Archive for the ‘Social issues’ Category

It is that time of the year again!

The blooming flowers announce an end to the winter season and the city is coloured in reds, yellows and all the hues in the rainbow. Spring is here, though rather hotter than yester years this time around, yet casting a joyous mood in the air. Spring, for many, is the celebratory season. The flowers and greenery all lights up our world. Still, for an almost equal number of citizens, the season brings with it misery. The arrival of spring brings with it the dreaded allergies, the biggest culprit being the paper mulberry trees.

While many welcome the season by making sure their gardens are masterpieces, full of the most wonderful flowers and plants, others have completely different preparations to make. Out come the anti-histamines, face masks and inhalers. For many whose allergies reach very serious levels, it is a time to pack up and leave. They would spend these two months in some other part of the country, and return home when they no longer run the risk of getting killed by their own city. A few casualties occur every year, even with all the steps taken to avoid the deaths. For all its beauty and colour, spring turns the capital city into a killer.

Every year we hear about the efforts being made to cut down the dreaded paper mulberry trees and replace them with new ones. So far, not much headway has been made. The number of patients is on the increase with each passing year. A dangerous trend, that is making at least a few sufferers think about packing up and leaving for good.

There are special medical camps during the season to provide awareness and medicines. Most hospitals take good measures to ensure that they have the adequate training and drugs to treat a patient in an emergency, at all times. Yet substantive steps need to be taken to eradicate the problem. There is a need to control and gradually remove the cause. While we all know that the paper mulberry trees in our city are in huge numbers, and cutting them all would be counter-productive to the environment. Yet we have to think about the misery and pain that patients of allergies experience due to them. The CDA needs to work out a plan where other rapidly-growing trees can replace the paper mulberry ones. And apart from the planning, do something about it too. Action needs to be taken quickly and effectively, so that the next spring may be a bit better in this regard. Or the one in the year after that. The point is, with such a huge portion of the population suffering from this menace, immediate action should be taken.

Where not much has been done up till now, maybe now is the perfect time to kick start work on this front. There wouldn’t be a more appropriate time. The yearly epidemic of sneezing, itchy eyes, hay fever, cough and asthma is all back to hit the town. The question is: will somebody do something concrete about it this time?

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Our students need help

There is no denying that a school is the center of all learning for a child. Leaving home at the age of four, and entering a world of knowledge, a child picks up almost all traits of his/her personality within the boundaries of school. Where the books open up a sea of knowledge and interesting discoveries, the playground teaches a thing or two about surviving in the outside world.

The years pass and a bewildered child who had taken the first steps out of his home and into the school, is now ready to move on into the real world. School is finished and a college degree awaits most. While a few lucky ones might possess a clear vision about where they’re headed in life, the rest are clueless. So the trend picks up, with everybody jumping onto the bandwagon driven by their predecessors. The simplest choices tend to be the profession of medicine and engineering, with business administration not lurking too far behind. So basically, every year we have a huge number of students vying for slots in the most well-known medical and engineering colleges of the country. Obviously only a few make the cut and the rest either waste a year to try again the next, or settle down for some other degree which was never their first choice. Throughout this race, not many take a moment to contemplate on what is their own choice regarding the matter of higher studies. As I said before, only a few lucky ones are clear about where they’re headed in their future. The rest need a helping hand, or at least some sort of support which can help them in shaping their future. A child, sixteen-years old can hardly make a decision what career he wants. He needs to be able to talk to someone professional enough, who would help him decide on the adequate career path, in accordance with the talents of the child in question. This lays down the foundation for having a career counsellor in all schools and colleges. And a counsellor who would be open-minded about all career paths, helping the students find their own strengths and talents. If this happens, we would certainly be having a lesser number of confused youngsters, who at first are unable to decide what to study in college, and then find after entering university that this was not what they wanted. By then though, it is too late. Although many change paths once again after acquiring the degree, most call it the finishing line.

I would go so far as to say that it is an absolute necessity to have a career counsellor in all schools. Where society and family does not encourage a wide variety of professions, the students of our country need someone professional to guide them on the right path. While our country may need more doctors, engineers and businessmen, we also require more accountants, public workers, writers, fashion designers, sportsmen, teachers and artists. A society needs to be vibrant, with colours added from all facets of life. Let us give acknowledgment to all professions, and help our students make progress in the field that their minds yearn for. Help the students discover their talents, and make the country thrive in all spheres of life.

