Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Myth: Sindh Is Against Development: Attn: Leaders, Supreme Court

So Sindh is anti-development if it opposes the steal, fraud, cheat, rip-off,Con and swindle of what rightfully belongs to it!!!

The case in point is the bilking away of the two islands off the coast ofKarachi. And that is just the tip of the iceberg! Sindh is being fleeced forlong now. The lands, the sea, the air, the resources, the soul, the culture andeven its heritage!

Did Sindhis become part of Pakistan to be defrauded of everything thatbelonged to them? How long should they be made to pay for the folly they made in 1947? - Or the folly of 1943 - to be precise - when their assembly became the first provincial assembly in the Indian sub-continent tosupport the demand for Pakistan?

(Do you remember G. M. Syed? He moved that resolution in Sindh assembly andpleaded and defended it vehemently while many opposed).

Haven't Sindhis paid enough for their 'blunder'? Why to bleed them to death?

This is an appeal to all the leadership of Pakistan and the Supreme Court ofPakistan to immediately intervene and stop the usurpation of what belongs to theprovince. This is an urgent and a real matter. They should act or shouldn'tblame the people if they start looking for other options.

Here is a letter that I wrote to Pakistani media on May 16, 2004. It waspartially published in daily Dawn on May 19, 2004:

Dams, port, NFC, a myth & hemlock

The authors of fantastic ideologies, fables and fairy tales have crafted a myththat the people of Sindh and Balochistan are anti-development. This falsehoodhas been based on Sindh opposition to mega water projects andBalochistan's concerns over the under-construction Gwadar port.

Instead offinding out why is it so, the two provinces have been discredited and condemned. Why does Balochistan have reservations about the port? The Baloch leaders saythe project would create a demographic imbalance, turning the local people intoa minority in their own province. They say the people should be co-opted for anydevelopment projects in their areas. To support their argument, they point outto whatever has happened to Sindh where the local population has beenoutnumbered in many areas and has lost heavily in social, cultural, economic andother fields.

Why do Sindhis oppose mega water projects? They look at the history and trembleat the thought what any new dams and canals upstream would do to them. They seethe broken promises, agreements and treaties.

How the upper riparian unilaterally bypassed the 1945 Water Agreement, the onlyaccord between Sindh and Punjab reached without any coercion or intimidation?They have seen what has happened to six water commissions since the British Raj.They know how the Indus Basin Treaty was concluded behind their backs and howthe resultant projects were undertaken just for the benefit of one province.

People of Sindh are also aware how an unrepresentative regime was forced to signthe 1991 Water Accord. And today even that agreement is not being followed. Thepeople know under what agreements and promises the Chashma-Jehlum andTaunsa-Panjnad canals were built and how these agreements and promises have beentrashed.

It is universally accepted that upper riparian can't undertake any megaprojects as it pleases and that already existing projects have the precedenceover any new projects.

That was the principle why the British administrators rejected Greater ThalCanal project. And today 'our own government' in utter disrespect to the wishesof the lower riparian is building the same project! When there is already a hugeshortage of water in the Indus River System, where would the water come from forthe canal? Sindh is justified in its opposition, as it knows who would suffer inthe end. Its agriculture and environment has already suffered immensely withhundreds of thousands of people losing their livelihood. It cannot afford anymore losses or there would be a catastrophe.

Sindh is against any mega dams on the ground that there is simply no extra waterfor them. Since last few years the water in the Indus River System has been96-104 MAF while under the 1991 Accord provinces have been allocated114.35-117.35 MAF. It is only once in 5-10 years that a flood occurs enhancingthe figures. Dams worth hundreds of billions of rupees cannot be built on theassumptions of floods every 5-10 years. It would be a criminal waste offinancial resourcesthat the country would have to pay dearly.

And why to build dams citing the silting in Tarbela when the government has anexperts report with it on the de-silting of the reservoir? And also thatthere are many alternates for power and water that could be undertaken at muchlower costs and would be more beneficial. Same is the case with NFC when the provincial governments and the federalauthorities are hoodwinking the people. Instead of seeking 80% share for their97% population, the provinces are nowhere near even presenting their caseproperly! It all looks like a pre-arranged affair where the people at largewould suffer and the federal government, its agencies and few powerful lobbieswould be the beneficiaries!

