Monday, June 28, 2010

Feedback - which should be anonymous

And so I received the feedback to my 'golden words of wisdom' that were most sought after and that I most generously spilled to the sleepy attention-seekers. I do hope that they never find out about these particular posts or my blog... ever! 

The email was kinda long and Mr. Chairperson had actually combined all of the answers collected from various individuals, edited them into a gist of what they had to say and circulated it to each of us. We were fourteen people in this thread and a few (busy ones) were missing. Out of us fourteen, three have bluntly suggested for the organization to be an AOP - Association of People. Since I do not wish to repeat things from my previous post, I would just stick to commenting that they very well seem to be in favour of paying a straight 25% tax from whatever they make as their earnings. Because that's what AOPs are about. 

Secondly, besides myself, two other people have favoured Corporate Membership for the organization. The rest have simply ignored the question and not given any answer, even in the form of 'yes' or 'no', at all. Hmm...

One man said that they should make greeting cards (for Birthdays, Eid, etc) with the organization's name imprinted on it and sell them in order to raise funds. So, that means an investment on the organization's part. That's what I had said earlier. But, I also said, that they need to come up with a relevant activity, some action, some meaningful and engaging project, that has a noble cause behind it, so that people are encouraged and motivated to join in, and then raise money by publicizing it. Otherwise the folks would be left just plain confused. No one will buy your cards! :P

The most important thing to consider here is that 'Legally', these guys cannot raise a penny, if they don't get their organization registered. So, we come back to square 1. (Like I had said before, these guys are much concerned about raising money!). Now before that could happen, I only advise them all to focus on this thing called 'Active Citizenship' - start off with whatever they have outlined in their Charter, their aims and objectives and mode of action and not waste another second (even if you want to make money...).  

Saturday, June 19, 2010

From ABC to XYZ - this post should be anonymous!

For the past few weeks, I have been drawn in, in a potential NGO’s Charter for improvements, comments, suggestions, etc so that it could be made eligible for an application for registration purpose to the government. I found out that in this thread of communication, in which I was included with enthusiasm by the Chair-person, there were quite some ‘cool folks’ babbling. By that I mean people like the Director-General of WWF and some renowned Lawyers and Consultants (and also one of my college lecturers!). Hmm… what was I doing there? Apparently, I was needed. I wasn’t able to attend their meetings though, because of my past studious college life (that I am not missing as yet). But I was pretty much involved in the electronic mode of communication that was and is going on.
Feeling incapable of coming up with something to contribute right away, I decided to take up the role of a 'virtual spectator' in this dialogue. I thought that when they will move on to carrying out activities and formulating project designs, I would definitely be able to spare some usage of my dashing intellect. Sometimes, I paid attention and most of the times, I didn’t bother at all. Why I was losing interest was because I had found out that these bunches of people were stuck like super-super glue to the Charter’s content. Every time I got an invitation to join them in their meeting, the purpose stated was: To discuss the Charter. Every time I checked what was in their e-mail update, it talked about the Charter’s clauses. I got sick and tired of it and I miserably wondered that all those biggies had been laying eggs or what. 
Now I’m just a fresh grad and currently in the process of gaining work experience. I wouldn’t know what clause or rule is right or wrong in the interest of the organization. But I was ready to learn! Yeah… sure dude!
So this time when I got an e-mail, I also got a call from the Chair-person. He said that he would very much like to hear from me this time. (Oops!) I hadn’t even read the mail carefully, but I promised that I would give him my feedback. I said to myself: ‘Chalo Amna, You're an awesome virtual spectator. Now... Time for some action!’
First of all I wanted to write: Dear losers. Then suddenly I thought that I really liked the man and he was pretty old and sounded well-versed (he even pointed out a mistake in my grammar once, in one of my e-mails… sweet) and always addressed me in the most polite manner, so I should not say any such thing. Then I thought of: Dear Dudes who think they’re such Dudes! (Make the D in the Dude sound really stressful!) But that sounded pretty rude too and I cannot do that. So, I wrote: Dear All!
This e-mail actually had a few questions that were looking for some answers. The censored e-mail is sent. I wished to include my actual and uncensored e-mail here. I’m not going to name any names here.

