Imran Khan attended Aitchison College, an elite school established in Lahore by South Asia's colonial rulers to produce faithful civil servants during the British Raj. He then went on to graduate from Oxford University in England. Here's an excerpt of what he wrote in an article published by the Arab News on January 14, 2002:
"My generation grew up at a time when colonial hang up was at its peak. Our older generation had been slaves and had a huge inferiority complex of the British. The school I went to was similar to all elite schools in Pakistan. Despite gaining independent, they were, and still are, producing replicas of public schoolboys rather than Pakistanis.
I read Shakespeare, which was fine, but no Allama Iqbal — the national poet of Pakistan. The class on Islamic studies was not taken seriously, and when I left school I was considered among the elite of the country because I could speak English and wore Western clothes.
Despite periodically shouting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ in school functions, I considered my own culture backward and religion outdated. Among our group if any one talked about religion, prayed or kept a beard he was immediately branded a Mullah.
Because of the power of the Western media, our heroes were Western movie stars or pop stars. When I went to Oxford already burdened with this hang up, things didn’t get any easier. At Oxford, not just Islam, but all religions were considered anachronism."
It is refreshing to see Imran Khan's acknowledgement that Pakistan's elite schools are "producing replicas of public schoolboys rather than Pakistanis". Pakistan achieved independence from the British colonial rule 70 years ago. However, the minds of most of Pakistan's elites remain colonized to this day. This seems to be particularly true of the nation's western-educated "liberals" who dominate much of the intellectual discourse in the country. They continue to look at their fellow countrymen through the eyes of the Orientalists who served as tools for western colonization of Asia, Middle East and Africa. The work of these "native" Orientalists available in their books, op ed columns and other publications reflects their utter contempt for Pakistan and Pakistanis. Their colonized minds uncritically accept all things western. They often seem to think that the Pakistanis can do nothing right while the West can do no wrong. Far from being constructive, these colonized minds promote lack of confidence in the ability of their fellow "natives" to solve their own problems and contribute to hopelessness. The way out of it is to encourage more inquiry based learning and critical thinking.
Dr. Edward Said (1935-2003), Palestine-born Columbia University professor and the author of "Orientalism", described it as the ethnocentric study of non-Europeans by Europeans. Dr. Said wrote that the Orientalists see the people of Asia, Africa and the Middle East as “gullible” and “devoid of energy and initiative.” European colonization led to the decline and destruction of the prosperity of every nation they ruled. India is a prime example of it. India was the world's largest economy producing over a quarter of the world's GDP when the British arrived. At the end of the British Raj, India's contribution was reduced to less than 2% of the world GDP.
Education to Colonize Minds:
In his "Prison Notebooks", Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist theorist and politician, says that a class can exercise its power not merely by the use of force but by an institutionalized system of moral and intellectual leadership that promotes certain ideas and beliefs favorable to it. For Gramsci "cultural hegemony" is maintained through the consent of the dominated class which assures the intellectual and material supremacy of the dominant class.
In "Masks of Conquest", author Gauri Viswanathan says that the British curriculum was introduced in India to "mask" the economic exploitation of the colonized. Its main purpose was to colonize the minds of the natives to sustain colonial rule.
Cambridge Curriculum in Pakistan:
The colonial discourse of the superiority of English language and western education continues with a system of elite schools that uses Cambridge curriculum in Pakistan.
Over 270,000 Pakistani students from elite schools participated in Cambridge O-level and A-level International (CIE) exams in 2016, an increase of seven per cent over the prior year.
Cambridge IGCSE exams is also growing in popularity in Pakistan, with enrollment increasing by 16% from 10,364 in 2014-15 to 12,019 in 2015-16. Globally there has been 10% growth in entries across all Cambridge qualifications in 2016, including 11% growth in entries for Cambridge International A Levels and 8 per cent for Cambridge IGCSE, according to Express Tribune newspaper.
The United Kingdom remains the top source of international education for Pakistanis. 46,640 students, the largest number of Pakistani students receiving international education anywhere, are doing so at Pakistani universities in joint degree programs established with British universities, according to UK Council for International Student Affairs.
Teach Critical Thinking:
Pakistani educators need to see the western colonial influences and their detrimental effects on the minds of youngsters. They need to improve learning by helping students learn to think for themselves critically. Such reforms will require students to ask more questions and to find answers for themselves through their own research rather than taking the words of their textbook authors and teachers as the ultimate truth.
It is refreshing to see Imran Khan's acknowledgement that Pakistan's elite schools are "producing replicas of public schoolboys rather than Pakistanis". The minds of most of Pakistan's elite remain colonized 70 years after the British rule of Pakistan ended in 1947. They uncritically accept all things western. A quick scan of Pakistan's English media shows the disdain the nation's western educated elites have for their fellow countryman. Far from being constructive, they promote lack of confidence in their fellow "natives" ability to solve their own problems and contribute to hopelessness. Their colonized minds uncritically accept all things western. They often seem to think that the Pakistanis can do nothing right while the West can do no wrong. Unless these colonized minds are freed, it will be difficult for the people of Pakistan to believe in themselves, have the confidence in their capabilities and develop the national pride to lay the foundation of a bright future. The best way to help free these colonized minds is through curriculum reform that helps build real critical thinking.
Here's an interesting discussion of the legacy of the British Raj in India as seen by writer-diplomat Shashi Tharoor:
PTI's Triumph Over Dynastic Political Parties
How Can Pakistan Avoid Recurring BoP Crises?
Alam vs Hoodbhoy
Inquiry Based Learning
Dr. Ata ur Rehman Defends Higher Education Reform
Pakistan's Rising College Enrollment Rates
Pakistan Beat BRICs in Highly Cited Research Papers
Launch of "Eating Grass: Pakistan's Nuclear Program"
Upwardly Mobile Pakistan
Impact of Industrial Revolution
Hindutva: Legacy of British Raj
Thanks for posting this.
The new assembly has been sworn in. IK is now officially PM-Elect, waiting to take oath on 8/18! I am excited for this fresh and brand new ( I hope!) beginning for the country of my birth. And I am also hopeful, albeit with a tempered sense of sanguineness!
Mohsin: "IK is now officially PM-Elect"
I believe Prime MInister's election is scheduled for Aug 17.
Ah, the day Zia died exactly 30 years ago.
Shashi may oppose the colonial mindset all he wants but he can’t get out of it. He reads in English and writes in English and thinks in English, like Nehru and Jinnah. English is the lingua Franca of the globe.
Here is what Shashi said about Imran’s victory.
