Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Plugging for Rationalist Society of Pakistan (RSOP)

by Salman Hameed

There are always things happening in Pakistan. Both good and bad. Just this past week I had posted about the Pew survey that found that, out of 21 countries surveyed, Pakistan had the highest fraction of people (81%) that saw a connection between hard work and success. But then we've also had a prominent scientist, who used to hold powerful positions in the government, giving in to bizarre conspiracy theories.

In this mix, comes the Rationalist Society of Pakistan (RSOP). This fits in neatly with the large spectrum of views that already exist in Pakistan. The proponents of reason, though, are also often beleaguered. But then there are icons - like Syed Ahmed Khan and Syed Ameer Ali - that were talking about the primacy of reason in a religious subcontinent even before the formation of Pakistan. Indeed, RSOP takes Syed Ahmed Khan as an inspiration. Here is their description of themselves:
RSOP is a platform for intellectually motivated individuals, whether of Pakistani origin or not, who wish to use rational thinking in understanding and resolving all problems faced by the Pakistani society. Our socio-economic issues are multi-dimensional and can be better resolved with a rationalist approach. We believe that Pakistan is gifted with vast physical and intellectual resources but it has failed to put these resources to the optimal use because of disrespect shown to rationality in almost every walk of life. This group encourages use of rationality as a thinking tool to decision making by all actors of our society, both rulers and the ruled. 
RSOP is a heterogeneous organisation that began as a Facebook group and comprises members of different viewpoints. It is important to note that the organisation is "Rationalist Society of Pakistan" and not "Rationalist Society for Pakistan". It therefore welcomes members from all over the world even if they are not Pakistani nationals. We do realize that Pakistan is a part of the globalized village and hence we benefit by communicating with other members of this village. 
RSOP is purely a voluntary organisation. It takes its inspiration from Aligarh movement of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and aims at reforming the Pakistani society through the medium of dialogue. The administration team of RSOP is made up of  volunteers who mostly belong to academia or media in various roles. They came together through the facilitating environment of social media networking. At the moment the admin team of RSOP comprises the following members
This is a relatively new group. Their focus will sharpen and positions will evolve over time. But such groups can play a crucial role in shaping and enriching the intellectual landscape. They have also launched a quarterly e-magazine, called The Rationalist-Pakistanand their first issue is out right now (full disclosure: I have also contributed an article in there). If you write, contribute your thoughts to RSOP. They even have a blog in Urdu. We need more efforts like this! You can join RSOP here (and on Facebook here).


Asad M said...

seems like a very good idea & forum...liked their 'thought of the day'


Anonymous said...

It seems like the bunch of losers are defaming the word "Rational"
In rationalist society of Pakistan.