The Saturday program started with a recitation from the Holy Qur’an. The official proceedings of the convention were kicked off with the first session chaired by Mr. Perwaiz Jafri, and a welcome address by Dr. Moyeenul Haque, Chairman of Board of Trustees of the host Association followed by the presentation of annual reports by 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 official representatives of various Alumni Associations from across the US. Each representative presented a brief account of the background and activities of their associations in the previous year.
The theme of the third session was "Alumni and Alma Mater", chaired by Mr. Ali Rizvi and included a presentation by Mr. Faisal Saleem, entitled, "Interaction between alumni and AMU". Mr. Saleem summarized the results of recently conducted survey among the random sample of alumni to determine how they can help their alma mater which will have the maximum positive impact.
The second presentation of the session was given by this citizen journalist , entitled, "Contribution of alumni towards AMU". In this presentation, contributions of various alumni associations and individuals for the spread of Aligarh Movement in general and their contributions towards their alma mater and its student community were highlighted.
The fourth session started after lunch break; it was chaired by Prof. Habib Zuberi and included a presentation by the Vice Chancellor.
Vice Chancellor Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Zameer-ud-din Shah spoke for about an hour and used a powerpoint presentation. Only main points of his talk will be presented here. Vice Chancellor started off by thanking the federation for the invitation and providing the opportunity to interact with AMU alumni spread across North America.
He said that his “mission (God willing) is to make AMU a top ranking university in India” within two years. He said that he was going to turn the University around so that its graduates can meet the new demands of both the market and the nation.
Lt. Gen. Shah Sahib dwelled a great deal on the need to improve the facilities at AMU especially the housing which is in pathetic shape. He added that this was one of the main reasons why foreign students’ numbers have declined. He stressed the need of modernizing the existing facilities and the building of new ones on campus.
He informed the audience that the government has 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 for students. He said that AMU should produce well-rounded graduates.
Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Zameer-ud-din Shah expressed pride in Aligarh Muslim University Alumni all over the world and hoped that they could assist him in his mission to achieve top spot for AMU in the nation. He mentioned the need for “Smart Class Rooms" equipped with modern teaching tools and asked for the help from alumni.
He added that the Alumni's help will be appropriately acknowledged, and complete transparency will be maintained in financial matters. He also said that department of alumni affairs is already on the cards and he has 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 the panel discussion. Panelists included Profs. Habib Zuberi, Wasi Siddiqui, Tariq Haqqi, and Tahir Hussain. Panelists debated on the topics which were discussed in earlier sessions and made recommendations for plan of action moving forward.
The proceedings of the day were concluded in this session with the election for the post of president. The names of all office bearers of the federation along with their contact details will be listed on federation’s website (www.aligs.org). This marked the closing of the day-long sessions of the convention.
The evening program began with the recitation of Qur’an by Mr. Shakeib Mashood followed by welcome 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 the AMU alumni should move from ritual of Sir Syed Day celebration to spread of Sir Syed's mission of imparting modern education. His speech attracted a great deal of interest from Aligarh alumni and local Houston community.
Chief Guest of the evening, Lt. Gen (Retd) Zameer-ud-din Shah was introduced by Prof. Tahir Hussain, newly elected president of the federation. Mr. & Mrs. Shah were presented with bouquet of flowers and symbolic gifts. Dr. Nausha Asrar, "Nash" presented a framed copy of his Nazm (poem) which he recited the previous night.
Lt. Gen (Retd) Shah started off by thanking everyone for the honor and the wonderful gifts. Vice Chancellor Zameer-ud-din Shah reiterated many of the points he mentioned in his talk earlier in the day and affirmed his core mission of making AMU one of the top universities in India through pursuit of excellence in teaching and research.
Vice Chancellor's speech was followed by 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 university anthem, “Tarana-e-Aligarh". Vice Chancellor, Zameer-ud-din 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 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 XIII annual convention of the federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations to be held in Chicago from June 20-22, 2014.
The Convention gave alumni and well-wishers of AMU an opportunity to turn mere reunion into tangible plans for their part in furthering the Aligarh movement. This shows 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 putting together this very successful convention. It was heartwarming to see all most all participating associations pledged to contribute to the call by Vice Chancellor for infrastructure improvement.
Shaheer Khan is Indian American scientist and community activist. He lives in Foster City, CA.