Light Within

making sense of social media mix

What Matters Most, Men or Machines

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Developments in computer technologies, in the past decades, have had their impact on human life in more than one way. But where this increasing interaction between human beings and computers is leading and how is it defining the focus of research in the field are some of the valid fields of study that are likely to make difference in human lives in future.

The emergence of information technology (IT), the availability of the web, and the user friendly designs are rapidly increasing the use of computers. Despite odds like literacy, availability (and reliability) of phone connection and affordability, the use of computers is significantly increasing in Pakistan as well. E-mail, real-time text correspondence and voice exchange are already popular asides from word processing and spread sheets. But in Pakistan, most of the new concepts are still untested, which makes any analysis inconclusive.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, June 29, 2015, , links to this post

Shop at Katoti.Pk this Eid

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People are shopping since ages. Everyone does. The start of Internet has only changed how we shop. Now everyone turn to the Internet to shop for what they want and need. Strength of the Internet is that it can search huge amount of online sources. This situation is fast changing consumers' behavior.

With Internet becoming one big consumer market, shopping online is not only fun but also a convenience. It saves time and money in more than one ways. Shoppers can see more, compare and find good deals sitting home. That is not possible for those who go and shop on ground. How can you visit each and every store to find what are they offering?

That is why it is one of the fast growing trends as the world is becoming more connected every day. Best thing is that this trend to shop online is increasing every day and the internet is becoming ever more important as a location to find quality products not available in everywhere. And it is here that use of Katoti.Pk can help that users find the right product at the right price.

Have a look at the first Pakistani online shopping portal and see how it can help to shop wisely. They have listed discount vouchers from different sellers that any user can print and use. What is more, users can subscribe for the updates on new coupons and also can join their referral programe.

Explore Katoti.Pk and see what they are offering and how. Happy shopping this eid.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, June 29, 2015, , links to this post

Who Own Derawar Fort

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The historic Derawar Fort, enormous and impressive structure in the heart of Cholistan desert, is rapidly crumbling and if the immediate preventative measures are not taken, the edifice will be destroyed and the historians, researchers and sightseers deprived of the view of the legacy of the bygone era. Like so many other historic sites in the country, Derawar Fort is yet another sign of old times we are poised to loose forever due to the apathy of those who are responsible for its upkeep and preservation.

Before it disappears, once again, I was on my way to Cholistan: the place that is crucible of one of the world's oldest civilization, where some of the past secrets are hidden, where history is still active.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, June 25, 2015, , links to this post

Budget War

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Budget War and what is in it for common citizens

Annual budget in democracies is such an important event that involves every one. There is much hype and hoopla before and after. As the fiscal year comes to close and governments begin preparing the budget, economists start debating fiscal issues and policies in the media, pointing out the implications on national economy as a whole and effects on common population. Lots of interest is generated and masses wait for the budget statement with enthusiasm, hoping for the relief mainly. Other stallholders like industries and corporate sectors also try to influence the budget makers by highlighting their needs during the preparatory process.

But not much happens here. At least nothing seems to be happening. No body waits for the budget speech any more. For couple of past years, the federal budgets here have reduced to yet another official exercise devoid of any substance. They neither address long term development programs nor give any immediate respite to the commoners. All those who have been following the budget promises in the past will testify that whatever was announced can hardly be seen on ground.

People are not interested in the budget because budget exercise is not for the people of the country. There is nothing for us in the budget," says Abbas Khan, a senior citizen," its usual significance is lost over the last few years because of deregulation and privatization that de-links the utility prices (natural gas, electricity, oil, telecom and commodities) from the federal budget. These prices are fixed separately on quarterly, monthly and even fortnightly basis. We come to know when a vendor selling lady fringes (bhindi) tell that vegetable prices have shot up because prices of petrol have increased or when meat seller charges more on account of increase in the cost of iron ore." What has prices of petrol or iron ore to do with the lady fingerer or meat one wonders?
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, June 22, 2015, , links to this post

Signs of the past

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, June 20, 2015, , links to this post