Ahmad:"Here is what Shashi said about Imran’s victory."
Shashi Tharoor is known to toe India's party line when it comes to Pakistan.
He even defends India's bogus secularism. Here's what Indian journalist Komireddy wrote about Shashi's defense:
"For decades Indian intellectuals have claimed that religion, particularly Hinduism, is perfectly compatible with secularism. Indian secularism, they said repeatedly, is not a total rejection of religion by the state but rather an equal appreciation of every faith. Even though no faith is in principle privileged by the state, this approach made it possible for religion to find expression in the public sphere, and, since Hindus in India outnumber adherents of every other faith, Hinduism dominated it. Almost every government building in India has a prominently positioned picture of a Hindu deity. Hindu rituals accompany the inauguration of all public works, without exception."
"The novelist Shashi Tharoor tried to burnish this certifiably sectarian phenomenon with a facile analogy: Indian Muslims, he wrote, accept Hindu rituals at state ceremonies in the same spirit as teetotallers accept champagne in western celebrations. This self-affirming explanation is characteristic of someone who belongs to the majority community. Muslims I interviewed took a different view, but understandably, they were unwilling to protest for the fear of being labelled as "angry Muslims" in a country famous for its tolerant Hindus."
Sashi Thuroor is a big time Indian/Hindu Nationalist disguised as secular intellectual. Congress media adores him.
When he was at UN, he was promoting India as the Super Power ideally suited for UNSC seat. Yet when the Secretary General position opened up, he wanted to become the Secretary General as that position traditionally goes to poor, smaller countries, and not to Superpowers!
India was at once Superpower and Superpoor!
Thank you for posting this review.
Rashid: "Sashi Thuroor is a big time Indian/Hindu Nationalist disguised as secular intellectual. Congress media adores him."
Like Shashi Tharoor, Fareed Zakaria is another pseudo liberal cheerleader for India. Here's how Pankaj Mishra has exposed him:
In his new book, The Post-American World, he (Zakaria) describes India as a "powerful package" and claims it has been "peaceful, stable, and prosperous" since 1997 - a decade in which India and Pakistan came close to nuclear war, tens of thousands of Indian farmers took their own lives, Maoist insurgencies erupted across large parts of the country, and Hindu nationalists in Gujarat murdered more than 2,000 Muslims.
Fareed Zakaria’s program “GPS” aired every Sunday probably gives the best coverage of current domestic and International events. The views are well presented and Fareed is extremely articulate and covers key topics.
The show’s popularity can be judged by the guests and experts that come on to the program.
GPS been my favorite program for years
Fareed comes from a political family of India, his father was Dr. Rafiq Zakaria, was a long-term congress MP from Maharashtra. Dr. Zakaria has founded multiple educational institutions. He has written dozens of books, few noted being: The Struggle Within Islam, Muhammed and the Quran, The Price of Partition, Communal Rage in Secular India and he man who divided India.
GPS is a good program but I have 2 major issues with Fareed.
First, he is rabidly anti Pakistan. I record the program and watch every week and pray that he does not cover Pakistan. Whenever he does, it is always negative and all he does is present Pakistan from an Indian perspective. The bias oozes out of every comment he makes and the language he chooses to talk about Pakistan is downright insulting to Pakistanis.
Second, he was trying to ingratiate himself with the neocons when they were in power, especially during the early years of Bush and Cheney. At the time, I was convinced that he was a neocon himself. Only when the Iraq war went sour, did he start to change his tune. So I am not sure what his real beliefs were about the whole neocon agenda.
Abid: "So I am not sure what his real beliefs were about the whole neocon agenda."
Zakaria's favorite Pakistan "expert" is Husain Haqqani.
Fareed's other "experts" on their countries of origin like China are also a lot like Haqqani.
I wrote a post about it a couple of years ago:
The analyses and opinions offered by these experts depend on how the United States policymakers view the countries being discussed. If the US sees a nation favorably, the "expert" analyses and opinions are positive and sympathetic toward them. On the other hand, if the US views the nations in question negatively, then these "experts" show hostility toward them.
Discussions on India, a current favorite of the United States, often feature Fareed Zakaria who portrays India in a favorable light and its rival Pakistan as the villain in South Asia. Media coverage of the Middle East features "experts" who are almost always always friendly toward Israel.
‘Emerging #Pakistan’ brand buses hit #Berlin's roads on #IndependenceDay2018, showing beauty of Pakistan with its highest peaks, majestic landscape, Made in Pakistan FIFA Football, magnificent architecture and vibrant and diverse culture. #Tourism
Berlin's iconic yellow buses are carrying brand Pakistan on the streets of the city on nation's 72nd Independence Day.
This branding campaign is running under the theme of 'Emerging Pakistan'.
The initiative is a part of celebrations planned by the Embassy of Pakistan in Berlin for the 71st Independence Anniversary of Pakistan this year
Berlin caters to hundreds of tourists, especially during the summertime, who will get to see these buses daily. For a brief time, many Berliners will see these buses portraying the diversity and beauty of Pakistan.
Speaking to this correspondent, Jauhar Saleem, Pakistan's Ambassador to Germany said, "We are endeavouring to showcase beautiful Pakistan, perhaps the best-kept secret in the world of tourism."
These special buses showcase the natural beauty of Pakistan with its highest peaks, majestic landscape, Made in Pakistan Football used for FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, monuments representing ancient civilisation, magnificent architecture and vibrant and diverse culture.
The banners on buses aim to attract foreign tourists to the wonderful land of Pakistan, for many that still remains unexplored.
Although for many Germans and Europeans, in particular, northern areas of Pakistan offer a mesmerizing adventure, an ancient Indus civilisation of Moen-Jo-Daro have always fascinated German archaeologists and researchers. Also, the culture and the ethnic richness of Pakistan is appreciated all over Europe.
Excellent article. Who has done a critical analysis of the Cambridge Curriculum? It is great to have it done if it is not done yet.
Haseeb: "Who has done a critical analysis of the Cambridge Curriculum? It is great to have it done if it is not done yet. "
It's hard to find an independent and objective assessment of Cambridge International (CIE) curriculum in Pakistan. But here are a couple of opposing views:
1. Madiha Afzal: " .....the pluses of the ‘O’ levels books are not confined to content: the style and methods are equally important. The Matric books present no sources, primary or secondary. There is no sense of historical research, of historians’ and governments’ motivations in representing history one way or the other. But the Cambridge Pakistan Studies curriculum aims to “develop (an) understanding of the nature and use of historical evidence”, and the authors present an abundance of it in the textbooks — old speeches, the writings of prominent figures, historians’ accounts. Kelly reports how the same historical event is represented differently by different sides in the story — how 1857 was the “Indian mutiny” for British historians, but the “war of independence” for Indian historians. Questions are repeatedly posed to the reader — how, what, why — and these do not necessarily have one right or wrong answer. Students are asked to reconcile different accounts of the same event, and to draw their own conclusions."
