Cost of Being a Patriot
Saturday, 30 May 2009
Friday, 29 May 2009
Use of papers has been around since the Egyptians invented the paper making process some 4,000 years ago. The paper making technology was exported to China in the 2nd century BC and later to the Arabs world in the 8th century. Now paper and paper products are made and used all over the world. Though the process has been refined over years but the basic raw material is pulp that is obtained from wood by cutting trees. The pulp and paper industry is the world’s fifth largest industrial consumer of wood. Over 92 percent of today’s paper comes from trees, and paper production is responsible for about a fifth of the total wood cutting globally. A tissue paper we use so discriminately might contain fibbers from so many different trees that might have jointly travelled thousands of kilometres and factories from forest to the dinning table.
Estimate show that paper consumption has trebled during the last thirty years, and given the present trends, it is likely to double by 2010 that is a big cause of concerns because it is linked with seismic environmental problems, from deforestation through industrial pollution to waste.
Developed nations with high standards of living are large consumers of paper products (multi purpose writing papers, tissues, packaging to name just a few) as compared to developing nations with low affordability. Trend watchers say that global paper consumption will double by 2010.
There is a ray of hope. Advent of computers and related technologies can make a big difference in paper consumption all over the world. Computers mediated technologies have made it possible to publish and distribute written words without using papers in this cyber age. The Internet and Word Wide Web can do same things for printing and distribution words what printing does for books and newspapers.
Online publication is already one of the biggest uses of computers these days. It is easier, cost effective, faster and much more efficient. Which is why even traditional print companies like publisher of Encyclopedia Britannica and many more have already started Web publishing?
Web publishing at industrial and individual levels is expected to significantly affect the paper consumption habits over time. Consider how much quantity of paper (read trees) only use of email can save. Online books, catalogues on commercial Websites, personal diaries coming in the form of Web logs may also slow down the use of paper. Result: Less paper consumption, less tree cutting and cleaner environment.
It is not possible to stop the use of paper in the world, nor it is suggested. But it can be brought under sustainable limits. Many international environmental organizations have already called for reduced paper consumption and are doing good job to create awareness. But this cannot be left to the voluntary organizations alone. This need mass realization and conscious effort by every individual, organizations and governments. Every bit can make a difference.
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
This article again refers to “housing”, the architectural, economical and philosophical aspects of which have already been discussed. In this article we will discuss the scientific and technological aspect (Architecture, Urban & Regional Planning) which however are not totally independent of other areas of the culture. As clear-cut diagrams and illustrations mean more than words for the engineer and scientist, the accompanying text may be considered a literary explanation of the important inter-relationship. A very simple text for the illustrations would probably not appropriately describe the total picture.
In the following we will discuss the very basic questions of "housing" and describe the range of possibilities between the Rural Entity and the Fully-Autonomous entities, in the middle of which is the most widely practiced concept of Urban entity. Seen from a total perspective, the Urban entity is the subject as well as the object, because the actors in this system are not able to act freely as they are bound by the compulsions and dictations of economy. The actors are forced to act in the way as they do because the system does not allow any other alternative. And: the actors in the system don’t even realize that they are not acting of their own but actually are being acted upon !
The complexity of the urban infra-structure has reached its technological climax, the innovativeness of which is marginal. Should the human organism be laid out in the manner which corresponds to modern industrial way of production, i.e. with highly differentiated functions, it would require a space of more than 10 cricket fields. This example amply describes the limitations of the so-called development. It is in-effective, wasteful, ruins the environment and leads to over-exploitation of resources.
Dubai as a metaphor of out-dated construction techniques is suitable with its fantastic design-results at all levels and without any logic. The model therefore is: A major destruction of environment and misuse of resources is taking place through short-term investments and the mis-use of foreign labourers, who are even happy and not aware that they are actually contributing to destruction of their own traditional cultures. The transformation actually reflects a successful implementation of a totally-outdated economic system, which becomes possible only when the state actors do not realize their mistake and it is characteristic of the ruling elite.
The terminology used in the illustrations enable us to imagine what is coming and to develop a point of view over it. The "new" is actually not really new, rather it has developed parallel to the existing system without being noticed.
