Monday, September 9, 2019

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Is Majoring in English Worth It?

By William McGurn
Employers used to be able to count on the skills a liberal-arts education cultivated.
 The summer holidays have finally ended, and across America college students are returning to campus. But not before someone—most likely mom or dad—has written a hefty tuition check. If you’re a parent going into hock to pay for your son or daughter’s degree in English lit, you may be feeling a mite anxious about what you are getting for all those dollars.
A just-released Bankrate study won’t make you feel any better. In a ranking of 162 college majors by median income and unemployment rate, English majors landed among the bottom dwellers, at 132. At $47,800 in median income, they did better than those in drama ($35,500) or fine arts ($37,000), but they earned less than half as much as someone who majored in, say, electrical engineering ($99,000).
Alas, even if your undergrad is happy with his English major now, other studies say he will come to regret it. In June, a Payscale survey of 250,000 college grads reported 1 in 5 with a humanities degree as saying that, next to their student loans, their choice of major was their biggest educational regret. A 2017 MarketWatch story was blunt: It called English “the most regretted college major in America.”
Manifestly, English majors aren’t getting much respect these days—including self-respect. But don’t blame the kids. Colleges sell themselves as a ticket to upward mobility, without providing the data students and parents need to weigh college costs against expected benefits. Humanities students have it even worse, because the watering down of the curriculum has diminished the value of degrees such as English or history.
In marketing college to prospective students, universities like to cite the significant difference in lifetime earnings between someone with a bachelor’s degree and someone with a high school diploma. Fair enough. But as the Bankrate survey illustrates, the earnings differential among college degrees can be significant too.
Economist Richard Vedder, author of “Restoring the Promise: Higher Education in America,” has long urged colleges to give students many more measures along the lines of the Bankrate survey. What students especially need, however, isn’t averages but the worth of particular degrees from particular universities.
“When you spend $100,000 or more for something, you are entitled to know the probable value of what you are getting,” says Mr. Vedder.
No one is surprised to learn that STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) out-earn English majors. After all, the purpose of what used to be called a “liberal education” has never been about a high-paying career. Even so, Jonathan Pidluzny, director of academic affairs for the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), notes that employers nevertheless prize the critical thinking, communication skills and judgment cultivated by a liberal-arts education.
“The English major was once a guarantor of effective, formal writing skills and the ability to comprehend and analyze the complex thoughts found within centuries of brilliant and challenging poetry and prose,” he told Campus Reform. “Its decline into the epiphenomena of popular culture and identity politics is a self-inflicted wound that has rocked its credibility.”
In other words, what’s on offer today isn’t your father’s English degree. An ACTA study of English programs reports that 48 of 52 top schools (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report) allow English majors to graduate without ever having taken a course on Shakespeare. In the past ACTA has also highlighted studies showing that the average grad, even those from prestigious flagship universities, shows little or no improvement in critical thinking for having gone to college.
Here the much-maligned English degree is simply a proxy for what is wrong with college today. It isn’t that STEM subjects are the only majors worth anything. It’s that the humanities have disproportionately been infected by political correctness and the malignant influence of Herbert Marcuse, father of the “repressive tolerance” so prevalent on campuses these days.
In a phone conversation, Mr. Pidluzny maintains that a humanities major rooted in a rigorous core curriculum still provides value. The operative word is rigor. The 2018 Strada-Gallup survey reports that college grads who “strongly agree” they were challenged academically are 2.4 times more likely to say their degree was worth the cost.
So why have the sciences kept their integrity while the humanities haven’t? Mr. Pidluzny suggests it’s because the costs of a dumbed-down STEM degree can be both more obvious and more consequential.
“The university can’t get away with not teaching engineering students differential equations because we’d then have collapsing bridges all over the place,” he says.
“But for an English major who studies Harry Potter instead of Chaucer, or spends his time on gender theory instead of reading great literature, the costs aren’t as obvious—except to the graduate who only later realizes he never developed the keen analytical mind and precise style of writing college was supposed to cultivate.”

