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Scholarship Programme News (2007-2008)

Alumni Meetings in India and Pakistan

New Delhi
Alumni Meetings in IndiaA group of ISP alumni met in New Delhi in April for a meal and a good time. They were Seema Alavi (ISP 87-90), Professor of History at Jamia Millia University; Sunil Batra (88-89), Child Psychologist and Educator; Seema Kazi (ISP 02-05), who has just returned to India after completing a PhD in Gender Studies at the London School of Economics; Jaffer Khan (84-85), the Principal of an architecture firm in Bangalore; Suneel Padale (05-06), who was for many years with the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme and the Aga Khan Foundation and now works for the German Technical Cooperation in New Delhi; Subramanian Pattabiraman (03-04), a development professional working for the Delegation of the European Union in India; Tanee Trivedy (93-94), an Educational Consultant from Mumbai; Pinki Virani (79-82), freelance author and journalist; and Vinay Viswanatha (06-07), a public health specialist at the Community Health Cell in Karnataka.

Seema Alavi made a presentation about her new book, Islam and Healing, which describes the extent to which Unani, an Islamic healing tradition, has interacted with Indian society and politics as these evolved and flourished from 1600 to 1900. It is a pioneering work on the social and medical history of Indian Islam and is centered on the struggle to preserve a specific culture of healing. An interesting discussion followed, since many of the group had personal experiences with Unani, which is still practiced in many places in India. Several programme staff from the Aga Khan Foundation Delhi office, Ratish Nanda for the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and Catherine Hieronymi from Geneva were also present. Somnath Badyopadhyay, Senior Programme Officer for Rural Development, made a presentation on the activities of the Foundation in India, including its new area development programme in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Alumni Meetings in IndiaWhile in Delhi, Catherine also met two other former ISP scholars, Alok Mathur (ISP 90-91) and Nigor Mouzafarova (ISP 01-02). Alok is the Director of the Rishi Valley Institute for Teacher Education and Nigor is a Tajik health specialist who is working for the World Health Organisation’s East Asian Regional Office in New Delhi. The conversation over a spicy North Indian meal touched on many topics, including the state of education in India and life in the Central Asian country of Tajikistan. The Institute that Alok and his wife have started is part of the education work of the Krishnamurti Foundation, which runs five schools in various locations in India. Alok has been with the Foundation for 26 years, first as a teacher at the school and later in more administrative roles. The Institute he runs provides in-house support to teachers at the Rishi Valley School and also reaches out to support teachers and other schools interested in a holistic basis for education.

Karachi and Islamabad
Alumni Meetings in India and PakistanIn Pakistan, Catherine met four recently returned ISP graduates. They were Falak Madhani (ISP 06-07), who returned last year from the UK after her MSc degree course in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and at present is working for the Aga Khan University School of Nursing as coordinator of their international programmes; Nida Alavi (ISP 06-08), an Early Childhood Educator with the Teachers Resource Centre in Karachi; Ishaq Khan (ISP 04-05), a Biomedical Engineer with the Aga Khan University, and Aslam Aman (ISP 03-04) (see below left) who has a degree in International Development from Cornell University and has started his own consulting business in Islamabad.

Alumni Meetings in India and PakistanAll of these alumni are keeping in touch with the Aga Khan Development Network in one way or another. Falak and Ishaq are working for AKU; Nida is working for an institution with close contacts to the education programmes of the Network; and Aslam’s consultant firm was holding a training session for AKDN’s Earthquake Rehabilitation Program when Catherine was visiting.

Alumni Meetings in India and PakistanAnother former scholarship recipient, Samir Hoodbhoy (AKH 63-64), took part in the ISP applicant interviews held in Karachi in early May. Samir has an AB in Engineering Sciences & Applied Physics from Harvard University and an MS degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Rhode Island. His expertise is in a variety of fields, including engineering software development, telecommunication systems, urban planning and local government. He has worked in many public and private sector organizations in the USA and Pakistan and is at present the Managing Director of a data communication firm in Karachi. Samir is font of knowledge and was a great asset to the interviewing committee where he represented the Aga Khan Foundation (Pakistan).

ISP alumnus visits AKF Geneva
Zubair Kassam (ISP 03-04), Head of the English Department at the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, visited the Aga Khan Foundation office in Geneva with 10 students from the Academy who had been invited to Geneva by the Earth Focus Foundation. Earth Focus is continuing the work with young people that was started by the late Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan’s Bellerive Foundation. It aims to encourage and promote students’ understanding of the environment and sustainable development by empowering them to feel they have a role in helping to create a better world. While in Geneva, the students visited various international organisations and participated in a debate on environmental rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an event that included students from schools in Geneva as well as the students from Mombasa (View photograph).

