual convention of the federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations to be held in Chicago from June 20-22, 2014.

It was exciting to renew old friendships and establish new ones at the convention and to get to meet prominent Aligarians and well wishers from all across US & Canada. It was also good opportunity for the Aligs of Houston area to interact with other delegates and make their presence felt and learn about the work that was being carried on by other member organizations of the federation. For two days we were all transported to the good old days at AMU. The Convention gave alumni and well wishers of AMU an opportunity to turn mere reunion into tangible plans for their part in furthering the Aligarh movement. This shows that there is a common thread that binds all of us, so let us work to strengthen it further for the good of our mother institution not only in words but through actions as well.

In conclusion, one needs to commend the AMUAA team in Houston for putting together this very successful convention. It was heartwarming to see all most all participating associations pledged to contribute to the call by Vice Chancellor for "Smart Class Room" fund. And it appears that the AMU alumni in USA are not done yet because Vice Chancellor is visiting Phoenix, Boston, and New York before heading back to Aligarh.

[Shaheer Khan is Indian American scientist and community activist.  He lives in Foster City, CA. He can be contacted at amualumni@hotmail.com]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on July 05, 2013. Filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on July 05, 2013. Filed under , , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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