Fine Art of Mud Architecture

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The future lies in mud architecture. Though this sweeping statement may sound prehistoric, but it is very relevant to modern times. Building living spaces with mud is a tradition dating as back as the start of civilization. Some excellent examples from the Great Mosque - the world’s largest mud building and UNESCO’s World Heritage site – to the oldest surviving mud specimens found in the Harappa, Pakistan, show the continuous use of mud buildings.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, June 13, 2015, , links to this post

Markup and Cost Dispersion across Firms: Direct Evidence from Producer Surveys in Pakistan

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Two top researchers at the Lahore School of Economics have just published an article in the top economics journal in the world. Dr. Azam Chaudhry and Professor Shamyla Chaudry have just published an article entitled “Markup and Cost Dispersion across Firms: Direct Evidence from Producer Surveys in Pakistan,” in the prestigious American Economic Review (May 2015) along with coauthors David Atkin (UCLA), Amit Khandelwal (Columbia University) and Eric Verhoogen (Columbia University). The paper is the first from their world famous project on Sialkot soccer ball manufacturers and addresses the theoretical assumptions made by economists worldwide to estimate mark-ups. In this paper, the authors directly obtain mark-ups by surveying Pakistani soccer-ball producers. 

They document six important facts:
  1. Mark-ups are more dispersed than costs;
  2. Mark-ups and costs increase with firm size;
  3. The mark-up elasticity with respect to size exceeds the cost elasticity
  4. Costs increase with size because larger firms use higher-quality inputs
  5. Larger firms charge higher mark-ups because they have higher production shares of high-quality balls that carry higher mark-ups, and because they charge higher mark-ups conditional on ball type
  6. Correlations suggest marketing efforts are important for generating higher mark-ups.
This is one of the first times that Pakistani economists have published in top economics journals and shows that the Lahore School of Economics is at the forefront of global research. 

The paper can be accessed on the website of the American Economic Review here

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Friday, June 05, 2015, , links to this post

Crimes and Criminals

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Violent crimes have been at historic up nationwide; they are rising sharply in all cities. The rise seems to have been set off by something more bewildering.

Crime, as seen one among several forms of deviance, is a type of anomic behavior; some others characterize it as a more conscious response to social conditions, to stress, to the breakdown in law enforcement or social order, and to the labeling of certain behavior as deviant. Crime rates are driven by different factors in each society.

Imagine Lahore only ten years ago: It was a different city; socially cohesive, closely knit. Young children could go visiting neighbors or to nearby shopping centers to get groceries and other things but not now. People then knew each other personally and had strong social bounds; hence courtesies for each other.

Things started changing with an exponential increase in urbanization. Large number of outsiders started moving in Lahore to live and or work. Now even the immediate neighbors do not know each other and people act like total strangers. Garish housing societies have come up on all the open spaces inside the city and Lahore has expanded much beyond what used to be municipal boundaries. The crime rate has grown with mush faster speed than the city.

What are the apparent causes? Many experts say that crimes are a result of disintegrating familial and dwindling community values that are contributing in turning young people into violent criminals.

Due to the growing demand for educated workforce and skilled labor, an employment base that used to provide jobs for those without a school certificate has shrunk considerably. This situation has resulted in a general lack of hope. "If one does not have skills, training, and when socio economic situation looks desperate, does that young man really have hope? I think that ties into the anger," says a sociologist Dr. Muhammad Anwar, "This anger seem to be translating in to crimes, petty in the beginning that leads to more heinous ones at later stages." This is the reasons that the criminals mostly are in their mid teens to mid-20's.

One finds unskilled workers sitting in a linear fashion with their tools -- mountains of paint brushes, piles of colour scheme cards, number of empty paint cans, digging paraphernalia and or hammers of different kind (who said unskilled labour) -- along any city roads and squares waiting for a day's job. Thy all come from suburbs to earn their livings. What options do they have when they do not get the job for the day and they have to go back home to family that is to b fed, is the question. They not only lose hope but may get frustrated that may lead them to resort to unfair means, what ever is possible for them.

