SPECIAL FEATURE: The #NUST Controversy & the #RectorSpeech

Disclaimer: I am NOT being paid to write/tweet about any of this. I am NOT employed as the official NUST Spokesperson. I am a student at NUST School of Social Sciences & Humanities, and I am a proud NUSTian, who wanted the world to have all the facts before it formed opinions.

For a complete and detailed live-feed of the Rector Speech, please visit my Twitter timeline, where I tweeted directly from the meeting, by clicking here. Search my tweets that are hashtagged #NUST and #RectorSpeech.

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What happened:

September 2013: Old students return for their 3rd, 5th and 7th semesters, and new students enter NUST as part of the 2014 batch. Old students see that some things have changed. New rules have been instated. New students see that there are a lot of rules they weren’t used to in their A Levels or F.Sc. schools and go through the period of “man, this is weird” that all new students feel in the first few weeks of university.

NUST students working at planting trees as part of the South Asian Youth Conference 2012

NUST students working at planting trees as part of the South Asian Youth Conference 2012

What were the new rules, and what were the old rules:

NEW RULE: 3 roommates per room in the hostels for both boys and girls because 450 students were accommodated over capacity.

NEW RULE: Of the three cafes students used to visit, one (called NG Cafe) was now off limits to students, because it was built specifically for university staff, and they complained that students always filled it up. This made the students sad because NG has the best lassi.

NEW RULE: Of the two remaining cafes, students were free to use both during the day (before 5 pm) but after 5pm, one cafe (Concordia 1) was off limits to boys, and the other (Concordia 2) was off limits to girls. So there was some co-ed time at the cafes and some segregated time at the cafes.

OLD RULE: For students of NUST Business School and the NUST School of Social Science & Humanities (NS3H students are currently housed in the NBS building while their state of the art structure is being built, and so must abide by NBS rules) jeans are not allowed, as the NBS dress code calls for “formal dress”. This is only for NBS. Girls must wear a dupatta as part of a three-piece shalwar kameez suit. They are not under any compulsion to wear a dupatta on their heads. This dupatta and jeans rule applies only to the students of NUST Business School. All the engineering schools within the H-12 campus (SEECS, SCEE, SCME, etc.) have no suh rule. Students are commonly found wearing jeans. SADA, the architecture school, has NO dresscode. Students are often dressed in very Western styles that are not found in any other school. Sheer/see-through clothing, provocative art or imagery on clothing that may offend others is also not allowed, shorts and skirts are also not allowed.

OLD RULE: Speed limit within the NUST H-12 campus, to make roads safe for walking students.

OLD RULE: Must always have NUST ID card on your person while in the university, so that when passing through any of the external or internal gates, you can prove your identity. And that’s what a student card is for.

OLD RULE: Curfew for male hostelites to get back to campus is 11 pm. Curfew for female hostelites is 9.30 pm.

All the directors (all students) who worked to put together Pakistan's first Internation MUN (NIMUN 13)

All the directors (all students) who worked to put together Pakistan’s largest Olympiad with  over 3000 participants.

RUMORS THAT SPREAD LIKE WILDFIRE:

1. NUST will impose a 7.30 pm curfew on the girls. This did not and will not happen.

2. Uniforms will be introduced at NUST H-12. This did not and will not happen. This is a semi-civilian campus. NUST runs a tight ship, but only in the interest of peace and orderly activity.

3. NUST is a nest of Taliban wanna-bes who are converting Pakistan‘s youth. NUST is the largest and one of the most prestigious universities in the country with more state-of-the-art facilities for its students than any other. It is NOT against Western thinking or knowledge. In fact, students are encouraged to go abroad for competitions, etc.

The Publications team that I led for NIMUN 2013.

The Publications team that I led for NIMUN 2013.

WHAT WAS ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?

A lot of new rules were suddenly implemented and the reasons for them were not clearly communicated to the students. This resulted in misunderstanding and frustration. The new rules, such as the post-5 PM cafe segregation made it difficult to work in groups, hangout with friends, etc. and students grew angry.

New students at NBS were used to wearing skinny jeans and dressing any way they wanted, and didn’t think a university would have a dress code that limited them in any way. Keep in mind, these kids wore uniforms all throughout their A Levels, so why this was such a big deal to them all of a sudden is kind of a surprise.

Students started calling NUST a “madrassah” and making creative memes that were almost all based on the 5 PM segregation of cafes. At this point, boys and girls were still hanging out together OUTSIDE THE CAFES, WITHIN THE CAMPUS. They are allowed to sit on the grass together, walk together on the roads, watch the football teams practice, etc. Inter-mixing was not banned. These memes caught fire. Students were used to cribbing about not being able to wear jeans. We all know we love to whine about old rules. So the media picked it up and blew it out of proportion.

The real issues that students were frustrated with were not about the jeans or the dupatta. What was much more pressing to them were the cafe segregation, the curfew rumors, the problems at the hostels – they were crowded, the warden didn’t care about their issues. There were issues to be addressed about the vans that take day scholars home after classes, etc. The media chose one of the smallest aspects and turned it into primetime news. The real issues that students wanted to discuss were all brought forth by the students themselves at the Rector’s address.

Hiking Trip on the Margalla Hills

Hiking Trip on the Margalla Hills

MISCONCEPTIONS PEOPLE HAD BECAUSE OF THE MEDIA BLOWOUT

1. Girls are forced to wear dupattas on their heads.

2. Girls cannot leave hostels without mahrams.

3. Girls and boys throughout the 23 schools that are part of the NUST cannot wear jeans or tights.

4. Boys are not allowed to talk to girls in H-12. Girls cannot talk to boys. No inter-mixing is allowed.

5. NUST has put in place a very strict authoritarian regime and is force feeding extremist religion to the kids.

THE TRUTH

1. Dupattas on shoulders, for NBS and NS3H students only.

2. Girls can leave hostels at any time. Vans are even provided on the weekends to take them out to popular shopping centers so they don’t have to spend money on cab fare. They just need to be back by 9.30 PM. The curfew were set to keep security in check. NUST has a lot of undeveloped land around it, which has been known to be dangerous open abadi. Attacks have taken place in the past and that is why the curfews are now in place.

3. Jeans only not allowed for NBS and NS3H students as they are expected to dress business formal. Tights not allowed with short shirts.