2. Hooria Imam:
Such a Eurocentric understanding of Pakistan’s issues, without proper contextual references, has the potential to turn academia into a dangerous space for unsuspecting Pakistani students. So much so that through participation in such an education system, the very purpose of education – empowerment and progress – might even be negated.
Daily Show host Trevor Noah slammed by #PTI supporters
in #Pakistan for his comments on #ImranKhan, the country’s Prime Minister-in-waiting.
In the latest episode of the Daily Show, the comedian compared Khan to US President Donald Trump. Referring to him as “Pakistan’s Donald Trump”, Noah stressed that Khan’s background story is quite similar to that of Trump’s and emphasis was placed on things like their privileged lifestyle and personal relationships.
Showing video clips from past interviews and news coverage on both leaders, he went on to state that Khan is a “tanned version of President Trump”. And after showing a shot of Khan’s bedroom, he refers to his home as “Pakistani Trump Tower”.
His comments have not been received well by many social media users in Pakistan. In fact, ‘Trevor Noah’ is a top trend on twitter in the country, with a lot of conversation over the four-minute clip that was posted by the channel.
Finally, I decided to watch Daily Show clip given all the attention it is getting.
There is no exaggeration in the clip. It’s the truth.
And, sadly, it’s not funny. The truth rarely is funny.
Many more serious commentators have come to the same conclusion. The two are very similar. One will make America great again, the other will create a new Pakistan.
In many ways, Imran faces challenges that are an order of magnitude more complex and daunting.
The only difference. While the Russians may have backed Trump, the Indians did not back Imran.
Someone else did.
Ahmad: "The only difference. While the Russians may have backed Trump, the Indians did not back Imran. Someone else did."
I think Nawaz Sharif's "khalai makhlooq" narrative has a lot in common with Trump's "deep state" narrative.
US President Donald Trump says he is being investigated by the "US Deep State"because he is trying to improve his nation's bilateral relations with Russia. Pakistan's ex Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also made similar allegations of being targeted by "Khalai Makhlooq" (Pakistani Deep State) because of his efforts to make peace with India. Their narratives are strikingly similar. Sharif and Trump have polarized and divided their nations by asking their political supporters to stand by them and to reject what they describe as a political "witch hunt".
An Intellectual Catastrophe
Somewhere along the way Naipaul, in my opinion, himself suffered a serious intellectual accident. His obsession with Islam caused him somehow to stop thinking, to become instead a kind of mental suicide compelled to repeat the same formula over and over
The strange fascination with Islam in the West continues. Most recently, the originally Trinidadian but now British author V S. Naipaul has brought out a massive volume about his travels in four Islamic countries -- all of them non-Arab -- as a sequel to a book he wrote on the same four places about 18 years ago. The first book was called Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey; the new one is Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples. In the meantime Naipaul has become Sir V S Naipaul, an extremely famous and, it must be said, very talented writer whose novels and non-fiction (mostly travel books) have established his reputation as one of the truly celebrated, justly well-known figures in world literature today.
Ahsan: " Somewhere along the way Naipaul, in my opinion, himself suffered a serious intellectual accident. His obsession with Islam caused him somehow to stop thinking, to become instead a kind of mental suicide compelled to repeat the same formula over and over"
Thanks for sharing Edward Saeed's piece on VS Naipaul.
Excerpt 1: "Islam's flaw was at "its origins -- the flaw that ran through Islamic history"
Does it apply equally well to those who believe Pakistan's flaw was at its origins?
Excerpt 2: "He is a man of the Third World who sends back dispatches from the Third World to an implied audience of disenchanted Western liberals who can never hear bad enough things about all the Third World myths"
This reminds me of the many Pakistani native orientalists, including Pakistanis working for western media and think tanks, who pander to the western audiences.
Excerpt 3: " ( Malaysians, Pakistanis, Iranians, and Indonesians) Muslims are converts and must suffer the same fate wherever they are. Never mind history, politics, philosophy, geography: Muslims who are not Arabs are inauthentic converts, doomed to this wretched false destiny."
Does this ring a bell when you listen to or read Indian Hindu Nationalists and Pakistani liberals?
In Pakistan, patriotism has become an epithet
Nation needs individual, collective conscience towards positivity and patriotism
Presentation of a true picture of the flaws and weaknesses of a country, in this case, Pakistan, is one thing. Constant is the flagellation of Pakistan’s present reality in which much is being done to address and redress the ills that has beset it for long, and the new direction in which the theoretical and the actual emphasis is on a positive and a constructive overhauling of the entire system.
Non-stop are the attacks that are devised and hurled at the behest of political opposition, which pushed into a painful and a very unexpected cul-de-sac of accountability of their misdeeds and corruption believe that offence is the best defence.
There is deliberate blurring of a line between a gratuitous attack and a legitimate raising of a point, a personal attack and constructive criticism, malicious rubbishing of a good initiative and a healthy debate on its merits and demerits, and disdainful mockery of a failed idea or programme and a calculated shredding-to-bits the good intentions of the government.
Pakistan needs its liberals and its enlightened and its commentators and its politicians to NOT be blind to its flaws, camouflage its black spots and white-wash its past.
Pakistan needs to be aware of all its bad, and find a way forward.
Pakistan needs its individual and collective conscience to not be agenda-driven but to be from a consciousness of positivity and patriotism.
AND: Patriotism is not jingoism. Patriotism is a mechanism of deep introspection, stock-taking of the reality, unity, collaboration of the opposites, forward-thinking inspiration, and refinement of a system of policy and implementation that while taking the inglorious past as the barometer of what not to do forges a roadmap that is clear, practical and farsighted.
Patriotism is asking all stakeholders–government, opposition, armed forces, establishment, higher judiciary–hard questions, and expecting answers.
Patriotism is not the exclusion of the negatives, it is about inclusion of the positives.
Patriotism is lessons from the past and celebration of the good in the present.
Patriotism: Twisted definition
Patriotism cannot be enforced upon you; patriotism is the love, like that for your family — you have for your country with all its beauty and scars and sparkle and warts and the good and the skeletons in the closet.
In Pakistan of today, patriotism has become an epithet, in an unscrupulous twisting of its definition mixing it with hyper-nationalism and xenophobia.
