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Back from the enemy country

Updated Jan 23, 2016 11:16pm


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The writer teaches physics and mathematics in Lahore and Islamabad.
The writer teaches physics and mathematics in Lahore and Islamabad.

RARELY are Pakistanis allowed to cross their eastern border. We are told that’s so because on the other side is the enemy. Visa restrictions ensure that only the slightest trickle of people flows in either direction. Hence ordinary academics like me rarely get to interact with their Indian counterparts. But an invitation to speak at the Hyderabad Literary Festival, and the fortuitous grant of a four-city non-police reporting visa, led to my 11-day 12-lecture marathon at Indian universities, colleges, and various public places. This unusual situation leads me here to share sundry observations.

At first blush, it seemed I hadn’t travelled far at all. My first public colloquium was delivered in Urdu at the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) in Hyderabad. With most females in burqa, and most young men bearing beards, MANUU is more conservative in appearance than any Urdu university (there are several) on the Pakistani side.

Established in 1998, it seeks to “promote and develop the Urdu language and to impart education and training in vocational and technical subjects”. Relative to its Pakistani counterparts, it is better endowed in terms of land, infrastructure and resources.

But there’s a still bigger difference: this university’s students are largely graduates of Indian madressahs while almost all university students in Pakistan come from secular schools. Thus, MANUU’s development of video “bridge courses” in Urdu must be considered as a significant effort to teach English and certain marketable skills to those with only religious training. I am not aware of any comparable programme in Pakistan. Shouldn’t we over here be asking how the surging output of Pakistani madressahs is to be handled? Why have we abandoned efforts to help those for whom secular schooling was never a choice?

The face of modern India is visible at the various Indian Institutes of Technology.

To my embarrassment, I was unable to fulfil my host’s request to recommend good introductory textbooks in Urdu from Pakistan. But how could I? Such books don’t exist and probably never will. Although I give science lectures as often in Urdu as English, the books I use are only in English. Somehow Pakistan never summoned the necessary vigour for transplanting modern ideas into Urdu. The impetus for this has been lost forever. Urdu, as the language of Islam in undivided India, once had enormous political significance. Education in Urdu was demanded by the Muslim League as a reason for wanting Pakistan!

A little down the road lies a different world. At the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) the best and brightest of India’s young, selected after cut-throat competition, are engaged in a furious race to the top. IIIT-H boasts that its fresh graduates have recently been snapped up with fantastic Rs1.5 crore (Indian) salaries by corporate entities such as Google and Facebook.

This face of modern India is equally visible at the various Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), whose numbers have exploded from four to 18. They are the showpieces of Indian higher education. I spoke at three — Bombay, Gandhinagar, and Delhi — and was not disappointed. But some Indian academics feel otherwise.

Engineering education at the IITs, says Prof Raghubir Sahran of IIT-GN, has remained “mainly mimetic of foreign models (like MIT) and captive to the demands of the market and corporate agendas”. My physicist friend, Prof Deshdeep Sahdev, agrees. He left IIT-K to start his own company that now competes with Hewlett Packard in making tunnelling electron microscopes and says IIT students are strongly drill-oriented, not innovative.

Still, even if the IITs are not top class, they are certainly good. Why has Pakistan failed in making its own version of the IITs? One essential condition is openness to the world of ideas. This mandates the physical presence of foreign visitors.

Indeed, on Indian campuses one sees a large number of foreigners — American, European, Japanese, and Chinese.

They come for short visits as well as long stays, enriching universities and research centres.

Not so in Pakistan where foreigners are a rarity, to be regarded with suspicion. For example, at the National Centre for Physics, which is nominally a part of Quaid-i-Azam University but is actually ‘owned’ by the Strategic Plans Division (the custodian of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons), academic visitors are so tightly restricted that they seek to flee their jails soon after arrival.

Those who came from Canada, Turkey and Iran to a recent conference at the NCP protested in writing and privately told us that they would never want to come back.

Tensions between secular and religious forces appear high in Modi’s India. Although an outsider cannot accurately judge the extent, I saw sparks fly when Nayantara Sahgal, the celebrated novelist who was the first of 35 Indian intellectuals to hand back their government awards, shared the stage with the governor of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. After she spoke on the threats to writers, the murder of three Indian rationalists, and the lynching of a Muslim man falsely accused of possessing beef, the enraged governor threw aside his prepared speech and excoriated her for siding with terrorists.

Hindutva ideology has put the ‘scientific temper’ of Nehruvian times under visible stress. My presentations on science and rationality sometimes resulted in a number of polite, but obviously unfriendly, comments from the audience.

Legitimate cultural pride over path-breaking achievements of ancient Hindu scholars is being seamlessly mixed with pseudoscience. Shockingly, an invited paper at the recent Indian Science Congress claimed that Lord Shiva was the world’s greatest environmentalist. Another delegate blew on a ‘conch’ shell for a full two minutes because it would exercise the rectal muscles of Congress delegates!

Pakistan and India may be moving along divergent paths of development but their commonalities are becoming more accentuated as well. Engaging with the other is vital — and certainly possible.

Although I sometimes took unpopular political positions at no point did I, as a Pakistani, experience hostility. The mature response of both governments to the Pathankot attack gives hope that Pakistan and India might yet learn to live with each other as normal neighbours. This in spite of the awful reality that terrorism is here to stay.

The writer teaches physics and mathematics in Lahore and Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2016

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (169) Closed

someone Jan 23, 2016 01:12am

Dear Prof. Hoodbhoy, In case you experienced any inconvenience in India during your visit, I as an Indian would apologies. I hope you have many more visits to India to enrich the Indian audience and students with your lectures.

sms Jan 23, 2016 01:25am

Interesting -- though I fail to understand how my blowing a conch will exercise someone else's muscles - and only if he was from an another political party. Did the blow-hard explain?

desidude Jan 23, 2016 01:54am

I have always enjoyed Prof Hoodbhoy's columns, and I am glad his visit to India went well. I hope there are a lot more of these kinds of exchange of ideas. I also share his dismay at the growing Hindutvization of science.

Satyam Vada Jan 23, 2016 02:00am

Indian education system at every level does lack in imparting skills needed for innovation and leadership though it has many strengths. One main reason I wanted my kids to get educated in USA. I agree when you say legitimate cultural pride is getting mixed with pseudo science. Hopefully somebody will put some sense into them soon. India has great potential and is bound reach it if these over enthusiasts realize all that has been told in ancient texts doesn't have to be correct for us to feel proud and probably it is some facts mixed with a lot of imagination. nothing wrong if they look for missed facts but please look for them in a scientific way.

nj01 Jan 23, 2016 02:07am

Good critical analysis Parvez Saheb!!

bush Jan 23, 2016 03:16am

I am glad you were able to see Indian schools.Hope more people are able to visit our schools,streets,cafes and dhabe.You did not mention if you were able to visit any families.It would have been nice.Alway try to invite the young to visit.Thanks for the report.

ravi vancouver Jan 23, 2016 03:28am

Good article on his trip and experience. Secular atmosphere still very strong in India any attempt to change the status by BJP will cost it heavily as Delhi and Bihar elections showed. Public in India shall not accept such a change although RSS is trying to prop up religious sentiments to suppress secular forces and create atmosphere of intolerance.

