Pakistan Day: Will "Naya Pakistan" Be Truly Free?

Pakistan's Independence Day celebrations this year coincide with a momentous change in leadership.  It has been brought about by the triumph of the insurgent Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) over Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), both regarded as dynastic political parties.  PMLN and PPP are each controlled by a family.  Pakistan's Prime Minister Elect Imran Khan is part of a generation that he says "grew up at a time when colonial hang up was at its peak."  How will the acknowledgement of this upbringing affect Imran Khan's leadership of "Naya Pakistan"? Let's examine the answers to this question.

Colonial Era Education: 

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periodically shouting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ in school functions, I considered my own culture backward and religion outdated.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."

Colonized Minds: 

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.

Orientalism As Tool of Colonialism:

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.

At the higher education level, the number of students enrolled in British-Pakistani joint degree programs in Pakistan (46,640) makes it the fourth largest effort behind Malaysia (78,850), China (64,560) and Singapore (49,970).

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.

Summary: 

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN2Owcwq6_M




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

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

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Prime Minister Imran Khan made his inaugural address to the nation on Sunday and promised sweeping reforms.

Here are key takeaways from his address.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/357402-pm-imran-khans-speech

Pakistan's current economic scenario

2. References of riyasat-e-Madina


3. Cutdown expenses

4. Tax Collection through FBR

5. Taskforce to eradicate money laundering

6. Increase exports

7. Bring in investments

8. Empower SMEs

9. Create ease for expats through embassies abroad

10. Control corruption

11. Whistle blower act

12. Interior ministry to remain under Imran Khan supervising FIA

13. Improve judicial system for commoners

14. Appeal to CJP especially for cases related to widows

15. Revamp nationwide police system - appointment of Nasir Durrani in the advisory board of punjab police

16. Juvenile rape cases

17. Focus on improving government schools as well as education system of madrassas

18. Taskforce to revamp existing system in government hospitals and introduce health card

19. Resolve water crisis and build diamer basha dam

20. Government to help farmers

21. Civil service reforms

22. District level reforms

23. 50 lac housing plan

24. Skill education

25. Interest free loans to youngsters

26. Sports ground for youngsters

27. Nationwide tree plantation campaign

28. Curb air pollution through ministry of environment

29. Campaign to clean Pakistan

30. Boost tourism nationwide

31. Development in FATA

32. Resolve issues in Balochistan

33. Southern Punjab province

34. Focus on Karachi's development

35. Implement national action plan

36. Establish better relations with neighbors

37. Take responsibility for shelter and development especially of street children, widows and disabled people.

38. Prove himself as an example of simplicity
Riaz Haq said…
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.

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/in-pakistan-patriotism-has-become-an-epithet-1.1547630684380

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.

Riaz Haq said…
#Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris offers to build 100,000 housing units in #Pakistan as part of #PMImranKhan’s Naya Pakistan #housing initiative. http://www.arabnews.pk/node/1437706/pakistan


Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has offered to build 100,000 housing units in Pakistan to help realize Prime Minister Imran Khan’s dream of an ‘ambitious’ housing project, officials said on Friday.
“Naguib Sawiris has expressed his will to invest in 100,000 units of affordable housing to help prime minister (Imran Khan) in his vision toward Pakistan,” Tarek Hamdy, Chief Executive officer of Elite Estates — a partnership between Ora Developer and Saif Holding — told Arab News in an exclusive interview.
Owned by Sawiris, Ora Developers is already engaged in the construction of a multibillion-dollar housing scheme named ‘Eighteen’ which was launched in 2017 in Islamabad with local partners, Saif Group and Kohistan Builders.
Sawiris’ first investment in Pakistan was in Mobilink, a cellular operator.
PM Khan in October 2018 had launched ‘Naya’ (New) Pakistan Housing Project in line with his party’s election manifesto, which promised fivr million houses for the poor.
Hamdy says they have “set rules or guidelines of the way of doing things” that apply to every real estate projects — whether they are affordable or high value units.
“We will use our experience and knowhow to deliver this properly to the people of Pakistan,” he added.
Since the announcement of the low-cost housing project for the poor, the scheme has been at the heart of all political and economic discourses with several calling it too ambitious.
“This scheme is very ambitious yet very promising for the people of Pakistan. I think all the developers should help in this scheme. You cannot solely rely on the government to build five million houses,” Hamdy said.
Recently, the governor of Pakistan’s central bank had said that the massive housing project would require financing of upto Rs 17 trillion.
Hamdy believes that the promise of building five million affordable housing units cannot be realized in a short span of time. “I think the plan is right but it has to be in stages, has to be in steps. It could be achievable obviously that is not the project (to be achieved) in one or two years... may take few good years, may be couple of decades to be achieved,” he said.
In the Islamabad project the Ora Developers own a 60 percent stake in the project comprising a five-star hotel, 1,068 housing units, 921 residential apartments, business parks, hospitals, schools and other educational facilities and 13 office buildings, and a golf course. The networth of the project is $2 billion.
The next cities on the radar for real estate projects are Lahore, Karachi, and Faisalabad. “We intend to do more, we intend to invest more. I think that our portfolio of real estate could come to $10 billion worth of investments in the next five to 10 years including all the projects that we intent to do,” Hamdy said.
Pakistan’s housing sector is marred by frauds, scams and unfinished schemes which has been discouraging many potential investors from venturing into the sector. However, Hamdy says he is confident of delivering the promise by 2021.
Analysts say that Pakistan’s housing sector offers great opportunities for investment due to increasing demand. “According to estimates, the current real estate market value is around Rs900 billion which is three times that of the GDP,” Saad Hashmey, an analyst at Topline Securities, told Arab News, adding that the PM’s housing project is the need of the hour.
Pakistan faces a shortage of nearly 12 million housing units that may require a massive investment of around $180 billion, according to the former Chairman of the Association of Builders and Developers, Arif Yousuf Jeewa.
Riaz Haq said…
The Enlightenment’s Dark Side
How the Enlightenment created modern race thinking, and why we should confront it.
By JAMELLE BOUIE

