Kamran Brohi's Blog

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Cultural Policy of Pakistan and Broadcasting Media

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I have written a blog before on the Impact of Indian and other channels on Pakistani society, and the recent controversy concerning the vulgar behaviour and appearance of Pakistani film actress Veena Malik on an Indian Reality Show, demands more attention to this issue, which is badly  affecting our society and culture.

The general consensus which is found among the masses of Pakistan is of anger, shame and disappointment against this lady, who seems to be having no regrets of whatever she did over there. However, the reaction of the masses shows that we are still Pakistanis and no matter how much influence and impact Indian and other channels have on our society, we still feel from inside that we are Pakistanis and this (what is shown on Indian and other channels) is not truly our culture. Although one can argue that we have diverse cultures in our country but the reaction and condemnation of people shows that that they truly believe that it’s not our culture.

I don’t want to discuss or judge the actions of Veena Malik in Big Boss because whatever she did over there is due to the lack of certain rules and policies on Pakistani broadcasting media especially Film and TV industry. Whatever she did over there is quite common even in Pakistan Film and TV Industry.

There is no argument against the fact that the Indian culture and specially the culture, which is represented or shown on Indian channels is quite different from our own and even theirs. “The customs, culture and traditions of the people of a country are representative of the history, faith, language and environment of that country. Likewise, the cultural patterns of Pakistan speak of our rich cultural heritage and traditions. The culture of Pakistan seeks its influence from the cultures of India, Central Asia and the Middle East. Pakistani culture varies widely from Punjab and Sindh to Baluchistan and Khyber………” [1] It shows that although the culture of Pakistan has some Indian influence due to heritage but still there are a lot of differences when it comes to language, vulgarity and most of all the religion.

Just like any other country it’s the major responsibility of Ministry/ Department of Culture and Heritage to work according to the policy of its Government for the protection and promotion of its culture and heritage. Now let’s have a look at the list of the responsibilities of culture division of Ministry of Culture in Pakistan. “The main responsibility of this Division relates to the promotion of education in arts and culture including all matters pertaining to the privately sponsored dancing and cultural troupes going abroad on commercial basis; development of arts council, institutions and galleries; financial assistance to arts organizations, artists and journalists and their bereaved families; Pride of Performance Awards in the field of arts; preservation and conservation of national museums and historical monuments declared to be of national importance; cultural pacts and protocols with other countries and their implementation; development and control of film industry; administration of Censorship of Films Act, 1963; establishment of cultural centers.”[2]

In some advance countries like UK the Broadcasting industry is watched and controlled by the Ministry/Department of Culture according to the policy of its Government for the Culture and Heritage, as the social impacts of broadcasting industry are much faster and influential as compared to others in a society. The above excerpt from the website of Ministry of Culture Pakistan shows that the control of the Broadcasting industry in Pakistan is not the major responsibility of this ministry. As the two important factors relating to Broadcasting industry are on the bottom in the list of the responsibilities/priorities of this ministry, so there is not much attention being paid to them. The broadcasting industry in general is not the responsibility of Ministry of Culture in Pakistan which is very much necessary these days, especially when we have allowed the broadcast of so many Indian channels in Pakistan.

I was looking for the Cultural Policy of Pakistan and luckily I found its draft version on the website of its ministry. However, I also found that the last Cultural Policy of Pakistan was formulated in 1995. The revision started in 2005 and is still in progress, which is regrettable.  The ministry has invited comments and views from general public for the revision of this policy and I think they are not getting enough feedback on this important issue. Neither do I see any discussions and debates on the media on this serious issue, which is going to cause us a great deal of trouble, if left unattended like this.

I think we should all come forward and discuss and come up with suggestions for the promotion of our own culture and demotion of foreign and especially Indian culture in our own society.

  2. http://www.culture.gov.pk/

Written by Kamran Brohi

January 24, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Posted in Pakistan

The impact of Star Plus and other channels on Pakistani society.

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In my opinion it’s not the fault of Indian Channels or others. They can’t be blamed for what they are showing as they are merely commercial channels which don’t even represent the true Indian culture. They are in a kind of race to compete with each other. Even our local channels like Geo TV and KTN are showing vulgar and immoral dramas. No one else is going to do the hard work of monitoring what kind and how much television children watch. However, it’s the sole responsibility of the parents and secondly the Government to monitor them. The parents can monitor what their children are watching and the Government can monitor what our local and foreign channels are displaying by setting up a watch dog committee.