1. Should XYZ be registered as an NGO or an Association of People? The legal difference between the two is not clear to most of us. Some NGOs are doing creditable work while some came under public and Govt scrutiny due to some scandals. ABC Lawyer tells me that registering as an NGO is slightly difficult these days.

My answer: For God’s sake! Since the year 2004, you guys have not been able to decide even the ‘nature’ of this organization?! WHAT.THE.HELL. I’ll try not to be rude but you guys have a lot of free time on you. All this time when I had been getting e-mails of your Charter this and your Charter that, what was it all about? I am so sorry but I do not appreciate such randomness.
Coming back to your question, here is my humble answer. An AOP (Association of People) is very much different from an NGO in that it’s more of a corporate collaboration. An AOP is formed so as to earn profit. It’s like a ‘for-profit’ rather than a ‘non-profit’ kind of thing. As far as I understand the nature of your to-be organization, conservation being the basic objective, it should definitely be registered as an NGO, precisely a Non-Profit Non-Government Organization. And seriously, is this the time for ABC to tell you how difficult it is for an NGO to get registered? You should thank him/her for such prompt guidance!
True, because of a lot of corrupt organizations, it’s really difficult to get a registration these days. I ardently believe that that should not be taken as any hindrance at all. Firstly, you guys are taking too much time in planning things down. I think you should just start acting and implementing on your thoughts and motives right away. At the initial stage, there has to be some investment from the organization's part. You cannot just wait for the government or other private donor organization to provide you with funds so you could start off with your endeavours. Work some activity out on immediate basis, start making records and progress reports, build statistics of your target areas, population and workforce, produce results: show that you’ve achieved your defined goals within the planned period of time. Then present your ‘Golden Charter’ for the damned registration.

2. Should XYZ be raising funds for its Cause? Who should, and should not be the donors?

My Answer: You guys are so worried about funds that it’s not even funny!
After the registration process is done, XYZ can raise funds by making public any upcoming planned project that it wishes to carry out. The project's details, the aims and objectives behind it should be made known, so that agencies, private and government, are convinced to provide and allow funds for it. There would not be a question of who should and should not donate. And there should not be, I think. Your objective is to fulfill your project’s requirements and meet the goals. For that you need money and skilled personnel (who also come with money!)

3. Why there should be no Corporate Members?

My Answer: I'm not sure as to why you have a question of whether corporate members should be allowed or not allowed to become a part of this organization, because I really don’t understand how that could affect it in any way. Are they going to entice you into eating the money and not spending it where it should be spent? Well, that could happen! But a corporate member doesn’t have to be there to instill such heartrending emotions.
Personally, I think if the records and work being done is crystal clear without any loopholes, then there should not be a problem for any cross-section of the society, at large, to become a part of it. To date my learning suggests that making people a part of your organization who belong to different sectors only adds to stronger endorsements and eventual credibility.

I will update with whatever feedback I receive after this. 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Happens.. !

Many a times, it happens that you hear a rumour, and it completely ruins your day. You get angry. You think of ways to deal with it, or confront with the situation. You think of big words to say and put up an accent. And when you find out it isn't true, and you're done with your outburst, it makes you feel stupid. Nothing exactly like that happened with me. But, it is somehow related. 
I got angry with the government's decision of allotting land to some fresh Forestry graduates, so that they could utilize it for their own good and make use of their degree. The rumour was that the land had a number of trees that were intended to be cleared away in the process and that it was already reserved for forested areas and not for agricultural purposes. My blood made its way through my vessels to my brain. I was already writing something for Environment Day, and I included this news. Today, I received an e-mail from the chairperson of an NGO that is currently in a struggling state to become established and it said that there had been a certain misreporting, that the land allotted is bare i.e. no tree cover and no harm would be done. It is just for the sake of some goodwill on the government's part for a bunch of unemployed fresh graduates. Now that is a good deed. Hmm.. So we can chillax! 
I'm glad! But before writing this down as my next post, I felt a little foolish too about my previous. But I had to correct the wrong information in my post as well. I couldn't just let it be, thinking: 'Who reads me?! Tis okay!' But it was actually not okay with me. Thus, the correction had to be made. I ain't a chicken! :P   