4. Intermixing is allowed and does occur. Only two isolated spots – the cafes are segregated AFTER 5 PM. Some other areas of campus are off limits because they are far-flung and not well-lit, for the students’ own safety. Keep in mind, NUST has a 4 square km campus. It’s huge and not all of it is paved and lit up like a Christmas tree.

5. NUST is a Taliban foxhole? Seriously? In my third semester, I had a teacher who asked us to prove the existence of God as a theoretical challenge. We have speakers from around the world (Western world included) come and deliver seminars and conduct workshops. NUST sends students (including girls) around the world for competitions. Bangkok, the US, etc. We hosted the South Asian Youth Conference 2012 and the World Engineering Congress 2013. We hosted an international model United Nations (NIMUN) last year, and have plans to expand it even more this year, calling in even more foreign delegates. I have heard of three kids who call themselves athiests and study at NUST. You think the Taliban would let them just hang out at the cafe with everyone? Christian students study at NUST and are open about their faith.

Seminar

Seminar

HOW THE UNIVERSITY RESPONDED

The Rector (which means the head of all the schools of NUST – there are over 20) held 2 meetings – one with the girls yesterday at 3,45 and one with the boys this morning. The reason these meetings were segregated was because there is no one auditorium big enough to fit all students and because girls wanted to discuss issues like the dress code, the hostels, etc. and to have the boys present would have made it possible for rude commentary to pursue and girls might not feel completely comfortable discussing everything openly. Same idea when it comes to the boys.

Keep in mind, you may have a very confident approach to life and may be very liberal and open about discussing male and female issues but NUST has an extremely diverse student body, with students from Islamabad and Lahore and Karachi who are well-off and confident and very modern in their thinking, and students from Pishin, interior Sindh, the Frontier, etc, who have much more conservative values and patterns of thought. There is a need to create balance and harmony within this student body and the rules in place are a compromise – a half and half to get both sides to calm their bananas a little bit and learn to get along and cooperate.

Students on a nature photowalk with their cameras, trying to get pictures of birds.

Students on a nature photowalk with their cameras, trying to get pictures of birds.

WHAT DID THE RECTOR SAY ABOUT ALL THE ISSUES?

He was very open minded and let the students speak. The question and answer session was over 90 minutes long. He answered each question, apologized whenever he heard individual stories of wrongs students suffered and changed a number of rules. The presidents and principals of each individual school were present and several were held accountable on the spot. It was clear that the meeting was held in good faith and that there was a positive want to improve and change for the benefit of the students.

For a complete and detailed live-feed of the Rector Speech, please visit my Twitter timeline, where I tweeted directly from the meeting, by clicking here. Search my tweets that are hashtagged #NUST and #RectorSpeech.

 

Why I Don’t Think My Education Is Turning Me Into A Mindless Slave Monkey

Hi. You like complaining about your university, and about your country, and your government (they do everything wrong, don’t they?), and hey – even about that teacher that ACTUALLY makes you work hard. I mean, turning in an assignment on time WITHOUT getting the deadline extended? HOLY MOLY! She’s such a tyrannical maniac, asking you to not cheat on your quizzes and – oh my God – the way she never shuts up until the allotted class time is over? I mean, sheesh. And horror of horrors, there’s an attendance policy to make sure you actually show up and get a chance to learn?! WHAT INSANITY.

And what about that whole grading thing – the nerve those administrators have, thinking they have the right to judge our mental capabilities and categorize us with letters, like we’re cattle being driven into the A field, and the B+ field, and the C- field. Formal education never got anyone anything. All of our favorite teachers say GPA doesn’t matter. Look at Bill Gates – he’s a billionaire, and he never went to college. Steve Jobs dropped out, and he made the iPod. I mean come on, that’s proof. The guy made the iPod! This whole ‘get good grades’ thing is just a way to condition us into becoming mindless slave monkeys, teaching us to follow orders, obey every command. They’re only telling you what they want to tell you, bro – maintenance of the status quo. You can’t beat the system if you’re in the system. You gotta fight them. You gotta beat the system bro. Don’t sell out. The entire education system is built in a way so that the ruling class can train you to be a mindless minion.

I’ve decided to shed some light on why I, though I don’t agree with everything the government, my country, or some teachers do, choose not to run outside with a hand-made poster and start a protest, why I show up to my classes on time, and why I enjoy buying textbooks.

  1. I learn things. Contrary to popular belief, if you listen to the teacher who won’t shut up, chances are she’s saying something worth listening to. Throughout my degree I’ve studied management and organizational design courses, talking about different types of teams you can divide your employees into, hierarchy, structure, bureaucracy, etc. None of that seemed very practical until this semester when I started working for an international MUN at my university. (For info on NUST International MUN 2013, click here.) For the first time, I was in charge of a team of talented individuals, & it was my job not only to delegate tasks but to also keep them motivated, take their feedback and criticism, and get work done. All the management theories came back to me – Frederick Taylor and Henri Fayol became more than just dead guys who said some stuff before I was born. I found myself digging through the pages on modular structures, horizontal communication linkages, and in the words of a faculty member, “make that teacher’s hard work pay off”.
  2. I think girl babies look pretty in pink. For sociology class, I chose to do my final term paper on the effect of socially constructed gender roles on self-perception. Fancy title, right? I was interested in a few cases I had read about where parents in the UK were raising gender neutral children – they didn’t tell their babies if they were boys or girls, they didn’t impose pink frilly dresses, or army man action figures on their children, and they kept their child’s gender hidden from the world as well. I didn’t know much about this new style of parenting and decided to do some research. Maybe it was the golden key – maybe this is what parents should be doing.
    Now, I’m a believe in individual educated freedom of choice, so I’m not going to sit here and attack their parenting technique, but during my research, I imagined myself as one of those children – wearing boy clothes for six months, and Barbie clothes for the next six, feeling confused and strange among a group of my pre-school class fellows, not being able to see the world as other people see it – and I felt scared. I felt intimidated and vulnerable at the thought. As a kid who grew up with peer pressure (and who sometimes gave into it as well), I don’t I could take that – seeing things (only) differently. To each his own, but for me, I was glad I wasn’t that kind of different.
    My point is, you gain perspective. You see things and hear things you would have never thought of. You understand what you can accept, and what you are opposed to. Knowledge gives you the right to an opinion. That doesn’t mean you should go around harassing people who have a different one. It means that you have seen something, examined it, drawn conclusions, and can use that experience to shape your own life.
  3. Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class. It wasn’t part of his degree, and yes, he never got his graduation cap, but he took a class that he was interested in, and that he learned from. It was what he gained from that class that led to the idea of introducing different font option in the iMac. So woohoo, Mr. Jobs, but super woohoo to the professor teaching that calligraphy class.
  4. Bill Clinton sent me an autographed picture & I became an Urdu teacher. In English class, along with my eight year old classmates, I learned how to write a paragraph, tell time, write a short note, etc. One of the things we read about was two best friends who wrote letters to each other. I wanted to write letters! I wanted to put them in the mailbox, and raise the cool red flag thingy. My teacher agreed to be my pen pal. We wrote letters to teach other even though we saw each other every day. She suggested that I teach her some Urdu words, and I would painstakingly write them with Roman Urdu transliterations and translations, and even sample sentences. Then I would make two or three quiz questions for her to answer. She never let me down. She even bought stamps for all of us (35 cents, please) and we wrote letters to the President. The euphoria when I received a reply to my note asking Mr. Clinton President Sir to do a super job in the White House – indescribable! The envelope was white, with crisp lettering on the back. To Zainab Khawaja, it said, from The White House. There was a thick parchment note with a thank you, and some encouraging words, a signature, and two thick photos of Mr and Mrs POTUS and I couldn’t have asked for more. This positive response fueled a desire to write letters, and I started a diary. Letter upon letter, conversations with written words – somewhere in the flurry, I became a writer.

