Aga Khan focuses on madrassa reforms, heritage monuments (Lead)

May 13th, 2008 - 11:06 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

New Delhi, May 13 (IANS) The Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of Shia Ismaili Muslims, Tuesday called on President Pratibha Patil and discussed a host of issues, including reforms in madrassa education and the conservation of monuments in India. The Aga Khan, who is on a week-long trip to India, met Patil for about half-hour.

According to official sources, the 70-year-old leader - also known as Prince Karim Aga Khan IV - spoke enthusiastically about the need for reforms in Islamic religious schools.

“He talked about the possibility of replicating a programme of reform of madrassa education at the Aga Khan’s Educational Institution in Hyderabad,” said an official.

The Ismaili leader also visited Humayun’s Tomb and Sundar Nursery to survey the progress of a project for the revitalization of several cultural heritage buildings located in Nizamuddin area in the heart of the capital.

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Aga Khan Foundation forged a partnership with several Indian government agencies, including the Archaeological Survey of India, for the preservation of these historic buildings in 2004.

The project is modelled on the Bagh-e-Babur integrated conservation project being implemented by the Aga Khan Trust in Kabul, Afghanistan.

He also met Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani.

The Aga Khan arrived here Monday on a visit that marks his 50th year as the imam of over 25 million Shia Ismailis worldwide.

The Aga Khan Monday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The Aga Khan, one of the world’s pre-eminent philanthropists and businessmen who runs one of the largest private development networks focusing on the poor, will go to Hyderabad, Mumbai and Ahmedabad before he heads to Dhaka May 19.

In Mumbai, the Aga Khan - one of the world’s wealthiest Muslim investors - will get a grand reception from the 6,000-odd Ismaili Muslims in the city.

In Gujarat, he will meet Chief Minister Narendra Modi and will also visit Siddhpur, a town in northern Gujarat that is home to a large Shia Ismaili community.

The Aga Khan last visited India in September 2006, when he laid the foundation of the Aga Khan Academy for Excellence in Education in Hyderabad.

Earlier, in 2004 the spiritual leader gave away the Aga Khan Award for Architecture at a presentation ceremony at Humayun’s Tomb here.

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