Fair, Lovely and Politically Incorrect

By: Fozia Tahir

Having lived in the UK for five years I had almost forgotten the importance of fair skin in Pakistan. I recently attended a musical event in my hometown in the north of Pakistan where majority of the population has lighter skin tone. The Host who of course happened to be from the south said, ‘the crowd was full of goray chittay people literally meaning, ‘fair skinned (beautiful) people’. The crowd is so used to such comments that no eyebrows were raised and no offence was taken. In the west however, the same host would have had to apologise soon after giving such a statement.

Why did no one question it?

Why were those who are not as fair skinned as most not offended?

Where exactly does this mind-set come from?

and why must we make peace with it?

We have been blaming colonialism and American influence on Pakistan for so many things but perhaps our mind-set is our own problem. Many politically incorrect things, including the obsession with fair skin, seems to have percolated deep down our thought process. I will not quote many research articles and figures here today but blame our media industry and the people involved in it for continuously reinforcing all the false ideas and poor mind-set that we have long fallen prey to.

Those who know Pakistan well would also know that television is the biggest form of entertainment for majority of the population residing in the urban as well as rural areas of Pakistan. People love to spend their afternoons and evenings in front of their TV. I wanted to see what was going on, on TV in terms of obsession with fair skin. I realised soon after that almost all the skin care products sell the very concept of getting lighter skin tone. Such as, 

Urdu: Hum larkiyon ka face fresh hona chahiye

Translation: Us, girls should have a fresh face

You shouldn’t second guess the name of the product. It is indeed called face fresh

Fair and lovely has long used women with dark skin tone as their models and shown their skin tone improve with the use of their product over time as an example.  This is 21st century and I think it’s about time that fair and lovely changes the name for the new lines it is creating.

What’s funnier is that some of these creams don’t display the products that they contain. E.g. I looked at the packaging of a famous whitening cream called gypsy amazing cream that only said at the front that it contains jojoba oil but no further ingredients were given at the back. It is obvious that the products contain bleach and few major ingredients should be placed at the back of the packing. Its not really my problem as I wouldn’t use the product unless I am conducting some kind of research experiment on the product but those who use it deserve to know what must the mystery magic box contain.  

Fair is not good and kaala (dark skin) is not bad and we need to break such stereotypes especially popular products like Fair and lovely whose consumers seem unaffected by such form of political incorrectness.  

The root of all our problems could be lack of education but many formally educated people also believe in the importance of fair skin. In fact, in Pakistan, fair skin is a requirement in the proposal checklist for a girl from the male side.

Women invest more time and money on their physical appearances and almost no time on personality growth..

Solution: Change aka Tabdeeli?

Change is coming. The newer generation is ready to fight all the stereotypes but we are still shackled by many concepts the like of fair is beautiful.

we have a long long long way to go until we speak about issues like pay gap and equal pay for equal work etc nevertheless we should not give up on our fights to break stereotypes.

Good Luck to us for that…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/66542607@N07/6266540192

Glacial ice- what is the future?

Part 1

Author and Narrator : Fozia Tahir

 

Background Information 

Fresh water accounts for only 3% of global water resources. Remaining 97% is sea water that contains salt and is unfit for drinking and agriculture. Out of the 3% freshwater available 2.5% is in frozen form in glaciers and arctic ice. Most of this water is stored in aquifers, followed by rainfall falling, natural lakes, man-made storage facilities and rivers. Even this little water that is available for human consumption is not evenly distributed around the world.

Water is essential for life on the planet. It seems to be the only divide between poverty and prosperity. It’s essential for life on the planet (agriculture, food, energy and manufacturing etc) and defines the ecosystem. The limited fresh water supply is getting impacted by rise in population and climate change. Water demands are increasing while the supplies shrink. This requires communities to adapt to the changes. However, there is a need for all of us to mitigate alongside adapting to the global environmental changes. As the water stress and scarcity increases in some areas, increased runoff and rise in sea level will take place in others. Today’s article will focus on one of the largest fresh water resources on the planet i.e. glaciers (and arctic ice).

Case Study

A study in Australia predicted that areas of Antarctica that are permanently without ice could increase by up to 25 per cent by the end of the century because of climate change. About 68,000 square kilometres (less than 1%) of the white continent is currently ice free, and that land is home to 99 per cent of Antarctica’s terrestrial plants and animals, including penguins, seals and seabirds and unique species of mosses, lichens, fungi and small invertebrates. According to Aleks Terauds, a lead researcher with the Australian Antarctic Division, expansion of ice-free areas could have serious implications for biodiversity because of increased homogenisation. The biodiversity of Antarctica is unique, vulnerable, different to anywhere else in the world, and so well protected but we have to manage their conservation and protection with climate change. We must join scientist in efforts to reduce carbon emissions around the world as the rise in sea level will also strip many island communities of their homes.

