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ENGRO Corporation has announced its first Engro Excellence Award for 2011 that is meant to chose great personalities & institutions. Though many organizations, under CSR are doing fine work in Pakistan, but a unique concept of such a great award is highly laudable by Engro Corporation. The awarding committee is comprises of five members, Dr. Iqbal Chohdary, Dr. Nafees Sadiq, Prof. Anita Ghulam Ali, Iftikhar Arif under the chairmanship of Dr. Ishrat Hussain. The candidates chosen for current year, 2011 are Abdul Sattar Edhi, Dr. Ata-ur-Rehman & Mushtaq Ahmed Yousfi. We had a dialogue about this Award with Dr. Ishrat Hussain.
Q 1. Certainly Engro Corporation of Pakistan is not lagging behind than any other global corporation doing great work, what is your opinion about this award? “Usually the awards in Pakistan are announced by the Government on Independence Day to honour various prominent personalities in different walks of life. This tradition has been followed for over several decades . But this is for the first time a major initiative has been taken by a private sector corporation. I am truly happy about this initiative and find it a refreshing change. I have my own share of awards and I must say they do boost your morale as you feel fulfilled and accomplished. But as few awards have been given by the Government to certain controversial persons who did not deserve these honours on the basis of their contribution there is a certain degree of credibility gap about these awards. What the Engro Excellence awards are trying to establish is that there should be a general and broad based feeling among all segments of the society that those who have received these awards really deserve them. Engro hasn’t done this to promote or market itself but as a public service gesture to recognize and reward those who have made useful contributions in their life time in various fields. We would like our younger generation to have role models and icons whom they can emulate. In this sea of despondency and negativism it is essential that our youth have some positive influences in their lives. In the US encouragement and positive reinforcement are imbibed among the children right from the beginning and throughout their lives. That is why they become so self confident in their lives. We, on the other hand, are always engaged in moaning , whining and grumbling turning our youth in bunch of cynics. This needs to be reversed and I am glad Engro has taken the first baby step in this journey of thousand miles. The selection of the awardees should always be made by an independent jury whose members are widely trusted for their objectivity, neutrality and integrity. The jury in this case set up certain criteria and then invited nominations form several hundred experts in the three fields of Humanitarian service, Science and Technology and Literature. Those who received the highest number of nominations were then evaluated against the criteria and a consensus decision was taken by the jury. Engro management or Board or its employees were not involved in the decision making process. Over time we hope these awards would instill a spirit of creativity, innovation and humanitarian service among many Pakistanis and motivate those who are already doing a great job in their respective fields. You know that I am in daily touch with the youth studying at IBA and they desperately need some inspiration to better their lives. I want the younger people in this country not only to excel in their professions of choice but in sports, literature, art and drama, music and serve the less well to do segments of our society. If some of them also know that one day their outstanding achievements will be publicly rewarded this will give them an added impetus. They will strive to do better and a few of them will hopefully attain the heights of excellence.”
Q.2 During last two or three decades, the image of Pakistan has been grossly tarnished. There is a dire need to present our great personalities to world, who have proved their mettle in literature, culture, empirical & social sciences. You have selected three persons, who also deserved Nobel Prize, Abdul Sattar Edhi is already awarded Lenin Peace Prize? “I think the Engro Excellence award is a good start and a great leap forward but a single event or award can’t substitute the slow and time consuming process of image building. The efforts to build the soft image of Pakistan in the international community requires much more sustained and continuing efforts on many fronts. We must learn to live in peace and harmony among ourselves and our neighbors. We should create conditions under which foreigners feel secure and safe and welcome. We must encourage our artists, sportsmen, musical troupes , poets and literary figures to visit other countries to show them the more humane side of our country. French people, for example, value savoury cuisine and performing and visual arts. If our troupes are sent to France they would certainly make a favorable impression upon the minds of ordinary French citizens and perhaps succeed in disabusing some of them of the negative image they may have about us..Imagine if we win the World Cup in Cricket, Hockey or become world squash champions some thing which we have proudly done in the past what will be the reaction of the rest of the world about us. South Asian writers are winning many prizes such as Booker prize. If every year we have one Pakistani winning any of these prizes the reaction would be quite different from what we are perceived to be today. If we publicize the humanitarian work which our social service organizations carry out in calamity affected areas outside Pakistan people would be impressed by our sense of compassion for the humanity which our religion teaches us. If we have more scientists of the caliber of Dr Abdus Salam in the labs and leading Universities of the world or we host Research and Development Centers for multinational corporations in Pakistan our respect as a nation would certainly be enhanced. The continuous recognition of these efforts through Engro Excellence awards and other similar awards and prizes given every year on pure merit by a group of well trusted individuals will help in supplementing these efforts of improving our image over time.
Q.3. We say that there is a difference between concepts of Nobel Prize & Engro Excellence Award. When brother of Alfred Nobel died, he was mistakenly obituaries by newspapers in these words “The Merchant of Death is Dead”. He was unhappy about this impression so he left a will that 94% of his wealth be posthumously endowed to Nobel Prize. But the Engro Award is meant only to serve & benefit the great personalities of Pakistan? “Of course you are right, Engro Excellence Award concept is better than the motivation of Nobel in setting up the Nobel Prize. But we must continue this process without interruption & we should also add other categories to expand its scope. We must first make these awards credible in Pakistan ., then in SAARC, perhaps at some time in the future they would reach their pinnacle and would be termed as the Nobel Prizes of Pakistan or the region. But to do so it is essential to establish a solid track record so that people are convinced that Engro Award is bestowed on merit only. Finally, we can introduce it on global level. We have also a Jinnah Award but many people are not aware of it. What Engro Corporation with its expertise and knowledge of marketing is doing is making a concerted effort to enhance the awareness of people about these awards through media and events. It will take at least five to six years before any headway is made. You must be knowing that the Nobel Prize had its start in 1895. Time & commitment are two most important factors.”
Q 4. Nobel Prize is awarded with Gold Medal, Diploma & Cash. What is the package of Engro Award? “Engro Prize consists of 5 million rupees for each category winner for their life time achievements. Some people say it is too generous and so much money should not be given out. Artists and creative persons , by and large (except a few Top notch Bollywood and Hollywood stars) do not enjoy good financial position. I will quote example of Mehdi Hassan, who is our great artist, he needed money for his treatment. If there was a category for music he would have benefitted from the proceeds of this prize. As such, the financial aid by Engro Corporation is, in my view, a great help to those creative persons who have been above considerations of making money or personal greed which is unfortunately so rampant in our society today. People come & go away but institutions always remain, and that is why we have added institutions along with individuals as eligible for receiving the prize.”
Q 5. You previously mentioned that controversial persons should not be awarded. When Henry Kissinger was selected for Nobel Peace Prize, two members of Nobel Prize Committee resigned, but if some controversial person has done some really great thing, then? “Controversial persons who may have made accomplishments in their fields but may have caused harmed by their actions should not be awarded.”
Q 6. Mushtaq Ahmed Yousfi is foremost humerist in Urdu literature, every nation has its own sense of humour, why not his work be translated into other languages for his global recognition? “It is very difficult to translate humour into some other language; Yousfi sahib lives in hearts of people of subcontinent & Urdu speaking people anywhere in the world. His humour is embedded in our own unique cultural connotations & metaphors. The translation will lose all its richness and relish. On these grounds, he has been selected at onset. I must say that I am really happy about launching of these awards, which would have positive long-term consequences.***