With an increasing number of TV channels and programs coming into our homes each day, it can be hard for parents to monitor what their children are watching. Many parents are concerned about their young children watching programs with content that’s more suitable for older children or adults. Even in countries like USA and UK parents are highly concerned about what their children are watching but they have mechanism and systems, through which they can control it.

Unfortunately in Pakistan, we don’t have systems like TV RATINGS (system to give parents more information about the content and age-appropriateness of TV programs) and THE V-CHIP AND PARENTAL CONTROLS (a device built into most television sets since 2000 — to allow parents to block out programs they don’t want their children to see. The V-Chip electronically reads television program ratings and allows parents to block programs they believe are unsuitable for their children. Parental control technology in cable and satellite set-top boxes can also be used with the TV Parental Guidelines to block programs based on their rating).

So I think instead of merely banning the channels we should introduce the systems like V-CHIP AND PARENTAL CONTROLS and TV RATINGS and should have a TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board in Pakistan. The board should comprise the experts from the television industry and public interest advocates. The Board should also review complaints about specific program ratings to help ensure accuracy.

What do you think about this report and how much do you agree with it? If you don’t then why? Please share your comments about this as its a very important discussion.

Senate committee calls for ban on Indian channels

“ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting today asked cable operators not to show Indian TV channels and dramas.

The committee met today in Islamabad with Senator Ghulam Ali in the chair. Member committee Senator Tariq Azeem said that he had twice adopted resolutions recommending ban on Indian television channels. However, the resolutions were not yet implemented.

The committee said there were approximately 1500 cable operators in the country. Every operator was paying only Rs200, 000 per annum but was earning million of rupees through advertisements.

The committee urged the government to take notice of the situation. Ali ruled that if the issue of ban on Indian channels was not solved through the committee then the matter be raised at the upper house.”

Source: The Daily News

Written by Kamran Brohi

March 20, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Posted in Pakistan

A formula for governance

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‘Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!’ — Sir Walter Scott

As Pakistanis we don’t seem to love our land or take pride in it. We don’t value or cherish it; not for us the motto ‘this land is my land; this land is your land’. Warts and all, this is the only piece of land we will ever get to call our own.

Ask the Palestinians what it means to have land you can call your own. Or the thousands of Asian immigrants who fled the tyranny in Idi Amin’s Uganda to settle in the west. Sixty-two years hence, we remain a lost generation, wandering like a lost tribe perusing a mirage, having watched our chieftains’ loot, pillage and plunder.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens questioned whether, ‘Pakistan is a country or merely a space’, contrasting it with Henry Kissinger’s quote on Iran ‘whether the Islamic Republic was a country or a cause’.

Stephens likened Pakistan to Somalia, which too, he claimed, is a space providing a sanctuary for pirates, destitution and Islamic jihadists. Before we become the subject of international and national debate on whether we are a ‘space’ or a ‘cause’, we need to extricate ourselves from this seditious swamp and address the conditions that create the physical and ideological chaos.

It does not take genius to prescribe the time-tested formula of good governance. Good governance means redressing the problems both social and economic. It means revising skewed budgets in favour of education, healthcare and social welfare. We have the very rich or the very miserable, and very little in between. An economic model that redresses the balance cannot be postponed.

Nobody has articulated the precepts of good governance better than Hazrat Ali (RA) in his historic treatise in the form of a letter to Malik Ashtar, governor of Egypt. It is worth paraphrasing selected portions from the letter:

‘Be it known to you, O Malik, that people speak well only of those who do good. It is they who furnish the proof of your actions. Hence the richest treasure you may covet must be the treasure of good deeds. Keep your desires under control and deny yourself that which you have been prohibited. Develop in your heart the feelings of love for your people and let it be the source of kindliness and blessing to them.’

‘Bear in mind that you are placed over them, even as I am placed over you. And then there is God even above him who has given you the position of a governor in order that you may look after those under you and to be sufficient unto them.’

‘Maintain justice in administration and impose it on your own self and seek the consent of the people, for the discontent of the masses sterilises the contentment of the privileged few and the discontent of the few loses itself in the contentment of the many.’

‘Remember, the privileged few will not rally around you in moments of difficulty: they will try to sidetrack justice, they will ask for more than what they deserve and will show no gratitude for favours done to them. They will feel restive in the face of trials and will offer no regret for their shortcomings. It is the common man who is the strength of the state and of religion. It is he who fights the enemy. So live in close contact with the masses and be mindful of their welfare.’

