Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How do I lift thee from the mundane: Musings of a Dean

How Do I Lift Thee From the Mundane

What a fleeting time is youth!
  • that beckons the future
  • that walks in beauty
  • that gallops with force
  • that exudes energy in every motion
  • that dances with the daffodils
  • that climbs every mountain
  • that explores every valley
  • that aspires for the stars

Monday, March 13, 2017

5 Phone Behaviors of Employees who Need to be Fired

Based on my experience with dealing with people over the last so many years, I have identified the following phone behaviors that should raise a red flag about the ethical values and personal responsibility of an employee. A manager can use these phone behaviors to identify the employees who need to be fired or got to be replaced:

1. Getting a Missed Call or SMS from your Contact and not Responding Promptly

Typically an employee who gets a missed call or SMS from office and does not respond within  reasonable time (say) of a few hours to a day is again indicative of disorganized behavior or a tendency to avoid responsibility.   Repeated missed calls where the bell was ringing but is not responded. Or repeated SMS sent, with no acknowledgement or a reply are indicative of a major ethical issue. Sending a small one word message such as "OK" or "BUSY" or a small phrase like "Will call later"  does not take more than a few seconds but greatly reflects on your personality. If you can not do this immediately, then you need to inform in some reasonable time that you are busy and will call later or respond later. However, the messages and missed calls going into a black hole with no response is a very dangerous sign to watch out for. If an employee does this too many times and when confronted comes up with all sorts of lame excuses should not be tolerated. 

Often the excuse that they come up with is a lame excuse such as not having credit or being ill. If one is receiving a number of missed calls and sms and is not responding even after a day, and the excuse is not having credit then this excuse should be intensely pursued and confronted. The excuse of not having credit can be easily rectified by using someone else's phone and sending a message that for such and such reason I can not respond. Similarly, "being ill" is also a lame excuse. Unless you are in coma or unconscious, you can always instruct someone who is taking care of you to simply respond to all the sms/missed calls from known numbers that you are ill and will respond later. 

In the presence of junk spam messages or when a person is too much busy, he may not respond promptly. At times busy people do miss the SMS, however, responsible people do go over there SMS's and respond even if they are a day old. In my experience, greater the responsibility of a person, greater is his promptness to reply to messages/missed calls from known contacts. 

Note: Some people do have a policy of not responding to unknown numbers or not responding to so many interaction channels like Whatsapp, Linkedin, Facebook, Tango, Viber, Soma etc. However, their policy should be clearly stated and the behavior should be consistent. It can not be that you respond some times and then you switch off at others. When contacting a senior person, first introduce yourself through a regular channel like sms and email asking for the permission to call or asking to use some other channel.

2. Not Changing the Phone Behavior Even When Reminded

An employee who does not change his behavior about item above and the three items below, and continues to exhibit the same behavior is not a reliable person. If that person on your confronting him had stated that he will change the behavior and does not and continues with his erratic behavior, then this employee must be fired promptly. He will create huge issues for you later on. Trust me. I have seen this too many times. It is better to be stern the first time and get this thing out of the door.

3. Too Many Cell Phone Numbers (SIMs) and Too Frequent Changes

In Pakistan, people can easily switch buy different SIMs from different vendors and can easily switch between them. If an employee carries more than 2 SIMs (cell phone numbers) and frequently switches among them, then this is indicative of a personality who wants to hide. This person gives different numbers to different sets of people so that he can easily vanish and disappear. This is often done by those who need to pay some liability or need to do some work for someone. They either block the number of the person who owes them something. Managers should watch out for a person who when found to be using multiple SIMs will make a lame excuse of having forgotten to tell the manager that he has switched. 

4. Phone not Charged or Not Responding for a Long Time

Employees whose phones are not responding for a long time or are not responding to several days is also indicative of a personality who is not organized or not willing to reform. Employees when admonished for this behavior should reform, but if they do not then it is better to let such employees go. If a person can not keep his phone charged and online means that he is disorganized and can pretty much not do anything. 

