Articles of the year 2006

The Literate Poor
Published on May 25th, 2006

This is a rich country's malaise, which has unfortunately crept upon us without notice. In all the glitter of the consumer ads exhorting you to buy more and pay less, amongst the chase for the consumer, the newly graduated youngster is confused, for having toiled hard for his degree, he is faced with searching for a job where none exists. This is the dilemma facing the Nation today, the lack of new jobs being created. The reality is far removed from the glamour of 12 new local channels (probably more, for it is difficult to count all of them, they are coming up so fast). The TV talk shows are brilliant, and the wide array of talent is truly exiting, is certainly better than any Arab, or even Indian channel on air today , but how many real jobs does it create, to man one TV station? Possibly one hundred, including the peons, makeup men, lighting etc. The numbers are a far cry from what is desperately needed. We need more factories and more. The number of industries must be increased, and more incentives given to the businessman/trader to concentrate on manufacture. At any cost.

The Chinese must be encouraged to come in and all incentives should be extended to them, for the primary function of the Government should be to create jobs. And at the moment the Chinese are ideally positioned to be able to situate their new plants here, and we will be able to learn from them their secret of pricing. The other opportunity that has strangely been completely ignored is the upgrading of our Railways. We should have doubled our tracks easily by now, and where other countries are unveiling hi speed trains, our trains are not only still plodding along at their ancient speeds, but funnily enough they keep falling over! Just recently the Karachi Malir train which is a local train and travels at a leisurely pedestrian pace "fell off the tracks" (to quote a news paper report of the incident). Surely with such a huge pool of unemployed graduates we could assign them to bettering the conditions and services of the railways. Doubling the track would also increase the flow of goods to and from the North, making exports that much cheaper.

The Railways should be given the priority, and importance it rightfully deserves, and if it can muster half the glamour of PIA, it could herald a new era in travel in Pakistan. When our neighbors have been running a beautifully refurbished train to Jaipur complete with an elegant olde worlde dining car giving a magical trip to Jaipur that extra touch, who would want to fly.