New books by ISP alumni
The Aga Khan Foundation is proud to announce that four ISP alumni published books within the past several months. They are:

Rafiq Dossani (ISP 79-80), a senior research scholar at the Asia/Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, published India Arriving: How This Economic Powerhouse is Redefining Global Business, AMACOM Books, November 30, 2007. This book is about the changing India, which, after centuries of social and economic stagnation, is charting a unique role for services in economic growth. India is maturing as a nation while at the same time remaining pluralistic. Rafiq holds that given India’s size, the implications for the rest of the world are important.

Pallavi Aiyar’s (ISP 00-02) new book Smoke and Mirrors: China Through Indian Eyes was published in April 2008 by Harper Collins. The following is a quote from India Today’s review of her book:

“In 2002, Pallavi Aiyar turned her back on a promising future in media and went to China in pursuit of love: her Spanish boyfriend, whom she had met at the London School of Economics, was based in Beijing and persuaded her to join him. Two hundred years ago, he told her, Napoleon had prophesied that once the sleeping dragon awakened, the world would tremble, The dragon had woken up, he murmured, so make your move. It was a fortuitous decision: in time she married the man and stayed on to become an award-winning foreign correspondent – the only Chinese-speaking Indian journalist in China for more than five years. Smoke and Mirrors is by far the most well-informed and entertaining account of life in the Middle Kingdom by an Indian in recent years.”

Seema Alavi’s book, Islam and Healing: Loss and Recovery of an Indo-Muslim Medical Tradition, 1600-1900, described above, is published by Macmillan Publishers Ltd., Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England, 2007.

Tom Olali’s (ISP 00-03) new book is Performance of a Swahili Poem During the Lamu Maulidi Festival. To learn more about the Hamziyyah, the Swahili poem that eulogises the Prophet Mohammad.

Dissertations by ISP graduates
Saira Jamal (ISP 02-06), “Leaving My Mother’s House: Khoja Ismaili Women and University”, PhD in Transpersonal Psychology, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Palo Alto, California, April 26, 2007.

This study explores the relationship between mothers and daughters as the young women prepare to leave home for university. The stories of the women displays various levels of their bicultural history. The findings suggest some similarities of this group with women from mainstream culture, as well as some interesting differences.

Sima Eshkoor (ISP 04-07), a thesis on Basal Cell Carcinoma, the most common cancer among skin cancers, MSc, Universiti Putra Malaysia, December 2007.

More Alumni News
In recognition of the achievements of Indian women in the field of social development, the Government of India has instituted a number of national awards called Stree Shakti Puraskar. The awards carry a cash prize and a citation, and are given to women who have triumphed over difficult circumstances and have worked for the support and rehabilitation of women and children in distress. Pinki Virani (ISP 79-82), an Indian journalist and author, has been conferred the Stree Shakti Puraskar on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2008. The award was presented by Mrs. Sonia Gandhi in acknowledgement of Pinki’s book “Bitter Chocolate: Child Sexual Abuse in India” and her activism in child protection following the publication of the book. “Bitter Chocolate” is being used by parents and teachers in schools and colleges and by lawyers and doctors to raise awareness about the urgent social problem of child abuse in Indian society. Pinki Virani’s other two non-fiction books are “Aruna’s Story” and “Once Was Bombay”, pioneering works in gender and human rights.

Tom Olali (ISP 2000-03) from Kenya, obtained his PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London in 2004. Sahel Publishing in Indiana recently published his book entitled "An English Rendition of a Classical Swahili Poem", and another volume entitled "Performance of a Swahili Poem During the Lamu Maulidi Festival" is to come out shortly. Tom is a full time Lecturer at the University of Nairobi and also collaborates with the National Museums of Kenya on research on Swahili and Islamic Civilization. At present he is a visiting scholar at Tianjin Normal University in China where he is teaching Swahili and Swahili Civilization.

