The South Asian Idea is a resource for learning, not a source of expert opinion. The posts on the blog are intended as starting points for classroom discussions and the position at the end of the discussion could be completely at odds with the starting point. Thus the blog simulates a learning process and does not offer a final product. The reader is invited to join the process to help improve our understanding of important contemporary issues.

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Your Child Deserves Better – A Letter to Parents – X
New Understandings of Labour – Post Covid-19


Analysis Behavior China
Cities/Urban Democracy/Governance Development
Education Foreign Aid History
Identity Language/Meaning Law
Leadership Miscellaneous Modernity
Politics Reflections
Religion South Asia Terrorism

Most Read (Color Code): > 50,000; > 25,000; > 10,000; > 5,000


What If India Were Not Partitioned?

Assessing Kashmir Policies
To Whom Does India Belong?
What Does the Argumentative Indian Argue About?
War or Peace on the Indus?

The Confusions of Imran Khan
The Peculiarities of Imran Khan
More and Less of Imran Khan
Beyond Anti-Americanism
Dissecting Hoodbhoy’s Logic
Analysis: Vision and Management
Analysis: The Idea of Pakistan?
Sen’s Idea of Justice: A Puzzle?
Justice, Power, and Truth
Corruption and Democracy: Disputing Neera Chandhoke
Pakistan Unhitches Hitchens
Testing the Hypothesis of Sexual Repression in Pakistan
Pakistan’s Problems: More Hypotheses
Pakistan’s Problems: Letter from Berlin
Explaining Pakistan’s Drift to the Right

The Media and Other Problems
Nergis Mavalvala and Umar Khalid
Hanif Kureishi, Naipaul and Pakistan
Hold the Hurrahs
Mapping the Virus: A Research Proposal
Parsing the Epidemic
Mixed Messages
Count the Dead
Coronavirus: An Interim Verdict
Epidemics Within Epidemics
Coronavirus: Need for Evidence
Javed Jabbar vs. Pervez Hoodbhoy: Ten Rounds

Thank You, Donald Trump
Obama in Cairo: Ten Weak Points
Burqa: Principle, Prejudice and Preference
On Not Learning
On Argumentation

Policy: Prescription, Analysis and Hot Air
Rules and Discretion

An Exercise in Analysis
Governance in Pakistan – 1
Governance in Pakistan – 2
Governance in Pakistan – 3: More Bad Analysis
Governance in Pakistan – 4: What is Good Analysis?
Governance in Pakistan – 5: An Example of a Good Analysis
Governance in Pakistan – 6: Advantages of Good Analysis
Governance in Pakistan – 7: Which Islam?



Short Cuts
Where Will Change Come From?

What Kind of Revolution Do We Need in South Asia?

After Veena Malik: Thoughts on Morality
Women and Men: Thoughts on the Nature of Society
Women and ‘Feudal’ Values

L’affaire DSK: What Can We Learn?
Sex in Perspective
Some Thoughts on Patriarchy
Patriarchy in the Culture and Language of the Subcontinent
On Prayer and Superstition
Holy Noise
The Intolerant Indian: A Review
Kashmir and Sedition: Whose Side Are We On?
On Culture and the Clash of Cultures
Culture, Nationality and Religion – 1
Culture, Nationality and Religion – 2
Culture, Nationality and Religion – 3
On Loyalty and Patriotism
More on the South Asian Liberal

Achievement and Risk-taking
A Question of Pricing
Sri Lanka-South Africa: What a Mess!
India-Bangladesh: Beyond Cricket
Pakistan-Australia: Alack!
Reframing Charlie Hebdo
Are Some State and Non-State Actions Evil?
Microsense and Macromadness

On the Inhumanity of Humanity
The Sexual Divide
Child Abuse: Could This Be an Exceptional Case?

On Cooperation and Competition
On Cooperation and Competition – 2
On Cooperation and Competition – 3
On Cooperation and Individualism – 4
On Cooperation and Team Work – 5



China – 1: Why a Series on China?
China – 2: Making Sense of China
China – 3: Lessons from Tibet
Would You Wish to be a Chinese in China?



