TIME and tide — and also season and weather — wait for no man. Taking this truism to heart, the government decided to move on a vital agricultural sector that has never failed to stir controversy. That is cotton production — the key cash crop for our economy. This time the government has decided to be discreet and avoid ‘unnecessary’ publicity.
Foremost came the devastating news that Pakistan had once again fallen short of the target set for cotton production this year as disclosed by the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association in January. Only 8.3 million bales were produced as against 10.4m last year. Cotton production has been on the decline for more than a decade. Punjab, the province which has the largest share of the country’s cotton, has obviously suffered the most. It has also seen a fall in the area under cultivation and yield per acre.
IN these trying times of lockdowns, I have found relief in books. Currently, Michelle Obama has brought me the comfort I was looking for. America’s former first lady’s memoir, Becoming, grips your attention with its lucid style. It also gives you a graphic insight into the life of the African-American community, whose struggle has fascinated me since Martin Luther King made his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech more than 50 years ago.
VIRAL fear is experienced by young and old alike globally – but not uniformly. Viral pandemic, it is certified, Covid-19 is also a search engine on the stratifications of globalization. The impact is manifold and varied culturally and economically, and we may only learn empirically if there are any impermeable layers. There is interaction and adaptation; yet there may be responses and outcomes that will never be felt in common and so a separate-ness be reaffirmed.
HERE is something to take your mind off the novel coronavirus
pandemic that has overwhelmed the globe. I would like to take you to
another world — the world of education. It is too early to speculate
about the post-virus age. We can, however, use the opportunity provided
by the lockdown to ponder issues pertaining to education. The fact is
that they have never received much thought.
‘Karachi, no one owns this city’, is yet another of the doleful explanatory clichés about the metropolis. Yet Karachi might be better off if it was left alone for a bit – at present it continues to be what it has long been: a battleground for civic and political ownership. Despite the pitiable state it has been reduced to by its varied custodians it remains a prize — demographically and thence politically — and always geo-strategically — as a port.
IN his keynote speech at the recent Karachi Literature Festival
(KLF), historian William Dalrymple spoke of the litfests that have
mushroomed in South Asia in a “fantastic” way. There is no denying that
these literary events are crowd-pullers. Dalrymple estimates that India,
which initiated the trend with the Jaipur Literature Festival — the
most well attended in the world — in 2004, now has 60 litfests a year.
He spoke of 10 being held in Pakistan, though I am not clear how he
arrived at this figure.
Truthdig is proud to present this article as part of
Global Voices: Truthdig Women Reporting, a series from a network of
female correspondents around the world who are dedicated to pursuing
truth within their countries and elsewhere.
THE 2019 Annual Status of Education Report (Aser) launched recently
is the ninth in the series. No other knowledge assessment exercise in
Pakistan of this nature has been so sustained. Though there was a gap,
its overall performance has still been good. It serves as a reliable
yardstick to measure the quality of learning in the country especially
in the rural areas where the majority of the population lives.
THE medium of instruction in school is once again being hotly
debated, not that the issue had ever been resolved. But now that the
pro-mother language lobby has gained more leverage over the years, its
voice is being heard. That is why passions generated by the language
issue cannot be slapped down.
What provoked the controversy this time? It was a report prepared by a
subcommittee of the National Curriculum Council on the medium of
instruction that caused the ruckus. Later, a member of the NCC described
the report as a piece of ‘misreporting’. The so-called wrong report had
prescribed English as the medium for quite a few subjects from primary
to Grade XII. The regional languages had been omitted totally. It was
the latter omission that had led to the deafening furore on social media
— and quite understandably so. Mercifully, a clarification was later
issued by the government explaining that the question of the languages
to be used as the medium had been left to the provincial governments to