Harvard University award for Mir Ibrahim Rahman of Jang/Geo Group
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 the first Muslim and 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 Ibrahim Rahman had earlier received the Lucius N Littauer award that is given to students who have made an outstanding contribution to the Kennedy School Community. Mir Ibrahim Rahman had represented his class at the Kennedy Student of Government, and during his tenure had organized a number of important seminars. He was a member of the Harvard South Asia Advisory Board Committee and was also one of the few students to get the opportunity to work for the Harvard Appointments Committee, which normally comprises only senior professors.
Mir Ibrahim Rahman has done his Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School of Government. Among those who had done the same programme from Kennedy School of Government attained the status of head of states in eight countries. The incumbent Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, also got his degree from Kennedy School of Government. Mir Ibrahim’s classmates comprised students from all over the world who had made a mark in different fields. Twenty-nine-year old Mir Ibrahim Rahman is the grandson of the late Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman, the founder of the Jang and Geo Groups, the nephew of Group Chairman, Jang Group Mir Javed Rahman, and the son of Group Chief Executive and Editor-in-Chief, Jang and Geo Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
Mir Ibrahim received his early education in Karachi and Lahore at the American School, where he was a regular contributor to the school magazine. In the year 2000, he graduated from the prestigious Babson College in Massachusetts where he received the Summa cum Laude, which is given to students with highest performance. After graduation, Mir Ibrahim worked for the well-known American investment banking and securities firm, Goldman Sachs, and on his return to Pakistan in 2002 joined Geo TV as its CEO. Last year, he joined the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School Asim Ejaz Khawaja said on the occasion of Mir Ibrahim receiving his award that: “Until recently, I used to believe that I was someone Pakistani parents could be proud of. But just a few weeks after being admitted to the Kennedy School, Mir Ibrahim Rahman went far ahead of me. The awards he has received are indeed impressive especially at a time when Pakistanis are not viewed positively in the eyes of the world.” He added that he found Mir Ibrahim “a passionate, caring and active human being who listens attentively to what others have to say.”
Professor of Business Ethics at Babson College James Hoopes, who was Mir Ibrahim’s tutor, said that his former student’s address at the Harvard graduation ceremony was not only an honour but was also one of the best speeches he had heard on the occasion. “He was able to capture the spirit of the current global confusion in a manner that the world needs to hear. In my 40-year career, Ibrahim is the student I feel the proudest about. I believe he possesses a unique combination of practical leadership qualities, intellectual profundity and ideological depth.” He added that his relationship with Mir Ibrahim has now reached a point where “not only do I teach him but I also learn from him. I intend to write a book on leadership in the next few years and if Ibrahim permits me, I would like to mention him in my book so that others too can learn from him.”
The Academic Dean of Harvard Kennedy School, Mary Jo Bane, while presenting the Robert F Kennedy Award to Mir Ibrahim Rahman said that this is the highest honour of the school. “The committee that bestowed the award was extraordinarily impressed by Mir Ibrahim’s work, which also bodes well for his bright future. Not only the committee but also his professors and classmates nominated his work and brought it to our attention.”
In her congratulatory message on Mir Ibrahim’s award, the Director Programs at the Kennedy School, Paulina Gonzales-Pose, said: “He was a key member of this program and we all learnt a lot from his deep association with public service, his nature, his hunger for learning. Because of his abilities, he was chosen by his fellow students to address the graduation ceremony on their behalf. We are all proud of him. Not only did he constantly achieve good grades but also impressed with his insightful arguments.”
A fellow graduate Jennifer Rubin said that before the award was announced she always believed that it should go to Mir Ibrahim Rahman. “His award fulfils all the criteria for this honour. What I learnt about Pakistan from him I could never possibly learn from anyone else.”
Before receiving his award, Mir Ibrahim addressed the professors of the Harvard Kennedy School, students and parents. At the end of his speech at the ceremony, titled “Degree of Confusion,” the audience gave him a standing ovation and praised his speech. His address was a fine display of the art of public speaking. When he opened his speech, he told the audience that they must be fed up of sitting and listening to so many speeches, therefore, they are requested to stand up and stretch their hands and bodies. All the assembled professors, parents and students stood up and enjoyed the exercise and burst into laughter. In this way, Mir Ibrahim Rahman managed to gain the full attention of the audience. In his comments on the address, Timothy McCarthy, a professor of Mir Ibrahim, said: “I was reminded again why I teach, also why I still have hope for a better world. I am proud of him. The speech could not have been better.” Two graduates, Chris Pietroni from the UK and Carmen Burbano from Ecuador, said that after listening to the speech they continued to discuss its content for hours. “The speech gave us the complete essence of our education. It was a brilliant speech for the occasion. You can’t imagine the applause that followed the address.”
Pakistanis too expressed pride in their country after listening to the speech. The daughter of Mr Naviwala, who had also graduated from Harvard, said: “Today, all the Pakistanis present are feeling good.” Mrs Chishti, another guest present at the occasion, said: “Ibrahim is like a son to all Pakistani mothers.” Her son Asif Chishti said: “Mir Ibrahim’s speech and his awards are the finest ambassadors for our country.”
A Harvard graduate from Mexico, Andres Navarro, commented: “Mir Ibrahim has continuously shown balance in the way he presents both point of views and issues. He challenged the entire school to think different about questions and answers, about Islam, the US, democracy, politics and how to be a smarter troublemaker for peace and prosperity.”
Chief Executive Officer, Geo Television Network, Mir Ibrahim Rahman had taken a year’s sabbatical to do his Master’s in Public Administration, where he researched and written a thesis on Pakistan’s potential, titled: “Reason to believe: Finding a new public narrative for Pakistan.”
Source: The News