Stories about economics

I wanted to be a doctor my whole life but ended up doing BBA, and life changed

As a child, I always wanted to pursue medicine. I was the kid who would memorise the names of bones from a skeleton drawn in her book and tell her dad about this achievement. Medicine was my passion from the start. As a teenager, I wanted to do something substantial in life and my goal was to be an independent woman like my mother. Working hard had become both a passion and a liability to achieve what I always wanted to do. But last year, when the time for admissions into medical colleges came, things didn’t play out so well. And ...

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Are internships a waste of time in Pakistan?

“Mind the gap.” This is a warning familiar to anyone who has ever taken the tube in London. It refers to the gap that exists between the platform and the train itself. It is also a warning delivered to all of us at university before we step into “the real world” – the platform being college and the bullet train being the corporate sector. What is this ‘real world’ we hear so much about? And why does every working professional refer to it as a world that every student is completely oblivious to and unprepared for? Did we not just spend ...

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18th amendment: Teaching Pakistan’s children the importance of their vote

With July fast approaching, election fever is at a peak. The selection of the interim prime minister is dominating the news cycle, rallies are being held regularly, and parties have begun advertising their policies. But the question remains: have the structural problems pertaining to electoral quality been addressed?  They are wide and ever perpetuating; a lack of voter turnout, the gender parity in the turnout, non-coerced voting for women, representation in turnout from all areas of the federation, including the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and the question of escaping the seduction of dynasty politics. Keeping this plethora of electoral issues ...

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Only in Pakistan can your child get an ‘A’ without learning anything

Over the past few years, the policy on education has taken centre stage in Pakistan. There is now debate over reforming the curriculum of madrassas, as they have failed millions of students who have, and continue to receive, their education in these religious seminaries. However, it is not just the madrassas that need reform, but also the ‘elite’ private school system. I have been teaching part-time in Karachi’s private sector for almost a decade, and it is blatantly clear that the current system has failed miserably. Be it private universities or schools, few understand or are interested in the purpose of education itself. The ...

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This Independence Day, it is time to let go of Quaid’s 14 points

In 1929, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah gave the Muslims of India his 14 points, in response to the Nehru Report which was published in 1928 as a memorandum outlining a proposed new dominion status constitution for India. These 14 points became the cornerstone of all our SSC and HSC Pakistan Studies examinations in post-independence Pakistan and every youngster to date has read and memorised these points. However, I have always wondered why learning these points were so imperative. Are they still valid today? Surely not. They were a rebuttal to the Nehru Report, outlining what Muslims of India demanded from ...

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Memories of Shikarpur, the Paris of Sindh

The news of a bomb-blast at an imambargah in Shikarpur rocked the nation on Friday. But the attack was particularly shocking for my family. They remember a different Shikarpur – a land of peace, tolerance and Sufism, a land once called the ‘Paris of Sindh’. Many a wars have been fought by people coveting dominion over the emerald city. In the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1841, Lieut. Postans describes Shikarpur as, “The most important town in the country of Sindh in point of trade, population and influence”. My father was born in Shikarpur, my grandfather was born in Shikarpur, as was his father ...

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Privatise this, privatise that – just make me rich!

I look around my house searching for items I can sell and make a quick buck. I come across some furniture that needs fresh coats of polish before I can even present it for sale. This requires too much effort! Why don’t I just sell that antique painting that has been hanging in the drawing room for years? This is effortless and is guaranteed to bring me a truck load of cash. As it is, I just have five hours to make money! If I think like this, then it should not be a surprise that our Privatisation Commission (PC) operates in ...

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‘Metronomics’ in Lahore: We may be heading for an ‘F’

What brings economic progress to a country? Social scientists have argued for good institutions, trade-suited geographical placement, favourable climatic conditions, cultural homogeneity among a country’s peoples, and – lo and behold – even their superior genetic makeup. Yet, no sociologist has suggested relegating the laws of economics to history’s waste bin. Endowments of nature (such as those listed above) are important indeed, but their apt utilisation (good economics) is much more important. Fiscally speaking, any new project a public official decides to pursue needs a thorough pre-evaluation by experts. Economists have tools to compare a given project’s usefulness to other potential ones. ...

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Cowards’ portfolio: The best time to ride the bull wagon

The last time I was writing a speakers’ corner, the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) was jumpy, mainly due to the fact that the imported cleric Tahirul Qadri had taken the streets of the Islamabad for his encore. Coincidentally, when I am writing this piece the market is turbulent, but due to very different reasons. The stock has lost some 1,800 points since peaking at 22,757 two weeks ago, but that was expected as despite stocks being available at a bargain, the market was overbought. Last year, Pakistan’s largest stock market outperformed all major indices across the globe, so you need not ...

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The economics behind the Lahore Metro Bus Service

According to the Punjab government, 30 billion rupees is the amount of money spent on the Lahore Metro Bus Service. The actual figure may be a lot more, but let’s just take their word for it and apply a bit of perspective to it instead. Overall the entire allocated money for Punjab infrastructure development is Rs63 billion which means that 50% or half of the development budget of Punjab was spent in Lahore. This excludes the cost of the numerous underpasses and overhead bridges that were built in Lahore. Compare this Rs30 billion to the Rs16.5 billion allocated to the health sector for ...

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