AFMI on Women Empowerment

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah-Chicago

Oct 3rd 2011

The American Federation of Muslims of Indian origin (AFMI) successfully held its 21st annual national convention in Chicago under the leadership of Dr. Tajuddin Ahmed, the incoming AFMI president, and the chairperson Dr. Siraj Ahmed, Co-chair Hassan Kaleemuddin and various heads of other committees. Over 350 people attended the banquet session.

The theme of the convention was “Women Empowerment Through Education”.

Distinguished and knowledgeable speakers from across the nation who participated during the whole day sessions discussed various issues like “Current Status of Indian Muslim Women”, “Tools and Models for Empowering Women Through Education” followed by the session for “Strategic planning and Moving Forward in to Action”.

Mrs. Priya Dutt, Member of the Parliament, address the banquet session of the convention. She is also in charge of women section of the Indian National Congress and Congress party’s general Secretary. The other Chief Guest was the former Illinois senator, Mosley Braun. The theme of the convention being women empowerment, both the main speakers focused on their educational and economic empowerment through creating opportunities at all levels. Priya Dutt is the daughter of Late Sunil Dutt, a Bollywood icon and a former minister of youth affairs. She is involved in running a number of women empowerment centers in the slums of Bombay.

The AFMI convention enables people from Indian origin to find ways of cooperation on issues of concerns for Muslims of India. AFMI organizes an international convention in India in December to distribute medals to students who out excel others in education. Besides, AFMI also runs and supports a number of educational institutions in different parts of India. Relief and political education are two other areas that form the focus of AFMI activities in India. The organization was established in 1989 to provide a platform to Muslims of Indian origin living in the US.to contribute their human and material resources for the Muslims of India. This year’s convention saw the emergence of a youth leadership in the organization as they made significant presentation on educational and economic issues. Some of the presenters presented the conclusion of their research in the city of Hyderabad and other places where women are making significant efforts in bringing about changes in their sociopolitical conditions.  The emergence of a women leadership in India’s Muslim dominated areas is a fact that is being recognized by the community as was suggested by one of the speakers.

Mr. Ashfaq Qureshi, the current President of the organization said that the organization was focused on education and has adopted a motivational approach to help Muslims achieve the goal of 100 per cent literacy.

Dr. Abdul Raheman Nakadar, the founder of the organization presented an overview of the organization’s projects in different part of the country that includes schools, hospitals, clinics, and relief centers besides the distribution of medals to the achievers of highest academic honors. Dr. Nakadar presented the graph of progress in the field of education asserting that the encouragement and recognition of highest achievers create an environment of healthy competition and inspires students to become high achievers.

Among those attended the convention were Dr. Khurshid Malik, a prominent Chicago physician involved in several developmental projects in India. Manzoor Ghori, of the Indian Muslim Relief Committee, Rashid Khan of American Indian Muslim Council, Dr. Abidullah Ghazi, prominent Muslim educationist, Dr. Ahmadullah Siddiqi, Media professor at Western Illinois University, Macomb, Dr. Azhar Quader, a community activists and former President of the Chicago Area Council of Muslim organizations, and recipient of AFMI’s award of Excellence. Dr. A. Razzaque Ahmed, recipient of AFMI’s “Excellence” award and an internationally known dermatologist. The youths who made a mark and were keen to participate in AFMI activities were: Dr. Fareen Parvez (Boston), Dr. Tasneem Osmani (Chicago), Dr. Sana Uddin (South Bend-Indiana), Dr. Saad Mahmood (Boston) and many others.

This year’s AFMI international convention will take place in Ranchi on December 24 and 25, zonal conventions in UP is slated for Faizabad and Lucknow. MP zonal convention will take place in Burhanpur.

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America In Decline

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Noam Chomsky

The comic opera in Washington this summer, which disgusts the country and bewilders the world, may have no analogue in the annals of parliamentary democracy.

