Receiving Philanthropy Award
Thank you Kashif and your colleagues at TCN for choosing me to receive the Philanthropy Leadership Award. I am truly honored to have been selected for this award and wish that I could be there with all of you today at your anniversary celebration to accept it. Unfortunately, a prior commitment prevents me from participating in this joyous occasion. (Pause)
I receive many awards but this one is special because of the nature of the work that those of you at TCN do. TCN’s focus as a non-profit online news organization for the marginalized sections of India is a much needed one.
You bring voice to the voiceless, hope to the hopeless and stamp out the stereotypes that others may have of Muslims. By doing so, you are helping to make India and the world a better and fairer place. My hat is off to you and I applaud your good work.
TCN takes its name from a Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar who said, “I belong to two circles of equal size, but which are not concentric. One is India and the other is the Muslim world.” As I read that quote, I thought that I belong to three circles, India, the Muslim world, and the United States of America.
It is my being in that third circle and realizing the American dream that empowered and enabled me to become a philanthropist and to be recognized by TCN. I engage in philanthropy because I believe that, as John F. Kennedy put it, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
I engage in philanthropy not only to pay back for what I have been given but also to pay it forward so that others can give as well. That’s the perspective I bring to my giving. I do not see philanthropy as charity but as a strategic investment in the future.
It is my understanding that one of the primary reasons that I am being given this award is because of the financial support that my wife Debbie and I are providing to help my alma mater Aligarh Muslim University to build a new School of Management Complex and also for endowing a chair for entrepreneurship and innovation at AMU.
Given that, I would to share a little of what I said at the laying of the Foundation stone for the Management Complex in March of this year because it explains why I concentrate much of my philanthropy on education and is of relevance to the mission of those of you here at TCN as well.
At the foundation stone, I said the following:
From this Management Complex will come the future leaders who will make India and the world a better place?” I am confident that prediction will come true also.
While the bricks and mortar are important, far more significant, however, – in terms of my confidence in my prediction – is who will be in and what will go on in this setting? This will be a home for Aligarh business faculty and students.
It will be a place for the sharing of information and the imparting and development of knowledge. It will be a space where faculty and students can collaborate on innovative projects. It will be an educational empowerment zone.
Debbie and I recognize and understand this. That is why we made instituting an Endowed Chair in our name part of our conditions for providing funding support for the Management Complex.
The person in that Chair will provide the essential intellectual and emotional capital to match the building’s bricks and mortar. We expect that person to be a thought leader and a mentor to those management and business students who will graduate from Aligarh.
Our overriding motivation in supporting the Management Complex is because of the emphasis it will place on preparing the students at AMU to become entrepreneurial leaders who will engage in economic development activities that will create jobs and opportunities for thousands of people throughout India and in other parts the world.
While I was in India in March, I also had the privilege to give the convocation address to students graduating from AMU. Here is part of what I said to them:
Much has been accomplished here:
- India is the largest democracy in the world
- India is now the world’s fastest growing major economy
- India is fast emerging as a regional and global power and leader
Still, much needs to be done. This is especially true for Muslims and other minorities.
In spite of begrudging progress, too many Muslims in India remain socially, educationally and economically disadvantaged. The statistics on Muslims in poverty and without education here in India are stunning.
As you become successful in your chosen line of work, because Aligarh has prepared you well and empowered you both academically and spiritually, you have the capacity to take India and Muslims to greater heights.
Therefore, I ask that you to find a cause that matters to you and to get involved. Take my word for it, the psychic return that you will get on that investment of your time and talent will be priceless. It will mean as much to you as any paycheck you ever get or all the money that you earn.
Although your cause must be your cause, I would suggest that you consider doing something to benefit the Muslim population in India.
As I mentioned earlier in my speech, the statistics on Muslims in poverty and without education here are stunning. Many of your Muslim brothers and sisters need assistance. Your commitment to helping make things better for them could make a difference for a lifetime – both for them and for you.
As you can see, I am passionate about education and about the responsibilities that we as Muslims have to assist our Muslim brethren. I know that this is a passion and a commitment that I share with you at this fundraising event for TCN.
So, in closing let me ask you to dig down deep and give what you can to support TCN. Even though TCN disseminates news, as I see it, it is really in the education and inspiration business.
As I said at the beginning of my comments, TCN gives voice to the voiceless, hope to the hopeless, and stamps out stereotypes that others may have in Muslim.
Thanks again for this recognition. I wish I could have been with you in person today. But, since I cannot, rest assured that I am with you in spirit and committed to the same cause that you are pursuing.