Books should be our friends
Develop a reading cultureBy Luavut Zahid
Is there a need to develop a reading culture amongst university students? Absolutely not! Shakespeare has undoubtedly turned over in his grave and died again. The fact remains that there is no real reason why average minds should come at par with that of the usual intelligentsia. Of course the obvious answer in most minds would be that there is not just a need but a dire one, to develop a reading culture amongst learners at the university level. However, the world has a system; we have our doctors, engineers but we need our sandwich-makers, too.The words of Chomsky, Wordsworth, Elliot, the Bronte sisters and many more including Shakespeare serve a vital purpose: they give oxygen to our otherwise sterile brains. Imagine a world without childhood fairytales that taught us morals... Well, books serve the same purpose for university students. A year of our lives cannot teach us as much as books can do. To some 'learn from the past' may sound like a cliché, but it is a very valid truth.
Getting back to the matter at hand, however, the simple fact is that the student body in universities consisting of the single entity in our society i.e. the 'masses' does not need to enrich its minds in any way. If all these individuals began to read books then they might start thinking outside the box. People who defy convention and come up with fresh and pragmatic approaches to life are leaders; and there are always few leaders and a myriad of followers. Those who are meant to lead are most likely already well versed with the works of all the great authors, regardless of the genre or style of writing. You will find them pointing out the 'Achilles heel' of life or reveling in a 'mid summer night's dream'.
Free thinking spirits and those who believe in equality will tell you that this kind of thinking is regressive and absurd. The mere fact is that this is the way of life. It is how God created man -- some were born to lead and read; others were born to follow. Think big -- think the pyramids. One of the most efficient civilisations that still serve as an example to the modern world was the Egyptian civilisation. It consisted of one visionary; the Pharaoh, who ruled over his slaves.
While it is a noble thought to infuse each and every mind with some kind of healthy nourishment, it is an idea that is not welcomed with open arms by the very subjects of the 'reading' controversy. Let's start with the basics: just to prove a point, we took out a survey asking people a variety of questions, all pertaining to their reading habits. One question was whether they read because they like it or because their teacher forces them to. A staggering 34 percent read only because they are told to do so. Only 1 out of 9 students believes that books teach something valuable in life, 17 percent have only ever read dear dead Shakespeare. Only 2 people out of the entire sample of 100 students have ever heard of Mohsin Hamid.
Margaret Fuller, American journalist, critic and women's rights activist once said: "Today a reader, tomorrow a leader", and there's only such a small space for leaders in the world and Pakistan.