“It is a common theme” that the United States, which “only a few years ago was hailed to stride the world as a colossus with unparalleled power and unmatched appeal is in decline, ominously facing the prospect of its final decay,” Giacomo Chiozza writes in the current Political Science Quarterly.

The theme is indeed widely believed. And with some reason, though a number of qualifications are in order. To start with, the decline has proceeded since the high point of U.S. power after World War II, and the remarkable triumphalism of the post-Gulf War ’90s was mostly self-delusion.

Another common theme, at least among those who are not willfully blind, is that American decline is in no small measure self-inflicted. The comic opera in Washington this summer, which disgusts the country and bewilders the world, may have no analogue in the annals of parliamentary democracy.

The spectacle is even coming to frighten the sponsors of the charade.

Corporate power is now concerned that the extremists they helped put in office may in fact bring down the edifice on which their own wealth and privilege relies, the powerful nanny state that caters to their interests.

Corporate power’s ascendancy over politics and society—by now mostly financial—has reached the point that both political organizations, which at this stage barely resemble traditional parties, are far to the right of the population on the major issues under debate.

For the public, the primary domestic concern is unemployment. Under current circumstances, that crisis can be overcome only by a significant government stimulus, well beyond the recent one, which barely matched decline in state and local spending—though even that limited initiative probably saved millions of jobs.

For financial institutions the primary concern is the deficit.

Therefore, only the deficit is under discussion. A large majority of the population favor addressing the deficit by taxing the very rich (72 percent, 27 percent opposed), reports a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Cutting health programs is opposed by overwhelming majorities (69 percent Medicaid, 78 percent Medicare). The likely outcome is therefore the opposite.

The Program on International Policy Attitudes surveyed how the public would eliminate the deficit. PIPA director Steven Kull writes, “Clearly both the administration and the Republican-led House (of
Representatives) are out of step with the public’s values and priorities in regard to the budget.”

The survey illustrates the deep divide: “The biggest difference in spending is that the public favored deep cuts in defense spending, while the administration and the House propose modest increases. The public also favored more spending on job training, education and pollution control than did either the administration or the House.”

The final “compromise”—more accurately, capitulation to the far right—is the opposite throughout, and is almost certain to lead to slower growth and long-term harm to all but the rich and the corporations, which are enjoying record profits.

Not even discussed is that the deficit would be eliminated if, as economist Dean Baker has shown, the dysfunctional privatized health care system in the U.S. were replaced by one similar to other industrial societies’, which have half the per capita costs and health outcomes that are comparable or better.

The financial institutions and Big Pharma are far too powerful for such options even to be considered, though the thought seems hardly Utopian.

Off the agenda for similar reasons are other economically sensible options, such as a small financial transactions tax.

Meanwhile new gifts are regularly lavished on Wall Street. The House Appropriations Committee cut the budget request for the Securities and Exchange Commission, the prime barrier against financial fraud. The Consumer Protection Agency is unlikely to survive intact.

Congress wields other weapons in its battle against future generations.

Faced with Republican opposition to environmental protection, American Electric Power, a major utility, shelved “the nation’s most prominent effort to capture carbon dioxide from an existing coal-burning power plant, dealing a severe blow to efforts to rein in emissions responsible for global warming,” The New York Times reported.

The self-inflicted blows, while increasingly powerful, are not a recent innovation. They trace back to the 1970s, when the national political economy underwent major transformations, ending what is commonly called “the Golden Age” of (state) capitalism.

Two major elements were financialization (the shift of investor preference from industrial production to so-called FIRE: finance, insurance, real estate) and the offshoring of production. The ideological triumph of “free market doctrines,” highly selective as always, administered further blows, as they were translated into deregulation, rules of corporate governance linking huge CEO rewards to short-term profit, and other such policy decisions.

The resulting concentration of wealth yielded greater political power, accelerating a vicious cycle that has led to extraordinary wealth for a fraction of 1 percent of the population, mainly CEOs of major corporations, hedge fund managers and the like, while for the large majority real incomes have virtually stagnated.

