US India Policy Institute (USIPI) dinner presentation on “Inclusive Development Strategies for Minorities – In the Decade Ahead” in Houston, Texas on April 5, 2014 was a success. With over 100 attendees attentively sitting in Mezban Banquet Hall, USIPI is moving forward in garnering a strong support system of Indian Americans working to make a difference in India.
This is a crucial time in India as the 2014 election to choose the nation’s next leader draws near. Within the next few weeks, India will face new changes. And as conscious Indians residing in the United States, USIPI members believe that any change in India should be for the better. And with every change, Indian minorities should get a chance to move forward towards better educational, employment and social success.
Dr. Maqbool Haq, an Oncologist and the Chairman of Indian Muslim Association of Greater Houston began the event by remarking, “As we speak, India is changing. We want to ensure that the development of minorities remain a priority.” The Houston gathering discussed the developmental priorities for Indian government in the next decade, and the role Indian Americans must play towards promoting these progressive policies for minorities.
Rasheed Ahmed, President of US India Policy Institute introduced the organization's mission and emphasized that an active participation from the community is imperative for community development and nation building. Development can occur with research, and evidence based research and policy development requires institutions like policy institute and think tanks. Ahmed stated, "The role of the policy institute (USIPI) is independent of which party or ideology is the power in any country including India."
The keynote presentation was by USIPI's Chief Scholar, Dr. AbuSaleh Shariff. Dr. Shariff was the well known Chief Economist for The National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER). He also served as an Advisor to the India Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and was the Member Secretary in the Sachar Committee. The Sachar Committee was a team of experts brought together by Dr. Manmohan Singh to create a report on Muslim community in India and their educational, employment and social status. The Sachar Committee Report brought to light India's largest minority's struggles and lack of progress.
Explaining his work, Dr. Shariff said, “As a Human Development Expert, my research and field work provided me a unique understanding of the conditions of all communities and backgrounds in India. I noticed over the decades that although other poor and marginalized were benefiting from Government policy and programs, but Muslims were falling behind all other communities. My involvement with the Sachar Committee Report provided me an opportunity to comprehensively study and establish this pattern. It is now generally accepted in policy circles that Muslims live in the poor and poorest households in some of the least developed areas in India. The findings of Sachar Committee and the subsequent research greatly help in me proposing policy recommendations that are most efficient and effective in narrowing the gaps between communities.”
As the event concluded, USIPI's General Secretary Attaulla Khan remarked, "We are thankful to the organizers, Dr. Maqbool Haq, Latafath Hussain and Abbas Ali Khan and the guests for making the night a huge success. Moreover, a special thanks to our volunteers who have diligently worked to ensure the success of this event."