Friday, August 21, 2009

The Veiled Swimsuit

Nevertheless, what is most surprising to me is how the 'liberation' movement and modernization of society as we know it has changed ideas of what is admissable and what is not. A recent article i read online really has been an eye opener and is what inspired this post. What shocked me the most was that at the start of the 20th century, a suit which covered a little less than the suit above was deemed not modest enough for societal standards. That too, for someone who swam professionally, the pic is of Annette Kellerman, an australian who became the first woman to cross the English Channel. The change from that point in time in 1907 to now in 2009 has been drastic and extremely fast and how it will impact the mindset of generations to come seems makes me quite uneasy. What our next generation may deem to be normal and decent may well be very difficult for us to digest, but i suppose thats how its been for past generations as well. Is this a just a cycle, a degenerative one according to me, that humankind goes through every few centuries or has the current modern man transgressed beyond past historical trends. Time will tell.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Zimmedar Shehri - Responsible Citizen

In March 2009, a bunch of students took it upon themselves to start cleaning up Lahore city. Meeting every Sunday at 6, volunteers have been joining hands with these dynamic individuals to work all through the summer to clean up Lahore. They are the Zimmedar Shehri (Responsible Citizens) with the motto of 'Creating a sense of social responsibility.'

They started off by meeting at Ghalib Market and by virtue of their persistence, they were able to get media attention (NYTimes, GEO TV, DunyaTV, Examiner, and TheNews) which led to further support in terms of publicity and more individuals getting to know about their efforts and joining hands with these fellows.

It has now been 6 months and their efforts are carrying on unabated, they now meet at Main
Market to create an understanding among the locals that its all about making an effort yourself to clean up your surroundings. With Ramadan approaching, it will be a test for these boys and girls to continue getting good numbers of volunteers but its a test they are ready to take on. Rest assured, as the winter months roll on, this mission is bound to gain momentum and expand even further. So, if you're done with cribbing and complaining about lack of will among our people to bring about change, get your bum off the couch and head down to Main Market next Sunday at 6 to see these awesome people in action.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Income Inequality - US

A research report by Emmanuel Saez into income inequality rates in the US is really shocking and evidence of the sad direction the US and hence the world is heading into. The data collected highlights the trend of widening gaps between the ultra rich and the 'not quites'. I would not be surprised if these ratios are even more bizarrely skewed in Pakistan.

The first image here indicates the top 0.01% of the working population and what share of the total earning they get. The 2008 stats indicate that these guys get a whopping 6% of the total pie. Thats probably more shocking than it sounds. Just the top 0.01% getting 6%. Thats like saying that if the total number of people is 10,000, 1 of these guys makes 6% of the total of what everyone makes. That just totally boggles my mind. These levels are higher than ever before and if these trends continue, god knows what the outcomes will be for the average people.

This second graph is just as startling if not more so. It indicates how the earnings percentages have changed among the top 1%, 1-5%, and 5-10% of the US population. As seen in the chart, the top 1% makes approximately 23% of the total earnings. I just find it difficult to really get a hang of what that translates into, the resource spread is just so lopsided, its bound to result in devastating results eventually. You can also see that the top 10% are making 50% of the total money. When money starts accumulating in such limited number of hands, how long can you expect there to be peace. Of all the problems the world faces, this seems the hardest to solve.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Critical Mass - Lahore

Facebook can act as a catalyst to get acquainted to a whole lot of things, a few of these are actually constructive. I got to know of Critical Mass - Lahore through facebook and was pretty intrigued by these individuals who were meeting up on a regular basis, despite the lahori heat to bike around lahore. So i decided to give it a shot and last Sunday i joined these folks at 6 pm at Zakir Tikka to check out what its all about.

Attendance is low during the summer time yet about 10 individuals showed up in the humid weather. The actual ride was about 8-10 kms on that particular day and the route changes from day to day. The pic showing an outlay of the route on a particular day. I learned that once you start cycling, you really don't feel the heat at all and the distance is not a major factor either and if you have a suitable bicycle and appropriate clothing it really is a joy to ride around town.

What was most exciting was the company of people during the ride. We had Rafay Alam, the insightful lawyer who had plenty of interesting facts to share, Rabia a teacher at NCA, Buraar, a luminite working at Warid, Kate, from Oxford studying urban development and there were plenty other very interesting people as well. All this has resulted in some attention from the media in terms of short news clips in the tv channels and some coverage in the newspapers as well, surprisingly it even caught the attention of international media such as this clip

The objective of this campaign is to re-introduce the idea of commuting via economically and environmentally feasible means. Rafay, who gives lectures at LUMS, uses his bike to commute to LUMS. So do some of these other people which was indeed very gratifying to know. So the next time you're complaining about not having anything to do and that you do not get enough exercise, just remember that an awesome alternative exists which is not only a lot of fun but a great way to meet new people while you get some good exercise aswell.
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