And it is not just the bigots and the fascists and the fundamentalists who are doing it.
The glass is empty today. That makes me deeply sad. And stronger. Something’s gotta give.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to look beyond the glass. Pakistan’s reality is much more than that. Pakistan does not have a single story.
Positive and Negative Liberty
Negative liberty is the absence of obstacles, barriers or constraints. One has negative liberty to the extent that actions are available to one in this negative sense. Positive liberty is the possibility of acting — or the fact of acting — in such a way as to take control of one's life and realize one's fundamental purposes. While negative liberty is usually attributed to individual agents, positive liberty is sometimes attributed to collectivities, or to individuals considered primarily as members of given collectivities.
The idea of distinguishing between a negative and a positive sense of the term ‘liberty’ goes back at least to Kant, and was examined and defended in depth by Isaiah Berlin in the 1950s and ’60s. Discussions about positive and negative liberty normally take place within the context of political and social philosophy. They are distinct from, though sometimes related to, philosophical discussions about free will. Work on the nature of positive liberty often overlaps, however, with work on the nature of autonomy.
As Berlin showed, negative and positive liberty are not merely two distinct kinds of liberty; they can be seen as rival, incompatible interpretations of a single political ideal. Since few people claim to be against liberty, the way this term is interpreted and defined can have important political implications. Political liberalism tends to presuppose a negative definition of liberty: liberals generally claim that if one favors individual liberty one should place strong limitations on the activities of the state. Critics of liberalism often contest this implication by contesting the negative definition of liberty: they argue that the pursuit of liberty understood as self-realization or as self-determination (whether of the individual or of the collectivity) can require state intervention of a kind not normally allowed by liberals.
Many authors prefer to talk of positive and negative freedom. This is only a difference of style, and the terms ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’ are normally used interchangeably by political and social philosophers. Although some attempts have been made to distinguish between liberty and freedom (Pitkin 1988; Williams 2001; Dworkin 2011), generally speaking these have not caught on. Neither can they be translated into other European languages, which contain only the one term, of either Latin or Germanic origin (e.g. liberté, Freiheit), where English contains both.
The Enlightenment’s Dark Side
How the Enlightenment created modern race thinking, and why we should confront it.
By JAMELLE BOUIE
The Enlightenment is having a renaissance, of sorts. A handful of centrist and conservative writers have reclaimed the 17th- and 18th-century intellectual movement as a response to nationalism and ethnic prejudice on the right and relativism and “identity politics” on the left. Among them are Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychologist who sees himself as a bulwark against the forces of “chaos” and “postmodernism”; Steven Pinker, the Harvard cognitive psychologist who argues, in Enlightenment Now, for optimism and human progress against those “who despise the Enlightenment ideals of reason, science, humanism, and progress”; and conservative pundit Jonah Goldberg, who, in Suicide of the West, argues in defense of capitalism and Enlightenment liberalism, twin forces he calls “the Miracle” for creating Western prosperity.
In their telling, the Enlightenment is a straightforward story of progress, with major currents like race and colonialism cast aside, if they are acknowledged at all. Divorced from its cultural and historical context, this “Enlightenment” acts as an ideological talisman, less to do with contesting ideas or understanding history, and more to do with identity. It’s a standard, meant to distinguish its holders for their commitment to “rationalism” and “classical liberalism.”
But even as they venerate the Enlightenment, these writers actually underestimate its influence on the modern world. At its heart, the movement contained a paradox: Ideas of human freedom and individual rights took root in nations that held other human beings in bondage and were then in the process of exterminating native populations. Colonial domination and expropriation marched hand in hand with the spread of “liberty,” and liberalism arose alongside our modern notions of race and racism.
It took the scientific thought of the Enlightenment to create an enduring racial taxonomy and the “color-coded, white-over-black” ideology with which we are familiar.
These weren’t incidental developments or the mere remnants of earlier prejudice. Race as we understand it—a biological taxonomy that turns physical difference into relations of domination—is a product of the Enlightenment. Racism as we understand it now, as a socio-political order based on the permanent hierarchy of particular groups, developed as an attempt to resolve the fundamental contradiction between professing liberty and upholding slavery. Those who claim the Enlightenment’s mantle now should grapple with that legacy and what it means for our understanding of the modern world.
To say that “race” and “racism” are products of the Enlightenment is not to say that humans never held slaves or otherwise classified each other prior to the 18th century. Recent scholarship shows how proto- and early forms of modern race thinking (you could call them racialism) existed in medieval Europe, with near-modern forms taking shape in the 15th and 16th centuries. In Spain, for example, we see the turn from anti-Judaism to anti-Semitism, where Jewish ancestry itself was grounds for suspicion, versus Jewish practice. And as historian George Fredrickson notes in Racism: A Short History, “the prejudice and discrimination directed at the Irish on one side of Europe and certain Slavic peoples on the other foreshadowed the dichotomy between civilization and savagery that would characterize imperial expansion beyond the European continent.” One can find nascent forms of all of these ideas in antiquity—indeed, early modern thinkers drew from all of these sources to build our notion of race.
Manners make top bureaucrats – In the #bureaucracies of #Bangladesh and #Pakistan, the #British Raj lives on. Recruits are taught Victorian table manners, although Pakistan no longer marks candidates down for a slip of the teaspoon. #Colonialism #English https://www.economist.com/asia/2020/06/20/in-the-bureaucracies-of-bangladesh-and-pakistan-the-raj-lives-on
A clink of the spoon against the side of the teacup: one point deducted. One too many slices of carrot on the fork: another two points lost. When Sarim was training to become a civil servant in Pakistan, he was graded on his table manners. Everyone in his class was so cautious during the test that they would barely eat, he chuckles.
Etiquette lessons are still mandatory for those aspiring to become senior government officials in Bangladesh and Pakistan, although Pakistan no longer marks candidates down for a slip of the teaspoon. During six months living and studying at the Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre (bpatc), future civil servants must eat with knives and forks, says Mehbub, a successful graduate. A watchful instructor is quick to chastise anyone who reverts to eating directly from the right hand, as is customary for most South Asians.
#WhiteSupremacists: "White people are the best thing that ever happened to the world... How dare historically oppressed minorities in this country (#UnitedStates) recall the transgressions of their oppressors?" #BlackLivesMattters #MuslimLivesMatter https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/05/opinion/trump-monuments.html?smid=tw-share
As Donald Trump gave his race-baiting speeches over the Fourth of July weekend, hoping to rile his base and jump-start his flagging campaign for re-election, I was forced to recall the ranting of a Columbia University sophomore that caught the nation’s attention in 2018.