Similarly, the army of maids and home servants who come from nearby villages and towns when dazzled by urban glamour are incited to commit to petty crimes and thefts.

Not only unskilled and uneducated segment, even degree holders find it difficult to get their first job after graduation because traditionally the job market in slow economy of Pakistan has always been tight. Which is why one reads reports of crimes (from purse and mobile phone snatching to car lifting to burglaries and murders) being committed by people from effluent class and living in posh localities of Lahore? Though generally, the poorer neighborhoods are considered to be the hubs for frequent criminal happenings. Let me hasten to add, this does not imply that there are no crimes in posh localities like Defense Society, or Gulberg or the criminals living in these localities can not commit crime around Railway Station or Badami Bagh Bus Terminal or Lakshmi or Bhatti gate.

Besides hopelessness, crimes are attributed to greed, to an evil nature, to poor parenting, to television, to movies, to the Internet, to whatever seems to be popular and not in accord with our old societal value system. These and many other are the reasons that we find crime rate rising on an alarming rate.

Crime statistics, like any other officially reported data, cannot be considered reliable. In the past decade, Lahore has been awash with guns. Empirical evidences tell that Kalashnikov and other automatic weapons have become ubiquitous in Lahore, city called cultural capital of Pakistan. This fact makes the crime quick and fast, much faster than law enforcing agencies to track.

Criminality extends into all levels of society and it cannot be restricted to the largely undefined boundaries of Lahore. Given the fast and efficient communication means (roads network, mobile phones, more transport), it has been observed that criminals sometime come from suburbs, make their day and go back uncaught. Those who study crime debate say, "Criminals may be from anywhere but all crime is local, of course, and each city has its underlying causes."

Analyzing crime is an absorbing exercise. It throws up new facets of crime and new ideas on how to cope with them. The real tragedy, however, is that there is hardly a national debate on crime, like the one seen in the developed world; where the crime are more. "Unless crime hits hard personally, I am not concerned," is the worst attitude that is exhibited some time.

The only long term solution to put an end to crimes and make our society more civilized is to end hopelessness. How to create hope in the people and tolerance in our society are the real issues that need to be addressed. And this can happen when every one is conscious and does what ever is possible.

The solution is not with police or any other law enforcing agencies. "The problem is much deeper and the solution has to be long term. Combating crime firmly and honestly is one thing. Provision of education, heath and other social securities, fair play in practices and procedure are some other starting points. Collectively, we should act responsibly and are some factors to start if we have to combat crime," Dr. Pirzada Inam Karim.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, June 03, 2015, , links to this post

K-4 with Brig Ghulam Nabi

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Jalal Hameed Bhatti

After the malware attack on the course website, I have decided to revive the course blog I started couple of years ago which went into obscurity after the launch of the course website. From now on, I will build the blog with all the data of the course website gradually and ultimately it will replace the course website, which is more difficult to revive.

So start with, here is my first post on an evening and spent with out first term platoon commander Captain (later Brigadier) Ghulam Nabi at the Jungle Restaurant, DHA Phase-I, Islamabad on 23 July 2013.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Friday, May 29, 2015, , links to this post

Envy, love, desire, prejudice or self-indulgence

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We, human beings, live in four cells as per empirical observations of one scholar: First are natural restrains. Humans are bounded by natural environment, seasons, atmospheric conditions, other living beings, calamities and every thing else present in the eco system. Second confine to humans is history -- the chronology of the past. It is so very difficult to get rid of the past. Third is society. Humans simply cannot live oblivious of the societal traditions and customs. It is not possible to live alone nor is it workable to violate folks, mores and norms of society while living as its part.

And last is own self: Envy, love, anger, joy, desire, sex, prejudice, self-indulgence and fears that compel humans to restrict behind the walls. I also find some friends living in self denial.

How can one throw away all these yokes and truly set free. Science can take control of nature. Understanding of philosophy can free the humans from burdens of what went before. Knowledge of social sciences can steer them safely through the society. But getting away from self is the most daunting of the tasks. For that one needs altruism. And that can only be attained through passion for others. Can you suggest any other way?

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, May 27, 2015, , links to this post

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