Today, given a chance I would have dedicated every rose and all the heart-shaped balloons fluttering in the air to the books. Coincidentally, the 27th International Book Fair at Lahore opened on February 14- the day when most parts of the world are drenched with the notion of expressing love. Publishers and booksellers from all over Pakistan as well as USA, UK, Singapore, Turkey, Germany and India are taking part in this five-day event.
The Expo Centre, Johar Town (Lahore) allured readers of Lahore through its elegance. Hall number 1 and 2 seemed not less than an endless sea of books in which visitors swayed with gleaming eyes. An attractive yet decent outlook of the stalls enhanced the ‘book savvy’ air. However, it was not pleasant to see a negligible number young readers. On the other hand, the older generation was quite zealous. Wrinkled faces gleamed with awe and struggled to pile books on their fragile hands. Nevertheless, their spirits were robust and so was their love for books. It looked like a festival being celebrated to instil never-ending love for books.
Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas. Relishing the perks of 27th Annual International Book Fair 2013, at Lahore made me think that what if we can make an exchange of books. Someone might argue that we already have a ‘World Book Day‘, but presenting the book as a token of love has an altogether different impact.
As Abraham Lincoln said: “My best friend is the person who would give me a book that I haven’t read”.
Glimpses of Alhamra Cultural Complex, Lahore
Punjab hosts a resplendent display of inter-provincial harmony among the high achievers of Pakistan.
Solar lamps, worth Rs 4.4 billion to be imported from China for the high achievers.
The CM lashes out at the federal government and the previous government of the Punjab
A wave of revolution in Information Technology and education led by the incumbent government of the Punjab halted at Alhamra Cultural complex on December 18, 2012. The Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif (also known as CM Punjab and ‘Khaadam-e-Aala’ – minister serving the people) addressed high achievers of provincial boards of intermediate and secondary education in Pakistan. This was the last ceremony in connection with the Chief Minister’s ‘educational drive’ including different merit-based scholarships for high achievers, e-youth initiative, IT labs in different cities, Daanish Schools in the less developed parts of the province and schemes for recruiting young graduates as ‘paid-internees’. Prominent leaders form the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (N) including Ahsan Iqbal and Zaeem Qadri also attended the ceremony. The Vice Chancellor of University of the Punjab (Professor Dr Mujahid Kamran), Government College University (Professor Dr. Muhammad Khaleeq-ur-Rahman) and principals along with teachers from different colleges also attended the ceremony. The event was hosted by Noor ul Hassan, a renowned anchor person of Pakistan.
The CM distributed cash among achievers of different provincial boards. Before he was invited to the stage, speeches were delivered in both, provincial and national language by high achievers from all the provinces of Pakistan.
From Khyber Pakhtoonkhwaan (KPK), Peshawar
Hard work, determination and courage made me a ‘high achiever’. Droplets of sweat used to mess my paper due to sporadic load shedding in the summer, but ‘faith’ can defeat all problems. Despite all odds, I want to study and achieve new heights. The Punjab government has established an unprecedented ‘education model’ for other governments to emulate. Ceremonies like these unite students from different provinces and make ‘diversity’ the strength of the country. Growing literacy rate is the need of the hour and the government of Punjab has taken positive steps to address this need.
From Balochistan, Zhob
I want to become a Cardiologist, I successfully got admission in a medical college located in Punjab, on the basis of merit.
My province is the most backward one in the country because of bad governance and lack of education. There are only 12 colleges and 3 Universities in Balochistan, forget about the condition of schools. However, potential talent exists in the province that struggles for upward mobility in the country. Education is the ladder leading to social, moral and economic uplift of not only Balochistan, but the entire country.
From Azad Kashmir, Mirpur
I aspire to become a civil engineer and convert every ‘hut’ of Pakistan into a ‘Sky scraper’
I belong to the ‘valley of heaven’ as Azad Kashmir is known for its irresistible beauty. Unfortunately, the region is in the shackles of ignorance and poverty. The government should establish industries and educational institutes in areas where people are living below the poverty line. Pakistan’s defence budget should be sized down and budget allocated for education should swell.
From Gilgit-Baltistan, Hunza
It is said that ‘man is a social animal’, but by acquiring education we become a more superior creature. The most distressing fact is that; there is no medical or engineering college in my province. All the leaders in my region chant slogans, but never fulfil their promises. Punjab government has taken a laudable initiative to encourage students. The role of CM Punjab, Shehbaz Sharif can be likened to that of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan who aimed at enlightening the Muslims through education after the war of independence, 1857.Today, I want to clarify that I am not a Gilgiti, but a Pakistani. Similarly, I want each one of you to be known as Pakistanis, not as Sindhis, Balochis, Pashtoons or Punjabis. Provinces are meant for making geographical administration better, not to demarcate people living within a single national boundary.
The host of the program, Noor ul Hassan praised the CM Punjab and requested him to work on the cultural policy as immoral dramas of foreign countries were being dubbed in the national language and shown to the public. A ‘guard of honour’ by Punjab police was given to the high achievers.
Electrifying Speech of CM Punjab, Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif
A Personal Opinion
Efforts, when backed by sincerity often resound in the form of the effects that they generate. Beyond the slightest doubt, the CM has leaped forward to make education a priority and merit the authority. However, a collective and conscious effort is required to materialize the dream of ‘education for all’. This picture explains the reason:
A young hawker selling packs of snacks at Alhamra Cultural Complex, Lahore December 18, 2012
while achievers from different educational institutes join the rhyme of [official song for young merit scholars]
Translation in English:
Glide in the sky
For, you are Pakistan
A new dawn is emerging
Time is moving ahead
So should you . . .