“Because bureaucracy [and an organized system of society is mostly viewed] as a derogatory term, allow me two cheers for it. First, with regard to its division of labor & hierarchy, one would be hard pressed to imagine how any group of people could accomplish a moderately complex job without some specialization, and without someone in charge and responsible.” Second:    would you really like to live in a society where nobody knows what they have to do, what they are good at doing, what they can do? Think about your firefighters, policemen, teachers, bureaucrats – not all of them are corrupt and self-serving, and they’re the good ones making everything run. They’re the reason you can afford to take the good things in life for granted. Having said this, the “greatest weakness of bureaucracy is its low ability for innovation.”

The way our mass-producing world of Wal-Marts and high speed internet is progressing today, most of us are performers, not problem-solvers. But humanity still recognizes the importance of problem-solvers. We still herald great inventors and change-makers – Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Deng Xiaoping, Harriet Tubman, Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart, Mark Zuckerberg. We appreciate people who go above and beyond. Humanity encourages thinking outside of the box.

Yes, the world is far from perfect. Yes, we need to step up and change it. Yes, we should make an effort to improve. I just don’t think some grand gesture, a bold violent move, and flat out rejection of all existing infrastructure is the way to do it. The point of this post is just to say that you don’t have to engage in open revolt against The Powers That Be & All Their Instruments in order to change things for the better. In fact, if that’s what you’re doing, chances are you’re hurting yourself more than anyone else. You can still be individual, but “the key” is not being different. If anything, the goal should be to be better. Work harder, achieve more, earn the power and right to influence the things you’d like to change.

“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“It is the beginning of wisdom when you recognize that the best you can do is choose which rules you want to live by, and it’s persistent and aggravated imbecility to pretend you can live without any.”
― Wallace StegnerAll the Little Live Things

And of course, from the book I’m currently reading,

At such a time it seems natural and good to me to ask myself these questions. What do I believe in? What must I fight for and what must I fight against?
– John Steinbeck, East of Eden

 

Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman (So I met the scientist – Part 4)

This post is the 4th in my ‘So I met the Scientist’ series. To see the rest of the series, click here

The students of the National University of Science & Technology had the profound honor of learning about the life of one of Pakistan‘s most esteemed scientists, from the scientist himself. Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman is none other than the reason the NUST Center of Virology & Immunology (NCVI) was renamed ASAB (Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences).

The author of nearly 800 publications arrived in the School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, in NUST’s sprawling H-12 campus on 15 May to speak at the latest of NUST Science Society’s Meet the Scientist lecture series. The program began at 2:30 pm and lasted approximately two hours. Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman is one of Pakistan’s most high-profile scientists, having served as Minister of Science & IT, Chairman of the Higher Education Commission, as well as a Cambridge Don and a fellow of the Royal Society, London (not to mention his Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, Sitara Imtiaz, and Hilal-e-Imtiaz). He proudly declares, “if it’s easy, I’m not interested.”

Dr. Atta delivering his lively speech

The professor delivered a lively speech, highlighting various phases of his life with small anecdotal messages for the university students. When he went to Cambridge, “Hum apnay aap ko bara tees mar khan samajh te the” and he was dismayed to find his colleagues far well grounded in their fields than he was. A few years of sheer determination won him the title of a Cambridge Don, and in his own words, “I was finally allowed to walk on the grass.”

In a speech casually delivered yet demanding of a profound sort of respect, Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman detailed the hard work that went into making him the man he is, easily keeping the audience interested with occasional slips into Urdu and gentle humor. When describing Cambridge, he said, “The British can exaggerate at times. [The river Cam] should really be called a canal, but they call it a river.

Dr. Atta receiving a portrait drawn by talented student Syed Ayyaz, and presented to him by Rector NUST

 The son of an industrialist, and the grandchild of a member of the Supreme Court, he chose to pursue science instead of the family business. In his own words, “mera thora sa dimagh kharab tha“. He refused his father’s offer to finance his foreign studies, (but agreed to get married before he left “warna mein koi mem le ata”), because “it’s the challenges in life that make it worth living”. With a go-get-’em attitude in place, he went on to distinguish himself on an international level as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and by dis-proving a Nobel laureate’s work.

He went on to explain various projects he has undertaken in the past, such as establishing and working to continuously develop the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences at Karachi University, and saving the HEC from virtual dissolution. Throughout the speech, Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman stressed one thing endlessly – eternal optimism.

His message to the students was clear:

Let statistics work in your favor.” – It there’s a 2% probability of getting it right, all that means is that you need to try a hundred times, and you’ll surely be successful twice.

Dr. Atta standing with the Rector and the NUST Science Society members who made the event possible.

M. Afzal Hussain Qadri (So I met the scientist – Part 2)

This post is part 2 of the ‘So I met the Scientist’ series. To see the first post, click here.

Pakistan has produced a number of incredible scientists, and it’s about time we knew who they were.

