Aga Khan may set up cancer centre, help Maharashtra agri sector

Mumbai: The Imam of the Shia Ismaili community, the Aga Khan, on Thursday said his Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) will work for the agriculture sector and rural support in Maharashtra and consider setting up a children’s cancer hospital here.

Lauding the efforts of the state government for tribal development, the visiting spiritual leader said he will consider extending support to finish incomplete irrigation projects in Maharashtra and create livelihood opportunities for tribals in remote areas.

The Aga Khan said the AKDN is already involved with MIT and Harvard for a programme on Architecture and Design, and expressed keenness to work closely with the University of Mumbai.

He offered the AKDN’s assistance to the university in designing and developing degree or diploma programmes in heritage conservation.

The Aga Khan, currently on a visit to India to commemorate the ongoing Diamond Jubilee of his Imamat, was speaking after meeting Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao at Raj Bhavan here this afternoon.

He added that the AKDN is currently engaged in developmental works in six Indian states including Maharashtra mainly in the fields of education, healthcare, rural development and agriculture.

Welcoming the Aga Khan and congratulating him on the 60th year of his Imamat, Governor Rao praised his services to humanity and said that “the world needs a person like the Aga Khan to convey the message of Islam”.

He pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed the government’s intention to double farmers’ incomes by 2022 and appreciated the Aga Khan’s offer of cooperation for the state’s agriculture sector.

Rao sought the AKDN’s assistance in creating an Aga Khan Academy of Archery to offer quality training in this sport to sportspersons hailing from the rural and tribal areas of the state.

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis called on the Aga Khan and discussed efforts on employment generation for youth — through forest tourism, village developments and water conservation.

“I am happy to know that the AKDN and the Aga Khan Health Services is considering to set up a cancer hospital for children in Mumbai,” Fadnavis said.

The 82-year-old Prince Shah Karim Al Husseini, revered by his community worldwide as ‘Aga Khan IV’, assumed the title in July 1957, and the AKDN operates in at least 35 of the world’s poorest countries.