New Age Islam Edit Bureau
04 April 2018
Malala Yousafzai: She Lives, Perhaps That Is Her Crime
By Asad Hashim
By Hassan Niazi
A Tale of Two ‘Democracies’: A System That Is Not Connected With Morality Is Poised For Decline
By Amanat Ali Chaudhry
The Rebel King
By Mahir Ali
By Sikandar Ali Hullio
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
April 04, 2018
A YOUNG woman is shot, along with two others, on her way to school on a brisk autumn day in the Swat valley in 2012. Surely, there are no two sides to be on, in this?
On one, you have a 15-year-old activist, honoured by her government for her work promoting education rights. On the other, the Pakistani Taliban, an ultra-conservative armed movement determined to impose its interpretation of divine law on the country.
The bullet grazes her brain, lodging in her shoulder. She lives. Perhaps that is her crime.
Almost six years later, as Malala Yousafzai returns home to Pakistan for the first time since the attempt on her life, kept away by continuing threats to her safety, we find a number of strident, angry voices proclaiming “I am not Malala”. They accuse her of being a CIA agent, a Western stooge who has made her name by bringing shame to her country, trading in Pakistan’s name for personal fame and wealth. (That she has done none of these things is irrelevant.) They, in turn, are accused of being ‘stupid’, or worse, of being Taliban sympathisers who support the killing of young women.
Hatred, however, is rarely ‘stupid’. It is informed by politics, ideology, and personal interests. By extension, the object of hatred is rarely the point of the hate: it is merely a conduit to express one’s politics. That they hate Malala is at once true, and irrelevant. The more pertinent question is: why do they hate her so much?
Misogyny is the simplest answer. (It is also, perhaps, the truest one.) Malala Yousafzai represents everything that the patriarchy cannot allow to exist: a woman who refuses to be silenced. A person who consistently fights for her gender’s rights, and who, after an attempt was made to kill her, continued to raise her voice. Consider the others Pakistani society has vilified in the way it does Yousafzai. Mukhtaran Mai, the survivor of a community-ordered gang rape, was another woman who refused to be passive, in the face of being subjected to truly horrific violence. In return, society tore her to shreds, placing the responsibility of the violence done to her on her own shoulders, justifying it and demanding her silence.
They lived, and that was their crime.
(For victims considered more acceptable, as long as they remain silent, or dead, see: Aitzaz Hassan, the APS massacre victims, and the Pakhtun population.) Mai and Yousafzai, however, have something else in common: both have been celebrated in the West for their respective battles for women’s rights. It is for this that then president Pervez Musharraf went as far as to suggest that Mai, and other women, voluntarily had themselves raped in order to gain foreign citizenship.
That, perhaps, is the crux. What is the greatest crime Yousafzai is accused of? Of being a Western ‘agent’, of being a myth created to malign Pakistan and to denigrate its values. She is celebrated at the United Nations, wins a Nobel Peace Prize, and rubs shoulders with world leaders. Any room she walks into, anywhere in the world, she is instantly the centre of attention, a universal symbol of all that is good in the world. That she is as loved as she is explains, perhaps, that she is as hated, too.
To those who consider the West to be a malicious player in the region, it immediately rankles. The criticism of Yousafzai seems aligned with a rabid, xenophobic nationalism that abhors dissent. It jumps quickly from ‘she brings shame to Pakistan’ to ‘she hates Pakistan’s nuclear weapon’ to ‘she criticises Pakistan’s military’.
(The West, of course, has played a part in creating this suspicion around women’s rights activists by using the notion of ‘liberating Muslim women’ as justification for armed interventions. Our state, too, has encouraged the idea that Pakistan’s problems are imposed from without, not within.)
The hatred, then, has little to do with her. It is about the haters’ conception of the world as one in which Pakistan is constantly battling the conspiracies of a vast international community that is bent on destroying it in particular, and Islam in general. In that battle, Yousafzai, universally feted by the West, is immediately the enemy. The level of vitriol reserved for her is directly proportional to how important, and extraordinary, she really is, to both the world and Pakistan.
Finally, there is ‘shame’. Yousafzai is accused of criticising Pakistan, when her rhetoric is marked by its absence of bitterness towards the country. Often, the most poignant moments in interviews with her are when she speaks of how she misses home. Perhaps, then, her very existence is the ‘shame’ those who hate her feel: that such a horrific, violent act could ever occur in our society, perpetrated by Pakistanis. That she lives, and continues to fight, is a reminder, every time they see her, that such a thing is possible.