In the existing system, generally named as Urban Entity (UE), there are hardly any logical repairs possible in the system as these under the garb of "Problem Solutions" actually represent a "Problem Deferment"!. Solutions have to be judged according to their making sense because, not everything that can be accomplished also makes sense! Infact, only the least will make sense. The sense is actually made when a self-restriction is imposed. “Luxury” in this sense would be the voluntary sacrifice of the available and restriction of the consumption!
Terms like “Sustainability”, “Resource Protection”, “Environmental Protection” are empty words, as long as they are not filled with logical content, they do not remain without influencing the existing system and the relevant behavior and way of life. “Renewable Energy”, is another empty term, which suggests something, which is scientifically nonsense, because energy actually cannot be renewed (see: Law of Conservation of Energy). At the most, it can be transferred (energy change). In this way we can also explain another phenomena related to the educational sector: The number of educated persons does rise with the increase in population and holders of academic degrees but not necessarily the number of intelligent persons!
Continuous creation of newer models in Marketing of products is a waste of energy and resources. This also refers to sectors, which appear far from the industrial background, namely the health sector, the educational sector etc. In totality these measures are actually a mountain of income generating measures. The residents of an Urban Entity are forced to submit to these measures. In the past when the total number of participants was very limited,, the system still functioned on the limited scale but its deficiencies become immediately evident when applied on a global scale.
Urban Life today means expensive living,high density of residents per square kilometer, increasing infra-structure costs with increasing productivity of the ndividual, who works on more efficient machines sinking tax income through uniform and global production (the individuals are exchangeable, when the same thing is produced globally), higher water consumption, higher energy consumption,
increasing environmental pollution, increasing social problems, unhealthy way of living and more.
The more affluent here can equalize some of the problems through their purchasing power, but they are actually part of an old system and actually live on the cost of the general public.
The technology therefore needs to avail literary and philosophical help in order to clarify things otherwise it will continue to confuse problem-deferment with problem-solution. It is necessary to prefer voluntary self-restraint over the income generation!
The article can go into more depth in professional literature, where it reaches mostly the specialists. In case of a holistic approach, there are apparently unimportant remarks regarding other areas, which may normally appear not to belong to the subject area, but are helpful in understanding the total picture by the reader. The article about "Autonomous Entity” points out information about a closed system or hides behind new ideas (for example the Zero and Plus energy houses). The transportation system points to the Flettner Rotor in the context of mobility and water and the Savonius Rotor in the context of Energy Transfer.
Why Use Mud
Sunday, 24 May 2009
Having grown up in mud house myself (before I moved to urban center), mud buildings have a special place rooted deep in to my cultural consciousness and this personal bond encourages a more intimate relationship between me and the mud as the material transformed from formlessness to form. Hence my interest in mud architecture and how I see its future in Pakistan.
Article by your truly appeared in the daily Nation today.
Continuous blogging, when you are maintaining multiple blogs, is tough. But, hi people, real life is tougher. No?
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
Posts that come from heart and speak personal truth and experience are the best. "Hit an emotional chord, not just intellectual ones," as a friend says. Next best are those when experts share their knowledge on specific subjects.That said, one of the best ways that I have found out to expand my bloggy fraternity is to set a goal to comment on say 5-10 blogs a day that are outside my usual reads. I also continue to see the work others are doing about topics of my interests. Technocrati is a good source to see what other bloggers are writing about on a specific topic I am exploring.
We all like to be linked to and so the more I have trackbacks to other people’s work they are expected to come by and read mine and eventually may link too! I try in addition to putting a link or two into my posts. It seems to have worked really well for me.
How do you reach out and how are you expanding your blog community? Another thing, Though gender is not the issue while reaching out but I some time see bloggers commenting men to me, men to women, women to women, women to men. Is there any substance to this hypothesis?
Electric Supply System Run by Taliban
Monday, 18 May 2009
Nave of me, I never knew that Taliban are running our electric supply system. Thanks to Syed Mansoor Hussain for pointing this out in an insightful perspective. I agree with what your say Syed Mansoor Hussain! Please don’t get used to it. If you do, Pakistan will join the list (The Ottoman Empire, the Safavids in Iran and, of course, the Mughals in India) sooner.
Read Syed Mansoor Hussain’s Comment Here
Labels: Load Shedding
Ahead of Time
Sunday, 17 May 2009
One disadvantage of going ahead of time is that you are left alone. Alone!