In the video, a student named Julian von Abele exclaims, “We built the modern world!” When someone asks who, he responds, “Europeans.”
Von Abele goes on:
“We invented science and industry, and you want to tell us to stop because oh my God, we’re so baaad. We invented the modern world. We saved billions of people from starvation. We built modern civilization. White people are the best thing that ever happened to the world. We are so amazing! I love myself! And I love white people!”
He concludes: “I don’t hate other people. I just love white men.”
Von Abele later apologized for “going over the top,” saying, “I emphasize that my reaction was not one of hate” and arguing that his remarks were taken “out of context.” But the sentiments like the one this young man expressed — that white men must be venerated, regardless of their sins, in spite of their sins, because they used maps, Bibles and guns to change the world, and thereby lifted it and saved it — aren’t limited to one college student’s regrettable video. They are at the root of patriarchal white supremacist ideology.
To people who believe in this, white men are the heroes in the history of the world. They conquered those who could be conquered. They enslaved those who could be enslaved. And their religion and philosophy, and sometimes even their pseudoscience, provided the rationale for their actions.
It was hard not to hear the voice of von Abele when Trump stood at the base of Mount Rushmore and said, “Seventeen seventy-six represented the culmination of thousands of years of Western civilization and the triumph not only of spirit, but of wisdom, philosophy and reason.” He continued later, “Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children.”
Refer your friends to The Times.
They’ll enjoy our special rate of $1 a week.
To be clear, the “our” in that passage is white people, specifically white men. Trump is telling white men that they are their ancestors, and that they’re now being attacked for that which they should be thanked.
The ingratitude of it all.
How dare historically oppressed minorities in this country recall the transgressions of their oppressors? How dare they demand that the whole truth be told? How dare they withhold their adoration of the abominable?
At another point, Trump said of recent protests:
“This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution. In so doing, they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence and hunger, and that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery and progress.
In fact, many of the protesters are simply pointing out the hypocrisy of these men, including many of the founders, who fought for freedom and liberty from the British while simultaneously enslaving Africans and slaughtering the Indigenous.
But, Trump, like white supremacy itself, rejects the inclusion of this context. As Trump put it:
VS Naipaul: Colonialism in fact, fiction, and the flesh
Naipaul personified what European colonialism, racist to the very core of its logic, had done to his and to our world.
VS Naipaul has died. VS Naipaul was a cruel man. The cruelty of colonialism was written all over him - body and soul.
VS Naipaul was a scarred man. He was the darkest dungeons of colonialism incarnate: self-punishing, self-loathing, world-loathing, full of nastiness and fury. Derek Walcott famously said of Naipaul that he commanded a beautiful prose "scarred by scrofula". That scrofula was colonialism.
Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul had abbreviated his history to palatable capitalised initials the British could pronounce. He was born in rural Trinidad in 1932, where the British had ruled since 1797, adding Tobago to it in 1814. By 1889 the two colonies were combined and Indian labourers - of whom Naipaul was a descendant - were brought in to toil on sugar plantations. He was born to this colonial history and all its postcolonial consequences.
By 1950 Naipaul was at Oxford on a government scholarship, just as the supreme racist Sir Winston Churchill was to start his second term as prime minister. Can you fathom an 18-year old Indian boy from Trinidad at Oxford in Churchill's England? You might as well be a Muslim Mexican bellboy at Trump Tower.
In a famous passage the late Edward Said wrote of Naipaul: "The most attractive and immoral move, however, has been Naipaul's, who has allowed himself quite consciously to be turned into a witness for the Western prosecution." This alas was far worse than mere careerism. Naipaul was, at his best and his worst, a witness for the Western prosecution. He did not fake it. He was the make of it.
Naipaul personified what European colonialism, racist to the very core of its logic, had done to his and to our world. He basked in what the rest of us loathe and defy. He made of his obsequious submission to colonialism a towering writing career. He was Aime Cesaire, Frantz Fanon, James Baldwin, CLR James and Edward Said gone bad. In them we see defiance of the cruel colonial fate. In him we see someone bathing naked in that history. In them we see the beauty of revolt, in him the ugliness of impersonating colonial cruelty.
Naipaul saw the world through the pernicious vision British colonialism had invested and impersonated in him. He became a ventriloquist for the nastiest cliches European colonialism had devised to rule the world with arrogance and confidence. He proved them right. He wrote, as CLR James rightly said, "what the whites want to say but dare not". This of course was before Donald Trump's America and Boris Johnson's England - where the racist whites are fully out of their sheets and hoods carrying their torches, burning their crosses, and looking for their letterboxes in the streets of Charlottesville and London.
In both his brilliance and in his banality, in his mastery of the English prose and cruelty of the vision he saw through it, VS Naipaul was a witness, as Edward Said rightly wrote. But under what Said saw as "witness for the Western prosecution" dwelled a much nastier truth. Naipaul was the walking embodiment of European colonialism - in fact, fiction, and flesh. He was a product of that world - in his fiction he mapped its global spectrum, and in his person, he thrived and made a long lucrative career proving all its bigoted banalities right.
We may never see the likes of VS Naipaul again. May we never see the likes of VS Naipaul again.
self-punishing, self-loathing, world-loathing
In a famous passage the late Edward Said wrote of Naipaul: "The most attractive and immoral move, however, has been Naipaul's, who has allowed himself quite consciously to be turned into a witness for the Western prosecution." This alas was far worse than mere careerism. Naipaul was, at his best and his worst, a witness for the Western prosecution. He did not fake it. He was the make of it.
ventriloquist for the nastiest cliches European colonialism had devised to rule the world with arrogance and confidence
He proved them right. He wrote, as CLR James rightly said, "what the whites want to say but dare not". This of course was before Donald Trump's America and Boris Johnson's England - where the racist whites are fully out of their sheets and hoods carrying their torches, burning their crosses, and looking for their letterboxes in the streets of Charlottesville and London.
He indeed wrote the English prose masterfully, but of the slavery of a mind suspicious of triumphant resistance. James Baldwin also wrote English prose beautifully, as did Edward Said, but reading them ennobles our souls, reading Naipaul is an exercise in self-flagellation.
Naipaul was an Indian Uncle Tom catapulted to the Trinidad corner of British colonialism - exuding the racist stereotypes and prejudices his British masters had taught him to believe about himself and his people.
Yes he was a racist bigot - the finest specimen of racism and bigotry definitive to the British colonialism that crafted his prose, praised his poise and knighted him at one and the same time.
