Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pakistan - Land of opportunity (Demographics)

Presently, Pakistan is going through a turbulent time. There are more than a few serious issues going on ranging from flooding in Sindh, being a party in the war on terror and Dengue fever in Lahore in particular and rest of the country in general. These issues are immediate concerns, apart from the routine concerns like load shedding, poverty, unemployment, illeteracy, lack of governance or in some cases, no governance at all. These are on going issues facing Pakistan.

I have mentioned some of the real concerns our public is facing, however, I have hardly heard people talk about the kind of opportunities which are present in Pakistan. In this series of "Pakistan - Land of Opportunity", I will be publishing a few areas of opportunity present in Pakistan. Our demographics provide a big opportunity for us. The most prevalent age group we have is between 15-64 years which is about 60.4 percent ( Also, the fertility rate among our women is 3.17 children, mashAllah. These demographic figures provide opportunity in itself. We just have to place ourselves in a position where we can utilize our young population.

Initially, in India, when their population was growing at a fast pace, they took that as a hurdle to their prosperity and growth. In those years, India was truly struggling and trying hard to find a place in the developed countries. But nothing was working out for them. And when the big industrialized countries like U.S. and U.K. wanted to find alternate market for their products and place to do business, they realized how much Indian population has to offer to them in terms of work force and growth potential. Since India has a population over one billion heads, even if ten percent of their population is educated, that is quite easily more than 100 million people. Same goes for market potential, that if the U.S. and U.K companies can sell their products to merely a few people in India, that's much more than what they can sell in their own countries.

So, the outcomes were, that the U.S. companies moved many of their offices, like customer service and manufacturing jobs to India. They call it "out sourcing" in the U.S.  The Indians were benefited for having a large population and are being rewarded for that now. It is like having a big family in a house. Even if a few or a couple of kids become successful, they will be able to translate their success into better quality of life for the whole house.

In our case, we are big enough  that we can take advantage of it and use our man power, labor and skillful work force. And small enough to manage ourselves in Pakistan as well. When we see around in cities, suburbs, and rural areas, we can find plenty of our educated and skillful youth sitting around doing nothing. That's the opportunity in its regards and wastage of raw manpower, energized and full of life, ready to become productive members of skillful workforce.These kids want to be working and earning for themselves and their families and want to have respectable place in the society. But the idea is to materialize this opportunity and turn it into a strength for the country.

When one youth is educated and provided a job, he/she not only contributes to the betterment of the industry and the country, but also provides for his household for food, health, education and many other necessities of life. On the other hand, if that individual is not provided the opportunity to contribute positively to the society, than that same individual could become an outlaw in the society. This would bring shame and sorrow not only to the family but also to the society.

Moving back to Pakistan from the U.S.

Things are quite different in Pakistan than there. There is  never a dull moment here. The transition from the U.S. life to Pakistan takes a while, anywhere from six months to a year or so. But the idea is to get yourself in the routine and being productive  as soon as possible. Otherwise, the depression sets in and the individual tends to start thinking of moving 'back'. One has to understand that entry to a new system takes some effort, running around, adjustment, ups and downs, a lot of comparisons between the two systems, and a few more things. People here have hard time admitting the fact that some new guy will be working with them from the overseas, even if he left the country for a short while. But again, that's part of the effort of moving back. One important point is the salary packages are not comparable to the U.S. But on the other hand, a lot can be achieved with less money here. And the quality of life is much better. So yeah, the salaries are low, but you gain more with low salaries. See in Pakistan, once you get a job, the housing, utilities, conveyance, driver, gas, they are all taken care off in most of the jobs. Even private companies offer a lot of perks these days. Maybe that's why we can do a lot of things with our salaries here. 

Thinking of the long term, how long would I want to continue working for someone? And what would I want to do after retirement. So, many people start businesses on the side alone or with a partnership and keep developing their businesses over the years while working. This gives them steady income on one side and gives them something to look forward to after retirement. So there are opportunities all around. It's just  a matter of how willing someone is to take a chance.

This discussion can go on and on. But the matter of the fact is, like people ask me, which one is better? My answer is that one has to set the priorities in order and take a serious look at what is important to the individual. One has to make sacrifices and compromises in Pakistan and same in the U.S. If we look in Pakistan, there are many miserable people in this country and same in the U.S. Many people don't have jobs, or a very little money and are suffering while same goes for the U.S. as well. Everything is tied to the job. If someone loses a job, they lose almost everything and they would have to start over with the new job. So no drastic difference. So, I tell them wherever you feel at home, that's where you belong. Either way, we all have to work hard for a  living, in Pakistan or the U.S.

Straight from the Heart-WC 2011 Semi final (India V. Pakistan)

The trouble started back in our fielding. Six dropped catches in a World Cup Semi Final.. I think MCC would have done better than that !!! Also, Akmal brothers, if one is dropped other starts crying and excuses himself from the game in a protest and the Pakistan team have to have play both. And previously, we used to have one (keeper) Akmal brother dropping catches, yesterday, we had both. So, if the team is giving chances to Tendulkar in the match, he is not going to sit idle and do nothing. He will score which he did..Younis, Misbah, Akmal brothers... They all played their part in the disaster.