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Pakistan’s slice of the moon

 July 27, 2019

MONDAY’S launch of the Chandrayaan-2 water-finding moon mission is a significant demonstration of India’s scientific and engineering capacity. It puts India firmly within a select group of countries prowling the solar system for commercial, strategic, and scientific reasons. Pakistanis naturally want to know where they stand in science — of which space exploration is just a small part — and why. What gave India this enormous lead over Pakistan?
It is natural that India’s Hindutva government should boast Chandrayaan-2 as its own achievement and claim continuation with imagined glories from Vedic times. But rightfully the credit goes elsewhere. Just imagine if history could be wound back by 70-80 years and prime-minister Jawaharlal Nehru was replaced by Narendra Modi.
Instead of astronomy, today’s India would be pursuing astrology. Its university departments would have many ganitagayons but few mathematicians, an army of rishis would outnumber physicists. The cure for cancer would be sought in yoga while floods and earthquakes would somehow be linked to cow slaughter. Instead of devising Chandrayaan, Indian scientists would be searching for the fictitious Vimana of Ravana.
Aiming for a culture of science will serve Pakistan better than trying to match India’s new moon shot.
The atheistic Nehru brought to India an acceptance of European modernity. For this Hindutva hates him even more than it hates India’s Muslims and Christians. Still, his insistence on ‘scientific temper’ — a singularly odd phrase invented while he was still in prison — made India nurture science. Earlier, vigorous reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833) had shown the path. As long as Nehru stood tall no rishi, yogi, or army general could head a science institution
Will Pakistan also get a slice of the moon? That depends upon the quality of our scientists and if a culture of science develops. Of course, Pakistan never had a Nehru. A further setback happened in the Ziaul Haq days when Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s modernism had its remaining flesh eaten off by Allama Iqbal’s shaheen. As if to compensate the loss of appetite for science, buildings for half-a-dozen science institutions were erected along Islamabad’s Constitution Avenue. They could be closed down today and no one would notice. Today’s situation for science — every kind except agriculture and biotechnology — is dire.
The official website of the National Space Agency of Pakistan (Suparco) is silent on space exploration plans. Born a year before its Indian counterpart ISRO, Suparco lists its earliest achievement as the periodic launches of US-supplied weather monitoring Rehbar rockets between 1962 and 1972. The most recent activity listed is of July 9, 2018, when China launched two remote sensing satellites for Pakistan to monitor progress on CPEC. One of the two “was indigenously designed and solely developed by Suparco, and is primarily aimed at remote sensing”.
As a space-filler this pathetic website speaks in hushed terms about the Hatf and Shaheen-III missile programmes but falls short of saying what Suparco’s role was, if any. The last four chairmen of Suparco, together with their educational qualifications, are listed as Maj Gen. Raza Husain (2001-2010, BSc), Maj Gen. Ahmed Bilal Husain (2010-2016, MSc), Maj Gen. Qaiser Anees Khurram (2016-2018, BSc), and Maj Gen. Amer Nadeem (2018-present, BSc).
National achievements in space science being so lean, where should bright young Pakistani science buffs be pointed towards? Every day they read of some great achievement — spacecraft landing on asteroids, new planets being discovered, black holes colliding in distant galaxies, etc. But Pakistan’s three most celebrated scientists have precious little to offer. Let’s call them X, Y, Z.
X appears to have lost his earlier passion for bombs and missiles and these days is mostly concerned with finding religious cure to cancer as well as advising women on how to deal with menopause problems. Y is (or was?) under a NAB investigation because he spent Rs4.69 billion gasifying Thar coal but failed to produce a single watt of electricity. He may be in much hotter water once the Reko Diq investigation gets going and his role in the Tethyan Copper affair is revealed. Mishandling Reko Diq currently threatens Pakistan with a mind boggling $5.9bn fine. Z has clawed his way back to power but cannot explain why billions spent upon his institute have not produced a single useful pharmaceutical product.
Lacking guidance from knowledgeable elders, a few of Pakistan’s most gifted kids have found their own way. I have been astonished and thrilled to meet some. Aged 12-18, like hungry animals, they have gorged themselves on distance learning materials offered by Stanford, MIT, Coursera, etc. They seem to owe nothing to their environment, teachers, and even their parents. Some are village bumpkins, others are English-speaking urbanites. Natural genius propels them. But how far?
It’s good that such talent is achieving some recognition. Fawad Chaudhry, the newly appointed minister of science and technology, told me that he plans to start 1500 STEM schools for exceptional students. One hopes that the right students will be selected and that by some miracle good teachers can be found. Chaudhry should realise that the chance of failure will be one hundred per cent if students are graded by ratta-promoting local examination boards. Duffers must never be allowed to judge geniuses; alternatives must be explored.
More encouraging news: Pakistani doctors in the US are fabulously rich but are not known to spend their money wisely or well. That may be changing. Last month, at the annual meeting in Florida, the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA) put out an appeal to create an institute that would identify and support young people with exceptional math/physics talent. Let’s hope that that pans out.
Pakistan’s chance of a moon shot — unless on the back of a Chinese rocket — will stay zero for a long time. There is no reason to cry about this. Much more important problems need to be addressed. Solving them needs a strong scientific base at every step. Creating this base calls for developing scientific attitudes and dumping non-scientific ones. Symbolically this amounts to putting Sir Syed ahead of Allama Iqbal as a national icon. Impossible? Maybe. But, as they say, you can’t make an omelet without breaking an egg.