‘Do not take counsel of the one who is greedy, for he will instil greed in you and turn you into a tyrant. The worst of counsellors is he who has served as a counsellor to unjust rulers and shared their crimes. So never let men who have been companions of tyrants or shared their crimes be your counsellors.’

‘Keep near to you the upright and the God-fearing, and make clear to them that they are never to flatter you and never to give you credit for anything that you may not have done. For the tolerance of flattery and unhealthy praise stimulates pride in man and makes him arrogant.’

‘Do not treat the good and the bad alike. That will deter the good from doing good, and encourage the bad in their pursuits. Give credit where it is due.’

‘Select for your chief judge the one who is by far the best among the people, one who cannot be intimidated; one who does not turn back from the right path; one who is not self-centred and avaricious; one whom flattery cannot mislead or one who does not exult over his position.’

‘Never select men for responsible posts either out of any regard for personal connections or under any influence, for that will lead to injustice and corruption. Select for higher posts men of experience, firm in faith and belonging to good families. Such men will not fall an easy prey to temptations.’

‘Great care is to be exercised in revenue administration, to ensure the prosperity of those who pay the revenue to the state, for it is on their prosperity that the prosperity of others depends; particularly the prosperity of the masses. Indeed, the state exists on its revenue.’

‘You should regard the proper upkeep of the land in cultivation for revenue cannot be derived except by making the land productive. He who demands revenue without helping the cultivator to improve his land, inflicts unmerited hardships on the cultivator and ruins the state. The rule of such a person does not long last.’

‘Adopt useful schemes for those engaged in trade and industry and help them with wise counsels. Visit every part of the country and establish personal contact with this class, and inquire into their conditions. But bear in mind that a good many of them are intensely greedy. They hoard grain and try to sell it at a high price; and this is most harmful to the public.’

‘Beware! Fear God when dealing with the problems of the poor who have none to patronise, who are forlorn, indigent and helpless. Among them are some who do not question their lot in life and who, notwithstanding their misery, do not go about begging. For God’s sake, safeguard their rights.’

‘Meet the oppressed and the lowly periodically in open conferences, and be conscious of the divine presence there. Never for any length of time keep yourself aloof from the people. The ruler is after all human, and he cannot form a correct view of anything which is out of sight.’

‘It is imperative on you to study carefully the principles which have inspired just and good rulers who have gone before you’.

Need more be said?

Source: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/03-a-formula-for-governance-qs-02

By Tariq Islam
Monday, 24 Aug, 2009 | 10:11 AM PST |

Written by Kamran Brohi

August 25, 2009 at 4:58 am

Posted in Pakistan

The Madrasa Myth & how private schooling can save Pakistan’s next generation

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The authors argue that the importance of the private education sector in Pakistan is overshadowed by unsupported claims about madrasas and their role in terrorism. They have suggested that private schools are performing better in Pakistan and suggested that Rather than focusing on madrasas and public schools, the donor community should take note of a striking change in the Pakistani educational landscape: the emergence of mainstream and affordable private schools.

According to this study they conclude that although aid donors may want to help reform Pakistan’s religious and public schools, genuine reform will emerge from local debates and initiatives.

On May 3, the New York Times published a lengthy description of Pakistan’s education system. The article, like so many before it, rehearsed a well-known narrative in which government schools are failing while madrasas are multiplying, providing a modicum of education for Pakistan’s poorest children.

“The concentration of madrasas here in southern Punjab has become an urgent concern in the face of Pakistan’s expanding insurgency,” veteran Times reporter Sabrina Tavernise wrote. “The schools offer almost no instruction beyond the memorizing of the Koran, creating a widening pool of young minds that are sympathetic to militancy.”

The story coincided with a debate in the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee over a new aid package for Pakistan. The proposed legislation, among other initiatives, focuses upon eliminating madrasas with ties to terrorism and reforming the public school system, riven with teacher absenteeism and out-of-date pedagogy. Numerous charitable organizations and NGOs have also embraced this dual focus.

