Published Date: Dec 5, 2019
SDPI-SDC Closing Plenary: Glowing tributes paid to Syed Babar Ali
A galaxy of renowned leaders from different fields paid glowing tributes to Syed Babar Ali here at a grand plenary organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute on the last day of 22nd Sustainable Development Conference here under the title: Living Legends of Pakistan Plenary: Life and Work of Dr Syed Babar Ali (Order of the British Empire).
Speaking on the occasion, Syed Babar Ali, the businessman, philanthropist, educationist, founder of Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), said that he enjoyed every moment of his life and wish to continue his pursuit for the rest of his life. He also thanked SDPI and his friends to celebrate his life and work. SDPI’s Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri presented him the Living Legend shield in recognition to his meritorious services for humanity.
Abdul Razak Dawood, Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry & Production, and Investment of Pakistan narrated the story of how the LUMS was established by Babar Ali. He said that the country has dearth of people who have sense of commitment, character and humanity to make the difference and contribute to the society. “It’s not the number of years Babar Ali lives, it is the number of hearts that he touched and he touched my heart too,” he added.
Chairman of Higher Education Commission Dr Tariq Banuri said that the true history is constituted by those people who made and build this country through their matchless contributions, and they are the real heroes. He said Babar Ali is among those living legends who build institutions like LUMS which indeed was a great contribution in nation-building.
Former Finance Minister Sartaj Aziz said Babar Ali is an institution builder, great business leader and above all a patriotic Pakistani, who always care for others around him.
Former Chairperson of National Commission on the Status of Women Ms Khawar Mumtaz commended the Babar Ali for his efforts and love for conservation of art and heritage as well as his contribution for conservation of environment and wildlife.
Chairperson of SDPI Board of Governors Ambassador (retd) Shafqat Kakakhel said that Babar Ali is a role model for Pakistan, who inspired many generations.
Dr Parvez Hassan, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan, and a close friend said that Babar Ali empowered and inspired so many individuals in various fields and is a role model in his life. He said Babar Ali is a man of principle, who never compromised on merit.
Prof. Dr Khalid Hamid Sheikh, Former Vice-Chancellor of University of the Punjab, said that Babar does not care about his personal projection but his focus always remain on uplift of the society.
Shahid Hussain, CEO of Service Sales Corporation (Private) Limited, Member, Board of Trustees of LUMS said that Babar Ali has the unique and huge capacity to connect with people and nurture the relations. Chairman of the Rural Support Programme Network Shoaib Sultan Khan said that one of the beautiful traits of the personality of Babar Ali is to serve humanity.
Shamim Ahmad Khan, Former Chairman, SECP, said that Babar was above all prejudices and always care of the merit which was one of the best elements of his philosophy of doing and executing projects. He said that Babar’s autobiography ‘Learning from the Others’ provides major lessons to growing entrepreneurs to learn from his experience.
Earlier, speaking at a panel discussion on Achieving Food Security in Digitalized World, Ms Androulla Kaminara, Ambassador-designate, Delegation of The European Union to Pakistan, said Pakistan has moved from 7th to 5th position in connection with vulnerabilities to climate change. She said only in Interior Sindh two million people are worst hit of food shortage due to drought.
Dr Babar Shahbaz from University of Faisalabad called for the process of formally transferring new agricultural discoveries, improved practices or innovations to the farmers with ultimate aim to increase productivity. This technology transfer can help improve the capacity and productivity of the farmers and crops yield as well.
Dr Arnold Elepano from University of Philippines recommended that we need to develop roadmap for Smart Farm Development to include research agenda, pilot testing and information advocacy. he said the government should provide enabling environment to promote the use of digital technology to increase farm productivity.
Prof. Dr. Allah Bakhsh, Dean of Faculty of Agricultural Engineering and Technology, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, said that It is an established fact that adoption of appropriate technology enables farmers to modernize their management practices which result in increasing crop yields, reducing crop failure, and ultimately increasing farmer’s income, i.e. leading towards profitable farming.
Dr Malik Jahan Khan, Associate Professor (Computer Science) from Namal University Mianwali shared that thin amount of work has been done in most of the systems because data is either small or unreal and Most of the published work is at proposal stage
Prof. Dr Jehanzeb Cheema, University of Arid Agriculture Rawalpindi, suggested that Introduction of precision agriculture technologies is the need of hour and this can increase the productivity of yields.