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/06/taking-the-enlightenment-seriously-requires-talking-about-race.html

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.
Riaz Haq said…
#Liberals need to watch out for their own careless #Islamophobia. Our prejudices about Muslims are not even original. Through the last millennium, the West constructed the #Muslim as a threat, as #Christianity and #Islam competed for power https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/to-name-and-address/liberals-need-to-watch-out-for-their-own-careless-islamophobia/

Clearly, melting yourself down to Hindutva specifications isn’t enough if you have a Muslim name.

But forget the Hindu right, who are ideologically committed to their position. What is remarkable is how even liberals buy into similar suspicions.

Our prejudices about Muslims are not even original. Our language and images are borrowed. Through the last millennium, the West constructed the Muslim as a threat, as Christianity and Islam competed for power. Nineteenth-century European scholars of the Orient, obsessed with classifying and differentiating, with racial and civilisational theories— instilled the idea that the Muslim mind is one, unchanged from the deserts of Arabia, sexist and violent and fanatical.

These colonial storytellers gave us our H&M history — Hindus were cast as indisciplined and soft, Turks and Afghans and Persians were all made into generic ferocious Muslims, medieval warfare on all sides was recast as running religious enmity. This British-made history didn’t just set off Hindu nationalists — you hear it everywhere. Then the American Islamophobia industry after 9/11, which cast specific political conflicts as an enduring struggle with a malevolent, medieval other, fed perfectly into Indian politics and majority common-sense.

This stuff is not always about memories of trauma, it is mass-manufactured mythology. Someone I know in Kerala, who has inherited no psychic injury from any invasion or riot, is a library of Islamophobic stereotypes. He quotes cherry-picked bits from the Quran that abound on the internet, gives no quarter to context. He forgets his real schoolmates and acquaintances, as he frets about this abstract Muslim terrorist.

This allows people like him to blank out the violent hate-crimes, the insecurity and denial of rights that the NRC threatens, the majoritarian tilt of the Ayodhya judgment. It makes it impossible to see the facts of subordination and exclusion that the Sachar committee showed. It makes them reduce democracy-as-usual — i.e., responding to interest groups, as every party does — as suspect ‘vote bank’ pandering when it comes to Muslims.

Some liberals are not much better; accepting Hindutva terms like “appeasement” for basic cultural protections given to minorities in a multicultural nation. They hold pity-parties for Muslim women, as though non-Muslim women are much better off, affecting not to know that sexist societies make for sexist practices, whatever the faith.

To them, just being a believing Muslim is a sign of “indoctrination” or orthodoxy. Just speaking strongly for yourself, in this embattled situation, makes a Muslim a “Musanghi” in their eyes. The only acceptable Muslim is the post-faith Muslim, or someone willing to run down their community. Think of everyone clucking over Zaira Wasim’s choices, or liberal feminists bemoaning the hijab without respecting the rationality of the wearer. Remember how Nusrat Jahan’s sindoor was gloriously Indian, but Hadiya’s choices were about ISIS mind control? Most of us know little, ask little, but judge with an airy superiority.

