“Education and Economic Empowerment of Muslims in India is the ultimate goal of AMP,” says Mr Aamir Edresy, Founder, Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP). He discusses the focus and agenda for AMP in conversation with Arshia Khan
Please share in brief about the inception of the organisation and its founders.
It was my dream to do something for the Muslim Community since childhood. As I grew up, I started thinking of connecting Educated Muslim Professionals and making a national organization so that we could harness the expertise and talent of these young individuals for the benefit of the community. I then started an online community on ‘Orkut’, the erstwhile Social Media network and connecting with like-minded professionals by inviting them to come on a common platform to serve the community. During the initial stages I found quite a few likeminded, sincere and dedicated people to support and bring my dream to reality. Moving ahead more people joined in from other cities and thus was born the idea of AMP in Dec. 2007.
What is the long-term goal of AMP?
Educational and Economic Empowerment of Muslims in India is the ultimate goal of AMP. We seek to exhort the Educated and Professional Muslims to volunteer in the mission of making the present-day Muslim society a dynamic one, responsive to the changes taking place in the day-to-day business of life. We want to shape our community into a conscientious and responsible part of our Nation. A Muslim should be able to rise and walk shoulder to shoulder with his non-Muslim brethren to form a robust society and work together for the Progress and Development of our great Nation.
Your key focus has been education, building professionals and nurturing intelligence. What was the thought process in defining the focus of the organization?
When we started the organisation, the Sachar Committee Report had already been released. The findings were very painful, which helped us in realizing the importance of Education & Social Development for the overall upliftment of the community. As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” However, we saw a huge disconnect between the educated Muslims and their less privileged brethren which were huge in numbers, almost 50% of the total Muslim population. We realized the need for a proper channel to bridge this gap. The idea was thus born to bring educated & talented Muslim youth into community service and provide a formal platform for all Indian educated Muslims to pool their knowledge & resources for the cause of the community.
You also work towards enhancing economic awareness and political recognition for the community. Could you please share some of the key findings / observations in due course of time you have spent working around these?
We have realised that the Economic Development of the Community is not on the priority list of Indian Muslim Organizations. There are none or very limited organisations working for Economic Development. The way business scenario is changing due to technological revolution, Muslims will be biggest hit and hence there is a strong need of setting an Economic Agenda for Indian Muslims. There is a need to create awareness and encourage organisations & groups to come forward to work on solutions for the Economic Development of Muslims. Just for the record, more than 30% of the Indian Muslim population totaling about 5-6 crore, are below the poverty line (BPL) and need intervention from their well-off peers to join the mainstream.
As regards to political recognition, Muslims tend to get involved in emotional and reactive politics rather than agenda-based politics. We are involved only at the level of electoral politics whereas we must focus on advocacy and governance as a whole and make it useful for our overall benefit. Barring few occasional reactions, Muslims have never run any political movement post-independence for a long-term basis. We have not realized our true potential and negotiated accordingly with the political parties or Government. Being the biggest homogeneous group across India if spoken in terms of political alignment, Muslims must make their own Political & Economic agenda and should strive to make a narrative around that agenda. Its high time Muslim voters who have so far not encashed their voting franchise, started demanding all their rights in the country as Equal Citizens, as enshrined in the Constitution.
What are your views on the awareness level regarding the rights that an individual can exercise when it comes for funding his / her education?
There is no right as such in India. This is the biggest issue being faced by all backward/underprivileged section of students. There are certain schemes to support students financially. However, they are not sufficient as compared to the growing need of the community. Government must provide Educational Scholarships to minorities at par with SC/ST students. The awareness levels amongst Muslims for right to education and the insufficiently available Scholarship Schemes and limited mostly to the Urban and semi-urban areas.
Please share some findings that have been observed by you as a result of your focus on educating the community (Muslims, who are in minority in India)?
The thrust on Education has increased and has become the Priority Agenda of Indian Muslims. The community however now needs guidance, mentorship and financial assistance to reach the poorest of the poor and provide opportunity to last person of the Community. There is a strong need of nurturing the excellent students in a separate way so they can become the Community’s ambassadors and agents of change within the Muslim Society.
Please share in brief the team strength of the organization along with its presence within and outside the country.
Within the country, there are 5000+ active volunteers spread across 90+ chapters and outside the Country, we have active Chapters/Presence in almost 15 countries so far like UK, US, UAE, Middle East, Africa, Singapore, Malaysia etc. We have a strong Online presence with more than 1 lakh people connected with us on different platforms.
Please highlight the impact of social media with respect to the following:
- Day-to-day operations of the organization:
Today, almost all the Activities and Projects are run with the help of Social Media. We connect with our volunteers and members through WhatsApp, FB, LinkedIn, Google Groups and Web-based conferencing apps like Zoom or Google Hangouts
2. Awareness created for any event conducted by the organization
The awareness/promotions for all our Events are primarily done online on all the Social Media platforms. With the help of Social Media, we have been successful in connecting and bringing the Job Seekers to our Job Fairs and training programs. We have also started getting less educated beneficiaries for Job Oriented Training Programs. Our Scholarship Awareness Campaign also reaches to every corner of the country through Social Media.
- Reach – more donors / volunteers on board?
Yes, technology has helped us in garnering more donations, volunteers and new members. We always run special online campaign for Volunteers, for projects like Skill Development Lectures (SDL) in Higher Secondary classes, telephonic Career Counselling Cell (CCC) for X & XII students, Employability Training Programmes (ETP) for final year Graduation students since past many years on online platforms.
As regards to Donors, since past 2 years we have been running an online Angel Campaign, where-in we reach out to our members and their friends & family to contribute a small sum individually. This forms the corpus along with other donations for running the operations of AMP Office throughout the year.