Mawlana Hazar Imam's visit to India

Between February 2-14, 1989 Mawlana Hazar Imam visited India as a guest of the Indian Government. The visit, primarily to meet the Jamat of Gujurat, also included visits to Bombay and New Delhi. In Gujarat Mawlana Hazar Imam met the Jamat in Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Ahmedabad, Sidhpur and Malia Hatina.

In Gujarat, Mawlana Hazar Imam accompanied by the Chief Minister, Mr. Amarsinh Chaudhary, also visited a number of rural development projects in Broach District. These projects, totalling over 200 emphasize income generation and effective management of renewable resources. They include water source and wasteland development, savings, credit and supply schemes, animal husbandry and agriculture. During this extensive visit, Hazar Imam visited similar rural development projects in Junagadh districts as well as a major medical unit one of 44 day-care centres, all of which are operated by the Aga Khan network of institutions and serve people of all faiths.

In Ahmedabad, at a luncheon hosted in Hazar Imam's honour by the Aga Khan Development network of institutions, Dr. Kurien, a leading Indian development specialist, referring to Mawlana Hazar Imam's endeavours in improving the quality of human life said:

"How do you force the rapid pace of development with a people who are caught in the spiral of poverty, physical weakness, malnutrition, vulnerability and powerlessness? In my opinion, only through creating strong institutional structures - owned and commanded by them - to produce and market the produce of their labour and to provide them with services, inputs and technologies which will help them to produce more, to earn more and to demand more..."

"Your Highness," he continued, I am sure you find it gratifying that the institutions established under your inspiration reflect a deep understanding of the nature of these interlocking phenomena... The efforts of these different institutions, though independently managed, reinforce each other; and the synergy that so results, makes the impact of the network as whole large, more significant and more wholesome that the sum of the impacts of individual member institutions."

In his address, Mawlana Hazar Imam spoke of the need to rebalance the heavy weight of urban and industrial bias in development. "Substantial growth must," Hazar Imam emphasized, "be rooted in policies that preserve the rural environment, enable rural communities to live in harmony with their surroundings and slow down the process of urbanization." Hazar Imam further emphasized the need to devise better ways to transfer resources from productive enterprises to social organizations - schools, universities and health providers, so that these bodies are not totally dependent on government grants.

On February 6, 1989, Mawlana Hazar inaugurated the Development Co-operative Bank's Integrated Standard Software Programme in Bombay to enable the DCB to provide better and faster service. DCB came into existence on June 30, 1981 as a result of the historic voluntary merger of two old-established urban co-operative banks, i.e. Ismailia Co-operative Bank Ltd. and Masalawala Co-operative Bank Ltd. These two urban co-operative banks started as co-operative credit societies way back in 1930 and within a span of three years thereafter, were converted into full-fledged co-operative banks. DCB is the first Indian Cooperative Bank to provide integrated computerised banking services.

On February 11th Begum Salimah arrived in India and accompanied Mawlana Hazar Imam to New Delhi where they met the President of India, Shri R. Venkatraman and Mrs. Venkatraman at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

On February 13th Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, the Vice-President of India, hosted a dinner at Hyderabad House in honour of Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah to which leading Indian dignatories were invited. Earlier that day Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah laid wreaths at the Memorials of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Srimati Indira Gandhi.

On February 14, Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah met Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who hosted a luncheon in their honour at the Prime Minister's residence.

The thirteen day visit was crowded with a host of activities which included meetings with members of the Jamat, leaders of the various institutions, visits to development projects and meetings and Government Ministers.

(Source: Africa Ismaili)

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