Climate change is a threat because species have evolved to live within certain temperature ranges, and when these are exceeded and a species cannot adapt to the new temperatures, or when the other species it depends on to live cannot adapt (its food supply), its survival is threatened. All changes we have seen to date has been for a temperature rise of less than 1% since the late 19thCentury. The international panel on climate change (IPCC) has predicted a rise of an average 6 degrees Celsius or more by 2100 based on the current trends in burning fossil fuel.  

Glacial Ice and Glaciers:

Glacial ice (glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets) covers nearly 10% land area on earth and accounts for 75% of the global freshwater.  World glacier inventory (WGI) provides information for over 100,000 glaciers throughout the world. Glaciers form where snow is deposited during the cold and does not entirely melt during warm periods. This seasonal snow gradually densifies and transforms into perennial firn and then the interconnecting passages between the grains are closed off into ice. This mass of surface-ice on land which flows downhill under gravity and is constrained by internal stress and friction at the base and sides. In general, a glacier is formed and maintained by accumulation of snow at high altitudes, balanced by melting at low altitudes or discharge into lakes or the sea. Glacial surges (i.e. advances due to sudden flow with velocities up to 100 times faster than normal advances) and glacial retreats are natural events but their scale is increasing with climate change. Changes in atmospheric conditions influence the mass and energy balance at the glacier surface. In fact, the very concept of climate change has long been spread, showing calving or break off and fall of glacier ice into the water.

Lake formation and glacial lake outburst flood

Lakes can be formed underneath (subglacial), within (englacial), on the top (supraglacial) of or in front (proglacial) of a glacier. The lake formation can be permanent, periodic or infrequent, controlled by the changes in the glacial drainage system. The change can be slow or catastrophic after a threshold. Earthquakes, subglacial volcanic eruption, rock avalanches or debris flows reaching lake can also cause sudden GLOF. Lake formation and glacier retreat usually happen in parallel. As the glaciers retreat, they also deflate and more crevices open. Some of these outbursts endanger human life and resources.

 

Pakistan

With 7,253 known glaciers, including 543 in the Chitral Valley, there is more glacial ice in Pakistan than anywhere on Earth outside the polar regions, according to various studies. Those glaciers feed rivers that account for about 75 percent of the stored-water supply in the country of at least 180 million. But like the other parts of the world, the glaciers are receding, especially those at lower elevations in the KPK. Factors such as overpopulation, poverty complicate the glacial receding e.g. scooping of the ice in warm weathers by people who make money out of it. Data gathered by the met office over the last 50 years shows that around 120 of the glaciers are showing signs of melting.

Other researches recommend that in Gilgit Baltistan due to higher precipitation the glaciers may expand. Many glaciers are covered with silt and debris that insulate them. One such research was carried out in the Shimshal valleyof Pakistan to investigate why while glaciers in the other parts of the world are shrinking, many Karakoram glaciers are advancing. The effect is known as Karakoram anomaly. I will be speaking to the researcher in my next podcast about his research.

Until we come back with the next section of this podcast I want you think about 

What should be done?

  • Does the state implement any laws on ownership and use of glacial ice?
  • Are local communities aware of sustainable use of natural resources?
  • How has change in glacial ice impacted local wildlife?
  • What should be next?
  • Do we have quality local and national level research going on?
  • Do the studies involve GPS and other satellite tools to understand the change and the rate at which change is happening?
  • What will be the effect of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on the already melting glaciers?

 

 

 

Reference:

 

  1. “Water for People, Water for Life” UnitedNations World Water Development Report, Part II: A look at the world’s freshwater resources. UNESCO, 2003,
    unesco.org
  2. https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/climate-impacts/climate-impacts-water-resources_.html(27th April 18)
  3. https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/glaciers/quickfacts.html(26th April 18)
  4. http://www.grid.unep.ch/glaciers/pdfs/glaciers.pdf
  5. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistan-has-more-glaciers-than-almost-anywhere-on-earth-but-they-are-at-risk/2016/08/11/7a6b4cd4-4882-11e6-8dac-0c6e4accc5b1_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.123bc0511720
  6. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-glaciers-highway/pakistans-glaciers-face-new-threat-highways-black-carbon-idUSKBN1D30WK
  7. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-29/biodiversity-antarctica-climate-change-increases-ice-free-areas/8662054
  8. https://chge.hsph.harvard.edu/climate-change-and-biodiversity-loss

 

 April 2018: Photo showing rescue operation in progress past a rock and ice avalanche in Ultar Hunza (source: Pamir times)190769_32934_updates