Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A discussion on Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy

Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy. Source: tuftsgloballeadership.org

"The question is not whether I can bear MIT, the question is whether MIT bears me" - Noem Chomsky

Last night, I had an interesting discussion regarding the alleged dismissal of the MIT physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy from LUMS. 

The person with whom I was debating didn't consider Pervez Hoodbhoy to be an eminent academic!

I'm copying the discussion below:

Person X:
As far as Dr. Hoodbhoy is concerned, name one textbook he's written for public consumption. He has stuck his head in everything but education. And then he whines about why the society is giving in to extremism and is becoming intolerant.

How many textbook did Einstein or newton wrote? How many textbook did Jinnah wrote or Iqbal wrote?
A list of educational contribution of Mr. Hoodbhoy to his society:
>He is the founder of MASHAL publication company.. The company is publishing urdu translation of the finest books written on diverse topics including philosophy, history, and religion for more than 10 years... What more, all such books are free to download without any charge..
>He taught physics at Quaid-e-Azam university for more than 3 decades... It was during his period the world renowned Indian astronomer came to his university and stirred a love for physic never known in the history of the institute.
>Hoodbhoy is some of the only remaining voices of a liberal Pakistan.. A dream of a country where people could think rationally in an environment.. An environment for which intellectuals fly to Europe.. extremism is forcing Hindus to migrate . Sectarian killing on the rise.. Hoodbhoy voice singles out of all this mess.. The most daring thing to do in this land of pure..
>Hoodbhoy's Team developed the most comprehensive report on primary education not possibly developed in the entire history of this country.. The report was discussed across educationalist in Pakistan for weeks.. It statistically analyses educational status in every major district of Pakistan...
>In his field he is awarded the prestigious Joseph A. Burton award.. With numerous research paper published in the finest general around the world. Apart from this he has won numerous awards in his field..


Hoodbhoy greatest contribution is that he is a living dissent... "if he is fired from LUMS" this means that even the finest and only 'educational society' of Pakistan couldn't cater a single dissent.. If LUMS fails to this, then every institute opened on the name of giving education will fail to allow criticism to prevail..

"The question is not whether I can bear MIT, the question is whether MIT bears me" - Noem Chomsky.

And I can bet you know this person.. Don't take this criticism personal... I think we can respect each other even after disagreeing upon minor details.

Person X:
Since you have gone into that debate, please note the following:

1) A textbook can be any book - the moment its contents are used in a classroom as a defined course of study, it becomes a textbook. Also, Dr. Iqbal and Einstein were academics, their work is highly prized in relevant domains. Jinnah was a lawyer and politician. You're living in what he did. Dr. Hoodbhoy has nothing in common with the rest of the gentlemen in this group, as instead of compiling quality books on science, he wrote books that make great afternoon reading, but no academic value.
3) I do not endorse the standards on which universities are graded, however, I do judge people on their statements to bring social change and enlightenment. By going through education himself and not sharing this gift with others is in my dictionary, a heinous crime. In my opinion, it is like having access to air and not letting others breathe.
4) Mashal publications is not Dr. Hoodbhoy alone. I would commend his efforts, but to reach a level where these books could be understood, requires a good 10 years of fundamental studies. Education works only when administered from the grass-root. 
5) Since you haven't taught, you would have difficulty in wrapping your head around the concept of localizing education. That man spent twenty years teaching from textbooks written by others. Why?
6) The term 'liberal' is a misnomer in this society. Here, they are a dogmatic group of individuals who would demand freedom for themselves while consciously denouncing the same for others. Dr. Hoodbhoy's speeches dance around islamophobia, criticizing madressas while he conveniently overlooks the fact that the liberals themselves attend grammar schools and convents while the public has no access to quality basic education. These liberals are just an opposite end of the extremist spectrum.
7) What's with the misspellings? 
8) The point of his termination was his persistence to lecture on Science and Religion, as a subject. As far as beliefs go, I'm fairly tolerant of what people believe (or don't believe in). Imposing that on others, is an other story altogether.
9) My point simply is that Dr. Hoodbhoy loves to speak on all subjects and so called liberal crowds, doesn't make him an expert on everything. Agreed, that I perhaps can't compete on numbers with the books that he has read, but despite that, it says nothing on his expertise on my religion.
10) 'Discussed across educationist'? Lol! The personal jab aside, if his plan was worth the paper it was written on, he should have had faith (oh dear, the 'f' word) and he should have made model schools based on his idea. He didn't. Now whose fault is that.
Sue. I hope you feel the same way 

Bhai point yeh hai k Einstein k baad sab sey dana aur aqalmand aadmi 'Dr' Hoodbhoy hain. Thori timing ghalat hogayee, warna Sikandar e Azam un ki zahanat k bal per dunya fatah ker leyta!

Your last comment is a good satire. A satire can only be answered by a satire.. you can read a rebuttal to your satire on my blog: kumailcraft.blogspot.com
Now, let us come to serious discussion. It is really nice that you continued on with this debate Person X. 
Who made this country, and what this country was made for is a completely different topic. We can debate on this later. According to one of Pakistan's most eminent historian dr. Mubarak Ali (RUHR PhD), history is never dictated by the whims of a single individual, rather it is the dialectical process of history, process of internal class struggle, and material conditions of that time that defines the process of history. The process of creating halos dates back to prehistoric time, and states still use "hero creation" as a process of controlling thought.

