Where we went wrong

By Zubeida Mustafa

IT was supposed to be an occasion to felicitate Malala on her birthday and use her speech at the UN Youth Assembly to inspire the audience. Party representatives were to be brought together on a common platform to renew their pledge to educate Pakistan’s children, especially girls.

In this context the South Asian Women in Media, with the support of the South Asian Free Media Association, took the step of convening a seminar on ‘Women’s education and terrorism’ at the Karachi Press Club the other day.

Regrettably, the seminar failed to achieve the objective it had set out to do. It became a forum for politicking rather than focusing on the issues at stake in education. I was hoping to hear the party representatives spell out the strategies they were planning to promote education in the country. Instead we heard a lot of loud talk extolling the virtues of education, as though we didn’t know. Do our leaders believe we still have to be persuaded about the advantages of education? Continue reading “Where we went wrong”

Fabricating history

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE SIUT’s Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Culture (CBEC) holds interesting forums periodically where renowned scholars are invited to address the members. Since ethics is a wide-ranging subject the thought-provoking speeches on a variety of subjects delivered there provide the audience some issues to chew upon.

In July, Dr Arifa Syeda Zahra, who teaches history in a Lahore college, was a guest of the CBEC and the point she drove home very forcefully and convincingly was that those who destroy history do it with the purpose of erasing the collective memory of a people. The idea behind this act of vandalism is to pre-empt change, which Dr Arifa Zahra describes as the most difficult process in individuals and societies. Continue reading “Fabricating history”

Media in the spotlight

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE two-member media commission’s recommendation for consultations on the review of all media laws and codes could not have been more timely. The fact is that lately a lot of concern has been expressed vocally by discerning observers about the damage the media is inflicting on our society.

Any forum, which is even distantly related to the press or television, invariably turns into an occasion to condemn their waywardness. TV receives a greater share of the flak because of its higher visibility/reach and potential to influence people’s mindsets.

The issue of ethics in journalism has been around for quite some time but has evaded all solution. Those of the older generation who have struggled for press freedom for years are naturally reluctant to hand over powers to the government to regulate the freedom of expression which a code can accomplish.
Continue reading “Media in the spotlight”

Death of social sciences

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE competition for space in academia between the social sciences and the ‘others’ — namely, the pure and physical sciences, technological disciplines, medicine-related knowledge, and business and management studies — has been a permanent feature of the intellectual history of mankind.

Our one and only Nobel laureate, Prof Abdus Salam, would always be lamenting that Pakistan lacks a science culture. That not only meant that we neglect science in our universities and do not allocate enough resources for research. It also implies we do not inculcate the spirit of inquiry in our children and as a nation we do not analyse natural and social phenomena rationally and on the basis of scientifically verified information.

The treatment meted out to Dr Salam in his lifetime and after his death by this country vindicates his lament about our alienation from science. Continue reading “Death of social sciences”

Writing for children

By Zubeida Mustafa

AN email circular drew my attention to The ABC of It, an exhibition of children’s books that opened in the New York Public Library last week. The NYPL website announced that literature for young readers is important as through them one learns what books are teaching children. It also added that such books reveal a lot about the societies that produced them.

This observation provides food for thought. If I were asked to devise a yardstick to measure how child-friendly a society is, I would base it on the volume, quality, diversity, content and, above all, authorship of the children’s literature it produces. All authors and poets who have made a name for themselves in the literary world by writing for adults have always found time to write for children.
Continue reading “Writing for children”

Of days gone by

By Nikhat Sattar

In 1947, a well known and educated gentleman, Yousuf Dehlvi started a publishing house in Delhi along with his three sons. Shama Publications as it was named, catered to the growing educated class in both India and Pakistan, and had an office in London through which it reached out to readers of Urdu and Hindi in Europe.  Yousuf Dehlvi was a man of letters, highly religious, well connected with politicians and what would now be called the “elite”, as well as a sound business man.

He recognised the  signs of an awakening among writers post independence, and realised too the huge market of readers that could be further stimulated and developed. This was also the time when the film industry was just beginning to produce films having social messages.

Shama Publications brought out three monthlies in Urdu: Shama, a film cum literary magazine that focused on Indian films and film stars and had Urdu short stories and poems from authors many of whom owe the beginning of their career and popularity to the magazine; Bano which targeted the educated woman, but again contained gems of the Urdu short story, and Khilona, for children. Khilona was edited by the youngest son, Ilyas Dehlvi, assisted by his elder brother Idrees Dehlvi. The Hindi magazine was called Sushma. Continue reading “Of days gone by”