Every­day Evo­lu­tion

Southasia - - BOOK - The writer is as­sis­tant ed­i­tor at Southasia. She fo­cuses on is­sues of po­lit­i­cal and so­cial in­ter­est.

At a time when there is a dearth of good qual­ity sci­ence-re­lated books in Urdu, ob­vi­ously be­cause of low de­mand of such books, it is in­deed quite dar­ing of Prof. Dr. Syed Riaz Baqar to write a very com­pre­hen­sive book that deals with an im­por­tant is­sue – the evo­lu­tion of hu­man life. His book ‘In­sani

Ir­tiqa Ki Ka­hani’ is a valu­able ad­di­tion to the small pool of well-re­searched Urdu books writ­ten on the sub­ject.

Knowl­edge is the key to progress and sci­ence and his­tory are per­haps the most im­por­tant com­po­nents of knowl­edge. With­out his­tory, the hu­man race couldn’t have known how its an­ces­tors lived and pro­gressed over cen­turies and with­out sci­ence, it would have been im­pos­si­ble to give a log­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion of the evo­lu­tion hu­man be­ings have un­der­gone since the be­gin­ning of time. Although the study of var­i­ous other dis­ci­plines is equally im­por­tant, for a na­tion to progress, it is es­sen­tial that its peo­ple are well-versed in the afore-stated sub­jects.

Man has al­ways been cu­ri­ous about his ori­gin as well as the ori­gin of the planet he calls home. In his quest to find an­swers about life on earth, he has trav­elled to all cor­ners of the planet and even beyond. He has been suc­cess­ful in find­ing most an­swers; how­ever, there still are many mys­ter­ies that re­main un­re­solved. Not the one to give up, man has pur­sued the mis­sion to seek knowl­edge and, as a re­sult, he has un­earthed some ba­sic re­al­i­ties.

From its ear­li­est sin­gle unit form to to­day’s com­pli­cated hu­man body, the evo­lu­tion of life is an amaz­ing phe­nom­e­non. Dur­ing the course of this sig­nif­i­cant dis­cov­ery, one has learned amaz­ing facts about the sur­round­ings and other forms of life. The west is lucky in the sense that it has recorded, and con­tin­ues to do so, the wealth of such in­for­ma­tion and knowl­edge in the form of books. Take any topic and you are likely to find a book on it in English, one of the most widely spo­ken lan­guages in the world. This is per­haps the main rea­sons for the west’s suc­cess in ev­ery field – from en­gi­neer­ing to medicine, in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, etc.

It is a mis­for­tune of those who speak Urdu – another widely spo­ken lan­guage in the world – that there are very few books avail­able in this lan­guage that deal with sci­ence and sci­en­tific re­search. In Pak­istan, for in­stance, text books make up per­haps the largest num­ber of sci­ence-re­lated books in Urdu. This fact in­creases the value of Dr. Baqar’s book as it is writ­ten in a sim­ple and easy to read man­ner and is equally en­joy­able for both an aca­demic and a common reader.

Although the sub­ject mat­ter of the book – the evo­lu­tion of life – is heavy in it­self, the writer re­veals that what mo­ti­vated him to write the book were the child­ish queries of his grand­chil­dren about how hu­man life started on the planet. En­cour­aged by th­ese in­quires, he started mak­ing a list of ques­tions about the ori­gins and evo­lu­tion of hu­man be­ings. The book also an­swers some ba­sic ques­tions such as what evo­lu­tion is, what the ori­gin of life was, how a sin­gle cell be­came the most im­por­tant unit, the mu­tual relation be­tween hu­mans, the birth of the con­cept of so­ci­ety, the equa­tion of re­la­tion­ship be­tween man and an­i­mal and hun­dreds of other sim­i­lar top­ics.

It is a trea­sure trove of use­ful and, at times in­ter­est­ing, in­for­ma­tion such as at what point man was called a hu­man, why one hu­man race is dif­fer­ent from another and how man has strived to bet­ter his con­di­tions. A spe­cial fea­ture of the book is that it does not dwell on the ques­tion of evo­lu­tion from the biological per­spec­tive only – although the writer ap­por­tions the most space to sum­ma­riz­ing the ori­gin of life as ex­plained by fa­mous bi­ol­o­gists. In­stead, it also ex­plores hu­man evo­lu­tion from the lin­guis­tic and so­cial per­spec­tives. For in­stance, while de­scrib­ing how the an­cient peo­ple of Aus­tralia and Poly­ne­sia trav­elled, the writer shares in­ter­est­ing in­sights into their ex­per­tise in mak­ing boats and ca­noes.

The au­thor says he got the idea of writ­ing the book from dif­fer­ent phe­nom­ena which de­manded sci­en­tific ex­pla­na­tion and some­times per­plexed the common man. The book is, how­ever, more likely to at­tract read­er­ship among academia rather than the or­di­nary reader be­cause of its schol­arly sub­ject and also be­cause de­spite the best ef­forts of the au­thor to keep the lan­guage sim­ple, it is im­pos­si­ble to do away with cer­tain dif­fi­cult ter­mi­nolo­gies. How­ever, to solve this prob­lem, the writer has tried to give the English vari­ants of un­com­mon Urdu words such as pollen for ‘zar gul’ and sling for ‘falakhan’, which hardly a few would un­der­stand in Urdu.

The writer has in­cluded some in­ter­est­ing per­sonal in­for­ma­tion about fa­mous peo­ple – bi­ol­o­gists, pa­le­on­tol­o­gists and sci­en­tists mostly – for those who in­tend to read the book to in­crease their knowl­edge. This con­cise in­for­ma­tion pro­vides re­fresh­ing breaks in the oth­er­wise se­ri­ous read.

Another in­ter­est­ing fea­ture is the com­pi­la­tion of pho­tos re­lated to the sub­ject be­ing dis­cussed as well as some per­sonal pho­tos of the au­thor and his fam­ily – the lat­ter taken at places which hold his­tor­i­cal im­por­tance for var­i­ous rea­sons. How­ever, a lit­tle dis­tract­ing fac­tor is the tran­si­tion in tenses in some chap­ters where the writer has ap­par­ently mixed the past with the present which can con­fuse the reader.

Over­all, the book can be a good read for those who are in­ter­ested in ex­pand­ing their knowl­edge. Go­ing through the bi­b­li­og­ra­phy, one learns that the writer has read ex­ten­sively to col­lect ma­te­rial from hun­dreds of dif­fer­ent sources and has cred­ited them duly. It also goes to the pub­lish­ers’ credit that they agreed to print the book in Urdu on the sub­ject of evo­lu­tion.

Book Ti­tle: In­sani Zindagi Ka Ir­tiqa Au­thor: Prof. Dr. Syed Riaz Baqar Pub­lisher: Mak­taba-e-Daniyal Pages: 393, Hard­back Price: Rs.950 ISBN: 978-969-419-040-2

Re­viewed by Jave­ria Shakil

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.