For Your Information.
Source: A Friend
WASHINGTON: Mir Ibrahim Rahman has joined the distinguished ranks of alumni awarded the Robert F Kennedy Public Service Award from Harvard University, one of the top centres of learning in the world.
"Mir is only the second individual from South Asia to have received this Award. The Award is considered the most prestigious honour for students of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and is presented to those who have not only made a mark in the past for their distinguished public service work but also excelled in this field during their educational career at the university. The committee that selects individuals to be honoured comprises senior professors of the institution."
MIR'S SPEECH AT HARVARD:
Being the grandson of the founder of the largest circulated Urdu newspaper of the world, I remember (when was in 2nd grade) asking him why he put me in an American school - a quite novel and somewhat controversial move in Pakistan at the time.
My grandfather smiled, I put you in an American school because they will teach you the most important tool you will ever need ... how to ask questions ... how to think in questions ... the rest is really up to you. Oh and he also mentioned that the best school in the world to teach you how to ask the right questions is a place called Harvard.
Studying American history, I am amazed by your questions. You began by asking if it was fair for a king to tax without representation - and that question led you to the most eloquent ideas of the declaration of independence and the bill of rights ... ideas and ideals that, that led you to a unique country of your own.
When your citizen Rosa Parks, asked why she cant sit on the other side of the bus, a civil rights movement started that led you to have the first African-American president - showing the world how tolerant and fair one can be to their minorities.
When you asked why everyone cant have equal pursuit of happiness, based on merit, you formed the best entrepreneurial culture, where mans most unique gift, our ideas, are valued better than anywhere else on the planet.So many progressives and hopeful people around the world rely on this country to be a beacon of progress and hope of mankind. Progress and hope that has come from your tradition of questions.
So today as I stand here before you... I have some questions my grandfather would have wanted me to ask.
I am not advocating that Iran should have the right to nuclear weapons but I am asking why isn’t there a debate. Why a place like Harvard can hold a debate in the middle of th Forum on Iran, without a proper Iranian point of view presented?
I am not saying that Israel, as well as Islamic dictatorships and illegitimate rulers for that matter, should not be out rightly supported by the US, but I am asking why there is no debate about the measure of that support and the costs of that support to the US and to the World.
At times I feel that due to political correctness/politeness, and not just ideology, America avoid many real politica issues.
I am curious why US mainstream media portrays Socialism as a bad word - as bad as communism? I am not saying the US, like all industrialized nations, should provide healthcare to its citizens, but I am asking why the difference between socialism and communism isn’t debated by the media?
I am not saying the US should not spend $3 trillion in the Iraq/Afghanistan wars or that its annual military annual budget should not be more than the entire world combined but why isn’t there proper national debate about what is the return on investment?
I am not asking the country which has the highest rate of lawsuits per capita, and that believes in its accountability system, why it isn’t suing those responsible for an illegal war against Iraq, leading to millions of deaths, but I am asking why isn’t this issue being debated at least?
I am not saying that Joe the plumber should know about every corner of the world better than h does his 1992 world series baseball statistics but I am wondering whose interest it is serving for the average American to be one of the most ill informed world citizens in this age of globalization.
I am not saying that the American political system is no longer the ideal representative system to balance efficiency with fairness, but should you not debate how effective a representative system can be where its average congressman just to get re-elected has to raise betwee $10,000-30,000... a week! (and where 95% of congressmen are re-elected!)
I am not saying that DC should not have 40,000+ lobbyist spending 4 billion dollars a year, but why isn’t there a debate whether one of the reason you don’t see as much corruption in American politics compared to other countries is because you have legalized corruption/bribery - aka as lobbying. (some preliminary research shows that up to 70% of discretionary budget is linked to lobbyists!)
My intentions are to provoke thought and not provocation. We may not agree with the answers to these questions, but I hope you agree that we must ask these questions and encourage national debate.
My grandfather believed in the great American tradition of questions and I believe the solutions will come through living that very tradition.
In the end, I leave with you one last question paraphrasing the great Rabbi Hillel ... If not here, at Harvard,.... then where? If not now, in this class today, then when? And if not you, Anne, Steve, John, Professor McCarthy ... and all of us ... then who?