Please note that this may happen also when the person is out of the country and the roaming is not available or too expensive. But, the person, if on roaming, gets an important message and it is too costly to respond, then can always use whatsapp or email (if wi-fi) is available to respond. How this is too infrequent and while calling senior executives is a much more frequent occurrence. However, all such messages should be reponded when the person gets back to country. A message being replied even after weeks is indicative of a highly responsible person. 

5. Changing a Phone Number and not informing those in Contact List

An employee who changes his number and who does not inform the organization and the manager should again raise the flag. Courtesy demands that when changing a number, you should inform  everyone in your contact list especially those with whom you frequently talk about the change.  Changing your number and not informing is a cardinal sin and should indicate to the manager that the employee can not be trusted. 


Please note that my bandwidth on the existing email and sms channels is already full. I have no time to respond to individual such channels that seem to sprouting up everywhere such as at Facebook, Research Gate or other websites. I can not respond to all these channels, and I have stated that. My policy on Facebook clearly states that I only respond to messages on email and sms.

See Also: 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

5 Major Misconceptions of Muslim Parents regarding Parenting Challenges of the 21st Century

[Themes of this post were presented at Forward Institute for Educational Bridgework Seminar on Jan 27, 2016. ]

Note: This post is specifically written for Muslim parents and presupposes reader's belief in Quran and Sunnah.
Over the last few years I have come across Muslim parents who are making extra effort in following Sunnah. However, their over-emphasis on "school education" seems to be backfiring creating several issues stifling the growth of their children. Their misplaced emphasis and strictness reveals several major misconceptions from the Islamic point of view:

1. Excessive Worrying about Education for Earning-sake: Degree as Raaziq?

The worry that Muslim parents exhibit about the "school education" of their children far exceeds the acceptable limits. Their over-focus on the future career of children indicates that their worry is not about education but about the future career and earning. They are not interested in "education for education sake" but are more interested in "education for earning sake" (career = earning). This over-worry of Muslim parents about the future earning potential of their children indicates a weakness of faith in "Allah as Raaziq" (Provider).

One can see that the worry of parents (especially mothers) is much more about "education for earning sake" because they are more worried about their children's show-off-skills than with their cognitive, social and emotional skills which are more important. Mothers are excessively pressurizing the children to measure up to the artificial standards of the show-off-skills mandated by the intense peer pressure, which they can not withstand, especially if it is coming from their in-laws, friends, and cousins. This misplaced emphasis on show-off skills is actually detrimental to the natural development of their children.
I often ask such over-worried Muslim parents, who are mostly from well-off communities, whether your parents or grandparents ever worried about your school education as much as you are worrying about your children's?

  • Did they get you admitted to school at the age of 2.5 or 1.5 years? They did not!
  • Were they worrying about your studies, when you were only 6 years old, as much as you are worrying about your child of 6-year old? They did not!
  • Did your parents hounded you for the homework as much as you are hounding your children about homework? They did not!
  • Were your grades and school performance better than your children? No!

Their answer is often an emphatic "no" to all these questions. If that is the case, then looking at your current situation are you starving? Are you short of money or resources? Are you financially sufficient? That is, Allah, the Raaziq, did provide for you irrespective of the ridiculous standards that you are worrying about!

These parents are much too worried and too much burdened by the peer pressure that seems to be mandating artificially constructed "milestones" (show-off-skills) of speaking, motor skills, reading, writing and school grades which are not backed by any sound academic basis from the experience of countries which are at the top of the education pyramid (such as Finland and other Scandinavian countries).

