Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Why Engineering Students are Reluctant to become Entrepreneurs: Role of PEC and Universities

Presented at ICEE-2016, International Conference on Entrepreneurial Engineering: Commercialization of Engineering Projects and Research

There are several reasons why Engineering students in Pakistan have been found to be reluctant to opt for entrepreneurship in their engineering fields as opposed to other disciplines such as Computer Science. These reasons can be classified in five major categories; (i) cultural and family mindset, (ii) demographic pressures (iii) narrow focus of curriculum, (iv) teaching and lab methodology, (v) enabling and facilitation environment.  Pakistan Engineering Council has a major role to play in at least the last three areas. The curriculum design and enforcement of PEC has left no room for subjects that can broaden the vision of the students and open their minds to other areas. The recommended lab methodology is based on the use of trainers and fill-in-the-blank type of submissions that further constrains the work of the students in predetermined directions. The recommended teaching methodology focused on class-room type of work also leaves no room for out-of-the-box exploration of ideas. There is a need for the universities and PEC to join together to provide an enabling and facilitation environment that can help the students. There is a need to diversify the curriculum to other areas by reducing the number of technology intensive areas and more creativity and exploratory courses that can broaden the perspectives. There is a need to adopt new methodologies such as project based learning and problem based learning. The lab work needs to be liberated from the clutches of the trainers. A post graduation apprenticeship or internships in exploring new ideas is necessary for entrepreneurial engineering. 

The Case for Engineering Entrepreneurship

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Abuse of Presentation Slides in Classrooms: Ban Powerpoint Presentations

Problems with Powerpoint Presentations in Classroom

A couple of weeks ago I came to deliver a presentation in a seminar after four speakers who were delivering a technical talk to the business owners using powerpoint and speaking in English, which is the second or third language of the speakers and the audience. I could see the disconnect of the speakers with the audience. I could see the boredom. It was getting late after lunch and people were dozing. I came, junked the presentation that I had prepared, and made a presentation using our local language and talked with my heart. Immediately I got the attention and the audience woke up. Several from the audience later came and congratulated me for waking up the participants and making the session lively.

 For  over 10 years now, I have realized the futility of using the presentations. I have discarded the use of the powerpoint presentations, except very technical talks to very captive audience where there is enough time to intersperse talk with slides, in workshop type formats.
I had started with power point presentations much before they became a norm. It was way back in the mid of 1996-97 that I started with multi-media presentations using a laptop. Those were the time when powerpoint presentations and multimedia was a novelty. Somewhere along the line they became a ritual. They lost their power and became a drag on the presentation.Following are my reasons for urging people to ban the use of powerpoints:

Lights are on the Powerpoint Screen and
the performer is hidden in the dark

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Who has Greater Will and Resolve in controlling Karachi Disturbances: Dictators vs Civilian Governments

To understand the context of this post, please read At What Cost! Why Compute Economic Costs of Faulty Political Decisions
At What Cost? Costs of perceived strictness of military dictatorships vs the reality of civilian governments in Pakistan.
This post studies the case of Karachi disturbances and rise of MQM from 1980 and the relationships of various governments with MQM. It is interesting to note that unlike military dictators with cozy relationships with MQM, civilian governments have been more focused and have shown greater political will and resolve in dealing with the disturbances. The poor dictators always seem to be busy trying to buy legitimacy through political wheeling and dealing. There had been five major operations in Karachi during this period interestingly enough every one of these operations were conducted during the civilian governments. In contrast, during the two dictatorial regimes of General Zia and General Musharraf, MQM was given a free hand to fashion the situation of Karachi as they pleased. In both of these regimes, MQM continued to amass more and more power, and acquired greater and greater control while the civilian and military agencies acting more like bystanders. Although the rangers had been deployed since late 1980s, but they seem to had only been "operational" only during the civilian regimes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Traitor/Foreign Agent Production Factory of Pakistan

To understand the context of this post, please read At What Cost! Why Compute Economic Costs of Faulty Political Decisions
At What Cost? Costs of Branding a Politician as a Traitor
There is a traitor/foreign agent production factory in Pakistan that seems to be in full swing. It has targets that have been trained on most prominent elected politicians since mid 1950s and did not spare even the sister of Quaid-e-Azam, Madre-Millat Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah.  The list has included former prime ministers (HS Suharwardy, ZA Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto), politicians who had been been blue eye boys of the establishment (MQM/AH, Akbar Bugti, Jehadists/Talibans) and political leader like Shaikh Mujeeb ur Rehman who was once with Muslim League and led the election campaign of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah a few years before he became a case of self-fulfilled prophecy! The factory efficiently converts good Pakistanis of yester years  into bad Pakistanis through a staged fall from grace. Then a time comes when they meet their ignominious end. 