Religion is a source of selfhood, a personal journey and a community, a refuge and a practice. But when it comes to political Islam, we make a point of the Islam rather than the politics. Even liberals divide things into a grid between good or bad, Sufi or Wahhabi, moderate or fundamentalist, syncretic or scarily alien. But Sufism has inspired fighters too; a better approach might be to see totalitarianism and violence as what they are, whether under the banner of Islam or class struggle or anything else.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan is the third largest #English speaking country by population, behind #India and the #US, with around 49% of the population in Pakistan speaking English. A larger percentage of #Pakistanis speaks English than India by almost a factor of 5. https://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/1mx5nb/til_pakistan_is_the_third_largest_english/
Riaz Haq said…
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.
Riaz Haq said…
#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:
Riaz Haq said…
Opinion | ‘Fair & Lovely,’ #skin #whitening. The product was first introduced to the market in 1975 and is sold in #India, #Pakistan, #Malaysia, #Indonesia, #MiddleEast and #Africa. Obsession with fair skin can be traced back to 2 centuries of colonization https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/28/fair-lovely-skin-whitening-pitfalls-performative-allyship/

By Anum Chandani, Marvi Ahmed and Hira Hashmi


As South Asian women born and raised in Pakistan, we have experienced colorism from a young age. We were told time and again that the color of our skin defined our self-worth. As a young girl, one of us, Hira, was frequently told by her aunt that she would have a difficult time finding a spouse because of her skin tone. Another, Marvi, was told at the age of 6 that her mother would have to work hard to lighten her skin for the “better.” And even as an adult, working as an engineer on oil and gas rigs in Pakistan, the third, Anum, was taken to a cosmetic store by a colleague who tried to force her to buy the skin-lightening cream “Fair & Lovely,” telling her that was how she would become more respected.

These stories are not anomalies. There are millions of stories of people, in South Asia and beyond, who are taught throughout their lives that the color of their skin is too “dark” to be “lovely.”

At the center of these attitudes was the iconic brand “Fair & Lovely.” It is owned by the global consumer-goods conglomerate Unilever, whose portfolio also includes more progressive and inclusive brands such as Dove, Vaseline and Ben & Jerry’s. “Fair & Lovely,” now called “Glow & Lovely,” is one of Unilever’s best-selling personal care products in South Asia, with annual sales worth more than $560 million. The product was first introduced to the market in 1975 and is sold in India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Middle East and some parts of Africa.

In June, inspired by anti-racist movements in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, and in an attempt to be better allies and confront anti-blackness in South Asian communities, we started an online petition to ban “Fair & Lovely.” The petition clearly resonated with others, receiving more than 15,000 signatures from 97 countries — with good reason.

For decades, the product’s million-dollar advertisements have promoted colorism and anti-blackness by linking confidence and personal and professional success to skin tone. In one ad we recall seeing while growing up, a retired father is shown wishing he had a son instead of a daughter. The daughter notes her father’s disappointment and heartbreakingly hopes to get a better job, but looks in the mirror with despair because she is apparently not “fair” enough to have a successful career. After using “Fair & Lovely,” she becomes several shades lighter, lands her dream job and is able to turn her life around and make her father proud. This type of marketing has been blatantly broadcast for decades to reinforce discriminatory beliefs in our societies.

---------

This is a pivotal moment where societies and communities around the world are being pushed to address their biases and confront their own inherent anti-blackness and racism. We recognize that it will take time to heal and unlearn toxic attitudes. But we hope that companies and brands, especially those with wider influence, will move beyond performance and fully join the fight.
Riaz Haq said…

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.

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/naipaul-colonialism-fact-fiction-flesh-180813114051602.html

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.



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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.
Riaz Haq said…
https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/naipaul-colonialism-fact-fiction-flesh-180813114051602.html



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!
Riaz Haq said…
Kishore Mahbubani, author of "Has China Won?":

US media is insular

Major American newspapers and TV channels reinforce each other in US distortions about the world

Last 200 years of western domination is an aberration in terms of the long human history of the world. It is coming to an end.

Many American intellectuals and policymakers don't seen to understand that China does not do this.

https://youtu.be/E_CwYCIqEgg

When it comes to analyzing political systems, American analysts tend to veer toward a black-and-white view of the world: open or closed society, democratic or totalitarian society, liberal or authoritarian. Yet, even as we move away from an aberrant two-hundred-year period of Western domination of world history, we are also moving away from a black-and-white world. Societies in different parts of the world, including in China and Islamic societies, are going to work toward a different balance between liberty and order, between freedom and control, between discord and harmony. The Chinese thinkers were also once convinced that the only way to succeed was for China to replicate Western societies. This is why, at the moment of greatest despair for Chinese society, in the 1920s, many Chinese intellectuals said (like the Japanese reformers in the Meiji Restoration) that the only path ahead for China was to copy the West in all dimensions. The Chinese historian Chow Tse-tsung documents: “Lu [Xun] declared that the Chinese should live for themselves instead of for their ancestors. To learn modern science and Western knowledge was more important than to recite the Confucian classics. […] Rather than worship Confucius and Kuan Kung one should worship Darwin and Ibsen. Rather than sacrifice to the God of Pestilence and the Five Classes of Spirits, one should worship Apollo. […] Lu [Xun] was sincere from his realistic and utilitarian point of view; if the new was more useful than the old, he asked, in effect, why should one bother whether it was Chinese or foreign?”* One hundred years later, China no longer lies prostrate. It has stood up and become self-confident. After all the recent travails in both Europe and America, few in China believe that China’s destiny in the twenty-first century is to mimic the West. Instead, they believe China should follow its own road.