Both a professor and a doctor, M. Afzal Hussain Qadri was a Founding Fellow of the Zoological Society of Pakistan, serving as its president from 1970-1972. He contributed to Pakistan as a researcher, philosopher and academician for over forty years. Dr Qadri was made the first Professor Emeritus of the University of Karachi & produced a large number of research papers, introducing a number of new concepts in the field of insect morphology. His works are quoted in several standard textbooks of Entomology, particularly on the piercing and sucking mechanism of bugs and lice and the genitalia of Orthoptera..

Dr. Qadri was born in the city of Badayun, India on 7th February 1912. He studied at both Aligarh Muslim University and Cambridge University, earning two Ph.Ds, and developed his love of science.

He was elected Fellow of several International and National Academic Bodies, including the Royal Entomological Society, London, Zoological Society, London; National Institute of Science, India; Pakistan Academy of Sciences; Pakistan Association for Advancement of Science; Scientific Society of Pakistan; Pakistan Association of Scientists and Scientific Professions, etc. Furthermore, his role as academician is clear as he was the Secretary of All India Muslim Education Committee appointed by the Quaid-e-Azam in 1945. He was a member of the Pakistan Central Cotton Committee, Agriculture Research Council of Pakistan, Wild Life National Committee, Medical Reforms Commission, Syndicate of the University of Karachi, Senat and Academic Council, University of Karachi.

After contributing a lifetime to the progress and development of science in Pakistan, passed away on 6 December 1974, at the age of 63.

Pakistan & India: Most-Favored Nation Status

 On November 2nd, 2011, Pakistan granted its long-time rival India Most-Favored Nation status, reciprocating a gesture India had already made fifteen years ago, in 1996. The decision was made in a cabinet session, with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani chairing the meeting, and initial predictions have been overwhelmingly positive. Despite the potential benefits of this decision, there has also been a strong voice of opposition to the move. This paper will attempt to discuss varying opinions on the matter, while seeking to prove that the positives outweigh the negatives for Pakistan.

The term “most favored nation” refers to a status accorded to one state by another regarding international trade, whereby the recipient of the MFN status may not be treated less advantageously than the “most favored” country the promising country already conducts trade with. As it is a cornerstone of WTO trade law, all members of the World Trade Organization accord MFN status to each other. Exceptions are sometimes included to grant some leeway to developing nations. Pakistan has been a WTO member since 1995, but hesitated in granted MFN status to India earlier due to deplorable relations between the two countries.

By finally reciprocating, the Pakistani government has stirred a lively debate in both countries, which is primarily centered on two core issues: 1) why this decision was taken, & 2) what it means for Pakistan in terms of a) economics effects, and b) politics & defense. One thing is clear: though the cabinet has finalized their decision, Pakistan has not done away with its hesitation. Information Minister Firdos Ashiq Awan initially announced that the federal cabinet had unanimously decided to grant India MFN status, an announcement that was later altered to vaguely imply that the cabinet members had only agreed to approve the process of normalization with India, in regard to trade. This was further clarified by a later announcement that any decision regarding trade or MFN status would be finalized after a series of meetings with the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Whereas as some herald the decision as yet another step in the thaw of relations between the two countries, and indeed, the most recent of a series of “confidence-building” measures for peace and stability throughout South Asia,  others are more skeptical. According to The Times of India, “Pakistan is not being friendly towards India because of a change of heart. It’s under severe international criticism… an untrustworthy partner of the US. Its reputation is in tatters, as is its economy. It needs to show some positive moves towards India so as to deflect criticism from itself. Given a chance, Pakistan will still be happier attacking India’s interest.” (Panday, 2011)

In line with this view, retired Pakistani general Talat Masood is quoted as having said, “I think they have realized they can’t have bad relations with the United States and at the same time continue to have very poor relations with India because this synergy will be very dangerous.” (Haider, 2001)

To a large extent, Pakistan’s decision may be based on purely economic logic. Tariffs on Indian imports will now have to be the same as those on other imports, which, up till now, have always been lower. By lowering the tariff on Indian goods, trade between the long-time rivals will be given a significant boost, to the benefit of both economies.

Huma Yusuf presents an interesting point, stating that the energy sector might have played a prominent role in the cabinet’s decision-making process. Pakistan’s energy sector has always been barely able to meet demand. Load-shedding and a complete lack of electricity are common across the country. The total energy deficit is at 6000 mega-watts, and is devastatingly hampering GSP growth. The same day that the MFN status was officially announced, Prime Minister Gilani also initiated an energy deal with India – to import 500 mega-watts of electricity. This could be the beginning of extensive collaboration in the energy sector, benefits for the industrial sector, and a higher standard of living for Pakistan’s population.

Another boost will come from what is currently the “black” market. MFN status acts to legalize previously unregulated trade between the two countries, which, according to the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, could have taken trade between the two countries to over $14 billion in 2009. Also, WTO member requirements will finally be fulfilled. (Yusuf, 2011) The Director General of CII, Chandrajit Bannerjee, presents a more humble figure – $8 billion in bilateral trade in five years. (Deccan Herald, 2011) The goods which now enter Pakistan via Dubai and Afghanistan (through informal channels) will become importable through legal channels. This means that not only will the cost of imported goods go down, but the government will also gain from enhanced revenues from these goods.

“Of the $1.4 billion in trade recorded in 2009/10, Indian exports to Pakistan stood at $1.2 billion while Pakistan exports to India totaled $268 million, according to official data.” (Haider, 2001)

Following the above logic, we see that a) the trade deficit between Pakistan and India will decrease and b) MFN status paves the way for domestic industries to acquire raw materials much more affordably, enabling them to cut costs and increase efficiency in the export of finished products, thus reducing its import burden by sourcing cheaper Indian products closer to home.

Other potential benefits include the removal of trade barriers such as drawn-out customs clearance procedures, and excessive use of “trade-defense” measures (additional taxes and duties, subsidies provided to domestic farmers, etc.), on Pakistani goods exported into India. This will serve to make Pakistani goods more accessible to the Indian public, and hopefully boost domestic export levels.  However, obstacles such as stringent visa rules and restrictions on travelling and tourism, difficulty in communication and opening of more trade routes or ports to handle Pakistani goods have yet to be thoroughly addressed.