April 3, 2018
As far as headlines go, it’s hard to come up with one more fitting than: ‘She left home in a coma and returned with a Nobel’. It was an apt summary by this paper of the fascinating life of Malala Yousafzai.
Her return has taken away a regular criticism in the general vitriolic assault on her character employed by her detractors: ‘If she is so brave why doesn’t she return to Pakistan?’ After all, they sneer, just look at the Army Public School (APS) survivors. Clever, but quite myopic.
If returning to Pakistan means dodging assassins on your way to school, then we can hardly blame her for trying to stay alive. It is a fact that Malala was the target of an assassination and that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) wanted to silence her voice specifically. Malala wasn’t just the name of a random girl that the TTP drew out of a turban; she was becoming a symbol of resistance against them.
Before the attack on her life she was blogging to the BBC about how her school had been shut down by the TTP. Her advocacy for the education of young girls would result in a documentary by The New York Times on her life. Her efforts would lead to her winning Pakistan’s first National Youth Prize.
Not an ordinary girl by any means. And if there is one thing the TTP hates, it is extraordinary women. So, Malala was no random girl, and the TTP have made it clear that they wish to finish the job they started. Her mere presence in Pakistan puts her life at a substantial risk and has to be respected as an act of immense bravery.
Yet, Malala’s detractors also criticise her for pushing a Western ‘agenda’. A closer look reveals that the agenda involves the following: Telling the president of the United States that drone strikes need to stop in Pakistan; building schools in Swat; donating $7 million for educational needs in Pakistan (most of her critics should ask themselves whether they even pay their taxes); visiting Syrian refugees; rebuilding schools damaged by the TTP; oh, and that picture making the rounds on social media drawing comparisons with the APS survivors? She sponsored medical treatment for them and continues to support them. If all this is part of the Malala agenda, I am all for it and couldn’t care less if it is being sponsored by the West.
In the end, only one argument remains: Malala is tainting Pakistan’s image. Actually, she is painting a picture of the amount of resilience young girls and women in Pakistan have. She personifies the bravery young girls in Swat show in going to school in the land of misogyny. Of course, she is not the only young girl who has aced these difficulties, but she has never said she is.
In her own words she has said, “I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is not. It is the story of many girls.” Martin Luther King didn’t care about the image of the US when he spoke of his dreams, he cared about eliminating oppression. We have to recognise that we have a problem in our country and try to solve it rather than criticising people for raising it.
In the grand scheme of things Malala has done more for Pakistan’s image than any one of us could ever hope to achieve. Then why do some people in the country try so hard to dislike her?
Is it because she forces us to confront an inconvenient truth: That we, as a country, cannot protect our children? That dissent is a luxury that we cannot afford to instill in young minds for fears of some fanatic taking note? That every time Malala speaks she forces us to confront the horrific attempt on a young girl’s life, the massacre in APS, and bullets speeding towards schoolchildren?
Is Malala the mirror to our society’s battle with terrorism that we constantly avoid facing?
Those who are calling Malala a fraud should take note that they stand on the wrong side of history. History eventually vindicates the names of the good and pure. Pakistan always seems to recognise its heroes too late. Think Asma Jahangir — also criticised for pushing an agenda.
April 4, 2018
We have justifiably taken pride in our march towards building representative institutions; developing systems that are a product of complex human experiences; and organising societies marked by moral, political and economic imperatives.
The evolution of human thought has served as a building block for these endeavours that seek to put the welfare of people before all vested interests. The journey towards forming collective institutions that are capable of assimilating the aspirations of the people has not been without its pitfalls and challenges.
Those with the distinct intellectual capacities have played their part in nudging this process. They have awakened a desire for a transformation triggered by a growing restlessness with the status quo and instilled a passion to pursue larger goals that are essentially pegged to the morality of human existence. As a result, it has taken people a combination of various factors, historical experience with different models of governance and, above all, the need for overall public welfare to lead the quest for a democratic model.
Though it is universally acknowledged as the best available system, democracy has many detractors who do not always believe it as an instrument that seeks the greater good of the majority. Their precise contention is that, given the complexity of modern-day nation-states, democracy may appear to be republican in nature. However, it is a handmaiden of powerful interest groups that use it to extract maximum advantages for the small power cliques.
