Sunday, August 28, 2011

Not too much sophisticated to match, Christine Lagarde’s call

Christine Lagarde, the former French finance minister and new managing director of the IMF has presented a bold list of to-do-things to the gathering of central banks including a warning, “The world economy, she said, was entering a “dangerous new phase” driven by a sense that “policymakers do not have the conviction” to take decisions that are needed. " The Economist has a report on it (
I am like majority of people is not sophisticated enough to fully understand what it really means to live in “dangerous new phase” except fearing the worst but I can recall what happened after 9/11 terrorist attack. Before 9/11, Hazara Town was not as “glamorous” (Some like to call it this way) as it is today. It was a place that was offering affordable housing for people with lower incomes. Carpet weaving became very popular especially among women and children that were trying to have a hand in supporting their families. A lot of shops and houses turned into mini-factories of carpet-weaving. These hardworking children and women who were dreaming to weave their future beautiful just like those beautiful carpets, never thought that the threads of the lives are woven somewhere else in the world. They couldn’t think that they are part of global economy.
The 9/11 terrorist attack was a shock to the whole world but it was a double shock for those women and children. Soon after 9/11 attack, the carpet industry collapsed. A lot of these carpet weavers lost their jobs and the rest were forced to work on unthinkably lower wages. Nobody in the rest of world has heard of the economic shocks to these children and women. Who would care for these voiceless children and women in a changed world (Of course, the world had entered into “dangerous new phase”)?
When I read the warning of Christine that the world would economically enter into a new dangerous phase, I am not sure what it means to the rest of world except of increasing taxes and lesser benefits in social services and increasing cost of living but of course people who are sophisticated enough to understand all these would prepare themselves for worst (In case it happens). What I am sure that majority of people who are connected to world economy but don’t realize it will suffer most…
I am not offering any solution. Whether economists warn us or not, we tend to prepare ourselves for unexpected challenges in life and one common thing that we do, is saving. I come across an interesting classification by John Fenton (How to sell against competition, P.130-140) in saving behavior. It is amusing to learn it,
“ You know, going through life and meeting as many people as I do, I have found that when it comes to saving money, there are only two kinds of people.
One kind of people tend to spend their income on whatever they need or want to buy, and if they any left over after that, they might think about saving it, or investing it (illustrated in by left circle, the red part showing saving)

The other kind of people tends to put some money aside before they start spending, to save or invest. (Illustrated by right circle, saving is illustrated by red part)
And the funny thing is – these kind of people (the left-hand circle) always seem to finish up working for these kind (the right hand circle.”…………………
I don’t exactly remember where I read this but a woman in her article was advising that “the first bill that one has to pay is saving”. That is the one of the option that is within our reach to give ourselves a little comfort in economic meltdowns……..

