Friday, October 4, 2019

Strategic Issues for Universities in Pakistan

During a strategic management meeting on last Sunday (29th September, 2019), a leading industrial group chairman gave the following advice to the higher management of the universities:

The future outlook is bleak. Don't expect any investment or industrialization during the next 3 years. We are in the process of investing about Rs 4 billion in an industrial venture in collaboration with a foreign concern in Malaysia. The cost of investment rose from Rs 4 Billion to Rs 7 billion driving out all our projections of the feasibility. Forget about any FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) coming in. The unemployment is going to increase and the jobs available for graduates is going to decrease substantially. Hence the only option is to focus on entrepreneurship.

There are two areas on which entrepreneurs should focus. One is import substitution, and the other area is the increase in exports.

Import substitution has a huge potential. For example in the automobile sector, the import substitution can reduce the cost of cars by half. Imported tiles costs have increased from Rs 100 to Rs 180. Here again we can have import substitution provided we can raise the quality of our locally produced tiles.

Agriculture yield in Pakistan is less than half of the yield in other nations. There is a great potential to increase the yield. A person who came from a foreign country was visiting our granaries in the central Punjab. On being told that the yield is only 3 tons, he said just give me the fields and I would increase the yield to double the current.

The wastage in sugar industry are criminal. The production of one spoon of sugar costs 2 liter of water. This is too much wastage of water. Let's grow something else in place of sugar, and import the sugar instead. One is to substitute the import of edible oil with sunflower or olive oil. But, all the water is being consumed by Sugar with meager yields.

We don't have surpluses to export.

The major problem with our textiles is lack of value added textiles. Only 7% of our textile exports are value added.

We need to focus on behavior and character building. We need to concentrate on حقوق العباد
There is a need to develop a hefty endowment fund for the disenfranchised and less privileged people of the society.

There is also a need to focus on the type of skills and education that is required for the upward mobility of these less privileged segments of society. One of the areas is nursing. There is a great demand for nursing in Pakistan as well as in the countries abroad. We need to develop institutions of nursing and their training in hospitals. There is a hundred person employment opportunities for well qualified and well trained nursing professionals abroad. We need to develop qualifications for jobs that are required by the global market.

There is a need to evaluate the contracts for CPEC. Machinery that is available locally should not be imported from China at several times the cost with which it is available locally.

The economic outlook for the next three years is not positive. In times of recession and increasing unemployment, conditions become ripe for infuriating the masses and it only takes a single trigger to create mass plunder and mayhem, violence, and destruction of life and property [as was witnessed after the killing of BB in 2007] .

Hence the haves must avoid ostentatious displays of wealth. They must be considerate about the sensibilities and sensitivities of poor. Those who can afford should also avoid the gaudy and raw showoff. there are situations where we often show our insensitivity. For example, even though many of us can afford Rs 10k or Rs 20k of pizza. But, we need to be careful when we order the pizza and give 20k to the mulazim to pay the home delivery person. The mulazim's pay is often 20k that he earns through hard labor spread over 30 days and on which his family may be subsisting in the interior. Here you are having a meal equivalent in value to his entire month salary. You need to be discreet. May be instead of paying in cash through the mulazim, you should go and pay yourself or pay through debit card yourself. Or better still also share with him what you eat.

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