A point to point criticism:

1) A guess you are simple confused on what a textbook is. According to Meriam-Webster, a textbook is a book that contains 'a presentation of the principles of a subject'. Iqbal's poetry is good, may be it revitalizes your soul (It doesn't vitalizes me!, but you can't call it a textbook according to the basic definition of textbook. Rather, it speaks on everything under the sun!

Einstein wrote a small script on his relativity theory, now penguin classic publishes it as a part of literature without equations! You can't call it a textbook either... Likewise, Hoodbhoy also wrote 3 books, one of his famous book on orthodoxy and science (translated into 6 languages) discusses the relationship between Science and Religion. So - explicitly speaking - on the basis of text book written, all these men are equal! You can can't single out anyone by the yardstick you yourself use. Hence, we can deduce that your yardstick of 'number of textbook' is very weak measure.

2) You are making the infamous argumentative fallacy that is mostly made by religious clerics during sermons. This is known as "straw man fallacy".. Rather than answering my fundamental premise, you started of with a new premise, which is weaker than mine. Afterwards, you punch down the straw man (i.e. your self-created premise), rather than answering the fundamental argument we are debating upon. 
If we go on with your logic, criticism will cease to exist, because man has associations with millions things. Socrates beautifully sums this up.. "To escape criticism, say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing". Criticism will continue till the day people are thinking.. A society is an oligarchy if it stands upon the pillar of "respecting institutional hegemony and establishing formal structure." We need to criticise such structures rather than "respecting them".. 
Conversely, I don't know what you precisely mean by respecting something? The meaning is subjective, and therefore differs from individual to individual.

3) "By going through education himself and not sharing this gift with others is in my dictionary, a heinous crime. In my opinion, it is like having access to air and not letting others breathe."... 

Oh My God! Did you really wrote this sentence in a state of complete consciousness, He gave his whole live to teach physics in Pakistan - more than 3 decades! He left offers from international universities and chose to teach in Pakistan. He is an MIT alumina, and the civilized world considers physics as it's crown. On the other hand, I have seen teachers across my educational life who have "switched" their profession and country just to make a little more money. Who is doing a "heinous crime", Hoodbhoy or such people. With all due respect, this is the most amazingly ridiculous logic yet.

4) Of course, MASHAL publication isn't Hoodbhoy alone. One man can’t runs a whole translation house. Sir Syed was not alone when he created a translation house at Ghazipur.. He had people far more eminent than himself in the translation house, e.g. Syed Ameer Ali. The point to not is, MASHAL is the only Urdu publication company in Pakistan doing a work at par with Sir Syed work. 

Moreover, MASHAL goes one more step forward by putting all such books online for free!! Can you show me another publication house in Pakistan that officially does this? MASHAL is a tremendous asset for people who think and discuss. Its value can only be measured if you meet such people. 

"Education works only when administered from the grass-root." Totally agreed! Hoodbhoy has taught for few years in a poor government school (source: eik din Geo kay saath with Hoodbhoy). 

Don't except a man to become an Ubermann.. You cannot expect Hoodbhoy to do everything wrong here. Unfortunately, nothing properly functions correctly in this land of Pure.

5) I have already criticised your yardstick of number of textbooks in point number 1. 

Secondly, saying that I haven't taught in a university, and hence I can't speak on this topic is another argumentative fallacy called "argumentum ad hominiuem" (don't remember the spelling!!). This point has nothing to do with our fundamental premise; rather it goes on to explicate the importance of writing textbooks - something that as already been debunked.

6) Libreal extremist itself is an oxymoron developed by religious pundits. Liberalism means to 1) Respect the law 2) Consider everyone equal 3) Freedom of Speech and 4) Protection of Human right. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Pakistan is doing has done an excellent job on explaining liberalism without all those philosophical jargons. 

As I said in my first comment, Hoodbhoy is a living dissent who require utmost respect. If institutes like LUMS can’t respect him, the future for rational thinking looks oblique.. (You have read my first comment.. naqal daleel, daleel na bashad!)

7) I’m extremely poor on typing on my mobile phone... I always make misspellings while typing on my mobile keypad

8) As I mentioned earlier, his book on science and religion is translated into 6 languages. If he doesn't know about this field then why was his book translated around the world? European Univeristiesare the citadel of empirical rational analysis. They throw out rubbish on the first sight, because stupid logic only pollutes minds and ceases the process of creativity. He qualifies to teach science and religion, precisely because he know the whole subject matter. 

Additionally, Hoodbhoy is not going to teach theology, so your personal faith remains save

9) Restructuring only happens when you have raw data about the societal conditions. This is the reason reports are made. Now if you are laughing upon "Educationalists discussing this report", please tell me who should assess this report? I guess, your "LOL" is only upon you own logic.

1 comment:

  1. Your writing is, frankly, atrocious. I suggest you learn basic grammar and syntax before you start a blog, bro.