Six passengers have a compartment to themselves. No streams of persistent vendors. No one can have the pleasure of hanging from an open train door as they are locked stop to stop. Like Lahore-Islamabad motorway the train is for many a symbol of modernity and progress.
The complete train (except engine) has been made by Changchun Car Company in China as part of Pakistan Railways consignment worth rupees 7.77 billions to import 175 passenger coaches. The 14 completely built coaches have already been commissioned and rest are to be assembles in the Pakistan Railway Carriage Factory Islamabad. Two Chinese engineers (one electrical and one mechanical) travel with the train to observe its performance that plies on the track laid by the British over a century ago. I tried to but could not converse with them. They only knew Chinese. But I am sure they must be surprised on how Pakistan Railways is using some of the old infrastructure. At places one can see the equipment of old vintage (1906) in use. The main strategic and commercial artery of the country, the railway line passing through the length of the country, needs to be doubled on priority.
My train left Lahore right on time. Some one interrupted the recitation from Holly Qura’an that was going on and started making announcements and issuing instructions in Urdu as well as English on public address system installed in the train. No pun intended but the announcement was a first shocker. Not only the subject of instructions and the contents of announcement need to be changed but it should be made by some one who is qualified to do that. Or at least a pre-recorded audio tape can do the job. It seemed that some one is talking to himself and not to the passengers. Later, the system started broadcasting songs of Noor Jehan and Jawad Ahmad.
Hurtling through a countryside that had remained unchanged for most part, the train blasted imperiously through the smaller stations without stopping. It has only four stops in the way: Khanewal (20 minutes), Rohri (20 minutes), and Hyderabad (5 minutes). The old engine that has been repainted to go with the train colour and some of the administrative staff go straight from Lahore to Karachi and comes back next day. No changing in the way.
The train clattered on culverts, bridges, and mud-hut villages chiselled from the landscape. Over two hours of the day light that I had before dusk, I saw through the window the buffalos lounging in village ponds, tiny houses decorated with drying cowpats, the immense sky bruised black with the smoke rising from factories, Pattoki nurseries, deserted station Tabrooq and other very familiar cinematic scenery in the expanses of Punjab. In the irrigated tracts, I rode through endless stretch of waving crops of different shades of colour. Too frequently one sees long queues of road transport standing on either side of railway crossings waiting passionately for train to pass. The train track in most places is lined with extinguishing species of trees like Okkan and Salvadora (called Van). After the harvest all will change.
Dark outside, I moved up and down the train. The passengers, kaleidoscopic mix, seemed oblivious. Some were sleeping, some eating food they had brought from home. Only a few people ordered food from the accompanied Dinning Car though the staff presented mutilated menu cards to every one and purser came to ask if every one has had a complimentary evening tea. Some passengers pored over documents or books and some glanced hopefully at their mobile phones to see if there was a signal, which of course there was not. Mobile phone only covers a part of the journey mainly around main cities. So the high-tech train glided onward through a no-tech but beautiful and living landscape, silent except for a muffled symphony of snores and burps emanating from its curtained-off berths, and the soft beeps of passengers playing “Snake” on their otherwise useless phone sets. A group was busy playing “teen-patti.” I was invited to join in and at the end we exchanged contact cards. And some others were travelling with feet tapping to a catching beat of the songs.
Moving while sleeping, I have had some restless moments, spent some time gazing at stars. It was not always easy to find the least uncomfortable arrangement of my bones on upper berth of the train that was too high to climb and too near the roof of the compartment. The pillow and bed sheets provided by the train staff were not enough for me. Moreover, the train gave rough jolts whenever the brakes were applied. But wait a second. Could sleeping while moving — if I may exploit the metaphor — be the problem? My problem? Is not the whole point of the exercise to wake up? Wake up at Rohri where Shahid was waiting to tell me what is new there. Wake up to Hussain Abdul Rahman who had come at Hyderabad Railway Station to deliver hot breakfast and tell me what he had explored in Thar.
Lahore to Karachi is always an amazing trip: mind expanding, horizons broadening, wallet emptying — and you are home again. Nothing much has changed and somehow your friends are not as excited about your cool travel tales as they should be. Homecoming blues are a price I always pay. What can be done about them?
