Stories about social change

We need to teach our children ‘how’ to think rather than ‘what’ to think

Education, much like everything else in the field of human knowledge, is rooted to philosophy. The curriculum texts, teaching pedagogies and school structures all reflect a particular philosophical premise. Be it the idealist school or the existentialist one, the pragmatist theorists or those who seek to use education for social change in the critical paradigm, education is about ‘wide-awakeness’. Today in education, a crucial issue facing us is the need to find ways of educating young persons to sensitivity, potency, social consciousness and a healthy citizenship ethos. In my journey so far as a teacher, I have been particularly impressed with three schools of philosophy: the idealist, pragmatist, ...

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‘Aadhay Adhooray Khawab’: Exploring the death of creativity through education

Shahid Siddiqui’s ‘Aadhay Adhooray Khawab’ is like a tangible dream you can hold in your hands. You are a part of a chain and a constellation of dreams, only if you believe in the beauty of the imagination. This novel is a dazzling critique of educational practices in Pakistan. It distinguishes itself from other contemporary Urdu fiction through its content, diction, and style. The story follows the journey of a devoted teacher, Saharan Rai, who is selfless and gallant, and uses his heart and soul to fulfil his dreams. This is where it gets interesting. Rai’s dreams are universal and he illustrates the same desire that many ...

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“Not sons, they are my daughters”

There is almost nothing Aamir Khan touches that does not turn into gold. Not just a shiny, yellow plating but a burnished, solid bar. There is no denying the fact that he is a genius and in this advertisement, he proves it yet again. It is poignant, and it is sweet. It touches upon an age-old, bitter dispute delicately, albeit tentatively. The constant war fought, particularly in the sub-continent, for women’s rights and against male chauvinism continues to grow increasingly aggressive with each generation. In my opinion, it has escalated to the extent that it has desensitised many from both ...

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He told his parents he was gay. They started grieving and looking for a “cure”

“I fell a-weeping, and I cried, ‘Sweet youth, Tell me why, sad and sighing, Thou dost rove These pleasant realms? I pray thee speak me sooth What is thy name?’ He said, ‘My name is Love.’ Then straight the first did turn himself to me And cried, ‘He lieth, for his name is Shame, But I am Love, and I was wont to be Alone in this fair garden, Till he came Unasked by night; I am true Love, I fill The hearts of boy and girl with mutual flame.’ Then sighing, said the other,  ‘Have thy will, I am the love that dare not speak its name.’” From Two Loves By Lord ...

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Is Alamgir Khan’s graffiti of CM Qaim Ali Shah vandalism or activism?

For a long time in Pakistan, art belonged in galleries and to the elite. It was individualistic, and for that reason, terribly exclusive and elusive. Though over recent years, tables are slowly turning and the high fences around the world of art are being brought down, with an increasing number of artists now looking towards engaging the communities and making their work accessible to larger audiences. Last year was perhaps the best in this regard, especially with the revival of public art in the Pakistan. From IAMKHI beautifying the walls of Karachi with truck art and graffiti, to The Fearless Collective engaging the communities ...

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In Pakistan, ‘tabdeeli aa gaye hai’

I recently returned from a two week research trip to Pakistan. While travelling through different cities and meeting government officials, former senior military officers, and people from the academia; I was surprised to see how Pakistan has changed so positively in many aspects. One of the things that have changed drastically is how those in the government, as well as politicians, have embraced modern day methods of communication. Till a couple of years ago, contacting government officials via email was thought to be waste of time because it did not fit well with the political tradition, which was failing to keep up ...

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The confused case of a ‘liberal’ Pakistani

As the claws of fanaticism have dug deeper in our skin during the last one decade, a parallel phenomenon has taken place among some sections of Pakistan’s urban youth – a shift towards liberalism. In the simplest of terms, the components of liberalism fly the flag of equality and freedom. The whole concept revolves around civil liberties and rights. To a huge chunk sick of conservatism, liberals provide a platform that enables social change and political reform. Not a bad idea looking at the current state of bomb-wrapped, blood-spluttering affairs in Pakistan. What is the problem then? The problem is the foundation of ...

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Why do female supporters of PTI bother you, Maulana Fazlur Rehman?

I am your archetypical Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporter. I am young, charged up, and me and my counterparts are the backbone of the “tabdeeli” you see around you, whether you agree with it or not. And one thing is for sure – working for PTI as a volunteer worker has just reiterated my faith in the fact that whatever men can do, women can do equally well or even better. They also bring to the political arena an innate wisdom, just like my leader Imran Khan had said a few years ago in a television interview, and keeps stressing in ...

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“I was raped hundreds of times, by the man I was married to”

That phase of her life ended three years ago with her divorce, but 35-year-old Naila* will never be healed of what she went through during the nine years of her marriage. This is a true story; the true story of a woman who suffered a plight faced by so many women. Sadly, the crime committed against them is not even considered a crime. “Every time my husband approached me, it was sheer torture. Sometimes physical, and forever mental and emotional torture. He was physically brutal and wanted me to indulge in behaviour I was not okay with. He never cared about ...

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Are you a Pakistani pseudo-intellectual?

With the rise of free media, several classic cases of pseudo-intellectualism have emerged in Pakistan, but only a few hold a special place in the ‘Pseudo-intellectualism Hall of Fame’. So what is pseudo-intellectualism? The Urban Dictionary offers a very concise description of a pseudo-intellectual: “One who attempts to flex intellect that does not exist within his or her own mind” The water kit scandal is one example. The water kit scandal arose in 2012 when Pakistani ‘inventor’, Agha Waqar, claimed to have designed a perpetual motion machine that would utilise water as fuel for cars. Waqar’s claims were met with a mixture of scepticism and enthusiasm by the general public as ...

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