KP Jan 23, 2016 04:29am

I think, the best way of normalizing relations would be to create exchange mechanism, both at the university levels as well as at the secondary school levels, of the academic profession, including students, across the borders. This would contribute to better understanding between the two, as well as, will help furthering levels of education.

Chaudhry Z. Ahmad Jan 23, 2016 05:03am

I've all the respect for Prof. Pervez Hoodbhoy for his enlightened views. But I'm really disappointed with the opening sentences of this article. It misleads the reader and gives an unjustified bad reputation to the government of Pakistan. It gives an impression as if it is the govt. of Pakistan that doesn't allow its citizens to travel to the other side of the eastern border into India. I want to let the professor know that it's not the govt. of Pakistan to be blamed here. I'm a United States citizen of Pakistani descent and not allowed an Indian visa to visit Agra for the simple reason than I was born in Pakistan. Can the professor approach the govt. of India and seek a clarification on the matter?

Yogesh Jan 23, 2016 05:04am

What is happening ? Is Pakistan is changing for better ? I read 3 columns of Dawn today and each one is simply excellent. Though I am person of Indian origin and though one of columnist suggested that latest attack on Pakistan's university might have been work of Indian spy agency, I find all three articles simply gr8.

brr Jan 23, 2016 05:07am

I have met several phD students from IISC and IITs and their competence is quite amazing, their skills quite honed in their fields.

Indian engineers can learn quickly on the fly when given the opportunity. Things can be better but they will get there in two decades when a booming economy will open more doors for innovation.

BTW, I have literally witnessed the takeoff of several hundred startups in Bengaluru and elsewhere in the last decade.

SUNIL Jan 23, 2016 05:48am

Observations appear somewhat incomplete and hence unsatisfactory.

Raza Jan 23, 2016 05:55am

In fact in Hyderabad Deccan Nizam made all education including Engineering and Medicine were taught in Urdu. He brought the laureates from Lucknow and other places to translate the English technical books in Urdu. Last batch that studied Engineering in Urdu was 1949 to 1954. Pupil after 1948 were made read in engilish medium. Nizam's legacy was expected to followed by Pakistan but Pakistan went to English Medium instead of envisioned Urdu.

Jawaid kamal Jan 23, 2016 06:11am

Perez saheb my parents were from Hydrabad deccan,both both were. Enlighted .my mother wore sari all her life ,my father did not have beard. I visited Hydrabad in 2010,deeply disappointed to see retrogressed muslim population,sari was hindu attire and beard is now prerequisite.Gap between Hindus and Muslims is widening in education culture in forward the way Dr Israr Ahmed is very popular in muslim masses.

Aamir Ashraf Jan 23, 2016 06:36am

Whenever I read any article from Parvez, I cant fail to think why we are not benefiting from potential and skill of this man?

nadeem ansari Jan 23, 2016 06:51am

Sir, Please note that Indians are crazily creative bunch .They study and work with the same handicaps as Pakistanis. There is a difference. Hindus are indifferent to faith when it comes to work and education. It is to do with their polytheism. As a muslim I enjoy working with Indians . Never can a Hindu be as fanatic as others . It is their strength. We easily whip up antagonism from any side. Germany and France are tasting our medicine.

Kala Ingrez - کالا انگریز - काला अंग्रेज - কালো ইংরাজি Jan 23, 2016 07:28am

Incredible, one has to ask as what have they done to promote a national language. Guys like you, dime in dozen in Pakistan but not on center stage, have been transplanting English into Urdu, even the political party of the Urdu speaking people doesn't show respect of the language - look at karachi itself and the billboards.

Neptune Srimal Jan 23, 2016 07:53am

It is good if someone with the credibility of Prof Hoodbhoy holds a mirror, a very polite "mirror" for sure, to our (Indian) face.

Neptune Srimal Jan 23, 2016 07:54am

@sms That was "Science Congress", not "Congress Party"

Ayer Jan 23, 2016 08:02am

The greatest strength of India is its secularism. However imperfect its practice may be it offers hope to millions including its minorities.

Madan Jan 23, 2016 08:02am

Professor Pervez's views remain the same whether he speaks in Pakistan or elsewhere.According to him the teaching in Pakistani schools and colleges is no comparison with that in other parts of the world especially India and that is what he has lectured while in India.He has been elucidating this difference in his articles written from time to time and published in Dawn news paper.Nobody in the Pakistan govt.seems interested in what he says.It is high time that standard of education is improved to match the world standards so that Pakistani students and educators are free to visit places of education and learn the advanced progress in science and technology in the universities outside Pakistan and impart benefits to the coming generations in Pakistan.Pakistan govt. should make it incumbent upon those pakistani students and educators who receive education abroad,to return to Pakistan after completion of their studies abroad.

krish Jan 23, 2016 08:03am

The so-called scientific temper of the nehruvian policies is a huge leftist myth that has stymied the possibility of true science happening in India over the last 60 years. The nehruvian policies have left india with non-performing institutes filled with folks who tow the policies and do precious little. The institutes include places like jnu, amu etc. etc. This is about the change with the gandhi dynastic rule on its wane now. Ofcourse some hindutva elements are trying to bring psuedoscience my writing papers which have nothing to contribute to science. But this IMHO does far less damage than the insidious nature of nehruvian leftism simply because it does not look so obviously silly.

Shekar Jan 23, 2016 08:08am

Thanks for visiting my country. Thanks for expressing your views & bringing 2 countries nearer. Thanks for exposing us with: (1) “invited paper at the recent Indian Science Congress claimed that Lord Shiva was the world’s greatest environmentalist.” & (2) “blew on a ‘conch’ shell for a full two minutes because it would exercise the rectal muscles of Congress delegates!”. For now people like me are comparing this with “comedy with kapil” TV serial. I hope this dies down with enthusiasm of “Modi” phenomena. Questioning education & increasing global interaction will put full stop to these.
All the best & Pl. keep visiting india.

PrasadDeccani Jan 23, 2016 08:21am

@Raza Every single word you wrote is correct. I am from Hyderabad. Osmania university, which was once second biggest in India, used Urdu as medium of instructions for every single degree course, even for professional degree courses.

BJK Jan 23, 2016 08:22am

I doubt you encountered anything during this trip that you did not already know, but it is useful nevertheless in perhaps (trying to) open a few more eyes on your side of the border. The sad reality appears to be that all the state-induced poison of religious bigotry has now found its counterpart on the other side of the border now. It is not going to go away any time soon, certainly not in our lifetime.

SR Jan 23, 2016 09:01am

I am certain Dr.Hoodbhoy is aware of this, yet wanted to note that the premier institutes for fundamental research in India are not the IITs but the Tata Institute (TIFR) in Bombay, the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and a handful of others. The IITs make undergraduates out of a select bunch of exceptional youngsters; in fact there exists an "inversion" argument that such a bunch of students could transform any mediocre institute into an IIT ! In large measure, credit for opening up the IITs goes to the vision of Nehru. But one also ought to remember the Tatas whose "corporate"vision a century ago included supporting scientific institutions !!

Cyrus Jan 23, 2016 09:51am

It is also seen in the markets where the clothing and consumer goods are for sale.

Sr Jan 23, 2016 09:55am

So in Modi India there are universities for Muals and Urdu learning and also invite speakers from Pakistan. This is contrary to what ordinary Pakistanis are told

Sampath Jan 23, 2016 10:16am

We have too many people in south asia that get excited about religion and we need to make them get excited about science and people like you sir can help. Happy that you visited our country. I hope you write a more detailed blog on your observations of common life in India other than science, IT etc. You should come to India more often and invite some of your Indian friends over to Pakistan too so there is a constant flow of science professors both ways. I also admire you for not having emigrated out of Pakistan like many other qualified people.

Jai Jan 23, 2016 10:25am

A statement from the article for Pakistanis to ponder about.....

"Although I sometimes took unpopular political positions at no point did I, as a Pakistani, experience hostility."

prakash Jan 23, 2016 10:37am

Thanks for visiting sir. Good article EXCEPT ONE thing i found a bit out-of-place. I am an engineer,a MBA from one of these institutes and working in a technology company, but have hardly come across ' Hindusization of Science'. We have always kept the two very separate from one another.

point of view Jan 23, 2016 10:41am

Two statements says the differences in society and their level of understanding: (1) With most females in burqa, and most young men bearing beards, MANUU is more conservative in appearance. (2) A little down the road lies a different world. At the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) the best and brightest of India’s young, selected after cut-throat competition, are engaged in a furious race to the top. (1) produce a conservative religious mind which often involve in anti-social activities, while (2) produce a high class professionals which serve the society and the nation.

Rajat Jan 23, 2016 10:42am

Im not in favour of people glorifying ancient Indian myths but people would do well to read about aryabhatta, sushruta and benefits and significance of conch blowing. No hard feelings, just read about these for 5mins

point of view Jan 23, 2016 10:52am

Whatever west says about the science and history of science we blindly believe and follow those without any argument. On the contrary, if somebody inform about the scientific achievements of Indian ancient science, so-called, intellectuals start arguing and always associate with religion. One believe or not, Indian subcontinent was a rich full scientific discoveries in ancient time. This can be seen in technologies used in making historical monuments during those days.

R.Kannan Jan 23, 2016 10:56am

Rational thinkers like Dr Hoodbhoy have always been welcome in India, even if their opinion does not agree with that of the majority of Indians. Ancient Indian science have made notable contributions like the decimal system, calculations which showed that the earth revolves aroind the sun, distance from earth to sun & moon, some elements of medicine etc. To be proud of this is one thing but to claim that mythilogical events are indeed history dilutes this contribution.

Farooq Moazam Jan 23, 2016 11:17am

Dr Hoodboy , a nice and informative article.

The realisation of technical / scientific education happens in actual application where concepts are put into practice. In my profession that exploits such education to earn profits and enhance efficiencies we hardly come across anyone who has been coherently impressive enough either from Pakistan or across the border, perhaps around 15 to 20 years earlier Pakistanis had an edge which declined exponentially. In general opinion that has direct correlation to reduction of international corporate footprint compared to local ones.

Moreover in reality we are still controlled by clerks and clerics, and orthodox behaviours are flourishing instead of diminishing, and nobody wishes to touch this subject.

Farooq Moazam Jan 23, 2016 11:28am

A nice and informative article.

The realisation of technical / scientific education happens in actual application where concepts are put into practice. In my profession that exploits such education to earn profits and enhance efficiencies we hardly come across anyone who has been coherently impressive enough either from Pakistan or across the border, perhaps around 15 to 20 years earlier Pakistanis had an edge which declined exponentially. In general opinion that has direct correlation to reduction of international corporate footprint compared to local ones.

Moreover in reality we are still controlled by clerks and clerics, and orthodox behaviours are flourishing instead of diminishing.

Dipak Dasgupta Jan 23, 2016 11:36am

Thanks to Pervez Hoodbhoy. He has given a true picture of India and Pakistan.

Dipak Dasgupta Jan 23, 2016 11:49am

@Raza Can string theory be written in Urdu? Was Grey's Anatomy translated in Urdu?

SHIRAZ Jan 23, 2016 12:09pm

Why we don't have institutes like IIT....General PM initiated a plan where 9 world class engineering universities were due to be established with the help of famous foreign engineering universities, in countries like Austria, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, and South Korea. USD 4 Billion were earmarked for the 9 projects.

Initially, existing infrastructure was planned to be used, with its augmentation with equipment donations from respective countries. Even the equipment and faculty advisors had started to arrive at respective university campuses.

When the General left, came PPP, and like everything else in this country, they scrapped the plan, even when it was supported financially and academically by the respective countries. The worsening law and order situation also contributed in it.

The program brainchild of Dr. Atta ur Rahman, who was then the Chairman of HEC, and initiated in 2002.

Interestingly, Dr. Hoodbhoy and Dr. Atta ur Rahman has always been at odds.

Ghosh Jan 23, 2016 12:16pm

@Dipak Dasgupta : Why not ! Aren't taught in Chinese or Thai languages !

R.Subramanian Jan 23, 2016 12:20pm

@sms Sound vibration has lot of wonders, even we hear our favourite film songs we feel relaxed its because of the sound... Hindu mantras are based on this sound theory only.

KenSAM50 Jan 23, 2016 12:33pm

@point of view I am a physicist and have studied in the US and Europe. Physical scientist and mathematicians are quickly taught of the contributions of the Egyptians,Mesopotamians, Mesoamericans, east and south Asians. The line generally taught is that only since the invention of the printing press and the Reformation has western science excelled.

Seetal das from sindh pakistan Jan 23, 2016 01:09pm

sir i m really appreciate your wonderful article.I ever read your's article in dawn newspaper.

Ritesh Jan 23, 2016 01:18pm

Sir, we love you for your rational disposition, dispassionate argument. I m big fan of you. Love from india

Seeker of truth Jan 23, 2016 01:37pm

I am glad sir, that you could visit our country. Our students has so much gain from such visits.

Though Hindu enthusiasts have gone overboard claiming various ‘scientific’ discoveries were made in ancient India, there is some tinge of truth in those claims. The problem is they are mixing metaphysics with physics. Vedas didn't discover the 'Laws of Gravity'. But it did have a sense of 'Gravity'. And laws, if any, were framed by the frame of reference prevalent in that age. Those don't have to withstand the scrutiny of time today. We Indians have to keep our heritage alive, not by ludicrous over enthusiastic claims, but by maintaining the same sense of wonder. But we should not get bullied either, by those who are more articulate, and to whom, anything Indian seem deficient. For them, we have to rise in erudition to counter their claims.

R S Chakravarti Jan 23, 2016 01:42pm

@prakash In recent Indian Science Congresses (after the 2014 election) some strange things have been said. You are probably aware of it. For example, Ganesha was a product of head transplant surgery.

Farooq Moazam Jan 23, 2016 01:43pm

A nice and informative article.

The realisation of technical / scientific education happens in actual application where concepts are put into practice. In my profession that exploits such education to earn profits and enhance efficiencies we hardly come across anyone who has been coherently impressive enough either from Pakistan or across the border, perhaps around 15 to 20 years earlier Pakistanis had an edge which declined exponentially. In general opinion that has direct correlation to reduction of international corporate footprint compared to local ones.

Moreover in reality we are still controlled by clerks and clerics, and orthodox behaviours are flourishing instead of diminishing.

R S Chakravarti Jan 23, 2016 01:52pm

I disagree with Prof. Hoodbhoy's physics (string theory) but I think he always writes excellent articles. I haven't found anything significant in them that I disagree with. Hope they have an impact on both sides of the border.

There was one IIT in 1951. From 1958 to about 1965, four were established. Roorkee was converted in the 1980s and Guwahati was founded in 1995 or so. In this century many more have been started.

Ahmad Jan 23, 2016 02:02pm

This is a saner voice. We need listen to it.

BRILLIANT LOGIC Jan 23, 2016 02:31pm

Dear Sir,

India and Pakistan are not merely "countries" that need to have "friendly" ties. They are "ideas". India is an idea that spans across many thousand years. Pakistan is a relative new idea. We needn't be friends, but shouldn't be enemies.

Thank you.

Hitesh Jan 23, 2016 02:37pm

You should have also visited one of the IIMs!!

Satt Jan 23, 2016 02:37pm

You will find more full of brain students in other engineering collages in India like NIT's they are more talented than IIT students,IIT us just a brand and nothing else.

Secular Pathan Jan 23, 2016 02:55pm

Secular Welfare Democratic State of Pakistan. We dont need Theocratic Predatory National Security State. We need Science and English

zierbu Jan 23, 2016 04:19pm

Good write up indeed.

AbbasToronto Jan 23, 2016 04:20pm

To be innovative, you have to be free from fear. Neither India, nor Pakistan is, and becoming worse.

And here in America, the universities are becoming killing fields. For innovation look to Asia - Singapore, Korea, China, .... or even Iran and Russia.

FanOfIrfan Jan 23, 2016 05:45pm

I didn't know you were in India, otherwise I would've definitely gate crashed one of your lectures to hear your lecture! Next time please give an advance notice as a post script in your articles that you are visiting India (I live in Delhi)!

rao Jan 23, 2016 05:49pm

@nadeem ansari well said Nadeem. For us,hard work, creativity and innovation are essential part of life

wellwisher Jan 23, 2016 06:31pm

Thanks for coming to my country."Many who never had the choice of not having non madrassa education" is problem here too.Next time sir, also visit municipal schools.India studies there.

IITan Jan 23, 2016 06:31pm

I am (ex) IITan myself. Certainly we don't claim to be the best in the country, but I can tell you that getting into IIT is tough, and passing out of IIT is even tougher. The exams are difficult and require you to think. We had a paper which had 6 hours duration - and you can refer to any book, roam along the campus anywhere - the only requirement was to submit back the answer sheet in time. And yet it was one of the toughest paper that everyone feared. That it IIT for you. IIT get the best out of you. No wonder why so many foreign firms come to IIT.

Prasad Jan 23, 2016 06:38pm

Thank you for the visit and nice article...may you have more opportunities to visit India...

El Indiano Jan 23, 2016 06:38pm

"Legitimate cultural pride over path-breaking achievements of ancient Hindu scholars is being seamlessly mixed with pseudoscience."

Perfectly put. The greatest disservice these Hindutva zealots are doing is to Hinduism itself. They seek to mask their insecurities in false pride in mythical fairy tales. Hinduism is in no need of their zealotry. Hindu philosophy was spread far and wide by eminent persons such as Paramhansa Yogananda and Swami Vivekanda. Large sections of the western world were won over to this philosophy without any coercion at all, just be experiencing it themselves. The Hindutva zealots are now undoing all the good work of these eminent persons. Ironically, these zealots typically know very little about Hindu philosophy. Almost none of them would be able to outline the tenets of the Advaita Vedanta (for example), if asked.

UD Jan 23, 2016 06:53pm

You are very right Mr.Writer. Most ( about 95 % ) Hindus and Muslims in India are neither fanatics nor Pakistan's enemy. We hear that most Pakistanis do not hate Indians. Same is true from other end. We know that mischeives are done by few non state actors, some politicians and ' some powerful and vested interests' in Pakistan who view India as an enemy and threat to the very existence of Pakistan, while it is not true. The real threat to Pakistan lies from within. If it does not wake up in time then this threat poses the real danger to the very existence of Pakistan.

Arun-KS Jan 23, 2016 06:59pm

Come again!

N.K Jan 23, 2016 07:00pm

Thank you Dr Hoodbhoy for this article. Its not just the analysis. ( As some has mentioned in the comments that , he might had known this already but nonetheless thanks for pointing out). What I like best about this article and the another I read a couple of weeks ago about the text books in schools , is the underlying theme pointing towards inclusion. Be it making quality books and schooling be made available to all children or be it the suggestion include the madrassah children into mainstream education. Just criticism is easier trying to make positive out of any thing is what should matter. I would say again. I salute. Thanks Dr Hoodbhoy

sam Jan 23, 2016 07:36pm

@Chaudhry Z. Ahmad : sir, because we are feared of terrorism. May be you are a good person. But, at the same time terrorist will get easy way to reach us if we make the easy procedure for visa

Joe Jan 23, 2016 07:41pm

Nice article ...........

Hindustani Jan 23, 2016 07:45pm

@ RAVI VANCOUVER : You are ill informed.

G. Din Jan 23, 2016 07:51pm

"The mature response of both governments to the Pathankot attack gives hope that Pakistan and India might yet learn to live with each other as normal neighbours. " Why? There is no particular need or urgency. I would suggest the opposite. Let us have a tall wall between us; let both develop according to their own native genius.

sangan Jan 23, 2016 07:52pm

Its really nice article. I request Prof. HoodBhoy to visit CCMB(Centre for Cellular And Molecular Biology), Hyderabad during his next visit

Nag Sahay Jan 23, 2016 08:15pm

@SR ".. credit for opening up the IITs goes to the vision of Nehru". Must be your personal opinion. IIT's were started under the 'Technical Cooperation Mission' and Nehru was only a signatory. Even the CSIR group of institutions were modelled on the lines of their British counterpart.

Arvind Ajimal Jan 23, 2016 08:20pm

Dear Prof kindly write more about your experience of general things like where u stayed, hotels, families or Univ hostel. How many friends u made. How was the food. Also forget the so called extra dose of hinduism in ancient science inventions, this is part of democracy, people want to say things, the actual progress goes on, I wish you attended the Modi led startup India conclave.

Ajaya K Dutt Jan 23, 2016 08:43pm

It is not an accident that India exports maximum number of technical graduates.

Fifty years ago, when I came to US, general impression of India was land of hunger. Now it is considered land of techies.

Nayak Jan 23, 2016 08:44pm

well nurtured, disciplined, and fearless childhood give the best creative adult human being. it is simple and ubiquitous as you see in the western part of the world. we follow MIT, because that is the best available one. Can we overtake it? we have not done yet, so, at least, follow it. I have been living in the west for 20 years and one of the biggest difference i see is the difference between the childhood of western kid and eastern. we inflict fear, belief, segregation, and caution in kids mind. Even in west, eastern parents behave the same.

Vijay Jan 23, 2016 08:47pm

@Seeker of truth Agree with you to a large extent.

Joe Jan 23, 2016 08:50pm

@Chaudhry Z. Ahmad very simple reason.... 26/11 after that Indian govt has tightened visas who has pakistan visit stamp/pakistan citizen, they only allow for medical ground, but not tourist visas.... sorry but this is reality... we dont want to have another 26/11....

Raza Jan 23, 2016 09:08pm

@Dipak Dasgupta

yes You do not believe that. There Plenty of Professors why taught me Mechanical Engineering in Gulbarga University Karnataka were studied in Urdu Medium. Many of them were Hindus.

NN Ojha Jan 23, 2016 09:37pm

Kudos to Prof Hudobhoy for his excellent, balanced summing up of the academic scene in our two republucs. He has a point in feeling uncomfortable about lack of interaction between the academia of India and Pakistan. A broader interaction between the two will for sure be advantageous to both. A joint Indo-Pak talent pool is a dream worth striving for.

Shami Jan 23, 2016 09:38pm

You are a good person and your intentions are always good. But, sorry, you took away very little from India. India's asset is its Hindutva, its openness, its liberality, its freedom to debate and question everything, even religion and saints.

Satish Kumar Dogra Jan 23, 2016 09:43pm

In future please visit a few private institutes also. These have now taken over the best among the government institutes, as these are not cramped by funds and red-tape. Some of them vie with the best in the world.

Deepak Jan 23, 2016 09:52pm

Such visits should increase between both the countries. And we should share more and more knowledge. My grandfather studied at Lahore, it was major center where students from far away used to visit for education. My grandfather did graduation in mechanical and electrical engineering and was a gold medalist. We still have his photo clicked at Lahore. He travelled from Hoshiarpur in Indian Punjab not for higher studies.

Shivam Jan 23, 2016 09:52pm

Nehruvian science?? As I type this, the Indian govt has released secret files on Subhas Chandra Bose. He is the nationalist (among dozens) who nehru had systemically wiped out from Indian education, and even got a few killed. You won't find nehruvian India again.

shaan Jan 23, 2016 09:55pm

Dear Dr. Hoodbhoy, I'm your ardent follower. Sad to see India has more slanted towards religious fundamentalist side after your last visit. We Indians need more people like you in India itself to promote rational thoughts and scientific approach. As you indicated between the lines, India is advanced in technology but not in science and innovation. In aspect (rational thinking), both the countries are in more or less in same page. Please publish your articles in some Indian newspapers also. You can authoritatively tell Indians what they can expect when rational thought is overpowered by millennia old religious scriptures. Come again please...!!!

Jag Nathan Jan 23, 2016 09:56pm

As an Indian, I love Prof Hoodbhoy. He is one of few sane voices from Pakistan. I appreciate his views though I may not agree with everything he says.

Shyam Kokku Jan 23, 2016 10:16pm

Excellent article Prof Hoodbhoy!

Mirza Jan 23, 2016 10:55pm

What the professor forgot to mention was the farsightedness and sincerity of Indian leaders that went into establishing these IITs. These IITs are run on merit basis and are creating brilliant minds who may lack innovativeness but are the best in the world and are making a name for themselves and India

Rathindra Nath Sen Jan 23, 2016 11:05pm

@Dipak Dasgupta Yes, and in Bengali as well -- if you know the language(s) well enough.

KR Jan 23, 2016 11:18pm

Prof. Hoodbhoy, When you visit India next time I advise you to visit some other institutions which are far better than IITs, for example BITS PILANI and many other universities particularly from South India. I encourage to visit many High Tech cities in India so that you get a chance to see the real Technology at work.

KR Jan 23, 2016 11:29pm

@Satyam Vada I am writing from Science/Technology education point of view. It is very wrong notion that American education is better than Indian, you are so wrong in your opinion. I did my Masters in Computer Science and I have seen the curriculum we were thought less than 50% of what our Universities in India teach. It was so easy for me to graduate with A grades in all subjects without any efforts. I saw some of my classmates whose undergraduate degree was in Commerce major completed MS in Computer Science effortlessly. Yes, most of us come to the States because of the job opportunities.

AB, US Jan 23, 2016 11:35pm

Thanks for your visit in my native country. These kind of scholarly visits are essential towards normalization of relationship between two countries that shares more commonalities than differences. BTW, there are five original IITs - Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kanpur, and Kharagpur. Now it is mushrooming at a lot of places including one in Malayasia. The concern is the quality of education IIT embraces as there are a lot of faculty positions are open looking for suitable candidates. You should join one of these IIT and work towards the educational exchange between the neighbors. As an alumni, I wish you also visited the Kharagpur campus.

ROHIT PANDEY Jan 24, 2016 12:11am

@AbbasToronto PANDORUM TECHNOLOGIES is a biotechnology start -up by three Indian Institute of Science researchers. One of them Dr Abdullah Chand is a Muslim.

Look up their innovation?:)

And, while you are busy looking to China Russia and Iran, we Indian will focus on India and make it the startup capital of the world.:):)

Ali Shah Jan 24, 2016 12:26am

I think Dr Hoodbhoy probably missed the bigger picture. The IITs and IIMs excel because, let's face it, the Indian school system up to high school (although nowhere near world class) is significantly better than the system in Pakistan. In fact I'd much rather that we not have the IITs and the IIMs where 200 people go in out of a pool of 100,000 but we fix our primary and secondary school system. Making higher education a priority when the foundation is all messed up is another adventure in folly.

Vinodgupt Jan 24, 2016 12:41am

There seems to be an impression in Pakistan that Indians and Pakistanis are two different people. They forget that till 1947 what is today Pakistan was part of India. Both are the same people -- one is no different from the other. Neither are Indians or Pakistanis any superior or more intelligent or inferior to other. What makes us different or have followed different paths is due to the two different ideologies the two follow. Our priorities are different, our outlook on life are different.

pray&prey Jan 24, 2016 12:51am

Dr. Hoodbhoy is a humble and rational mathematist and Physcist in Pakistan! I always enjoy his clear and unretentious writing. His observation of the religipous/nationalist poking into science is so very objective. To me, the religious competition with science is a demented and reactionary play. Thanks, Dr. Hoodbhoy--you should be Pak minister of hgher education!

sidney Jan 24, 2016 12:51am

Education and knowledge, for its own sake, demands more visits by this Pref and many others. What you cannot steal from someone is his knowledge. Therefore, India and Pakistan need not worry about anyone losing out when sharing knowledge. Prof Hoodbhoy has made some important points worthy of serious discussion

pray&prey Jan 24, 2016 01:01am

@Kala Ingrez - کالا انگریز - काला अंग्रेज - কালো ইংরাজি About 8% of Pakistanis speak Urdu and it's a national/state language! Indians have mpore than 14 official languages and are not scared of English--a primier language of commerce and science. Get a grip!

GLY Mendon Jan 24, 2016 01:02am

@KP Best way to stengthen relationsship is by fighting the teerrorism first andd foremost. People to people relationship will be destroyed in no time if terrorism continues

pray&prey Jan 24, 2016 01:06am

@Madan : Dr. Hoodbhoy for Pak higher education Minister!

Tech Gs Jan 24, 2016 01:08am

Dr. Parvez, the most admired Pakistani in India for good reasons. Many thanks for visiting.

A few things notices....

1) Back from the enemy country -- Could have better heading.

2) Dr. Parvez is known and respected for his knowledge and wisdom. The article should have restricted on those lines & principles only.

3) Physics does not differ with either Hindus or Muslims. Hence, looking from religion angle by Dr. Parvez is certainly shocking.

4) Knowledge must be bought in local languages for the befits of everyone. Dr. Parvez can and should lead. He may start with either Urdu or Punjabi. Rest will follow automatically. This great work should not attributed either country.

Jaideep Jan 24, 2016 01:16am

@Chaudhry Z. Ahmad

I think the professor is holding both the governments responsible.

jamshed Jan 24, 2016 01:27am

@ravi vancouver I am glad that you (at atleast) acknowledged what Hindutva's perils will bring to India and its secularism but I noticed India is in a frenzy of Hindu nationalism and minorities are speacially Muslims are worried and threatened.RSS/BJP agenda is long term and mainstream Pakistanis have little or no knowledge what is going on in India. At the end of BJP sencond term (if they win next election) India's soscio/religious landscape would be unrecognizable.

JunaidK Jan 24, 2016 01:47am

Education and research is the base of any strong economy, this one happens to be our neighbor. This is the world of technology which is not bound by language. World Labour is in cross train mode. Countries are open to learn different languages in order to learn faster than others. Books are freely available via internet and movement of information is exponentially faster. Cost of learning is lowest. Pakistan happens to be at the lowest end of this change. Pakistan must know that till they make / develop their own they will not learn and everyone will discourage them from doing so.

Asok Jan 24, 2016 02:13am

@sms I believe he was referring to the meeting, not the political party, with the word "Congress".

Bin Adam Jan 24, 2016 03:08am

Well written and presented article by Prof. Hoodbhoy who is equally respected by the enlightened and knowledgeable people of all religions, race and ethnicity in Pakistan.

safiuddin mohammed Jan 24, 2016 03:11am

@sms 'rectal muscles of the Congress delegates' refers to the Science Congress delegates; not the Congress (I) delegates.

Manish Jan 24, 2016 03:20am

Honourable prof I here by as an Indian, deep regret that you faced inconvenience of your tour in India , but Indian student need your lectures and your guidance , Kindly forgive all this silly things and please continue visit more and more please , its a kind request .

KJ Jan 24, 2016 03:37am

"Although I sometimes took unpopular political positions at no point did I, as a Pakistani, experience hostility."

Mr. Hoodbhoy, you may feel surprised with the above behavior, but those of us who know India/Indians well, are not. My ancestry is Indian, and I was not born in India, I have always found most Indians to be quite polite. They will never become hostile towards a visiting Pakistani, though they may have differences with them. I am sure the reverse is also true in Pakistan.

jamshed Jan 24, 2016 03:59am

@point of view Don't you think every society has produced something monumental, be it structure ,fundamental of sciences (physics, chemistry or astronomy), art from Maya to Egypt, Greek, Persian, Roman, India or China. Ancient Indian traditions to explore are no doubt seminal in mathematics and philosophy.

abhay Jan 24, 2016 04:08am

It is a very good article.The best way to improve the relation between India and Pakistan is to give unrestricted access to the people of both countries to visit each other. Both countries should seriously consider abolishing the visa for visiting each other.India being the bigger country should take this step first without insisting on reciprocity.It is a risk worth taking because improved relations are better for both the countries.

jamshed Jan 24, 2016 04:23am

@SR Few years ago (I think it was 2011) an Indian newspaper published IIT entrance exam result which must have been an eye opener for educationists in Pakistan. Out of (roughly) half a million only 14000-15000 were selected in all IITs. There are tier 2 schools very compatitive and good. My point is these kids will be successful any where they go. How about the rest, the left over who attend tier 3 tier 4 universities and engineering school in India? What about the quality of tens of thousands H1B ready to work for minimum wages in US?

jamshed Jan 24, 2016 04:33am

@Dipak Dasgupta If Japanese and Chinese can do it,why not in Urdu and Hindi? I worked for large Japanese corp, all their papers, patents, technical manuals were published in Japanese side byside in English. In Israel they have brought a dead language (Hebrow) to life.

Suman Kalita Jan 24, 2016 06:32am

Enjoyed reading the column. Please do come, visit and write about your experience on India and Indian . regards.

sk Jan 24, 2016 08:17am

I've been too advocating repeatedly that India- Pakistan could grow economically at the fastest rate if economic tie ups remained focused & strengthened freezing the existing core issues at same level for next few years. the inter-dependability would enlighten a path towards peace & permanent solution to the existing issues. it's not only government but people-people contact & their matured response & relations would restrict politics and policies of the governments, their agencies & fundamentalists from either side.

someone Jan 24, 2016 08:46am

@Chaudhry Z. Ahmad Well sir ,

Chirag Jan 24, 2016 09:48am

Pervez Sir, I am Indian in the US & had my former boss from IIT. It had lot of good impact on my work ethics, gaining knowledge & in general , dealing will people. I have had friends in IIT & know for sure that they start preparing for JEE exam from 7th or 8th grade onwards. It's really, really difficult to get in IIT's. Hats off to you for presenting well-balanced & knowledgeable article. Wish people to people contact will increase in all fields includng Technology, Biological sciences, Math, Stat, Physics, agriculture etc etc ... & knowledge sharing will only help peace & prosperity for people of both countries ... just my 2 cents here

Kaly Jan 24, 2016 09:52am

@KR - Which South Indian university is better than IIT? Also BITS Pilani is just behind IIT in all sense probably.

