THE world could not have been more unequal in contemporary history than what it is today. It has always been unequal but the present trend set in when the Cold War ended with the fall of the USSR giving neoliberal forces a free rein. With the countervailing force of the socialist bloc withdrawn and respectability granted to elitism and the exercise of unabashed corporate power, inequality became rampant. Not that inequities did not exist before. But today, inequality and its discontents are unparalleled.
WHEN schools in many parts of the world have resumed education in varying degrees, why are our schools still shuttered? The irony is that this is the fate of institutions that cater to the needs of the poor who are already deprived. I feel the matter has not been given serious thought. Even in pre-Covid times public-sector education in Pakistan was rotting. Now it is about to hit rock-bottom.
GRATITUDE. Pride. Appreciation. These three words sum up the sentiments of the patients I talked to on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Donor’s Clinic at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT).
Abida Zahid had given a gift of life to her younger sister four years ago when her sibling had end-stage renal failure. Farman Raza was another donor who gifted a kidney to his brother in 2012 when he fell critically ill.
THE underlying cause of what is currently termed as ‘confusion’ in our political discourse is a deficit of trust. Simply put, it is the paranoia that has subsumed people from all walks of life, causing them to distrust others. Can you blame them when they have been deceived so often?
Take the case of the pandemic. On June 19, a very eminent infectious diseases specialist, Dr Naseem Salahuddin, wrote an excellent article in this paper explaining the pandemic, the emergence of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19 and the need for a lockdown. According to her, we have already crossed the Rubicon. She attributes the failure to win the full cooperation of the masses on SOPs to “poverty, illiteracy and dense populations” as well as “ingrained habits”. Hence she appeals for specialists to be given the opportunity to explain what the pandemic really is.
FOR all the children of the world – be they in the West or the East, in Pakistan or in the US – the pandemic lockdown has been a trying time. Their lives have changed drastically. They cannot go out and play as they have normally done.
Those who are young can’t even understand what is happening and why. Even those who are old enough to read books or listen to stories from their mothers are at a loss because this new phenomenon has not been written about much and definitely not from the point of view of young readers.
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.
I BELONG to Pakistan’s 75-plus age group. According to the 2017
census, my contemporaries, who were born in 1944 or earlier, constitute
only 1.21pc of the total population of this country. Not a very big
number — less than 2.5 million. But we seem to have become a burden for
the government that had promised us a ‘new’ Pakistan when it assumed
office. Did it mean a ‘young’ Pakistan?
Take my case as an example (mind you I am not alone). I have been a
working woman nearly all my adult life. True, the pace of my work has
slowed down with age. I am low-visioned too. Nevertheless I continue to
contribute to society as best as I can mainly by doing voluntary work in
a school for underprivileged children.
THE state of religious minorities in Pakistan today is most
deplorable. They are vulnerable to violence, terrorism and physical
abuse and many of them have lost their lives as a result in the last few
decades. Their places of worship have come under attack on numerous
occasions. This is in blatant violation of the Constitution which
guarantees the right to life and religious freedom to all citizens of
ACCORDING to the 2017 census report, nearly 63 per cent of Pakistan’s
population lives in the rural areas. For a developing country, this
poses many challenges in terms of equity and disparity in the
distribution of resources and development funds and planning expertise.
As is economically feasible, more attention is paid to the development
of urban areas. They are the seat of government where population density
makes the development process more cost-effective due to the economies
of scale. Since the rural areas don’t offer similar advantages they
suffer, notwithstanding their larger population.
But that doesn’t justify the neglect of the rural hinterland. Such an approach has a damaging impact on the lives of more people. Given the government’s limited resources, it cannot divert huge amounts from the cities to disadvantaged regions where the population is scattered. As a result, the country is experiencing a high urbanisation rate as people move in large numbers to the cities from villages, creating problems of another kind. Moreover, this unplanned transfer of population upsets planning.