Speaking at aconcurrent session titled: “Ease of Doing Business in Pakistan: A Case for Tax Harmonisation” experts called upon the government to decentralize, devolve and delegate the tax authorities and its administrative functions at district level. They also urged the government to remove flaws in the tax system, such as double taxation and multiple tax compliances through effective mechanism of tax harmonisation among different tax bodies at federal and provincial levels. Centralization of taxation system is creating hurdles for the business to flourish, they added.
Dr Muhammad Irshad, Former FBR Chairman, said that lack of harmonization among different tax institutions at federal and provincial levels is the major impediment for the business to grow. He said unless different tax and revenue collection authorities integrate and harmonize their efforts, the challenge of revenue target will remain unresolved.
Dr Irshad said new technologies and system of automation can help overcome this challenge. He said that the current FBR measures on the automation of the tax system was cosmetic and incomprehensive, which require a comprehensive digital solution through a heavy investment in digital solutions.
Zain ul Abedin Sahi from Punjab Revenue Authority emphasized the need for defining the harmonization of taxation system first, as it is multifaceted issue, which involves legal, administrative and functional challenges. He said that all the provincial revenue and tax authorities have different rules and procedures as per their respective provincial requirements, which cannot be harmonized, but solutions can be identified through effective collaboration and coordination among the provinces and federation.
Speaking at a concurrent session on Digital Financial Inclusion: Challenges and Opportunities, PPP MNA Syed Nadeem Qamar accused the banks of discouraging people in using electronic money transfer by imposing high taxes. He said that change in public behaviour is the only challenge in the way of financial inclusion. The government policies and difficulties in account opening procedures have financially excluded a larger population, especially the old age people and women, he said and stressed the need for holistic approach towards forming effective policies.
Nadeem Hussain, the Founder of Easypaisa, said that there are enough elements in place to make Pakistan completely digital. Just like any other country of the world, Pakistan has also moved forward in terms of technology and prosperity, he said, adding “we need to appreciate ourselves what we have done so far specifically in field of digital inclusion.
At a panel discussion titled: Leaving No One Behind in the Skills Development Agenda in Pakistan, Parliamentary Secretary for National History and Literary Heritage Division, Ghazala Saifi stressed the need for inculcating technical and soft skill development and trainings in the curriculum to prepare future generations to meet the challenges of digital revolution.
She emphasized the need for instilling more IT-related skills in our young generation along with the formal education. She said our youth bulge is a gold mine which needs to be harnessed through right technical skills. She further said “we need to train and equip our youth with skill required in CPEC projects.
Dr Zubair Iqbal Ghauri, SDPI Visiting Fellow, said that our youth is not skillfully educated to market as per demand of the industry. In order to leave no one behind, we need to educate and train our young generation with new set of skills as per evolving need of the market in digital era. He stressed the need for capitalizing the potential of the youth.
Ms Amina Khan, Senior Research Officer, ODI, said there is a growing demand of skills in manufacturing, services and construction sector. She stressed the need for strengthening linkages across key actors, including academia, industry and government institutions.
Muqeem-ul-Islam, Director-General, NAVTTC, said that low skilled labour force would lead to ow productivity, which in turn will lead to low GDP growth rate. He stressed the need for more investment in the technical education.
Speaking at a Panel discussion, Role of women in media and a Digital Society, Mrs Tasneem Ahmer talked about the harassment at workplaces. On social media, she said, women have to face with bad phrases which may affect the emotional and mental health of women.
Dr. Nathalene said women should get space without compromising the system initially and there should be strong legislation to punish people who cross the limits. Dr Fatima Chemali, a social scientist, said Iranian social media works under government and 60-70% Iranian students are women, who are not treated well in the field of journalism and not paid well. Mrs. Ruwa Altaf she tells about the difficulties she is facing in making her place in her own newspaper company and due to these kinds of hurdles very few of girls join this field. Mrs Asma Sherazi said people even call names of bigger personalities and women get comments on their body, sex, appearance, etc. Mr Ruda Bahadur said that before democracy till 1990, women in Nepal faced a lot of problems, but afterword’s the situation has changed.
Speaking at a concurrent session on “Endangered South Asian languages in a digital age”, writer, poet and historian Ahmed Salim said: “We have more than 75 languages in Pakistan but most of them are dying out because our younger generation is no more connected to local languages.
Emphasizing the need to delink politics with languages, Mr Niaz Nadeem from Indus Cultural Forum said that politics has taken its toll on the languages especially in Sindh province and even private schools do not offer Sindhi as a language course. He also stressed the need for dealing with linguistics issue at the federal level. The language change is also causing a rapid cultural shift which also needs to be addressed.
