By Mumtaz Alam,
Dubai/New Delhi: India’s former Vice President Hamid Ansari and renowned Indian-American businessman and philanthropist Frank Islam were conferred with the first Sir Syed Global Excellence & Leadership Awards here on Saturday. Both are alumni of India’s prestigious Aligarh Muslim University.
While Hamid Ansari, who was Vice President of India for 10 years after serving as Vice Chancellor of AMU and chairperson of National Minorities Commission, received the award in the category of administration excellence, Frank Islam got the Sir Syed Global Philanthropist Excellence Award. Frank had recently donated $2 million to his alma mater AMU for a new complex for business and management studies.
Besides the two, 15 other eminent alumni of AMU were also honoured with the award in different categories. They include Tariq Chauhan, Group CEO of EFS Facilities Services Group, filmmaker Anubhav Sinha and journalist Rifat Jawaid. Ten of the 17 winners reside in UAE. All the winners are AMU alumni. The award was named after the university’s founder Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. The lifetime achievement award went to AMU chancellor Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin.
Speaking on the occasion, Frank Islam recognized the role of AMU in making him what he is.
“It is an honor because I come before you as a son of Aligarh and a brother to each of you. Like you I am part of the Aligarh family tree. I am here this evening because I have stood on the shoulders of giants. These giants have been the faculty, students, and the alumni of Aligarh Muslim University,” he said.
He described Sir Syed as his hero.
“I am honored to receive the Sir Syed Global Philanthropist Excellence Award for 2018. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan is my hero. He was one of the greatest leaders in the history of AMU. We have been enriched and empowered by Sir Syed’s educational initiatives. I accept this award with humility, not for me, but in recognition of all those Aligarh giants, who have made a difference in society through their leadership, education, and public service.”
“To be given any award named after Sir Syed is special. To be given an award that relates to philanthropy is even more so because it relates directly to the vision that Sir Syed had when he founded Aligarh Muslim University in 1875,” he added.
Early in his speech, Frank praised Hamid Ansari for his strong belief in “building the most diverse, inclusive, and fair vision of India.”
“I want to thank him (Hamid Ansari) for being the guiding light and for helping and advocating to create a unified and just environment where people of different creeds and different faiths can all work together to help shape a better future for India and the world. I admire and respect his strong belief in embracing hope over fears and in building the most diverse, inclusive, and fair vision of India. His firm belief that we cannot be pulled apart and we need to stand together and we need to build bridges and to promote dialogue of understanding and a shared sense of community because we are Indian, bonds that binds us together,” said Frank.
He also highlighted the significance of purposeful philanthropy.
“Philanthropy takes many forms. The philanthropy that is of pivotal importance, in my opinion, is purposeful philanthropy. Purposeful philanthropy is making investments directed at creating a difference in pivot point areas that matter to the future of society. The returns on those investments are changes to problematic conditions and/or the creation of individuals who will become change agents to address those conditions,” said Frank.
About the idea behind the awards, Pushkin Agha, managing director of Vertex Events, which organized the awards, was quoted as saying by Gulf News: “This is the first event held to recognise AMU alumni who have excelled in their field. Leading establishments such as Forbes and Harvard University have awards for their alumni. AMU is a prestigious institution that is almost 100 years old, our alumni are spread around the world. So this event will bring them together and recognise their achievements on an international platform.”
At the Dubai event, special guests included AMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Tariq Mansoor and former AMU vice chancellor Zameeruddin Shah.
(Source: India Tomorrow)