Presumed innocent…

A 12-year old boy, along with his friends, abducted and then raped an 8-year old girl. This bit of news originated from Sheikhupura yesterday. We see tales of rape cases everyday on our television sets. Gang-rapes on orders of panchayats, doctors raping nurses, teachers raping students, some just plain old cases of kidnapping and rape. It is a four-letter word that has lost its meaning by being in the news so frequently. A few would contradict me, but I tell the truth here and nothing else. If its meaning had not been lost, then these cases would not go unnoticed as just another piece of news. We would not simply utter a “tsk, tsk” at the sight of the grieving girl and her parents, and the next minute proceed to change the channel. Our reaction would be quite different, if the despicable nature of the word’s meaning was not lost on us.
What makes this case from Sheikhupura different from others is this: Can I look at a 12-year boy from now on and presume him to be just an innocent kid? The perpetrator of the heinous crime this time was not a grown man. He is a child, a sixth-grade student, who has admitted to committing this sin. Standing behind bars and asking for forgiveness, what would you say to him? This is what our society has come to! We should no longer just expect a 12-year boy to be ‘the innocent kid who is still ignorant of societal sins”. He could always snatch up an 8-year old and wreak havoc with her life.
I do not intend to generalise this seemingly isolated incident. It was just one 12-year old who faltered, you would say. The thing that is troubling me is that the mind of a 12-year old could sink to these depths in our society, that is what is alarming.

Preach the goodness, ‘Maulana Sahib’!

I live today in a land, split up into two, in all manners of speaking and acting. The line dividing the two is getting stronger by the day, as differences in beliefs, ideologies, opinions and sentiments, gain momentum by the hour. Yet, the strongest currents causing the tide of differences to mount, is the take on human life. The value of human life, is seemingly not worth a penny to these hate-mongers littering our streets. The rift will only grow from here. There is no way back for either side. One upholds the sanctity of human life. While the other is hell-bent upon destroying all humanity. At this point, one has to wonder. Which religion would entice such hatred? Which God would instruct to kill? And we all come to the straight-forward answer. Why would the Creator teach to destroy! Yet, out comes a brand of the religion that makes you want to question your own beliefs. Preaching on appearances alone, with the swirling beards, shalwars above the ankles, and a glowing sense of greatness that they are the ultimate finality on religious issues. Preaching their own brand of the religion, hand-picking only those dictates that serve their purpose, they are brain-washing the vast majority. Rather, have been doing so for the past many years now!

So, how do we clean up that mess? More pertinent is how do we even start? Where do we start? Charity begins at home, and that is where we all need to begin. Put yourself in the witness stand and be your own judge. We all are guilty, since none of us thought to take action when it was due. We failed to truly comprehend the gravity of the situation. As a result, we have left our religion in the hands of those who only know hatred and violence. So, contemplate today and ask yourself the questions that you have buried away in some faraway corners of your minds. Create an understanding yourself, and jump off the bandwagon dragging you to destruction. Stop following blindly the proclaimed-custodians of faith. Take a moment. A moment is all you need. Does Allah want you to love or hate? Would He condone violence? Are His creations of no value that we can kill them in the name of our faith? Does causing death and destruction in His name, not violate His magnificence? Does the Quran instruct Muslims to wage jihad only? And that too, only one kind of jihad that justifies our violent ideas? Why not turn our attention to all the other Quranic teachings that have been sidelined very expertly! Let us talk about the things we have forgotten our religion stands for. Talk about peace and co-existence, honesty and justice, brotherhood and forgiveness, humility and tolerance, kindness and compassion, sharing and caring. Let us talk about Muslims being human again, instead of the violent and destructive race we are depicting ourselves to be. Wake up, and smell the threat! Too much damage has been caused already. Let the next sermon be about tolerance rather than irrational hatred. Breed a culture of humanity, not of destruction. Instil the true aspect of Islam, not the violated one. If we ever hope to salvage the ‘real Islam’, openly condemn and denounce the ‘mullah-Islam’. It has gotten us nowhere. There is still time. Preach the goodness, ‘Maulana Sahib’!

Going to school…

Just a few minutes ago, I came across this story about a 25-year-old mother of two, who has enrolled in school last December. In the present times, when everything that makes news in my country is painful to say the least, this bit of news is sure to make all smile. We read and hear about the Pakistani society of today, tales of non-tolerance, injustices, gender disparities, class differences, and what not! Yet, a story emerges, bringing a hopeful and positive message. Rukhsana, the woman making the news, says she was denied an education by her parents when she was little. This again makes a case for the narrow mindset of our society, one that denies basic rights to girls, but that is another discussion for another day. Today we only read about Rukhsana’s story, and take the positives out of it.

Here is an adult woman, married and with children, who has taken a pretty bold step. Just goes to show, there is no shame in wanting an education whatever your age. The husband is quite a good fellow for not discouraging her. I say this, because in our society, men do seem to be holding onto a leash of narrow mentality. We witness cases all around us where young college-going girls are married off and then never get a chance to complete their degrees. In this tale, Rukhsana lays down an example for all of us. Wanting and getting an education, at any age, is the right thing to do. Anyone who tells you otherwise, is only making up blind lies!