Friday, June 4, 2010

Happy World Environment Day!

Ironic as it is, I write to contribute a celebratory role as an Environmental Scientist on ‘World Environment Day’ and I see my country, currently facing an environmentally critical situation. This is pointed directly towards the threatening ‘Cyclone Phet’ that is about to take its toll on the coastal areas of Pakistan. There is constant updated news about its arrival, the distance left to be covered and the level of destruction it is all set to bring about. The areas under target are being evacuated, that is, the people are being displaced, as it is a matter of life and death. Many people have decided not to leave their land since the emergency services are not providing food and other facilities. Eventually they will have to be forced out. The ones who have left are already complaining due to the lack of provision of food. There is a high-alert situation, particularly in the city of Karachi, that will be facing a series of thunderstorms and flood-like conditions, after the cyclone has hit the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan.
The point is that there is no means to combat this upcoming disaster. It has been predicted, thankfully, the people have been informed, now the action required is: ‘Run for your lives!’
You see, it’s one of those Natural Disasters that the superstitious environmentalists like to talk about so that they could inconspicuously drive the government’s attention away from most important matters that relate to Economy and Development, not realizing that where exactly would this Economy and Development end up when they will have no planet left to stomach them. No peace talks/pacts or negotiation could stop them, no boycotts from using any websites or any country’s products or pure indigenous whores could stop them, no economic sanctions against any country could stop them, no suicide bomber could stop them, no civil disobedience movement could stop them, no hunger strikes could stop them, certainly no Obama could stop them and I wish to make this very clear that unquestionably, none of the conspiratorial actions from the political forefront could stop them.
In the year 1972, the United Nations General Assembly marked the date 5th June to be celebrated as ‘World Environment Day’ every year. The objective behind it was to heave awareness and education about Environmental Issues that face us; the planet and its dwindling resources that challenge us. This day is devoted to coerce the public and political attention to such matters so as to develop Environmental consciousness amongst the world’s population who are wholly responsible for the current degrading scenario.
Pakistan and its Punjab government realized the importance of this day on a sudden basis and allocated some land reserved as forested area by law, to be used for agricultural purposes! Whoa HO! Couldn’t get more sardonic a situation than this… eh? This has been done against the advice of the Department of Forestry as such an action would be heinous to the Environment and its safety, its preservation and conservation.
Ah! So this is what we have this year to present to the world what we are doing on World Environment Day: World Environment Day will be marked by a gesture of deforestation on our part. Much land will be cleared away and the already small percentage of forested cover that we have will be much deduced. Where does it leave us then? From nowhere to nowhere.
Maybe voices will be raised and campaigns and ‘tehreeks’ would come into action, but they will be greeted with a deafening silence from the government bodies, not to mention the public sector. Statistics shout that Pakistan is amongst the top ten countries that will be hit by the disastrous effects of climate change. This will leave no mitigation measure at hand for its control at that time. Nothing could be done later.
Without making it sound even more cynical, what needs to be said here more importantly, is that there is still time and we can still do something about it. We could ignore the ruling government and become the rulers ourselves. On this year’s World Environment Day, one can make a personal ‘Environmental Resolution’ to one’s own self just the way we make a ‘New Year’s Resolution’. The difference would be that this resolution will not be forgotten or broken. For example, a simple resolution could be to never feel lazy about turning off the fan and lights when one has to leave a room. Another one could be to try and learn more about the ways of everyday life that impact the environment and thus should be avoided. For those who do not believe in making resolutions, they could try to be more mindful of their actions and educate themselves environmentally. Surely, they themselves would be able to devise ways as to how they could make the environment around them healthy and this planet, a better and resourceful one to live in.
Environmental damage caused will not leave us with options of what is better or worse. The point being that: Prevention is the only way because there is no cure for it later. There are no emergency exits!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Stand up for the Champions!!