Zamila Karimi (ISP 80-82), has a professional degree in Architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design from the University of Georgia. Zamila was selected to present her creation “Encounters: exploring the element of time” at the March 5-8, 2008 Annual Interior Design Educators Council conference in Montreal. The jury selected her work because of its aesthetic and conceptual achievement. According to her website, Zamila uses elements, such as earth, water, fire and air, to investigate the changing nature of the space and time within the context of contemporary environment. Her installations reflect the use of traditional geometrical forms and patterns found in Islamic art and architecture juxtaposed against natural materials and contemporary art mediums. She creates installations that echo simplicity within a complex narrative that is very personal.

Al-Nasir HamirISP alumnus joins AKF Geneva Office
AKF Geneva is happy to welcome Al-Nasir Hamir (ISP 00-02) who joined the office in January 2008 as Assistant Manager. Al-Nasir has an MA degree in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and has been working for the last five years as an energy and infrastructure consultant in Washington, DC. Al-Nasir is not new to the Aga Khan Foundation since he was a development intern at the Washington office for nine months in 1999-2000. We welcome him back to the Foundation and wish him much satisfaction in his new job.

ISP visitors in Geneva
Dr. Nasreen DhananiDr. Nasreen Dhanani (ISP 89-92) and Latif Jina (ISP 02-04), who are both working at the University of Central Asia (UCA) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, visited the Aga Khan Foundation Geneva office in November 2007 for meetings. Nasreen, who is Deputy Director of UCA, was kind enough to give a brown-bag presentation to Geneva staff about the current work of the new university and its future plans. The School of Professional and Continuing Education is already up and running with courses in Business, Information Technology, English Language and Mountain Tourism. Construction of the university’s three campuses in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan will be starting shortly and a faculty development programme is in place. Latif, who is Manager of Special Programmes at UCA, is very much involved in this last endeavour. The first degree programmes offered by the university will be two-year Master’s degrees, after which an undergraduate programme will be started at all three campuses. For more information about UCA, you may wish to consult the UCA website.

Karim AlibhaiKarim Alibhai (ISP 82-84) visited the office in December. Karim has a long history of working with AKDN, first when he set up a biogas project at the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme in India in the 1980’s and later as the Director of the Water and Sanitation Extension Programme in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. He is currently Regional Director for Asia with the Canadian Hunger Foundation.

ISP student gathering in Moscow
The new CEO of the AKF Moscow office, Farid Daya, invited ISP AKFstudents in Moscow for a meal in October. All those in the group photo are from Tajikistan and doing Candidate of Science degrees (the equivalent of a Western PhD) at Moscow universities. In the photo, from left to right, are: Dr. Nigina Rakhmikhudoeva and Dr. Zainura Vafobekova, who are both doing speciality training in Cardiology at the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Dr. Farangis Alibakhshova, who is pursuing a degree in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Sechenov Moscow Medical Academy, Borkhotun Iskandarokhanova, who is finishing her studies at the Institute of International Relations in 2008, and Jamshed Muborakshoev, who attends the Moscow Power Engineering Institute.


Hitesh Mehta (ISP 87-89), a Landscape Architect and Ecotourism Planner, who works out of Florida, has been written up in Sustainable Industries, the Independent Source for Green Business Leaders. Here is the link:

An interesting book review of Robert Layton’s Order and Anarchy: Civil Society, Social Disorder and War by Manoj Misra, a current ISP student doing an MA in Sociology at the University of Alberta, can be found on the Canadian Sociological Association website.

Pallavi Aiyar (ISP 00-02) is now back in Beijing after her three-month fellowship at Oxford University and has sent the links to her most recent articles on India and China relations from The Hindu. The first is on the complexities of the Sino-Indian engagement and what can be expected from the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's China visit in January; another focuses on the business engagement between the two countries, which are among the world's fastest growing economies; a third is on a joint China-India medical mission which reveals a historical link between medical practitioners of the two countries and the tattered state of China's public health system in the present ; and a fourth piece is on energy collaboration between the two countries.

Recent Theses

Sajjadullah Baig (ISP 06-07), “Life-Cycle Assessment of Wall Systems”, MSc thesis for a degree in Environmental Engineering and Sustainable Development at Imperial College, London, August 2007.

