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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

The world we are living in has changed and is transforming at a phenomenal pace. If technology has revolutionized one thing over the years that for sure is communication. Gone are the days when voice of masses, a populist movement or uprising could be hushed or silenced by authority and censorship. Liberation of media, advent of internet and social media in particular has changed the rules of the game altogether. If someone has any doubts, please revisit the events of recent upsurge in Tunisia, Egyptand Middle East. What was the dynamic behind the abrupt change in the region that brought an autocratic rule to its knees within days of the suicide of a young university graduate despite all authority and censorship?

Yes. As much as the followers of strong leadership theories (I being one of them) hate to believe, it was the popular campaign and well co-ordinated effort through social media such as Facebook, twitter, youtube and blogsphere that moblized the educated and impassioned youth to the point that rattled the forces of status quo and shook the foundations of the monarchs and military backed regimes in the entire region. In the event of such a deluge, if leadership gets arbitrary and widespread temporarily, is beyond the discussion but more importantly what we have witnessed lately is the real power and potential of a virtual medium and social marketing in achieving objectives of an uprising or an upheaval when it has the potential to connect and resonate with the aspiration of the masses. Grasp over English language or not, a thin or narrowing tip of pyramid constituting a stream of spearheads has shown to represent and influence an exponential base and human resource at the bottom.

What brings me to resort to such an introduction is an excellent article published in the daily ‘The News’ today (June 18th, 2011; Taking social media by storm by Malik Siraj Akbar). It discusses at length about the similar phenomenon that is brewing in the much neglected but largest province of the country i.e Baluchistan. Arguably one of the least developed areas having low population and even lower literacy rate, the most critical and lethal element remains the relevance. There is no denial that Baluchis today find themselves in utter state of deprivation and negligence. Though this galvanization and resentment against the state is not a nascent development, the recent socio economic events and catastrophes have definitely alienated and disenchanted the Baluchs further.

The gruesome reality and mystery regarding the fate of missing persons remains shrouded. How ruthlessly we dealt with a 79 year old Sardar and Baluch icon, Sardar Nawab Akbar Bugti in particular and other political and national figures sharpened the wedge a great deal and intensified the feeling of unflinching hatred against the state. Baluch nationalistic sentiment is gaining momentum and only gets stronger following each clash with the security forces. It has got to the point where they are resorting to target killings and living in the province for a Punjabi or a non native is a potential life threatening risk. The lukewarm and listless response to the earthquake in Baluchistan a couple of years ago further aggravated the economic woes of the people. So much so, the blogsphere and press talked about deliberate flooding of portions of Baluchistan with allegiance of military and police to safeguard the interests of some Sindhi influential landlords during the devastating floods last year.

Poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, unemployment and deprivation remain the chief concerns of the tribal and gallant Baluchs. Mineral rich Balochistan is brimming with resources like natural gas, copper, coal and recently discovered huge reserves of gold. A long stretch of coastal belt runs along the shores of Makran and Gawadar but unfortunately any plans to develop potential goldmine of port of Gawadar have been jeopardized mainly because of the insecurity and partly owing to the cold war and conflicting interests of giants like America and China in the strategically located province.              
          
Isn’t it ironic that a democratic government cant even associate itself with marginalized population ( a mere 5% of the total population) of the largest ( that constitutes 44% of total area of Pakistan) but most backward and sparsely populated province of the country?

Although the history of nationalistic unrest and military intervention and use of force to curb such elements dates as far back as independence, the widening chasm and technological revolution demands a grossly varied approach to the issue. There was much propaganda of an impending economic package for Baluchistan by the prime minister but nothing has materialized so far.

Coming back to the point, there are  a number of blogs and forums that represent Baluch nationalists and promote their extreme agenda and hype on the web. Talking of most popular ‘Baluchistan’ page on Facebook alone, considering the low literacy rate, there is a following of close to 6000 individuals which by any standard or stretch of imagination is substantial. The worsening law and order and security situation doesn’t help. Thanks to social media, well organized, energetic and flambuoyant youth are quick to grab bits of news and information and share and disperse them within the community and cyber space within no time.

If the infested and bleeding wounds of Baluch pride and marginalization are not daubed with serious dialogue, concerted and well organized effort and if what the article reveals about the extent of co-ordination and the activity and commitment of Baluchs to use social media as an alternate platform to counter all censorship, we have a mammoth, ominous and worsening political challenge to tackle at our hands.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=53240&Cat=9&dt=6/18/2011

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Technology takes its toll!

The means of communication are becoming unbelievably fast and ubiquitous. Bright side is you are connected to the world literally through your finger tips having instantaneous global access. Flip side being you are accessible anywhere- anytime. Your life, your personality, your moments are being shared. The privacy is being invaded.

Am I a multitasker, workahlic or a cyber addict?