I am now forced to conclude that these Muslim parents in their subconscious have a weakened  belief in Allah as the Provider: They believe that if they don't teach or give a peer approved education, the future career of their children would be at stake i.e.the child may starve or become poor, or may not do well in class. Deep down they think that a good degree is equal to good earning. They actually think "Wal degree-o khair ur Raaziqeen", instead of
Wallah o khair ur raziqeen.
Allah is the best of providers. (Quran 62:11)
Rizq is something that is given by the creator, as much as He likes, and from wherever He likes. Struggle is our responsibility and a precondition, but how much we actually earn is through the blessing of Allah and at His discretion. For the above reason excessive worrying about the show-off skills of your children borders on a mental sickness of Muslim parents for the following reasons:

2. Purpose of Education

The parents must understand that purpose of education is not to earn money. At best, earning is a by-product of education. Purpose of education is to learn how to differentiate good from bad, and truth from falsehood, and above all right from wrong. This is why Quran is "Furqan":
Blessed is He who sent down the "Furqan" upon His Servant that he may be to the worlds a warner (Quran 25:1)
An education that make us as a better human being and which does not help in making such distinctions (furqan) is not an education. An education that is only visible as a degree is not worth the paper it is printed on. The degree in itself is not a guarantee of good life or good earning.

3. Explosion of Professional Degrees vs the Worry Factor

Over the last 40 years the importance of high grades at matric (O'Levels) and intermediate (A'Levels) has decreased tremendously. Today a student only needs a minimum of 50% to get into a professional college today. With so many choices at the higher education level, it is irrational and even ridiculous to be exerting so much pressure on the kids at school.

In Karachi, 40 years ago, there were only 2 engineering schools (NED and Dawood) and 2 medical schools (SMC and DMC) and one university (KU). A student who did not score well in matric or intermediate was destined to a BA/MA or BSc/MSc from an affiliated degree college. If there was any time when parents should have been worried about the future of their kids, then that was the time. However, parents were not worried as much because their belief in Allah as Provider was still strong, but now they are because their belief in Allah as Provider has weakened and they now believe that education is for earning-sake and Degree is their Raaziq.

Weakening of their belief in Allah as Provider is irrational and startling because in Karachi, today there are more than 44 chartered universities/Higher Education Institutions in Karachi, and it is so easy to get into a degree program of your liking that such excessive pressure on kids at such an early age appears not only irrational but sheer madness (e.g. admitting kids in schools at 1.5 and forcing tuitions upon  3-4 year olds). Please note that there are at least 20 universities offering engineering programs and another  17 universities offerring medical/dental programs. The choices for professional degrees are now much more and more lucrative such as media, arts, textile, film/TV, computer arts, computer science, fashion design, etc. You just need a minimum of 60% in intermediate to get into an engineering or medical program. One can join other professional programs with only 50% (in some cases with even less).

4. Showing the Right Path is the Responsibility of Parents

The advent of internet and free availability of adult content and its accessibility has driven many parents to an extreme position that borders on paranoia. At times I feel that this paranoia reflects in their attitude and is indicative of they having assumed the responsibility of being a "Haadi". In their subconscious they have started believing that giving "hidaya" is their responsibility. If they do not continuously guide and protect their children, their children will go astray. (Naoozibillah).
Being a "Haadi" is an attribute of Allah. He gives guidance to whomsoever He wills and leads astray whomsoever He wills. Yadillo mai yashaoo, waYahdee mai yasha-o. We seek His guidance for the straight path and pray to Him to guide us on the path who had His blessings.
For Allah leaves to stray whom He wills, and guides whom He wills. [Quran 35:8]
Our responsibility as parents is ONLY to teach our kids what is wrong and what is right and using "hikmah" let them know what will happen to them if they adopt straight path (basheer) and what will happen to them if they adopt the wrong path (nazeer).

Of course, we need to try to shield them from as much adversity and temptation as possible. However, when we get full of worry that they may be going towards the wrong path, and are about to blow our fuse, then we should seek help from the "Haadi" and pray to Him to guide the child towards straight path. Our getting angry, or getting irrational and using stick or punishment may not help at all. In fact, it may make the matters worse because your anger will make you lose your powerful capacity of parental love to transform their behavior with love, logic and firmness.

