Monday, October 30, 2017

How to Create Love for Poetry: A Tribute to Sir Ghalib Raza of ICB

Over the last 25 years as I desperately try to connect my students with the joy of reading and poetry, at universities and at schools , I realize the worth  of what Sir Ghalib Raza was achieving in my school days. He was making us "feel" the poetry, not "understand" it. Poetry is meant for "feeling" the emotions which are being expressed by the poet. You kill the poetry by trying to "explain" it. This is the story of how Sir Ghalib Raza imbued love of poetry in me and other students. He would not make us labor with "explanations"  but would rather focus on evoking the "feelings". He knew that once a loving association is developed, understanding will follow naturally in good time. He would enjoy reading the poetry immersed in the emotions being expressed. He loved poetry and he infected us with that love.  Thank you, Sir Ghalib Raza, for cultivating in me this love for poetry and literature.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Why Dictator Generals are Weaker than Civilians Rulers in Withstanding External Pressure

[To understand the context of this post, please read At What Cost! Why Compute Economic Costs of Faulty Political Decisions]
There is a widespread "myth" that what Pakistan needs is a "strong leader" (a savior on horseback) who will come and conquer all our issues and problems in no time. There is a mythical belief that Pakistan is stronger in withstanding external challenges and pressures when ruled by military dictators than when it is ruled by the civilians. This post describes a tale of two encounters that belies this myth. First is the situation arising from India's nuclear explosions in 1998 when a civilian was the prime minister and the second is the situation arising after 9-11 when a dictator was in power.
As can be seen from the comparison of the two situations, a civilian PM was better able to withstand the US pressure than a military dictator who made a u-turn on a single call for Assistant Secretary of State. Whereas a civilian PM did not buckle under intense international and US pressure, a military dictator easily submitted to all the demands in no time. Analysis of these two situations can help us in understanding why neo-colonialism requires dictators and monarchs in developing countries; rulers who can easily be brow beaten into submission. Neo-colonial demands are difficult to achieve in a civilian democratic (even a sham) dispensation. Developing a democratic consensus among large diverse populations is messy and takes a lot of time. However, dictators provide an easy way out for getting the things done by the powers playing the great game.