Miscellaneous / 18.11.2020

By Sakuntala Narasimhan For Sakuntala Narasimhan’s generation born before Independence, Lahore and Karachi were part of India. With Partition seven decades ago, new geo-political borders were put in place, but there are thousands of families that have close relatives on both sides of the border. The people-to-people equations between Indians and Pakistanis are nothing but friendly, as she discovered on each of her three visits “My aunt lives in India,” says a Pakistani friend, while another friend, living in Karachi, says her mother is from a royal princely family of central India, and she has cousins living in India. And so it goes -- one brother choosing to settle in Pakistan after Partition, while another preferred to stay back in their ancestral village in Haryana or Uttar Pradesh. Examples abound.  The young waiter at the hotel in Islamabad where I stayed, sidled up to me shyly and looking...

Development / 09.11.2020

By Anjum Altaf https://www.facebook.com/IrtiqaInstitute/videos/1008098353025976 The global economy has been brought to a halt by the lockdowns necessitated by the spread of the COVID pandemic. Governments have pledged billions of dollars to reopen and restore their economies. The big question facing progressive activists is whether they wish a return to the economy as it existed before the pandemic. This would be a contradiction because progressives have all along been critiquing the neoliberal economic structure for its many flaws. The pandemic has also laid bare its grievous unjustness and inequalities most dramatically by the plight of the migrant workers in India. Do we wish to return to an economy where workers would be treated exactly as before?  The pandemic provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reform the economic structure in favour of labour. This could be via changes in the process of production or through enhanced welfare arrangements.  In order to leverage this...

Reflections / 10.05.2019

This collection of poems was published in hardback by Aakar Books, Delhi in 2019 with strong endorsement from Professor Harbans Mukhia, Professor Emeritus of History, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. December 23, 2018 · Some superb poetry of protest by Anjum Altaf who identifies himself as a South Asian living in Lahore. Poems inspired by Faiz Ahmad Faiz. Anjum Altaf was Professor of Sociology in Lahore and Karachi. First published in India by LG Publishers, a subsidiary of Aakar Books, Delhi. January 15, 2019 ·      A great poem inspired by Faiz Ahmad Faiz and triggered by "attacks on JNU students and faculty in 2016 and dedicated to them" by Anjum Altaf, Professor of Sociology and "A South Asian residing in Lahore." From his collection Transgressions, published by Aakar Books, Delhi, 2019. The collection is now available online from North America, India, and Pakistan. North America: https://www.amazon.com/Transgression-Poems-Ins…/…/938372336X India: https://www.ibpbooks.com/transgressions-poems-inspired-by-faiz-ahmed-faiz/p/37995 https://www.amazon.in/TRANSGRESSIONS-Poems-Ins…/…/938372336X Pakistan: https://www.libertybooks.com/TRANSGRESSIONS-Poems-Inspired-by-Faiz-Ahmed-Faiz Feedback and comments would be very welcome. Back...

Development / 20.03.2017

By Anjum Altaf Is there a fruitful line of inquiry regarding the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)? That depends on the questions with which one initiates the inquiry. Would CPEC be a game-changer for Pakistan? This drawing-room question is particularly useless to begin with. With so much uncertainty and so many variables beyond human control no one except a clairvoyant can predict with any confidence. It is just as pointless, if not actually silly, to take sides. Enough hard information is not available for one side to convince the other on the basis of analysis - believers will continue to believe and doubters will continue to doubt for reasons having little to do with the intricacies of the initiative. The following questions pertaining to details of the deal are more useful: Under what conditions are the various components of the initiative being negotiated? What are the financial...

Education / 09.11.2014

By Anjum Altaf In September I was in the US for a month for a series of lectures and presentations. Three of them were recorded and are available for public viewing. I am linking them here for those who might be interested in any of the topics which are very varied. Most of the talks are on YouTube so a proxy would be needed for viewing them in Pakistan because of the continuing ban on YouTube. I am presuming readers are technologically adept enough to navigate their way to a solution. University of Michigan, Center for South Asian Studies April 5, 2013 POVERTY AS A HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERN http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrmP5B5b_tY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v= University of California at Berkeley, Institute for South Asia Studies September 8, 2014 HOW TO (REALLY) FIX PAKISTAN’S EDUCATION SYSTEM https://vimeo.com/113697262 Cornell University, College of Art, Architecture and Planning September 16, 2014 PERSPECTIVES ON SMALL CITIES IN PAKISTAN https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7ZB_Lc1361BRjF5dTBFVUNaX28/view?usp=sharing (More easily viewed here in two parts): Part 1 - https://vimeo.com/113369496 Part 2 -...