Still they say Sindh and Balochistan are at fault, they are anti-development!Nothing could be farther from truth. They need it the most. But only if they areco-opted and if it is beneficial to their people.
Aziz Narejo

Friday, January 12, 2007

India: Sachar Committee Report

Dear Friends
I just heard about the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee report on social, economic and educational status of Muslims across India was recently tabled in Lok Sabha.
It recognizes special problems of the muslim community in India and suggest very creative measures relating to affirmative action programs, special quotas etc to help needy muslims.
A brief review indicates to me that condition of muslims in India is generally similar to condition of Sindhis and Balochis in Pakistan. We need a similar report and similar action program by the government of Pakistan for our community.
Following is a brief summary/ review. I hope that it will give some ideas to our communities and government of Pakistan. The committee has favoured a group of Muslims with traditional occupations as that of scheduled castes be designated as most backward classes and provided 'multifarious measures,' including reservation. The panel has said Muslims in the country have three groups in terms of their social structure. These are ashrafs, ajlafs and arzals.
"The three groups require different types of affirmative action," said the report, tabled by Minority Affairs Minister A R Antulay.
Of the three groups, arzals whose traditional occupation is similar to that of SCs, may be designated as MBCs and provided reservation. This particular group, the panel said, needs multifarious measures including reservation as it remains 'cumulatively oppressed.'
Antulay later told reporters that the report is the 'best thing' that has happened to the community. The issue of reservation has been dealt in the chapter on 'Muslim OBCs and Affirmative Action.'The number of Muslims in security agencies was 3.2 per cent -- 60,517 out of the total of 18,79,134 in CRPF, CISF, BSF, SSB and 'other agencies,' it said without specifying whether armed forces were included or not. The Muslims' headcount in the armed forces sought by the panel had triggered a controversy in Parliament sometime back.Observing that a 'very small' proportion of government/public sector employees are Muslims, concentrated in lower level positions, the panel recommended that it may be desirable to have minority persons on interview panels. This can be done on the lines of SC/ST participation in panels, it said. The committee recommended constitution of a 'equal opportunity commission' to look into grievances of deprived groups. It said an example of such a policy tool is the UK Race Relations Act, 1976.
Such a measure while providing a redressal mechanism for different types of discrimination will give a further reassurance to minorities that any unfair action against them will invite the vigilance of the law, it said.
Noting that Muslim participation in electoral bodies is known to be small, the report said of the 543 Lok Sabha members, only 33 are Muslims. The panel made out a strong case to put mechanisms in place to enable Muslims to engage in democratic processes and governance. "Mere material change will not bring about the true empowerment of the minorities; they need to acquire and be given the required collective agency."
It said a carefully conceived 'nomination procedure' can be worked out to increase the participation of minorities at grassroots. Mechanism should be put in place so that a large number of minorities are indeed nominated to increase their participation in public bodies.
It has suggested that the steps taken by Andhra Pradesh to promote participation of deprived sections in elected bodies could be used to enhance Muslim participation in the decision-making processes.
Noting that over the last 60 years, minorities have scarcely occupied adequate public spaces, it said the participation of Muslims in 'nearly all political spaces is low, which can have an adverse impact on Indian society and polity in the long run.'
"Given the power of numbers in a democratic polity, based on universal franchise, minorities in India lack effective agency and political importance," the 404-page report said.
The minorities, it said, 'do not have the necessary influence or the opportunity to either change or even influence events, which enable their meaningful and active participation in development process.' The committee has recommended elimination of anomalies with respect to reserved constituencies under the delimitation schemes.
"A more rational delimitation procedure that does not reserve constituencies with high minority population shares for SCs will improve the opportunity for minorities, especially Muslims, to contest and get elected to Parliament and state assemblies," the report said.
Referring to educational opportunities for Muslims, the committee recommended mechanisms where madrassa can be linked with a higher secondary school board so that students wanting to shift to a regular/mainstream education can do so after having passed from a madrassa.
It recommended recognition of degrees from madrassas for eligibility in competitive examinations such as civil services, banks, defence services and other such examinations. It also suggested that a process of evaluating the content of the school textbooks needed to be initiated and institutionalised.
The seven-member committee was constituted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in March this year and its tenure was extended till November 30. The report has come against the backdrop of the prime minister's observation that Muslims should get a 'fair share' in government jobs, which had triggered a debate. The formation of the committee had created uproar in Parliament due to the committee's reported move to seek a head count of Muslims in armed forces.
Your input and help towards development of Sindh is always welcome.
Ali Nawaz Memon
Sindh Development Institute
7204 Antares Drive Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA 20879

