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The Soccer Hooligans of Reasoned Discourse

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In the last 15 years there has been a sententious allusion in the market with texts that either abnegate religion and term it as opium of masses or adduce and excerpt god as a malevolent bully at the helm for spilling the blood of innocents. The most important being “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins, “The End of the Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason” by Sam Harris and “God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” by Christopher Hitchens. These texts castigate and criminate religion as one lacking kosher concreteness filled with internecine and pestilential intensity and lacking partisan of common sense, reason and evidence.

The verdict of Sam Harris confirms Islam is a threat and censures everything which goes against his proclamation. He says “we are at war with Islam” and further certifies Islam is a terrifying and torturous faith which misinforms its religious adherents. Now that he impugns religion on the basis (as one which substitutes its truculent acts and brings religion as a rationale for it) such kind of statement isn’t surprising at all. As for professor Dawkins, every faith (unlike Harris who targets Islam only) whose deity (God) is a malevolent bully flourishes around fools which he terms as gagged up and bad and to skepticism of dawkins, he wants every intelligent person irrespective of gender to pierce this nonsense thing called religion because it doesn’t answer various questions which have been answered by science. While Christopher hitchens has based his arguments on the conversations he held with numerous persons worldwide from Beirut to Belfast.

Albeit they are different personalities and their style of writing is very much distinctive as well but their basic narrative descends from same argument (all faiths and texts are creation of “imaginations errant persons” and not by god) and meanwhile hug each other to raise a common toast. They blame faith for heinous and horrendous acts like human trafficking, massacres and genocides and not evidence or reasons. Christopher Hitchens says “if one must have faith in order to believe something, then the likelihood of that something having any truth or value is considerably diminished” and according to professor Dawkins “ faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument”, whereas Sam Harris puts it as “faith is what credulity becomes when it finally achieves escape velocity from the constraints (reasonableness, internal coherence, civility and candor) of terrestrial discourse.

It reminds me of sacrifices made by Prophet Abraham and Prophet Ishmael and the great Christian allegory “the pilgrim’s progress” penned down by John Bunyan, in which a man had left his family without citing any reason, while his wife and children kept looking. If the same incidents were to be comprehended by these authors, their assertion would be like “in the name of faith, these fanatics are sacrificing because their faith inventor is a blood thirsty beast and relinquishing with no justification other than bats in the belfry impellent”.

The very next but a good question asked by professor dawkins, which has been answered many times by theologians, is why Adam and Eve were given such a harsh punishment just for eating a forbidden fruit. According to him this act “seems mild enough to merit a reprimand”. There are various dilemmas evident in religion and respective theologians are grappling with them but surely scoffers and atheists can’t answer this. My answer to it is “since it was not a matter of morality or immorality (abiding or following morality or otherwise rests in the realms of JUDGEMENT, usually every person is gifted with, some in low and others in higher quantum). It was actually a matter of faith, which was put to test, else nature fails to provide any reason for eating a fruit or not. If human beings are given the authority to judge the matters of faith then religion will become a rotten idea.”

The other question asked by Christopher “why, if god is the creator of all things, were we supposed to praise him incessantly for doing what comes naturally?” To this my answer is, whatever praiseworthy good we do, it descends from him and we can’t tender any other word for the one who contains epitome of every superlative thing but gratitude and of which no credit goes to human being but to god, and if the same act of gratitude is done with a sense of pride tantamount to sin, given he is omnipresent and omnipotent.

These three atheists in amusement enter into a common frame of reference and ask why didn’t Jews reject the existence of god after holocaust? What actually needs to be addressed is not holocaust but good and evil and to this my answer is “every human being has been bestowed with free will and was perfected in upright and just manner by god and same proceeds by his deeds, whether good or evil.

My arguments are purely based on theology and may be cogent or settling to few and indefinite to others. These narratives are present in the works of above mentioned atheists but being refuted as ignorant, moronic and naïve. This is not a matter of open mindedness (which of course they leave at home, when faith is the subject of debate) but something much bigger than that. They not only want to get religion divorced from state globally but take dig at fundamentals, irrationalists, deficients etc and this kind of so called unbound “pragmatic thinking” is as a result of secularism and liberalism, which I will address in my next article.

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New Social Compact

Modernizing Higher Education for Economic Growth

MD Staff

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Malawi has fewer affordable universities than it has students who want to go to them, leaving college out of reach for many. Enrollment in tertiary education is low, but more and more Malawians hunger for it. With IDA financing from the World Bank, Malawian citizens now have more options.

The five-year, $51 million Skills Development Project is helping public universities to strengthen and increase public access to programs that cater to sectors critical to Malawi’s economic growth. These include engineering, natural resources extraction, agriculture, construction, health services, tourism, and hospitality.

Beyond the establishment of the National Council for Higher Education, project funding supports a range of activities at institutions, including improving course offerings and staff skills, renovating infrastructure, and setting up satellite facilities.

Market-relevant course offerings

To expand the range of scientific skills and mid-level technicians needed to fuel Malawi’s economy, 39 new programs have been developed by universities, with the participation of the private sector ensuring their relevance to the economy. By 2017, these programs contributed 44 percent of the new student intake to public universities.