Unfortunately, this well-intentioned approach risks failure. First, contrary to the public hysteria about madrasas serving as “weapons of mass instruction,” in 2005, just 1.3 percent of children in Pakistan’s four main provinces attended madrasas. Most students attend public schools (nearly 65 percent), and the remainder attend nonreligious private schools (34 percent). Nor are madrasas the last resort of the poor. In fact, the socioeconomic profiles of madrasa and public school students are quite similar — except that madrasas have more rich students than public schools. Of the extremely small number of households enrolling at least one child full time in a madrasa, 75 percent use other types of schools to educate their other children.

Despite the tremendous importance of improving Pakistan’s public schools and madrasas, moreover, attempts to influence their structure and output have been largely ineffective. Pakistan itself is struggling to reform its public education system, debating the federal-local divide, voucher schemes, and merit pay.

Rather than focusing on madrasas and public schools, the donor community should take note of a striking change in the Pakistani educational landscape: the emergence of mainstream and affordable private schools.

Indeed, nonreligious private schools now enroll one third of Pakistani students, according to the 2005 education census. This sector is dramatically expanding. In 1983, there were roughly the same number of madrasas and private schools in the country — 2,563 madrasas and 2,770 private schools. By 2005, there were five times as many private schools. Moreover, the growth in private schools has increased since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, while madrasa growth has stayed relatively flat.

Data collected by the authors as a part of the largest-ever longitudinal study of education in Pakistan find that private schools are cost-effective and affordable. They keep costs low because they are “mom and pop”-managed, for-profit, independent schools, unsubsidized by the government and responsive to local demands for education.

Although education standards all over Pakistan are poor, private schools outperform government schools at all income levels. In three districts of rural Punjab where the project team tested more than 25,000 primary-grade students, private school children outperformed those attending government schools by a large margin. Moreover, data show that the same students learn more when they switch from public to private schools and learn less when they leave private schools for public schools.

Incredibly, this higher quality comes at a lower cost. Most private schools in Pakistan charge a monthly fee of less than a single day’s wage for an unskilled worker. And it costs less than half as much to educate a child in a private school as it does in a public school. For these reasons, private schools are expanding from urban and suburban areas into Pakistan’s countryside.
Why are these schools able to deliver affordable value? Private schools take advantage of an important untapped supply of labor by relying upon moderately educated young women from local neighborhoods who are willing to work for low pay. In fact, private schools are one of the largest sources of regular, salaried employment for Pakistan’s women. Private schools also boast lower teacher absenteeism than public schools, which minimizes wastage and increases time spent learning. They also use their compensation structures effectively to reward better teachers and punish those who don’t perform well.

Moreover, these private schools tend not to be affiliated with religious groups or movements. Private schools generally use a curriculum that is similar to that of government schools, but with a greater emphasis on teaching English. The vast majority of these private schools are coeducational at the primary level, compared with government schools, which are mainly single-sex.

Where the donor community can do most good is in developing and expanding Pakistan’s most dynamic education sector. Small-scale studies are already showing that innovative programs, aided by NGOs and the private sector, can make dramatic gains. A study we conducted showed that disseminating better information about school performance led to dramatic improvements in both public and private schools. With more transparency and information available, private school fees dropped, test scores at private and public schools climbed, and public school enrollment increased.

Pakistani parents, like parents everywhere, are pragmatic about education. Although aid donors may want to help reform Pakistan’s religious and public schools, genuine reform will emerge from local debates and initiatives, some of which are already underway. The risk is that future monies allocated to such purposes could be wasted or, at best, spent inefficiently. An aid program based on bold, persistent experimentation will help foster a true public-private partnership model that takes advantage of this low-cost private sector and improves the public sector in turn.

Unfortunately, the importance of the dynamic private education sector is overshadowed by unsupported claims about madrasas and their role in terrorism. Given that Pakistan’s population is ever more dominated by youths and given the urgent need to produce a skilled labor force to drive Pakistan’s future, the stakes for education reform could not be higher.

Andrabi, Das, and Khwaja’s research was funded by the Knowledge for Change program and the South Asia region at the World Bank. Detailed results are available at econ.worldbank.org and through http://www.leapsproject.org. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the World Bank, its executive directors, or the governments they represent. C. Christine Fair, whose work on madrasas was conducted when she was with the U.S. Institute of Peace, will join the faculty Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in August.

Tahir Andrabi is an economics professor at Pomona College; Jishnu Das is a World Bank senior economist; and Asim Ijaz Khwaja is associate professor of public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Source: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4958

Written by Kamran Brohi

August 5, 2009 at 8:17 am

Posted in Pakistan