Today, there was a complaint against me. A very unfair one for sure. My phone, the one in my office, is out of order. I had called for the technicians and they have been trying to fix it for two days now. So anyone who needs to talk to me, has to (most reluctantly) walk up to my room, bear with the pain of knocking my door and enter to tell me how useless they feel. There was a call at the main reception and the office boy had to transfer it to me as nobody had arrived as yet. I was the earliest (over-efficient) one at work today. Obviously, he forgot that I had no telephone in my room. The call was held for a maximum of two minutes and I was informed by then. I ran to attend the call and heard an angry (sexy) voice of an elderly woman with an accent. I tried to speak to her calmly but she was really mad for (apparently) being kept on hold for two whole minutes. After the call was disconnected, I walked back to my room thinking that I should not be mad at the way the lady spoke to me because she could have been upset herself (over a bad hair color that she chose for herself). I also thought that I spoke to her the right way in return because 'I'm not used to taking crap like that'. And then I sat down on my desk to think for a while over how cool I was.
My boss arrived and I was called to his room. In a laughing manner, he said to me: 'Somebody filed a complaint against you at the Police Station!' I understood and we both started laughing hard together. But I could see from his facial expressions that he was seeking an explanation as well. I told him the whole thing and he told me that the lady had called him and said that I was rude to her as I had asked her this particularly abominable question. It was: 'Do you know where you're calling?' 
HaHa! Well, Guilty as charged. I had asked her that question! According to that lady, the way I had asked it too was extremely excruciating and that no one had spoken to her in that manner in her (goddamn) 'whole life'! I started laughing again. Now, exactly why I had asked that question is because she was being really mean to me for the reason that she had waited on hold for so long (honestly two minutes!). Also, I had asked her that particular question because she had not asked for my name or designation and hadn't even told me who she was. I had thought that she was babbling and babbling and not coming to the point, so maybe she has the wrong number or so. It seemed as if she was calling some freakin customer service. Thus, my innocent and painful question.
Then I got to know that she was a dignified officer at a money-minting position in an organization. Alriiiiggghhhhtt!! So that's the issue. There was the bug. I caught it! Milady was expecting salutations on the phone from me. Right. I am such an insolent pup! She was one of  the Champions of our Nation! The ones who work day and night so we could sleep peacefully without the terror of a suicide bomber in the neighborhood. She was amongst those who serve our country and the civilians wholeheartedly and never ask for an extra penny (rishwat). She was amongst those who are feeding (robbing) the poor and building schools to provide them with education (instead of building an 8 canals house in Defence Housing Authority). Their children are studying hard in foreign institutions so they could become like them one day and serve the nation in future (instead of enjoying parties, drugs, orgies).
I am such a fool! I should have asked her first if she would like some tea, coffee or Jam-e-shiri. Even if we were on the phone. I should have solved her problem right there and then, instead of saying that I was not the concerned person she wanted to speak to. How could I leave her discontented like that. I should have said to her that if I would not be able to handle her problem, I would send her ten kg Mittai (sweets) at her personal residence. I should have told her that I work only to get her approval. 
I should have stood up for the Champion! 
Alas, I didn't do that. I'll be extra careful next time, you know. Even if it does not come under my job description to attend calls. I'll be sure to tell such a man/woman that: 'I DON'T GIVE A SHIT TO YOUR PROBLEMS!'