Before beginning his course at Imperial College, Sajjadullah had worked for the Building and Construction Improvement Programme (BACIP) of the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services (AKPBS) in Pakistan. This project was involved in developing techniques to improve the thermal efficiency of homes in the mountainous Northern Areas of Pakistan. Sajjadullah’s work in the Northern Areas led to his interest in studying home insulation methods in the UK. Growing concerns about climate change and the depletion of natural resources worldwide have resulted in calls to make the building industry sustainable, and have led to national and international legislative measures on energy efficiency in housing and optimal reuse of materials. To achieve energy efficiency in the construction industry, many technical corrections are being made to buildings, such as insulation and other thermally efficient measures. Increased use of insulation over the last decades has resulted in a decrease in the energy required to heat and cool buildings, thus decreasing the burden on the environment. The aim of Sajjadullah’s Master’s project was to carry out a life-cycle assessment of materials used in the construction of walls and to develop an integrated tool to compare their thermal and environmental performance.

Shazia Nota (ISP 06-07), “Micro-insurance, Risk Management and Poverty: A Critical Examination”, MSc in Development Finance at the University of Manchester, September 2007. Shazia maintains that micro-insurance as a risk management tool has gained in popularity over the past few years, since it acts as a safety net for the poor by limiting the chances of their falling into the never-ending cycle of poverty. In the absence of formal insurance, the poor use different mechanisms to insure themselves against the unexpected emergencies, which help in the short run but do not provide the complete protection they need. By looking into the feasibility of these informal mechanisms and comparing micro-insurance with credit and savings, this study looks into the applicability of the three mechanisms in meeting the financial needs of the poor.

Dilrabo Jonbekova (ISP 06-07), “Training Strategy: A Case Study”, MA in Human Resource Management at the University of Leeds, September 2007. In response to recent changes in the political systems of the ex-Soviet countries, many non-governmental agencies have sprung up to foster economic development, protect the environment and pursue various other objectives. These NGOs, often with complex missions and operations, increasingly require skilled employees to achieve their aims and objectives. Therefore training has become crucially important within the non-profit sector to develop the necessary skills. Dilrabo’s study investigates the nature of the training strategy within a Tajik NGO and attempts to gain insight into the connection between training and the overall performance of the organization.

Qayyum Ali Shah (ISP 05-07), “Food Safety Control in a Catering and Restaurant Situation”, MSc, Food Quality Management, Wageningen University, The Netherlands. According to Qayyum’s thesis, food safety in a restaurant or catering business depends on a complex set of conditions, including the freshness of the food being prepared, the cooking/reheating/storing methods used, the qualifications and training of the food handlers, and the organizational environment. His research project studies how the human input influences food safety. His thesis deals with the performance of kitchen managers and staff with regard to food safety in three restaurants in Burgos, Spain.

Alumni Donations to the ISP

A cheque for $2,500 arrived in a holiday greeting card from Azim Rawji (ISP 91-95) in January 2008. Many thanks for Azim’s continued generous support of the Foundation’s scholarship programme.

Alumni News

Dr. Vinay Viswanatha, who attended the Washington DC alumni meeting in early May 2007, has returned to India after his Master in Public Health degree course at Johns Hopkins University and joined the Community Health Cell (CHC) in Bangalore, an organization that has worked for over 20 years in the field of community health and health promotion in Karnataka. Vinay is involved in an exciting four-year research project entitled “Revitalizing Health for All: Learning from Comprehensive Primary Health Care Experiences.” It is one of 13 projects funded by the Canadian Global Health Research Initiative, a partnership between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Health Canada, and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). “Revitalizing Health for All” is a multi-site project spanning five continents and integrates research, training and policy advocacy. The project is based on the understanding that comprehensive primary health care holds the greatest potential for health systems to assist in redressing today’s most critical health and development issues. One of the publications being reviewed by CHS, which is responsible for research in the Asia region, is “Lessons Learned from Primary Health Care Programs Funded by the Aga Khan Foundation”, which reports on six public health projects in Asia and two in Africa.

Vinay is also involved in a programme of community planning and monitoring of health services in Karnataka state and in the “People’s Movement to Revitalize Primary Health Centers in Karnataka”. Vinay found his course in Baltimore to be a wonderfully enriching professional and personal experience and, as one of his sponsors, the Aga Khan Foundation is very pleased that he has chosen to apply his newly acquired knowledge and skills to health initiatives in his home country.

Recent Theses

Seema Kazi (ISP 02-05), Between Democracy and Nation: Gender and Militarisation in Kashmir, PhD degree thesis, London School of Economics, 2007.

Seema Kazi’s thesis focuses on the militarisation of the secessionist movement in the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, which involves Kashmiri militants and Indian military forces. She argues that the greatest and most grievous price of using the military for domestic repression in Kashmir and for military defense of Kashmir is paid by Kashmir’s citizens and society. Drawing on women’s subjective experience of militarisation, Kazi’s thesis highlights the intersection between state military processes at a national level and social transformations at the local and societal level. She concludes that Kashmir’s humanitarian tragedy underlines the failure of militarization to ensure security for the state, and security and justice for Kashmiri citizens.