Parents need to understand the limits of their contribution to "hidaya" of their child. Given this understanding of their limitations, the tension level of the parents must decrease. Their anger and temper should consequently decrease. Consider this question:
  • What should be the emotion of a father if he sees his child not praying despite his warning and reminding the child again and again? 
  • Should it be anger or should it be sorrow?
Father should exhibit the emotion of "sorrow" because the child who has not taken heed of his advice and did not pray may go to hell. This should fill the heart of the parent with sorrow. However, the reality for most parents is that the emotion they feel is "anger". Which actually indicates that the ego of the parent has been hurt when the child refused despite his command and warning. Therefore, the most appropriate emotion of the parent is "sorrow" and not "anger" (which is an expression of hurt ego). 

5. Belief in Learning Disability and Manufacturing Defect of a Child;

Believing in a child to have some learning disability or a manufacturing defect is also contrary to what has been taught in Quran:
  1. Luqud Khalqnal Insaan a fi ahsun e taqveem (verily we have created insaan in the best of moulds: Quran 95:4)
  2. Afa hasibtum unnama khaluqnakum abasa (do you think we have created you without purpose?  Quran 23:115)
  3. Concept of "tazkia": Islam teaches us that man comes to this world in pristine form and the world soon starts polluting the personality which then requires "tazkia", cleansing to revert to the original pristine form. See Education as Tazkia.
The above Islamic concepts run counter to the arbitrary and artificial construction of "milestones" with which poor child is measured, is humiliated, is labeled, and then subjected to all sorts of senseless exercises and assessments that have been constructed by psychiatrists who are themselves psychological cases, and have no experience of raising happy and well-adjusted children: 
 A child should start walking at a certain age, should start talking at a certain age, should recognize the alphabets at such an age, should have such and such fine motor skills by this age, and should have such and such coarse motor skills by that age are all ridiculously mandated milestones that are observed more on their breach than in their observance. These artificially constructed "milestones" have no nexus with the real world and the lives of successful people. (For example, Richard Feynman, the famed physicist and Nobel Laureate started speaking at the age of six. Einstein too is reputed to have started speaking at the age of 4.)  

The "myth of milestones" has been constructed by psychiatrists who wanted to create a business for their consultancy. Schools under pressure for not being able to come up to the expectations of parents started labeling the children as "learning disabled" to shift the blame from their teaching methodology to some phantom learning disabilities. Prominent among these psychiatrist constructed phantom learning disabilities consist of ADHD, Dyslexia, Autism etc. 

See Also: 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Why Students Avoid and Stop Taking the Course of Some Teachers: 7 Top Reasons

Over the last 37 years in higher education  as student (from 1980-94), and as faculty member and academic administrator (since 1995), I have come across scores of instances  where students went out of the way to avoid certain teachers, dropped the course en-mass, ganged up to remove the teacher, walked out or simply dropped the course whenever it was possible possible. Here are some of the top reasons for why students avoid certain teachers and drop their courses en-mass:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Why Educational Experiments are "Doomed" to Succeed?

It is often said that all educational experiments are doomed to succeed [1]. Here is my different take on this from the perspective of an educational reformer and educational leader.

There are tons of methodologies, experiments, strategies and their resources that are available to teachers. However, when a teacher designs a new educational experiment, it often means that he has exhausted most of the existing material that he could lay his hands on. He is so frustrated and so angry that he feels inspired to design a new educational experiment of his own.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Struggles of a Conscientious Government Servant: Lessons Learned from Memoirs of Irtiqa Zaidi

I felt honored when I was asked to review the book of memoirs of Mr Irtiqa Zaidi that is about to go into publication. The book is exciting, enjoying, and often a thrilling account of his photographic memory of the events spanning the expanse from his childhood in Quetta to his rise as a senior official in Government, where he was involved in some momentous agreements of Pakistan related to trade and commerce. 

