Tag Archives: sociology

Delhi University council orders sociology department to ‘swap Marx for Indian thinkers’

By Neha Pushkarna

Delhi University’s academic council (AC) on Tuesday cleared the new curricula for history and sociology, but not without stipulations.

The members found the sociology syllabus to be leaning towards “left ideology” and a bit dense for undergraduate students.

The AC has asked the sociology department to review the syllabus and make the suggested changes within the next three months.

The department has been asked to cut down on the number of papers on Marx and introduce Indian social thinkers in the content. The two courses had been pending because of “noncooperation” from teachers.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2332298/Delhi-University-council-orders-sociology-department-swap-Marx-Indian-thinkers.html#ixzz2UiUsWope

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The changing sociology of rural Sindh

By Arif Hasan

The media, print and electronic, are full of very important news and its analysis. Pakistan-US relations, the judiciary-executive conflict, the Karachi killings, sectarian strife, the Balochistan “insurgency”, and similar issues are regularly written about and/or discussed by well-informed experts. …….. …….

…….  From the early 70s to the late 90s, I have worked in rural Sindh and documented and published on the processes of change taking place in different areas of the province. After a lapse of 10 years, I visited a large number of rural areas with which I was previously acquainted. These visits were made between 2010 and 2012 and involved meetings with village communities, transporters, arhatis, real estate agents and local NGO staff and Community Based Organisation activists.

The change that I have observed and which has been articulated by the groups I interacted with, is enormous and that too in 10 years. The most visible and important change is the presence of women in development and political discourse. They are employed in NGO offices, they manage development programmes, they are social activists and the majority of them are from the rural areas. In some of the remote villages I visited, there were private schools and beauty parlours run by young village women. Blocking of roads to protest against the “high handedness” of the local landlords, bureaucratic inaction, and/or law and order situations, has become common. Women participate in these demonstrations and in some cases these blockages have been carried out exclusively by them.

Discussions with groups on the issue of free-will marriages were also held. The vast majority of individuals were in favour of such marriages even if they violated caste divisions. However, they felt that it is the parents that have to change so as to make such marriages conflict free. The non-availability of middle schools for girls was also discussed. Surprisingly, the village communities had no problem with the girls studying with the boys in the male middle schools. In addition, discussions with the Sindh Rural Support Organisation’s (SRSO) women groups, which consist of the poorest women in a village, revealed that about 20 per cent of them had mobile phones and almost all of them watched television although around 30 per cent households actually own a TV.

Continue reading The changing sociology of rural Sindh

The laughing warrior

By: Nadeem F. Paracha

Born in 1956, Fauzia Wahab was enjoying a fiery career as a passionate human rights worker and one of the most prominent voices of reason in the often chaotic, judgmental and fiercely patriarchal world of Pakistani politics and sociology, when her life was cut short on June 17, 2012.

Belonging to Pakistan’s largest political outfit, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Fauzia’s fame was nothing like that of former PPP Chairperson, late Benazir Bhutto, and nor was she known so well outside of Pakistan like the country’s other famous women activists and democrats like Benazir or Asma Jahangir.

Fauzia’s fame was largely local, rooted deep in whatever that is left of the tradition of progressive politics and liberalism in the country’s urban middle-classes – a tradition that was triggered by the rise of the PPP in the late 1960s and gave large sections of the Pakistani middle-classes a left-leaning and almost revolutionary dimension.

Although Fauzia was in school when leftist student organisations and trade, labour and journalist unions rose to successfully challenge the rule of Pakistan’s first military dictator, Ayub Khan, in the late 1960s, she was quick to join politics when she entered college in 1972 and then the Karachi University in 1975.

A glimpse into her career as a student politician can be an insightful exercise to understand the kind of a charisma she possessed that continued to make her stand out without requiring her to be a leading political figure or an ideologue.

A PPP colleague of hers once described Fauzia as a smiling rebel who had a natural knack of balancing her traditional side with her rebellious streak without looking or sounding contradictory or confused.

The same colleague (who was talking to me late last year in an informal chat), thought that Fauzia’s first act of rebellion was actually against her own ethnic background.

