Prof Anita Ghulam Ali, a Sitara-e-Imtiaz laurite and Benazir Excellence Award holder, had departed us on August 8, 2014 at the age of 75. Inna Lillah-e-Wa Inna Ilaih-e-Raejoon (Surely we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return).
Prof Anita Ghulam Ali was one of popular voices in early days of Radio Pakistan. She had joined Radio Pakistan Karachi in 1950s as an English newscaster, and had remained associated with this national broadcasting organization for around two decades. Prof. Anita Ghulam Ali as well as Jahan Ara Saeed (who had come from All India Radio), Anees Ghulam Ali, Khadija Naqvi, Aslam Azhar and Rizwan Wasti were household names in the 1960s, who had taken their job quite seriously, because in those days, reading of a news bulletin required intensive training coupled with determination, commitment and a mind sharp enough to spot errors.
Reminiscing those days, Prof Anita Ghulam Ali had stated: “The organization had arranged a tutor for us – one of the BBC newsreaders – who had taught us pronunciation and diction among other things for six months.
We also had an Englishman called Eric Warner, who used to read the news. Warner would sit outside the studio, and the minute we came out he would point out all the words we had mispronounced while reading the bulletin.
The details included where to stop for a comma and where we had to emphasize on words.
Nowadays when we hear the news we see the newsreaders emphasizing certain words that we were told to play down.
Any foreign name or phrase had to be pronounced correctly as well.” Anita’s voice was well modulated, sonorous and authoritative, and several listeners of the early days of Radio Pakistan still remember her style and rendering of the news
Besides her association with Radio Pakistan as English newscaster, Anita Ghulam Ali was a teacher in microbiology at Sindh Muslim Science College, Karachi where she had remained a revered faculty member till 1985 despite being a tough taskmaster.
Veteran journalist late Hasan Mansoor had quoted her saying: “I cannot shy to say that a third class student can become a first class teacher.”
According to Mansoor, “Prof. Anita used to box the ears of her students, pulled their hair, ripped up their pockets because she believed that this was the kind of communication skills that develops once you show them that you care for them.”
In an interview, Anita had said: “I think, we suffer from a ‘disease’ that we do not learn anything good from anyone.
When we got Westernized and modernized, we learned all the bad things but ignored good things. Okay, the English were not angels, but they had some good things also. For instance, one thing which I repeatedly insist is documentation. You must document anything you notice.”
In one of her memoirs, Anita had written: “Commitment is basic to honesty, dedication, friendship, duty and service. Clarity, focus, purpose and respect for human values follow.”
Prof. Anita Ghulam Ali also served twice as minister of education, culture, science, technology, youth and sports of Sindh and chief executive of Sindh Education Foundation.
She also served in an advisory role on education to the Governor Sindh. She represented Pakistan at various international forums of education and community development.
In her last days, Prof. Anita Ghulam Ali suffered from respiratory disorder, and she was admitted to South City hospital in Karachi where she remained under treatment for three months. She breathed her last on August 8, 2014.
She, what she often said, is survived by thousands and thousands of her students who are in government, police and top vocations abroad.
The writer is retired Controller News Radio Pakistan