Pakistan Day: Freeing the Colonized Minds of the Elites

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: 

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.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

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…
Split #India: #Hindu Nationalist #RSS did not support #Gandhi's #QuitIndiaMovement Against #British Raj

https://www.telegraphindia.com/1170810/jsp/frontpage/story_166526.jsp

The following are excerpts from some of the speeches that stood out:

Elephant in the room

The role the RSS did not play or did play in the freedom movement hung heavy.

Narendra Modi: Every individual in the country had become part of the Quit India Movement. Inspired by Gandhiji's words, the whole country was moving forward....

Sonia Gandhi: When we remember freedom fighters, we should not forget there were outfits and people in that period who opposed the Quit India Movement. These elements had no role in the freedom struggle.

(Murmurs of disapproval swept through the treasury benches in the Lok Sabha, and BJP member Kirron Kher was heard saying: "Sad, sad.... This is the tragedy of Parliament."Although BJP members usually do not miss any chance to register their loyalty to the parent, none got up to contest Sonia.)

Whither India?

Modi: In 1942, the clarion call was "karenge ya marenge (do or die)". Today, it is "karenge aur kar ke rahenge (we will do and surely do)". The country needs the spirit of the Quit India Movement to develop into an India of the dreams of the freedom fighters in 2022. Corruption, poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition are the greatest challenges that India now needs to overcome and we should rise above political considerations and resolve to bring about a positive change.

(The Prime Minister divided India's pre-independence journey in two phases from 1857 to 1941 and 1942 to 1947. He said the first phase was incremental but the second one - 1942-47 - was "transformative and delivered the objective". He said the country needed the same spirit in its journey from 2017 to 2022.)




Sonia: Fear is replacing freedom.... Isn't it true that there is an attempt to destroy the foundations of our democracy which rests on freedom of thought and faith, equality and social justice? We can't let the idea of India be a prisoner of a narrow, divisive and communal ideology.... It appears our secular, democratic and liberal values are in peril. Space for debate, disagreement and dissent is shrinking.

Kanimozhi: The only real freedom (to expect) is freedom from fear.... If our women, if our people, if our Dalits, if the underprivileged, the backward communities and the minorities are not free from fear of the future, then there is nothing to feel proud of.

(Kanimozhi, a Rajya Sabha MP from Tamil Nadu, recalled freedom fighters from her state who took part in the Quit India Movement without knowing Hindi. Many were non-Hindus who ate what they wanted.) Are they in any way less of Indians? Are they less than anybody else? But today, if I don't speak Hindi, people think I am less of an Indian. If I don't eat what some people think is right, or if I am an atheist, I am not an Indian. Why have we become this?

Whether it is a rape, whether it is stalking, whether it is an acid attack, it is always the woman who is being questioned. Why? Are we not ashamed of ourselves? We should be ashamed of even questioning why the woman is out.

Sugata Bose: Modiji says that the next five years will be transformative. We sometimes wonder is it transformative because the three top constitutional posts are held by people belonging to the same ideology? We cannot but express some concern. If he truly wants all evils to quit India by 2022, including communalism, in the pejorative sense of that word, we hope that he will take stronger action against those who are spreading the poison of hatred and killing human beings in the name of religion.

(Amid thumping of desks by Opposition members) I appeal to the Prime Minister to stop the engines of coercion in their tracks. Faith in India's destiny rescues us from debilitating pessimism in the face of ferocious assaults on the expression of rational difference.

Riaz Haq said…
#NBA’s #KevinDurant on #India"Cows, Stray Dogs" "Bunch of Underprivileged People" "20 years behind" #Poverty #Filth
https://www.thequint.com/sports/2017/08/11/nba-star-kevin-durant-on-india

NBA champion Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors had visited India in July to help the NBA make inroads into the nation of 1.3 billion.
Durant took part in a camp in New Delhi, where he helped set a Guinness World Record for the largest basketball lesson – 3,459 people participated in it across multiple venues.
The NBA finals MVP met young players at the NBA Academy, with many more joining via satellite from four other cities across the country.
However, after returning to the United States, he said in an interview to The Athletic that India is 20 years behind in terms of knowledge and experience.

I went with no expectation, no view on what it’s supposed to be like. I usually go to places where I at least have a view in my head. India, I’m thinking I’m going to be around palaces and royalty and gold — basically thought I was going to Dubai. Then when I landed there, I saw the culture and how they live and it was rough. It’s a country that’s 20 years behind in terms of knowledge and experience.
Kevin Durant
Durant added that there are “just a bunch of underprivileged people living in India”.
You see cows on the street, monkeys running around everywhere, hundreds of people on the side of the road, a million cars and no traffic violations. Just a bunch of underprivileged people there and they want to learn how to play basketball. That was really, really dope to me.
Riaz Haq said…
INGLORIOUS EMPIRE
The lies Brits tell themselves about how they left behind a better India

https://qz.com/1053297/independence-day-what-good-did-the-british-do-for-india-during-the-raj/

