Technology Per Kilogram

Some days back I encountered a technical problem and needed to replace my computer’s RAM; being new in the city I didn’t know much about the Computer stores, so just asked one of my students if he knows any good hardware store. What he told me in reply was though not new but very interesting! He told me about a market where I could get about 5 RAMs just for Rs.50 (less than 1USD), but with no guarantee.

Later on verifying form other sources I found that the market does exist. Not only this single market, but also same sort of markets exist in almost all big cities of Pakistan where the computer hardware, electronic and miscellaneous mechanical products are sold per kilogram. At this one of the interviews of Head of IT Ministry, Dr. Atta Ur Rehman (published in Dawn Education some one year back) glimpsed in my mind, and I realize why Mr. Atta said that he’s going to produce 1500 PhDs in one year. Just imagine, you’re getting technology per kilograms, i.e. laptop, Rs.2000/kg, Hard Disk Rs.60/kg. Now, who the hell can stop you being the leader of IT industry!

Well, I’m not well aware of the policy of Dr Saheb, since we’ve not been briefed about it anywhere in the past and there are no such chances in future as well. Mr. Atta alone cannot be blamed for the whole situation as all this works in a system. And that system comprises of economic policies and social action programs along with planning in educational concerns.

Being specific where to the computer related parts, which are, being sold per kilogram is something of utmost importance with reference to Economy, IT Sector, and of course the ultimate effect on society as a whole. Though a large number of people who are living below the poverty line are associated with this business and this is their only living, does it make any sense of planning? Is this the way we’ll create 1500 PhDs a year? Will this practice lead towards any economic and social development?

I personally don’t know the answers of the questions above but too keen to know the facts. Having some understanding of Economic and Educational Planning, I know that if the black markets for all IT products are caught and banned not only a lot of Federal Revenues will increase but the doors for the production of all this stuff will also be possible with in the country.

We’re still not able to make a computer chip of our own! And all this is because of smuggling of products and accessories through neighboring countries. Control over smuggling and the better use of grants in IT sector can lead towards the home manufacturing of hardware reducing the cost of production and hence a real decrease in prices is possible.

Coming to the effect of this alarming situation on Education sector, if prices of technology decrease, the widespread of it is possible, with which masses can be benefited from the technology. Not at a great extent but imagine if it helps a public school to have a single computer, many children can be benefited from it. It can also reduce the cost of Education if planned well, encouraging more and more people to educate their children.

My suggestions can be ignored or rejected by any Ministry mentioned above in the same way as Insha Jee’s educational reforms were. He was asked to develop his own curriculum and syllabus and he ended up with “Urdu Ki Akhri Kitab (The Last Book of Urdu)”. But poor me! I don’t want to write “Technology ki Akhri Kitab (The Last Book of Technology”.

11 Responses

  1. Dr. Atta is doing a gr8 job, the1500 Phds target which initially seem to be too ambitious or a compromise on quality, is proving to be a good initiative. HEC has sent hundreds to european countries for Phd and the Phd in Pakistan must also have a foreign advisor. The quality is guaranteed to be upto mark.

  2. @ahmad

    Thanks a lot for having your say on the issue. I’m not saying that initiative of 1500 PhDs is not good, its excellent, but please tell me who’ll hire those 1500 PhDs. The only thing I want to say is to create the employment opportunities in tha same proportion so that there should be no cyclic unemployment. Dr. Atta is of course not alone responsible for creating all opportunities, but atleast maintaining IT sector in a better way falls on his part.


  3. Bibi, I manage online community to help Pakistanis making decision about coming abroad and I do not expect nor want those MS/PhDs to go back to Pakistan. I want at least one generation of Pakistanis scientists to work in first world and I also believe most of them will find opportunities in US/Europe and would not come back so there would not be a job issue.

  4. @Obi Wan Kenobi

    Sir, nice to hear that you’re making an effort to help Pakistanis develop their future. But I think you didn’t read between the lines, after having a little research work on my M. Phil Thesis, I’ve come to know the main reason of brain drain is low payout here in Pakistan. So you’re right saying they’ll find most of the opportunities there abroad.

    You’re right at your effort and say but let me tell you the other face of reality. Taking MS and PhDs abroad is not the solution, instead making them work here on better position is. You might have heard the fact that “If you give a man a fish, you give him the food for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, he gets the food for life” So the only difference b/w your opinion and mine is that you want to give Pakistanis food for the day and I want to give them such for life.

    And yes, by creating employement opportunities in order to lessen cyclic unemployment I meant to create such within Pakistan so that Pakistani Economy should grow, not the US or UK economy. (No offense meant! these countries already have developed economies)


  5. I guess my word “Bibi” did not go in right theme so I got “sir” as return :-). Are you working in social sciences ? What are you working on if you do not mind sharing it?

    I see where are you coming from but let me try once again to explain my last comment. I accept that I did not put any effort in explaining my point of view.

