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IICC Elections — M.W. Ansari aims to increase Outreach and transparency at India Islamic Cultural Centre

Mohd. Wazir Ansari, (Former Director General of Police) Chhattisgarh cadre, is an IPS officer of 1984 batch. He is the one who served for about 34 years in undivided Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh state and also in national capital Delhi on Central deputation during his tenure. An upright officer M.W. Ansari has been known for his comprehensive experience-on one side his tolerant, liberal, progressive, rational, egalitarian administrative abilities while on the other side, the kind of reforms that he has brought during his police services in Naxal hit Chhattisgarh state are remarkable. Presently M.W. Ansari is contesting for the post of Member, Board of Trustees at India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC), New Delhi.

The Milli Gazette in an interview, focused on the IICC elections, spoke with M.W. Ansari. Here are excerpts of the interview:

Question: What inspired you to contest for the Member, Board of Trustee at IICC, Delhi?

Answer: No doubt, India has progressed by leaps and bounds during the last 70 years after independence. But, as can be gathered from various economic survey reports, as well as observed while travelling from one corner of the country to another, India is yet to see equitable growth and development. It goes without saying that empowerment of the weaker sections of society will go a long way towards making India’s social and economic development equitable, inclusive and sustainable. Indian Muslims are the most disadvantaged among the weaker sections, a fact already established beyond doubt, by the multitude of survey reports in general and the Sachar Committee Report in particular. Empowerment means moving from enforced powerlessness to a position of power. Education is an essential means of empowering the so-called disadvantaged sections with the knowledge, skills and self-confidence necessary to fully participate in the development process. Education is much more than reading and writing. It is an essential investment to be made for their futures, a crucial factor in reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development. I am fully convinced that ‘education’ and “only education” can lead to empowerment – social, cultural and economic – of the Muslim community. And that IICC has the potential of playing the crucial role of a catalyst and a facilitator in this noble endeavour. Considering its members, IICC can be regarded as a pool of intellectuals, technocrats, bureaucrats (both serving and retired), political personalities, artists, and many more. The capabilities, experiences and reach of its esteemed members can be leveraged (collectively as well as individually) to create and develop systems that will work to alleviate the plight of Muslims in the country. The Governing Body of IICC will be the engine that will drive this whole enterprise. I am thus inspired to contest for the Board of Trustee, IICC and be part of this noble enterprise. Finally, as a public servant, the position is not about oneself, rather it is about the public and community to whom we serve. I cherish this responsibility.

Question: As mentioned in its website, the main purpose of India Islamic Cultural Centre is to promote mutual understanding and amity amongst the people of this country and to depict the true face of Islam which is most tolerant, liberal, progressive, rational and forward-looking religion besides being based on cardinal principles of human values irrespective of faith, caste, creed and color. How far has IICC been successful in its aims and objectives?

Answer: So far its aims and objectives are concerned, the IICC may serve as a classic example of “missed opportunities”. And this is not the view of any one individual like me, but same may be prevalent among the majority of those who have been associated with the IICC in any way, especially members of the society. Universal understanding and amity cannot be promoted merely by organising some get-togethers, occasional workshops, etc. on the subject matter, that too within the confines of the IICC building. Same is the case with disseminating knowledge about Islam, with the purpose of eliminating the negative stereotypes about Islam prevalent in the contemporary society. Let me ask you one simple question – How many times have you come across an article in the print media, or a documentary in the electronic media from the IICC to promote these noble causes? How many places outside Delhi has IICC organised programs and workshops in furtherance of the aims and objectives of the Society? Let me ask you another question – how many people, even among the Muslim community, know that a society by the name IICC exists, and what for it exists? Thus, my use of the phrase “missed opportunities” for the IICC is not misplaced.

Question: If not, then, according to you, what modus operandi to be adopted to fulfil its purpose?

Answer: If you want me to reply in one word, that is “OUTREACH”. Yes, IICC has to conduct Outreach Programs in places outside Delhi. People will not come to IICC to learn about mutual understanding or about the Islamic faith; rather IICC has to reach out to the masses and disseminate these. Outreach programs can take varied forms – workshops in towns and cities, documentaries in electronic media, articles and interviews in the print media etc. Another mantra is DECENTRALIZATION – transforming IICC from an NCR-centric organisation to a Pan-India organisation, by opening IICC chapters or sub-centres in all the state capitals. This will increase the visibility and member-participation of IICC manifold, as well as provide further momentum to its ongoing activities.

On the lines of Geeta Press and Bible Society, why can’t IICC open outlets throughout the country to make available relevant literature to the masses? These outreach activities can be richly supplemented by informed and judicious use of SOCIAL MEDIA and INTERNET platforms.

Question: Has IICC become the instrument of bureaucrats only as far as its top officials are concern? Why is there very little representation from other groups of professionals like doctors, engineers, educationists, social reformers, etc.?

Answer: Reasons are mostly the same as discussed earlier. Add to these the inertia of those at the helm of affairs of the society at different points of time. All these factors have come in the way of IICC developing into a broad-based organisation. Another damaging consequence of the same is that the numerical strength of members of the IICC has remained almost static.

Question: Would you like to elaborate about few of your top priorities if you are elected?

Answer: 1. Outreach of IICC to the common citizens in general, and Muslim community in particular.

2. Online Voting in place of cumbersome paper ballot in future elections to the Board – The new web portal proposed to be developed will be further upgraded to have the facility for online voting by the life members in any future election. This will ensure greater participation and transparency in the whole electoral process.

3. Decentralization of IICC – Opening of IICC sub-centers or chapters in places outside NCR; starting with Kolkata, Mumbai, Lucknow, Bhopal, Hyderabad,Guwahati and Bengaluru, and expanding further downwards in due course of time. This will help transform IICC into a broad-based organization, as well as endow it a Pan-India character.

4. Greater transparency & equality of opportunity to Members – reduction in tenure of the governing body from 5 years (at present) to 3 years. Further, any life member can get elected to the governing body for a maximum of two consecutive tenures, i.e. 6 years, only.

5. Increased presence of IICC in social media & internet platforms – IICC should have active and visible presence on Twitter and Facebook platforms, richly supplemented with a user-friendly and information-packed web portal.

Question: Its general belief that IICC is not realising its full potential unlike such centres in other countries, Your comments?

Answer:I too agree with this general public perception about IICC. Probably, the answer lies in this famous quote by Dee Hock – “An organization, no matter how well designed, is only as good as the people who live and work in it”. There is a dearth of people with requisite administrative experience in this organization, especially at the level of governing body, of passionate people who can work selflessly and tirelessly for the growth of this organization

Question: What fresh ideas of development growth do you see in functioning of IICC? How would you be going about it?

Answer: These I have already discussed, in the form of my top priorities if I get elected. Translating these ideas into action points and working for implementing the same will be the PRIORITY & FOCUS of the new governing body, election for which is going to take place on January 6, 2019. I, along with my team, are hopeful of getting the support of majority of life members of IICC who are going to vote in this all-important election.