Category Archives: Books by ZM

Learning Sindhi

By Zubeida Mustafa

FOR decades, I faced a dilemma. Living in Sindh, I wanted to learn the Sindhi language to enable myself to speak to the people here in their own language. They had welcomed my parents and me when we migrated to this land of the Sufis.

In Karachi, a cosmopolitan city and home to numerous foreign consulates, I could try my hand at French, German and Persian. There are many other languages you can learn in this city. But there was no place where I could go to learn Sindhi. Teaching Sindhi free of charge should have been the job of the Sindh government’s department of culture. But it never cared. Nor does it do so today.

When the language riots of 1972 were followed by the education policy that required every student to study Sindhi and Urdu, irrespective of his or her mother tongue, I was delighted. To me it seemed that in a generation the entire educated youth population of the province of Sindh would be bilingual. To my great disappointment this did not happen. First, the nationalisation of schools — an excellent idea in principle but poorly executed with selfish intent — left our education system in the doldrums. Jobs were doled out to people who did not know how to teach. The enrolment rate never went up sufficiently to realise the dream of ‘education for all’. Secondly, the resultant influx of ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels examinations undermined the already tottering local exam system. That was also a blow to my ‘Sindhi dream’.

But I don’t let my dreams die easily. After repeated nagging by my Sindhi-speaking friends (which included the respected but outspoken PPP leader Ghulam Mustafa Shah, my neighbour at one time) I succeeded earlier this year. I received an email from a wonderful friend — also the writer of the foreword to my book The Tyranny of Language in Education — Dr Ghazala Rahman, the director of Sindh Abhyas Academy at Szabist. She informed me that the academy planned on holding Sindhi-language classes.

There is a need for linguistic interactions to bond people.

In May we completed level 1 — nine of us who made it a point to attend the weekly class for three months. There was absenteeism but not serious enough to disrupt the classes. Ghazala and her associates Sarang and Amin worked hard on designing the course and bearing with our idiosyncrasies.

By no means do I consider myself proficient in the language — I still have a long way to go. But wasn’t it Lao Tzu who said that a journey of a 1,000 miles begins with one step? Some of my classmates picked up the language very well and I am happy to know they are the ones who are working on the ground with the people of Sindh and this linguistic addition will serve them well. But what I found so enriching about this experience was how Ghazala took us through the maze of a language so rich in vocabulary, style, dictum and literary content and, of course, its greatest asset, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai.

But more than that, we learnt something about the social impact of a language and how every language has its own richness. Ghazala did it by contextualising what she taught us. Even the variations in dialects, usage and accent/pronunciations were sympathetically explained without showing any contempt for the ‘other’.

This approach is so important if linguistic prejudices are not to destroy a society. They characterise not only Pakistan. Most societies have them. These prejudices sometimes go so deep that people speaking the same language but with different accents tend to ridicule those whose speech is not similar to their own. These biases have existed historically. Who wouldn’t remember the language wars between Lucknow and Delhi? But such literary bashing should not spill into everyday life and vitiate people’s social and economic standing.

At a Yale University workshop, some academics looked into the issue of ‘linguistic prejudice’ that is defined as implicit biases against people who speak the same language but with substantial variations. The workshop sought to “expose this phenomenon, describe its social consequences, and propose ways in which teachers and learners can work to neutralise its effects”.

Giving examples, one teacher explained that objectively there is no correct way to speak a language. One form may be prestigious today in a region when it was less prestigious at another time. Besides it needs to be realised that speech variations should not be the basis of assessments of people’s cognitive ability and their moral character. They should not be socioeconomically stigmatised on that count. It is important that public awareness be created about the importance of showing respect for all languages.

Hence, the need for linguistic interactions to bond people. Sadiqa Salahuddin, who was my course mate, summed it up well: “Ghazala should be given the best award for enhancing manifold our love for the land, its people and their language.”

Source: Dawn

Please follow and like us:

A professional odyssey

Zubeida Mustafa’s book is not just for the practitioner and lover of journalism, it’s been written by someone who has worked on raising awareness about social issues

“I also discovered during this phase what the newspaper reader’s habit means. I had been told that it was one of the most difficult habits to break — even more than cigarette smoking,” writes Zubeida Mustafa in her almost-autobiographical book My Dawn Years — Exploring Social Issues. With her work as an editor and a journalist spanning more than three decades, and her columns continuing to appear to date, Mustafa, then, is also a hard-to-break habit for the Pakistani newspaper reader.

