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UP honours Frank Islam

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UP honours Indo-American entrepreneur
Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh government honoured US-based Indo-American, Frank Islam, with the ‘Uttar Pradesh Ratna Award’ in Agra on January 4.

The 63-year-old Frank Islam’s journey from Azamgarh to the power galleries of the Potomac fits the proverbial ‘American Dream’.

Born as Shah Fakhrul Islam in the humble setting of an Azamgarh village, Islam spent his formative years in the East U.P. town before joining Aligarh Muslim University. “It is there [Azamgarh] where I learned about the richness of different religions and respect for other religions,” Mr. Islam remembers.

In the early 1970s, he moved to the U.S. and completed his postgraduation in Computer Science from the University of Colorado. In 1994, he founded an IT company, the QSS Group, with just one employee on board. Thirteen years later, when he sold the company, it had 2,000 employees and sales worth $300 million. He then established the FI Investment Group, a private investment firm.

Not only a successful entrepreneur, Mr. Islam is also a well-known philanthropist, civic leader and a regular writer. He has received dozens of national and international awards, including the ‘Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award for International Service’ and the ‘Pride of India Award.’ Well-recognised in the political circles, he is today one of the top Indian-American fundraisers for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. In January, he was part of President Barack Obama’s high-power business delegation that visited India. It was during that trip Mr. Islam last visited his native village.

“The new generations [in Azamgarh] are strong and vibrant and they are well-educated and well-informed,” he said.

Though he spent only the first 10 years of his life in Azamgarh, Mr. Islam says he “never lost the love” for his hometown and it remains an “inseparable part” of his life. It pains him to hear about the media labelling the town as a hub of alleged terrorists. Against his fond memories of the place, he finds Azamgarh’s current negative notoriety hard to comprehend.

“I perceive it from a distance of thousands of miles. It dismays me, however, to read and hear bad things about the place of my birth.”

To give back to his roots, Mr. Islam is establishing a technical college for girls in Azamgarh in memory of his mother.   

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 January 2016 on page no. 13

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