One early morning away from hustle and bustles of the capital of the county, a group of young minds left for enlightenment and comprehension of democracy in tranquil hills of Nathiagali in the wake of celebrating international democracy day .A three days conference had been arranged by SDPD (strengthening democracy through parliamentary developments) starting on 18th of September with the theme “Dialogue and Inclusiveness central to democracy”.
Each one of us is the product of our individual experiences, the environment and the available outfits of news, views, information and analysis chisel our temperaments. Likewise, I had my own perception about democracy whose canvas was confined to politics which in reality was not the case. The very first interactive session of conference dawned on me that “Democracy is not politician or parliament business but its people’ business; people regardless of criteria”.
I have had this privilege of attending other national youth conferences but this one transcended my expectations. This conference provided a distinct quadrant by virtue of which traits like tolerance, acceptance, plurality and inclusiveness stem henceforth curbing social menaces like radicalization and extremism within the crests of a society.
As the conference progressed , in addition to covering other associated phenomena, three basic questions “What, Why and How” central to democracy were addressed by the keynote speakers like, Senator Raza Rabbani and other adherents. This session had proved to be an eye opening for us in a manner that we went through the process of discarding the facade perception about democracy, ultimately learning the true meaning of democratic values and its effects on our daily lives. It is the name of tolerance, pluralism, respect for minorities and the ability to listen to your opponent views with intentions of understanding his/her position.
I observed a great paradigm shift among the attendees towards politics and politicians as Mian Iftikhar Hussain spoke on what it means to be a politician in Pakistan. The heart wrenching story of his only son martyrdom left everyone tear eyed which the price was paid by Mian Iftikhar for fostering peace through dialogue.
The point that a society cannot be flat since it is heterogeneous was highly upheld in this conference and stress was given on accepting diversity. It was mindful of the organizers to project diversity by selecting the youth ranging from Gilgat Baltistan through Karachi which also included minorities.
Before the event as the attendees were on a way to Nathiagali, I observed heated arguments among my fellows on ethnic and geographical background issues and one could feel provincial parochialism, unrest and huge communication gap impeding them from walking in one another shoes. As the conference ended, I witnessed a display of harmony, selflessness and nationalism among the same fellows. Change is not defined in words but through achievements. Coexistence observed among the participants who aimed to work in coherence to serve a national cause was the conference achievement.
Besides a great learning offered by the speakers; I ascertained from the participants but one name among them leads the rest. Qiyanoos , a young tribal who would work in daytime subsequent by nocturnal studies , managed to clinch 2nd position in SSC Board exams. He taught me curiosity knows no boundaries and hard work is dispensable of wherewithal.
This conference embodied a vision in me which will surface in form of initiating nurseries for democracy backed by the likeminded youth across the country.
Exams, how this very first word has pinched you? I know it itches. Now you probably are not going to read ahead than this. No? Really? Okay then listen to what I have been through today. I student of BSc Electrical Engineering will remember this day as long as I breathe, when my first semester, first finals and first circuit analysis paper is taken.
Okay, here examiner comes and hands over me the paper. The very first sight of paper dawns on me that first three questions are not meant for us and that, one who has set the paper has done some mistake. These can’t be for us. No way!! I have not seen anything like these before. Or have I or others had? I shrug. However questions which followed these look a bit familiar and I heave a sigh of relief. I have marked few questions. I pulled my socks.
By now I have copied a very clear figure of circuit from the question paper to my answer sheet. Now what? A question I was asking myself. No reply. Oh, it’s some messed form of the question. I simply can’t do it. I picked my scale and simply drawn an ending line below the figure.
Now I have switched to the question about which I am sure I will solve in no time. I have copied the question again and I have written few equations. Yeah! What? Please not again. The question is subjected to tempering (crime which paper setters usually commit and they are shielded from the trial. I wish they would go under trial like players go for ball tempering). They teach us simple in class and ask very hard questions in paper. This is not fair. I am switching from one question to another but each question is tampered in a way for which I have no solution and neither it is in the book given to us. Is being an engineer means devising new equations and plots that too at the time of paper? I have flipped the question paper 5 to 6 times in a pursuit that maybe any question shows mercy, but none.
With the help of ZAHID MASOOD’S (me) circuit laws, I am writing and I can feel the rush of blood in me. Oh, wow! I will solve all the questions. I am writing what I infer is correct. After tarnishing blank beauty of few pages of answer sheet, I feel slackened. Now I am kinda tired and laughing to myself over my funny equations which I have devised. Okay, enough is enough this untuned romance that too one day prior to valentines day with this ugly paper should stop now.