The West, which has been a fervent proponent of democracy and a free world assisted by the domination of capitalism, has presented democracy as a system that is superior to any other arrangement and capable of steering the world out of its socioeconomic and moral dilemmas. This explains why spreading democracy to the unenlightened and ignorant parts of the world has been a white man’s burden in the post-World War II global order and through the entire period of the cold war.
While Francis Fukuyama may have interpreted the collapse of communism as the “end of history” and the beginning of a new era of human progress informed by the dominance of the free market economy, liberal democracy and rule of law, the fact remains that once it was left unchecked with virtually no counter-narrative, the Western model of liberal democracy emerged as another way of perpetuating socioeconomic divides. It also gave the political elite a fig leaf through which it can hide human exploitation, suffering and grave human rights violations.
The rise of popular nationalism across Europe and North America can only be explained in terms of the crisis of liberal democracy as a universal idea of human good. This nationalism – far-right, aggressive and divisive in its tone and tenor – has undermined the deeply cherished values of tolerance, pluralism and empathy for humanity. These values have served as the bedrock of the Western way of life for a long time. Therefore, it wouldn’t be wrong to argue that liberal democracy is confronted with the largest crisis of morality in the present times.
This historical perspective of democratic growth is essential to understand the recent events – barbaric, inhuman and utterly disgusting – that occurred in Palestine and Indian Occupied Kashmir whereby dozens of people who were peacefully protesting for their fundamental rights were killed in cold blood.
This tale of so-called democracies, wherein India prides itself on being the largest democracy in the world and Israel is dubbed as the only democracy in the Middle East, is sordid and deeply agonising. A true democracy is all about protecting fundamental rights – with the right to life being the foremost – and accommodating diverse viewpoints through the arrangement of consensus-building.
The Israeli action against a group of peaceful Palestinian protesters, who took to the streets of Gaza to demand their right to return to their land on Land Day, left close to two dozen people dead and over 1,400 others injured. Live bullets were fired by Israeli snipers along the Palestine-Israel border.
The search for a two-state solution, which was proposed by the Oslo Accords, lost its direction and momentum a long time ago. However, a semblance of this was destroyed when US President Donald Trump announced his decision to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The announcement drew widespread international condemnation and gnawed at America’s role as an honest peace broker.
Not to be left behind, India – a country that considers itself to be a strategic ally of Israel and whose prime minister had employed the art of charm offensives to perfection during his last trip to Tel Aviv – took a leaf from the Israeli book when it mowed down 20 Kashmiris in what could be described as a fresh surge of violence in the occupied valley.
A few similarities cannot be overlooked in understanding the recent events in Palestine and Indian Occupied Kashmir. First, what cements the bilateral relationship between New Delhi and Tel Aviv is the patronage provided by Washington, which acts as a patron-in-chief and is the largest supporter and promoter of the interests of both countries. Israel is the largest recipient of civil and military aid from America. The avowed commitment to the security and stability of Israel is a common refrain in the speeches of presidential candidates who try to outdo each other in promising all-out support to Tel Aviv once they make it to the White House. The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) provides an institutional mechanism of the ever-widening scope of deep engagement between Washington and Tel Aviv at the strategic level.
Second, the India-US romance has its roots in the Vision 2000 document that was signed by both countries during former president Bill Clinton’s nine-day tour of New Delhi. The document laid the foundation of extensive cooperation in political, military and civil nuclear fields. The geo-strategic and economic threats posed by the peaceful rise of China as the second-largest global economy and paramount military power have further brought Washington and New Delhi together. India continues to be a principal actor for wider American interests in Afghanistan and South Asia as a whole.
The gross human rights violations in both Palestine and Kashmir can be attributed to the America’s unwavering backing of its partners. The template in the unilateral global order is that when the US is not moved by human sufferings, the world looks the other way.
It is here that the liberal democracy championed by the US and its Western allies has shown itself to be inadequate and unresponsive in dealing with human tragedies which have happened elsewhere. The silence that the world community has maintained in the case of Indian Occupied Kashmir and Palestine is criminal to say the least. It reflects double standards and the selective use of the ‘morality’ argument.