My first meeting with Mr Irtiqa Zaidi was in the early 1970s when he got posted in Islamabad and came to stay at our place while waiting for the allotment of a suitable government accommodation. Irtiqa Chacha is a close relative of my father, and also the elder brother of my brother in law.   During that first winter when he was staying with us, I remember listening to his stories with my father, mother and sisters huddled around coal fire with blankets wrapped around us. I remember listening intently to his wonderful and picturesque narrations that were and still are full of humor and suspense with dramatic turns and twists from among the huge collection of his encounters and personal experiences. I recall that this fully captivating story telling sessions would often seamlessly extend for hours. I had the pleasure of listening to such experiences throughout the seventies when he was among those few relatives that we had in Islamabad, with whom we would regularly meet every week or so. During 1980s and later when I had moved to Karachi,  I would lose no opportunity during my trips to Islamabad to get that warmth of his riveting accounts often starting around dinner time and extending deep into the night.

Coming from that experience of his oral traditions, and after having read the book, I can safely say that this is only the first installment of his store of vivid memories and we are looking forward to an inspiring writer who would now be rendering in print that voluminous store of vivid memories, in volume after volume. At times the details in the book suggest that he has been taking copious notes. However, I think that these graphic details are etched in his mind because of his extra ordinary ability to engage anyone around him with stories of interesting life events. His distinctive humorous style would compel people to soon gather around him, and in no time he would become the center of attraction. This is still true for any gathering where he is. You will see this in his various accounts of foreign training programs and visits, university life, national tours, office gatherings and associations. In fact he quickly became the center of social events wherever they were. The fantastic thing about his stories is that he would always pullout the ones relevant to the audience. I am sure that he remembers the facts because he has related them orally so many times to so many people. Moreover, he had the unique distinction of always remembering the ones he has already told to whom and thus never boring any one with repetition. In cases when he would repeat an incident it would be in a uniquely differently manner.

The book represents the recollection in writing emanating from this refined store of his memories etched in his mind due to their repeated oral renditions in gatherings. This book contains events that I don't remember hearing from him earlier. I suspect in this book he has tried to write down the stories that he has seldom related elsewhere and would like to put them on record. Especially, those related to the challenges of his career and the conflicts that emanated on policy related issues and personalities. Which incidentally is the subtitle of the book that it is the story of a government servant. 

Here are the lessons that I have learned from this book and how I see their relevance to our present challenges. In the following I relate my learning from the incidents of this book. The author may have written them from a different perspective. 

Jhoot ko burai samajhna: How abhorrence of lying was inculcated

Some interesting childhood incidences related in this book indicate how elders in the families in the decades of 50s-60s inculcated in their children an abhorrence for "lying" through personal example. The incident about how a neighbor's "murgha" (cock) enters the house and mistakenly gets killed when a rather heavy footwear is hurled towards it by an elder woman in the house who was trying to scare it and trying to shoo it away. There was remorse and a conference to decide what needs to be said when eventually the neighbor would come looking for it. The deliberations described indicate how important it was to phrase the explanation that it should not constitute a lie. This incident emphasized in the child not to tell a lie, so that he remembers as a value to be cherished irrespective of the consequences. Some other incidences bring out how these values were not taught but were learned through daily life incidences. 

Teachers of 1950s and 1960s

It was interesting to learn that the notion that today's teachers have somehow inferior values and ethics than previous times turns out to be not true. There are good and bad teachers in every era. Some are good and others not good. For instance, Math's teacher who forced the students to buy ink from the poor students and then victimizing and becoming vindictive on those students who could not afford to buy or would not buy reminds me of similar tactics by today's teachers when they victimize the students who do not come for private tuitions from them. However, not all teachers were bad. There were some teachers like Mr Saleem who were passionate about their subject and would go out of their way to help the students becomes very clear. There were good and bad teachers in school as well as in the universities. 

Cheating as Mischief in Exams 

The culture of taking help in examination and where possible trying to circumvent the rules was already taking root during the 1960s . Although cheating/taking undue help had not been institutionalized at that time. The intent, then, was more from the point of view of student indulging in mischief to explore the limits of the system and to test whether the teacher or the student is smarter. However, later this mischief evolved into an institutionalized culture that brought to the knees the system of meritocracy in Pakistan. Starting in 1970s as an unstated policy to support the backward area people's mobility into the government jobs and continuing into 1980s, cheating culture was allowed to make mockery of the board examinations. By 1990s the board examinations had lost lost all their credibility and had forced the universities to resort to entry tests. Good news is that Punjab and to lesser extent KPK has greatly controlled the prevalence of cheating in board exams. Punjab had nearly eliminated the cheating culture from the matric and intermediate board examination over the last 20 years, and is even contemplating eliminating the entry tests for medical and engineering universities. KPK is fast on the track during the last few years, and is on road to completely cleanse the cheating culture. However, Sindh and Balochistan, instead of improving, continues to slide down to ever greater abyss of the cheating culture.  

Lectures in English 

How the use of English has pushed the children from poorer background to remain poor was already established in the 1950s and 1960s. This can be seen from the struggle of the poor people mentioned at Tando Jam University, and how the English competency of Irtiqa Zaidi sb (thanks to the interest developed during the school years by Mr Saleem), enabled him to breeze through the university studies. Competency in English in Pakistan had been and is equated with competency in knowledge, thinking and ability. Interestingly enough English as a yardstick to measure the competence of a Pakistani had been used by the elites to keep the poor people from not challenging the status quo. Only a few very committed and fortunate children who get some good guidance or a good teacher are able to tear out from their straitjacket, improve their English and join the elite club. The book highlights several instance where this extraordinary effort that went into writing flawlessly enabled Irtiqa Zaidi sb to become indispensable for his bosses in the government who really wanted to do something. 

Tribal Areas of DI Khan, Lady Doctor's Kidnapping and Today's Issues

As I read the interesting story of the Lady Doctor's kidnapping by the tribals of DI Khan in early 1970s, that got viral on the media of that time, and people were avidly following the proceedings in newspapers, I was comparing with the current situation of DI Khan. Poor and starving people of the tribal areas with no sources of generating income from legal means had been resorting to kidnapping for ransom since old times. The lady doctor who was abducted during Ramazan leaving behind her child and husband was very disturbed and afraid. However, the kidnappers treated her well, as she recounted after her release. They told her that they had planned to kidnap her along with her husband and children so that they can live comfortably in their custody but as alarm was raised much earlier they could not follow the plan and had to just escape with the lady doctor only. However, no harm came to her and she befriended the ladies of the tribe of the kidnappers. The tribe-women had told her that if they do not get the ransom, they will starve. The lifestyle of the kidnappers of the 1970s showed their plight. The lady doctor eventually got her release through ransom. 

Successive governments had done nothing to ameliorate the causes that had compelled these tribes to resort to kidnapping for earning their livelihood. As I was reading this book in 2016, one can see that the situation had not changed. Coincidentally the news in the media when I was writing this were again related to a similar kidnapping for ransom in DI Khan. Areas around DI Khan and DG Khan seem not to have been amalgamated in Pakistan. The tribes are still living in a no-man's land; there had been no development, no infrastructure and no income generation. The Ayub, Bhutto, Zia, and Musharraf eras had done nothing except to exploit them for resources or use them for strategic depth purposes creating a huge problem that we are still fighting. Only now there is some talk about making these areas a formal part of the federation.  

Punjgor Travel in Balochistan and the Dangers and Today's Situation 

As I read the dangers and life threatening visit to Punjgor in Baluchistan in the early 1970s, I could visualize the fear of travel for the government officials and private vehicles. Even in those times the roads were bad, broken, without any means of communication, no support for vehicles breaking down, vehicles had to travel in convoys for fear of kidnappers and violence from the tribes. Fast forward to 2016, and one reads every week and every month some major incident of vehicles getting ambushed. Forces getting killed. Hazaras getting killed. Travelers getting abducted. Starting from the Military Operation of the 1970s during Bhutto regime and the continuing Baluchistan operation over the last 20 years starting from Gen Musharraf, leading to creation of BLA, killing of Bugti, forced disappearances of locals, Baluchistan had become a playground of foreign intelligence agencies and games played by our sensitive agencies. There seems to be no respite. Ignoring Baluchistan, and exploiting the wealth had remained the hallmark of all the governments. Only today with CPEC related development, one sees some changes with massive investment in the infrastructure. However, would it transform the lives of Baluchistan  or would CPEC turn out to be yet another exploitation remains to be seemed. 

