Gilgit - Baltistan

Culture: Does it really matter?

by Sultan Ahmad

Culture is a very complex and dynamic subject which has many dimensions to it. Ranging from the day-to-day life matters to attitudes, behaviors and ofcourse the religion, traditions, customs, language and values, culture is in a way our second skin which cannot be ignored.  Culture in a sense evolves through a process and gets hatched in a particular society where people develop their traditions, customs and life style according to the emerging situation, however the values remain intact. Cultures have strong value systems which have certain meanings for the people around. This is what makes cultures so unique and important. It is important to notice that there are different cultures having their own distinct identities but they also share certain values and beliefs with other cultures. This brings us to the idea of multiculturalism which is an emerging field of study and research. How to create an enabling environment for different cultures to survive in a particular society is the test of multiculturalism. This requires a set of knowledge, skills and attitudes required to understand one’s own culture and others so that one is able to tolerate other cultures whilst practicing his or her own culture. In modern terminology the ability to do so is called cultural competence. Developing cultural competence means discovering a whole lot of knowledge about various cultures which have either been misunderstood or ignored because of various reasons. By the way much of discussions and deliberations are done in the West with regard to the cultural competence and multiculturalism for obvious reasons of growing immigrations from different parts of the world mainly South Asia!!

 With this little background, I would like to raise some questions for discussions and debate:

 1.                  Does culture really matter for us in a global society? If yes How

2.                  What are the core values that make our culture unique?

3.                  What are the key dimensions of culture which are at the verge of extinction?

4.                  What are the major forces that affect our culture in positive or negative ways.. media??

5.                  Is there any need to study, preserve or protect our culture, if yes how?

6.                  How do we see our cultural identity and what needs to be done to protect it?    


The contributor is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Professional Communications from at the Royal Roads University, Canada. He belongs to Chipursan, Gojal.   

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  1. There are no laws as such in the Culture. Social norms are enforced by convention (personal reputation, ‘good manners’ and by, as described in The Player of Games, possible ostracism for more serious crimes). Minds generally refrain from using their all-seeing capabilities to influence people’s reputations, though they are not necessarily themselves above judging people based on such observations, as described in Excession. Minds also judge each other, with one of the more relevant criteria being the quality of their treatment of sentients in their care. Hub Minds for example are generally nominated from well-regarded GSV (the largest class of ships) Minds, and then upgraded to care for the billions living on the artificial habitats.

    The only serious prohibitions that seem to exist are against harming sentient beings, or forcing them into undertaking any act (another concept that seems unnatural – in fact is almost unheard of – to almost all Culture citizens). While the enforcement in theory could lead to a Big Brother-style surveillance society, in practice social convention among the Minds prohibits them from watching, or interfering in, citizens’ lives unless requested, or unless they perceive severe risk. The practice of reading a sentient’s mind without permission – something the Culture is technologically easily capable of – is also strictly taboo, and Minds that do so are considered deviant and shunned by other Minds (see GCU Grey Area). At one point it is said that if the Culture actually had written laws, the sanctity of one’s own thoughts against the intrusion of others would be the first on the books.

    This gives some measure of privacy and protection – though the very nature of Culture society would, strictly speaking, make keeping secrets irrelevant: most of them would be considered neither shameful nor criminal. However, it does allow the Minds in particular to scheme amongst themselves in a very efficient manner, and occasionally withhold information

    aslam pervaz killic

  2. Yes culture changes, sometimes it needs to be changed through reforms in rules, some times features of culture get extinct because of environmental changes or catastrophic conditions.
    Rigid culture always faces threats and discriminations for being stubborn and legs behind in civilization due to its resistance to change.
    Accept the Good from Others and Weed out the Bad from Yours