A system that is not connected with morality is poised for decline. It is only a question of time when the process of disintegration starts. As a result, a moral purpose is the be all and end all of all human existence. It explains why Palestinians and Kashmiris, despite being on the receiving end of the mightiest military powers, continue to remain ascendant and resilient. They have moral purpose and a deep sense of conviction on their side. Can Israel and India go against the lesson of history?
By Mahir Ali
IN Pakistan, April 4 is associated with the judicial murder of its first elected prime minister. In the United States, the date marks the assassination of its most prominent 20th-century moral exemplar.
Fifty years ago today, just after 6pm local time in Memphis, Tennessee, a hunting rifle barked and the bullet found its mark, lodging itself in the head of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, the 39-year-old preacher who had spearheaded the civil rights movement, as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel.
A speech by King at a local church less than 24 hours earlier was in retrospect interpreted by some as premonitory. He had been to the mountain top and seen the promised land, he declared in his sonorous baritone, but “I might not get there with you”. In fact the shadow of death had chased him for more than a decade, ever since his leading role in organising a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, following the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat for a white passenger.
Less than eight years later, King delivered his magnificent “I have a dream” oration at the March on Washington, and not long afterwards the civil rights bills put in train by the Kennedy administration were signed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson, with King standing beside him. In the interim, there had been plenty of demonstrations, riots and racially motivated murders — as well as the flowering of radical alternatives among African Americans who mocked King’s gradualist, non-violent approach in the march towards greater equality.
Many of the more militant figures, including Malcolm X, were at the same time fully conscious of the fact that their uncompromising rhetoric opened up space for King’s relatively cautious demands.
King was well aware though that, 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, gaining the right to vote and not to be discriminated against was an extremely belated recognition of equal rights and failed to redress various other aspects of institutionalised injustice. He also realised that he could not in good conscience criticise the fierce protests that sporadically erupted in ghettoes without calling out his nation’s status as the single largest perpetrator of violence in the world.
Evidence for this contention could be summed up in a single word: Vietnam. Several of King’s advisers felt this would compromise his primary agenda and feed into the FBI’s “communist” smears. But King decided the alternative was tantamount to hypocrisy. He delivered his most potent excoriation of American war crimes precisely a year before he was silenced.
The same year he also came up with a strategy for redressing inequality for all disempowered minorities. The Poor People’s Campaign, planned for 1968, echoed the March on Washington, but the idea was that a substantial proportion of the protesters would ensconce themselves on the National Mall and refuse to budge until their demands were addressed. The recipe was appropriated by the sadly short-lived Occupy movement more than 40 years later.
In March 1968, King had gone to Memphis to support a sanitary workers’ strike, launched after a malfunctioning garbage truck had crushed two workers to death. A march led by him went awry when some of the participants resorted to violence. King was appalled, and resolved to return to the city in order to re-establish his non-violent credentials. While his representatives were negotiating with the Memphis authorities to obtain permission for a peaceful march, an escaped prisoner named James Earl Ray, a devotee of the segregationist former (and future) governor of Alabama, George Wallace, was shopping around for a powerful hunting weapon.
Ray was arrested in London two months later while trying to arrange his passage to a suitably racist African state such as Rhodesia or Angola. He confessed to his crime and was incarcerated for life, but King’s family and many of his associates eventually came to the conclusion that Ray wasn’t the sole perpetrator, and perhaps even a patsy in a deep-state conspiracy. Who knows. FBI chief Edgar J. Hoover’s visceral hatred towards King was never much of a secret. As King’s aide Andrew Young put it back in the day, what mattered more than who killed him was what killed him. The chief culprit was racism.
It could be argued that the advent of a Ku Klux Klan-endorsed administration in the wake of America’s first black presidency negates everything King stood for. On the other hand, the phrase “black lives matter” sums up the essence of King’s crusade. His nine-year-old granddaughter Yolanda Renee was the youngest speaker at the largest of last month’s March for our Lives rallies. And the spirit of Dr King — who pioneered protest marches by schoolchildren in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963 — lives on through the likes of not just Emma Gonzalez and Naomi Wadler but also Ahed Tamimi and Malala Yousafzai.
The 4th of April is marked as one of the darkest days in the political calendar of Pakistan. This was the day when the first ever directly elected prime minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was hanged in 1979. His body was silently buried by the then military regime headed by General Ziaul Haq.
