We should ‘think’ so that we may ‘exist’

Whenever someone in Pakistan talks about the brain drain phenomenon, the usual allusion is to people who have studied abroad at some stage of their lives. What about the brains that go down the drain simply because they remain unused by society?

The truth is that there is no dearth of intelligent people amid us. They just do not have foreign qualifications against their names because they were not part of aristocratic families that could send them to foreign universities.

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Those with foreign degrees are preferred by local employers as well, and they have the wherewithal to move abroad when that suits them. What about those with local degrees? They are discriminated against in the local job market, and they have little chance of moving abroad.

The rules and laws, made by the elites, are such that they put them at a massive advantage. Moreover, these rules and laws, which are made by mere mortals, are treated as if they are divine laws. The rules that are applied on lesser mortals cannot be applied to the elites. The lesser mortals are incarcerated without due process, while the elites get scot-free.

The education system is such that it rejects critical thinking. There is no public university in Islamabad or Rawalpindi that offers a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy; a subject that encourages people to think critically and to question the existing methods and approaches.

Rote learning is being constantly promoted. As people do not question the prevalent approaches and methods, they reproduce in their research papers what has already been churned out before. New ideas are not valued and that discourages people from taking such a path. They simply regurgitate what is taught to them.

A lot of subjects within the domain of social sciences are not promoted. These are the subjects that have a chance of provoking the lesser mortals to do away with their slave mentality and create their own rules rather than following the laws framed to favour the elites. The result is that Pakistanis have no idea of dialectical methods that can be used to refute faulty arguments and discover new ones.

As social science subjects, like, say, Economics, are not being promoted in the country, the government has to call technocrats from abroad to tackle economic problems. These technocrats, coming as they do with elite backgrounds, have no knowledge of the ground reality. Even if they are sincere, they just do not know the issues they set out to resolve. It is not surprising at all that no technocrat has been able to alleviate Pakistan’s economic woes.

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The next thing that gives advantage to the elites is the recruitment system. The tests that are used to recruit people for government jobs are neither reliable nor valid. Had this not been the case, Pakistan would not have been in the state it is in now.

The calibre of all public-sector appointments regardless of any divide bears testimony to this fact. Those recruited are either part of the elite class or are people with slave mentality who are complicit in keeping the lesser mortals oppressed. Together, the two entities make sure there is no critical thinking in society because the status quo suits them both.

René Descartes, the great French philosopher and mathematician, famously said, “Cogito, ergo sum”, which translates to, ‘I think, therefore I exist’.

Tested on that touchstone, most Pakistanis do not ‘exist’ because they do not ‘think’. Those who think are like a drop in the ocean. They are shunned and silenced easily.

HALEEMA SADIA

KALLAR SYEDAN

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