Don't write junk just like that...

Saif Jan 24, 2016 10:03am

@Jai : Ask Ghulam Ali, the ghazal singer and in his field as great as Pervez Hoodbhoy. Will he say the same thing! We all know what he went through in India a few months ago for just being a Pakistani. Lets ponder on this too. Moral of the story : If I keep saying what the Indians want to hear I will face no hostility. Simple.

Bhatti_DJ Jan 24, 2016 10:05am

@Dipak Dasgupta interesting question! I am told of one of my ancestors did just this. He was an MBBS from Lahore and a scholar of six languages. was employed by Osmania University in the 50's for translation if all medical texts, including Grays Anatomy, to urdu.

subh Jan 24, 2016 10:37am

@Satyam Vada - Good point.

sam Jan 24, 2016 10:54am

@Chaudhry Z. Ahmad Your complaint is valid and I wish if you are a bonafide tourist that you be able to visit Agra some day soon. I believe that its the indian intelligence agency, which very incompetent, that is to be blamed more than anybody else. It is their incompetency that they are not able to distinguish between good & evil which subsequently results in lesser visas for good people like yourself.

Sachin Jan 24, 2016 11:36am

Science, thoughts, reason is always welcome in India. Please come and stay again soon

Rajesh Gupta Jan 24, 2016 11:37am

Dear Prof. Hoodbhoy, Have seen and heard you in various TV programs (coutesy YouTube). You have always come out to be few rational and objective speakers and we Indians take your opinion and observation post your India visit with open heart and pt. to ponder for self improvement (wherever reqd.). Hope to see you more often in India...rgds

karan Jan 24, 2016 12:35pm

Some day we will look back at the years of hostility and be ashamed of ourselves.

Sudhir Neyalasinger Jan 24, 2016 12:36pm

@ravi vancouver You are one of those who believes that secularism is minority appeasement. The true meaning of secularism is that religion and the state are separate and the state doesn't recognise any religion. That's not the case with India.

Sudhir Neyalasinger Jan 24, 2016 12:40pm

@nadeem ansari Wow Nadeem. That's being candid. As long as there are Muslims like you Pakistan will progress.

venkat Jan 24, 2016 12:46pm

@Satyam Vada


A tiny part of the amount you are spending to educate your children in USA can be used to start a school imparting you views of education. It might not solve entire India's problem in education, which almost every body agrees, but no body is taking the initiative action might be contagious and might attract many more to follow your suit. On my part, I am planning to start a school in my village, free of cost,Lunch,Sports,Cultural Activities & Stress on Innovation rather than on usual rut of poultry farming type of schooling & treating students as ATMs.

Sudhir Neyalasinger Jan 24, 2016 12:51pm

@IITan That's exactly the problem. Most of you go abroad and join firms after taxpayers like me fund your education.

BK KAUL Jan 24, 2016 02:00pm

Prof Hoodbhoy , Sir, the change you have experienced in surely there. The reason is resurgence of religious fundamentalism . One's action warrants reaction from other group and it continues till both travel distant with no meeting point in sight.

indian Jan 24, 2016 02:13pm

@Seeker of truth well said.

Tarun Jan 24, 2016 02:24pm

@krish , you said what i wanted to say. Perfect Bro

Zak Jan 24, 2016 03:02pm

@someone hopefully he will stay there for good.

Naveed Jan 24, 2016 04:40pm

One thing common the indo-pak educational system is that it encourages a closed vision, discourages entrepreneurship and open mind.

RANGANATHA Jan 24, 2016 05:14pm

I welcome professor to India again and again; we all love your ideas and openness to speak the truth. FREEDOM OF SPEECH, RIGHT TO CRITICIZE SOMETHING NOT CORRECT, RATIONAL THINKING ARE THE WAY TO PROGRESS, This is what most Indians believe.

uskumar Jan 24, 2016 06:22pm

I always look forward to reading Dr Hoodbhoy's articles. They present issues very clearly and without any bias. I am glad he was able to visit India and saw some IITs.

kalyan Jan 24, 2016 06:45pm

@Saif, Gulam ali issue was caused by a nuisance named Shiv sena. What happened to Ghulam ali happens to Hindi speaking people, south indians, gujratis, Biharis.. time to time and if possible please comfort Mr.Ghulam ali and tell him that he is not alone. Reason , logic, talent and law and order are the four main themes that shiv sena opposes and in fact in India if you are opposed by shiv sena it means you have arrived.

Aditya Jan 24, 2016 07:48pm

Nice article...whatever...

Kuppudu Jan 24, 2016 08:22pm

@point of view Does Dr Hoodbhoy know that India allows minorities (esp. Muslims and Christians) run their own institutions with theit own admission policies in favor of their respective students?. They don't have to follow govt. regulations as long as they don't receive govt. funding,

DownSouth Jan 24, 2016 08:28pm

@Saif Please don't generalise. Last week Gulam Ali performed in two cities of my state Kerala and in Kolkata. I tried to be in one of his shows but failed due to overwhelming crowd. Some of them were there to make a political point against what has happened in Mumbai and others for the reason of music. So please do not spread the negative news. India is not what's happening just in Mumbai. There is more to wise to know that.

Eskay Jan 24, 2016 10:21pm

The photo image of Parvez Hoodbhoy reminds me of Bill Gates!

Pavan Jan 24, 2016 10:39pm

@sms He meant the Indian Scienc Congress.

raghu Jan 24, 2016 10:42pm

keep coming to india you are always welcome dude.


mao gill Jan 24, 2016 10:45pm

@Kala Ingrez - کالا انگریز - काला अंग्रेज - কালো ইংরাজি my friend do not follow leaders,their kids go to English schools and they talk about Hindi and Urdu their National language.They do not want middle class to progress English is must for progress,it is world language now.

Xenia Jan 25, 2016 12:20am

@Secular Pathan Please ask Nawaz Sharif and Zardari to share their contribution for the promotion of science and technology in last 8 years. Unfortunately, the best technological institutions (NUST and GIKI) ate being run by security establishment. Did Musharraf or General Ayub or for that matter General Zia stopped the progression of science and English in Pakistan.

Shaukat ali Jan 25, 2016 12:41am

I am a physician of Pakistani origin working in the USA. Traditionally physicians from India and Pakistan perform exceptionally well in USA because whatever our medium of education is, the scientific terminology is all in English and most will know how to speak English no matter how rudimentary. This in contrast to Chinese and Russian doctors who have a terrible time adjusting in USA because every single scientific word exists in their language. Trying to teach advanced degrees in engineering or science in Urdu should no longer be considered a noble cause as this will just isolate us more. On a different note, excellent non confrontational article that is obviously appreciated on both sides of the border, we need more bilateral traffic in this regard leading to greater tolerance of each other's people and culture.

sid Jan 25, 2016 04:20am

@Zak I wish.

