Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Empowerment of individuals: Now individuals are more powerful than ever.

Empowerment of individuals: Now individuals are more powerful than ever.

Once I was doing my routine research work in my PhD office at Adam Smith Building in the University of Glasgow, UK. A strange air noise was constantly disturbing my ...focus on the work. I came out of the building and looked up in the air where two helicopters were hovering at 30-angled position. This was something unusual and difficult to interpret.

I asked a Scottish student about this. He told that these are the Glasgow police helicopters that are monitoring an illegal party in the Kelvingrove Park where around 10,000 people gathered to have a fun. I asked why it is illegal.

He told that this party is arranged by two young students on face book without formal permission from the council.

This was amazing that two individuals were able to have an effect on thousands of people and administration of the Glasgow.

Apart from this general observation, in effect, there are number of classic examples that highlight how individuals have been empowered in the recent times.

For example, in August 1991, Tim Berners-Lee alone invented World Wide Web (WWW).

Thomas Edison invented light bulb but he was supported with dozens of people in his lab. William Shockley invented transistor but two of his assistance actually built it. Internet was invented by the contribution of many people. However, the WWW is Berners-Lee’s alone.

How Firefox came about? Recently, Black Ross a 19 year old from Stanford and Ben Goodger a 24 year old from New Zealand, starting from the two ends of the world, in an open source community for free, produced a browser that captured 5% of the Internet Explorer market in about six months.

Now, the era of uploading has given unique opportunities of affecting others. Therefore, now individuals are more powerful than they were in the past.


Global currency of 21st century

Global currency of 21st century

A generation ago, it can be expected that what teachers teach in classes can last for a lifetime of their students. However, this expectation is less convincing in today’s globally dynamic world. Today, we are living in a world where changes are more rapid than ever.

Now students need education and training for technologies which are not yet invented, for jobs which are not yet created, for economic threats which are not yet borne, for solving issue which are not yet created. Therefore, now we need innovative education, which will determine future prosperity and growth.

Recently, OECD Secretary-General Angel GurrĂ­a, said: “Skills have become the global currency of 21st Century economies.”

In addition, now focus is shifting from qualifications to skills. Thus, in future, returns to an individual and to a society would be mainly determined by skills.

Seemingly disequilibrium is perhaps equilibrium in reality

Seemingly disequilibrium is perhaps equilibrium in reality.

When someone throws litter in streets and public places, it looks odd. When bins are not available in streets and public places, it looks odd.

When poor pickers (children) desperately search for garbage to fill their sacks, to earn their livings and to go back homes early then it perhaps reflects equilibrium.

One possible future scenario:
Over the path of development, government will place bins everywhere, people will educated in enough that they would bin with responsibility.
What about poor pickers? Children will be sent to schools and elders will be employed formally by the government to clear the bins.

Q. is it equilibrium or dysfunctional equilibrium?
Q. Is it important to fix disequilibrium one by one or simultaneously?
Q. Should we wait for development spillovers?
Q. What can be done for these poor pickers?

Borrow or not borrow from IMF: Between the devil and the deep blue sea

Borrow or not borrow from IMF: Between the devil and deep blue sea

In 2008, Pakistan borrowed nearly $8 billion from the IMF and began repayments in 2011. Now Pakistan is due to pay almost $5billion by end 2014. Question arises what previous government has done with $8 billion. In principle this amount need to be used to undertake adjustments and structural changes to avoid future borrowing dependency and to create internal capacity to repay the loan. Sadly, little have been done on this front.

If Pakistan does not borrow then it will face the problem of balance of payment crisis, as foreign exchange reserves are available only for 6 weeks imports. According to Asian Development Bank, Pakistan needs between $6-$9 billion to avoid a balance of payments crisis. On the other hand, if new government goes for borrowing then it has to bear several costs as follows:

It has to impose general sales tax, which will be unwelcomed by taxpayers.

It has to reduce fiscal deficit from 8% to 3.5%, which will require tough time for those who will bear the burden, particularly poor.

Federal government has to insist provinces to generate surpluses to contribute to consolidate fiscal burden.

It has to bring public debt GDP ratio from the current 62% to 42% that will keep the government under tight constraint.

What is the way forward?

Silent Spectators on Face Book (FB)

Silent Spectators on Face Book (FB)

Where FB gave a unique opportunity of socialization to many users, it also gave a unique opportunity to silent spectators on FB to realign their social relations, to revise their judgments about friends and to update their friendship levels.

We can broadly make three categories of FB users: active users, moderate users and least active users. For third category, we can use the term of silent spectators.

These people randomly log in and quickly scroll pages for few minutes; they are expert in picking the best from a wide variety of uploads. Instead of writing a comment, they just smile and closely observe the behavior of other users from their posts and comments. Accordingly, they update their friendships levels and circles through silent observations.

The bottom line of this point is that people should be careful in uploading biased, emotional and discriminative posts/comments because many silent observers are closely watching them.