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Contributors

 

We are a group of individuals with an interest in South Asia. We wish to explore the past to explain the present and to speculate about the futures that are possible. Only one future will become the past and it will depend on what we do in the present.

Dr. Anjum Altaf

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Dr. Anjum Altaf was dean of the school of humanities and social sciences at LUMS. He is the author of Transgressions: Poems Inspired by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Delhi, 2019.

Dr. Samia Altaf

Samia Altaf was the 2007-2008 Pakistan Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. She has worked for UNICEF, USAID, the District of Columbia’s Department of Health and taught at the Aga Khan Medical University in Karachi, Pakistan. Her book So Much Aid, So Little Development: Stories from Pakistan has been published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in May 2011.

Kabir Altaf

Kabir Altaf graduated magna cum laude from George Washington University with a major in Dramatic Literature and a minor in Music. He is currently completing a MA in Ethnomusicology at SOAS in London.

South Asian

South Asian is the quintessential South Asian.

In the words of Bulleh Shah (1680-1758):

Na mein Arbi, na Lahori
Na mein Hindi shehar Nagauri
Na Hindua, na Turk Pishauri
Na mein rehnda vich Nadaun
Bullehya, ki jaanan mein kaun

The South Asian Idea

 

Objective : Understand, Explain, Predict & Connect South Asia

 

Audience :  College Students in South Asia

 

Method:     Conversations on Topics of Interest

 

Style:         Learning through Questioning

 

Themes: Development, Governance, Modernity, Religion, Education

 

Contact:    thesouthasianidea@gmail.com

The South Asian Idea is an interactive learning resource for self-motivated college students who wish to improve their understanding of the world we live in. It is also a resource for social science or liberal arts college teachers who are looking for additional teaching material.

 

The premise of The South Asian Idea is that critical thinking is vital for the full development of the human intellect. Critical thinking is learnt in schools and colleges through exposure to the social sciences and the liberal arts where questions do not have a single correct answer. Rather, there are often many plausible answers none of which are entirely right or wrong. However, some answers are more robust than others and arriving at them requires open-minded debate, tolerance for divergent perspectives, and the art of persuasive argumentation.

 

Unfortunately, in the competitive market for jobs characterizing the information age, students are ignoring the social sciences and the liberal arts considering them a waste of time. At the same time, the spirit of open inquiry has been dampened in educational institutions. Students in South Asia also advance at a relatively early age into professional colleges where there are few rigorous non-technical core course requirements.

 

As a result, critical thinking and open-mindedness have suffered steep erosion in South Asia. This has been a major contributing factor to the rise of social and religious intolerance in the region. This intolerance is the cancer that has the potential to destroy our society.

 

The South Asian Idea has been designed to address this issue. It is impossible to reverse the decline in the vast majority of educational institutions using traditional approaches. A web-based, interactive medium has the potential of very wide reach. The use of well-researched but student-friendly contextual material facilitates the inquiry-based learning process through moderated conversations across national borders.

 

The South Asian Idea is still an experiment  seeking the right mix of content, format, and complexity. The next steps involve transferring the contents to local language websites, identifying a set of teachers in South Asia as partners, equipping them to fully realize the benefits of the technology, and facilitating their interaction to learn from each other.

 

We would welcome your participation and guidance in this initiative. Your comments would be welcome at thesouthasianidea@gmail.com.

 

Note: 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.