Criticism of the decision is based on fears that Indian goods will swamp the Pakistani market, damaging local industries and eventually making Pakistan dependent on Indian help. An angry journalist attending Firdos Ashiq Awan’s initial press conference called the decision a “crime”, and some exporters have expressed a fear of not being able to compete with the Indian market. Many say that Pakistani industries have long since lost their competitive edge as a result of security issues, power shortage and rising cost of production. Just one example of this is Pakistan’s $14 billion textile export bill, which seems meager when compared to Indian textile exports of $24 billion, in a global textile and clothing trade of $800 billion. (Zaheer, 2011)

Many financial experts claim the forced liberalization of imports associated with granting MFN status is another blow to Pakistan’s struggling economy. Repayments to the IMF need to be the government’s top priority, as foreign direct investment in the country has dropped from $7 billion to $359 million in just 6 months. Exports have dropped from 75% of imports to just 50%. If at this point, Pakistan were to expand its list of “allowed-to-import” Indian products, the domestic economy would find no end to its suffering.

As far as defense and politics are concerned, the opposition argues that by named India an MFN, not only do we get access to a thriving market of more than a billion people, but, also, “the free trade dynamics will unleash a future of mutual dependence, in turn, minimizing cross-border security concerns” (Monnoo, 2012). In parallel however, there is strong concern about what India’s regional designs may be, its poor relationship with Pakistan in the past, especially with respect to bilateral trade. Many feel that Pakistan is being pressurized by is weakening alliance with the United States to minimize regional tensions, and is thus forced into taking actions which are not necessarily to its benefit.

These concerns fall into the now run-down argument of India as Pakistan’s biggest security risk. As a nation, Pakistan will benefit from looking at a larger picture, and appreciating how well a stronger South Asia can battle an ever-changing global system. Though India may be considered a threat, it is also important to note that ties with both Afghanistan and the Unites States are growing increasingly fragile as terrorism mounts and counter-terrorism initiatives yield no real results. The MFN trade agreement will ensure that Pakistan is not isolated, and surrounded by hostile neighbors. Also, the US and India have been establishing ties of cooperation and it would hardly help Pakistan’s case with the US to shun India even further. In fact, the granting of MFN status might get Pakistan some “bonus points”. US officials have often encouraged Pak-India relations as “the key to regional stability”.

Relations with Afghanistan have never been as rosy as Islamabad would have liked, and with the upcoming withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, fears of India-Afghan ties will be further enhanced. To establish positive relations with India now is the smart step. It will pave the way for Pakistan to establish congenial relations with Kabul.

Establishing trade ties with India will result in a sort of inter-dependency, as two economies are inter-linked for mutual benefit. Majority of manufacturers and industrialists in both countries are set to benefit from increased bilateral trade, and thus will form pressure groups against any potential aggression between the two governments. The MFN status will do India a great deal of good, as India will have direct access to Iran and Central Asia. Goods moving along this route will be handled by Pakistani transport and logistics firms, creating multiples opportunities for profit, investment, employment, etc.

Pakistan is well known for the quality of its wheat, rice, and dry fruit. The textile and surgical instrument industries are also known for their quality. These strengths, and the breadbasket of the Punjab will work to Pakistan’s advantage as good can be more readily exported to India.

Most importantly, the development of a porous border will initiate long-needed people-to-people contact between the two populations. Prejudice, bias, and negative assumptions can only be overcome through integration, association and positive action. Pakistan and India share many cultural links, and yet are virtually cut off from each other. Collaboration would result in a more vibrant South Asia, and help dispel any potential aggression between the countries.

In the words of Fatima Bhutto, “We need more people-to-people contact to promote peace… Trade between India and Pakistan is a fraction of the trade that we do with strangers… Many other arch rivals have better trade ties.

There is no doubt that Pakistan needs to be careful and do its homework properly before throwing itself into delusions of the MFN agreement magically making everything better. In doing so, it needs to grapple with the elements of reciprocity and fair play to provide a level playing field to its own people. All this being said, however, the MFN agreement holds enormous potential to benefit Pakistan, and is not something that should be quickly passed over.

Bibliography

Ahmed, S. (n.d.). MFN status to India to bring greater benefits to Pakistan. Retrieved from Pakistan Observer: http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=126854

Deccan Herald. (2011, November 2). Pakistan gives India MFN status, India Inc rejoices. Deccan Herald. Deccan Herald. Retrieved from http://www.deccanherald.com/content/201994/pakistan-gives-india-mfn-status.html

Haider, Z. (2001, November 3). Pakistan gives Most Favored Nation status to India. Arab News. Arab News. Retrieved from ArabNews.com: http://arabnews.com/world/article528123.ece

Monnoo, K. (2012, January 4). MFN status to India – An analysis! The Nation. The Nation. Retrieved from http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/columns/04-Jan-2012/mfn-status-to-india-an-analysis

Panday, P. (2011, November 3). The Times of India Blogs. Retrieved April 18, 2012, from The Times of India: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/the-real-truth/entry/pakistan-giving-india-mfn-status-is-good-for-both-countries

Yusuf, H. (2011, November 10). Pakistan Grants India Most Favored Narion Trading Status? Asia Pacific Bulletin.

Zaheer, F. (2011, November 21). MFN status to India : Textile sector looking to cash in despite high production costs. The Express Tribune. International Herald Tribune. Retrieved from http://tribune.com.pk/story/294999/mfn-status-to-india-textile-sector-looking-to-cash-in-despite-high-production-costs/

Luxury vs. Squalor – is NUST epitomizing the class divide?

So here’s some pictures of the ground that I took randomly one day, in Concordia 1, the student cafe, at my university.

Here's a guy actually standing on trash.

And now here’s some pictures of the faculty lounge, recently posted on Facebook by a talented student photographer. To see Zeyshan’s Facebook page, click here.

So have you guessed what this blog post is about?

Let’s start this off with a disclaimer. I love my university. Unlike many other students, who whine about the lack of facilities, make fun of the teachers and crack jokes about army/bureaucratic mismanagement, I think our university does a pretty good job at educating us. The campus is immense, and wonderfully equipped. Though I admit, many of the administrative staff seem to be totally inadequate, I have had the good fortune to have studied under very professional and knowledgeable professors, and I’ve never faced any difficulty discussing problems I’ve faced with my Dean, etc.

Having said all that, let’s get to the obvious. The student cafe is a mess. Yes, some of the students are truly disgusting – they don’t clean after themselves, they don’t even pick up their trash. There are these efficient men in red shirts tasked with the horrible duty of cleaning up after us, which we apparently never learned to do, and wiping down the tables, but they can only do so much.