He was a misogynist for that was what the British liberal imperialism had taught him he was. He acted the role to perfection. He crafted a dark soul in himself to prove his racist masters right. When he wrote of our criminalities his masters loved it, "you see he is one of them but he writes our language so well", and when he acted like a brute his masters sniggered and said, "you see still the Indian from Trinidad". For them he was win-win, for us, lose-lose.
Naipaul loathed Trinidad and he detested England - he wanted to hide where came from and destroy the place where he could not call his. He belonged to nothing and to nowhere. He sought refuge at his writing desk. In his first three books - The Mystic Masseur (1957), The Suffrage of Elvira (1958) and Miguel Street (1959) he retrieved what was left of his Caribbean childhood. In A House for Mr Biswas (1961) he sought to project his relations with his own father in what his admirers consider his masterpiece. In his published correspondences with his father, Between Father and Son: Family Letters (1999), he crafted and killed his parentage in one literary move.
Throughout his travels - in Africa he saw darkness, in India banality and destitution, in Muslim lands fanaticism and stupidity. The world, wherever he went, was the extension of his Trinidad, the darkened shadows of his own brutally colonised soul.
I read his Among the Believers (1981) cover to cover when I was writing my book on Iranian resolution - shaking with disgust at his steady course of stupidity, ignorance, and flagrant racism. He knew next to nothing about Iran or any other Muslim country he visited. In all of them he was a vicious Alice in a whacky wonderland of his own making. How dare he, I remember thinking, writing with such wanton ignorance about nations and their brutalised destines, their noble struggles, their small but lasting triumphs!
Literature after the British Empire: V.S. Naipaul’s story
When we think of colonialism, we often envision images of sailing ships, bloody wars, and trading networks. Yet British settlers brought more than weapons, chains, and markets to foreign lands. They also brought their own cultural beliefs. When Britain formed colonies, it taught its language, its religion, and its literature to the peoples it colonized. These imposed education systems raise many questions. What influence did learning about British culture or reading British literature have on the students of the colonies? How does this education relate to the physical process of colonization? How were education systems in former colonies reformed after they gained independence?
The story of one Oxford alumnus who won the 2001 Nobel Prize in Literature, V.S. Naipaul, provides a few insights. Of Indian heritage, Naipaul grew up in the (then) British colony Trinidad and Tobago in the mid-1900s. He earned a government scholarship and attended Oxford to read English Literature before pursuing a career as a writer. Cultural tensions haunt his works.
In his Nobel lecture, Naipaul reflects on his cultural identity. He describes growing up feeling disconnected from Indian traditions and the Hindi language. In his colonial schooling, he recalls learning abstract facts about foreign lands and developing an identity filled with “areas of darkness”. He remembers having very few cultural models during his early writing career, for most of the authors he had studied in high school and at Oxford were European.
Naipaul’s experience is similar to those of many students growing up in colonies. In his influential essay, “Decolonising the Mind,” Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o describes how Britain developed as the cultural center of its empire through imposing English language and literature in the colonies’ education system. In Kenyan schools during the twentieth century, for instance, schools beat and ridiculed children for speaking Gĩkũyũ instead of English. English, as he notes, “became the measure of intelligence and ability in the arts, the science, and all the other branches of learning.”
This language and culture issue is a major topic of exploration in the works of authors from colonized societies in the 20th century, many of whom wrote in English. These works are termed Postcolonial Literature, which is an encompassing term referring to literature from nations shaped in any number of ways by colonialism.
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o summarizes this issue succinctly: “The domination of a people’s language by the languages of the colonising nations was crucial to the domination of the mental universe of the colonized.” For the author, the solution is simple: write in one’s own native language. For others, such as the Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, the solution is to adapt English for their own culture’s nuances.
For Naipaul, there appeared to be no solution. After his studies at Oxford, he later travelled to his homeland India, and around the Caribbean region where he grew up, to gain a clearer sense of his historical roots. He also spent time researching these countries' histories. These experiences inspired him to delve into racial and social complexities in his creative writing, illuminating areas of darkness and giving him insight into his heritage: aspects that his colonial education had severed him from. When reflecting on his writing career, Naipaul said that “the aim has always been to fill out my world picture, and the purpose comes from my childhood: to make me more at ease with myself.” His characters, however, never seem to feel culturally at ease. Yet, the author also cautioned against comparing an author’s biographical details with his literary creativity.
Literature after the British Empire: V.S. Naipaul’s story
His novel Mimic Men (1967) explores a colonial politician’s life: it compiles snapshots of his education in London, his earlier childhood in the Caribbean, and his failed political career. A key theme in Naipaul’s work is the inauthenticity of his Caribbean characters, who are cut-off from their heritage. They lack cultural identities and mimic the condition of being human, for they are neither a part of their lost native cultures nor a part of European society. They constantly strive for the impossible aim of being political equals with their former colonizers, developing a loathing for other colonized people and a deep rage arising from powerlessness.
Another of Naipaul’s novels that addresses the colonized’s attempt to construct an authentic identity independent of British culture is his later work, A Bend in the River (1979). This tale follows the disillusionment of a businessman of Indian heritage living in an African nation. Many of his characters in this story similarly mimic the tastes and habits of their colonizers, including Indar, who heads to London for his education and idealizes British culture. Yet corruption lies at the heart of many colonized characters and of the new nation’s government. Though the independent nation attempts to distinguish itself from Europe, it remains a shadow. Naipaul’s characters appear never to escape colonial influences.
In “Decolonising the mind,” Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o describes this sense of hopelessness and disillusionment as an inevitable consequence of writing in English and valuing British culture at the expense of one’s own. Yet the link between English literature and England’s colonial legacy continues to spark debate. Some, like Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, claim that literature is both a reflection of and a shaping force for a society’s cultural and political landscape. Others argue that literature and politics are distinct fields.
The Bodleian Library, Oxford
As the leading university in England during the country’s colonial period from the 17th to 20th centuries, Oxford was a hotspot for literary discussions and future writers. This prominent educational institution helped to define a collection of important English fiction called the “canon”. The literary canon represented the best literature of English culture, which was taught in the colonies. The institution’s prestige also drew and continues to draw ambitious students from (former) colonies, like Naipaul.
Today at Oxford, the field of Postcolonial Literature is a growing area of research that is drawing increasingly more attention. This rise in attention is in line with the ongoing process of global decolonization. Initiatives like the “Decolonising the English Faculty Open Letter” at the University of Cambridge in 2017 continue to advocate for a more nuanced appreciation of how language and literature shape politics.
