Book Review: From Kamptee to Dallas

 

From Kamptee to Dallas: one information professional's journey across cultural boundaries: India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and United States / Zahiruddin Khurshid. Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Corporation, 2013. 256 p.

Available from all leading bookstores in the United States and across the world in three formats:

ISBN 978-1-4836-3723-5 (hard cover); 978-1-4836-3722-8 (soft cover); 978-1-4836-3724-2 (e-book)

 

From Kamptee to Dallas is a personal account of Zahiruddin Khurshid's life and background history of his family from 1857 to 2013. Khurshid was born in the family of Sarpanch Mohammed Khurshid Haq on February 8, 1947. During the last 66 years, he lived in four different countries with diverse cultures -- Hindu India (1947-1964); conservative Pakistan (1964-1974) and Saudi Arabia (1974-2011) and free and open United States (2011-present).

The first two chapters covering 40% of the book are biographical information about Khurshid's ancestors, grandparents, parents, and siblings. He traces the roots of his family in Mao Nath Bhanjan in Northern India. In the aftermath of the infamous uprising of 1857, the English forces started committing atrocities against the local population and destroying their assets and businesses. The residents decided to leave the place and headed in different directions. The group that moved eastward and decided to settle down in a small town on the banks of the river Kanhan was led by Khurshid's great grandfather, Abdullah, who was also their Sarpanch (leader of Panchayat), a local system run by a group of elders, notables and respected people of the community.

The head of this group is chosen based on the leadership quality, education, good moral character, and who can be trusted by the community as leader. The title of Sarpanch remained in his family for more than 100 years until 1963 when his father died. Anis Khurshid, who was next in line to become Sarpanch, had already migrated to Pakistan and after the demise of his father, he also brought the rest of the family to Pakistan in 1964-1965 with the exception of two sisters who were married and their husbands preferred to stay in India.

While he prepared biographical information of each member of his family in three to four pages, the most comprehensive write-up of 26 pages is about his eldest brother and ideal teacher, Anis Khurshid, whom he considers the pride of Pakistan. He devoted his whole life for the development of Library and Information Science (LIS) in Pakistan and upgraded the image and status of librarians in the country and abroad. He was a national figure, free from any prejudices or biases. He was an extraordinary person and despite serious illness and resulting handicaps, traveled to places both in and outside Pakistan for presenting papers in conferences, giving lectures at seminars and workshops, consulting, and attending meetings. Recognizing his enormous contributions to LIS in Pakistan and introducing Pakistan librarianship at the international level, the Government of Pakistan honored him with the President's Pride of Performance Award. The document at the end of his biography, Anis Khurshid as seen by hiscolleagues, friends, relatives, and students, shows that he was a true professional and was accorded recognition not only by his fellow citizens, but also by library scholars and academics from all over the world.

Of the members of his own family, Khurshid admires his wife for being supportive of him particularly by sparing him from handling domestic matters and taking care of three children. For this reason, all of them are more close to their mother than father. His eldest daughter, Nazish is a computer science graduate of the Faculty of Engineering Science & Technology at Hamdard University in Karachi. She is married to a wonderful boy. They have a lovely and intelligent son and live in Dubai. While Shahzad was in the 11th grade in school, he got admission to an undergraduate program in computer engineering at KFUPM. After completing his education. Shahzad went to Dallas to join the Graduate School of Management at the University of Dallas (UD). He received an MBA degree with specialization in Supply Chain Management in 2007. Immediately after graduation, he got a good job at Siemens. The youngest daughter is intelligent and was selected on the spot by a healthcare company that recruits doctors for their clients. Beenish works as a liaison between doctors and potential employers. She has excellent communication skills that help her in dealing with the clients.

Khurshid tells his own story in detail starting from India where he lived for 16 years before migrating to Pakistan in 1964. He studied at Rabbani School, which had highly qualified and very experienced teachers. Of them, he admires his maternal uncle, Hameed Jamal, who was his class teacher in grades 10 and 11. He wrote a long piece about his qualities as a person and a teacher. In Pakistan, he lived with his eldest brother Anis Khurshid for about a year and moved along with two brothers, mother, and a younger sister in a house that they bought from the money brought after selling the property in India. He studied at Jamia Millia College and then moved to the University of Karachi to do his BA Honors in Economics. Later, he decided to register in Master's program in Library Science (MLS). One of the reasons for Khurshid to change his subject from Economics to LIS was his confidence that someday his brother would arrange his admission with some financial aid to study at an ALA-accredited library school in the United States. He worked very hard with the goal to top the merit list, but fell short of two marks due to the manipulation of his internal evaluation (IE) marks by one or more of his teachers who did not want the gold medal going to the Khurshid family.

Khrushid worked briefly in Pakistan and moved to Saudi Arabia in 1974 to join the then College of Petroleum & Minerals, now King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals Library in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia as Librarian II. He tells the readers how he developed himself from a copy cataloger to become senior manager. He takes pride in his contributions to library automation, including supervising retrospective conversion of the card catalog and two-system migrations from DOBIS/LIBIS to Horizon and from Horizon to Symphony. About his 36 years service at the KFUPM Library, the following comments of two of his former deans sum up his capabilities and performance:

Dean Dr Saleh Ashoor: "He is a true professional who actively participated in the creation of the Special Libraries Association--Arabian Gulf Chapter (SLA-AGC) and presented about 10 papers in various conference and won the Best Paper Award at SLA-AGC Conference in Abu Dhabi in 2000. He has contributed more than forty articles to twenty-five, or more journals. After reading his biography, I feel he has matured as a writer. I consider his book an authentic and valuable document on the history of the KFUPM Library, about the people responsible for making it a leading library and the factors behind the current decline of its standing among academic libraries of the Middle East. His criticism of several administrative decisions and deviation from the mission and goals of the library and his recommendation to bring back the old glory require serious discussion and debate. I felt honored when Khurshid called and invited me as the most appropriate person to write the foreword of his book. He worked with me for about fifteen years and was always ready to carry out any additional tasks I assigned to him. In the early years of our automation history , Zahiruddin Khurshid was the most valuable member of our library staff, who accomplished some challenging tasks, including retrospective conversion of the card catalog and implementation of the Arabic version of DOBIS/LIBIS."

Dean Dr. Talal Maghrabi: "I am very pleased to know about your forthcoming autobiography. Knowing you and your passion and commitment for the profession, I am sure it will come out as a good work. I know that you are really a great man and a dedicated professional. I feel honored to have worked with you..."

The last two chapters are about Khurshid's one year at Pratt Institute where he studied Library and Information Science. For more details about his days at Pratt, readers are directed to his first published article in Library Scene, the KFUPM Library newsletter, available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267329087_Cultural_shock . He briefly discusses the impact of living in diverse cultures on his life. He also takes exceptions to the negative attitudes of some professional colleagues to be objective in evaluating the quality of any publication. There is no room for personal judgment when scientists and scholars are using one of the journal quality measuring metrics, such as Thomson Reuter's Journal Impact Factor (JIF), or one of the Google Scholar Metrics (GSM) called the h-Index. Unfortunately, prejudices and biases have taken over professionalism, fair play, and objectivity among the librarians fraternity in Pakistan. So much so that some of our friends taking advantage of their role as members of the editorial boards or the panels of reviewers of several LIS journals, make sure that the manuscripts of some authors are not accepted for publication by any journal. They should avoid such malpractices because people are watching them. - AMF

 

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