Friday, August 26, 2011

The unhappy children and the rise of Korea…

We became friends at bus stop. He was a Korean. We became friends because of my interests in Korea. Koreans are part of our extended family of Turko-mongols (The last stretch of mixed race of Central Asia). Korea is facing a historical competition from China and Japan so her people are used to live in a highly competitive environment and have developed a culture of competition. Most of our talks were around recent movie serials (Mostly showing how their historical heroes achieved their goals by their work ethics and dedication to their goals) that South Korea has produced and become very famous in our part of world like, “Jumong”, “The land of winds”, “Jewel in the Palace”, “The Emperor of Sea” and “The trader of Zhoushan (read as Chusan; It is a city island in Archipelago, part of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China)”….Watching these movie serials one can also understand the historical basis of current Korean conflict (between north and south)…………
It was Saturday (Weekend, just to remind you) and University had a summer festival. In rebellious souls of youth, we can see the lively life and of course one can see them unveiled on such days. To borrow some, I wanted to be part of festival and I was at bus stop around 2 pm to catch the bus to school. There, I found my Korean friend with his school bag. I became puzzled and told him, “It is Saturday!.. And there is a summer festival at University??”…. He calmly smiled, “I know,… I am going to library to study until evening”….
It was first time that I realized in true sense that my friend is a Korean. I think that Koreans have evolved to be hardworking people as it is part of their thousands of years’ old culture. Frankly, this encounter gave meaning to all those Korean historical movie serials that I have watched to have an insight into Korean society. Today’s Korea facing even tougher competition than ever from mighty China, Japan and Asian Tigers (Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia), so the Koreans have to work even harder than ever.
Historically, education was the only means of climbing social ladder in the Korea, The competitive exam for Civil Services was a mean to escape lower social classes so Korean parents were always ready to do anything to make sure their kids become highly educated. It is natural to see parents push their children to work harder in their education. Pakistanis (especially Professor Attaurahman) look to Korean rise because of their focus on education. Professor wishes Pakistanis to follow the role model (forgetting that it is not going to happen as Pakistan lack the historical culture that Koreans have. The cultural conflicts in Pakistan, is the biggest obstacle in the way of dreaming to rise as an educated nation).
Some think that Koreans have gone too far in the pushing their children for education. The students go to academies after school time and take extra tuition in English, Mathematics and musical instruments until 11 pm which is an hour after legal limits of 10 pm (The students are busy from 8:30 am to 11 pm at night and it makes some to claim that Korean parents want others to educate their children and this extra-education give them free time). The expenditure of education has forced parents to have lesser children and also youths to marry late. Korean society is ageing. The ultra-preparation and ultra-competitive environments have caused Korean children to become in social skills and also get depressed. The rate of suicide has increased especially among third year of high school students that prepare for University entrance examinations.
Though the ultra-preparations are costing on parents, giving kids hard times but it also making them to get to best Universities at US and other prestigious universities and make them able to get their share out of global job market and pay back to their parents in their old ages. It also pays the students themselves to have better lives. Of course every system has its own problems. Do at your liking type of education systems, of course, make students to explore their creativity but the creativity pay less if work ethics is not embedded in it. A stress on fun-centered education system and fun-centered life make students the victim of fun by making them, addicted to fun. Of course fun should be integrated in education system to make students enjoy their studies and their work but not at the cost of work ethics. At the end of the day, satisfaction comes from works that one have done. Fun for fun makes fun boring and leaves one at despair.
What I get from all these that one’s perspective changes, depending on his position. If one lives in part of world where there is less competition, having fun is no problem but living in a part of world where you have established competitors, the ultra-preparation is the only choice. I like the Korean case as it resembles to our case. Though in our part of world tuition outside of schools become necessary because of poor performances of schools and also it is an extra-burden on parent and give students harder times yet, this ultra-preparation is necessary to live in a suffocating environment where survival depends on your ultra-competitiveness. The ultra-preparation is the best answer to omnipresent discrimination and prejudices.

Khudadad's Picks...!....!...!

~ The Confucius must be happy to see that the societies following his golden rules are dominating the World, especially in economy and technology. Now, the parents of such societies are taking pride and saying the world hey, we are Tiger Moms :)

~ Do you think that West will sit silent over drum beatings of Tiger mom. She has her own effective weapon, The Mighty Science to retaliate. Here is a "Scientific counterattack"

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Simple things that are hard to understand…

We can divide things in life into those things that are priced and hence easy to understand their values and those things that are priceless and are counterintuitive to understand their values. If you walk into a hotel, it is really easy to get the type of service that your pocket allows. The prices are printed along the list of the foods in the menu. If you want rent a room in a hotel, again you know the room’s rent and the cost of room services. You get what your pocket allows. It is not only commodities that are priced. These days the advice, “The professional advice” are priced too. We see the flourishing businesses of consultancies, from preparation for job interviews, finding and locating jobs to education (especially scholarships) to marriages and to solving problems in administration, literally everywhere and at every stage of life. In short it is easy to be clear about the type of services and commodities one can get when they are priced. However, not everything in life is priced. There are a lot of things that are priceless and they make us to get puzzled in determining their values. Here things get tricky as only thing that compensate the missing prices are sincerity. No one can price them. It is not just a tradition but a need, a human need. Take for example the services and help that we get in home and from friends. They are priceless. No one ever ask or expect anything in home or among close friends. They do and get because they have to.
For long times, Biologists try to explain these priceless services in terms of altruism. They have devised game theories to determine their prices. I am not saying that these studies are none-sense. They make us understand a lot of behaviors yet they aren’t able to explain satisfactorily as there is no unit of measurements (genes lose their meanings where higher cognition is at work)……….
Coming back to our original discussion that priceless services and attachments are hard to understand and a lot of times are confusing so it is expected that even highly educated people mess up from times to times in their lives. In fact the messing up has increased as we are losing the practical education that we used to get from our traditional ways, through our families, culture and traditions. The elders were the sources of wise advices (and of course free of cost and were always availability), mediations and in times of need taking the charge to manage things. By coming of Google, these traditions are eroding. When we think that we are wise enough that we can deal efficiently with priceless things or relations, we are only deceiving ourselves. It is no something that you do research and become a Guru. It is something that you need to learn their values through life experiences as they are counterintuitive.
We have lost the tradition of old mastership where the teachers were aware, how to teach the value of priceless things in life. They were aware that it is not going to come from books. It comes only from experience so in cases that they were finding their students are undervaluing the priceless things in life; they were making their students leave them. Of course it was hurting their students. It was even hurting the teachers (whoever were playing the role of teacher; an elder, may be a guardian). But they had to suffer in order to learn that there is no price that compensate for it.
We find it in modern literatures also but we mostly ignore to learn from. Let me not recommend an easy and enjoyable one. If you haven’t watched the movie, “Undefeated”, I recommend to watch it. It is the story of a boxer who climbs the ranks very fast and think that the only worthwhile thing is money and find at the end that there are things in life that have no price. Of course the literature is filled with such kind of stories however, the real lessons that we get, come from life itself.
In nutshell, it is not recommended to use calculators in things that are priceless as there is no calculator that can tally their value…………

