Living World History
by Awais Leghari
11TH May marks the day when A’levels World History becomes…history. As much as I’ve suffered torture of writing multiple-page answers and memorizing events that cover well over 10 books, I have to admit, I will miss studying World History. A’levels is usually all about studying the horrifying Vectors and Calculus, combined with a hazardous attack from Bronsted and Lowry’s acids and bases, along with a projectile fall into the abyss of biological mess. And I couldn’t come up with something for Economics and Business, because I don’t take them (sorry boys – and girls, I hope) . So yes, History on the other hand provides a break from all of this. It’s not about learning hard concepts and it’s certainly not about any calculations. It’s simple, yet long and consequently hard to study, but it’s the type of subject you do want to go through.
I still remember the time when I thought Hitler was a good person. That was the time when I hated the Jews for being Jews (Muslims do hate Jews because of the Palestine issue), and that was quite stupid of me, I admit. I idolized Hitler as a charismatic individual who stood against evil, who fought the forces that were polluting our world. I was so wrong. SO WRONG. And how did this dramatic turn come about? One word – History.
Reading about different people in a specific time period gave a lot to think about. When we were studying Italian Unification (1800’s), I could not help but notice the stark similarities between the then Italian Society and today’s Pakistani society. Corruption was rampant, and so was discrimination and nepotism. Austria sat firmly on the helm of a super power dominating a foreign land, overseeing it’s affairs and social conditions, much like what United States does with Pakistan today. There were no “Italians”; there were Piedmontese, Neapolitans, Calgaries etc. If you look into the Pakistani society today superficially, you see all of them Pakistanis, but as you dawn closer into the realms of reality, you find a completely different story. You discover something that you hadn’t known. You see us all scattered as Punjabis, Balochis, Sindhis etc. Quite striking the similarities are, yes. If you have time, go read up on Italian Unification. It’s quite interesting.
Moving on, our syllabus also introduced us to Joseph Stalin, and his pseudo mentor, Vladimir Lenin. I like Lenin because he was bold and decisive, and because people say I resemble Lenin 😛 . Joseph Stalin is someone who I can’t really pass a verdict on. Was he good or bad? Considering socially, he was bad since he set up a state that thrived on a terror apparatus. But politically, he was sharp as ever, overcoming the competition from the influential Trotsky to fending off Bukharin, Kaminev and Zenoviev. Furthermore, his maneuvering on the global stage reflects the use of wit, of when to be silent and when to act. Saying of Stalin, here’s a photo of someone a friend of mine stumbled upon on the airport:
Now that’s a big load of Stalin.
Moving on, our A2 syllabus covers very recent events, such as the World War 2, the Cold War, the origins and activities of financial institutions like the IMF and also a bit of decolonization and arms race. All this is a big bite to swallow, but it does taste great. So, if you’re not a World History student, read up on the topics I just mentioned for fun. You won’t regret it. And if you’re an O’level student, then take World History in the A’levels. It’s more than fun – it’s a necessity and gives you a break from other hell-ish subjects. Plus, it also gives you the chance of observing your society with a different angle, or let’s just say, you get the chance to live world history.