  3. Talking about change, modernity and advancement in culture prospective .I defined Culture!
    CULTURE is a Human Behaviour, Atitude, Action and Reaction according to their natural environment, which has collective acceptance and changes with passage of TIME!
    It is very debatable until one understands the crux of change and culture, modernity or westernization.
    The main thing which comes to me, that is respect toward natural environment and basic humanitarian appreciation, acceptance, valuing ones feeling and equality, culture is not from piece of cloths or other things which were used few decades back. for instance, wearing of woolen paints, shoshk (Sandal) and half bats (coats) which has its usage even now but these woolen trousers, leather shoes and other stuffs have different way of outfitting compare to those which were used decades back, the same traveling on horse backs or using other animals, is no more in use, the same comportment way using dishes are no more in practice. Taste and preference always changes, but the only thing that may stay for long in cultural system is respect, value and equality for every thing exists around you. Practice beliefs, faiths and adhere progressive religious dogmas. And these all comes from change! That gain of change is not merely from wearing trendy dresses or dropping long hairs, curving shaves blabla… The progress and change comes from INTILLECTUALY GAIN!

    Thinking high and hoping high is regressive, until one works hard. that is progressive (Mirza Ali)
    MirzaW ISB

  4. Emotional response! Mr. Sultan What ever has seemed to you is not true at all. The first thing is that I don’t use WIKIPEDIA in stead I use other search engines as a research student but all I have written is my assumption from the experience of working on various mini ethnographic researches for over 2 packed years of study APPLYING VARIOUS THEORIES OF EVOLUTION by Spencer Darwin and Malthus .They best address culture….. . THOSE COMENTS WERE JUST INFRENCES and not exact words of any theorist. Kindly (fathwe na laga liya keejye) as my comment can never be from wikipedia.I don’t use it! Please. If you really meant to know the source I would have mentioned these to you.
    Any ways sir I found you more at an intellectual war then to have an opinion pool Oops!
    habiba (FJWU)

  5. Dear Habiba

    Thank You very much for actively participating in discussions on Pamir News Blog. Your views are inspiring, indeed.

    Mr Sultan Ahmad pointed out the comments of Aslam Pervaz Kilic (the guy who posted his comments before you), providing me the link, that the entire comment had been copied from wikipedia.

    It wasn’t meant for your comments. I would request you to go through all the comments on that opinion piece, once again, to clarify.


  6. To protect our culture in a global multicultural society, we will have to take substantial steps in this regard i.e. through promoting cultural tourism , global interactions and projecting the traditional norms and values that we have in our society.

  7. Dear Habiba et al:

    My perception about PT is far beyond just a forum to chat or indluge into interactions which could otherwise be done at various forums. I see the contributors of this forum as intellectuals who can contribute towards generating knoweldge or cultivating knoweldge in a sense that applies to our context. I have generated this debate for a cause. Actually I am planning to write the final reserach project of my MA degree on our culture and the impact of media on various facets of our culture. As an initial step, I started this thread so that I can get a feel of how should the reaserach tools be used and what would the proposla look like. With this trust and hope I started this discussion but I saw the first response which seemed to me not a response rather ‘An essay” which you may find on internet in tons. So as a second step I chekced it on the net and found it dito copy from wikipedia. So I think it was my responsibility to inform PT about it and I am glad that they picked it right away.

    So to keep it short, I have emtions but people know me for not being an ’emotional’ person. Any how I thank you for misunderstanding me!


  8. Dear Sultan

    Thanks for putting up the aspects of culture into a clearer perspective in simpler terms, enabling the readers to understand its dimensions, but the six questions raised for debate seem to be daunting ones.

    The questions seem simple though, but would require adequate study, time to reflect and increased cultural competence to answer them with some confidence.

    Hope that many of our youth inspired by your ideas will take the opportunity to devout some of their time to increase the competence for better understanding of the importance culture in life; individually and collectively, in order to become multi-cultured in the emerging global village.

    Wishing you an intellectually productive time in Canada

    Mutabiat Shah

  9. Sir, thanks for your kind words and feedback. You are right, these questions need deliberations and thinking with a lot of diligence and prudence. I have put these questions to a forum which I believe is rich and diverse in experience and knoweledge. We are fortunate that there are highly experienced and well aware contributors like yourself who can mentor and guide us and ofcourse there is the younger generation which has amazing potential and talent. So I am actually looking forward to some fruitful discussion which may be helpful to me as a learner in intercutural communcation and will also help other readers or lovers or PT.

