September 27, 2020
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Diversity Before Wicket

When Pakistani journalist Abid Shah visited Sri Lanka, everyone wanted to talk to him about the attack on their national cricket team in Lahore, and Shah began to see South Asia’s differences through the prism of the sport:

So my question: where was the spontaneity, the joy, the unstructured chaos of street cricket in Sri Lanka?

DeSilva could not understand what I was saying. Children played cricket in schools, he said. Or in grounds. Why would they play in the street?

Which reminded him. What had happened in Lahore? My trip to Sri Lanka was in March, so we both knew what he meant. “So tell me,” his furrowed stare burrowed through me. “Who did it? The Tamils?”

“The Taliban.”

To each his own demons. ...

***

In a history of South Asia, the chapter on life after the British could begin: they did not speak the same language.

Polyglot India, democratic, compromised by instituting two national languages: Hindi and English. The southern Indian provinces would not answer a telegram from Delhi if it was sent in Hindi.

Pakistan, a country with little feel for grassroots democracy, declared Urdu as its national language, foretelling disaster when half the country spoke Bengali, and when the ruling classes had no incentive to educate or compromise with the masses. Why cut deals with the masses if your families, your clans, will lose their grip on power?

Could it be that Sri Lanka’s Sinhala majority was proportionately large enough to impose its culture on the rest of the country? Did this, coupled with a populist, democratic culture and ethnic nationalism provide the incentive to educate? Could it explain that brilliant 90 per cent [literacy] statistic, beyond official reports and humdrum of school figures? Was this the reason for Sri Lanka’s high literacy rate compared to its neighbours and why its ruling elite made education a priority?

Read the full piece in Abu Dhabi's The National

 

Only tangentially related, but was somehow reminded of  Shahid Amin's recent Universal Understanding, in the TOI and Sheldon Pollock's The Real Classical Languages Debate in the Hindu, late last year.

Diversity Before Wicket
outlookindia.com
1970-01-01T05:30:00+0530

When Pakistani journalist Abid Shah visited Sri Lanka, everyone wanted to talk to him about the attack on their national cricket team in Lahore, and Shah began to see South Asia’s differences through the prism of the sport:

So my question: where was the spontaneity, the joy, the unstructured chaos of street cricket in Sri Lanka?

DeSilva could not understand what I was saying. Children played cricket in schools, he said. Or in grounds. Why would they play in the street?

Which reminded him. What had happened in Lahore? My trip to Sri Lanka was in March, so we both knew what he meant. “So tell me,” his furrowed stare burrowed through me. “Who did it? The Tamils?”

“The Taliban.”

To each his own demons. ...

***

In a history of South Asia, the chapter on life after the British could begin: they did not speak the same language.

Polyglot India, democratic, compromised by instituting two national languages: Hindi and English. The southern Indian provinces would not answer a telegram from Delhi if it was sent in Hindi.

Pakistan, a country with little feel for grassroots democracy, declared Urdu as its national language, foretelling disaster when half the country spoke Bengali, and when the ruling classes had no incentive to educate or compromise with the masses. Why cut deals with the masses if your families, your clans, will lose their grip on power?

Could it be that Sri Lanka’s Sinhala majority was proportionately large enough to impose its culture on the rest of the country? Did this, coupled with a populist, democratic culture and ethnic nationalism provide the incentive to educate? Could it explain that brilliant 90 per cent [literacy] statistic, beyond official reports and humdrum of school figures? Was this the reason for Sri Lanka’s high literacy rate compared to its neighbours and why its ruling elite made education a priority?

Read the full piece in Abu Dhabi's The National

 

Only tangentially related, but was somehow reminded of  Shahid Amin's recent Universal Understanding, in the TOI and Sheldon Pollock's The Real Classical Languages Debate in the Hindu, late last year.

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