What is the Future of the City in South Asia?
What’s Happening in Small Towns?
What’s Happening in Karachi?
Karachi is a Small City
Megacity Narratives
Metropolitan Labour Markets and Urban Productivity
The Great Cities: A Pakistani Jeremiad
Faiz – 1: The City
Urbanization in India: Some Questions
The Economics of Urbanization
The Politics of Urbanization
Urbanization: The Big Picture
The Atomization of Society
Comparing Small Towns in South Asia
Just Do It
The Meaning of Mumbai
Better Cities — An Argument and a Manifesto
On Sustainability

Lahore – What is to be Done?
Lahore – The Wisdom of Jane Jacobs
Lahore – A Canal Runs Through It

Is Singapore a Successful City?
Singapore: The Voice of Citizens
Singapore: Evidence from Bollywood
Ahmedabad: The Power of Labeling
Ahmedabad: Life in the City

Karachi: The City That Was – 1
Karachi: The City That Was – 2
Karachi: The City That Was – 3



Mr. Modi
Arundhati Roy and Martin Luther King

In Support of Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy
Democracy: Corn Flakes, Cabbages and Kings
Tony Judt on the State, Democracy and Religion
Telangana Thoughts
Pakistan: A New Phase?
Pakistan: An Idiosyncratic Road to Better Governance
A Radical Road to Better Governance
Sleeping Beauty: Pakistan’s Civil Society

The Cultivation of Democratic Governance
The Alternative to Unadulterated Democracy is not Dictatorship
Second-Best Institutions
Governance and Human Security

And then there is China…
The Dilemma of Democracy in Pakistan
Democracy in Sri Lanka
Democracy in Malaysia and the Importance of the Second-Best
Governance in Colonial Hong Kong – Lessons from Experience
Democracy in Japan – Electoral Rules Matter
Building Democracy in Iraq
What’s Happening in Nepal?
Another Country, Another Election
Finessing Brexit

Getting to True Democracy
The Art of Democracy
Democracy – A Historical Perspective
A DNA Test for Our Democracy
Iran and the Dilemma of Democracy
Thinking About the Elections in Pakistan
Governance in South Asia: States and Robber Gangs
Land Grants
Healthcare Needs a Warning Label
Making Democracy Work
Electoral Choices
Delimitation and Equal Representation
Democracy in Distress

Interrogating Democracy
Interrogating Democracy-2
Two Conversations

Blame it on the People
A Single-Point Agenda for a Better Pakistan
A Unique Ruling Class
Governance in Pakistan: Context Matters
Governance Trap
Lessons from History
CSS: Danger Alert
CSS: Why English?
CSS: Probing the Examination
CSS Questions: Ideology or Science
CSS: A Summing Up

Democracy in India – 1
Democracy in India – 2
Democracy in India – 3
Democracy in India – 4
Democracy in India – 5
Democracy in India – 6
Democracy in India – 7
Democracy in India – 8: Dissecting the Election
Democracy in India – 9: Who Speaks for India?
Democracy in India – 10: Message from Bihar



Soch Bichar: Podcasts on Development

Against Research
In Defense of ‘Against Research’

Development and Violence: Some Clues?
The World is Too Big to Fail But…
Consumption and the Limit to Resources
The Dark Side of Economic Growth
Development: A Loss of Focus?
The Post-Covid-19 Economy
New Understandings of Labour – Post Covid-19

Ten Unacceptable Things

Is Illiteracy a Cause of Poverty?
Is Poverty the Cause of Illiteracy?
Is Overpopulation the Cause of Poverty?
Understanding Poverty
On the Real Poverty in South Asia
Poverty and Human Rights
A Guide to Inequality
Inequality and Its Critique

Corruption and Development
Is Corruption Good or Bad?
Corruption: Counterintuitive Conclusions
Informal Labour at the Root of Corporate Corruption
The Economics and Politics of Corruption in India

Faith and Development
Is Faith Necessary for Progress?
Governance and Morality

Are NGOs Relevant?
$1 Trillion NGO Industry

Pakistan: A Downward Spiral
Pakistan: Falling Off a Cliff
Textiles: Can Pakistan Compete?
Millennium Development Follies
Taj Mahal and the Planning Commission
Civil Society: Myth or Toothless Tiger?
Privatization and its Conundrums
Social Services: Asking the Right Questions
Why Labour Needs Help
A Skeptical Guide to the Budget
Pro-People Policies are Possible in Poor Polities
Economic Bullshit
Silly Season in Pakistan
Plain Truths About the Economy
Rotten Tomatoes
Healthcare: Dubious Distinctions
Living in Unhealthy Times
Chickens: A Debate
Miseducating Pakistan
Tech in Transit
Taxation: An Honourable Way Forward
False Signals
The Post-COVID Economy
Living Wage
Strange Economics, Strange Politics
Upside-Down World
Use Your Heads