When I saw these pictures of the faculty lounge up on Facebook, I was shocked, to say the least. Of course our faculty deserve a nice lounge, but this looks like Lady Di is up out of her grave and dragging her formerly royal self down to H-12, Islamabad. The anarchist in me screamed exploiting the masses! elitism! and all those other accusatory phrases International Relations teaches us. However, the proud NUSTian hidden somewhere deep, deep inside just couldn’t find it in herself to see this as complete and utter nonsense. So I did what I always do when I’m conflicted on something – I made a list.

THE LIST of JUSTIFICATIONS

  • Our cafe is nasty because unlike our professors, we are essentially uncivilized.
  • They work hard for a living and fight real-life adult battles, so they deserve a pretty place to sit around before they have to pull on their boots and pick up their swords again.
  • Like Sir Haroon Rashid always said to us Accounting students, WHAT IS YOUR CLAIM TO FAME? That’s right, we don’t have any, whereas they do, and thus they get a nicer cafe.
  • NUST needs to sweeten the deal to attract prospective intellectuals from around the country.
  • NUST needs a fancy place where the Powers That Be can schmooze with any fancy pants that come to visit, like when PM Gilani dropped by. He broke the chair he was sitting on, you know, so obviously NUST was pressurized to get fancier chairs.

On the other hand, someone with less love for the art of justification could say:

  • This is an example of how the masses and divided from the elites in our country.
  • It’s just like the army to have top-notch pickings for their retired officers (posted randomly in various positions of power at NUST because they still need an income) and through the leftovers to the rest of us.
  • NUST hates us. Pakistan sucks. Everything is terrible! *cries* I want to go to LUMS!

So the question I want to ask is, what do you think about our teachers’ fancy digs?

Wow, that’s one talented monkey!

8.30 am. I wake up, knowing almost immediately that I’m late. I struggle to pull myself from the delicious comfort of my bed, and start a mad dash to throw on a change of clothes, a scarf, grab my bag and hit the road. I’m a sucker for politics, history and conspiracy theories, and my early-morning IR class is one of the few I’m actually excited about. For me, subjects I’m interested are a relief from those I can’t stand, like *cough* accounting *cough*. It’s the last class before my midterms start, and I’m hoping to have an easy-going class so I can sift through my notes and make sure I know everything. My notes are surprisingly brief this semester. I didn’t have the time to put real effort into them. Feeling a little disappointed in myself, I turn my focus to my professor, and find myself surprised to hear him talking about monkeys.

The Infinite Monkey Theorem. Yes, that’s a thing. Now, the way I understand it, this theorem states that if you lock a monkey up in a room with a typewriter, and give him an infinite amount of time, he can produce the entire work of Shakespeare, or something equivalent. That’s the gist of it. Here’s the fancy stuff:

The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.

In this context, “almost surely” is a mathematical term with a precise meaning, and the “monkey” is not an actual monkey, but a metaphor for an abstract device that produces a random sequenceof letters and symbols ad infinitum.

There is a straightforward proof of this theorem. If two events are statistically independent, then the probability of both happening equals the product of the probabilities of each one happening independently. For example, if the chance of rain in Moscow on a particular day in the future is 0.4 and the chance of an earthquake in San Francisco on that same day is 0.00003, then the chance of both happening on that day is 0.4 × 0.00003 = 0.000012.

Suppose the typewriter has 50 keys, and the word to be typed is banana. If we assume that the keys are pressed randomly (i.e., with equal probability) and independently, then the chance that the first letter typed is ‘b’ is 1/50, and the chance that the second letter typed is a is also 1/50, and so on, because events are independent. Therefore, the chance of the first six letters matching banana is

(1/50) × (1/50) × (1/50) × (1/50) × (1/50) × (1/50) = (1/50)6 = 1/15 625 000 000 ,

less than one in 15 billion. For the same reason, the chance that the next 6 letters match banana is also (1/50)6, and so on.

The main point here is that you can do anything if you have a never-ending amount of time. So that got me thinking, what would I do if I had an infinite amount of time? So I made a list.

1) To be honest, the first thing that comes to mind is reading the A Story of Fire & Ice saga by George R. R. Martin, and then working through my book list without worrying about studying. They’re my latest book obsession: a four-book set with fun, dramatic names like The Game of Thrones, The Clash of Kings, etc. Plus, they’ve now been made into a wildly popular TV series that my friends can’t stop raving about. Since watching a movie/series based on a book before you’ve read the book is akin to sacrilege, I’ve tried my best not to hear any spoilers. I do however, have the entire Season 1 of The Game of Thrones downloaded and ready to go the minute I’m done.

2) Sketching, something I’ve been meaning to return to for months. I took an extensive and grueling summer course a few years ago, and since then, I’ve struggled to keep what little talent I have alive. It’s been tough finding time to sketch, but whenever I manage to squeeze it in, it is undeniably soothing, and a wonderful way to sort through your thoughts and clear out your head.

3) Write a good quality, meaningful short story. Again, this is something I’ve been meaning to do for much too long. I’ve been struggling with writer’s block for the last few days, and I would love to just sit myself down and work my way out of it. It’s best to start with a rough structure of the story line and start filling it in the way a child would Cinderella’s picture in her colouring book.

The list goes on, really. Go on a hiking trip with my dad. Buy my mum some beautiful flowers, learn how to knit and embroider, revise my French (broken and struggling), etc.

I’m pretty sure this is not the direction my professor intended for me to go with the monkey theorem, but hell hath no fury like a wandering mind stopped in its tracks, right?

Running the Metaphorical Marathon & how too much CBA makes you an alien.

Photo credits: NUST Media Club

What do you wanna be when you grow up? I see my third grade teacher’s joyful face smile down at me, bleach blonde hair pulled back in a tight ponytail, cheeks a ruddy red, lipsticked lips smiling at me. It was a comforting face, one that always helped you find your lost crayons, and always hung up your drawings on the show-and-tell board. When I was a wee little thing, this question seemed an adventure. A doctor! A journalist! One of those ladies on the travel shows on TV. Little did I know it would soon come to haunt me.

I never wanted to be Superman, or Cat Woman, even though I did have a slight love-affair with the idea of having the power to turn moisture from the air into fantastic ice sculptures. I saw that in an X Men movie, I think. As I grew older, this question turned into What do you want to study? and then, Have you chosen a career path? and What are you going to do with your life? You know, they started asking me that in 9th grade. I was confronted with a choice, what subjects did I want to take in my O Levels?