#Pakistan - Imam Hussain’s (AS) sacrifice a beacon light to resist tyranny, falsehood: Bilawal Bhutto

The lesson of the ultimate sacrifice rendered by Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions is to resist oppression, tyranny and falsehood even at the cost of one’s life and under the most trying of circumstances, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said in his message on the Youm-e-Ashur today (Tuesday).
Imam Hussain (AS) belongs to that rare category of humankind who redefine the meanings of life and death, of the victor and vanquished and of the honour and dishonor, he said, adding that his life was a beacon light to resist tyranny and falsehood.
The Youm-e-Ashur this year is significant because of the new wave of repression and tyranny against the people of Indian-held Kashmir as well as Palestine in particular and in many other parts of the world in general.Following in the footsteps of Imam Hussain (AS) the oppressed people anywhere will succeed against injustice and tyranny, he said.Falsehood and oppression are also the tools of militants and extremists employing false notions of religiosity, he said. “The people must be watchful against the designs of such bigots and fanatics”.Every time tyranny rears its ugly head in any form and in any manifestation, it must be put down with the courage and spirit of Imam Hussain (AS), the PPP chair said in his message. “On this day we also pay homage to the immortal martyrs of Karbala. May Allah be pleased with them all.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League (PML) President and former prime minister Ch Shujaat Hussain, Punjab Assembly Speaker Ch Pervaiz Elahi and MNA Moonis Elahi have said that by depriving Kashmiris of fundamental necessities, India had turned Occupied Kashmir into Karbala.
In a statement, they said that for ridding Kashmiris of Modi government’s oppression and torture, inhuman treatment and illegal shackles, the Islamic world particularly Pakistani nation direly needed to demonstrate Hussaini (AS) spirit. “We should today, by brushing aside all mutual differences and personal interests, pledge for elimination of oppression and injustice and upholding truth and greatness of humanity steadfastly.”|The PML leaders on their messages on Youm-e-Ashur said that by offering great sacrifice Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) along with his companions had given the lesson not only to the Muslims but entire humanity that for supremacy of Islam and Ummah, Shabbiri character was essential and that not bowing in any condition and circumstances face the evil forces steadfastly and courageously without spacing any sacrifice, not only every Pakistani, every Muslim but every man should follow in the footsteps of Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) and his martyred colleagues demonstrate faith (Iman), sacrifice, unity, steadfastness, courage and bravery, the best way to pay homage to Shuhda-e-Karbala is that we make their actions and sayings our beacon light, earnestly pray that Almighty Allah safeguards our motherland from internal and external enemies conspiracies and acts and rid oppressed and helpless Muslims of Kashmir and other areas of oppression, suppression and bloodshed.