Continue reading A professional odyssey

Please follow and like us:

A woman of quiet influence

By Zohra Yusuf
A book review of Zubeida Mustafa’s My DAWN Years – Exploring Social Issues.

I recently told Zubeida Mustafa that I had an issue with the subtitle of her memoirs. I feel her years at DAWN were more meaningful than simply the pursuit of social issues, important as they are and clearly close to her heart. With over 30 years at DAWN, many of which were in the position of a senior editor, Zubeida had a more significant impact on the newspaper than perhaps she cares to lay claim to – out of her inherent modesty. Her years at DAWN did see a shift in editorials, from ambivalence to clear positions on issues that matter – democracy, pluralism and rights of the marginalised, to name a few. If Ahmad Ali Khan (the editor for most of her years at DAWN), was her mentor, Zubeida too, in her own quiet way, exercised a significant influence on the newspaper’s journey. Continue reading A woman of quiet influence

Please follow and like us:

Integrity above all

ZM with renowne playwright Haseena Moin

By Beena Sarwar

When a pioneering journalist pens her memoirs, you pay attention. Especially when she is Zubeida Mustafa of Pakistan, a long-time feminist and champion of social causes who, from her editorial perch at the daily Dawn, witnessed momentous transitions in the country’s media and political landscapes for over three decades. Beyond being a witness to change, she has also, as she realises with a thrill, “been a part of it, at times driving it and at times being driven by it.”

The narrative in this slim hardcover, My Dawn Years: Exploring Social Issues, is quintessential Zubeida Mustafa: direct, understated, deep, nuanced, thorough — and meticulously indexed. Black and white photos, though somewhat grainy, are well captioned, providing a pictorial reference to many of the events and people mentioned in the book. Continue reading Integrity above all

Please follow and like us:

A woman of substance

By Afsheen Ahmed

What makes a life interesting, well lived? Doing something you love, despite the adjustments that have to be made, and doing it well; travelling to new countries; meeting new people; making professional contacts with a wide range of people — and then leaving the world on a high note. That would be the definition of a life well and fully lived.

Judging by that criteria, Zubeida Mustafa, journalist turned social activist, has led a truly remarkable life. In her book, detailing her 30 plus years working in Dawn’s editorial department, she brings her own unique perspective to how she started out, and how she – and the paper – evolved over the years, with the changing times and the fast-moving wheels of technology. My DAWN Years – Exploring Social Issues is not just an account of an individual’s life but that of an institution, and on occasion, it is difficult to extricate one from the other. Continue reading A woman of substance

Please follow and like us:

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. Continue reading Syed Adibul Hasan Rizvi: Book Review

Please follow and like us:

A 40-year journey

By Zubeida Mustafa

siut9THIS week the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) is holding an international symposium to celebrate 40 years of its existence.

The logo designed for the occasion sums up its philosophy: “Every human being has the right to access healthcare irrespective of caste, colour or religious belief, free with dignity.” At SIUT you actually see this happening.

For long, it was the dream of its founder, Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi, to create a nucleus that would evolve into an equitable and inclusive healthcare system that would be accessible to all. Continue reading A 40-year journey

Please follow and like us:

Over to ‘Urdish’

By Zubeida Mustafa

LANGUAGE continues to be an enigma in Pakistan. For the umpteenth time education is being ‘reformed’ in this country. Federal Minister of Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal has now announced that ‘Urdish’ will be used as the medium of education in the country.

This is the first time Urdish (not Urlish) is being introduced officially. According to the minister, this initiative will rid the country of the “English medium-Urdu medium controversy that has damaged education standards and adversely affected the growth of young minds.” Continue reading Over to ‘Urdish’

Please follow and like us:

In service of humanity

By Asif Noorani

The success story of the SIUT (Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation), starting on a modest scale and growing into a state-of-the-art medical and surgical hospital with impressive research and training facilities, gives you the feeling that all is not lost with this country. It is heartening that here is a government institution, run by a qualified and well-trained team of inspired and dedicated personnel, which offers free treatment to thousands of poor patients. What is more, they are all treated with the respect and dignity they deserve and are made to feel that medical treatment is their birth right.