On a more personal level, Mr Zaman Sagar from Forum for Language Initiatives, said parents should teach their children local languages and encourage them to speak. Moreover, adding local languages in textbooks will also help in preserving ancient languages from being extinct. The role of policy making forums, academia and civil society was unanimously put forth by the panelists. ‘Linguistic diversity should be celebrated just like cultural diversity’, Zubair Torwali from Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi added.
Speaking at another concurrent session titled: Promises of the graphic health warning (GHW) in tobacco control regime and the perils of Tobacco pandemic: the way forward, Waseem Iftikhar Janjua, from SDPI highlighted as to how the tobacco industry has shifted to a disruptive technology where the industry tried to manipulate the users of tobacco and shifted them to a more hazardous use of it. They try to replace old customers, who died or quit, with the new ones.
Nadeem Iqbal Javed from NCRP discussed the harms caused by the tobacco consumption either in the form of cigarette or vape.
Minhaj us Siraj from Tobacco Control Cell, highlighted the steps taken by the government to prevent the usage of tobacco and the steps taken in the way of the illicit tobacco trade.
Speaking at a concurrent session on Ecofeminism in South Asian Literature in a Digital society, Ms Khawar Mumtaz, the former Chairperson of National Commission on the Status of Women, said that ecofeminism is a comparatively recent phenomenon and due to the limitation of literature on it in Pakistan understanding ecofeminism is a challenge. She said women are the managers of natural resources, but when it comes to their role in the environmental protection, they are not consulted.
Ms Nusrat Zehra from Indus Cultural Forum, Karachi discussed Urdu poetry and the emergence of ecofeminist consciousness. She said ecofeminism is a western concept and was introduced in Pakistan in 1970. However, it needs to be addressed from the cultural and religious aspects.
Dr Humaira Ishfaq (via skype from China) hinted at a folk song and how it reflected the need for water conservation. She said that her study is based on ecofeminism which discusses the relation between human and natural world.
Mr. Raza Naeem from COMSATS University, Lahore, introduced the works of Razia Sajjad Zaheer about Ecofeminism and said that she was a full-time worker of the communist party. In her novel ‘Allah Megh De, he said, ‘water is indeed a greatest friend of man, but it is enemy if treated with carelessness. This novel and its central question of the drying up of rivers had found a new relevance in our lives.
Earlier, speaking at a session titled: Promoting Regional Cooperation in South Asia for Achieving SDGs, experts said that South Asia is the highest concentrated region along with 36% of the world’s poor population. It was highlighted that due to Pakistan-India differences, many of SDGs cannot be executed efficiently. The panelists agreed that increasing the trust level amongst Iran, China and SAARC region, trade and accomplishing SDGs can be turned into reality.
“Technology must be used extensively in order to establish the trust amongst the countries and communities as well. Using technology, these countries can play a role in countering the environmental issues.”
Mr Abdul Basir Azimi, Biruni Institute, Afghanistan said that Afghanistan acts as a bridge between the central Asian countries and South Asian countries. Dr Abid Suleri and Dr Amitabh Kundu shared the same ideas that the big countries like India and China can play an a great role, bringing the South Asian countries closer, ensuring dialogue for regional cooperation and achieving SDGs in South Asia.
Speaking at a Penal discussion on Human Rights Movements and Digital Activism, experts said that South Asian countries are particularly volatile due to issues of human rights, civil liberties and freedom of speech, but digital media has accentuated these issues to a substantial degree.
Ms Inshah Malik “Assistant Professor at Kardan University, Afghanistan, said that South Asian countries are particularly volatile due to issues of human rights, civil liberties and freedom of speech. The advent of digital media has accentuated these issues to a substantial degree. She highlighted the empirical data from Kashmir to understand how social media in South Asia administered and challenged coercive politics through attempting to control narrative. In the context of Kashmir, tweeter recently removed one million tweets from Kashmir users on behalf of Indian government.
Dr. Nathalene, a French historian and writer on Kashmir, said that social media networks have facilitated the freeing of up of speech, allowing groups that earlier struggled to express themselves publicly to circulate information that had been spread only by rumor and world of mouth.
Mr Michael Meyer, Executive Director of Democracy Reporting International, Germany joined the Conference via Skype video. He highlighted the issues of how genuine social media debates are easily manipulated and what that means for genuine humanitarian or human right causes.