The examiner is noticing me gazing out through the window of second floor of a building before which I am sitting. I rested my hands in my lap and now I am sitting quiet comfortable. He is coming. He asks “are you done?’ I am looking at my paper and in a quick short reply I say “Yes, with a paper and my brain juice too”. Thanks to the examiner for ending this truama.
As I walked out of examination hall I was laughing and could not help myself. I don’t know why. A hard paper does that for you. I noticed I was the first who has submitted the paper before the due time. I wondered is it only me who could not solve or others too. Anyways, the time is over and here come all of my class fellows. They are laughing too. One of them is shouting “somebody tell me the fee for summer supply papers. I will literally fail” another saying ‘Oh, God summers in Lahore, why me?” I am seeing a girl crying and yelling. Now I see a boy crying too. I see each class mate yelling. I am feeling happy to know it is not only me. I see most of class fellows don’t know either to laugh or to cry.In 10 minutes, it was unveiled that in this paper each of us is equal and none has done any better.You know in each university there are few Mr. Smith which are famous for the hot boiled papers they set and so were this paper set by Mr. Smith of our university. I am sure he has set such paper on purpose so maximum students repeat in summer.
This uniform situation of my class mates reminded me of the poetic lines of Dr. Aallama Iqbal
(This poetic line projects equality and draws back to an anecdote of a king and a slave, who were treated equal at that time.)
Oh, mourn not dear heart
For your words are profound
Wait for your time and hold, till
Cherries flowers fall on ground
Little they know about you
so they did about Copernicus quest
let them relate to be as you
It is the trial that each must go
He who unveils secrets
When I am low and drowned
In crests of a mean society
I slip into my cocoon
I feel what they call vacuüm
I see what they know as dark
When a day tumult dies down
One by one and bit by bit
My words come to me
Each strengthens me
Each leaving me happy
More than a castle
More than bliss
And make me a poet.
Out on a roof in a cold night
My eyes fixed on a single star
Such a big sky and yet
So alone in space, poor star
I questioned its loneliness
My voice echoed followed by silence
The same it asked
One more time but a greater silence
How alike we were
Like a mirror faces another mirror
it on sky; I on earth
Both answerless and in vacuum
After laboring through 14 years of studies from kindergarten through grade twelve , the Pakistani teenager is confronted with the monster known as entry tests , success in which, is to be rewarded by admission to an engineering or a medical college . Parents and teachers make it a point to hammer in the importance of these tests . We are repeatedly told about the tough competition we will have to face if we are to get into any one professional college.We are given examples of siblings or cousins or friends who have made it to prestigious colleges and the story goes on. What we are not told is, that it is not the only option we are left with or that if we fail to get in, the world does not end there.
As the time for the tests draws close, we are under intense stress about the results: shall we , or shall we not make it! The general belief is that good luck as well as hard work are the basic requirements.
In the months preceding the tests we reinforce concepts, stockpile shortcuts and key points for solving the MCQS, trying to train ourselves to work within the most stringent of time checks. Very much like the saying “ only the wearer knows where shoe pinches”, it is only we who slog through the preparation ,who are aware of all that it takes to go through the tension. Here it is important to know that there may be quite a few among us with a greater aptitude for the arts and literature as compared to the science subjects. Sadly, burdened by filial duty and feeling honour bound to stand up to parental expectations, nobody at that age has the courage to express his own preference. The fact is that they have already spent the past year listening to the ambitions of parents who long to see their sons and daughters become doctors or engineer like the children of their relatives . In the process, we are made scapegoats .
Lining up for the entrance test candidates are very conscience that compared to the large number of prospective entrants, there are very few seats available . As the bell rings to announce the start of the test, candidates respond according to their individual natures. There are some who will make a good start while others will panic. The result is that many excellent students fail to apply the knowledge they have while others with lesser potential will perform very well. So there is no guarantee of who will get into what department when the result is announced . There will be some who will be jubiliant while others will be because they could not make it to the discipline they had aspired to. There will be quite a few who will be forced to accept the result like a bitter pill.
So what do we make of the situation? The bottom line is that the results of entrance tests to professional colleges are no yardstick by which to measure a student’s intelligence or efforts.
The purpose of writing this article is to draw the attention of ambitious parents and prospective professionals to the fact that those among us who did not make it, are no less intelligent then those who did. Parents need to understand that these tests are no criterion by which to define anybody’s potential. Also that what works for one may not necessarily work for other because every individual has his peculiar talent and diversity is the name of the game in this world.
If I could speak for the children who do not make it to the professional colleges I would say something like this: ” We are sorry for disappointing you but please give us your blessings to work in the field we really are good at. If you allow us to study the subjects of our choice and give us the freedom, who knows how many Guljees or Hanifs are lurking in the shadows?”