How Britain stole $45 trillion from India
And lied about it.
Academic at the University of London and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
There is a story that is commonly told in Britain that the colonisation of India – as horrible as it may have been – was not of any major economic benefit to Britain itself. If anything, the administration of India was a cost to Britain. So the fact that the empire was sustained for so long – the story goes – was a gesture of Britain’s benevolence.
New research by the renowned economist Utsa Patnaik – just published by Columbia University Press – deals a crushing blow to this narrative. Drawing on nearly two centuries of detailed data on tax and trade, Patnaik calculated that Britain drained a total of nearly $45 trillion from India during the period 1765 to 1938.
It’s a staggering sum. For perspective, $45 trillion is 17 times more than the total annual gross domestic product of the United Kingdom today.
How did this come about?
It happened through the trade system. Prior to the colonial period, Britain bought goods like textiles and rice from Indian producers and paid for them in the normal way – mostly with silver – as they did with any other country. But something changed in 1765, shortly after the East India Company took control of the subcontinent and established a monopoly over Indian trade.
Here’s how it worked. The East India Company began collecting taxes in India, and then cleverly used a portion of those revenues (about a third) to fund the purchase of Indian goods for British use. In other words, instead of paying for Indian goods out of their own pocket, British traders acquired them for free, “buying” from peasants and weavers using money that had just been taken from them.
It was a scam – theft on a grand scale. Yet most Indians were unaware of what was going on because the agent who collected the taxes was not the same as the one who showed up to buy their goods. Had it been the same person, they surely would have smelled a rat.
Some of the stolen goods were consumed in Britain, and the rest were re-exported elsewhere. The re-export system allowed Britain to finance a flow of imports from Europe, including strategic materials like iron, tar and timber, which were essential to Britain’s industrialisation. Indeed, the Industrial Revolution depended in large part on this systematic theft from India.
On top of this, the British were able to sell the stolen goods to other countries for much more than they “bought” them for in the first place, pocketing not only 100 percent of the original value of the goods but also the markup.
After the British Raj took over in 1858, colonisers added a special new twist to the tax-and-buy system. As the East India Company’s monopoly broke down, Indian producers were allowed to export their goods directly to other countries. But Britain made sure that the payments for those goods nonetheless ended up in London.
How did this work? Basically, anyone who wanted to buy goods from India would do so using special Council Bills – a unique paper currency issued only by the British Crown. And the only way to get those bills was to buy them from London with gold or silver. So traders would pay London in gold to get the bills, and then use the bills to pay Indian producers. When Indians cashed the bills in at the local colonial office, they were “paid” in rupees out of tax revenues – money that had just been collected from them. So, once again, they were not in fact paid at all; they were defrauded.
Meanwhile, London ended up with all of the gold and silver that should have gone directly to the Indians in exchange for their exports.
A new national curriculum sparks a backlash in Pakistan
Teachers and parents worry that English-language skills are being replaced by religious content
In the country’s elite schools, the children of the wealthy study in English for international exams and set their sights on the world’s best universities. At the other end of the spectrum, 23m children are not in school at all, with girls much less likely than boys to be enrolled. Government schools, where available, have a reputation for rote learning. Private schools of varying quality fill the gap. Many poor families send their children to madrasas, which tend to skip subjects like science and maths. Some are vehicles for extremist ideologies. Imran Khan, the prime minister, calls this divide “educational apartheid” and has vowed to get rid of it.
Such an aim is admirable, but the tool of choice has come in for criticism from academics, educators and parents. Earlier this year the government began rolling out a single national curriculum (snc) for all schools, including madrasas. This set of minimum standards is meant to improve the quality of teaching and boost the prospects of pupils. But its ambitions are wider still. Among the objectives listed by the education ministry is to increase “social cohesion and national integration”.
The new curriculum has so far been rolled out only in primary schools, but already some of its dictates are causing a backlash. The snc has increased the number of subjects, such as general knowledge, which must use textbooks in Urdu or other local languages rather than English. Mr Khan, himself an old boy of Aitchison College, the country’s most prestigious school, makes his case in punchy post-colonial terms. “When you acquire English-medium education, you adopt the entire culture,” he argues, adding that “you become [a] slave to that particular culture.”
Yet the resistance to the SNC’s imposition of local-language learning is not just an elite phenomenon. There have been reports of schools unwilling to implement it. And there is huge demand for English from parents who see it as a way for their children to stand out in the job market, according to teachers. Mariam Chughtai, the director of the national council drawing up the curriculum, says the aim is not to drop English but to elevate local languages. “When we think ‘multilingual’, we think French, German and English. But when you say bilingual in Urdu and English, the elites look down upon it,” she says. Still, “no one is denying the importance of English. It’s here to stay.”
A bigger complaint is that conservatives are using the curriculum to increase religious teaching in schools. Rather than turning madrasas into schools, it will turn schools into madrasas, charge critics. Indeed, the education ministry’s list of “key considerations” in drawing up the curriculum puts the teachings of the Koran at the very top. Non-Muslims need not take classes on Islam, but religious content is seeping into other subjects, such as Urdu-language lessons that include passages on Muslim caliphs. The government argues that there is nothing wrong with teaching religion in a religious country.
The third criticism may be the most pertinent. Pakistan’s abysmal learning outcomes are not so much the result of content as of access, says Jasir Shahbaz, an educationalist in Lahore. A new curriculum will do little to fix that. “The issue is not so much what the kids are studying, so much as how many kids are actually studying, or are actually understanding what they are studying,” he says.
The battles are likely to intensify as older pupils start the new curriculum next year. Ms Chughtai says it will take time for results to show. But the furore, she says, is because the changes affect even the elite: “Any time you try to bring a major policy change, for the small minority of people for whom even the broken system was working, they are going to get scared.”
The Churchill Cult, by Jingo
Lionized in the age of Brexit and Boris Johnson as the epitome of bulldog spirit, Britain’s wartime leader was often reviled in his own time as a blundering reactionary—and rightly so.
Over the last forty years, the English cult of Winston Churchill has reached near-absurdist levels of adulation in England, provoking a backlash from anticolonial critics of British imperialism. It received a further boost in March this year when President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the UK Parliament over Zoom and paraphrased one of Churchill’s more famous World War II utterances (from his “fight them on the beaches” broadcast), linking it to the Russian assault on the Ukrainian leader’s country.
