In such a system, the academic community is expected to meet contradictory expectations and in many cases gets involved in the most unlikely projects. Some of these have of course been rather successful and some complete failures.
One of the less successful projects has been the unusual program to design a substitute for the American doll Barbie and her partner Ken. Barbie who is usually blond and slim has been considered as a source of moral corruption by Islamic authorities. Abu Dhabi-based The National dated 24 August 2008, reports on this rather strange venture:
“Barbie is an emissary of nudity and promotes moral corruption and consumerism of the West,” the hard-line Kahyan newspaper wrote in an editorial last year. “It is produced with the evil intention of destroying the identity of freedom-seeking nations.”It seems Iranian scholars may be more successful in a slightly different type of project; satellites. According to the same hard-line Keyhan daily dated 19 August 2008, via redOrbit, Mr. Taqipur, the head of Iran’s State Aerospace Organization, has provided some information on the country’s projects for designing, manufacturing and launching satellites in the next two years.
The government agency affiliated to the Ministry of Education had been commissioned by the country’s Supreme Cultural Revolution Council to design and produce the dolls to counter the “western cultural onslaught”. The dolls were based on characters of the brother and sister that dominated Iranian primary school textbooks for decades.
... Six years ago, Iran introduced its own Iranian dolls, Sara, and her male companion, Dara. But they have been unable to dislodge Barbie and Ken as Iranian children’s favorites. The Sara and Dara dolls are not immediately endearing. They are heavy with inflexible limbs and are about 40cm tall making them unwieldy for small children. The dolls come with about 30 outfits that are representative of Iranian ethnic groups. A football kit for Dara, story books and tapes and some other accessories are available, including a white headscarf that is supplied with every Sara doll.
Few shops sell the dolls whereas Barbie, Superman and Batman are found in nearly every toy shop.
The Omid, meaning Hope, satellite will consist of a series of mini satellites … which will be launched into the orbit in the shape of small communication and remote sensing satellites.
Taqipur then explained that the State Aerospace Organization had specific agreements for cooperation in aerospace science with seven universities. He added: “Many of these universities have already set up aerospace studies faculties and have produced a number of graduates as well. Furthermore, we have some extensive plans for cooperation with universities in the field of implementation of aerospace projects. Of course, it should be explained that the three institutions of the Amir Kabir University of Technology, the Sharif University of Technology, and the University of Science and Technology are currently building some student-designed satellites, and these are a part of the national aerospace plans, which will reach fruition in the coming years”.
Picture: Two Saras with one Dara. I could not find a picture of Omid the satellite.