Teshamulwa Okioga (ISP 06-07), “Water Quality and Business Aspects of Sachet-Vended Water in Tamale, Ghana”, Master of Engineering in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, June 2007.

This dissertation reports on microbial water quality analyses conducted on 15 samples of factory-produced sachet water and 15 samples of hand-tied sachet water, sold in Tamale, Ghana. Overall, hand-tied sachet water was found to be two times more microbially contaminated than factory-produced sachet water. The research showed that sachet-vended water is extremely popular in the area, is drunk both at home and outside of the home, and is the main source of water away from home. The business is very lucrative, with vendors making 100% to 400% profit.

Alumni Donations to the ISP

The Aga Khan Foundation gratefully acknowledges the donations of Firoz Narsidani (ISP 98-00), who has sent a cheque for $600 to be used for international scholarships in 2007-08, and Dr. Alireza Mirshahi (ISP 94-00), who has contributed EUR 500 and is a frequent contributor to the scholarship programme.

New ISP Scholars in 2007-08

The Aga Khan Foundation is pleased to announce the new recipients of its international scholarships:

Ghassan Alaranji (Syrian), MPhil, Public Health, University College Dublin
Shodigul Alimshoeva (Tajik), MA, International Management, University of Bradford
Mirza Amiri (Afghan), MA, International Economics and Finance, Brandeis University
Azizullah Baig (Pakistani), MSc, Development Economics and Policy, University of Manchester
Anna Ekins (Canadian), MA, Social Work, University of Toronto
Zafar Esmail (Indian), MSc, International Securities, Investment and Banking, University of Reading
Romin Fararoon
(Afghan), MA, International Development Management, University of Bradford
Yousef Ghiami (Iranian), MSc, Logistics and Transport Management, University of Göteborg, Sweden
Amin Gilani (Indian), MArch, Architecture, University of Washington
Aly Haidar (Syrian), MSc, Agricultural Economics, University of Reading
Samah Haidar
(Syrian), MSc, Information and Communication Technology for Development, University of Manchester
Bashar Hasan (Syrian), PhD, Computer Science, University of Essex
Shodmon Hojibekov
(Tajik), MA, International Development Management, University of Bradford
Rahim Hooda (Indian), MS, Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Kakulu Kakulu (Tanzanian), MSc, Development Finance, University of Manchester
Naheeda Karmali (Kenyan), MA, Teaching and Curriculum, Columbia University (deferred for a year)
Zoheb Kerawalla (Indian), MS, Technology and Information Systems, Purdue University
Nisar Keshvani (Singaporean), PhD, Education, Institute of Education, London
Zakeesh Khan (Pakistani), MSc, Evidence-Based Social Interventions, University of Oxford
Yaseen Ladak (Indian), DPhil, Systems Biology, University of Oxford
Saidimu Leseeto (Kenyan), MSc, Corporate Risk and Security Management, University of Southampton
Mohammad Magout (Syrian), MSc, Financial Mathematics, University of Edinburgh/Hariot-Watt University
Hamid Merchant (Pakistani), PhD, Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmacy, London
Kenneth Migwanya (Ugandan), MS, Epidemiology, Case Western Reserve University
Rahima Mukairshoeva (Tajik), MSc, International Health Management and Development, University of Birmingham
Ahmed Rattani (Pakistani) DPhil, Systems Biology, University of Oxford
Simeen Sabha
(Bangladeshi), MA, Social Anthropology and Development, School of Oriental and African Studies
Firuza Saifiddinova (Tajik), Candidate of Science, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Slavonic University, Bishkek
Timor Sharan (Afghan) MPhil, Development Studies, University of Cambridge
Ameet Tyrewala (Indian), MS, Hospitality and Tourism Management, Purdue University
Zainura Vafobekova (Tajik), Candidate of Science, Cardiology, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences
Aly-Khan Visram (Canadian), MSc, Public Health in Developing Countries, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Vishwesh Viswanathan (Indian), MRP, Regional Planning, Cornell University
Vinay Vutukuru (Indian), MPA/ID, Public Administration and International Development, Harvard University
Wajid Waliani (Pakistan), MSc, Wireless Communication Systems, Brunel University, West London

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