Is it an intrusion or a convenience?  Do you gain or lose?

Think and decide.

 TGIF!

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There must be something in their blood or strewn in their culture that brings such enviable discipline, tolerance and patience that is hallmark of the champion Japanese nation. Imagine a small isolated country comprising series of islands fraught with rugged mountains and rough terrain combating triple disaster posed by the natural and human intervention.

A country and a nation probably most exposed to the frequent deadly earthquakes round the globe, Japan is arguably the most equipped and trained nation that responds to such a disaster. But horrifying even to think what it is pitted against right now!

An unprecedented earthquake (of the order of 9.0/9.1 on Richter scale) unleashing tremors of the magnitude that have NEVER been recorded in the history of the country before. These waves triggered not only a series of aftershocks but unleashed monstrous tsunami waves as high as 10 metres that swept away vehicles, installations and settlements like toys and doll houses in their rage as the heavens wrecked fury. As if it was not sufficient, the problems compounded a great deal by explosions in the nuclear reactors releasing radiations to the atmosphere and even generating a possibility of a meltdown according to certain quarters. According to latest update, the gravity of the situation has worsened and surged to level 6 on the international scale of safety operating on a scale of 0 to 7. The radiation leak is and may cause serious health hazards within its domain of influence that has a potential to spread gradually.

As the mother nature disgourged all its wrath and the disaster continued unabated, element of human intervention to natural course added a catastrophic dimension to the overall imbalance making one really wonder if the artificial and technological breakthroughs, in a holistic sense, are bringing any sustainable betterment to the mankind or potentially bringing it to the verge of destruction and elimination?

Leaving that argument aside, what is exemplary is the way the nation is responding to the disaster. Even if we talk of the nuclear reactors, the structures have sustained the tremors and conditions much beyond their design capacity. It is the operational failure engendered to devastating conditions that is causing all the havoc.

In spite of depleting supplies, no electricity, fuel and even water, the survivors reportedly wait in long lines for the basic utilities. There is little anger and no loot. Four days after the major catastrophe, the community is responding in a most responsible manner by sharing food with neighbours and cutting back on electricity supplies to diminish blackouts. The disrupted transport systems are forcing many to stay overnight at the remote cities and the people have opened their homes to others. To quote abc News “”I heard someone say they had two bottles of water and gave one to someone else.”  

Japanese are a caring nation known to be hospitable and courteous to their neighbours and community in particular. This is the kind of spirit that is developing all the unity, bonding and interlocking enabling them to stand as an iron wall in the face of sheer adversity in this hour of need.

The Japanese prime minister in his speech to the nation on Sunday night declared that they were confronting the most serious crisis since the second world war.

True the prospects of a potential disaster still loom large and there is still a lot to worry about and deal with. But then he knew, he was addressing a nation that taught the world what rebuilding was all about_ A nation that despite all odds against it, rose from the rubbles of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to emerge as the third largest economy of the world within a matter of decades.

Be it the quality and conformity, Kaizan , productivity, efficiency, motivation, organizational behaviour, loyalty, commitment , emergency response or disaster management there is a lot to learn from these superhumans from the land of rising sun. With the massive flood devastation hardly behind us and a lot of rebuilding to go for, time to take a leaf out of their book!

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A magnanimous contribution by the worthy Mrs. Delirium to the blog

Discoursing the literacy rate in Pakistan is something of an oxymoron. In a country where clean drinking water is a luxury and basic necessities like electricity are not available, But what is new is the innovative use of technology to make a difference in the lives of millions of Pakistanis. The Telemedicine project, a 35 million rupee project, whereby  a network is established in the rural areas where health facilities are minimal to nil, patients can get examined and treated by the use of cameras and live transmission by consultants in tertiary care centers. Using trained paramedics, patients can get their querries attended to, get themselves examined by high-resolution cameras, get their investigations ordered and referred to the nearest tertiary care centre if urgent intervention is needed.

 In a country with a majority of rural population living well below the poverty line and where medical facilities are a luxury and poorly developed transportation infrastructure, the provision of medical advice by experts is a bane. Areas inaccessible by mobile vans can now be covered and patients can get treated at a fraction of the cost they would have to spend getting medical expertise in the traditional way.

The successful use of this technology can be extrapolated to dispense knowledge and spread awareness in general in the rural populace. In a country with majority of its population at the mercy of quacks, the Mullah the main knowledge dispenser and the feudal as the main arbitrator of justice, the applications of this technology can be multifold.

It can be used for the distribution and monitoring of knowledge and ensure its correct implementation in areas notorious for ghost schools, with schools synonymous with dilapidated shacks and sharing of their spaces with livestock.

In a country known for embezzlement of its development funds and White Elephants, the judicious use and implementation of such technologies can make a difference in the lives of millions of Pakistanis and bring a much-needed revolution in this nation.

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