Topics that one can't write about.....

There are topics that despite of urgency, we can't make ourselves to write about (Because writing don't change anything) However, sometimes people come out that you respect from deep down and you want to write to show your solidarity with. Pakistan is the country of my birth and the love for place of birth is natural but it seems that Pakistanis don't belong to Pakistan. As much mouth is there so are the number of claims and no one is ready to make any concession and move from their current positions. In simple words, all citizen belong to this country and the country belongs to no one.... We read everyday, people are questioning what went wrong that we all became aliens....there are many answers but none is satisfying...

Dr. Attaurahman's answer is definitely convincing. It is the ignorance that have alienated the people from the country. How can one expects to have a mature and educated nation when the country is spending only 1.2% of her GDP on education? Of course where there is big gap in demands and supply, the black marketers fill the gap and so are happened in Pakistan. The religious extremists filled the gaps by funds from Middle East and turned the minds that had to serve this country into extremists that are determined to enslave this nation to their ideology.........

In comparative study of economical growth, the Professor compares Pakistan's exports to that of a company (Nokia). Nokia's exports are twice that of Pakistan's total export. Nokia is a Finnish company and only Karachi (A port city of Pakistan) has a population four times bigger than that of whole Finland... This is an astonishing comparison....

It is not only small European nations that surpass Pakistan's export; Singapore an island, city nation that is very small to that of Pakistan both in terms of population and area has 18 times bigger export to that of Pakistan. In 1960's South Korea's export was 32 million US $ and now it is 466 Billion US $ while Pakistan's export has seized at 20 Billion US $. The main reason is education, South Korea's University Students has increased from 5% of 1960 to 95% up to date and Malaysia spend 30% of her GDP on education.

Not only Professor's these comparisons are eye opening, he rightfully suggests solutions to Pakistan's main problems. Don't just focus on your resources (Some foolish Pakistani "expert and leaders" looking to natural resources as Messiah that will save Pakistan)... the main solution is to Educate the nation by increasing expenditure on both quantity and quality of education and also by making availability of speedy justice to People.......

The truth is that Pakistanis need education and speedy justice at urgent basis....otherwise all those who have the ability to serve this nation will escape and those who don't will remain to suffer from a cycle of to eating each other...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Class Struggle VS Generation Struggle