One of my cures when I am stuck at home is to keep up with letters and emails to people I met while travelling. As time goes on, you never know what those sorts of contacts will lead to — future travel. It is all too easy to let travel friendships slide, but then that just gives you one more thing to be depressed about. Developing these relationships allows you to think of your trip as the start of something rather than an ending.
Land of Opportunities
Saturday, 16 May 2009
Have a look at USA Grant Applications – aptly named site – that can help you locate and apply for the grants. Explore the information rich site and learn what all opportunities exist. I suggest you join and find out how you qualify for the Free Grant Program and how you can take advantage.
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
What is driving this solid growth and "massification" of students going abroad? Three things: Perception of informed parents and students that the quality of education abroad is a lot better and up-to-date than in Pakistan universities and higher educational institutions. Second, the "foreign-qualified" candidates see better response in not only local but global job market as compared to those with similar qualifications from local universities. And effective marketing of education services with the help of facilitations by their governments.
Two children of one of my friend are studying in different universities in United States of America . On the issue of study abroad he says, "My son graduated in computer science from reputed university here. He wanted to pursue the subject further but no local university was offering further education in the discipline of his interest so he had to go to America. On the other hand, my daughter has been offered full scholarship by another American university that was difficult to decline." My friend's younger daughter thinks that her brother and sister have gone after post graduation whereas she should go abroad after completing her "A" level. A succes story. No?
Aiming at long term benefits, western universities are now helping Pakistan to reverse the so called 'brain drain.' "Some of the scholarships offered to students have a condition that students will come back after completing her education and stay in Pakistan for at least two years."
In 1947, there was only one University of Punjab. Today, we have almost 35 universities in the public sector and more than 100 in the private sector, and this number is growing with newer disciplines being added every year. After the new concept of private education has taken over, many private universities have shown their results whereas some of them have even left their mark on world map. No doubt these universities are playing their role in promoting quality education, but at the same there is a difference between graduates from privet sector universities and public sector universities. The difference is more visible when it comes to getting a job. There is an even bigger difference when comes is seen between local and those who have graduated from abroad.
On the other hand there are not very many openings in local job market. Ask any decision maker in any national or international organizations, private sector companies, multinational companies, NGO's, and educational institutions about their hiring needs, given chance they will prefer graduates from foreign universities as compared to those passed out from local universities. "There is a better match between the modern organizational needs and the foreign education, particularly when the hiring concern has to operate globally," says Professor Dr. Tehseen Sulehrya.
What is more, the glamorous and magnetic power of the world's top universities in the developed world have speeded this growth even further. They are extensively marketing their education services. A growing number of rich countries are redefining both their education and their immigration policies in order to attract more students. Competition for the tuition fees that foreign students have to pay, which is particularly fierce from countries that will not allow their universities to charge realistic fees to home-grown students.
Another factor is the European Union's policy of sponsoring student mobility within the Union so as to create a European identity among the young people. Several countries - most notably Australia and New Zealand - are trying to turn education into an export industry. Foreign students are triply valuable. They pay fees to universities, spend money on things like food and lodging, and may even end up staying on permanently. What better way to shift an economy from its traditional reliance on primary production?
For the past 50 years America has effortlessly dominated the market for international students, who have brought both direct and indirect benefits to the country. Not only are the foreign students contributing some $13 billion a year to America's GDP, they are also supplying brainpower for US research machine and energy for its entrepreneurial economy. After some past incidents, America's leadership came under a challenge. The Institute of International Education reported that the number of foreign students on American campuses is on decline for the first time.
American leadership was alive to the situation and academics acted fast. Now the United States of America has streamlined its visa process for education purpose. Applicants earlier had to wait for 75 days for technical clearance, but the period has now been reduced to 13 days, and students can walk into the embassy without an appointment and apply for an interview at the visa desk. Similarly other western countries and their universities are also making changes to facilitate the students from third world.
Irony is that at government level, there are no proper channels to guide Pakistani students in this regard or institutionalize the process. Legal and illegal immigration consultants selling 'study abroad' can be spotted easily at educational exhibitions and in major cities though. Stakeholders have been demanding the government establish such resource centre in collaboration with foreign embassies and streamline the process till the time the needs of the students desirous of higher education can be met at home.
Sadly, that has not started happening yet.