Time to heal

Voices of Partition, Mumbai 6 Aug 2017

By Zubeida Mustafa

THIS year an alternative discourse dominated the weeks leading up to the middle of August, when, 70 years ago, Pakistan and India became independent. Marking a shift in focus, the public narratives moved away from the traditional recounting of the politics of the leaders in the 1940s to the experiences of the common man whose fate was decided.

This, to me, is a significant development. This people-to-people interaction at the grass roots can eventually pave the way for peace in the region. It may also change the public perception of the events of 1947. Until now, the people of the two countries have been exposed to one-sided accounts of their leaders’ political ‘achievements’ and the ‘deceit’ of the ‘other side’. The new narrative can be termed the ‘people’s history’. It is oral so that more people can be accessed in South Asia. And these are untold stories. Continue reading “Time to heal”

Taking to the streets

PTI street power

By Rifaat Hamid Ghani

There is a difference between grass roots and street power.

To start with the MQM. It had the kind of street power that could both empty and fill the streets to considerable effect: Its leverage worked; but it was not admired. The MQM as factionalized –- imploded and exploded –- no longer commands that kind of street power.

Yet, alongside of its waning street power, its grass root political strength is more clearly perceived. Besides its thugs (I choose that word for its wider etymological ethnic resonances) it evidently has a broad constituency that remains loyal to cadres of a well-organized party whose workers stayed in touch with and served and protected the people they represented. The party leadership presently is amorphous even though the founder is unambiguously self-destructed, but the constituency remains. Continue reading “Taking to the streets”

What ASER says

By Zubeida Mustafa

ANY country which values education provides for an independent mechanism to test the learning levels of its students. That is the only way a state can assess objectively the strength and weaknesses of the system that it has in place to educate its children.

In Pakistan, the Annual State of Education Report (Aser) has been doing precisely that since 2008 when its first annual survey was held. It is like an audit and should be valued for the database it collects — mainly in the relatively inaccessible rural areas. Policies made on the basis of this wealth of information should make learning tools more effective. Continue reading “What ASER says”

Syed Adibul Hasan Rizvi: Book Review

By Zeenat Hisam

THE reading habit needs to start being cultivated in early childhood through stories of fantasy, fairy tales and folk sagas as these ignite the imagination and the curiosity of children. Every culture and every language has its own heritage of such stories. And so does Urdu. However, what was missing was biographies of renowned people written for younger readers in Urdu.

The Oxford University Press is now filling in this gap by bringing out a few series devoted to the genre. Under the series Azeem Pakistani and Tasveeri Kahani Silsila, biographies of notable figures highlighting their contributions to the country have been published. Roshni kay Meenar is the third series focusing on biographies of prominent personalities of Sindh who have made valuable contributions either before Partition or since. The three biographies published earlier under this series presented the lives and works of Mirza Qaleech Baig, Hasan Ali Effendi and Ruth Pfau.

The biography of Dr. Adibul Hasan Rizvi is the fourth supplementary reader under Roshni kay Meenar. Targeted at children of 10 years and above — students of classes six to eight — this 50-page reader is divided into seven chapters. The first five chapters shed light on his childhood, education and career as a medical professional, as a family man, and how he started the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT), and what went into making it such an outstanding success. The sixth chapter tells the stories of two young patients, Aymen Khan, whose life was changed after treatment at the SIUT, and Naveed Anwar, Pakistan’s first deceased organ donor. The last chapter tells the young reader about Dr. Adib’s success and the national and global fame and honours he has received.

Zubeida Mustafa, an accomplished senior journalist and writer, has brought out key aspects of Dr. Adib’s personality — his humility, integrity, commitment and compassion – in simple and fluent language. She talks of how he transformed an eight-bed burns ward at Civil Hospital, Karachi, into a full-fledged, state-of-the-art medical institution, the SIUT, predominantly serving the marginalised sections of society, free of cost, with dignity and compassion.

However, the booklet is visually disappointing, even though it contains many photographs. It has not been packaged in a format that will attract children. These minor quibbles aside, this is a much-needed addition to our store of knowledge.

Source: Newsline, July 2017