Legacy of Jubilees – Silver Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam: “We will not let bigotry, communalism or sectarianism make our lives inward-looking and increasingly meaningless…”

“…the question is less one of whether a man is successful in business or in his profession than of the way in which he is achieving success and the purpose for which his achievements are utilised.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam
New Delhi, India, January 14, 1983

Aga Khan IV
Takhtnashini, Bombay, 1958. Photo: 25 Years in Pictures

“Twenty-five years ago I celebrated my Takhtnashini in India and I have returned nine times since….I hope  the celebration will result in a positive contribution being made to the quality of life of the people of India: not only to the life of our own community. We will not let bigotry, communalism or sectarianism make our lives inward-looking and increasingly meaningless….

The current Five Year Development Plan includes a substantial integrated Rural Development Programme, particularly directed towards employment and income generation for those below the poverty line….Rural people have to be shown that they and their children have a future on the land and from the land. This means that the objective in rural areas must be to stabilise the population – I do not mean only in numerical terms – by increasing individual earning potential and making the quality of rural life more acceptable in comparison with that of cities.

This is, of course, no new idea. Our earliest health care efforts, initiated by my grandfather, Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah Aga Khan, a hundred years ago, were directed towards health care in India’s villages. We have never lost sight of this need….

The Aga Khan Foundation…was established in 1967 in Geneva to be the Imamat’s principal agency for philanthropic social development programmes to build further on the network of welfare services established by my grandfather and to help resolve social development problems in the Third World. It now has affiliates in seven countries, including India…The Foundation collaborates with many other international agencies, such as UNICEF and the WHO, and was officially recognised by the United Nations Development Programme in 1980.

…I have agreed…that an Aga Khan Rural Support Programme should be established. I hope it will make an innovative and effective contribution to the application of effort and resources in the rural areas, both through its own work and by example. This programme is intended to be a catalytic agency, helping to identify income generating opportunities and to develop plans of action…..One of AKRSP’s main function will be the professional preparation of viable project proposals, which will assist in channelling new resources, both financial and human, into the areas concerned….The AKRSP is founded on the principle that communities can take ownership of their own development through the establishment and good governance of representative village organisations.

The AKRSP will initiate programmes of its own; for example in local training and education, in agriculture information services, and in research, it will also help other development organisations to become self-sustaining including those it has created itself.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam
Dinner hosted by the Ismaili Federal Council of India to mark Hazar Imam’s Silver Jubilee
New Delhi, India, January 14, 1983

Aga Khan IV
Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prince Amyn during the Silver Jubilee visit to New Delhi, India (1983). Photo: Christopher Little/The Ismaili


You have been kind enough, Mr. President, to congratulate me on my Silver Jubilee and to remark on my contribution to various development activities, both social and economic…I am quite regularly asked why the Ismaili Imamat has concerned itself, both during my grandfather’s lifetime and now during my own, with the material and mundane issues of economic  development.

…the correct interpretation of our office, and of the faith which guides it, is that man must not shy away from the material endeavour in the name of his faith. On the contrary, he must be enterprising, contributing of his best to his family and the society in which he lives, so long as the content of his endeavour is within the terms of our social and moral conscience and so long as the objectives of the enterprise are equally acceptable.

In simple terms, the question is less one of whether a man is successful in business or in his profession than of the way in which he is achieving success and the purpose for which his achievements are utilised. This, therefore, is the premise which has instigated my grandfather and I to become involved with the issues of Third World economic and social development, covering a wide range of endeavour, from the provision of health care and educational facilities to decent housing and employment. ..

Rural populations, if they are under-paid, under-nourished, under-employed and socially disadvantaged, equally become a liability to the nation. This is why we are planning a rural support programme to identify and promote income generating opportunities for the poor in India’s villages. The aim here again, is to raise standards, in this case of rural productivity, so as to improve the quality of life of the people concerned.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam
Luncheon hosted by the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce to mark Hazar Imam’s Silver Jubilee
New Delhi, India, January 14, 1983
Speech at AKDN

Compiled by Nimira Dewji


Countdown to Diamond Jubilee Series

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