In every field that you enter
Succeed with excellence and move forward
New paths have been traced
For you, to define the destinations
The journey is easier than before
Only if you want it so…[official song for young merit scholars]
However, truth be told as it should be, this blog is being posted due to the laptop gifted to me for achieving first place in the first year of my bachelors programme at University of the Punjab, March 23, 2012. My productivity as a student increased manifold after getting this merit-based token of encouragement.
Advancement, evolution and innovation has all been combined to make human life easier. Technology is a blessing which makes things convenient and feasible for all those who use it in a proper way. The damp monsoon season arrived in Pakistan with a technological encounter and for the first time the high-ups will be relying on Smartphones to monitor troubles caused due to excessive rain. The Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) in Lahore has given Smartphones to the Ministers of Provincial Assembly of Punjab province.
The gadgets will be used by the ministers of the most densely populated province of Pakistan for detecting water stagnation and puddles. Moreover, the notorious ‘dengue larvae’ growth will also be examined through the Smartphones. According to the managing director of the Water and Sanitation Agency, these phones can only be used for relaying images of the troubled spots and not for conversing. The Smartphones will have to be returned back to Wasa after the end of the rainy season.
It’s interesting to note that how the device will be used to achieve the monitoring aims mentioned above. The Android OS based Huawai handsets will be given to each supervisory officer working under the government. Along with recording indicators like non-functional equipment,absent staff, troubled localities and ‘dengue’ zones the
supervisors will take a self-photo that will be submitted along with the data. The submitted data will automatically pop up on a map in real-time with GPS accuracy of five meters. This data can be monitored by senior officials and back-end auditors.
The mobile based ‘data-entry’ has several benefits over the conventional paper entries. One screen, one application, is able to handle a form with as many pages/ screens as required. Electronic information entry is more reliable. Dependencies of information transfer are reduced thereby reducing chances for errors. Mobile phones with touch-screens provide the simplest user interface possible. GPS-enabled phones allow monitors/ inspectors to verify their physical location at time of report. Built-in digital cameras allow photographs of report-submitting personnel to aid authenticity of reporting. A robust mobile data network existing in rural Punjab allows for much more reliable connectivity of remote locations to central servers and information seekers.
This ‘technological dive’ for the sake of improvement in governance is a healthy sign and a laudable initiative. In addition to this, it throws light on yet another utility of cellular phones. According to renowned academic activist, Jeffry Sachs – “cellular phone is the single most transformative technology for development”. A cost-effective Smartphone with GPS and camera can make the data transmission task convenient for the government- more than any laptop or computer. The Punjab government, under the prudent leadership of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has taken a great step!
Courtesy- Help from the formal report of Punjab Health Sector Reform – Monitoring the Monitors.
Originally published in the October- November 2012 issue of Phone World Magazine. http://www.phoneworld.com.pk
Luckily, we don’t have to rely on pigeons and postmen anymore. People used to admire e-mail, but now they communicate mainly through the cell phones (particularly TEXTING) zipped up in their pockets. It’s a great way to stay in touch with people no matter where you are and what you are doing. Even I text or leave a message when I have time, friends text back when they have time. It is so much easier than having to be free at the same time! Undoubtedly, cell phones have made communication easy and feasible.
‘TEXTING’ has emerged as a ‘social adaptation’ in Pakistani society. It might be an overwhelming surprise for many of you, that Pakistanis send 1.2 billion texts every single day. Lahore being the capital city of the most densely populated province of Pakistan (i.e Punjab), surely inhabits a substantial amount of ‘texters’ (the latest civilized term being used for ‘SMS freaks’). Among them, the youth is in the front row when it comes to ‘texting’. Lahori teens are addicted to this technological advancement and comfort, while their parents tag it as a ‘disease’. Most of you might be familiar with labels like ‘texting in the class’ or ‘back bench texters’. With the existing mobile service you can log on to your facebook account, view the profiles of some of your young, energetic friends and you will definitely find ‘texting’ under the option of interests and activities. So, it’s a ‘hobby’ in the youth circle – thanks to the monthly, weekly and fortnightly SMS packages. Don’t forget what made your grammar that weird – u shud nt use ‘slang’. Yes! –the reason you might end up deteriorating your writing skills is the excessive use of short words, texting jargons and slang.
What about ‘Drvng whl txtng’? Perhaps the only thing more popular than cell phones, is the argument about whether their usage distracts drivers. Substantial research demonstrates that texting while driving is dangerous. The problem isn’t that your hands are not on the steering wheel. It’s that your mind isn’t on the road. Owing to Lahore’s terrible traffic and jam-packed roads it’s our social responsibility that we should avoid unnecessary ‘texting’ while we are on the road.
However, this evolution in the communication world has its own benefits which are innumerable. Doctors are managing their appointments through the SMS service. Teachers are finalizing the syllabus for the upcoming examinations and scheduling their lectures through messages. Your barbers and home maintainers are also a text away! Donations for flood victims and hospitals are still sent through messages that were charged (Rs. 10 per SMS). This mode of communication is more popular in Lahore due to the high literacy rate of this zealous city. Constructive and productive use of ‘texting’ can extend the sphere of its positive impacts on the society. It shouldn’t be ignored as it contributes to the literary and social needs of people belonging to all age groups. Why can’t libraries send notices of new books to the readers via SMS? Homework/Assignment support and reminders can be sent to students if Universities and Schools can manage to establish an ‘SMS network’.
With its unprecedented popularity and penetration into our lives- ‘texting’ surely has propelled so many Lahoris to say: “I’m just a text away…”
Originally published in Phone World Magazine March 2012.
This post is also available on the website of Phone World Magazine