Technology Article, Issue VI

TECHNOLOGY MINUTE…Recently I’ve been receiving a lot many resumes in my email, presumably because a few colleges & universities have had graduation ceremonies and students are now looking for jobs. One of the fundamental complaints I have with these aspiring young minds (and I blame the educational institutions for it), is the clear absence of any creativity, knowledge and entrepreneurship with respect to science and technology. Most of the young men and women I’ve communicated with are so closet bound with respect to their majors – that they have vague ideas about the prevalent technologies out there, if at all. Some are clueless. Science & Technology are the cores of any developing nation. The more exposure students have with science and technology the more able-bodied they become in cementing in their future area of specialization. Majority of the institutions have clearly failed in injecting any kind of spirit of enthusiasm in these students. Ask them about the most intriguing scientific or technological wonder they may have read about or come across (for example on the web or television), and you mostly experience silence, remaining cannot even comprehend the question, let alone answer it. Why is it that our engineers and managers of tomorrow are so obtuse when it comes to the general knowledge of the scientific and technological world? The answer (in my opinion) clearly lies in lack of mentorship in our scholastic institutions and the failure of these very institutions to have a proactive program of educating the young minds of what is commonly called “common knowledge” in their respective fields.

I undertook a very crude form of a statistical test, and asked of the applicants of how many of them were ever subjected to say a 60 minute video presentation on anything “outside” their immediate major. Topics like say quantum mechanics, astrophysics, alternative farming, high-number theory, metallurgy advancements, nanotechnology, etc. Or how many of them have ever seen a video of Larry Ellison (CEO of Oracle) or Bill Gates giving a keynote address at a major expo. Even simple questions like do you know what and where is the largest commercial exhibition / conference related to your respective fields held? The results were appalling! Zero. It couldn’t have been any worse. None of the students with whom I communicated (belonging to 6 different institutions) had nothing to add with respect to being “educated” outside the class, within the college, by watching videos, or articles, or speakers (that matter – like Bill Gates, et. al.). In order for us (Pakistan) to succeed and more importantly for our young minds to excel and become the entrepreneurs and managers of tomorrow, they need to be “aware” of the world outside. They need to read about things they perhaps may never come into contact with – this doesn’t mean they should start reading about fish breeding studies carried out in the reefs of Australia, but something more akin with their liking. Read articles on science and technology that interest you! Is that asking too much? As a reader or an organization, I encourage you to share the information you have with your juniors and those who may/may not directly work with you. If you have read a nice article in TIME magazine or Wired Magazine on S&T, share it please. If you’ve got books to donate, ask around and find someone who can be inspired by reading a book. If you’re connected in the social circles, find out how you or your friends can donate your time in visiting schools and colleges and holding captivating sessions with these young minds by giving them encouragements they might not otherwise be privy to. A mind is a terrible thing to waste! Lets work on people we may know – one at a time!

One thing that really irks me (don’t ask why) is why I need to autograph a check (twice in some cases) on the back when getting it encashed from the teller counter at the bank? Explanations given back to me from the absurd (SBP requirement – however they failed to give me a reference to any particular circular number), to one that says “its always done this way”. I am guessing its done for security/audit reasons. Here is a pragmatic suggestion – use biometrics! Rather than getting my scribbled signature on the back (in which I could very well be cursing in Yiddish), furthermore which has no relevance, it makes more sense for banks to take a digital fingerprint of the person encashing the cheque. It takes less than 3 seconds to have a digital scan, cannot be disputed, can be cross-referenced on a national alert list (if necessary). The digital fingerprint cannot be “lost”, can be transported anywhere instantly, and serves as a more accurate identification feature than a mere scribble. Lets get out of the antiquated era and move into the more comfortable digital era.

There a lot more to Pakistan than meets the eye. Well I happened to come across a beautiful website of 4×4 Offroaders in Pakistan – the website aptly named Titled as the “4×4 Offroaders Club Karachi”, the website belongs to a group of enthusiasts who happen to like the outdoors, specially from the rocky comfort of their jeeps! The website has some amazing photography, commentary, blogs and mini-articles. These folks have packed their jeeps and family and set away to experience the many beautiful places in Pakistan and capture the same on the camera for us couch potatoes to experience. Just to touch on some of the places they have visited: Bhootani Farms, Chitral, Gawadur, Hingol, Hub Dam, Thal, Uthar and Ziarat. I especially enjoyed the trip these nomads of the tarmac (or lack thereof) took to Khunjerab (in 2000). Almost makes me want to hop into a jeep and follow them. I invite you to visit the beautiful Pakistan as these people have experienced.

This Article was originally written for Money Magazine

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