Satyam Vada Jan 25, 2016 04:55am

@KR "I am writing from Science/Technology education point of view. It is very wrong notion that American education is better than Indian, you are so wrong in your opinion. It would be definitely wrong if I said education in USA is superior to Indian education in all aspects! I only said American education is better than Indian on skills related to Innovation/creativity and leadership. Sure, Indian curriculum may be of higher standard depending on which university/ college we are talking about and exams in USA are not aimed at filtering people by giving tough questions. Mastering what is taught is an important step but being original is something else and that is highly encouraged in American schools system. The kind of assignments they get are very different from what I see in India in most schools. Quantity of curriculum is one measure there are other measures too. It is good to take pride in what we have but it is also important to know where to improve.

VINOD Jan 25, 2016 05:45am

@sms Sad; you missed the point. It proves that 'Hindutva ideology has put the ‘scientific temper’ of Nehruvian times under visible stress. ' Do not try to mix the fantasy and epics with pure science. Let both exist but separately.

Satyam Vada Jan 25, 2016 05:54am

@Dipak Dasgupta Overemphasis on English at the cost of local languages has in my opinion has killed much of critical thinking and Independent thinking in society. Kids learning subjects in their native language I feel will master the material with ease and much better understanding leaving room for some critical thinking and originality. Why everyone needs to know what Shakespeare or Robert Frost wrote? What most of them need is just business English! If someone is in to literature give them optional English II or something.

truth Jan 25, 2016 08:52am

There is good point in this article that Modi's era has hindu hardliners dancing with the idea of making India as Hindu nation.....well, take my word. If this goes a little too far, Indians will throw out this govt. The current Indian and Hindu generation is very upwardly mobile and anything making them feel unsecular, it wont go too far. So, relax in the fact that India will not loose its secular credentials. There may be some aberrations, but they would only be short lived.

manoj Jan 25, 2016 09:11am

@sms please use your brains and start understanding sarcasm.

Ayer Jan 25, 2016 09:28am

@jamshed Japan and China dont have multitude of languages like in India and Pakistan , hence what you recommend is not possible

Ayer Jan 25, 2016 09:42am

Todays Indian parents value science and western education more than religion at least amongst the Hindus. It is precisely this that propels Hindus to excel in education where possible. Having a loose, polytheistic religion also helps and most agree that religion alone cannot feed a family.

Himanshu Jan 25, 2016 10:20am

@nadeem ansari Well Said Nadeem Bhai.. welcome ..

Dhaval Trivedi Jan 25, 2016 10:21am

One point the Professor made was very interesting about the scientific literature in Urdu. I would also like to share our pain that we don't have such good materials in Hindi or any regional language except those part which are published as textbook by state government.

vijay singh Jan 25, 2016 10:35am

He left IIT-K to start his own company that now competes with Hewlett Packard in making tunnelling electron microscopes....

Hewlett Packard doesn't make tunnelling electron microscopes or any laboratory instruments. Agilent technology does.

prasanna Jan 25, 2016 11:28am

@KP : dear sir, please read again .. the start ing clearly means it is the Indian embassy which curtails issue of visa.

M. Khanna Jan 25, 2016 12:21pm

Thank you for visiting India and am sure next time you will have free VISA to go to any part 0f India. You are one of the most saner and logical voice of Pakistan without any malice. We welcome your visit. Perhaps one day any educated Indian or Pakisani will feel proud to part with their knowledge to both Indian or Pakistani students to the benefit of this sub-continent.

Sanjoy Sankar Guha Jan 25, 2016 12:21pm

@El Indiano Hit the nail on the head !

Sanjoy Sankar Guha Jan 25, 2016 12:28pm

@Ali Shah You may have a point there. Basic education is the most important education of all.

citizen Jan 25, 2016 12:33pm

What told about IITs are perfectly true. I have IIT graduates dominating in MIT,HBS and all of Ivy League universities. Both HBS and MIT deans from IIT Bombay. Strangely I was amazed to know that an IIT graduate is a Professor in Harvard Medical School..

Sanjeev Jan 25, 2016 01:06pm

Dear Prof Hoodbhoy, I studied at IIT Bombay. In such colleges there is lot of pressure of study and no one has time to think about Cast or religion. The only enjoyment came from listening to music at the hostel common room or the weekly treks in the hills of the western ghats. The main reason for the success of Indians is their focus on education and not on religion.

Shekar Jan 25, 2016 01:32pm


Brother, we are 1.30 billion. Even 50 – 100 people at Bombay did what they did for political reasons or may not be sane. All cannot be same. There more % insane in other countries.

Observer. Jan 25, 2016 01:46pm

@Sanjeev . Agreed totally.

Mudassar Jan 25, 2016 02:53pm

Very good article by Prof Hoodbhoy.

Chary Jan 25, 2016 04:49pm

I've been reading your articles for quite a few years now. And I feel they are well thought.

I am disappointed that being a hyderabadi, I missed meeting you in person. Didnt knew (and couldn't imagine) that you were coming to india.

I clearly remember your last visit's article and felt that your latest visit too couldn't get you a glimpse of the rural india in general and education in particular.

Mr. Hoodbhoy, for your information, Nayantara sehgal is taking back her award.

Please don't make your views solely on media and educated elite. Get to know the situation first hand. You know best how unreliable the media is.

Feroz Jan 25, 2016 05:49pm

Sir, getting into IIT was much tougher in my days, took the entrance exam in 1973. Sitting for the exam was like a school boy on a cricket pitch facing the bouncers of Andy Roberts or Jeff Thomson. Though I was academically no duffer, I doubt I would have been able to muster even 30 on 100 in Maths, Physics or Chemistry. Muggers would not have been able to score even in double digits. At times you had to derive the equation to solve the problem, that is if you could figure it out, but where was the time. Problems in Differential and Integral calculus were Googlies, did not know how to start, leave aside solve them. Harrowing experience that can puncture the confidence of even the best. The only real hope was that the other contenders would have even more difficulty than you in finding the right answers.

indya Jan 25, 2016 07:18pm

@ravi vancouver you are living in fools paradise, BJP is in power who voted them into power people are getting radicalised in India and more and more day by day

KN Jan 25, 2016 07:37pm

@Shekar Well said. There are always some crazies in every country. It is the general attitude and the dominating them of the country that matters. Given that I am very comfortable with where India is where it is going. I am very optimistic of the future of India given it is open. secular approach strong institutions and hard working people.

Vns Jan 25, 2016 11:22pm

@nadeem ansari people like you who appreciate Hindus are a rarity among Muslims and Christians. Thank you so much.