Here’s how the system works. You’ve got “groups” of subjects. The science group is divided into two sections – pre-med & pre-engineering (biology, chemistry, physics vs. math, chemistry, physics). Then you have the social science group (also known as Arts or Humanities) and these are usually subjects like economics, world history, literature, sociology, psychology, fine arts, media studies, commerce, business studies, etc. So when it came time to enroll myself in O Levels, this choice was set to define my future.

Take humanities now, and you close the doors to being a doctor or an engineer, or a bio-chemist, or a mad scientist. Take sciences now, and well, you can take humanities later, since they’re “easier”. And so that’s what I did. Battling my desire to study arts in O Levels, I took science subjects. To be fair, I loved biology and found chemistry fascinating. My school also offered, to my extreme delight, an English literature course, which I signed up for immediately.

So I started 9th grade fully aware of the dangers of “real life” looming over me. And the mantra was, if you don’t do well in your Cambridge O Level examinations, you’ll never achieve anything in life, and so the race began, the race to the finish line. Who will come in first?

After you’ve made it through that first bit of the race, you’re now given a pat on the back or a lecture on how you’ll never amount to anything (courtesy, THE ENTIRE WORLD, depending on what you’ve scored), next stop: A Levels. This is where you’re supposed to narrow-down your goal. Focus on the subjects that’ll get you somewhere in life. Now there’s two ways to approach this.

If you a) come from a wealthy family, and know that you’ll never be poor/needy, and your parents don’t expect much from you anyway, and you’re going to go abroad for university even if it’s a silly little something or the other in some corner of England, OR for some girls,

b) You know you’re just going to get married and spend your life shoveling baby food into your toddler’s mouth, and have no need for self-actualization of any kind besides the joy that comes from being a housewife/socialite, then you take the “easy-A” subjects, anything that you can put minimal effort into.

If however, you belong to category c) caring about your future, wanting to make something of yourself, realizing that your parents are not going to leave you a fiefdom as inheritance, having an actual passion that doesn’t involve the opposite gender, and 2 am clubbing, then you take subjects that interest you, that you can make a future out of, that fit into a carefully thought-up pattern of how your life is supposed to go.

As a rule, everyone was jealous of the kids that got more As, or took more subjects, or appeared more “intelligent”. When result day rolled around, a plethora of curse words was murmured about the girls with the straight A’s, with the distinction, with the A* (the highest grade). There’s a whole little-kid class system based on who is smart and who is not.

And so, I took an odd mix of subjects that I loved, and “roughly” sketched out, to an exact science how my life would work startingggg…. NOW. I had reasons for all of them. World history because it would help me with political science, economics because it would help me understand trade and finance, literature because it would help me understand the great thinkers of old, classical studies so I could learn the philosophies of the greats.

I was one of those fortunate few whose parents never pressurized them in any one direction. My parents were always supportive of anything I wanted to study, and they pushed me to try my hardest at anything I did. They’re pressure was a good thing. I whined and I complained, but I learned so much by getting involved, met so many wonderful people, and achieved so many things. I was also extremely lucky that I genuinely loved what I was studying.

Phew! Don’t even think about catching you’re breath, because you’ve only just begun. Applications to universities around the world need to be submitter before you give your Cambridge A Levels examinations, if you don’t want to waste a year of you life like a little good-for-nothing. So hustle, hustle, hustle!

What few precious summer weeks you have between the end of high school and the beginning of your adult life, are divided between anxiously awaiting acceptance/rejection letters, and bowing down in fervent and desperate prayer that society won’t disown you shall you fail in your endeavors.

That well deserved euphoria upon receiving an acceptance letter is quickly slaughtered with the start of the semester. At this point, you’re sure by now. You know what you’re going to be. You saw the unlucky med students fail their university entrance exams, you saw the would-be engineers feeling disgraced as they “ended up” going to business school. And everyone keeps telling you how this world is so cut-throat. How reality isn’t easy. How no one will cut you slack. This leads to a lot of scheming, insincere, out-to-get-you, nasty competition. Forget taking time to smell the roses, the only thing you have time for is chugging coffee and writing term papers.

My university has a relative grading system. It’s too complicated to explain in much detail here, but basically, your grade is entirely dependent on everyone else’s in comparison. If everyone else did better than you, even though you have a 95/100, you’ve still got a D (and vice versa). It’s a kill or be killed situation. I saw how quickly people get caught in this Survivor-like trap, willing to sabotage others to secure their own grades. And that’s when I learned to take a break from running this never-ending stretch.

Yes, I still have a goal. Yes, I have dreams, and yes, I work hard to get good grades. BUT YOU CAN”T LIFE YOUR LIFE VIA COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS. Somewhere along the struggle for the elusive happy ending, that job, that GPA, you just lose sight of being human. If you keep weighing what’s good for you, what you can use to your advantage, what you should do, you lose sight of what you’d love, what you’d never forget, what you’d give up a thousand “practical” days for. Borrowing a little from some Hilary Duff song hovering in my subconscious, let me just say, live your life in Technicolor.

I don’t know if I’ve conveyed it properly, but this post is about taking a break from the continuous mental harassment we all put ourselves through to enjoy the fruits of the life we have, and enjoy our journey to an eventual happy ending.

We’re put into this tunnel-vision mind-trap, where we go one step after another, after another, after another, always with a goal in mind. Don’t lose your humanity and become so Stepford. It is good to be motivated and have goals, and have a plan. But stop to enjoy the world you’re walking through. Give time to little pleasures before you find yourself missing them.

You’ll get to the end of your yellow brick road. Just don’t lose sight of who you are and who you’d like to be when you get there.

Confessions of an NBS Kid

First semester. You’re thinking, enter bright-eyed student, gazing at the sprawling campus in awe and wonder, just waiting to explore the maze and dig into her textbooks. Wrong. I walked into NUST (or rather, drove down the long, winding road leading to NBS), feeling a little unsure, a little peeved, and a little angry. This was not what I had imagined for myself. I had high dreams, and I saw coming to NUST as not achieving them. Needless to say, I didn’t think NUST was all that great, and the expensive-looking prospectus did little to ease my doubts. Now, NUST’s negative stereotype is usually based on ‘paindu’ lore. Stories of “backward”, “cheap” boys and “narrow-minded”, hairy, fat girls. I kid you not, that’s what I had heard, and if I had never gone out and explored the kids from other schools, I would’ve gone on thinking NBS was an island of sanity in the midst of an alien world.