Coming from an educated Urdu-speaking family settled in Karachi, Fauzia did not automatically support the Jamat-e-Islami (JI) or the Jamiat Ulema Pakistan (JUP) like most Urdu-speakers of Sindh and its capital, Karachi, did till the late 1970s.

Instead, when she joined college, she at once jumped into the ranks of leftist and progressive student groups, but without waving Mao’s Red Book or Marx’s Das Kapital.

Another colleague of hers who was with her in a progressive student group at Karachi University and then later joined the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), told me that Fauzia was always more interested in solving the problems of the students and challenging those who used faith to impose their politics than she was in leftist theory.

It was this attitude of hers that placed her in the leading ranks of the Progressive Students Alliance at the Karachi University – an alliance comprising of various left-wing, liberal and Sindhi, Baloch and Pashtun student groups.

But battling opposing student groups, especially those on the right, through student union elections and campaigning, was where it all started and ended for Fauzia – in 1978 she met and married another passionate progressive student politician, Wahab Siddiqui, who soon went on to become an accomplished journalist.

After marriage, Fauzia gladly became a housewife, raising her children and supporting her husband’s career as a journalist. But her love for politics, the liberal ideals that had driven her as a student and her romance for Karachi remained intact.

Some early recruits of the MQM claim that Fauzia almost joined the MQM when it suddenly rose to become Karachi’s leading party in the late 1980s. Though this was never mentioned by Fauzia herself, it is however true that she eventually became a kind of a pioneer of a little known but important strain in the workings of the PPP in Karachi, Sindh.

I can vouch for this because I, as an active member of the PPP’s student-wing, the PSF (in the 1980s), too got involved in what Fauzia would ultimately represent within the PPP as a Karachiite.

When Benazir returned to Pakistan from exile in 1986 and then went on to become the country’s first woman prime minister in 1988, she at once recognised the importance of having the MQM as a ‘natural ideological partner’ and a party that could keep governments afloat with the seats that it was able to win in Karachi and Hyderabad.

I was at the Karachi University in 1989 when Benazir constituted a team of Sindhi and Urdu-speaking members of the PPP to negotiate a coalition deal with MQM chief Altaf Hussain. I remember how this policy created a kind of a rift within the ranks of the PSF in Karachi.

One faction was totally against Benazir’s move, while the other faction saw it as a way to unite secular forces so they could reclaim the political space they had lost to the ‘reactionaries’ and religionists during Ziaul Haq’s dictatorship.

Though a Punjabi from my father’s side, I was born and bred in Karachi. So I decided to side with the latter group and was ultimately ‘expelled’ from the university by the former faction.

Of course, the coalition collapsed and dozens of students lost their lives in the deadly clashes that followed between the PSF and MQM’s student-wing the APMSO.

However, even while an operation was underway against MQM militants under the second Benazir regime (1993-96), I am witness to the fact that Benazir’s idea of creating a bridge (made up of ideological similarities as well as pragmatism) between Karachi chapters of the PPP and MQM was very much alive.

And here is where Fauzia came in. After the tragic sudden death of her husband in 1993, Fauzia found herself returning to politics. Her husband had played an active role as a journalist against the Zia dictatorship and this drew the attention of Benazir who made Fauzia the Information Secretary of the PPP’s women’s wing in Sindh.

An articulate and educated person from a respected Urdu-speaking middle-class family, Fauzia was to become that bridge between the PPP and Urdu-speakers in Karachi. Later on, Fauzia, along with another prominent PPP Karachite, Faisal Raza Abidi, would play a prominent role in helping Asif Ali Zardari strike a coalition with the MQM after the 2008 elections.

Though a passionate Karachite and proud of her ethnic background, Fauzia was first and foremost a Pakistani who wanted to use the platform of a large political party to continue raising human rights issues, especially those related to women.

Fauzia became a close confidant of Benazir Bhutto. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Fauzia was the person Benazir banked on to continue building links between the PPP and Urdu-speakers in Karachi as well as being one of the faces in the PPP the MQM was most comfortable with.

But it wasn’t until during the Musharraf dictatorship that Fauzia was thrown into the limelight of Pakistani politics. Being made an MNA during the 2002 elections, she played an active political role against the Musharraf regime.

