In the context of the Cairo speech, I had asked the question whether President Obama ‘got’ his audience right. The question was prompted by a conviction that speakers of different languages had subtle differences in how they saw and understood the world.
It is quite a coincidence that just a week later I found a fascinating study that has empirically tested this hypothesis.
Here are some (unconnected) excerpts from the article describing the study:
Do the languages we speak shape the way we see the world, the way we think, and the way we live our lives? Do people who speak different languages think differently simply because they speak different languages?
In earlier posts we have highlighted what we feel many schools in South Asia are doing (inculcating hatred) that is harmful to the social psyche of children. We have also discussed what we feel enough schools are not doing (proactively teaching tolerance) that would be beneficial for the social health of South Asian countries.
In this post we look at education from a different perspective and raise two questions that ought to occupy centre-stage in the debate over the public school curriculum: What are the rights of a child? And, how are these rights to be ensured?
There is much room for disagreement on the first, which should lead to a vigorous debate. This would be interesting, given that ‘rights’ cover the entire spectrum from the simple to the complex and from the obvious to the controversial.
The last post in this series had highlighted the emergence of religious fundamentalism in Pakistan and religious nationalism in India. I took the position that there was near consensus on the cause of the phenomenon in Pakistan while it was much more difficult to provide a convincing explanation in the case of India. The plan was to make an attempt at an explanation in this post.
Comments from Vinod have altered the plan and forced a step back. There is a legacy of communal prejudice that needs an explanation in its own right before we can move on to more recent phenomena. So this post will engage with the question posed by Vinod: Where does this prejudice come from?
Two books have come out within a year pointing to a serious problem common to India and Pakistan.
Before describing the books let us note that we are now talking about what is common between India and Pakistan. This makes a lot more sense than debating whether Indians and Pakistanis are similar. Indians and Pakistanis have so many differences within their own communities that it is futile to try and reduce them to a single dimension that can then be compared. To take a very simple illustration: there are secular Indians and communal Indians just as there are secular Pakistanis and communal Pakistanis. There is no one type of Indian or Pakistani.