Russian president Vladimir Putin was assigned the role of Hitler. Zelensky took the part of Churchill. Members of Parliament from all four parties drooled with pleasure. NATO-land may have conferred a temporary sainthood on Zelensky, but we should not overlook how misplaced his analogy is. The spinal cord of the Third Reich was, after all, crushed at Stalingrad and Kursk by the determination and courage of the Red Army (in which many Ukrainians fought, in far greater numbers than those who deserted to Hitler). The strength of the US war industry did the rest.
As a result, there was no fighting on English beaches or anywhere else in the UK. The Luftwaffe bombed Britain, but Hitler’s feared invasion never materialized, as his ambitions foundered on the Eastern Front. Not to be too mean-spirited, let the House of Commons and the British media networks swoon over Zelensky and his impersonation of Churchill, though I would hardly be surprised to learn that the gambit was recommended by the British Foreign Office in the first place. But I wonder if Zelensky is aware that a tsarist general much favored by Churchill and armed by him, Anton Denikin, who fought viciously against the Bolsheviks in the civil war that followed the Russian Revolution, is hero-worshipped by Putin today.
And what of the hero-worship of Churchill? In the immediate postwar period, Britons decisively voted him out of power. The Churchill cult, an essentially English phenomenon, would not take off for nearly forty years. It was first propagated in 1982, almost two decades after his death in 1965, by Margaret Thatcher, who, with moral support from President Reagan and General Pinochet, won the ten-day Falklands war against Argentina. Churchill had been much invoked by all sides in Parliament before the war. The Argentinian dictator, General Leopoldo Galtieri, was compared to Hitler and those who opposed the war were referred to as Chamberlainesque “appeasers.”
This year over four million Pakistani kids will turn 18. Of these, less than 25pc will graduate from the intermediate stream and about 30,000 will graduate from the O- and A-level stream. Over 3m kids, or 75pc, will not have finished 12 years of schooling. (Half of all kids in Pakistan are out of school.) These 30,000 kids from A-levels will dominate our top universities, many will study abroad and go on to become leaders. That’s less than 1pc of all 18-year-olds. These are the only Pakistanis for whom Pakistan works. But it gets worse.
by Miftah Ismail
IN a Tedx talk I gave last year, I argued that Pakistan shouldn’t be called the Islamic Republic but rather the One Per Cent Republic. Opportunities, power and wealth here are limited to the top one per cent of the people. The rest are not provided opportunities to succeed.
Pakistan’s economy thus only relies on whatever a small elite can achieve. It remains underdeveloped as it ignores the talent of most in the country.
Suppose we had decided to select our cricket team only from players born in the second week of November. That would always have produced a weak team as it would only be selecting from 2pc of the population. Our teams wouldn’t have benefited from the talents of many of the greats we have had over the years. This is the same unfair and irrational way we choose our top people. And just as our team would have kept losing, so we as a nation keep losing.
There are around 400,000 schools in Pakistan. Yet in some years half of our Supreme Court judges and members of the federal cabinet come from just one school: Aitchison College in Lahore. Karachi Grammar School provides an inordinate number of our top professionals and richest businessmen. If we add the three American schools, Cadet College Hasanabdal and a few expensive private schools, maybe graduating 10,000 kids in total, we can be sure that these few kids will be at the top of most fields in Pakistan in the future, just as their fathers are at the very top today.
Five decades ago, Dr Mahbub ul Haq identified 22 families who controlled two-thirds of listed manufacturing and four-fifths of banking assets in Pakistan, showing an inordinate concentration of wealth. Today too we can identify as many families who control a high proportion of national wealth.
Concentration of wealth is not unique to Pakistan: this happens globally, especially in the developing world. Trouble is that five decades after Dr Haq’s identification, it’s many of the same families who control the wealth.
A successful economy keeps giving rise to new entrepreneurs, representing newly emerging industries and technologies, becoming its richest people. But not here in Pakistan where wealth, power and opportunities are strictly limited to an unchanging elite.
Look at the top businessmen in America like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, etc, none of whom owe their position to family wealth. The richest people of the earlier eras — the Carnegies, Rockefellers — don’t still dominate commerce. Among recent former US presidents, Ronald Reagan’s father was a salesman, Bill Clinton’s father was an alcoholic and Barack Obama was raised by a single mother. Here almost every successful Pakistani owes his success to his father’s position.
In Pakistan, doctors’ children go on to become doctors, lawyers’ children become lawyers, ulema’s children become ulema, etc. Even singers have gharanas. There are business, political, army and bureaucrat families where several generations have produced seths, politicians, generals and high-ranking officers. In such a society, a driver’s son is constrained to become a driver, a jamadaar’s son is destined to become a jamadaar, and a maid’s daughter ends up becoming a maid.
The ‘One Per Cent Republic’
Miftah Ismail Published November 10, 2022
Top corporate and other professionals only come from the urban English-educated elites, especially from the two schools I mentioned above. The only influential professions where non-elites can enter —bureaucracy and the military — are also set up such that once their people enter the highest echelons, their lifestyle, like their elite peers from other fields, becomes similar to the colonial-era gora sahibs, materially removed from the lives of the brown masses composed of batmen, naib qasids and maids.
Political power too is concentrated not in parties but in personalities. Except for one religio-political party, there isn’t a party where the head is ever replaced. Politics is based on personalities down to the local level, where politicians come from families of ‘electables’, where fathers and grandfathers were previously elected.
Is it any wonder why Pakistanis don’t win Nobel Prizes? We properly educate less than 1pc of our kids. Of course, we have smart, talented people. But most of our brilliant kids never finish school and end up working as maids and dhobis and not as physicists and economists they could’ve been. Pakistan is a graveyard for the talent and aspirations of our people.
According to Unicef, 40pc of Pakistani children under the age of five are stunted (indicating persistent undernutrition); another 18pc are wasted (indicating recent severe weight loss due to undernutrition) and 28pc are underweight. This means 86pc of our kids go to sleep hungry most nights and have the highest likelihood in South Asia of dying before their fifth birthday. This is our reality.
Pakistan works superbly for members of social and golf clubs. But it doesn’t work if you’re a hungry child, landless hari, a madressah student, a daily-wager father or an ayah raising other people’s children. Pakistan doesn’t work well for most of our middle-class families. This is why disaffection prevails and centrifugal forces find traction.
The real predictor of success is a person’s father’s status. Intelligence, ability and work ethic are not relevant. Of course, some manage to become part of the elite: but those are the exceptions that prove the rule.
Pakistan’s elite compact allows wealth and power to perpetuate over generations and keeps everyone else out. This is what’s keeping Pakistanis poor and why it’s necessary to unravel the elite compact. We need a new social contract to unite and progress as a nation.
Post a Comment