[Report and photos courtesy Ghizal Mahdi, President, Jamia Millia Islamia Alumni Association, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia]
Jamia Millia Islamia Alumni Association Riyadh Chapter, commemorated the Foundation Day of their University at gala event held in Riyadh, [Saudi Arabia on Dec. 12, 2014]. Aside from an impressive panel of guests, the vast numbers of alumni and their friends and family participated in this annual event.
The highlight of the event was a lecture by the chief guest and sitting Vice Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia Professor Talat Ahmad, who shared his vision and mission for the growth of Jamia into an institution of first choice in the country. He also promised to institutionalize the Alumni-University relationship.
The program began with the recitation of the Holy Quran in the dignified voice of Mr. Abdul Wajid Nadwi. The Jamia Tarana team comprising Mr. Aftab Nizami, Mr. Aburrahman, Mr. Haroon Qasmi, Mr. Shamim Ahmad, Mr. Mohammad Rahbar, Mr. Syed Saif, Mr. Asim Hamdan, Mr. Shahzeb Khan, Mr. Asim Raza Tanwar & Mr. Sayed Kashif sang the Jamia anthem in a mellifluous and coordinated voice to a resounding applause from the audience.
Aside from the sitting JMI Vice Chancellor, the illustrious panel of guests included Professor Zubair Meenai, former Dean of Students Welfare and Head of Department of Social Work in Jamia Millia Islamia, Mr. Kamal Akhtar, a Jamia alumnus and State Minister of Self Government in the Government of Uttar Pradesh (India), and Mr. Javed Ali Khan, a Jamia alumnus and Member of upper house of the Indian Parliament.
Prominent Jamia alumni Mr. Aftab Nizami, Mr. Laique Azmi, Mr. Ehsan Azim, Mr. Zafar Bari, Mr. Mohammad Azam, Mr. Nisar Ahmad, Mr. Syed Ghufran, Mr. Azmatullah Khan, and Mr. Salman Azmi welcomed the guests by presenting the guests with flower bouquets.
The president of the association Mr. Ghizal Mahdi set the tone and tenor of the evening by extending a warm welcome to the guests. He stated that “Jamia is not just an institution of learning from nursery to PhD. Rather it is an embodiment of values that have defined India over the years. The beauty, the riot of colors, the attractive collage of cultures and languages and mutual coexistence, which are the hallmarks of India find reflection in Jamia Millia Islamia. Jamia is a microcosm of the Indian society. Its spirit is rooted in the love for the nation and the national struggle for independence. No other institution can lay claim to so many and such important freedom fighters among its founders than Jamia Millia Islamia.” He further added ” we are gathered here to celebrate the spirit of Jamia Millia Islamia and to reaffirm our commitment to its values of intellectual freedom, moderation, toleration, and standing up for our beliefs like our founding fathers even if it is against the stream.” About the association, Mahdi said “Its vision is to bring together all Jamiates in Riyadh on one platform to foster better interaction among them so that they can be useful to each other in times of need and want.”
Professor Zubair Meenai reminded the audience that the objective of the Foundation Day is to revisit the aims and objectives of Jamia which was not just to educate us but also to enable us to help others. He pointed out that Jamia would be a hundred years old in six years’ time. That will be a proud moment for all of us. He said that by the time we commemorate the centenary of the University, we want Jamia to become the University of First Choice for students. On the role of alumni, he said that constructive feedback would be useful in developing courses and making them more responsive to market needs based on the feedback received from the alumni who are aware of market dynamics. He emphasized that Jamia is not an elitist institution. We want it to grow and expand, but at the same time it should be accessible to the socially disadvantaged sections.
Member of the upper house of the Indian Parliament (Rajya Sabha), who during his student days at Jamia was General Secretary in the Students Union, stressed that Jamia should proceed in the direction set out in the original aims and objectives of Jamia. He said that the Jamia Act should be amended to include the names of founding fathers of Jamia Millia Islamia. He urged Jamia alumni across the globe to link up and associate with each other for the good of the alma mater.
