A prominent educator and philanthropist Nadeem Tarin, who has lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for more than three decades, has been awarded an honorary doctorate by India’s Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), a prestigious academic institution, recently.
Tarin’s life tells the story of the transformative power of education, philanthropy and business.
“I feel extremely humbled and honored to receive the doctorate,” Tarin told Arab News Riyadh Bureau Chief Ghazanfar Ali Khan, in an interview, on the occasion of the Republic Day of India.
At the very outset of the interview, Tarin offered his heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of King Abdullah.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
At the very outset, let me congratulate you on receiving the honorary doctorate from the prestigious Aligarh Muslim University recently. How do you feel about it?
Thank you. Indeed it is a great pleasure. I feel deeply touched and extremely honored to receive the highest degree from my great alma mater.
I am thankful to the Almighty for bestowing so much of success in my life.
I am also thankful to the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) administration for selecting my name to be decorated with such a wonderful honor.
With this great opportunity to get honored, comes the important responsibility of acknowledging the importance of education for the wellbeing of our underprivileged community trailing in mainstream development in India and working toward fulfilment of this goal.
These should be our mission as only academic excellence can lead to the age of enlightenment and empowerment for the community and this will be real tribute to our ideal and AMU founder Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.
I think it is time for the privileged section in our society to take the responsibility to come forward and fulfil the aspirations of underprivileged sections as preached by Sir Syed, who is the real role model for us. Significantly, when Sir Syed started school at Aligarh, which turned into a college two years later and subsequently into AMU in 1920, he had vision to empower underprivileged sections, and now his dream has come true as we from villages and small cities went to AMU and now living across the world to fulfil his dream.
I am deeply touched and feel excited with the conferment of this doctorate from my alma mater for whatever little I have done in the service of the community at large.
Q. Please tell me briefly about your association with the AMU Aligarh, and your own contributions to the AMU, where you donated funds to build boys hostel.
Whatever I am today is due to AMU. My days at Aligarh were indeed golden days and I do consider it as the basis of my success story.
Sir Syed is my role model. And whatever little I am inspired to do is a mere reflection of my inspiration from the visionary man. So far as donation for hostel is concerned, it is not a big deal, but just a tribute by an alumnus his alma mater, which has given so much to him.
When Sir Syed laid the foundation for the school at Aligarh, he had vision to enlighten the community at large, for their empowerment. Indeed, the AMU has done a lot to this end as a plenty of talents are pass outs from the great institution and contributing in the all round development of the community.
However, there are more to be done as a huge number of people are still on the fringe and it is the responsibility of the privileged section in our society to come forward and contribute handsomely to help marginal sections join the mainstream development in India.
My donation for the boys hostel at AMU is just an attempt to be honest to my responsibility toward AMU as there was a dire need for the hostel. I am thankful to my wife for her encouragement and support.
When a visiting AMU delegation approached me in Riyadh saying that there is an urgent need for a boys hostel, I replied that even if I do collect a fixed amount from some alumnus it is not going to solve the purpose as it needs a huge amount.
When I reached home, I discussed the matter with my better half saying it might be coincidence that we are planning to buy a house in New Delhi and AMU needs hostel, if we buy the home, we will seldom use it as we go there once in a while, or if we contribute for hostel in AMU, it will solve a purpose for generation to come; and my wife, quickly, seconded the idea for donating the amount toward hostel building. Thus, instead of buying a four-room house, we built a 400-bed hostel with all necessary amenities in the university campus.
Q. You are an educationist, a successful businessman and an active social worker. What do you think about Indian society in general and the Muslims of India in particular ?
From various perspectives India is doing well as a country and we feel really good about it.
But the vision to be a developed country by 2020 will remain a distant dream unless the government makes concerted efforts for inclusive growth and help every section of society to join mainstream development.
The government should make comprehensive efforts to remove social disparities and work for inclusive growth, taking along every sections of Indian society.
