Education, Ghalib / 30.07.2008

In our collaborative blogoshpere project with Mehr-e-Niimroz on Ghalib, we have selected the following she’r this week: baske dushvaar hai har kaam ka aasaaN hona aadmii ko bhii muyassar nahiiN insaaN hona 1a) it's difficult to such an extent for every task to be easy 1b) although it's difficult for every task to be easy 2) even/also for a descendant of Adam, it's not attainable/attained/easy to become human/humane The detailed interpretation is presented on Mehr-e-Niimroz. The straightforward meaning is that just as it is difficult for every task to be easy, it is difficult for a descendant of Adam to reach the status of a human being. Let us first address the gender issue raised in the commentary pertaining to the interpretation of aadmi as man. Phyllis Trible, a Professor of Scared Literature, became prominent in the 1970s for her analyses of the stories of the Creation. In Trible’s view it...

Education, Fundamentalism, Ghalib, Politics, Religion / 19.07.2008

Today if you tell me some things are fated I would be inclined to believe you. The last three posts just sort of happened – there was no grand design involved, just the order in which we happened to chance upon things. There was a BBC story on syncretic communities under threat and that led to Hindu-Muslim or Muslim-Hindu? Then there was a column on the usefulness of Milton by Stanley Fish that led to Milton and Ghalib. And finally, an essay by Mark Lilla that a reader had sent last year popped out of a randomly opened file and led to The Politics of God. In retrospect, you can see the threads that link. The threat to syncretic communities could be attributed to the politics of God (as some readers have already done in their comments) and one could use Milton or Ghalib to think about...

Education / 15.07.2008

It should be obvious by now that one of our objectives at The South Asian Idea is to encourage engagement with ideas. If we do not learn to look at different sides of an issue and debate the merits of alternative positions we would be contributing to the rise of intolerance and jeopardizing the future that has begun to look promising, at least for some, in economic terms. It is in this context that we were delighted to chance upon a column by Professor Stanley Fish in which he discusses how Milton is used in the West to foster critical thinking. More than anyone else, Milton captures the disjunction between the way things are and the way they should be. It’s the combination of amazing poetry and an insistence on principle. Rather than being employed for its own sake, the poetry is always in the service of...