Railways. The British built the railways primarily for themselves, using their own technology and forcing Indians to buy British equipment. Each mile of the Indian railway constructed cost nine times as much as the same in the US, and twice that in difficult and less populated Canada and Australia. The bills were footed by Indian taxpayers and British investors received a guaranteed return on their capital. Freight charges were dirt cheap, and Indians who traveled 3rd class paid for expensive tickets.
Tea. The British desire to end their dependence on Chinese tea prompted them to set up plantations in India. Following many failed attempts, they managed to find a local version that worked. For this, the British felled vast forests, stripped the tribals who lived there of their rights, and then paid Indian labourers poorly to cultivate the cleared areas. Once the tea was ready, it was shipped off to Britain or sold internationally. The little bit left in India was too expensive, until the Great Depression when weak global demand finally let Indians enjoy the delights of the drink.
Cricket. “Yes, the British brought it to us,” Tharoor writes. “But they did not do so in the expectation that we would defeat them one day at their own game, or that our film-makers would win an Oscar nomination for an improbable tale about a motley bunch of illiterate villagers besting their colonial overlords at a fictional 19th-century match (Lagaan, 2001).”
English language. The British made it absolutely clear that it was only taught to serve their own purpose. Lord Macaulay wrote: “We must do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons Indians in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinion, in morals, and in intellect.” (This is the same Macaulay who also said, “A single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.”)
“That Indians seized the English language and turned it into an instrument for our own liberation was to their credit, not by British design,” Tharoor writes.
The upshot of the empire, as Tharoor puts it, was that “What had once been one of the richest and most industrialised economies of the world, which together with China accounted for almost 75% of world industrial output in 1750, had been reduced by the depredations of imperial rule to one of the poorest, most backward, illiterate and diseased societies on Earth by the time of independence in 1947.”
Inglorious Empire shows in full glory how the British systematically purged India’s riches, destroyed its institutions, and created divisions among its peoples. Worse still, there has been no formal apology for what the empire wreaked on its subjects. Instead, there is rising nostalgia for the empire as nationalism surges in a country that is now three ranks below India in the size of its economy.
Riaz Haq said…
#Trump’s pigs’ blood bullets claim is fake news — but US massacre of #Muslims isn’t. #Philippines #Islamophobia

https://www.dawn.com/news/1352624/trumps-pigs-blood-bullets-claim-is-fake-news-but-us-massacre-of-muslims-isnt

I DON’T know what the people of Barcelona think about Trump’s demented and repulsive tale of bullets and pig’s blood — but I know what Mark Twain would have said. He was the finest American political writer of his time — perhaps of all time — and he wrote with bitterness, sarcasm and disgust about the US military’s war crimes in the Philippines in 1906. No doubt Trump would have approved of them.

As so often, there’s no proof — and thus no truth — to the story that General Pershing ever told his soldiers to execute Filipino fighters with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood. Besides, Pershing had left the islands and the Philippine-US war was officially over when the Americans slaughtered the Moro Muslims in their hundreds in what became known as the Battle of Bud Dajo. With Trump-like enthusiasm, Republican President Theodore Roosevelt congratulated the US commanders on their “brilliant feat of arms”.

Twain thought differently. The American military had brutally crushed an uprising by the ethnic Muslim Moro people, a final and hopeless battle in the Philippine war of independence against the US. It is a tale not without significance in any study of America’s recent occupation of both Afghanistan and Iraq.

He wrote a deeply cynical essay about the “battle” of Bud Dajo a few days later. Up to 1,000 Moro men, women and children were killed by US forces who had surrounded them in their mountain refuge 2,200 feet above sea level, a volcanic crater in which all but six of the Muslims were killed. A surviving photograph of the atrocity shows uniformed US troops standing above piles of corpses, one of them a bare-breasted woman.

“With 600 engaged on each side,” Twain wrote, “we lost 15 men killed outright, and we had 32 wounded … The enemy numbered 600 — including women and children — and we abolished them utterly, leaving not even a baby alive to cry for its dead mother. This is incomparably the greatest victory that was ever achieved by the Christian soldiers of the United States … The splendid news appeared with splendid display — heads in every newspaper in this city … But there was not a single reference to it in the editorial columns of any one of those newspapers.”

Twain observed that not one reader wrote to support the US “victory”. But President Roosevelt sent his congratulations to the US Commander, Major General Leonard Wood, in Manila: “I congratulate you and the officers and men of your command upon the brilliant feat of arms wherein you and they so well upheld the honour of the American flag.”

Twain recorded the headlines over the following days — “Women Slain in Moro Massacre”, “With Children They Mixed in Mob in Crater, and All Died Together”, “Death List is Now 900”, “Impossible to Tell Sexes Apart in Fierce Battle on Top of Mount Dajo” — and remarked that “the naked savages were so far away, down in the bottom of that trap, that our soldiers could not tell the breasts of a woman from the rudimentary paps of a man — so far away that they couldn’t tell a toddling child from a black six-footer.” A headline announcing “Lieutenant Johnson Blown from Parapet by Exploding Artillery Gallantly Leading Charge” convinced Twain that the soldier must have been wounded by his own side — since the Moros had no artillery.

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