So far as Indian Muslims are concerned, they have made efforts taking every possible step to improve their living with proper education, employment including traveling to far distant overseas destinations like Gulf countries, leaving their near and dear ones behind. However, there is a lot more to do as the community is far behind in the ongoing rapid development in the country and the rich class in the community has to come forward and partake in philanthropy. This class must contribute to the best of their ability for community development, which will indeed make a huge difference.
Q. You’ve been involved with Delhi Public School, Riyadh, Dunes International School, Dammam and many other schools for many years in India and overseas in various capacities. Please share some of the highlights for you?
I am extremely thankful to Dr. Ibrahim Al-Qayid, DPS co-chair with me. Indeed he is a great man and contributed to the greater extent as an esteemed partner in progress, who stood by me in taking the DPS, Riyadh, to where it is today.
DPS is jointly run by us as Daratassalam International Delhi Public School and has emerged over the years as the first of its kind school in the Kingdom. Started its operation in April 2004 under a franchise agreement with the Delhi Public School Society, it has come to be recognized throughout the academic world as the best brand known for its progressive approach and commitment to excellence through well designed Instructional program and flexible and unique international school management systems.
Moreover, Dunes International school in Dammam or Ayesha Tarin Public School in Aligarh or others associated to me, it all started and flourishing by the grace of Almighty Allah who made me a reason for the establishment and to run them as vital part of the education plan for community development.
Whenever, I visit these centers of learning it gives me immense pleasure to be part of the education system, which is need of the hour. These learning centers introduce the child the ideas of innovative learning, inculcate positive attitude and optimistic approach; channelize the children’s energy through recreational activities, enlarge the intellectual horizons and broaden the outlook of the child as well as instil good habits, social etiquette and good manners as they are the future of the community.
Q What are some of the goals for you in terms of expanding the current educational facilities in Saudi Arabia and also in terms of implementing new educational projects in India this year?
As our vision and mission include educational empowerment in the Kingdom as well as in India and there is a need for more educational centers, we have expansion plans for both the countries. We shall soon expand the school chain across Saudi Arabia with the next destination being Jeddah followed by other major cities in the Kingdom. Moreover, we are planning new schools and expansion and upgradation of the existing schools into colleges to serve the purpose by and large.
Q Education has been one of the few sectors that has drawn a lot of private involvement. Do you think the privatization of education has played its part in the Kingdom as well as in India?
I think so. It helps imbibe innovative ideas into education system. Of course it comes with rising cost of technical education, but then it serve the purpose to the greater extent.
I personally feel that just as liberalization has brought in better performance and productivity in the corporate world, it will bring about greater competitiveness in the Indian educational sector. For both the countries, liberalization and privatization of education has opened the floodgates for teachers and students with tremendous potential and new challenges, which will come as opportunities to become global destinations for technical education.
Q Since how long you have been living and working in Saudi Arabia? Do you feel, at times, nostalgic about India or you feel the Kingdom as your second home? Please explain.
It is more than three decades now. Indeed staying here in the Kingdom for so long, I feel like I am at my second home and this is due to the generosity and humanitarian approaches of the people in the Kingdom, which allow us to stay and grow with the passing of time.
Saudi Arabia is a nice place to live. Furthermore, the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah add value to Saudi society, which has a very rich culture and heritage.
Moreover, if you travel to domestic tourist destinations it will leave you spellbound with the natural beauty that you will see in the Kingdom.
I enjoy traveling with family and friends to various destinations across the Kingdom, to be specific Abha, Tabuk, Taif and the two holy cities quite often.
Q. You are a successful businessman, well known in the Kingdom as well as in India. What is your message for the young entrepreneurs to be successful in life?
To work hard and be honest toward the responsibilities are indeed basic requirements in a successful businessman’s life.
To be specific, a person must have a vision and mission with a burning desire as the hunger for success, inspiration, diligence and persistence will contribute handsomely and hence considered as the hallmarks of success of entrepreneurs.