Check Dams and the Parliamentarian Insistence on Development in his Constituency

It was interesting to read about how a Baluchistan minister who was not well versed in the technicalities of project design imploring the government official to shift the money for Check Dams (which could only be constructed in a particular terrain) to his constituency which had an incompatible geography and terrain unsuitable for that kind of dam. However, government officials in their restricted view of project feasibility could not appreciate and fathom that for the minister it was important that some development work had to be done in his constituency. In the minister's knowledge, this was the only project that could have been executed. And he probably did not have the competence or the bureaucratic support to design an appropriate project for his area. 

This incidence tells us why bureaucracy which had not been creative enough to come up with feasible projects for the poor constituencies of the ministers was later forced and coerced into supporting infeasible projects. The issue was not the feasibility of the project but the short term injection of development money in that poor area. Had the government officials understood the development needs of the ministers and designed feasible projects for them in the first place, the situation may not have descended to a level where these representatives of the poor constituencies had to coerce the bureaucrats to put in the development in their areas the only way they knew , whether by hook or by crook. A bureaucracy responsive to the development needs of the poor constituencies could have easily designed development projects for the ministers that were both feasible, efficient and sustainable. 

Gawadar Road's Dilapidated Condition and Today 

Dilapidated roads of Gawadar of early 1970s as described in the book and comparing them with Coastal Highway connecting Karachi with Gawadar and hundreds of kilometers of recently constructed Indus Highway and its link highways in interior Baluchistan indicate that things are definitely improving. The incident described in the book where the car breaks down on that rubble road to Gawadar in the dead of the night in the vast wilderness where there is no one living for hundreds of kilometers, and which necessitated the procurement of spare parts from hundreds of miles away was scary.

However, lately the CPEC related massive improvement in the infrastructure is happening today, and this story seems destined to remain a story of bygone days. The politics of development money going into Gawadar with hope for a trickle down to the poor tribes of Baluchistan is a wish that may or may not be fulfilled. The rewards of CPEC must trickle down to the people of Baluchistan otherwise there would be no peace. 

1973's Administrative Reforms and their Adverse Effects

Politics of Bureaucracy: Economist Group vs DMG 

It was amusing to see the politics of bureaucracy revolving about who is going to be promoted to which grade depending upon which group one belongs. The incessant politics of who is going to the next foreign trip seems to be the only desire in Islamabad. How merit is sacrificed, quota system is enforced on the basis of provinces, how artificially subgroups of government servants are designed and labeled as DMG, Economist or other groups, and ethnic and personal and political affiliations play out in the corridors of powers is instructive of the chasm between the world of government and the world of the poor people of Pakistan. The old machinery of bureaucracy was amputated through 3not3 followed by later expulsions, followed by lateral inductions of cronies which destroyed the "public service" and led to self service by bureaucrats.

While the bureaucratic politics plays out, it seems from the incidents described in this book that the government bureaucracy is there to support and implement the agenda of World Bank, IMF or Asia Bank to satisfy the aspirations of foreigners. To entice the government officials to sign WTO and other such international treaties (to which even USA is not signatory) only requires that a handful of senior government officials be sent on official jaunts and foreign trips funded by the vested interest and one could have these officials sign any treaty. 

Whatever government remains is on the shoulders of few conscientious public servants who burn their midnight oil and work diligently and with commitment. Mr Irtiqa Zaidi comes out as one such representative. People like him are the lone wold trying to fight the battles with such donors with vested interests. 