Mahbubani, Kishore. Has China Won? (pp. 164-165). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.
Riaz Haq said…
The TED website describes Kishore Mahbubani, a career diplomat from Singapore, as someone who “re-envisions global power dynamics through the lens of rising Asian economies.” This description is not just apt for Mahbubani but also for his new book, “Has the West Lost It?” The title may appear controversial to a reader unfamiliar with world politics and history, but is is a treatise for the future. In less than 100 pages, the author carefully puts together reasons for the Western world’s demise and suggests a three-pronged solution for a better world, where the gap between East and West is bridged to a large extent

https://www.fairobserver.com/region/asia_pacific/us-uk-china-india-east-west-dominance-balance-power-news-16251/


In “Has the West Lost It?” Mahbubani dispels myths around Asian countries such as Malaysia, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which have achieved tremendous growth in the last 30 years. On the other hand, the Western world has failed to take care of its working class, which has been forced to the fringes. Mahbubani argues that the rise of countries like China and India mean that the West is no longer the most dominant force in world politics, and that it now has to learn to share, even abandon, its position and adapt to a world it can no longer dominate.

Riaz Haq said…
A new national curriculum sparks a backlash in Pakistan
Teachers and parents worry that English-language skills are being replaced by religious content

https://www.economist.com/asia/2021/11/11/a-new-national-curriculum-sparks-a-backlash-in-pakistan

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.”

Riaz Haq said…
The Churchill Cult, by Jingo
Tariq Ali
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.

https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2022/04/18/the-churchill-cult-by-jingo/


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.”

Riaz Haq said…

Flooding has devastated Pakistan – and Britain’s imperial legacy has made it worse
Shozab Raza


https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/aug/31/flooding-pakistan-britains-imperial-legacy

Take the story of Bashir Dasti, a tenant farmer I met a few years ago while doing fieldwork in south Punjab. Two weeks ago, his mud house was destroyed by flooding, as was the land he rented, the cotton he cultivated and the cattle he had spent years rearing. Many other farmers and agricultural labourers I got to know in Rajanpur, now a centre of the flooding, have also lost their homes and livelihoods. The Pakistan government has tasked local officials – patwaris – with adminstering relief for flood victims, yet when Bashir approached one, they tried to extort him: he was told that he would only be added to the list if he paid 10,000 Pakistani rupees (roughly £40). Bashir earns a meagre income from farming and pays exorbitant rent to his landlord, an aristocrat from a Baloch tribe called Leghari. He couldn’t pay that kind of money.

Back in the 19th century, the British Raj built alliances with local elites in order to secure its rule. In Rajanpur, Bashir’s district, this was particularly important – many tribal chiefs, including the Legharis, were armed and hostile. So in exchange for their loyalty, the Raj turned representative chiefs into unrepresentative aristocrats, granting them magisterial powers, a paramilitary apparatus and immense landed estates (jagirs) on newly irrigated land. The relationship set off a mutually beneficial pillaging of the region, whereby the British Raj and the now-landed aristocrats siphoned off rents, land revenues, and export cash cops like indigo, opium and cotton, all at the expense of previously pastoral tribesmen now forced to settle and toil as local farmers. Combined with expanding canal irrigation, tribesmen’s coerced settlement and exploitation – the British viewed seasonally migrating tribes as a security threat – left them further exposed to floods.

Because of this imperial patronage, as well as rising rents due to growing competition for tenancies with the decline of pastoral livelihoods, inequalities between landlords and peasants rose dramatically over the 19th and 20th centuries. While peasants lived in mud houses vulnerable to flooding – archives report several “great floods” affecting the south Punjab region – their chief landlords built lavish, well-fortified housing compounds on immense estates. By the 1920s, the highest-ranking Leghari aristocrat owned about 114,000 acres of land.
Riaz Haq said…
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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1720082


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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.

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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.
Riaz Haq said…
The ‘One Per Cent Republic’
Miftah Ismail Published November 10, 2022


https://www.dawn.com/news/1720082

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.

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