Monday, July 10, 2006

Adil Najam, Blogs, and A New Graphic Ethic

I have already mentioned most of this, but I felt I still owe readers a formal introduction.

Over the years, I have watched from afar, and then built a relationship with, and collaborated with Dr. Adil Najam, as he evolved from Civil Engineering student, journalist and talk show host in Pakistan; to student and scholar at MIT, Harvard and Yale (which is when I first met him, while I was interning at a design consultancy in Boston) ; and then on Boston University's faculty; and now as Associate Professor of International Negotiation and Diplomacy at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Over the years, I have learned to respect Adil's deep social, cultural and historical insight. And especially how, very much in the spirit of the couplet that provides the theme of this blog, his social and sociological comments are couched in the kind of very pithy and down-to-earth, yet civilized language one can only expect from a person who is as comfortable on the streets of Lahore as he is addressing the UN General Assembly. At one point, Faraz Hoodbhoy and I were discussing the very new, for us back in 1995 or so, realization that even as we became student activists and thought of ourselves as working for the betterment of society, we were, whether we liked to think of it in that way or not, hooked in to, if not part of the "ahl-e-karam", as the couplet says, of our community. It was an uncomfortable realization. Adil's comment about this was, simply: "You are in denial. I am in recovery, you're in denial."

Over the last year or two, I was honored to be invited by Professor Najam to help out on the West Coast with a survey he was leading of the Pakistani diaspora in the US, focused on their philanthropic giving. (See the post on this blog about that survey and report.)

More recently, I have been providing what input I could as Adil first discovered the blogosphere and then set to work launching his own first foray into that realm. It's called "Pakistaniat: All Things Pakistan". and if you haven't already seen it, check it out. The sensibility of a one-time-newspaperman, the habits of an inveterate information hound, and Adil's amazing sociological eye makes it a joy to read/see. Readers will have noticed the more graphic style that this blog has taken on in the last month or so. That is itself the effect of engaging with that project, and the influence of Adil's style in these matters.

Hope readers will enjoy both blogs, and the content on them.

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