    First, the community for which I work is not helping “Pakistanis”, it is helping “Pakistan”. You are talking about economy and jobs and I am talking about social scene for Pakistanis in first world. As many as Pakistanis are in research labs in first world, it is good for Pakistan. First there is a role model for next generation, second world is aware of Pakistani institutes from where people are coming out. This goes long way. I can name right away 10 top schools of India/China and would not mind hiring their top students w/o even interviewing. Not such a case for a single Pakistani school. These current batch of Pakistani scientists would smooth the ground for next batch of Pakistanis. And I am sure that world is going to be too small in next 15-20 years that it would not matter that you reside in California or in Karachi.

    There are only two type of people 1- coached 2- uncoached so let’s the first generation be coached and work in US/Europe and then after 15-30 years, they would be coach themselves and would take care of next generation. When ever I see any resume of any Pakistani, I give a detailed look at that and try to find a match for him. No way, I give him extra weight during hiring process but I at least can try to match him to right people. I am sure that those 1500-2000 MS/PhD are doing or would do the same and believe me it helps. It really helps.

  6. Well Sir, I wasn’t an annoying response at all, instead ‘Bibi’ took me back in my Masters’ classroom where by one of most respected professor saheb used to call me ‘Bibi’, and that’s why I responded with ‘Sir’.

    Due to unavailability of ‘quote facility’ in comments’ part (or may be only I don’t have one) it’ll be a bit difficult for me answer to accordingly, but let me give it a try.

    First of all, Sir, m’ working at HRM, and presently doing research on ‘Career Planning Management’ with specific reference of Pakistan. Besides that I’ve been associated with Education for about seven years.

    Now coming back to the topic, I didn’t say that I disagree with what you say. I’ve clearly mentioned that the difference of opinion is based on difference in approach and the angle we’re seeing the matter. You’re absolutely right on your part, and probably m’ right on my part. Your view of ‘training a generation’ to ‘train generations’ is quite justified, but as it’s been observed that after spending a long time abroad a very low percentage of individuals return to Pakistan or thinks to return as most of the time people think for individual benefit rather than societal. So if highly qualified individuals are trained abroad they should be sent back to Pakistan as well so that Pakistan can get maximum benefit from their knowledge, expertise and experience. Since most of the people when go abroad and get settle there, the probability of losing them gets higher with special reference to Pakistan. In this case encouraging jobs abroad becomes a problem in long run.

    And further in this scenario, when it takes some hundred thousands for a single PhD/MS from public funds (m’ not including the seld financed ones here), and the individual just goes abroad and helps increasing the GDP of other country, how can we say that it’s beneficial for the country? So each year we produce PhDs/MS and send them abraod and if only 10% of them returns home, I don’t think so that figures will do some justice with the economy either in short run or long run.

    Now supporting your view, the only way out I can justify is to make those experts return back to Pakistan after having a successful training session at first world countries. Being in first world research labs is not bad but if their experience cannot be fruitful to Pakistan (like if they dont return, and that’s what happens in most of the cases).


  7. Though I do not see that we would ever reach to conclusion but sharing views any way has worth it itself.

    I am myself dropped out of PhD program and I do not regret it. I did not opt for PhD because I knew that I was not a PhD material. Not because I did not have talent but because I did not possess motivation[read discipline]. PhD or any advance degree just gives you discipline more than any thing. I could easily say that my BS degree(which I earned in Pakistan) is worth 10 times than my MS degree. The purpose of MS program was to make sure that I learn how could I devote myself to one thing. So if those PhDs simply return to Pakistan then they would waste their degrees You put 4 years to learn discipline and then you ask them to return Pakistan ?? Not a favorable equation in any terms. I will take a chance of losing these PhDs abroad for ever instead of losing them in unproductive environment and become bad example for next generation. If these people stay here and actually use their school knowledge to real world problems then it is beneficial to every one. Not only for US GDP but also the foreign exchange Pakistan gets. Besides it gives world to see Pakistan as a responsible/intelligent country in very wider sense. You also need to understand that research needs environment and that environment is not present in Pakistan _now_ but you have to be patient. One more thing that PhDs never help improving economy. It is their’s labs that help and to create a lab, you again need an environment. Give Pakistan 20 more years and I am sure we will have many institutes as IIT/Peking/NUS and then the current crop of PhDs will play their part. Don’t lose heart my friend over current situation, patience is a virtue especially in this case.

    I also promise you that many of us will return eventually. May be not this year, may be not next year but we will inshAllah.


  8. Sorry for the delayed reply, was just stuck at some professional and some not so professional concerns! Well, let’s bury the hatchet and hope that many will return. If that really comes to happen I don’t have any objection sending people abroad for training and experience.


  9. And you know i was going to Nathiagali via Murree route and on the road with those famous umbrella sellers and fruit sellers i also saw 3 stalls in different locations selling Laptops. I am not sure if they were for a gurantee and nor do i know the price and if they were sold per KG but that place was certainly not the ideal place to sell Laptops;)… in the middle of the road:!

  10. Well Khushal, that’s certainly no guarantee material! but something I found new in your experience is “Technology on the Roadway”, will soon write something on it 😉


  11. We just launched a mega event with the name “I Still Love Pakistan Do You !” at, and would love if

    you join up and spread the word around. we are inviting all the bloggers of Pakistan so hurry join up!

    PS: this is not spam i visited your website personally to leave the message.

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