It seems that the time of near end of colonization is back. The rebellion is widespread from Arab Spring in Middle East to London Riots to ethnic and ethno-religious conflicts in North Africa, South Asia, and Central Asia and somewhat in Sino- region…. From beginning to the last quarter of previous century most of rebellions were explained in terms of class struggle. People were struggling to come out of poverty either through political revolution via Communism and Socialism or through competition in Free Market Economy…. By collapse of the Communist Block and unipolarization of world order under umbrella of free market economies, it was thought that the class struggle is over…. That doesn’t seem to held true anymore as Free Market Economies not only failed to cure the poverty of the world but they themselves started trembling… The economic meltdown in USA and Europe, the hometowns of free market economies have left the world wonder….What is the real world order?…Is there, the rule of Chaos?....
Yes, that’s true. In previous century poor people were struggling against poverty from alternative platforms of socialism and communism and the rich ones were giving hope by demonstrating their rise. So there was somewhat hope either in revolution or in competition…. In today’s world both have lost their credibility so what is next?
In absence of any option, some intellectuals are trying to provide a platform (or an explanation to current events); Generation Struggle… The Arab Spring and the London Riots are the forerunners of Generation Struggle. The current generation doesn’t have the chances, choices and privileges of education, job availability, housing, car and family that previous generation had and famously called BABY Boomers Generation…. Currently, the previous generation is in authority and are deciding what suit their generation (It is what these intellectuals claim), so young generation is struggling for more rights and the denials by old generation results in Arab Spring and London Riots……….
How real is the Generation Struggle and where it is leading? I think in absence of a solid ideology and how to go for it, it is more of Chaos (As young generation doesn’t know what they want? And how to solve their problems) than a struggle……………

From my Old Diary

I took these two paragraphs from my old diary...they aren't great but they were the thoughts filling my mind at times....

A gift from parents to kids,
Definitely, we all face problems in our lives. Firstly we try to solve them on our own however, sometimes we prefer to use the experience and wisdom of the elders. And the first ones that we seek help from are our parents. They are the persons that we don't hide anything from and trust most.... My own experience is that the kids take very serious what their parents say or write...Believe it or not they take more serious what their parents write than what they say....We like to have parents on our sides all time however, it is not possible all the times. To me, if parents write about problems that they faced and the way they dealt and solved problems would be a life time gift to their kids... I ask my parent that have a documented gift for least in form of videotapes...

One is nobody without a cause.... If you want that people around you grow and feel themselves then ecourage them to work for some humanely cause beside what they do... A small amount of time spending on such causes will enrich their life and give meanings to what they do...Believe it or not a Taiwanese vegetable seller woman by name of Chen Shu-chu is ranked 18th in the Time Magazine's list of 100 most influential people.

I like to add this report on Chen here,
"TAITUNG, Taiwan -- A female vegetable vendor in southeastern Taiwan's Taitung City is ranked along with former U.S. President Bill Clinton on U.S. Time magazine's 2010 list of the 100 most influential persons in the world for her philanthropy.

Chen Shu-chu ranked eighth in the “heroes” category of the 2010 Time 100 list.

“Out of her modest living, Chen, 59, has managed to donate nearly NT$10 million (that's US$320,000) to various causes, including US$32,000 for a children's fund, US$144,000 to help build a library at a school she attended and another US$32,000 for the local orphanage, where she also gives financial support to three children,” the magazine states.

Chen, who did not complete elementary school because of poverty, said that she doesn't know anything about the Time 100 list.

“I feel kind of embarrassed ... but I appreciate all the concern shown to me,” she said, adding that she was never informed about the Time magazine honor until being informed by reporters.

Chen began working by selling vegetables at a traditional market in Taitung City when she was only 13 years old to support her six siblings.

Almost five decades later, she continues to earn every penny the hard way, getting up at 3 a.m. to prepare for her workday. In the market, her stand is always the first to open and the last to close.

“What's so wonderful about Chen's achievement is not its extraordinariness but that it is so simple and matter of fact in its generosity,” states the citation in the magazine, which was written by New York-based Taiwanese film director Ang Lee.

She was quoted as having told a newspaper that “money serves its purpose only when it is used for those who need it.”

According to Time Magazine, she is planning to establish a NT$10 million fund to help the poor with education, food and health care.

“Amazing, but of all she has given away, her greatest gift is her example,” the citation states.

Other people on the Time list in the “heroes” category include former U.S. President Clinton at No. 1, followed by South Korean Olympic gold medal skater Kim Yu-Na in second place, former Iranian Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi in third place, and Chinese kungfu actor Jet Li who is 18th.

In March, Chen was selected by Forbes magazine as one of the 48 heroes of philanthropy from Asia.

In addition, Chairman J.T. Wang of local computer maker Acer was ranked along with U.S. President Barack Obama on the list of top 100 leaders,

Wang, 55, was cited for his farsightedness in making an early foray into the notebook computer market and providing low-cost PCs for more people. Other international leaders on the same list include Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva."

