Aligarh Alumni Association PO Box 1877, Ellicot City MD 21403

410-531-9492

June 2015

NEWS FROM AROUND WASHINGTON AREA
The Aligarh Alumni Association, Washington DC (AAA), had a very busy schedule during the spring and early summer months, either hosting or participating in a number of events. Following is a brief account of some of these activities:
The Annual Fundraiser: The AAA held its annual Iftar-fundraiser on Saturday, June 27, 2015, at James Blake High School, Silver Spring. The Chairman of the fundraising committee, Dr. Aftab Ansari, updated the audience on the status of the Association’s highly successful scholarship and Feeder programs. He stated that in the year 2014, the AAA provided 248 university scholarships and arranged free tuition facilities for school-level children at over 800 centers in India–very impressive statistics. Also, reassuring was the information that the AAA scholarship endowment funds had grown steadily over the years and now stand at $826,459.

In his keynote speech, Mr. Frank Islam, a philanthropist and an enthusiastic supporter of education, emphasized that, if pursued, education would open doors to 21st century careers and equip Indian Muslims to compete in the unfolding global economy. Importantly, it would lift them out of a state of poverty and deprivation. Ambassador Islam Siddiqui reinforced the same theme in his brief comments. The evening concluded on a powerful motivational speech by Dr. Habib Ashraf. The AAA collected funds in excess of $50,000 to continue and expand its scholarship and feeder programs in India.

Full text of Frank Islam speech can be found on our website by clicking here
The Annual Picnic:

The Association organized its annual picnic on Sunday, June 14, at Bohrer Park, Gaithersburg. Despite hot weather, about 75 people attended, contributing a variety of delicious foods. Most important, the occasion provided a venue for some informal social interactions, spawning a lot of joviality among friends. The chief organizer was Ms. Nasreen Khan who was assisted by a team of able volunteers.
Pictures of the event can be found by clicking hereand here.
Basant Bahar Mela: The AAA collaborated with The Urdu Academy of Maryland in organizing the Basant Mela (Spring Fair) to celebrate the arrival of spring. The fair was held on May 30 at Bohrer Park, Gaithersburg, attracting a big crowd. The attendees comprised mostly people with interest in the traditions and ethos of what has come to be known as “Urdu culture.” Another shared interest was their support for the promotion of Urdu language in the Maryland school system.
Some color was brought to the celebration by vendors offering a variety of foods, and volunteers showcasing popular South Asian dress and clothing. For children, there were music, kite flying and dance shows. The main organizer of the event was Ms. Tahira Aziz, who has been the motivating force behind the Urdu Culture Academy. (Contributed by Dr. Raziuddin)
Reception for the Indian Ambassador: Some members of the AAA attended a reception on Sunday, June 14, organized by the National Council of Asian-Indian Associations to welcome Ambassador Arun Kumar Singh. The presence of the Nobel Laureate, Kailash Satyarth, afforded extra significance to the occasion. Dr. Abdullah recited a poem to welcome Ambassador Singh, which was much appreciated. An image of reception flyer can by found here.
Dr. Abdullah’s Visit to India: Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, one of the founding members of the AAA, recently visited India and participated in the 17th International Mushaira on April 3, 2015, in Delhi, organized by the Jashan-e-Bahar Trust. The Trust is dedicated to the promotion of literary and cultural activities. The vice-chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University, Lt. Gen (retired) Zamir Uddin Shah, was the chief guest and the Mushaira was presided over by the senior journalist and scholar, Kuldip Nayar. Dr. Abdullah’s presentation evoked enthusiastic applause. (Courtesy, Mr. Yazdani Siddiqui, Adapted from the Urdu magazine of the US Embassy)
Future Events:
Kavi-Sammelan/Mushaira                 Saturday, August 22, 2015
Annual Mushaira                              Saturday, November 7, 2015
Sir Syed Day Dinner and Lecture      Sunday, November, 8, 2015