The SIUT and its journey is documented by Zubeida Mustafa in the coffee table book, The SIUT Story: Making the ‘Impossible’ Possible. During the research for the book, Mustafa spoke not just with medical practitioners but also with kidney donors and many patients who have been treated successfully. With donations and help in cash and kind flowing from individuals and corporate bodies who have trust in the integrity and capability of the people running the institution, not many plans had to be dropped owing to lack of finances. Continue reading In service of humanity

Please follow and like us:

Kudos to SIUT, for ‘making the impossible possible’

By Anil Datta

Karachi

Glowing and touching tributes were heaped on the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) Director, Dr Adeebul Hassan Rizvi, and international award winning journalist Zubeida Mustafa, the former for having rendered yeoman’s service to the sick, the needy and the underprivileged across the length and breadth of the country, and the latter for having brought these achievements on record through her book, “The SIUT story: making the ‘impossible’ possible”.

The occasion was the launch of Mustafa’s above-noted book at the Mohatta Palace Friday evening.

6-15-2013_183766_l_akbGhazi Salahuddin, noted journalist and columnist, recalled the time when Dr Adeebul Hassan Rizvi was a student leader and paid him tribute for not having let his idealism wane and for remaining true to his ideals for the betterment of society.

“There’s lots of talk in our society about human dignity but in actual practice, there is none. We are a terribly class-riddled society, utterly apathetic to the travails and needs of our fellowmen. Dr Rizvi’s devotion to human dignity is so very evident in his institution. The SIUT’s stress on human dignity is not based on charity. Rather it is based on the natural rights of all human beings”, said Ghazi Salahuddin.

Having been her colleague for a long time, he praised Zubeida Mustafa and said that Zubeida had introduced a totally new research-oriented approach to journalism, something that hitherto had not been there. This, he said, made all the information so very profound and authentic.

Former Commissioner, Karachi Divisions, Shafiqur Rehman Piracha, in his very touching and emotional tribute to Dr Rizvi, talked about the “divine madness” of Dr Rizvi that had made the inception of an institution as altruistic as the SIUT possible where human beings were accorded their natural right to things that could make life a pleasurable experience for them. He said that everyone was treated with dignity at the SIUT without having to pay for it.

In a tribute to Rizvi’s altruistic simplicity, Piracha narrated how there was a concerted effort by the country’s most powerful segment of the bureaucracy to induce Rizvi to accept the post of federal health minister and what a hard time Rizvi had warding them off till they gave it up. He narrated how even these days, Rizvi travelled by train once a fortnight to Sukkur and its environs along with his medical team to perform surgeries and transplants absolutely free of cost.

He lauded Mrs Mustafa for having authored such a book on a subject as vital as healthcare and set the record straight for posterity.

Dr Adeeb Rizvi, acknowledging the accolades, and in his tribute to Zubeida Mustafa, recalled his first encounter with her and narrated how she was constantly grilling him with the questions: “How will you render such advanced medical care for free?” “How will you carry out dialysis for free?” and said that he was always hard put for a ready answer. “Ultimately, we made up and Zubeida joined us in our tissue transplantation campaign”, he said.

Zubeida Mustafa, acknowledging all the tributes, thanked the Support Trust (one of the sponsors of the book launch) for their cooperation in her painstaking venture.

“I wanted everyone to know that there are as many good people in our society and good works being done and that our society is not just bloodshed and killing”, she said.

The SIUT, she said, was not a charity organization but one where all humans got their rights with dignity. “That’s what I wanted to convey”, she said. She went on to state that all citizens had a right to education and healthcare and even though today’s liberal economics had turned things upside down, the SIUT still abided by its noble philosophy.

Kishwar Zehra, a thriving businessperson and a committed social worker who devotes of her time for voluntary work in the institute, lauded the most selfless service to society by Dr Rizvi and praised Zubeida Mustafa’s journalistic acumen in putting the story together for posterity.

Nusrat Ali Khan and Hassan Jameel, trustees of the Support Trust, outlined the aims and objectives of the Trust which, in a nutshell, could be summed up as publicizing all the work being done on a voluntary basis in various walks of life in the country and augmenting the mission of altruistic organizations. Nusrat Ali Khan proposed that copies of Mustafa’s book be sent to all diplomatic missions in the country and to all Pakistani diplomatic missions overseas to disseminate knowledge about the reservoir of selfless and noble individuals in our society.

Noted TV journalist compered the function and lauded Zubeida’s press crusade against the deficiencies in our healthcare and social systems.

Source: The News

Please follow and like us: