On a recent online course, I was made to read one of the most POWERFUL essays (by Amy Gutmann) “The Lure & Dangers of Extremist Rhetoric”, a topic so so prevalent worldwide.
The speech is so profound that it actually made me sit up and take notice of my very own actions and reactions in arguments; and while these principals apply in politics, they are prevalent in family, work and society in general!
“Going as far back as Aristotle, he maintained that –
The proper task of rhetoric is to drive home the logic, the truth and the evidence of an argument.
Reason should frame a good politician’s goal to persuade.
The opposite of a sound democratic argument is demagogy: manipulation and deception in order to divide, demean, deceive and conquer [citizens].
Extremist rhetoric blatantly disregards and devalues truth-seeking understandings upon which citizens […] may make informed judgments.
It also undermines a basic value of representative politics- When politicians use extreme rhetoric to mobilize their base […] they strip the moderate middle of a voice in governance (excludes all those who might join a more moderate […] political coalition)
By its very nature, extremist rhetoric excludes from consideration important public values-
Consideration of equally competing values
Constructive conversations that improve decision making
Denigrates & degrades those who differ
Blocks constructive examination of rhetor’s own values and beliefs
When we argue about controversial issues, we should defend our views vigorously while expressing mutual respect for our adversaries […] and competing viewpoints.
We can do this by not preemptively rejecting everything for which our political adversaries stand.
It makes room for moral compromise over reasonable differences.”
Schools, colleges and universities are the natural ARMIES at the forefront to teach our citizens the art of rhetoric, in the words of Amy Guttman –
“In searching for antidotes to extremism, there is therefore no substitute for a better democratic education in robust, reasoned, and respectful political controversy and debate. We need to teach students how to engage with one another over controversial issues. Students must first learn how to recognize demagogic rhetoric and then how to counter it, both individually and institutionally.
Well-designed democratic institutions can dramatically reduce the toxic effects of extremist rhetoric. We need to support institutional structures whose incentives encourage respectful controversy. Well-structured debates and factcheck blogs can expose extremist and extreme rhetoric that is deceptive and subversive of the democratic pursuit of the public interest.“
This is the start of ‘War Against Extremist Rhetoric’!
REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987-
“Sir Sidney Ridley confirmed to me that he would protect me and would ensure that the Hotel, if purchased by me, would not be requisitioned during the Second World War for the Army, Navy and Air Force, as was the custom.
So, putting up my entire life’s savings and borrowing the rest, I went to Mr. Wyseman and purchased the Bristol Hotel for Rs.100,000/-. Mr Wyseman agreed on one condition- that Khorshed and I learn the hotel business with him for a few months. So, every morning at 4 a.m. I went to the Empress Market to purchase all the groceries, and the mutton, beef, chicken, fish, vegetables and fruits.
As soon as six months training were over and Mr. Wyseman handed over the Hotel to me and left Karachi – and the Bristol Hotel got requisitioned!
When I went to Sir Sidney Ridley and informed him about this, he phoned the British Provost Marshal of the Army to enquire why this was done. The Provost Marshal said “How can a bloody Indian run an English Hotel?”
Sir Sidney Ridley insisted the Hotel be de-requisitioned and the Provost Marshal accepted only on my written agreement to reduce the charges to Rs. 5/- per room and Rs.7/- for room with all meals. Sir Sidney Ridley said I would go bankrupt, but I agreed. Inspite of all my social status, I was still a “bloody Indian” but I was willing to take the challenge.
Now, the charge for a Chota (small) Peg for a Whiskey was Rs. l/. I immediately doubled it and got the Sargeant at Mauripur Airport to send me as many soldiers as he liked and I would pay him Rs.1/- per soldier, as his commission.
Then, I put 6 soldiers in a room and within one year, with both husband and wife working till 2 a.m. in the morning, we made a net profit of Rs. One Lac in the very first year- I paid up the money I had paid to buy the hotel.”
(…and Yet Further Tirades of a Layman [COVID] – 4)
June 12, 2020
(Do you follow Marvel Cinematic Universe?)
With one snap of his fingers, Thanos eliminates an arbitrary 50% of the world’s population; according to him it was to correct Nature’s imbalance … he was “trying to save the universe from itself”.
Compared to any other living being on Earth & the seas, humans’ capacity to harm & kill each other, and exploit & destroy the world’s resources, is unlimited.
Is the Coronavirus pandemic nature’s way of correcting our exploitation of the World?
Is the Coronavirus pandemic a lesson to humans about the value of Life?
Is the Coronavirus pandemic here to give mankind a taste of its own Medicine?
Whatever the reasons, we need to sit up, learn and rectify our ways.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe this is going to happen in this lifetime! As I said, our capacity to harm others gets in the way of all the good that we, as a human “community”, can potentially do for each other.
In spite of this global pandemic, which continues to rise, these last four months have shown that we continue with strife, war and conflict; instead of banding together as one community regardless of nationality, creed, caste, religion, colour, gender to solve this threat.
In spite of this global pandemic, most countries continue to approach this threat with internal strife, no unified policy and no cohesiveness.
In spite of this global pandemic, politics and “big” business still comes in the way of human life and morals.
Few countries, like New Zealand, seem to have overcome these obstacles & been successful …
The world is going through some of the toughest times it’s ever faced – and things are just not in our control … Nature is in control!
…and just like that, I came across this absolute riot of a book review by Ravina Rawal. It’s not new – it’s from 2014 – but I thought it was just the thing to lift spirits (pun-intended! 😊) and poke fun of our microcosm of a religious community in these trying times.
So, quoting verbatim from Ravina Rawal, here goes …
“The levity and longevity of mealy-mouthed Parsis
The Sunday Guardian · 23 Feb 2014
Sooni Taraporevala and Meher Marfatia’s new book is an exuberant, laugh-out-loud collection of “insults, endearments and other Parsi Gujarati phrases”, writes Ravina Rawal.
There’s almost nothing on earth I enjoy more than a disgruntled Parsi. Or, well, a Parsi in a good mood. Or a Parsi celebrating his/her 95th birthday. Or a Parsi after his/her fourth whisky, at a funeral. Because through all of life’s many celebrations and disappointments, through life’s many moods, theirs is just the same.
I don’t know if it’s the secret of some ancestral, evolution-affecting drug that’s still making future generations trip hard, or if it’s what happens to your genetic makeup when you only marry and procreate within the same 20,000-odd people. Either way, never have I met a people bursting with more enthusiasm, applause and outrageous sarcasm than this curious species of happy maniacs. (And I’m Punjabi.)
They will tell you proudly, “Mummo chuch cho vugur ‘seerpa’ nahin” (If you don’t swear, you are not a Parsi). And they’ll be right. While the rest of the world is busy getting offended at everything that comes out of everyone’s mouth, the Parsis are having an absolute riot, roaring with laughter at the wicked names they’re calling each other (and their mothers and fathers and aunts and grandparents and house pets).
They don’t care how insulting or politically in correct it is, their brains work relentlessly to conjure up the most imaginative insults the rest of us have ever heard.
“Chumna jheva pug” (feet like pomfret), they’ll remark of a person with large feet. “Who? Boman? Evun toh photo frame thai guya (he became a photo frame)!” they’ll tell you casually about some one who just died, a phrase also substituted with “Kolmee thai guya” (he’s be came a prawn). And some how it isn’t disturbing at all that you’ll of ten hear a mother squeal, “Tuhree kule jee khau!” (I’ll eat your liver!) to her child — because it comes with a generous side of love, laughter and kissy-koti.
“Oont nee gaan ma jeera no vughar” literally means “a sprinkling of jeera in the bum of a camel”, used when referring to a big eater who’s been given too little food.
“Tum boo ma sahib,” they’ll say without a second thought to a pregnant lady, referring to the “boss in the tent”.
Which reminds me of a famous Parsi actor, who once spoke to the baby in my cousin’s belly for well over two hours over the course of a single evening. Not a word to my cousin, just a very fascinating conversation with (at) her stomach.
One of my closest friends not so long ago was Parsi, and I’ve spent endless hours grinning from ear to ear at her house at the dinner table where every dish was topped (or bottomed) with eedu (egg), and every bite punctuated with a quick bitch and moan about relatives (or friends who are really relatives because, Parsis). I may also have been the most enthusiastic of all her friends about accompanying her to family gatherings she herself so reluctantly showed up at, because I am acutely aware that 150 Parsis all at once is the sort of party you’re never going to forget, or other wise get invited to.
These guys also all seem to live for…ever? A near 100-yearold Parsi man or woman isn’t the “mado murgho” (sick hen/ sickly person) you’d expect them to be.
And there’s a tiny seed of senility that seems to set into them at a fairly young age (if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say age 10?), so the full blown happy madness that stares back at you from the eyes of a 98 year old, for instance, isn’t new or unsettling in any way.
Despite their ridiculous life-span, there are so few of them around in the first place — and some of them are even getting crazy enough to start marrying out side the community — that somewhere they’re all worried that their wildly evocative, some times bizarre and always funny vernacular will get lost for ever.
So, photographer-filmmaker Sooni Taraporevala and writer Meher Marfatia took up the cause, rounding up everyone they knew in the community for their contributions to what has resulted in a delightful archive of Parsi Gujarati.
Parsi Bol is a little handbook of over 700 “insults, endearments and other Parsi Gujarati phrases”; its pages peppered with lovely little illustrations by cartoonists Hemant Morparia and Farzana Cooper, bringing to life some of their choice picks.
Split into chapters that include picture phrases, sarcasms, insults, endearments, food, twin words, character traits, anatomy and advice, it’s a great book for everyone who’s ever been curious about the Parsis. I guarantee it will make you laugh out loud and share the things you read with whoever else is in the room.
If you don’t mind your favourite phrases in this book, the authors ask that you e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org to add to a possible sequel.”
Now comes the question- has lockdown helped or not.
Personally I believe that lockdown was an important strategy at the outset of this pandemic- however, it should have been all encompassing and stricter. Our businesses have been closed for last two months instead of 2-3 weeks – and that is due to a “hybrid” system instead of “total” lockdown.
However, dynamics have changed. Two months without income cannot sustain any economic band of society- it’s just not possible. Giving credit where it’s due – to the State Bank and the Federal Government for supporting companies and businesses – is important but it isn’t enough for someone to feed 4-5 mouths on a daily basis in a population of 250 Million!
(1) Part of the problem lies in partisan politics.
Australia, with its diverse political structure and strong provincial autonomy, banded together like no other in this crisis. Partisan politics were set aside for a country-specific policy. Consensus-based decision making was the norm. The PM and the coordination committee with representatives of all provinces made JOINT decisions. This is not so in Pakistan!
(2) As long as citizens of a country do not cooperate with the government, no amount of the “stick” or “carrot” will work. The administration can beat their head against the wall creating SOPs but if in our own heart we don’t follow them, then it’s as good as a failed policy.
Sweden’s “partial lockdown” system worked due to the Swedish people’s sense of responsibility in social distancing. They took it upon themselves to ensure they followed the government’s policies in return for a more open society. This is not so in Pakistan!
(3) Successful countries have followed the advice of scientists and doctors. Government policies, politics, [maybe] some personal freedoms have been set aside to listen to, and implement, actions recommended by “virus experts”.
Here again, Australia, Korea, New Zealand, etc followed what experts in this field advised them. It may have run contrary to their own thinking or policy but they listened to people who knew what they were talking about. This is not so in Pakistan!
(4) I do not support pollution or lack of hygiene & sanitation! However, can a fair case be made that in countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, while there is a high Corona Virus count, the death rate [to overall COVID cases] ratio is not as high as in the developed world? Why?
Let’s look it like this- the pollution, smog, vehicular emissions, sewerage, slums, lack of sanitation, etc in the general populace is the “norm” unfortunately; food is prepared over open sewages; generations are born and die in slums in the center of our cities; 50% of the population drink polluted tap water directly; flies are our regular lunch & dinner dates; mosquitos thrive on our blood … whose immunity will NOT be built? These are the living standards in Pakistan! However, this should not be the case in Pakistan!
All these factors and more – cash economy, daily wagers, population density, public transport, education levels, etc – play their share on a macro basis in determining whether to lockdown a country or not. We lack in so many of these areas that I do not believe Pakistan can afford to lockdown the country further.
Smarter policing is required – political partisanship has to be shunned – geographical and economic aspects should be accounted for – and based on these aspects an all-inclusive, sustained policy be devised.
REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987 –
(5 of 12)
“Mahatma Gandhi who made the British leave the Country, by his policy of non-violence, non-cooperation, asked all the Indians to stop insuring any foreign Life Insurance Companies. The result was that my business dwindled to such an extent that I had to make heavy inroads in my capital. By 1945, I wanted to change the line of work.
Mr Wyseman was a friend of mine, and he was the Proprietor of the Bristol Hotel. My darling wife Khorshed used to like to eat English Food and so off and on, we went and had our meals there.
He told me that the British had decided to leave India and he would like to sell his hotel. He wanted Rs. 1 Lac for all the stock, name and fame, furniture, crockery, cutlery, glassware, linen, etc. but not the building which was a hired property from a Bori and a Hindu jointly.
In those days, the Home Secretary, which today is the equivalent to the Chief Secretary, was Sir Sidney Ridley, who was very friendly with me and who had appointed me on many Government Committees. He was also a Rotarian with me, which Club had only 12 members in those days of 1933. The other members were Sir Montago Webb, (The First President of this Club) who was also the Editor and owner of Daily Gazette, Mr. Voegli, Manager of Volkart Brothers, who was the Honorary Secretary and the only Indian Members were Mr. Jamshed Mehta, Mr. Hatim Tayyabji, Advocate-General and Mr. Hatim Alvi along with myself. I was also the Organizer of Tobacco Fund for soldiers fighting in the Front and hence I was very popular with the British Community. The reason for my explaining you this is to give you an idea of my status because this has an interesting reference later on.”
It’s almost two months for our lockdown in Pakistan and working from home.
The first month went well, working from home I mean.
Started waking up at 7am, instead of 6
You find the time to exercise more
Lounge in your shorts and socks
No shirt, just your vest (in my case, Sadrah)
Come 5pm, put on your shirt and shoes (stay in your socks) and sit in the garden
… It’s fine as long as you keep working, keep at it, stay busy!
But now, now, now …. YAWNNNNNN ….
(forgot what I was thinking!)
Oh yes, I’VE TURNED LAZY!
Today, as I write these words, I realize that working from home is NOT AN OPTION. There is no such successful concept as “an office at home”. The novelty wears away. So does one’s creativity. Office interaction. Office dynamics.
Actually, now to think of it, it felt good going to office – sometimes even being first to open the doors – sticking to a ROUTINE. You then actually enjoy your weekends at home more.
A friend from France wrote to me about the story of late Shiraz Nasir, a young entrepreneur in Pakistan, who set up one of the first tourism companies here- “Adventure Travel Pakistan”.
He proved that no matter where you live, you must follow your dreams. He made so many foreigners fall in love with Pakistan and he was proof that his message went through. Shiraz was even invited in May 2019 to Paris by UNESCO and the Pakistan embassy in Paris to give conferences on the tourism potential in Pakistan.
Tragically, in August 2019, while paragliding in Chitral, turbulence caused Shiraz’s fatal accident!
However, how many people actually know his story? It must be passed on to generations to inspire them.
Hence, my friend’s request that Shiraz deserves to be honored, to make known Shiraz’s heroic journey. It would bring so much pride to his family…and to Pakistan!
Shiraz deserves a civil national honor for what he has done to develop the tourist potential of Pakistan and to build bridges between people and cultures. This is something which would give such a positive light to Pakistan and honor the memory of this person.
Is there no one here to recognize Shiraz’s achievements and accolades towards Pakistan?