Guilty unless Proven Innocent Attitude of Government vs The Hague Experience

Government machinery in Pakistan works on the assumption that all are guilty unless they prove otherwise their innocence. All procedures and systems in Pakistan are based on this "First Principle". The Hague experience where cash was disbursed to the visiting delegation with no receipt came as a stark rejoinder to the alternative system. In The Hague trip, Mr Irtiqa Zaidi recounts how the lady in charge of the cash disbursements was distributing cash without receipts. When the conflict arose the attitude of "Innocent unless Proven Guilty" brings the best of ethics out of the people and leads to a graceful resolution. This is the lesson that designers of Pakistani system of governance should learn from.

Work in Progress on the following subsections:

Conflict with Nadeemul Haq 

Incompetence of Gilani and Shujaat

Boldness, and standing on what is right. Counseling during the early part of the career by?

Not accepting pressures from highest quarters, seniors, secretaries, ministers, prime minsters, USA, ...

Ahsan Iqbal acting on his suggestions

Afghan Transit trade and US facilitation of Indian interests

Sunday, October 16, 2016

At What Cost! Why Compute Economic Costs of Faulty Political Decisions

Political discourse in Pakistan is punctuated with allegations and counter allegations without a formal study of the economic implications of the various decisions that have been rocking the country from as early as 1950s. The series of posts in this thread of "At What Cost" is attempt to build a framework for researchers to explore the economic costs of each of these decisions. The title of this series is based on my extensive discussions with late Mr Fazle Hasan of IBA in 1986-87. My later reflections on the lessons that he was trying to convey and which I vehemently disagreed with at that time, but have now come to appreciate only recently have been put down as the first post in this "At What Cost!" series: At What Cost! Fazle Hasan of IBA and our Computation of Economic Costs

Connecting vs Disconnecting with Relations- Sila e Rahmi vs Qata e Rahmi

Over the last few years, misconceptions regarding disconnecting from the relations (relatives, neighbors, colleagues) seem to be spreading. Disconnecting from relatives and relations is not a part of our culture or tradition. Our guidance has been to mend fences and work towards establishing relationships. Ethical leadership in our tradition requires that we care for those who throw garbage on you, make fun of you, or even try to harm you. Mohabbat fateh e Aaalim.

Left hand column shows the basis of our culture and traditions, whereas
the right hand column shows typical messages being shared on the facebook/whatsapp promoting
misconceptions that stand in stark opposition to our culture and traditions. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

What does a Child Need? Mother's Teacher-hood vs Motherhood

I am forced to write this post as I increasingly encounter cases upon cases of children with shattered confidence, broken personality and with severe personality issues and most of them emanating from the tremendous desire of the mother to relinquish her "mamta' (motherhood) role and assume the role of a teacher for which she is singularly unequipped! A child needs his mother's motherhood more than her teacher-hood. In their enthusiasm to make their children smart, and under tremendous peer pressure and the pressure from schools, mothers in Pakistan are assuming more and more the role of a teacher, at the expense of  their motherhood role. This is disastrous for the confidence and feeling of self-worth for a child, especially, because motherhood is a natural role for the mother, however, role of a teacher has to be learned and does not come naturally to everyone. Teaching requires aptitude, attitude, soft nature, quest for knowledge, magnanimity and  hosts of teaching skills. These skills are in short supply even in those who have had formal training in teaching.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

How to Distort History through Prejudices of Today: Taj Mahal as a Symbol of Love

I often see people looking at history using today's prejudices and lenses. History can not be seen in the light of our current preferences and current philosophies. History has to be evaluated in the context of the prevalent norms and challenges of that day. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Top 10 Reasons Why Students Fail in Semester System- Survival Guide

About 5%-10% of students entering the university are unable to survive the semester system. The following list of top 10 reasons is based on my observations as a student from 1980-1994 at NED, IBA Karachi and at Univ of Texas at Austin. These are also based on my interactions with dropouts as faculty member from 1995-present (FAST NU, IBA, KIET, IoBM) with eighteen years as Deputy Director and Dean. I have given counseling to countless students. Often the students come when it is too late. At times their behavior compels me to think that they were asking to be dropped! You will agree too after reading this list.