The lost spirit of 23rd March among youth
Nearly a decade ago, national days like Quaid-i-Azam's birth anniversary, Allama Iqbal's birth anniversary, Pakistan Resolution Day and Independence Day formed some of the most important days in an average Pakistani's calendar. Not only did individuals celebrate these days with national fervour, but the festivities were an essential part of the normal proceedings in schools, colleges, and universities.
Special importance was given to August 14 and March 23. Quizzes, debate competitions, lectures, seminars, discussions, singing competitions and sing-alongs featuring national songs were held at the educational institutes to commemorate these two important national days. Heads of various institutions, high-ranking government officials, even people who had lived through the times of the Pakistan Movement, were invited as chief guests at these events, and students would be wild to hear their stories, and their words of wisdom. In this way students were able to learn, and relate to the history of their homeland, and were taught valuable lessons even while they were enjoying an event held to celebrate a national holiday.
Students took these unconventional lessons so much to heart that they remembered them the rest of their lives. Approximately 10 to 20 years back it was not unusual to meet students, about to graduate, discussing the latest book on the history of Pakistan, like Syed Hassan Riaz's book 'Pakistan Naguzeer tha', and discussing it with such dedication, that these students would even seem to feel the conditions which forced an ardent devotee of Hindu Muslim unity, like the Quaid-i-Azam, to part ways and struggle for a separate Muslim state. Unlike children of today, nobody had to rote-learn "important" dates and events, like when the Khilafat movement took place, when the Pakistan Muslim League was formed, or what Iqbal said in his famous Allahabad address, before sitting for a Pakistan Studies exam. These events had been so frequently talked over and discussed that people automatically knew them on their fingertips. Without having ever seen them, people knew about Raja sahib Mehmoodabad, Sir Abdullah Haroon, Nawab Waqar-ul-Mulk and Nawab Mohsan-ul-Mulik, A. K. Fazalul Haq, Chaudhry Khaliquzaman and the others.
On the contrary, children today will very easily tell you who won the latest round of the 'Nach Baliye' dance competition, the leading singer of 'Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar', 'Chhote Ustad' and any number of other such programmes, but are rendered speechless when questioned about who presented the Pakistan Resolution, who Nawab Waqar-ul-Mulk was, or when Allama Iqbal died. The children of today know when, how and why Valentine's Day is celebrated, they can talk to you in detail about Halloween celebrations, the traditions regarding the celebration of Holi, Basant and any number of other festivals, but when asked about their own culture and traditions, they are silent.
Since festivals and national-day(s) celebrations reveal the history, culture, beliefs and values of any nations, it may be surmised here that one of the main reasons why our children know nothing about their own country or the sacrifices that went into creating it, is because they never celebrate their national holidays.
Judging by the way we enjoy celebrating alien traditions, it becomes obligatory on us to think on why our youth have become so indifferent to everything, whether from the past or the present that had once been a source of national pride. Why are they so eager to celebrate every new festival made available to them whether it's Basant or Valentine, Holi or Halloween?
Sociologists, politicians, religious leaders, and influential people of Pakistan need to make a conscious effort to gauge the level of vitality and decay that we, as a nation, have reached. These past few years have shown two very contrasting tendencies apparent in our society, now more than ever before. The first is a kind of aloofness from and abhorrence for our cultural, social, and religious ideals and festivals and a detachment from and decrease in the celebrations of national days. The second is a colossal boost in the trend of commemorating special days, or festivals of other nations, some of which are not only obviously pagan, but are culturally and religiously opposing and challenging the ideology of our nation. Nowhere are these trends more evident than in our educational institutions and our homes, both places responsible for teaching our younger generation the social, cultural, moral, and religious values of our society, and inculcating in them a sense of belonging, confidence and pride in being a Pakistani.
Educational institutions and parents have failed miserably in teaching the youth the worth and the need of the splendid, everlasting, and deep-rooted values that Pakistan has inherited. In the never-ending race to accumulate more wealth, and give children more material comforts, parents have overlooked the responsibility of passing on the proper ideals to their offspring. Educational institutions and teachers have done no better. In the race to become richer, teachers have lost the dedication and professional integrity that they once possessed, and which made them instruct their students not only about their subject matter, but also about the culture and traditions they had inherited from their forefathers.
The younger generation is unaware of its roots, moral values, and the splendid past which we have all inherited from our forefathers, the struggle for, and the eventual achievement of Pakistan as a homeland for the Muslims of India. All this information has been relegated only to books which are only opened at exam time to learn for a paper. This March 23, the day the historical resolution to demand a separate homeland was passed, should now forge a new resolution: to educate our children about our history before their current aloofness from our values, history, and religion takes them so far away from their traditions that there remains no point of return.
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