Urdu Research, the Academicians and Universities’ Research Journals

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Rauf Parekh

I was a bit surprised to read in an article by Kay Johnson (Dawn, EBR, May 26, 2014) that many members of academic staff of universities “regard teaching as a nuisance that gets in the way of their ‘own’ work”. He was commenting on a walkout staged by the students of economics at Harvard University.

Johnson in the article titled “Angry Economics students are naïve—and mostly right” says that “modern universities prize research above teaching, to a degree that would astonish people outside the system, who imagine its primary purpose is to educate the young”.

The reason for my surprise was not my inability to imagine that an academician at a university would regard teaching as a “nuisance.” In fact I could see for myself (since I teach at a university) that some members of academic staff at some of our government-run universities do think of teaching as a “nuisance.” What surprises me is the fact that even at a university like Harvard the same culture prevails and professors prefer their ‘own’ work to teaching. But we must keep in mind that there is a difference: when Johnson says about professors that they prefer their “own work” it refers to their own ‘research’ work and when we say the same thing about our university teachers it refers to their own work, ‘excluding’ research, reading, writing or other such ‘distractions’ that spoil the pleasure of the perks bestowed by the university.

But all five fingers are not alike. Some of our university teachers not only carry out their own research work but, at the same time, take classes regularly and are proud ‘to educate the young’. Ever since the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has set some rules for the promotions of university teachers, a culture of research has been taking root.

Thanks to the criteria for promotion requiring that academicians at universities write a certain number of research papers and get them published in HEC-recognised research journals—a large number of research papers are being penned and published. The standard of some of the papers is indeed very high, though a good number of weak research papers, too, somehow sneak in and get published. This goes true for Urdu as well as other disciplines.

As for Urdu, not only some of the long-established research journals have been bringing out their new issues, but some new ones too have been launched lately. For example, the department of Urdu and Pakistani languages of Al-Khair University, Bhimber, has launched its research journal. Titled ‘Tehqeeqi zaviey’ and edited by Dr Inamul Haq Javed and Dr Rasheed Amjad jointly, its third issue has just been brought out, which carries research and critical articles by veterans such as Moinuddin Aqeel, Atash Durrani, Najeeb Jamal, Tanzeemul Firdous and some not-so-senior researchers. Dr Aqeel’s article introduces Garcin de Tassy’s history of Urdu literature, about which little is known.

Another new entrant is Sargodha University’s research journal launched by its faculty of Islamic and oriental learning. Named ‘Research Journal’, it is edited by Dr Aamir Suahil and includes articles in three languages, Urdu, Arabic and Persian.

Lahore University of Management Sciences’ Gurmani Centre for Languages and Literature publishes the research journal ‘Bunyad’. Its new issue under the editorship of Dr Najeeba Arif has just arrived. Dr Najeeba Arif teaches at Islamabad’s International Islamic University but was asked by LUMS to work on the journal as a ‘guest editor’. Some of the papers published are invaluable. For instance, Muhammad Hamza Farooqi has contributed two papers, one is on Shibli Naumani and Sulaiman Nadvi’s shared scholarly pursuits and the other contains unpublished letters of Sulaiman Nadvi. In the English section of ‘Bunyad’, Ikram Chaghtai has introduced the life and works of Felix Boutrox, an orientalist who had played a role in the development of Delhi College. Dr Najeeba Arif informed this writer that ‘Bunyad’ had been accredited as HEC-recognised journal, though HEC’s website does not mention it (HEC website is behind the clock in some matters, for instance, it shows Dr Tehseen Firaqi’s name as editor of ‘Bazyaft’ though Dr Firaqi had retired in 2010).

‘Almas’ is a research journal published by Urdu department of Khairpur’s Shah Abdul Latif University. Edited by Dr Muhammad Yousuf Khushk, its 14th issue has just arrived. As usual, it carries a large number of research and critical articles and many of them are worth-reading.

‘Journal of research’ is published by faculty of languages and Islamic learning of Multan’s Bahauddin Zakariya University. Its 23rd issue, edited by Dr Rubeena Tareen and Dr Qazi Abid, was published a few months ago. It carries 20 research papers on different aspects of Urdu literature and language. Keeping in line with its tradition, the journal conforms to a high standard.

Sindh University’s Urdu department is the pioneer when it comes to publishing a quality Urdu research journal. Its journal ‘Tehqeeq’, founded by Dr Najmul Islam, has now entered in its 25th year and it has come up with a voluminous ‘Maktoobaat number’, presenting some rare letters written by literary celebrities. Dr Javed Iqbal as editor of the journal has been successfully maintaining the high standard set by Dr Najmul Islam.

Publication of research journals is a welcome sign as this does point to the flourishing research culture in the country, albeit some of the research papers published have been written just for the sake of fulfilling the promotion criteria. One hopes that with the passage of time the threshold for accepting the papers for publication by these journals would be raised a bit further

Rauf Parekh, “LITERARY NOTES : Urdu research, the academicians and universities’ research journals,” in Dawn, June 3, 2014. Accessed on March 1, 2015, at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1110158/literary-notes-urdu-research-the-academicians-and-universities-research-journals

The item above written by Rauf Parekh and published in Dawn on June 3, 2014, is catalogued here in full by Faiz-e-Zabaan for non-profit educational purpose only. Faiz-e-Zabaan neither claims the ownership nor the authorship of this item. The link to the original source accessed on March 1, 2015, is available here. Faiz-e-Zabaan is not responsible for the content of the external websites.

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