 Interestingly enough the official list of traitors never listed the Dictator Generals who were responsible for breaking half of the country, and who ensnared us in useless wars.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cyber Control and Cyber Crime: From Panopticon of 18th Century to Imprisonment in Technology Age

"Cyber Control and Cyber Crime : Big Brother is Watching Us" was presented at FPCCI Seminar on Media Security and Cyber Crime on August 17, 2016 at Federation House, Karachi.
Modern Times (1936) CEO monitoring washrooms

This presentation focused on the problems introduced by the pervasive cyber world of today at a higher philosophical level where the existence of human being and the concept of being human is being questioned by the "Internet of Things", and where people are willingly ceding their privacy and the personal control of their lives to external social networking platforms represented by googles and facebooks of today. This cessation of our relationships, our thoughts and feelings and what constitutes our personality to external agencies and allowing them to define who we are and what do we represent is much more sinister and a much greater concern than the issues of Cyber Crime and Cyber Bill that we are discussing today.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Field Marshals of Pakistan: Costs of Sycophancy and Political Expediency

[To understand the context of this post, please read At What Cost! Why Compute Economic Costs of Faulty Political Decisions]
At What Cost? Costs of Self Proclaimed Field Marshals in Third World Countries
In Pakistan the award of Field Marshal rank has been a product of sycophancy and political expediency for personal gain and short term advantage. The case of Ayub Khan who self awarded himself the rank of Field Marshal is a case in point. Currently, there is also the debate of awarding Field Marshal to the current COAS for every thing except any victories against enemies on the battle field. “The prime minister is repeatedly asking the army chief to take an extension and become a field marshal because he [PM Sharif] fears him;”  Imran Khan

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Costs of Justice Munir's Doctrine of Necessity: 4 Martial Laws and 35 years of dictatorships

[To understand the context of this post, please read At What Cost! Why Compute Economic Costs of Faulty Political Decisions]
Doctrine of Necessity Decision by Justice Munir had been disastrous for Pakistan. Not only did this decision annulled the historic judgement of Sindh High Court that has disallowed the dissolution of assemblies by Gen Iskandar Mirza in 1954 [1], it also laid the foundation of subsequent usurpation of power by the saviors on the horseback leading to disastrous martial laws and their horrendous costs.

I recall a documentary that I saw in the late eighties celebrating 200 year celebrations of US Constitution in which ABC anchor Peter Jennings describes the incident of a Governor dissolving the assembly and the dissolution of assembly case goes to a court that holds the dissolution illegal. [I need reference for this] I remember Peter Jennings saying that this was a crucial time in the constitutional history of US. Had the decision gone the other way, the history of US would have been different. Unfortunately, in our history the supreme court overturned the Sind High Court decision and as a result we had lost 50 years until Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry's bold decisions brought back the autonomy to our court.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Costs of Military Dictatorships of Pakistan

[To understand the context of this post, please read At What Cost! Why Compute Economic Costs of Faulty Political Decisions]

Historic Failures of Strategic Doctrines by Dictator Generals in Pakistan

What happens when generals (military men) arrogate to themselves "strategy making" when at best they have been trained for obtaining tactical advantage? 
The table below shows the fiascoes in which our country had been led into: 
Major Areas Ignored
Unrestrained Development at the Expense of Have-Nots without representation
Ignored people’s power
Estrangement of Bengalis Surrender and Fall of East Pakistan
Created rich-poor divide; created ZAB’s rise
Created famous 22-Families Nationalization of all major firms that sent us back for fifty years
Defense of East Pak lies in West
Size/depth of enemy forces; inability to read enemy’s mind
Failure of Op Gibraltar → 1965 War
Popular discontent in East Pakistan can be subdued by military force
Fierceness of Bengali resistance,
Indian forces all out support 
1971 war → Surrender of East Pakistan; 92,000+ Pakistani soldiers become PoWs
Army as Protector of ideological frontiers
Ideologies are not Concrete frontiers. Military is not in the business of ideological warfare
Created Jehadists → Increased sectarian polarization → → Led toSectarian killings → bomb blasts
US’ Afghan Jehad, Strategic Depth
Ignored US response in Clinton’s time & 9-11
Arms culture → drugs culture militancy → instability Talibanization
Bleed India in Kashmir
Ignored Indian capacity to strike back in kind; RAW infiltration in Balochistan
Baloch resistance, Baloch insurgency, Karachi disturbances
U-Turn: Good-Taliban-Bad-Taliban
WoT imported in Pak; Blackwater/RAW/BLA infiltration
Suicide bombers → War on Terror → Op Zarbe Azb

Costs of General Musharraf's Dictatorship

[To understand the context of this post, please read At What Cost! Why Compute Economic Costs of Faulty Political Decisions]
This post analyzes the continuing accumulation of long term costs associated with General Musharraf's dicatatorship 1999-2008 in the areas of ideological costs, economic costs, governance costs, foreign policy debacles and political engineering costs.

Costs of General Ayub's Dicatatorship

[To understand the context of this post, please read At What Cost! Why Compute Economic Costs of Faulty Political Decisions]
We typically look at General Ayub and the economic performance during his time, ignoring the long term economic and political impact of the decisions that he took and the processes that he set in motion. This post analyzed the long term costs of his dictatorship.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Blaming the Founding Fathers for Our Mistakes: Case of Pakistan

[To understand the context of this post, please read At What Cost! Why Compute Economic Costs of Faulty Political Decisions]
In the cozy environment of our drawing rooms, we often see the self styled intellectuals belong to the ilk of Hasan Nisar trying their best to put the blame of shortcomings of our nation on to our founding fathers. The venom in their opinions indicates their disdain for this nation and the founding principles. They lose no opportunity to take snipe at the founding fathers including Quaid e Azam and Allama Iqbal to vent their frustrations when the nation seems to climb out of impossibly discouraging situations.