Moreover, we need to be focused toward the goal and down to earth as remaining grounded will help make grip over the reasons to write success story. OK, the glamor may be lacking but the quieter and gentler way of life as well as the desire to hang on to local roots are assets in the making of a successful entrepreneur.
Q. On business front, what ignited the spark in you to start business or to make significant changes in an existing business, like from construction to education sector? How did the idea for your business come about?
I grew up in Sambhal, Western UP in India and then moved to AMU, Aligarh, for higher studies. After completing my engineering studies, I started work in New Delhi and subsequently moved to Saudi Arabia and joined Al-Terais, a small construction company in Riyadh, which has now grown up into an established and recognized construction firm known as Salman Al-Terais and Partners Limited.
With the success in this line, I got my conscience clear with a vision for community education and entered the education sector in 1994 with the establishment of a school in Aligarh named after my mother Ayesha Tarin Model Public School with hostel.
I am thankful to Sultan Salman Al-Saidi with whom I have been working for the last years.
Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to college students, who want to become successful entrepreneurs in India or Saudi Arabia?
A combination of strong vision and mission with tight focus on quality, precision and business culture, that will help them grow with the time and establish into the entrepreneurship.
Q. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I am quite happy and greatly satisfied with my success and love myself for whatever I have achieved in life by the grace of the Almighty.
What would you say are key skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? How many hours do you work a day on average now-a-days?
As I said the burning desire topped by strong vision and mission make it happen. I believe its not only hard work but its unique blend to move smartly makes huge difference. Quality of time is important than quantity of time as value based work culture is prevalent and we have stiff competitions. But then, challenges also comes as opportunities and success.
Q. How is the DPS Riyadh doing? What are the achievements of the school?
At the very outset, let me thank DPS Principal Mairaj Mohammed Khan and Khursheed Shah Khan, director of finance and administration, for their dedicated services that have made DPS Riyadh as one of the best institutions of the Gulf region today. DPS is doing great and has successfully emerged as the first of its kind school in the Kingdom.
It first prepares students for the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) curriculum of India, later facilitating them to the option of simultaneously appearing for the British and the CBSE schools certificate examinations.
The achievement at the DPS includes transforming the student into an individual with sound academic base, analytic skills, civic responsibilities and cultural values by providing an environment for the student to become competitive, loving, sympathetic and accommodating without compromising on individual values.
Q. How is the Dunes International School doing? What are the achievements and future plans of the school?
Dunes International School is doing well in Dammam inculcating in students a sense of appreciation for their culture and traditions and infusing in them a sense of tolerance for other cultures and beliefs without losing sight of their identity and their roots.
Moreover, it creates an environment where every individual in the campus has the freedom to think, express and redefine boundaries set for them for the better cause of humanity and be a world-class citizen.
We are working on expansion and further upgradation of this institution.
Dunes International School, one of the most prominent and upcoming schools of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, has successfully completed its fourth glorious and successful year with cumulative enrolment exceeding 1,600 students at the moment.
This is part of the goal of Chairman Dr. Ibrahim H. Al-Quayid and myself.
The school has grown both qualitatively and quantitatively, and now it has the distinction to be the first private school in the Eastern Province affiliated to the CBSE for the Senior Secondary (10+2) system.
I am thankful to Amjad Khan, finance director, without whose untiring efforts and continuous support we could not have achieved such phenomenal success.
Let me also thank Awad Saeed Al-Qahtani, administrative director; and S. U. Rahman, academic director, for their dedication and excellence in service.
I am equally indebted and thankful to Principal D. Manon and Headmistress Sumayya Arif, who have been rendering valuable services for the school.
I would like to add here that Dunes was the first to launch the 3G ABACUS program, that equips students with unconventional yet effective mathematical skills.
The school has been running a cricket academy and is on its way to teach other sports in a structural fashion.
Q. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time? What makes you happy?
Reading newspapers, journals, traveling with family to holiday destinations in Saudi Arabia and watching current affairs program on TV news channels to know what is happening in and around.
I firmly believe in the idea of live and let live and do not like unnecessary interference. One must respect privacy.