Islamic Ummah has ditched Pakistan on Kashmir. Surprise it took us so long to realise this


All Gulf countries remain fearful of street demonstrations in any shape or form. Protests for Kashmir in Bahrain after Eid prayers led to several arrests.

FOR five weeks, day after day, Pakistanis have been tearing their hearts out complaining that the world has turned a deaf ear to India’s ‘forcible annexation’ of Kashmir. They were shocked when some of Pakistan’s closest allies — including the United Arab Emirates and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — appeared to either side with India or stay silent. When PM Khan invited the foreign ministers of KSA and UAE to “explain Pakistan’s position”, many hoped that things would be reversed. So what happened?
Not much, it seems. The foreign ministers met with PM Khan and COAS Bajwa in Islamabad on Wednesday. Thereafter FM Qureshi is reported to have said, “We are hopeful that [both countries] will not disappoint us. The ministers of both countries have listened to our stance”.
There could not have been a blander statement. No one expected much, but for all three countries it was a good photo-op: Pakistan could claim it had succeeded in engaging KSA and UAE in its promised diplomatic offensive. In turn, without offending India, these two Arab states could be seen as relevant to the region. But this visit will not calm the storm of indignation in Pakistan’s media — unless the media’s minders put the brakes on.
What explains the KSA/UAE tilt towards India? In TV talk shows and from columnists one hears that ours is a dog-eat-dog world where countries care only about markets and trade, not moral imperatives. No one cares about the poor. This explanation is partly, but not wholly, true.
From the KSA/UAE perspective, Pakistan is indeed a supplicant for periodic bailouts. Last year it received over $6 billion from each. Saudis lump Pakistanis with other ‘miskeen’ (needy) people from countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Philippines, etc. The term ‘rafiq’ (dear friend), says columnist Khaled Ahmad, is reserved by Saudis only for white expats from Europe and America. Indians presently do not qualify as rafiqs, but KSA might someday consider a relook.
KSA and UAE cannot call for self-determination in Kashmir for fear of consequences at home.
India’s growing economic clout, the sophistication of its workforce, and KSA-India cooperation in counterterrorism and military matters resulted in Pakistan’s de-hyphenation from India more than a decade ago. In 2016, the Saudi king personally conferred upon Narendra Modi the King Abdulaziz Sash (KSA’s highest civilian award). Earlier recipients include Shinzo Abe, David Cameron, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The list does not have any Pakistani leader.
Most recently, just after Kashmir went into lockdown, Crown Prince MBS vowed to invest $100bn in India by 2021. Earlier this year he had promised to invest $20bn in Pakistan. The differential recognises the different sizes of the two economies. The latest available figures show Pak-Saudi trade in 2017-2018 at $7.5bn while India-Saudi trade in the same year was $27.5bn. Remittances from Pakistani workers in 2018 from KSA were $4.9bn; that from Indian workers were $12.2bn.
UAE showed even less concern than KSA by rubbing salt into Pakistan’s wounds. UAE’s ambassador to India, Ahmad Al Banna, defended India’s action as an internal administrative matter and a “step towards further stability and peace”. Then, on Aug 24, UAE awarded Narendra Modi its highest civilian honour, the Order of Zayed. This made Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani cancel his scheduled visit to UAE.
It’s not just because of India; here’s why it is unlikely that KSA and UAE would ever support Pakistan on Kashmir. KSA is a monarchy run by the House of Saud while UAE is an autocracy run by sheikhs from different Emirati tribes. One becomes a ruler in KSA/UAE because of rank at birth, not by election or competence or any other virtue. Therefore, people cannot be allowed to express their will, advocating democracy is a punishable crime, and dissent is quashed well before it can reach the streets.
Can you imagine the consequences if KSA and UAE were to advocate the democratic rights of Kashmiris? The very next question would be: what about elections and democracy at home? KSA’s foreign minister was therefore as likely to demand democracy or plebiscite in Kashmir as he was to revealing the whereabouts of Jamal Khashoggi’s remnants.
The ill-fated Arab Spring briefly threatened regional monarchies and dictatorships but withered away long ago. As noted above, the man who helped to crush it in Egypt, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, is also a recipient of the Saudi Sash — alongside Modi. All Gulf countries remain fearful of street demonstrations in any shape or form. Protests for Kashmir in Bahrain after Eid prayers led to several arrests.
We must not conclude from this that KSA is uninterested in Kashmir. There appears to be a new kind of religious proxy war in the making. KSA and Iran wish to foist their respective brands of Islam onto Kashmiris; funds for mosques and madressahs and preachers from these countries are going there.
In supporting Kashmiris, national interests everywhere take primacy over all else. The recent strong rebuke to India from Iran’s Supreme Leader was presumably to bolster Iran’s standing with Kashmiri Shias — roughly 15 per cent of the population — although it could also have been an expression of displeasure at India’s de facto acquiescence to US-led sanctions on Iran.
Lest we be unjustly harsh on countries hesitating to denounce India’s actions, let us admit that Pakistan too compromises frequently on essential principles. Look at the facts: to preserve CPEC it cannot speak about the forced dispatch of Uighur Muslims to re-education camps; for fear of angering Saudis and Emiratis it dare not speak of the death and destruction taking place in Yemen; and out of greed for military and civil aid it has served America’s interests for many decades.
Will more energetic diplomacy bring dividends to Pakistan? So far nothing supports this. Of course, things could change if violence explodes in Kashmir after the withdrawal of extra Indian troops, or if war seems to be around the corner. Even then, no one expects much from Muslim countries. “The bubble of an Islamic ummah has burst,” said former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani during a discussion on Kashmir in the Senate last week. True enough, but why did it take Pakistan so long to figure that out?