NEWS FROM ALIGARH UNIVERSITY
Mr. Frank Islam donates $2 million to his Alma Mater:

Mr. Frank Islam, a long-standing member of the AAA, has made a $2 million donation in his and his wife’s name to the AMU to build the Frank and Debbie Islam School of Management with an endowed chair. He elaborated on his motivation: “As a business person, I do not make these contributions as charity but as investments for renewing and replenishing the American dream and for building strong futures for the underprivileged citizens of America and India.”
The Pro-Vice Chancellor’s Visit to MIT:

Brigadier Syed Ahmad Ali visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on June 11, and met Dr. Mriganka Sur, Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Simons Center for the Social Brain. Dr. Sur gave a brief overview of his research programs and explained the functioning of the brain, and how over expression and under regulation of certain genes could lead to abnormalities in transmission of nerve signals.
Yoga Practice Not Associated with Any Religion:

The Vice-Chancellor Zameer Uddin Shah explained that Yoga was deeply ingrained in the university’s culture and that a number of his predecessors had encouraged its practice. He disclosed, “I have been practicing Yoga for the past 40 years and it has helped me tremendously. However, no one should be pressured to practice this ancient form of exercise. Yoga must be delinked from religion to enhance its mass appeal,” he counseled.
Medical Entrance Exams Cancelled: On Friday, May 29, the University cancelled medical admission tests for 2015, following recommendation of a special committee formed to probe into reported irregularities in the MBBS and BDS entrance examination. The enquiry committee has, further, decided to hold new examinations in the first week of August. The decision was taken by the vice chancellor after doubts were raised, as inordinately large number of candidates became qualified in the written test from a particular centre in South India.
Glimpses into the Past History of Aligarh
Professor Rashid Ahmad Siddiqui (1892-1977), an acclaimed writer, satirist and literary critic, served for a long time as head of the Urdu Department, AMU. His abiding affection for his Alma Mata permeates all his writings. The following section is adapted from his book, Ashufta Biani Meri, published by Maktab Jamia Millia, Delhi.
The year was 1915, and I was feeling especially pleased with myself. I had secured admission in the MAO College and was placed in what was then called Kuchchi Barack (one of the two earliest hostel buildings). In those days, college admissions were completed in June, but the academic year started later in October. The brutal heat and humidity of June and July Aligarh weather is indescribable, and can be fully appreciated only by those who suffered through it in their student days.
After I started my student life at MAO College, my first few weeks were truly miserable. I felt acutely homesick and despondent? Now, as I look back on that unhappy period, I feel I benefitted from the hardships I endured. The experience hardened me and helped prepare me to face with equanimity the much greater challenges that came later in life. Those who have not been inside Kuchchi Barack hostel of yore would never believe what the place was like. The building was in an advance state of decrepitude, so badly maintained that it was a miracle that it was still standing. The ceiling was barely held up by wooden planks that had been eaten at places by termites. The planks had been reinforced by numerous temporary patches.
Yet, not everything of the hostel life was atrocious. The evenings offered a delightful respite and were the best part of the day. As the intensity of the midday heat subsided, we washed ourselves, put on clean clothes, and jubilantly emerged from our rooms. Suddenly, shouts of joy wafted in the air, rippling through the breeze. This jubilation was intended to let our friends know that we had survived another tough day and were ready for some fun. The cool evenings facilitated celebrations that lasted late into the night. The student population in the Kuchchi Barack was highly diverse, ranging from sons of very rich to very poor. Despite all the creature comforts we lacked, I don’t recall anyone seeking to move out of the hostel. In time, we learnt to love our quaint hostel, its rugged old-fashioned charm, and felt sorry when finally it was time to say goodbye.
Syed Amir (Editor)                                                                                 Khurshid Usmani (Web)

Farzana Farooqi (President)                                                               Razi Raziuddin (Chairman)

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