Mr. Murshid Kamal, former President of JMIAA-Riyadh, and former Vice President of the Jamia Students Union, introduced his former colleague in the Students Union Mr. Kamal Akhtar, who is currently the Minister of Local Self Government in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Murshid Kamal highlighted the historic importance of Jamia Millia Islamia. He narrated how Jamia moved from strength to strength due to the sacrifice and hard work of people like Dr. Zakir Hussain, who went on to become the President of India.
Mr. Kamal Akhtar, former Jamia students leader and current minister, emphasized the need for the revival of the students union in Jamia so as to groom young and vibrant leaders for the community and the country. For the past twenty years or so, no students union elections have been held in Jamia, which has led to the paucity of young leadership at the national level. He assured the Vice Chancellor, that he would extend all help in the construction of a girls hostel in Jamia. He also said that he would leave no stone unturned to help Jamia secure the land needed by Jamia from the UP government for the construction of the medical college. He said that the rightist forces opposed to the secular dispensation in the state of Uttar Pradesh are trying to raise sensitive issues to polarize voters on the basis of religion. This is part of their plan for the upcoming elections to be held in Uttar Pradesh in 2017. The masses should oppose these forces and strengthen secular forces everywhere.
Sitting Vice Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia and chief guest of the event Professor Talat Ahmad held the audience spellbound for over an hour by discussing his vision and mission as the Vice Chancellor. He said that he found that teaching in Jamia is good but research needs to be bettered. A university is recognized and ranked according to quality and quantity of research it produces. He said that he has linked promotion of the teaching staff with their research output. He also emphasized the need to focus on improving the grading of the University by the National Accreditation Council (NAC). He said that he aimed to achieve Grade A for the University and towards this end he was making the required effort. This will help raise the credentials of the University and consequently its alumni. For improving international ranking it was important to collaborate with foreign and local universities. On improving interaction of the alumni with the university, he said that he planned to take deserving alumni on the executive and academic council of the University. He said that within a span of six years Jamia will become hundred years old. Alumni should give suggestions on how to make Jamia the University of first choice.
He said that he had invited Dr. Anand Kumar of Super Thirty to give motivational speech to students in Jamia. He added that 73 students from the Jamia Civil Services Coaching Center has qualified the preliminary test. He said that 25 more Jamia students will be provided coaching. He said that he intended to start coaching for judicial, banking, and JRF NET tests. He added that students to should aim to gain knowledge and not just degrees.
He promised that he would create a portal for Jamia alumni so that they could register. An Identity card will be issued to registered alumni. He also welcomed the idea of an Endowment Fund for Jamia through which Jamia alumni could channelize their contribution and scholarships would be granted to deserving students. He promised that 15% reservation would be given to NRI girls in the new girls hostel. He would make the provision for Jamia alumni to use the Jamia guest house based on availability. Jamia alumni could also use the baratghar.
He announced that he was working towards establishing the Earth Science and Climate Change Department in Jamia which would specialize in disaster management. He is also working on establishing a museum on the national struggle for independence.
He further said that Jamia was placing high importance on innovation. The University is now formulating a course with Tata Consultancy Services.
The Vice Chancellor said that Foundation Day and Taleemi Mela will be officially adopted by the University. During Taleemi Mela he intended to hold job fairs. He also promised that he would make efforts to revive the students union.
JMIAA President Mr. Ghizal Mahdi presented a memento of appreciation to the Vice Chancellor for his outstanding services to Jamia Millia Islamia.
In appreciation of his efforts for social and political development, General Secretary Mr. Abid Aqeel presented a memento to Mr. Kamal Akhtar.
Mr. Javed Ali Khan was given a memento of appreciation for articulating the voice of the marginalized by former JMIAA Riyadh President Khursheed Anwar.
Joint Secretary Mr. Irfanul Haque Nadwi presented a memento to Professor Zubair Meenai for his outstanding services to the alumni.
Dr. Najeeb Qasmi and Dr. S. Khan were granted mementos of appreciation by the Vice Chancellor for being awarded the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Mohammad Tauheed Khan a young Jamia alumnus was awarded a memento of appreciation in recognition of his services in linking up Jamiaites across the globe through the internet.
Treasurer of the Association Mr. Abdul Rahman anchored the proceedings in chaste Urdu interspersed with couplets of famous poets.
Vice President of Jamia Millia Islamia Alumni Association Mr. Ghayasuddin proposed a vote of thanks.