Pakistan Releases JeM Chief Masood Azhar from Custody Amid Tensions With India Over Article 370 Move: Report

The United Nations designated Azhar a terrorist in May 2019 after veto-wielding permanent member China — also Pakistan’s all-weather ally — lifted its technical hold on the proposal by the US, the UK and France to list him.

Amid heightened tensions with India over the Narendra Modi government’s Article 370 move, Pakistan has secretly released Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar from protective custody. Azhar, who was designated a terrorist by the United Nations in May 2019, has been released to plan terrorist operations, the Hindustan Times reported.
The Indian Navy had recently warned that an "underwater wing" of JeM was training people to carry out attacks. Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh said all stakeholders in coastal security are ensuring that there is no intrusion from the sea. "We have received intelligence (input) that an underwater wing of Jaish-e-Mohammed is training people to carry out attacks from water and that is one change. "But we are fully prepared and will thwart any such attempt," he added.
The UN’s move came after veto-wielding permanent member China — also Pakistan’s all-weather ally — lifted its technical hold on the proposal by the US, the UK and France to list him.
It was a huge victory for India after a decade of relentless efforts to ban the mastermind of several terror attacks against India, including the deadly Pulwama attack against Indian security forces. The listing subjected Azhar to an assets freeze, travel ban and an arms embargo.
Recently, India declared Azhar the first individual terrorist under the amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The Ministry of Home Affairs, through a gazette notification, declared Azhar, LeT founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, Mumbai 26/11 attack mastermind Zakir Ur Rehman Lakhvi and 1993 Bombay blast accused Dawood Ibrahim as terrorists, which means that irrespective of the organisation they are associated with, they will be treated as terrorists under the Indian law.
Pakistan’s latest move comes in the backdrop of India’s decision to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and divide it into two Union Territories — J&K and Ladakh. This irked the neighbour, which scaled with diplomatic ties with India and also suspended bilateral trade.
Services of the Samjhauta Express were halted and Pakistan knocked on the doors of the United Nations in a bid to internationalise the issue. However, it did not get much success as the global community agreed that Kashmir was a bilateral issue that must be resolved between the two countries.