Diploma programs at universities have also been bolstered to increase the training of mid-level career personnel needed by various trades. For example, the University of Malawi’s Polytechnic now offers 10 technician-level engineering diploma programs in subjects like mining, telecommunications, and health. By 2019, these programs are expected to have enrolled 750 diploma students.

Modernized facilities

One of the major constraints to increasing student enrollment at public universities has been space. At Chancellor College, where most of Malawi’s secondary school science teachers are trained, more and better infrastructure is expected to make it possible to boost student intake by 65 percent. This includes modernized laboratories and four new lecture halls seating 350 students each.

This will go a long way toward meeting an increase in the demand for science teachers, following the introduction of physics and chemistry as separate subjects in the secondary school curriculum.

Mzuzu University is heading to be the country’s center of excellence in tourism training. It is constructing a purpose-built tourism and hospitality facility that will produce graduates who are industry-ready.

Online and distance learning

The Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) and Mzuzu have introduced online and distance learning (ODL), resulting in increased enrollment at both. At LUANAR, online students make up 10 percent of the total student population. Between 2014 and 2016, Mzuzu increased its intake of online students tenfold. With more affordable fees and flexible options, the ODL system has helped to open access to higher education for many people nationwide.

“I enrolled through ODL because of its flexibility. I continue with my everyday life and yet I am studying at the same time. This is wonderful,” says 45-year-old Joe Mwenye, a father of five and a teacher in Ngabu in Chikwawa district. He is studying at LUANAR for a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Extension.

LUANAR has three ODL centers: one in the town of Mzuzu, another in Lilongwe, and another in Blantyre. Mzuzu University is opening satellite centers in Balaka, Karonga, Mulanje, and Lilongwe.

World Bank

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New Social Compact

The Depth of Taboo: Social Issues in South Asia

Dr. Matthew Crosston

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Rarely does a geopolitical handbook also make such large and important contributions to uncomfortably critical social issues. This handbook is that rare example. The author Aryal takes our MD readers deep into some disturbing discussions – caste systems, systematic violence against women, rape, honor killings, gender stigmatizing, and societal sexism – not to just anecdotally expose people to some of the continued living horrors afflicting important regions of the world but to systematically analyze such atrocities so that their long-term political, economic, social, and diplomatic consequences are revealed.

What many around the world do not realize is how crippling these gross abuses of human decency can be for a nation and region writ large: these are not just individual crimes to be noted and then forgotten. The failure of societies, the failure of GLOBAL society, to make more effective progress and take a more rigid stand against injustice is a black mark on all countries, on all of us. This handbook in its own small way strives to be a light within that darkness and as such it is both informative and courageous. While the readers of MD will not find the content of this particular handbook for the faint of heart, the importance of acquiring this knowledge, of becoming more aware of the world that we live in as it truly is in so many places, should be considered a duty of all those fortunate enough to not be born into states where such systemic violence still exists and largely goes unchallenged.

The title of this work is no accident and no shameless marketing attempt to attract more readers. Rather, it is exposing in a single word the reason why overcoming systemic violence based on gender is so difficult. Social taboos run deep in every region, state, city, town, village. We will likely not succeed in eliminating them from the social conscience of people. But the attempt to ameliorate the power of taboo, its power to push rationality out and pull insanity in, is a noble one that all of us at the editorial staff at MD recognize as silently essential for the cause of future peace on so many different levels. The battle against taboo is the secret front end of the war against gender violence and oppression. Ultimately, the criminal justice systems of societies must improve to remedy those actions not prevented from occurring. But the real long-term comprehensive solution will be the effort to eliminate the fear of social taboos, to eliminate the stigma that drives many to commit ignorant violence in the first place.

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New Social Compact

Women and girls with autism must be empowered to overcome discrimination they face

MD Staff

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On World Autism Awareness Day, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has joined the global call to empower women and girls with autism and involve them and their advocates in policy and decision-making to address the discrimination and other challenges they face.

“They face […] barriers to accessing education and employment on an equal footing with others, denial of their reproductive rights and the freedom to make their own choices, and a lack of involvement in policy making on matters that concern them,” said the Secretary-General in his message on the Day.

Emphasizing that “our work for gender equality and women’s empowerment must reach all the world’s women and girls,” he stressed that the international community’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must uphold the 2030 Agenda’s core promise to leave no one behind.

The Goals and the landmark framework from which they emerged were adopted by UN Member States three years ago. Together they aim to wipe out poverty and boost equality by putting the world on a more sustainable economic, social and environmental path by 2030.

“On World Autism Awareness Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to promote the full participation of all people with autism, and ensure they have the necessary support to be able to exercise their rights and fundamental freedoms,” concluded the Mr. Guterres.

Autism is a lifelong neurological condition that manifests during early childhood, irrespective of gender, race or socio-economic status. The term Autism Spectrum refers to a range of characteristics.

Autism is mainly characterized by its unique social interactions, non-standard ways of learning, keen interests in specific subjects, inclination to routines, challenges in typical communications and particular ways of processing sensory information.

The rate of autism in all regions of the world is high and the lack of understanding has a tremendous impact on the individuals, their families and communities.

The World Day is marked annually on 2 April, and this year’s official UN commemoration will be on Thursday, 5 April, with a half-day programme in New York entitled Empowering Women and Girls with Autism, that will feature a keynote address from Julia Bascom, Executive Director, Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

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