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Be Richer: Goal 2007?

I. As a first goal for 2007, I suggested giving scholarships to deserving in the community. Rp 600 ($10) permonth for elementry school, Rp 900 ($15) for secondary school, and about Rp 1200 ($20) permonth for college in Pakistan is reasonable.

We can make a lot of difference to lives of individuals-- one at a time. My goal is 100,000 scholarships. There have been some great proposals from Dr. Laghari of SZABIST and Saeen Danish Jatoi from City School in Bhit Shah. I know that many of you are already giving scholarships. Please continue to do that and do more. Some friends have asked for sample application forms or selection criteria. I have requested Sain Zafar from FAME scholarship program if they will be kind enough to share the required information with others who are interested in sponsoring scholarships.

At this stage, I do not want you to sponsor scholarships through me or Sindh Development Institute. Please do it directly. However, I want to facilitate it. If we can reach goal of 100,000 scholarships in Sindh, I promise you that face of Sindh will change for much better.
II. As second goal, I propose that we all make a promise to ourselves to be richer in honest and legal way. As a retired banker and practicing financial consultant, I can tell you that it is not very difficult.
(a) Simple formula is SPEND LESS THAN YOU EARN. No matter how little income you have, please SAVE SOME AND INVEST. Even if you are barely meeting your expenses, saving something will not make your life much worse. Saving today will make life easier tomorrow.
If you are financially comfortable, begin saving in a regular (monthly) way and start investing it wisely.
(b) Increase your earnings. In my case, as a banker I accepted assignments in difficult countries like Nigeria because it paid more allowances/ salary. It generated savings. You may consider getting an additional job on part time basis or working harder on your land, or keeping your shop open for a few more hours in order to increase your savings.
(c) Control your expenses. Look at your budget. Talk to your family and find ways to spend less in order to increase your savings. Please stop or at least cut your expenses on show off ceremonies-- big weddings, khutna etc.
(d) Invest wisely. In my case, I have found real estate or property to be a very good investment. Buy an acre of land in your village or a plot in your town. You will see how the value will increase. SZABIST just spent Rp 20 million for two acres of land in Larkana. Imagine that!

Please share your ideas about how to be rich in honest and legal way. If our community becomes richer, it will be able to take care of our own needs and help others too.Your input and help towards development of Sindh is always welcome.

Ali Nawaz Memon
Sindh Development Institute
7204 Antares Drive
Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA 20879

Goal 2007?

A lot of good ideas have been coming for improving education in Sindh.

Of course, our community as a whole needs institutional support. However, I wonder what is missing at individual level. Is shortage of money the main issue? Will availability of a large number of scholarships make a big dent in the problem?

of course, foreign scholarships are very expensive, but local scholarships are not so expensive. What if we launched a campaign for one lakh scholarships for deserving students in Sindh in 2007? What will be appropriate amount of scholarship? Rp 600 per month at primary level? Rp 900 at high school? Rp 1800 at college level?

Will it be a worth while goal to launch a campaign for fund raising for this project? I shall be Inshaullah willing to contribute. Will you? How can we make this a worlwide campaign in aid of Sindhi youth?Your input and help towards development of Sindh is always welcome.

Ali Nawaz Memon
Sindh Development Institute
7204 Antares Drive
Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA 20879