India: Not Quite There Yet
The Rise of Indian Women?
BIPS, Games, and Puzzles
The Middle Class Myth in India
From Notified Criminals to Denotified Offenders
Forget the Poor

Anchoring Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province
The Curious Case of Hyderabad Sindh
CPEC: Lessons from History
CPEC: Questions Persist
CPEC: The Case for Full Disclosure



Four Talks and a Funeral

Your Child Deserves Better – A Letter to Parents – I
Your Child Deserves Better – A Letter to Parents – II
Your Child Deserves Better – A Letter to Parents – III
Your Child Deserves Better – A Letter to Parents – IV
Your Child Deserves Better – A Letter to Parents – V
Your Child Deserves Better – A Letter to Parents – VI
Your Child Deserves Better – A Letter to Parents – VII
Your Child Deserves Better – A Letter to Parents – VIII
Your Child Deserves Better – A Letter to Parents – IX
Your Child Deserves Better – A Letter to Parents – X

Education and the Rights of Children
The Downward Spiral of Higher Education
Educating the Nation
Reconsider the Single National Curriculum
Education: A Proposal
What’s Wrong With the SNC?
The Political Economy of the SNC
Medium of Instruction: Logic and Evidence
Fair Skin and Fluent English
SNC and Language of Instruction
Language of Instruction: Next Steps
Knowledge and Power
A Linguistic Thought Experiment
Medium of Instruction: Common Sense
Language and the Medium of Instruction
Arabic as Panacea

A Better Way to Teach
No Minister, Yes Minister
SNC — Off With Their Heads
Is the Madrassah a School?
Equal Education
Left Hand, Right Hand — The Roots of Extremism

Education: Humanities and Science
Education: A Critique of Mark Slouka
What Can the Social Sciences Do for Us?
Education in Pakistan: Ten Big Questions
Why is Pakistan Half Illiterate?
Remaking Public School Education in Pakistan
Education: Is More Money Good News?
Education and Politics
What Are Pakistani College Students All About?
LUMS and Learning: Reflections on a Discussion
A Letter from the Dean
A Dean’s Summer Reading List
Education Reform in India
Debating Education
Education is Not a Solution
Unpacking Education
Education: Put It to the Test
Craving Middleness
‘Craving Middleness’: A Critique
Infectious Stories
The Pandemic is a Huge Learning Opportunity

In Defense of Lord Macaulay
Macaulay’s Stepchildren
On Being Stupid in English
Education: The Myth of the Market
Searching for a Nobel Laureate in South Asia

The Search for Truth

Milton and Ghalib


Foreign Aid

A Primer on Foreign Aid – 1: Essential Definitions
A Primer on Foreign Aid – 2: Rationale and Results
A Primer on Foreign Aid – 3: Real Issues

Helping Pakistan
Should Pakistan Receive More Foreign Aid?
Aid to Pakistan: Advocacy or Analysis?
US Aid to Pakistan: Response to CGD
More Ideas on Aid to Pakistan
Aid as Religion
Handwaving on Aid: Response to Nancy Birdsall
How to Aid the Health Sector in Pakistan
“Helping the Poor”: The Idea, the Reality and the Shadow
Designed to Fail: Why Foreign Aid Doesn’t Deliver
Lucymemsahib and SAP
Depicting Tragedy Humorously: Foreign Aid Without Development
Still Learning as We Go Along … Are We?
All Wrong on Poverty and Aid
Trump, USAID and Funding for Pakistan
Mind the Money

Pakistan Picaresque



A History of the Left in Pakistan – 1
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 2
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 3
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 4
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 5
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 6
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 7
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 8
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 9
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 10
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 11
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 12
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 13
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 14
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 15
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 16
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 17
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 18
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 19
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 20
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 21
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 22
A History of the Left in Pakistan – 23

Beacons of Light
The Ghadar Party – I
The Ghadar Party – II
The Berlin Committee
The Jihad Movement – I
The Jihad Movement – II

Hinduism – 1: What is ‘Hinduism’?
Hinduism – 2: Getting to Terms with Religion
Hinduism – 3: Interaction with Muslims
Hinduism – 4: Early Interaction with Muslims
Hinduism – 5: Impacts of Interactions with Muslims
Hinduism – 6: Interactions in the Mirror of Sex
Hinduism – 7: The Wall of Amnesia

The Social Background of Hindu Muslim Relationship – 1

“A Tryst with Destiny”: Reflections on the Partition of India
Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan – A Review
MJ Akbar’s Tinderbox: The Book in Images
On the Emergence of Pakistan
Jinnah, Nehru, and the Ironies of History
Jaswant Singh: What’s All the Fuss?
The Road to Partition
On Emperor Akbar
On Thinking About the Past
History: Lived and Imagined
Indian Women: A Paradox?
Muslim Women and the 1946 Elections in India
Gandhi and bin Laden: Further Thoughts
Asian Responses to Colonialism
Interrogating Pankaj Mishra’s Weltanschauung
Understanding Communalism: The Past is No Guide to the Present
Revisiting Somnath – A Review
History Matters
Awareness of History
Toppling Statues, Righting Wrongs



The Politics of Identity
The Politics of Identity in Pakistan
Is There an Irrational Voter?

On Diversity
Are We Similar or Are We Different?
How Similar? How Different?
Similar or Different and Does it Matter?
Similar and Different: What Else?
Similar and Different: Why Marriages Fail?
Similar and Different: Common and Problematic
Similar and Different: Good and Evil
Similar and Different: Black and White
Similar and Different: Bengal Revisited
Ghalib – 30: Similarities and Differences
Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Asia
Neighbours: Private Dosti, Political Demarcations
The Indo-Persian Synthesis

Our Neighborhood
Induced Nostalgia
In Search of Diwali in Lahore
Meeting Oneself in Pakistan
What’s In a Name? Nothing and a Lot

Us Versus Them
Them Versus Us
India, Pakistan and Survival
Ten Thoughts on Afridi’s Remarks about Indians

Yehudi Menuhin: On Nationalism



Literature in the Fortress
What Can Literature Do?

Obama and his Audience
On Language and Communication
Love’s Labor Lost?
Who’s the Fairest of Them All?
From Urdu to Hindi, Farsi and Beyond
Farsi: A Whole Lot of Learning
Cracking Urdu: A Guide for Those Who Know Hindi
On Some Peculiarities of King’s Urdu
The Rise and Decline of King’s Urdu
The Changing World of Urdu
The Lovely Peculiarities of Urdu
Learning Urdu
Urdu in Pakistan: A Dispassionate Analysis
Urdu in Pakistan: Language as the Key to Wisdom
Urdu in Pakistan: Do We Need It?
What Language Should We Choose?
Language of Power
Language and its Functions
Language, Learning and Logic
Can a Language Be Irrational?
Language Puzzles
Faiz – 2: Bangladesh – An Apriplum
Language and Society
At a Loss for Words
Poetry: Inspired by Faiz
Transgressions: A Review
Perfection of a Poem
Review: ‘Transgressions’ Celebrates Faiz’s Poetry
Transgressions: Book Review
The City From Here



On the Poverty of Indian Muslims
More on the Law of Inheritance
On Treason in the Subcontinent
Laws and the Rule of Law
Another Plea to the Chief Justice of Pakistan
The Quality of Food



Dynasty and the Price of Politics: Do We Get the Leaders We Deserve?
Dynastic Succession and the Culture of South Asian Politics

It’s the Leadership, Stupid
Pakistan’s Leaders
The Peculiar Nature of the Pakistani Liberal
From Indo-Pak to Af-Pak
A Test of Leadership
Where Are the Experts?



The Holiest Thing I Read Today — 02.12.2021
The Saddest Thing I Read Today — 01.12.2021
The Funniest Thing I Read Today – 30.11.2021
The Loss of Literature
To Kill or Not to Kill
Making Martyrs

Art and Life: Unraveling a Puzzle

The Value of the Legend of Pradeep Mathew

Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire: A Modern Antigone
Fireflies in the Mist: An Exploration of Bengali Identity

Theater and Social Change in Pakistan: The Plays of Shahid Nadeem
Theater as a Matter of Life and Death
A Character in Melville Who Wouldn’t

The Sun that Rose from the Earth
Dalrymple’s: The Anarchy: A Review
Pitying the Nation

Not Your Father’s Kabir

Leela’s Book: A Review
Please Read Responsibly
The General Leaves His Labyrinth

Captivating Catchwords

PPP Prattle
Pakistan’s Favorite Indians

The South Asian Idea: A Review
What Makes Men Stupid?
What’s With Movie Stars in South India?
Why Indians are Stressed and Unhealthy
Can a Computer be Aware Like a Human?
A Modern Fable
Come Back, Ibn-e Eusuf
A Peek into the Mind of Pakistan’s Rulers
Straws in the Wind
Reflections on a Very Large Cabinet
Elections: Pakistan Style
Cricket and Politics
Time for Apologies
Idée Fixe
There We Go Again…
Ah, New York Times…
The Power of the Idea and the Poverty of the Imagination
Between the Idea and the Reality falls the Shadow
Cricket in the Jungle
Cricket: Risk, Strategy, Design
Pakistan, Sir Ian Botham, Mothers-in-Law, and Dried Milk
A Recipe for Survival (w/o Tomatoes)
Cross Border Bonding – The People’s Story
The Elephant in the Room



How Modern is Modern?
More on Dynasties and Modernity
Dynastic Succession: What is the difference between India and France?
“Modern” and “Stupid”
Monarchy, Religion, Hierarchy and Modernity
Hierarchy, Dependence, Equality and Democracy
Individualism, Social Contract, Governance and Modernity
Equality, Individual Rights, Modernity and Democracy
Is There Such a Thing as a Modern South Asian?
More on the Modern South Asian – 1
More on the Modern South Asian – 2
India: A View of People
Ghalib -29: On Being Modern
On Globalization: Separating Ideas from Geography via Tradition
What the Fishermen are Telling Us



Art Transcends Religious Divides
Is There a Puzzle in Indian Culture?

God, Music and Food for Thought
Classical Music in Pakistan: A Requiem?
The Death of Classical Music

The Music of Poetry
An Idiot’s Guide to Music – 1
An Idiot’s Guide to Music – 2
An Idiot’s Guide to Music – 3
Music: An Interview with Arpita Chatterjee
Music: Architecture, Painting, and Wet Clay
A Modern Introduction to Music – 1
A Modern Introduction to Music – 2
A Modern Introduction to Music – 3
A Modern Introduction to Music – 4
A Modern Introduction to Music – 5
A Modern Introduction to Music – 6
A Modern Introduction to Music – 7
A Modern Introduction to Music – 8
A Modern Introduction to Music – 9
A Modern Introduction to Music – 10
A Modern Introduction to Music – 11
A Modern Introduction to Music – 12
A Modern Introduction to Music – 13
A Modern Introduction to Music – 14
A Modern Introduction to Music – 15
A Modern Introduction to Music – 16
A Modern Introduction to Music – 17



Pak-US Relations: Conflicting Perspectives
9/11: The Burden of the Past and the Promise of the Future
Osama: What the ISI Knew?
Gandhi, bin Laden and the Global Chessboard
Pakistan after the Arab Insurrections

The Degeneration of Politics
Wanted: A Real People’s Party
Revolt and Revolution in Pakistan
Faiz – 3: A Twist in the Tail

On Fundamentalism
More on Fundamentalism – 1
Hindu-Muslim or Muslim-Hindu?
The Politics of God
Pakistanization of India?

Gujarat: What Miracle?
Telling the Wrong Story in Gujarat
A Man of the Right
Mr. Modi: Good for Pakistan, Bad for Muslims?
Reading the Elections in Bihar
The Real India

Who Wants Peace in the Subcontinent?
Why are Political Parties Not Issue Oriented?
The Peculiar Nature of India-Pakistan Relations
India’s Pakistan Policy?
Pakistan-India Relations
The XYZ of India-Pakistan Relations
Pakistanization of India?
Pakistan and its Neighbours
India, Pakistan and Cricket: To Play or Not to Play
Reflections on JNU, India and Pakistan
For the Students and Faculty of JNU
Faiz 5: A Tribute to Kanhaiya Kumar

India: (Almost) Wild Political Speculation
Perspectives on Kashmir
The Warfare State
Constructing the Enemy

A Middle Class ‘Revolution’
After the Long March – What Now Comrades?
Pakistan: What is to be done in FATA?
Pakistan: What is Government For and What is to be Done?
What Governments Do and Why
Chaos in Islamabad
Fifty Years of Activism in Pakistan: A Sea Change
The Morning After
Ali Baba and Robin Hood
A Vision For The Future
Life Without Sunshine



Re-reads: The Merchant of Venice

Reflections: Delhi – The City Remembered
Reflections: Indian Ink—Literary Insights into Colonialism and Identity
Reflections: Go Mohammedans?
Reflections: Shaped by the Times
Aditya Behl (1966-2009)
September Eleven
9/11: Socrates, Machiavelli, Christ and Gandhi
Pakistan: What Do You Want?
Reflections: South Asian Pecking Order
French Salons and South Asia
Reflections of a New Mother
Reflections: Literature and Nationalism

Reflections: A Visit to Karachi
Notes from Pakistan
The Lahore Effect
Returning to India
Violence Has No Borders
Humsafar and Shakespeare
Two Fires
The Black Album: Between Liberalism and Fundamentalism
If I Were a Christian
Pakistan Elections 2013: Reflections
Time, the World and the Word
Reflections on Lost Times

Reflections on Eid
Questions for Ourselves

Honour and Ignore
Beyond Grief
The Remove by Zulfikar Ghose
On Not Owning a House
Sehwan, Sheema and Faiz
Nowhere to Go
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
Partition, My Father, and His Wife
Some Reflections on the Nature of Change
Reflections on Kashmir
Transgressions: Poems Inspired by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
The Passage of Time
Tipu’s Tiger



Review: A Gash in the World

Do Devotion and Brutality Go Together?
Individual or State: Who is Behind Violence?

Has Islam a Place in a Modern World?
Culture Bypass: A New Paradigm – 1
Culture Bypass: A New Paradigm – 2
Culture Bypass: A New Paradigm – 3
Culture Bypass: A New Paradigm – 4
Culture Bypass: A New Paradigm – 5

On God: Existence and Nature
Kim Aashcharyam? (What is the most amazing thing?)
An Alternate Explanation for Existence
On the Functions of Religion
On Religion as an Individual Code of Behavior
Some Thoughts on God and Religion
Islam: Moving On
Is More Religion the Answer?
On God’s Will
On Secularism in South Asia
Pilgrimage as Secular Activity: A Constitutional Perversion
Ants Among Elephants: Untouchability in India

Darwin Meets Fresh Teen in Pakistan


South Asia

Imaginings: South Asia in 2020
Imaginings: Retrospective on Pakistan
Imaginings: Where is India Headed?
Brown as the Mouths of Rivers

U.S. and South Asia: Transformations and Trajectories
South Asia: In Search of Roots
The Economics of Culture
A South Asian Eid

How Far Behind is South Asia?
Why Numbers are Important?
More Numbers on Poverty and Education

South Asia – 1:  A Region in Trouble?
South Asia – 2: Three Deprivations
Slumland South Asia?
What Kind of Revolution Do We Need in South Asia?
Why is South Asia So Violent?
More on Violence in South Asia and the Great Jihad
Feminism and Violence: The Short and the Long
‘My Body, My Choice’ in Perspective

Can India Learn From Its Neighbours?



Terrorism – 1: How Do We Respond to Mumbai?
Terrorism – 2: Beyond Mumbai
Terrorism – 3: Turning In
Terrorism – 4: Reaching Out
Terrorism – 5: What’s Your Religion?

Questions for Amos Oz
World War III?
Locating the Enemy
Some of My Best Friends are Extremists


20 Responses to “MAIN PAGE”

  1. M.Adeel Qureshi Says:

    It is the dialima of our country that we dont have sincere leaders to run the country in a smoother way. I wish we could make our future generation different from us and could be a true Pakistani in accordance with the vision of our Quaid-i-Azam,

    M.Adeel Qureshi,
    M.A. History,
    M.a. International Relations,
    M/Phil/PhD in monumental Archaeology (in process)
    University of Karachi

  2. Shakil Ahmed Says:

    Dear Dr.Samia,

    I congratulate you for writing a very nice article entitled “The art of Democracy” which truly reflects that you are a very clear minded, and have a balnce approach about the problems which are currently posing problem for the integrity of Pakistan and its inhabitents. I totally agree with you that there is no harm for the exhibition of nude art in pakistan. Art is art, and it cannot be classified purely on the basis of nudity in it. People who do not like to see it may not see it, and who like to see it let them to see it. You are a great visionary, and a liberal minded person. Pl. keep up writing such things boldly, we like it. thanks.

  3. A.K. Singh Says:

    Dear Dr. Altaf:

    I wholeheartedly agree with your opinions expressed in today’s “Transformations and Trajectories” appearing in the June 29th DAWN Opinion section. It appears that in India, they are turning the American national motto “E Pluirbus Unum” on its head: Out of One, Many. There is a dearth of strong, transcendant leaders like Nehru and Gandhi (Mahatma and Indira); instead India has too many moral midgets guided by their selfish, communal interests. (Manmohan Singh has the right qualifications and temperament, but is weak.) Look at the cesspool from which many MPs come from – uneducated and unelightened goons and criminals.

    Perhaps the communalization started with Mrs. Gandhi with her divisive policies that led to Sikh and Kashmiri separatist movements. Or perhaps it started with the Partition and its politics of division, rather than unity.

    Best regards.

  4. Rajagopalan Says:

    For Samia Altaf
    ref yr piece today..on this subject: India-Pakistan

    I suggest that about the only sane solution to this problem as also other problems in the for ALL these S. Asian countries to work as quickly as possible towards a Union of Independent States similar to the European Union of today..

    An absoutely essential condition is, of course, that ALL Member States should be serious democracies..Pakistan appears to be finally making a start in that direction..I suggest that Pakistani leaders concentrate on making that a success..specifically towards that goal..Instead of continuing to make “poltical” short-term- effect statements which will keep the temperature adverse and high in India, putting backs up..making that goal postponable or even rejectable by India..Thereafter, hopefully, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka will also be motivated, seeing the initial success, and work towards joining..Later, hopefully, perhaps even Afganistan and even Iran.


    • Maryam Says:

      This is an interesting idea. But we should remember that Europe is divided ethnically. When you look at things from a distance you notice stuff that you otherwise would have seen. And what I see is that in many cases the ethnic identities of South Asians are more important to them than national or even religious identities. The solution that might work today could be entirely different than what worked so many years ago.

  5. P. Harimohan Says:

    Transformations & Trajectories by Dr Altaf

    Dr Altaf, Thank you for writing this and making us realize
    that our governments have utterly failed us in realizing the genuinely secular & liberal democracies that both the countries’ founding fathers visualized. I hope people like L K Advani in India read your analysis. I have no hope that secularism will triumph or ever thrive in our countries unless we invent latter day Mustapha Kemal Ataturk(s). regards, P. Harimohan

  6. Ram Says:

    There are 2 things. The rot from within and the external influences that take advantage of this.

    India is rotting on 2 fronts
    a> Governance that has led to corruption and encouraged crime
    While we keep crying like a baby about how Pakistanis do not give us Dawood, we have allowed Dawood’s cronies in Mumbai to prosper. Why have we not broken his network in India?

    Our cops are inadequately trained and armed and the resources are not enough. Something drastic has to be done to reform the entire policing system. Any layman can see that they are in no position to tackle even a lowly criminal with a pistol

    b> Social and communal problems that give rise to Naxalism and Maoism
    Ostracism of the weaker castes in society is still prevalent outside metros and this has fueled Naxalism and Maoism in the country which is slowly spreading its tentacles.

    Unless we stem the rot within, outsiders will continue to exploit our weaknesses.

  7. SouthAsian Says:


    I am less concerned about the corruption. If you see the history of the US you will note the period of the ‘Robber Barons’, the hold of the Mafia, the amazing corruption at the highest political levels (latest in Illinois), and the financial scandals (latest Madoff). There is not much difference in Japan, South Korea, or China. Corruption is bad but really when you look at it, the causality is counter-intuitive: corruption does not prevent growth; a lot of growth leads to opportunities for corruption.

    The social and communal problems are a lot more serious. Here the history of the US gives the opposite lesson. When the urban riots broke out in the 1960s signaling the degree of Black disaffection, the state was quick to take decisive action with the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. The remarkable improvement in race relations within 50 years has culminated in the election of Barack Obama.

    Here the Indian government has failed completely: At best it is indifferent to injustice; at worst it is complicit (as was the case in Delhi and Gujarat). Given that social diversity is much greater and income gaps much wider, this could be the Achilles heel of the Indian polity. Nobody from outside would need to take advantage of this – the state would collapse from within as it has in Pakistan.

  8. almostinfamous Says:

    SouthAsian… even after the abolition of slavery, there were plenty of so-called ‘Jim Crow’ laws and until recently there were and maybe continue to be ‘sundown’ towns in the US where persons of colour are not guaranteed safety after dark. even today, the harsher laws (drug war etc.) lead to disproportionately worse effects on the minorities and their communities due to a vicious cycle. we are witnessing a similar situation with regard to the various minority communities in india, whether they are large or small.

  9. SouthAsian Says:

    almostinfamous, of course, you are quite right. The point I wish to make is one of the trend. What you mention in the US is a legacy effect. If you see the new generation on college campuses it is obvious that racial divisions are being eroded. And the biggest proof is the election of Barack Obama which clearly indicates that the legacy effect is becoming marginal to society. This is not to say that individual members of minorities are not discriminated against at some point or another.

    This change in the trend was the outcome of the decisive intervention by the State that I had mentioned. No such decisive action has been taken by the Indian State. And therefore, I am less optimistic about the prospects of social stability in India.

  10. Mumbai Says:

    Precisely… we need proper governance first. That’s the main thing. All this talk about war is useless and it’s not going to help anybody. Nobody has thought about
    – What the cost of war is. Not just tangible cost but the loss of business
    – What will happen if we lose
    – What will we do even after we win?
    – What if either one drops a nuke?

    What is it eventually going to achieve?


  11. Radhika Herzberger Says:

    Please put me (back) on your mailing list. Thank you.

  12. uba babs Says:

    Dear Dr.Samia,i am of the opinion that you very correct on the article you wrote on ‘The art of Democracy’,you have realy done a very great job,i stongly share the same view as you,please keep it up with this great boldness,thank you.

  13. ijaz Says:

    Has there ever been any professional evaluation of the Website.

    The question would need to be framed in the context of “A Learning Resource for College Students in South Asia”

    To the very least do we know How many, Who and how is the South Asian Idea Weblog used?

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Ijaz: There has not been a professional review of the blog. I did a self-evaluation in 2009 (after about 18 months of its existence) which is here:

      The essential strengths and weaknesses remain unchanged. I had adopted a simple rule at the outset – if readership continued to increase year over year I would keep it going. That has been the case so far though the learning resource cannot be considered a success by any means.

      Since 2008 there have been over 500 posts, 6,000 comments and 400,000 page views. The daily views vary between 200 and 300 with the majority being from India and the US followed by Pakistan. There is clearly a very huge audience of college students that has not been reached and that is the primary failure of the initiative.

      My own analysis is that the content needs to be simplified one level but the difficulty is that it becomes uninteresting for me to write at that level. So, at this time the site is serving as an archive for the thoughts and ideas that intrigue me and there is a small set of readers who share the interest. We have conversations among ourselves which I find very useful.

  14. ijaz Says:

    Perhaps there is a need to change the sub-title from “A Learning Resource for College Students in South Asia” to
    “A Learning Resource” or something to that effect.

  15. Maryam Says:

    On the 68th independence of India and Pakistan I would like to congratulate you on having such an amazing blog; I did not know that topics like ‘What if India was not partitioned’ could be discussed without going to war. The Colonial powers have played such a game that the world still fights more than half a century later. May be one day we would be able to look past the differences created by these political powers and work together in peace for a better future for our people.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Maryam: Thanks. The day to look past differences and work together in peace for a better future for our people is TODAY. And the starting point is being able to TALK without getting ANGRY. Our LIABILITY is the INDIVIDUAL who can’t CONTROL his/her TEMPER.

  16. Maryam Says:

    I found this article online, thought I should share. I hope this becomes a reality in my lifetime.

    Since people keep giving the example of European Union, wouldn’t it be better to give the states and provinces autonomy while coming together as a federation. I guess Karachi and Mumbai could be specially administered regions. What do you think?

  17. Indian Says:

    Another book I think Indians should read (and I say Indian because I do not accept the false and pernicious category of “South Asian”) is चतुर्वेदी बद्रीनाथ’s “Dharma, India and the World Order”. It is available, free of charge on Library Genesis, the primary repository of Western knowledge in the world today (

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