Those who thought that Bhutto’s political legacy would end with his death have been proved wrong by history. Even Bhutto’s detractors admit today that his was a judicial murder, the results of a controversial trial with split verdict. In recent years, the PPP has been demanding that the judicial reference on the Bhutto case which is pending with the Supreme Court of Pakistan be immediately heard so as to ‘correct the course of history’.
For this purpose, in 2011, the PPP government sent a judicial reference to the Supreme Court to reopen the Bhutto case. Unfortunately, the reference seems to have been consigned to gather dust. It must be noted that this reference is only to correct history – since all the major players in the Bhutto case are either deceased or have become irrelevant in the last four decades. This can be the best ever tribute to the man who democratised Pakistan and tried to include the common citizen as a partner in this process.
Bhutto’s hanging is an unfortunate part of our history, executed despite appeals by world leaders and amid serious reservations by international jurists about the legal propriety of the death sentence. The death sentence was awarded by the Lahore High Court and subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court in March 1979 in a split verdict. Justice Naseem Hasan Shah, a former judge of the bench of the Supreme Court, which upheld the death sentence had publicly acknowledged a few years back that the split verdict was given under pressure. Similarly, several other actors and proxies in that case also directly or indirectly hinted that Bhutto was maliciously dragged into that case and taken to the gallows. Over decades, this has led to a perception and later a legal premise that has resulted in the matter being referred to the Supreme Court, since in recent years we have seen judicial activism revive the institution of the judiciary.
The reference was sent under Article 186 of the constitution, which states: “If, at any time, the president considers that it is desirable to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court on any question of law which he considers of public importance, he may refer the question to the Supreme Court for consideration”. Clause 2 of the same article also states: “The Supreme Court shall consider a question so referred and report its opinion on the question to the president”.
Before formal processing to the Supreme Court by the law ministry, the reference was channelised through the federal cabinet of that time, which then authorised the then president Zardari to send the reference and thereby vindicate the position of the party’s founding chairman. This seemed an almost-impossible task even for Benazir Bhutto when she was prime minister. After her tragic assassination in December 2007, the PPP came into power again by forming a series of coalitions that gave the party power from Islamabad to all other provinces, except in Punjab.
Going back into history, we must remember that after his execution Bhutto’s body was flown secretly to his hometown Larkana and buried in their native graveyard at Garhi Khuda Bux. This was done without family members having been allowed to attend the funeral and last rites. However, within days, unending ripples of resistance were felt across the country, with its strongholds in rural Sindh, which led to an agitation named the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) led by the young and charismatic daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Benazir ended up reinventing the political legacy that he had left behind in the name of pro-people politics and their empowerment through democratisation. April 4 became an important event in the history of the PPP.
After Bhutto, his daughter was also a victim of the same inequality and indifference. Her two governments were dismissed in 1990 and 1997 on charges of corruption. Her cases with the Supreme Court never provided her any relief on her requested restoration. We can still see how structural imbalances add more grievances to smaller provinces, to which both Bhutto and his daughter belonged.
It has now been seven years since the filing of the reference with the Supreme Court. Why and how has the reference still not been heard? Initially, it was said that due to a change in the status of the lawyer, the reference was wait-listed and not prioritised. Later, even the PPP changed its lawyer and continued to request the much active then chief justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhry, to take up the case.
We hope Chief Justice Saqib Nisar will remove the dust from the reference and announce it has been reopened. We hope the honourable Supreme Court will take up an issue that has been awaited by the peoples of Pakistan.
April 4, 2018
Our leaders need to realise that we have approached the 4th industrial revolution and our democratic system of governance should be reformed accordingly, so that we can prepare the nation for the revolutionary and disruptive changes occurring around us.
This industrial revolution is marked by breakthroughs in a number of fields, including autonomous electric vehicles, robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, Internet of Things, 3D-printing, genomics, regenerative medicine, new materials and humans with embedded electronics.
One rapidly growing field that will affect most of us within the next few years is that of electric vehicles. The conventional combustion engine-based vehicles are doomed and will mostly be replaced by electric vehicles within the next decade. Toyota has announced its plans to electrify all its vehicles by 2025. Similarly, Volvo has announced that all vehicles manufactured after 2019 will either be electric or hybrid. In fact, all major manufacturers are jumping onto the electric bandwagon.
