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Only Ghalib could pack so much meaning in a mere ten words: saltanat dast bah dast aaii hai jam-e mai khaatim-e Jamshed nahiiN the kingship has come from hand to hand the glass of wine; the seal of Jamshed is not Even the well-known Ghalib scholars have pondered over the...

This week’s verse requires us to remind readers that on The South Asian Idea we do not aim to provide an interpretation of the selected she’r. Rather, we use it as a point of departure to discuss the contemporary relevance of issues suggested by the...

Last week we left off with the comment that Ghalib did not have a high opinion of people who thought they would go to heaven. Here is the she’r we had in mind: kam nahiiN jalvah-garii meN tire kuuche se bihisht yihii naqshah hai vale is qadar...

By Anjum Altaf  This essay was written after the last Asian Games in December 2006. When it was first submitted for publication the editors returned it as too pessimistic. Pakistan was at the time in its ‘enlightened’ phase and clocking high rates of economic growth –...

This week we use a popular she’r by Ghalib to explore some ideas about paradise: ham ko ma’luum hai jannat kii haqiiqat lekin dil ke khush rakhne ko Ghalib yih khayaal achchhaa hai we know the reality of Paradise, but to keep the heart happy, Ghalib, this idea is...

Four men top the list of India’s least favorite British colonialists: Robert Clive, for the decisive victory at the Battle of Plassey (1757) that established Company Rule in India; Thomas Macaulay, for the infamous Minute on Indian Education (1835) that aimed to create a class...

Religion was supposed to fade away in the 1960s and yet religion, radical religion, is all around us now. The fading away of religion did not take us to a more humane society and the return of religion does not seem to be doing any...

I met a person the other day; he had educated his servant’s daughter who was now a physician in Los Angeles. “If everyone did that,” he said, “we could take care of the problems of illiteracy and poverty in our country.” Right or wrong? Let us see...