A plea for books and libraries... By Iqbal
14 October, 2013
The prime minister's 'Youth Programme', though a laudable initiative, appears to have neglected the ever-growing value and utility of books. The concept of growth and development remains unproductive unless books are inducted and a culture of book reading is promoted. The cultivation of book reading is the premise without which no nation can develop. Pakistan already lags far behind in this field. Moreover, books are the main preserve of national history and heritage. They could play a central role in averting decline and degeneration, which have already ruptured the fabric of Pakistani society. It is the basic ingredient, which nurtures the capacity to think and act. Hence, it will be a great help to the proposed plans if books, especially relating to literature, history and heritage, are included in this programme. The strategy may further be expanded to establish libraries and develop infrastructure in the corridors of learning, which are polluted and unhealthy. Libraries must have cleaner and healthier environments and should be equipped with an adequate number of books, periodicals and literary works of renowned authors and thinkers. The environment should be friendly with guidance facilities for research and digging out documents. Computer laboratories should also be available.
At the moment, national priorities are sacrificed at the altar of extremist and terrorist onslaughts. Efforts need to be made to create a better understanding of national issues. The youth will then be able to rise above the egocentric and distorted perceptions we live in. While devising a genuine programme, the PM should also have placed special emphasis on interfaith dialogue and global interaction. In the modern age, when Muslim nations like Pakistan are exposed to western distortions of our religion and culture, we have to prepare a team of thinkers and scholars who can explain national values and ideals in a language and expression easily understood by critics.
DR IQBAL SYED HUSSAIN