    Thank you so much again for your encouragement.

    Sultan Ahmed

  10. The questions are of immense interest for me. I will share my persepctives, as best as I can, on each question.

    1. Culture is a relative phenomenon. Its importance is felt the most when a cultuer interacts with another. A culture in isolation has nothing to compare against, thus, the sense of ‘identity’, which originates from a cutlrue, may not be as strong. In a globalized society where cultures are coming in contact, colliding, assimilating or remaining like oil and water, the importnace of culture is felt very strongly. Identity of the cutlural group is at stake. No doubt the sense of identity can vary from individuals to individuals. But by and large people tend to behave in groups, eager to remain attached to their ‘original’ identity. Thus, at this stage, in my opinion, cultures transcend the material aspects and get more psychological and ‘spiritual’ dimensions. Thus when your identity is at stake, you’re psychological and spirituality can not remain unscathed.
    2. Our cutlrue is unique in many aspects, like all other cutlures of the world, for many reasons. First, our cutlure draws from the geographic realities of our region. Nowhere on the earth do people share exactly the same geographic conditiots like us. So, they don’t interact with the nature similar to us. This interaction with man and the nature forms many foudnations of the ‘myths’, ‘ideologies’, ‘folklore’, music and, even, literature. Thus because of our location in a aunique place we have a unique cutlural heritage – though very progressive
    a. It also draws from the origin of our ancestors. Since we have migrated into Gojal/Gilgit – Baltistan, like rest of many groups, they brought along and mixed their social, economic, religious and political aspirations and realities with the communities in their surroundings. What we call our ‘cutlure’, in reality’, is the way it was shaped by the ‘interactions’ of our forefathers with the nature of this land, and the people who lived in the nearby villages. It is, thus, unique. Not shared by our brethern in Wakhan.
    b. Our language, itself – having Persian colors, is a unique aspect because of its abiliyt to accept terms from Burushaski, Shina, English and Urdu. It is a symbol of ‘unificaiton’, rather than ‘exclusivity’
    c. The improtance that our culture attaches to familiy relations – fraternity, consiering the entire village as your ‘home’, everyone in the village as a ‘family member’ and the sense of respect for fellow human beings – which follows such feelings, our openness to strangers, peaceful ways of dispute resolution/management [now corroding] are unique and the world has a lot to learn, if they want to learn or if we are able to share our life with them. Not all societies are like this. Not many.
    d. Our culture is a confluence of South Asian, Hunzai and Pamiri cutlures. But the process of convergence hasn’t completed, or died.Today, we are learning from other cutlures, like Euroasian and American. This is the best example of our uniqueness. Our value of ‘cutlural learning’.
    e. However, as they say in Urdu “Kawa Chala Huns ki Chal, apni bhul gaya”[crow tried to walk the goose, and forgot itself’]. Confluence has never and shall never mean the ‘dominence’ of those at the helm of ‘technological’ innovation. It shall mean cnfluence. Not losing our color. A rainbow of one color isn’t possible. All the seven colors must be there for the rainbow to be.
    3. Our humanitarian and collective thought is endangered. Our language is threatened, like never before. We have not been able to develop themodern tools, effectively, to be able assert our lingual identity.
    4. The flow of information is the main benefactor or culprit. The dogrma of open mindedness shall be doomed. The idea of active mindedness needs to be promoted; so that the ‘information’ filters get installed in our brains
    5. Sure, there is a need.
    6. My culture is my identity. It shall be my pride. Remain informed, optimistic and vibrant, if your identity is to be protected from extinction.

    I hope that I have been able to add to the ‘Guftgu’


  11. These are wonderful thoughts Noor and ofcourse it is a great contribution to the Guftgu on this topic. I really appreciate that. The two words i.e. open-mindedness and active-mindedness seemed quite interesting and I am still thinking of it from different perspectives. Thanks for making the point which is really important and you have also talked about the filtering of information. I think this area needs some more elaboration and I hope you will shed some more light on it.

    Sultan Ahmed

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