It’s Pay Back Time: AMU Vice-Chancellor Reminds Alumni at Annual Convention in Houston
By Shaheer Khan, PhD
Foster City, CA

 

Houston, TX: The Twelfth Annual Convention of the Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations (FAAA) was held on June 28-30, 2013 at the Crowne Plaza Huston River Oaks, Houston, TX. The theme of the 2013 convention was "New Generation Alumni & Aligarh Movement."

The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Alumni Association of Texas hosted the convention with representatives from across the United States and Canada in attendance.

The program started on Friday, June 28th with an alumni reunion and dinner followed by a cultural program.

The Saturday program began with a recitation from the Holy Qur’an. With the official proceedings getting underway the first session was chaired by Mr Perwaiz Jafri with a welcome address presented by Dr Moyeenul Haque, Chairman, 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 the USA. Each representative presented a brief account of the background and activities of their association in the previous year.
The theme of the third session was "Alumni and Alma Mater" and it was chaired by Mr Ali Rizvi. Mr Faisal Saleem made a presentation highlighting "Interaction between alumni and AMU". He summarized the results of a recently conducted survey among a random sample of alumni to determine how they could help their alma mater to make the maximum positive impact.  The second presentation of the session was made by this writer entitled "Contribution of alumni towards AMU". In this presentation, contributions of various alumni associations and individuals for the promotion of the Aligarh Movement in general and their contributions towards their alma mater and its student community were highlighted.
The fourth session started after the lunch break. Chaired by Prof. Habib Zuberi, it included a presentation by Vice-Chancellor Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah. He spoke for about an hour and made a PowerPoint presentation. It is not possible to incorporate all the details of his speech in this report.  Only the salient points of his talk will be presented here.  The Vice-Chancellor started off by thanking the Federation for the invitation and providing an opportunity to interact with the AMU alumni spread across North America.  He said that his mission, God willing, was 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 could meet the new demands of both the market and the nation.

Lt. Gen. Shah Sahib dwelled at length on the need to improve the facilities at AMU, especially housing, which is currently in a pathetic condition. He added that this was one of the main reasons for the decline in the strength of foreign students. He stressed the need of modernizing the existing facilities and the building of new ones on the campus. He informed the audience that the government had 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 the university is paying special attention to providing sports facilities to students. He said that AMU should produce well-rounded graduates.
Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah expressed pride in the Aligarh Muslim University Alumni all over the world and hoped that they could assist him in his mission to achieve a top spot for AMU in the nation. He mentioned the need for “smart class rooms" equipped with modern teaching tools and asked for help from the alumni in this regard. He informed that the alumni's help will be appropriately acknowledged and complete transparency will be maintained in financial matters. He also said that a department of alumni affairs is very much on the cards and he has already identified a person to take charge of the department. The VC took questions after his speech.

The fifth session was chaired by Mr Umar Farooq and included a panel discussion.  The panelists included Professors Habib Zuberi, Wasi Siddiqui, Tariq Haqqi, and Tahir Hussain. They debated the topics which were discussed in earlier sessions and made recommendations for a plan of action to move forward.

The proceedings of the day concluded in this session with the elections for the post of president. The names of all office bearers of the federation along with their contact details will be listed on the federation’s website (www.aligs.org).

The evening program began with the recitation of the Holy Qur’an by Mr Shakeib Mashood followed by a welcome address by Dr Syed Abuzar, President of the host association.

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

The Chief Guest of the evening, Lt. Gen (Retd) Zameer Uddin Shah, was introduced by Prof. Tahir Hussain, newly elected president of the federation. Mr and Mrs Shah were presented with bouquet of flowers and gifts.  Dr Nausha Asrar "Nash" presented a framed copy of his nazm (poem) which he had recited the previous night.  Lt. Gen (Retd) Shah started off by thanking everyone for the honor and the wonderful gifts. The Vice-Chancellor reiterated many of the points he mentioned in his talk earlier in the day and affirmed his core mission of making the AMU one of the top universities in India through pursuit of excellence in teaching and research.

The Vice-Chancellor's speech was followed by a presentation of community service awards to Dr Moyeenul Haque and Mr Omar Farooq by the Vice Chancellor.

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

In the last part of the day-long program Ugayan Parikh 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 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 a World Alumni Summit in Aligarh in March 2014 to coincide with the annual convocation and invited the alumni to the summit in large numbers.

Dr Saif Sheikh also invited everyone to the XIII Annual Convention of the Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations to be held in Chicago from June 20-22, 2014.

The Convention gave the alumni and well-wishers of AMU an opportunity to turn a reunion into tangible plans for furthering the Aligarh Movement. It demonstrated 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 organizing this very successful convention. It was heartwarming to see that almost all participating associations pledged to respond to the call of the Vice Chancellor and help in the infrastructure improvement of their alma mater.

 

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