Where are we headed?

August 28, 2017

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KARACHI: Thoughtful and insightful words were exchanged at the Centre of Biomedical Ethics and Culture, Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation, at an event titled Urdu Baithak on Saturday evening.

Presided over by famed poet Zehra Nigah and moderated by Haris Khalique, the diverse audience was entranced by observations and visions of renowned speakers. They included Dr Noman Ul Haq, who speaking on the ‘The Role of Language on the Evolution of Personal Morality’ reminded the audience of the influence of Bollywood on Pakistani society. ‘Tension mat lo’, a common expression in the movies from across the border, has taken root in the language here. Similar expressions are accepted by the population here and this is being reflected in their behaviour. “You can’t escape the influence of Bollywood in our society. When you enter a flight to Pakistan, you see just about every Pakistani passenger watching a Bollywood movie. So much so that a song sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is markedly different than the same song sung by Lata Mangeshkar.

Dr Arifa Syeda Zehra, speaking on ‘Development of Ethics and Morals’, forced the audience into soul searching when she said: “We are living in a scared society”. To this she added: “Jeenay ke liyay marjana kabhi behtar hota hai.”

An audience member, inspired by Dr Zehra’s words, tearfully said that the future generations would be influenced by the void that is currently being experienced in our society. To this, she asked if love, tolerance and honesty had a language. Culture, she reminded, was tahzeeb, a basic tool that did not change.

“Geography changes. People change. Not your culture or not what you have been brought up with,” she said.

With words of wisdom being spoken, one could be forgiven for being lost in translation. Such was the power of vision of the speakers.

Poet Naseer Turabi enthralled the audience with his magic. This was followed by Zehra Nigah, who enchanted the audience with her pieces of poetry.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2017