This is accompanied by the establishment of supercharger stations in different countries to cater to the needs of electric vehicles. Thus, Volkswagen plans to install 2,800 charging stations in 17 cities in the US by June 2019. Shell is in the process of establishing ‘high-power charging stations’ across Europe which will be able to charge a vehicle in just eight minutes. It is expected that 127 new electric car models will be introduced by various manufacturers over the next five years, indicating towards the tremendous competition that is now underway in this field. It has been predicted that electric cars will become cheaper than petrol or diesel-based vehicles by 2022 – the time their sales are expected to skyrocket.
Along with the downfall of the combustion engine, we are now also seeing the impact of artificial intelligence on vehicles. Self-driving cars are being developed by all major manufacturers. This may eventually result in many major manufacturing companies going out of business as having robotic taxis that are available within minutes could be far easier and cost-effective; replacing the need to have a personal car. As personal vehicles will disappear, the traffic on the roads will drastically reduce. It has been predicted that there will be some 10 million self-autonomous vehicles by 2020, and that the number will subsequently grow exponentially. This is also likely to drastically reduce road accidents.
Moreover, it has been predicted that bots will be taking over almost every sphere of our business activities, thereby improving business efficiencies and improving customer experience. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), bots are being used to give free legal advice, public transport directions and cooking tips. The trend will continue to grow, so much so that lawyers and doctors could be largely replaced by robotic systems. IBM has already launched such a system named ‘Watson’ that offers medical and legal advice at a fraction of the cost of what it would take to consult human doctors and lawyers.
The cloud has largely been used so far to lower computing costs and to improve business efficiencies. Cloud services are now evolving with a combination of AI, thereby creating an exciting new dimension. Microsoft has already introduced more than 20 ‘cognitive services’ including image analysis (computer vision) and language comprehension. Predictive analytics (data mining, forecast trends) are also being offered by other companies. Many of these services are available on smart phones. On the other hand, Google has announced that its speech recognition programme interface could turn a client’s audio file into a written transcript in 50 languages. These, and other such technologies, have many potential applications. For instance, facial recognition technology could lead to more effective security systems.
This same technology could also reveal to the staff in retail shops the identity or interests of potential customers, helping them plan sales. It has been predicted that in 2018, we will enter the Robotics 3.0 era with smarter robots capable of ubiquitous sensing and connectivity, cyber-physical fusion, autonomous capabilities (such as cognition, decision-making, learning and adaptation). These robots will also be more capable and have additional human-friendly multi-mode interactions. A related disruptive technology that is developing rapidly is that of quantum computing. Quantum computers will outperform super-computers and many companies are investing heavily in this field.
Blockchain (distributed ledger technology) will also be mainstreamed. This technology has so far underpinned bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. However, it will now find use in real estate, intellectual property protection as well as in organising Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Another revolution is under way involving voice and visual techniques in computers. Just as we witnessed the move from physical keys to touch screens, we are now seeing an expansion of voice activated devices and AI-powered smart assistants. It has been predicted by Gartner that companies which would redesign their websites to support voice and visual searching would be able to increase their digital commerce revenue by 30 percent. Similarly, investments in augmented reality are expected to double in 2018 as compared to 2017 – reaching about $18 billion as compared to $9 billion in 2017. The technology is finding applications beyond games, in fields such as product design, retail sales and employee training.
A new revolution in electronics may also be round the corner. Tomorrow our walls may glow gently with changing colours lighting up our room in stunning ways. Our windows could be used as video screens, and our clothes with electronic circuits based on a special material (molybdenite) printed on them, may also be used as smart-phones. All of this sounds like a scene from a sci-fi movie, but it may soon become a reality.
In this fast-changing world, it is critically important for us to prepare our children for this exciting world of tomorrow. Our government policies need to be tailored to implement the ‘triple helix’ model, involving a dynamic interplay between the three key partners. The first is carefully crafting futuristic government policies that would create an ecosystem where knowledge becomes the primary driving force for socio-economic development. The second is raising the quality of education; the kind of education that would make for innovative and problem-solving skill sets. The third is facilitating the private-sector so that research and development within industries can be promoted through government incentives, such as tax breaks for innovative high-tech industries, access to venture capital and availability of technology parks to facilitate new start-up companies.
However, the million-dollar question is whether our present rulers have the vision and knowledge to lead this country into the 4th industrial revolution. China, Korea, Singapore and a few others have succeeded because they did not rely on just elections but on a combination of careful selection prior to election, in order to ensure that only the best minds in the country get to sit in these countries’ respective parliaments. We must do the same.