Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

Culture Bypass: A New Paradigm – 2

September 3, 2010

From A’daabKhuda HafizAllah Hafiz – How cultural expressions are transformed?


By Ahmed Kamran


In Part-1 of this discussion we briefly traced how a highly tolerant Indo-Persian culture, a Ganga-Jamni Tehzib, emerged in India over many centuries of interaction between a Muslim Persian empire and a rich Indian civilization before the advent of European powers in India and the spread of their influence in our intellectual and cultural life. Let’s now see how particularly the Muslim thought process in this Ganga-Jamni culture responded to the disrupting influences of the English ascendency. (more…)


Culture Bypass: A New Paradigm – 1

August 29, 2010

From A’daabKhuda HafizAllah Hafiz – How cultural expressions are transformed?

By Ahmed Kamran

Recent discussions on this blog regarding the version of Islam that has been adopted in Pakistan since its founding in 1947 have raised some questions that warrant a little more detailed study of the related issues surrounding  the cultural history of this part of the world. This series is an attempt to examine how cultures are transformed and put on a track diverging from its past.

In modern times when motorways and bypasses are built they are usually laid passing through isolated and uninhabited lands, away from our old familiar pathways and bustling towns. Travelling on these new roads, we move fast and reach our destination mostly in isolation from stations of our human history. In a short while, we get used to these new routes, and soon forget about our old traditional highways, and our old culture. (more…)

PPP Prattle

August 8, 2010

By Azhar Ali Khan

A slogan is a sort of battle cry which usually carries in it an appeal to sentiments of a particular group of people and the repetition of this battle cry is intended to arouse people into taking a certain desired action. If the slogan is well-worded, short and sweet and easily pronounceable, its appeal becomes more effective. But for the people to take the desired action, it should be physically possible and, invariably, the slogan has to be backed with some force. When they say “Buy British” in England, it works because almost every article of daily use required by an average person in England, or anywhere else for that matter, is ‘made in England’, and it is physically possible to ‘Buy British’. But even in England, when Japan dumped in the East End of London ready-made shirts at 6/- per dozen or flooded toy shops at Christmas, the magic of ‘Buy British’ failed to work, in spite of the highly developed sense of patriotism in an average Englishman, born out of over a thousand years of freedom. The British Government then had to back this slogan with the force of tariff walls and by devising ways and means for cutting down production costs. In Bharat, if they had started a “Buy Bharati Brand” slogan it would probably not work, but the Government achieved their object by putting a total ban on imports of consumer goods and at the same time providing facilities for indigenous production, so that now one can get everything produced within the country. Due to the ban on imports, foreign firms who had substantial sales of their manufactured goods in Bharat were also forced to set up their factories in India, without the Indian Government begging for it the way we have been doing; that too without being able to attract foreign capital.

We started only a slogan – Patronise Pakistani Products – and thought that its sentimental and alliterative appeal alone will make people buy Pakistani products. But where are those products of Pakistani manufacture which the sponsors of this slogan would want us to buy and what facilities have been provided for their production and, lastly, what restrictions have been imposed on the promiscuous import of the innumerable variety of consumer goods with which we are over-flooded and over-stocked such that imported goods very often sell on the footpaths at below the landed cost?

The PPP naturally failed to achieve its object, because it appealed to people to do something which was physically impossible. Moreover, there was no substance, no reality and no force behind it. It was just three meaningless words, to many because they were in a foreign language and to others because they realized that there was hardly anything Pakistani to be patronized. The Government, themselves, never acted upon it and huge orders for all description of goods, even those which are produced in Pakistan, continue to be placed outside on the basis of lower quotations or better quality. Army boots, to produce which we have over a hundred thousand skilled shoe-makers, are still purchased from England. But the Government spent a few lacs on the PPP, for which the only explanation appears to be that they were charmed with the magic of alliteration. A criticism with more meaning than the PPP was, therefore, written in sustained alliteration of over 500 P’s, but it failed to make the Government act in accordance with the suggestions contained in it, probably because the only force behind it was the opinions and suggestions of an unknown writer! It also emphasizes that there is no limit to performing gymnastics and jugglery with words, but it is not words but deeds that are needed.


(Penned by the President of a Pakistani Producers association and printed and published in popular Pakistani periodical in early post-partition period.)


Persons placed in Prominent Positions in Pakistan’s political party in power in post-partition period persistently promoted and pursued prolonged propaganda programmes for purely personal publicity, prestige or profit, hardly pertinent to pressing problems present in Pakistan during that period, particularly pertaining to production, planning and promotion. “Patronise Pakistani Products” propaganda was one such publicity programme – a painful, practical pleasantry on the poor, penniless, panic-stricken and prostrated Producers, pestered, persecuted, pursued and pushed pell-mell out of a Panditistan and pouring by millions into Pakistan – the promised paradise only to pine and perish in poverty and privation, their passionate and piteous pleas for provision of a proper place for production, power, protection and patronage producing only the phony PPP parade, while prosperous and privileged partymen were provided with permits to procure practically all imported products on “OGL” (open general license) positively precluding the possibility of Pakistani production proving a profitable proposition to producers or even practicable.

PPP Prattle was published to pinpoint in proper perspective the paralogism of PPP propaganda.

The following criticism covers the main production problems with some general suggestions:-


Poor Pakistani producers, precariously poised on a precipice are profoundly puzzled and perplexed at this promiscuous, persistent, profitless publicity and propaganda through press, platform, periodicals, pamphlets, publications, placards and posters; PPP posters permanently placed in prominent positions persuading people to purchase Pakistani products, while purblind policies of people in power are plaguing production programmes with all possible predicaments.


Preliminaries to procurement of proper place for production present the problem of being a party to the pernicious practice of paying premiums, popularly pugree, or propitiating petty but privileged public servants, which practice, propriety apart, is pregnant with the possibility of prosecution.


Prospects of plentiful power at any predictable period are poor. Power projects under planning may, perhaps, provide power to posterity, but the present position positively precludes the possibility of power-operated plants.


Processes of providing protection to Pakistani products are protracted, perfunctory and, perhaps, purposely prolonged, and, with Pakistan pegged to pacts and preferences and pursuing a policy of pleasing and pampering politically powerful partners, positive protection cannot possibly be provided!


Pecuniarily, poor Pakistani producers are placed in a precarious position. The prodigal protagonists of PPP propaganda, prepossessed with perverse pertinacity of purpose to pursue preposterous propaganda programmes are prepared to provide with promptitude princely purses for palatial pantechnicons, pictorial PPP posters and persistent press publicity, but profess powerlessness to place a perforated pice on the palsied palm of the poor producer painfully plying his profession in poignant poverty and privation.


Prompt provision of positive protection is the primal pre-requisite of the proper progress of this “praiseworthy and plausible” Patronise Pakistani Products propaganda, publicized by press and preached from public platforms. Protection! Protection!! Protection!!! plaintively plead Pakistani producers, but people in power are not perturbed.


Pakistani Production cannot possibly attain the peak of prosperity on purely a plethora of pledges, periodic periphrasis, palavering and perorations of prominent personages from public platforms, pious but palpably puerile professions and promises patently paradoxical to practice and passionate panegyrics on patriotism.


Pakistan’s productive potential is practically paralysed by promiscuous imports, preposterous and pernicious profiteering of privileged and prosperous parvenus, a pestilence of perfidious practices prevalent in private and public, a pitiless prostitution of power and persistent parasitism of privileged people pushing the poor to perpetual poverty.


Pakistan’s paleolithic, petrified and pertinacious administration, putrefying with petty and paltry party politics, pestered with pugnacious provincial prejudices and preferentialism, plagued with pre-partition pygmies now puffed with power, persistently pursues a perverse policy of patronizing, pampering, pacifying and placating the plutocrat, paving his path with primroses and permitting him to pamper in a paraphernalia of pomp and pleasure, while the proletariat presents a pathetic panorama of poverty and privation.


Primitive processes of production plus the precarious pecuniary position prevailing in Pakistani production positively precludes the possibility of Pakistani products presenting the potential purchaser plus value in price or performance. This provokes people to propound the paramountcy of a planned practical programme preceding this paralogistic PPP prattle.


Proud and powerful proponents of Patronise Pakistani Products Propaganda, please provide positive proof of proper patronage of production before preaching PPP to people. Press into practice the pantheon of persistently publicized Plans, Plans, Plans, Pilot a practical programme of planned production, put pressure on prosperous people to part with their piles of profits to be put into productive projects, pull the poor producer out of the pandemonium of poignant poverty and pestilence. Let pride and prestige of power not prejudice or prevent perception in proper perspective of a palpably plain problem.


Privileged and powerful! Please pause and ponder. Parading a pompous pageant of PPP panjandrum will not provide a panacea for a paralytic and palsied industry, will probably not open the portals of paradise to the poor producer, plying his profession in pest-ridden places, positively not persuade the proverbially parsimonious Pakistani purchaser to patronize poor quality Pakistani products when pavements profusely piled by peddlers with a promiscuity of perfect and pretty low-priced imported products petrify his already poor patriotic propensities.

Poor Pakistani Producer


(Penned by Azhar Ali Khan and Published in Natural Resources, August 1962)


Captivating Catchwords

August 8, 2010

Composed by Azhar Ali Khan on the occasion of the All Pakistan Cottage Industry Conference held in May 1950

Editor’s Note: We are reproducing two essays by Azhar Ali Khan written 50 years ago. While they are extremely dated they retain their value as historical documents providing a commentary on the trajectory of Pakistan. In them one can identify what has and has not changed in the culture of Pakistan over the ensuing decades. These essays are part-serious, part-satirical, part-tongue-in-cheek. They were penned as a challenge in alliteration – to see how long an essay on a serious topic could be written using most words beginning with the same letter. This is the ‘C’ essay. The ‘P’ essay would be reproduced later. (more…)

On Globalization: Separating Ideas from Geography via Tradition

July 12, 2010

By Arun Pillai

Before we can talk about separating ideas from geography, it is necessary to say what ideas are, what I mean by geography, and what traditions are. I will start with ideas.


Ideas are abstract things, like words and numbers. They don’t occupy space or time. A physical object occupies space and time, and if it is in one place, it cannot be in another (I will ignore the puzzles of quantum mechanics here.) This is not true of ideas. We can all simultaneously entertain the same ideas, or utter the same words, or calculate with the same numbers. (This is partly why the area of intellectual property rights is so tricky.) In any case, there is a fund of ideas that belongs to everyone, like the ideas in the sciences and other areas of culture. (more…)

Culture, Nationality and Religion – 3

July 11, 2010

By Anjum Altaf

In two previous posts in this series (here and here) I argued both sides of the proposition that economic interests take precedence over loyalty to attributes like culture, nationality and religion. How do we determine which argument is the more convincing? What is the “truth” regarding such a proposition and how can we discover it?

A partial motivation in working through this series of posts was to illustrate a special debating technique used by the ancient Greeks to arrive at the truth or falsehood of such propositions.

Part of the exercise conforms to the usual debating format: a questioner undertakes to challenge the proposition and prove it wrong; an answerer undertakes to defend it and prove it right; and there is an audience that acts as a jury and enforces the correct rules of argumentation. (more…)

Culture, Nationality and Religion – 2

July 9, 2010

By Anjum Altaf


In the previous post in this series I had argued in favor of the proposition that economic interest has the dominant influence on what we do in life; even culture, nationality and religion are often treated as impediments to economic advancement and sacrificed for its sake. In this post, I aim to see how well the contrary case can be argued.

The key point I intend to stress is that the argument of the last post embodied a superficial perspective on the trade-off between economic gain and these attributes (culture, nationality, religion) making the classic error of mistaking form for content. (more…)

Culture, Nationality and Religion – 1

July 5, 2010

By Anjum Altaf

I am going to present a provocative thesis in this post: Economic interest has the dominant influence on what we do in life; even culture, nationality and religion are often treated as impediments to economic advancement and sacrificed for its sake.

On the face of it this is indeed a provocative claim and it is not one that I necessarily subscribe to in its entirety. I take it on in the spirit of a challenge faced by a participant in an extempore debate or by a lawyer arguing the best case for his client. In that spirit, I would be more than happy to argue the exact opposite case after a good night’s sleep. (more…)

More and Less of Imran Khan

June 29, 2009

This post continues the series initiated by Imran Khan’s observations on the differences between West and East (Why the West Craves Materialism and Why the East Sticks to Religion) but it is more about the issues and less about Imran Khan.

In particular it addresses the points raised by Tahir in his four comments on the earlier post. These points cover so many areas that it is best to deal with them in a separate post.

To start with, it is useful to separate the various strands in the comments and respond to them one at a time. For example, it would help to separate the political and the religious dimensions. There is little doubt that the US has exploited many countries including Pakistan. But this has very little to do with religion. (more…)

On Cooperation and Competition – 1

June 7, 2009

Question: Why are some people more inclined to cooperate while others are more inclined to compete?

Answer: It’s all in the socialization.

Let me explain how I arrived at this conclusion.

I went to Malaysia for the first time about fifteen years ago. I saw in every government office I entered placards on the walls with guidance from the Prime Minister – Be Nice or Be Honest or Make Malaysia Great, etc. What surprised me was the seriousness that public servants accorded such messages. (more…)