What you think the boys will look like

What you wish they would look like

Does that sound as ridiculous to you as it does to me? That’s how I, narrow-minded spoiled little A Levels child that I was, walked into NUST. I quickly made friends, as everyone does in their first semester. You become the best of buddies, for about 15 minutes. This is not to say you’ll get double-crossed (you may even be the double-crosser yourself), but those love-at-first-sight friendships usually fade. Girls go to the bathroom to take pictures like this:

And because EVERYONE has to be in the photo, like this:

And just when you think they’re camera battery MUST HAVE run out my now, like this:

And there was plenty to appease me and my first-world pomposity. NUST is decked out with a beautiful, tech-smart campus. No matter how much the NUST kids complain about things not being good enough – just ignore them. They’ve got it pretty darn good.

NUST's H-12 campus

There’s sprawling grounds, and sophisticated buildings, and if you ignore the mess in the cafes, it’s very presentable. To be fair, the dirty cafe is because all the students aren’t exactly the neatest around.

Second semester rolled around. Now as a broadly-applied principle, 2nd semester is usually where things start to unravel. You either receive a rather disappointing GPA, or your cake-and-pastry first impressions of your classmates start to melt, or your 15-minute love affairs draw to a dramatic end. The magic begins to fade, and you start aching like a runner who just can’t reach the end of the track. This is when you’ll start to see the emo loners – boys with broken hearts, girls who have had their sense of pride thrown about – and the big-mouthed girls – who always have something bad to say about someone, and usually have found an “arch enemy” by now. This is also when the cliques are firmly cemented.

You wouldn’t be caught dead walking to the bathroom alone, for fear of being branded a loser. You wouldn’t dare walk to the cafe without a group of laughing friends. You wait, nervously looking at the clock, knowing you’ll probably be late for class because your friend has to buy a doughnut or something. You bunk classes when everyone else does, you go out when everyone else does. You all hate the same people. You are, officially, a robot. (Disclaimer: this may be true only for girls, or maybe for only some girls. But if this does not happen to you, you will most definitely be able to the see the signs of it happening to other people around you.)

When you’ve fought your wars, and are just pissed off with the whole thing – university, admin people, stupid classfellows, frustrating teachers, midterms, finals – GAAHHHH, you go home for the summer, and believe me, you never want to come back. Summer is the ointment to your wounds, and you count down the days like its an obsession.

Third semester is like Lindsay Lohan coming out of rehab. You take small steps, wary of which mines might collapse beneath your feet. Treading carefully in the social arena, you may approach academics in one of 2 ways:

1) You got a bad GPA, and now the pressure is on. You make a million promises to yourself, very few of which you ever end up keeping, and sleep/day-dream/eat/text/draw your way through your classes.

2) You got a good GPA, improving on first semester, and you’re so pleased with yourself that you float through classes, only to open your textbook and freak out because it looks like its in German (a language which, for the purposes of this blog post, we will assume you don’t know).

Thus, third semester is usually divided into a period of sleep-walking (by which I mean slacking off) and a period of extreme academic panic (all nighters, coffee by the gallon, and desperate pleas to the smart kids to help you out). Semester break comes as a bittersweet period of deja vu. You know how this goes. It reminds you of summer, but you’re calculating your GPA on a daily basis, twisting the probabilities back and forth, trying to find a percentage that you can tell your parents. You know you have to go back, and throw yourself into pleasures, or just pass out like a potato on your couch, watching seasons and resigned to defeat. The semester system has conquered your soul.

This is the face I make when I'm studying accounting.

God only knows how the rest of this journey will work out. By now, you’re officially an NBS kid. You probably have a NUST hoodie/t-shirt/mug, are used to crazy projects – data collection for management projects, begging the lab guys TO PLEASE STAY OPEN, YOU JUST NEED TO FINISH YOUR ASSIGNMENT, forgetting how much money you owe Sarfaraz bhai at the tuck shop, throwing food to the fish in the pond, taking pictures with any banners or pictures the BBA kids put up for their marketing projects, etc. You know your way around all the NUST acronyms and are no longer confused by the similarity of SCEE and SEECS, SCME and SMME, and have given up trying to figure out what some of them even stand for. I mean, I still don’t know what BICSE means.

I don’t know what will happen next, but for now, I’m buried in a pile of textbooks, and if you could see me now, I’d look something like this:

What happens when you don't do your assignments on time.

I would like to say though, that I’ve come to love and cherish the time I’ve spent at NUST. NBS is wonderful. I personally enjoy the diverse events – everything from a fashion show, to a bake sale, to hand-gliding with the NUST Adventure Club, iRun – the NUST-wide marathon race, the different people from all over the country, the expats, the society events (NUST Science Society, NUST Literary Club), NUMUN, NUST Olympiad, the NUST Lip Dub. It’s been an amazing journey, and I can’t wait for the next two years and all the memories that’ll come with them!

Intra-NUST Science Essay Competition

 

Yes, another NSS event is here! Just what all you writers have been waiting for! The NUST Science Society now brings you an intra-NUST essay competition focused on scientific topics. Pull out your pens, people!

Contribute your bit to raising awareness and logical thinking by writing an essay on one of the following topics:

  • a)    Clean energy: our future or just a dream?
  • b)    Animal testing should be limited to drug research.
  • c)     Artificial intelligence is just a good idea for sci-fi movies.
  • d)    In the next ten years people will be flying to work.
  • e)    Holographic display will change the world!

What we’ve tried to do with these topic choices is to create fun and interesting ways for you to be creative, while at the same time discussing prominent issues in today’s technology world. I mean come on, how cool would it be if your favorite science fiction movie came to life?

Here’s all the nitty gritty details you need to know:

  • English essays only
  • NUST students only (all 22 constituencies included)
  • PDF format essays only
  • Word limit: 1000-2000
  • Multiple entries per participant is allowed, however multiple entries should belong to different topics. All entries are final. No revisions to be accepted.
How will we pick the winner? You need to state your point clearly and effectively, without using any obscenities or inappropriate language. Stick to your topic throughout the essay. Remember to be creative and imaginative, because we want innovation, and don’t forget to throw some scientific facts into the mix to impress us!

Pull on your Einstein wig and give it all, and you could just win the Rs. 15,000 cash prize! And don’t waste any time, the last date to send us your piece is April 15th!

Promo vid: