By: M. Asad ullah
Whenever we hear the term Book-reading, and the first thing which comes to our mind is the healthy activity of our critical faculties. Book-reading is the synergy of the two words “book and reading”, which implies comprehending ideas, thoughts, opinions, narratives, etc. While reading a book, we get to know a lot of new ideas and facts. The more bibliophiles in the society the more it signifies the mindfulness of a nation. In the developed countries, people are usually habitual of book-reading and read books on a priority basis. In the Holy Quran, Allah SWT does not address the ignorant ones, but the ones who think. Surah e Zumr states, “Are the knowledgeable and the ignorant equal? It is only the men of intellect who heed advice”
When it comes to Pakistan, we don’t get to see such tendencies, where the majority of people are accustomed to the book-reading. Even, in our country, most of the students don’t go beyond their course and restrict themselves to their curriculum. The Gallup Survey suggests that 3/4 of Pakistani students don’t read books beyond their course. Only 9% of Pakistanis are insatiable readers, it reflects the scarcity of knowledge and quiescence in our nation. This apathetic attitude has cost us a lot that our majority of the people are unaware of their basic rights and obligations. Social-Contract, constitutional rights, respect to the opposite viewpoints, inter-faith harmony, and many additional things, which they are unfamiliar with. In turn, Pakistan got drifted into extremism, conservatism, sectarian violence, intolerance, fanaticism. We have seen the rise of radicalization in our society. The fundamentalists interpreted Islam onto their perception and inflicted upon the society by the radical outfits.
The reason why people get inclined to such outfits is merely their dormancy that they don’t read on their own and set their beliefs upon their (radical) interpretation. Since the 1980s, we have been seeing the ramifications of sectarian violence, forced conversions, intolerance, discrimination, upheavals, etc. Reading books can be the treatment for these convulsions. It has been inferred that reading books transforms one’s personality and changes the way of thinking. It has observed that reading books transforms one’s personality and changes the way of thinking. So if our nation wants to have inter-faith harmony, tolerance, and respect for the different viewpoints in our society truly, then our nation must come out from the idleness and develop the habit of reading books. In a nutshell, This can pave the way for the making of an egalitarian society.
Some of us may argue that there are public libraries, but it’s the students who don’t go there. It’s quite right students don’t go there, however, what are the reasons that keep them away from the house of wisdom? We have to see the root causes of this impassive attitude of our society. Who is responsible for this plight? Whether people are solely responsible for that, or the state deliberately puts it on the back burner??
There is no one whom to call solely responsible for this scarcity of knowledge. Multiple factors have played their role and so far playing. Some of them are as follows;
Parents bring children to the world, and it has to be their responsibility to take care of them and build a protective shield around them. In retrospect, people would usually get their kids inclining towards the habit of book reading. Over the years, it has been caught a glimpse of getting obsolete, neither parents read nor they inculcate their children to read books. This is the point where uninterested behavior towards book-reading begins. Now, it’s parents’ responsibility to inculcate the significance of book-reading into the minds of their children. They ought to show them the way of those who think instead of ignorance.
It’s dejected to see that our education system has flunked to develop the reading habits in the students. Students’ mere concern is passing exams by cramming rather than using their critical faculties. Sorry to say, our educational system supports cramming instead of encouraging creative skills. Even the way teachers set the question paper, clearly indicates that question paper wouldn’t be the test of their concepts of students, but their memory. Serious changes are needed to be done in our educational system. First of all, discouragement of cramming, encouragement of creative skills and ingenious minds, inculcation of book-reading into the minds of students at the beginning of the academic career.
If we talk about the individuals, how much they are into the promotion of book-reading, then we have had a scarcity of names doing so. Yes, there are some names likewise, Shahrukh Nadeem, Qasim Ali Shah, Umar Riaz, and some teachers in universities who encourage the mission read Pakistan. This isn’t sufficient for the hour of need. Now, bibliophiles have to play their role exhaustively that they would manifest the significance of book-reading in their surroundings. It’s their responsibility to ensure that their cohorts read books and to instigate their thought process. We need more bibliophiles in our society instead of nescient people.
If we look at the state’s initiatives, then we neither get to see satisfactory efforts nor their endeavors are up to the mark. In Pakistan, reading quality material is not in the reach of the majority of indigenous people. Such books are really expensive and their inexpensive copies are scarcely seen. It’s illustrated above that how much dormancy has been found in our nation, yet the state doesn’t pay remarkable attention to making the nation more inclined towards book-reading. The state must plunge itself into this matter and give a subsidy to this field so that the nation may tilt towards it.
For time being, let’s consider if it happens, will it be sufficient? Not at all, it wouldn’t be adequate. Not all Pakistanis are good at English, but the majority can read and write Urdu. the state must make policies that ensure the translation of quality books that are written in English or any other language. If the Ertugrul series could be dubbed in the Urdu language on the behest of our Prime Minister, then what’s wrong with the translating of modern books or renowned scholars’ books. So, it’s in the larger interest of the public that we Pakistanis get quality books at lower prices. Our state must make policies that ensure the literary festivals, book festivals, cultural days be celebrated in a true manner. One can see, how much our state has to do and how much she has been doing for this cause.