For the batting, I think Pakistan needs to overhaul itself and bring some young blood now. Misbah, Younis, they have played their best innings and they must say good-byes for good. The team has plenty of time before the next big cricketing event and hopefully we will be able to find a few decent batsmen from 180 million strong population. Misbah's innings was really mind-boggling. I still can't understand why he did what he did. Maybe he was thinking of, say 2007 T20 Final. The way he performed and brought back the game to Pakistan to the last ball of the match. I am sure he will be explaining the thought process behind his yesterday's technique to the Pakistani nation throughout his life. That would make a good book for him as well. And for the Younis, he has batted well on and off but he has failed miserably in this world cup. He was suppose to be our backbone of the batting line. Maybe we expected too much from him. Maybe he wanted to start at some point. But he isn't a big-hitter to start with. So, not only he didn't score the way he was supposed to, he had so many dot-balls.

As for the captaincy, I think Shahid Afridi did a fantastic job in bringing the team together and get the best from the boys. When everyone was dropping catches, he was the one who held it. Not only this game, but throughout this world cup, he performed and conducted himself on and off the field very handsomely. I understand he didn't have the batting performance up to the par, but his bowling stood out and he led from the front. He out-classed himself in many ways. He took all the boys with him on and off the field. Just consider the kind of team he was given before this event. Pakistan was under great scrutiny of ICC anti-corruption committee for match-fixing. A test captain and two fine bowlers were charged and the team was under the microscope. The morale was down. Everybody felt like he could be the next one to be banned. One of our wicket-keepers took refuge in England for alleged death threats. None of the cricket teams wanted to play in our country. All in all, the team was boxed and there was hardly a chance for our team to get to the semi-finals. So, I think Pakistan wouldn't have a better captain than Shahid Afridi for this event. Not to mention, we just witnessed the alternative, Misbah-ul-Haq in this game. Greats like Sunil Gavaskar and Wasim Akram were perplexed with the way Misbah batted yesterday. I wonder what was going through his mind at that point?

Opportunity knocks once, which happened yesterday for the Pakistani players. Some raised their game and some let down the nation big time. The ones who upped their game, will be remembered for the ages and the ones who disappointed us, will be their for us as examples, not to be followed ever!! So many of the players will be there to play to world cup next time Pakistan gets there and some won't. So this was their best chance to shine, to become heroes, to be part of the Pakistani folklore, and one of the personalities Pakistani families would like to invite to their homes. This happens, maybe, once in a lifetime. Against India, against their crowd, against their media, above all, against all the odds, in their backyard, both the prime ministers were there. After eight years of cricket drought with India, and none of the Pakistani players were invited to play IPL last year and we were there. The Pakistani anthem was played, the Indian prime minister himself greeted us to be there, the Pakistani flag was flown in the stadium. That must have been something after such a cold shoulder to the players from Indians in the IPL. But we lost it and not only the players disappointed their loved ones but the whole nation. One could have seen the joy of the Pakistani team being in the semi-final and hopes of getting to the final. That was one thing, maybe the only thing for happiness for many Pakistanis in their lives at this point.

Everybody is shocked and down more like in a mourning. Nobody wants to talk about this to anyone, anymore. Glad this roller-coaster is over. Everybody can get back to their lives and their everyday problems.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

First One!!

Today, on 22nd of September, 2011, I am starting this web journal to see how much organized I am. I intend to write about thoughts, expressions, happenings, views, opinions, interests and many other things. I will try to put my perspective through to see if that makes an difference. I could be right or be wrong, but that doesn't matter. That would be just my take on things. Some can agree or disagree, whatever they like.

A good starting question would be, "why name is freezing point"? There is a history behind this name. I am quite sure boys or men, who went to study in Aitchison College, Lahore, would be familiar with this name. There is a place close to the "Colony", where the employees are housed within Aitchison College. This place is outer boundary of the college on the canal side. It is mostly used for dumping trash. For us, the boarders, and in many instances the day boys, who wanted to step out of the college without the knowledge of their teachers or house masters, for a drink, lunch, dinner, movie etc,  or for any matter, would use this point to scale up the wall of Aitchison College, and be out of the institution as and when they please . So I thought this name would be fitting one for my blog for me to step out of normal and usual routine to put things in black and white.

Life takes its own course. There is so much to talk about our country, Pakistan, politics, work, life and may other things. I have slight idea of how my blog will be, but I know it will change with the time. So I am not planning anything big at this point. So, I'll let it flow and hopefully something decent will appear.

All my readers are encouraged to express their ideas, thoughts on my blogs, questions, queries, concerns and whatever that comes up in their minds to help me improve. The readers' input will be the backbone of my blogs.