Report source,

In the city of strangers

Live Show of Natural Selection,
Some are born travelers. Perhaps I am not because I am more interested in people than buildings (I think it is people that are the sources of everything...if people aren’t glorious, how they can think of and work for glorious constructions?....that would a great contradiction). When I heard that Islamabad is the city of strangers, I got more interested to see how the people interact with each other. The reason of interest is a historic one. I am not an exception in taking interest in the people of this region. Anyone who is interested in cultural evolution would take interest as this region is a live laboratory as well as a museum for cultural evolution. One can see the vicious competitions among cultures that most of the time becomes very violent (I think if Darwin was living in our times and he was aware of what is going on in Karachi and Balochistan, he wouldn’t give much importance to fossils as there are live shows of Natural Selection…Fellow citizen kill each other and try to harm each other’s properties in every possible manners…Perhaps it is the real nature of humankind that in times of peace are covered under fake layers of religion, humanity and so on)…..
Cultural Amazon,
Yes, I was saying that the reason for my interest is historic. This region has seen many invasions from major nations of the world in different times and has absorbed the cultures of the invaders, so we see much cultural diversity in this region. IF YOU CALL THIS REGION AS “CULTURAL AMAZON”, I think it would not be an exaggeration (The amazon is famous for its ecological diversity)….The language (URDU), Music (One amazes when see the diversity of musical instruments, vocal varieties and the details of musical nodes…it is much detailed than western musical nodes)…I must acknowledge that I am not expert of music but even an laymen can have a sense of the diversity of the music of subcontinent… Religion, Life styles (From ancient tribes of Sindh that live around isolated lakes and have preserved the relics of ancient Sindh Valley Civilizations to remnants of the Greek invaders in northern areas and diversity of different tribes that still kept alive ancient Iranian, Turkish, Mongolian and Hindu cultural relics with them)… and so on….
Looking for a senior driver,
If you have all these things in your mind and you step in the city of strangers, you would wander among the faces, the way they walk, talk, and behave and of course the way they live. It wasn’t my first time (It was my sixth visit) that I was visiting the capital city of Pakistan but I was more excited this time. The main reason was the intensification of the competition among different tribes and nationalities of Pakistan. Islamabad is called city of strangers because one can see the people from around the country living in Islamabad. So the first thing that I did was to look for a senior driver who have seen the expansion and growing of Islamabad so I could learn something from him. Many drivers came to me but I was looking for a senior one. A driver with reddish brown colored hair and short white beard approached me. “For how many years, you are driving in Islamabad?”....I asked….He looked a little bit puzzled and then replied, “It is almost 20 years that I am driving”…he answered.. “OK, good, show me your city then”….
Revolution in Pakistan?
He was originally from Lahore and came here at the age of 11 to then newly built Islamabad in search of a good life… however, Islamabad didn’t have much to offer him. He was broken and angry and was telling me again and again that revolution is near and people will snatch the wealth from wealthy rulers who aren’t willing to share their fortunes with their fellow countrymen…. Though I couldn’t agree with him but I didn’t say anything to let this old man say what a lot of old men say (I wasn’t agreeing with him because he whole life was limited to Rawalpindi and Islamabad. If you live in Islamabad, you can think of revolution because most of the residents are educated and are strangers who came in hope of a better life here….But people who have seen Karachi and Balochistan know very well that this country is deeply divided and people are more interested to fight with each other than to fight against the key issues like poor governance, poverty, diseases, illiteracy, lack of essential infrastructure, rule of law and so on…Revolution…that is only a crazy person’s dream…Chaos; Yes that is what we can see on the ground and everyone is working hard to spread it)….
This post became tool long…so I leave it the rest for another time :(

Let's beat the drum!...!...!...!

Yeah, Let's beat the drum...In month of Ramadan, some people beat the drums going street to street to wake up the people in predawn time...I was always fascinated by their jobs; they wake up people from sleep in a time when they are in deep sleep... Socrates were thinking that most of us are in deep sleep like that of predawn time, so he was going from street to street in ancient Athens and cross-questioning people to show them that their lives are un-examined...When we do not analyse our beliefs and world views then it is like living in sleeping mode...The stronger the certainty in unexamined worldviews, the deeper is the sleep.......

As there is no Socrates to stop us on the streets to cross-question our worldviews, keeping diary is way to open yourself for your examination (it is famously known as self-accountability) here I have started beating the drums...let's see how much I am going to be committed to my diary :)