In parallel, the cost of elections skyrocketed, driving both parties even deeper into corporate pockets. What remains of political democracy has been undermined further as both parties have turned to auctioning congressional leadership positions, as political economist Thomas Ferguson outlines in the Financial Times.

“The major political parties borrowed a practice from big box retailers like Walmart, Best Buy or Target,” Ferguson writes. “Uniquely among legislatures in the developed world, U.S. congressional parties now post prices for key slots in the lawmaking process.” The legislators who contribute the most funds to the party get the posts.

The result, according to Ferguson, is that debates “rely heavily on the endless repetition of a handful of slogans that have been battle-tested for their appeal to national investor blocs and interest groups that the leadership relies on for resources.” The country be damned.

Before the 2007 crash for which they were largely responsible, the new post-Golden Age financial institutions had gained startling economic power, more than tripling their share of corporate profits. After the crash, a number of economists began to inquire into their function in purely economic terms. Nobel laureate Robert Solow concludes that their general impact may be negative: “The successes probably add little or nothing to the efficiency of the real economy, while the disasters transfer wealth from taxpayers to financiers.”

By shredding the remnants of political democracy, the financial institutions lay the basis for carrying the lethal process forward—as long as their victims are willing to suffer in silence.

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TxDOT Modernization Plan Promises ‘Long-Term Change’

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

give_us_a_brake_highway_sign_sticker-p217232068090971362qjcl_400The main theme of the presentation was short and  pointed: “Execution will be the key – and execution starts today.”

That is how consultant Scott Kaeppel described the road to success in the modernization initiative being undertaken by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Kaeppel’s firm has been hired to help the agency, as it seeks to remake itself into a performance-driven organization.

Kaeppel and TxDOT Assistant Executive Director John Barton briefed members of the Texas Transportation Commission Thursday on the TxDOT Modernization Plan. With a lot of input at all levels, Barton said those involved in the initiative came up with this modernization statement:

A disciplined approach to implementing change that will deliver an improved leadership model, opportunities for innovation and increased collaboration with employees and stakeholders.

As a result, said Barton, TxDOT will become an agency recognized for being performance-driven, a good place both to work and to work with and one that is committed to quality customer service. That is the theme, he said, that will be carried out in all projects and initiatives related to the modernization over the next 12-18 months.

Barton said the last three weeks have been spent in developing the plan for modernization and that plan was submitted Thursday to the Texas Legislature as a “roadmap” for activities to guide the initiatives and projects. Those involved in the agency overhaul started with some 78 recommendations, which they have pared down into 37 specific projects. Barton said the same methodology and approach for the modernization initiative will be followed for all those projects.

“Modernization will be a very important chapter in the history of this agency,” said the TxDOT official. He described the keys to the success of the initiative as being listening to and including customers, making the modernization a TxDOT-led effort, employing the use of a consultant with expertise and experience in working with others and coaching on best practices through a disciplined and time-proven approach to success. The effort also must continue into the future “as a long-term change.”

When completed, the modernization will lead TxDOT to “be the leaders of transportation that you’ve asked us to be” and what the people of Texas deserve, said Barton.

Kaeppel told the commissioners that his work with TxDOT over the last three weeks has revealed that “the core of this agency is very solid” and that as a result of working with those in the agency, it is “easy to recognize the quality of the transportation system we have in Texas.” Although solid at the core, he said, there is still an opportunity for looking at modernization.

In addressing the 78 recommendations regarding modernization of the agency, Kaeppel said the questions asked about each were, “What is the change? For whom? And Why?” He said the work on the initiative must be prioritized and a process put in place for governance. “Everyone has to know their role,” he said, noting teams would be empowered to come up with solutions for the project, with the result being “establishing change.” The key then becomes execution.

“Changes are already occurring,” said Barton and the plan being put in place will provide a blueprint for the operating model of the agency.

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