This was also due to the eruption of privately owned TV news channels in the country. Fauzia became a prominent fixture in most political talk shows, passionately criticising the Musharraf regime and articulating her party’s understanding of the situation.

After Benazir’s shocking assassination in 2007, Fauzia managed to survive the PPP’s new chairperson Asif Ali Zardari’s changes within the party structure. In fact she became an even more prominent figure in the party.

Along with Faisal Raza Abidi and Qamar Zaman Kaira, Fauzia became one of the fiercest defenders of the PPP regime’s polices in the electronic media. But unlike many other politicians who also became regular fixtures on TV talk shows, Fauzia retained a cheerful witty attitude.

However, she wasn’t only about defending her party’s regime. Along with famous human rights activist and lawyer, Asma Jahangir, Fauzia was one of the few prominent Pakistani women who never held back while lambasting crimes of hate committed by religious nuts and terrorists.

She openly condemned the murder of Punjab Governor, Salman Taseer, by a crackpot who wrongly accused Taseer of committing blasphemy. She was threatened by a number of fanatical clerics and their supporters for this.

Fauzia continued highlighting the threat to Pakistanis, especially women and those belonging to minority religions, faced from radical religious groups. She continued to remain a target of the abuse and menacing threats that came her way from religious outfits.

But she marched on, still holding her balanced mantle that seamlessly mixed passionate oratory with reason and hearty wit.

Continue reading The laughing warrior

Sindh & Sindhis

Sindh and Sindhis- The modern literature in anthropology, sociology and linguistics

Ibn Khuldun: The Annihilations of Nations and Sindhis

by Gul Agha

To understand the on going social, cultural and linguistic decline among Sindhis, one can look at the modern literature in anthropology, sociology and linguistics to see how nations perish. But the causes have been long understood — the new twist is that the rates can be more precisely measured (each rapid shifts in vocabulary and grammatical forms). A classic work of Ibn Khuldun, *The Muqaddimma, *provides great insight and is a recommended read for any serious student. Ibn Khuldun, a giant of his time, understood how nations perish, and it is instructive to read him and then look at Sindhi society today. Fortunately, Sindhis were able to overthrown other invaders after short periods of time and never had a large scale invasion, at least after the Aryans, until 1947 when Sindh lost 20% of its native population to diaspora, and the remaining nation was linguistically, socially and culturally subjugated by millions of migrants. Here is Ibn Khuldun’s speculation:

*Book I: Kitab al `Ibar (on the nature of civilization) Chapter 2:23. A nation that has been defeated and has come under the rule of another nation will quickly perish.

**The reason for this may possibly lie in the apathy that comes over people when they lose control of their own affairs and, through enslavement, become the instrument of others and dependent upon them. Hope diminishes and weakens. Now, propagation and an increase in civilization takes place only as a result of strong hope and the energy that hope creates in the animal powers (of man). When hope and the things and it stimulates are gone through apathy, and when group feeling has disappeared under the impact of defeat, civilization decreases and business and other activities stop. With their strength dwindling under the impact of defeat, people become unable to defend themselves. They become victims of anyone who tries to dominate them, and a prey to anyone who has the appetite. * (translated by F. Rosenthal)

Another insight Ibn Khuldun provides is how society’s with greater diversity of ideas, sects and beliefs are better able to resist invaders (because, says Ibn Khuldun, they are not prone to conforming with the dominant ideology imposed by invaders, instead they are used to confronting ideas and beliefs, so if you suppress one sect, others dissidents arise). No doubt the deparature of 20% of Sindhi population seriously weaked the Sindhi nation because of the concomittant loss of diversity, but the continued breadth of Sindhi ways remains their strength, their culture of resistance to adopting a single dominant ideology (fundamentalism) and respect for different religious and anti-religious thinking, provides an immense source of residual strength to this day.

We will have to see if the current processes reach their final completion in the perishing of Sindhi nation (*dharnii panaah dde) *or, Sindhis rise to attain their cultural, linguistic, political and social freedom. There is no other stable equilibrium condition in which a nation can survive for long..