Toiling from dawn-to-dusk are cart-pushers, labourers, barbers, cobblers, cleaners, vendors and alike vying for livelihood and survival. As such, students of Public Relations, IoBM were assigned by Faculty, Parvez Jamil to invite think tanks of health, education, sports, NGOs, the media, policy-makers and corporate leaders to present a "National agenda for the less-privileged".
He involved and worked with his students to plan, organize and promote the cause for the less-privileged and share with them ideas, insights and initiatives as to how they can stand on their own feet through self-confidence and self-reliance. Also invited to this national occasion were little siblings Sahil and Sumaiya, who spellbound and sang their hearts out for the less-privileged and for Pakistan. Apart from establishing IoBM, its late Founder President, Shahjehan Syed Karim had the cause of the less-privileged close to his heart and inspired students, alumni, faculty and management to work for the less-privileged in letter and in spirit.
Talib Karim, President IoBM, in his message said that IoBM provides full scholarships to the less-privileged students including those enrolled in Outreach Programme from interior Sindh; intake from the stream of needy students from TCF with full scholarship provision and that overall 50 per cent to 100 per cent of scholarships at IoBM are provided on need bases; IoBM society of Social Welfare and Trust and specialized academic programme of BS in Social Entrepreneurship and Social Leadership are also being pursued in this regard. Sabina Mohsin, Executive Director, IoBM, has been instrumental in IoBM initiatives for the less-privileged.
"National agenda for the less-privileged must start from the role of the elite privileged classes who have been defining this agenda for the last 70 years and which has not been effective in ameliorating the condition of the people", said Dr Syed Irfan Hyder, Dean CBM and CES, IoBM. He added, "I think the agenda of the less-privileged should be designed by the less-privileged themselves and not by the elites. How can we design the agenda, we who have not lived their less-privileged life, have not experienced their plight, have not understood the compromises on the quality of life that they have to make daily, how they survive on monthly earnings amount that is less than the money that we spend when we have a dinner for five at an upscale restaurant. How can we appreciate the living in a couple of shanty rooms where a family of 7 members live, how can we feel the stench of the clogged drains lining the path to our front door, lack of electricity, lack of water, lack of sanitation, lack of medicines, lack of education, lack of health etc. Therefore, I am strongly in favour of having these less-privileged people on our boards to tell us what their agenda is. Their votes, representation, input in our decision-making, prioritization of alternatives is must if we have to solve this issue."
Shahida Kazi, a well-known educationist, and one-time first lady reporter of Daily Dawn and Pakistan and the then Senior News Editor, PTV said, "Less-privileged students completing education from government schools never get good jobs because of Urdu medium education while high government positions require proficiency in English, and as such they become clerks, peons or drivers. Moreover, life of the less-privileged has also become cheap as the media does not honestly highlight a less-privileged losing life in roadside crimes, honor killings or family feuds. They too deserve sympathy through education and the media'.
Iqbal Jamil, Head of Media Sciences, Greenwich University and a one-time PTV news prodigy said, "In my humble opinion the word `Less-privileged' is a harsh word used for those struggling to meet their needs. Calling them by such a word hurts their sentiments. Let`s call them 'Flowers Without Smell'. Pakistan has a wide gap between 'haves' and 'have-nots'. Half of the population in Karachi lives in slums without a permanent address. There are 1400 Katchi Abadis in Sindh out of which 500 are in Karachi. We must bring positivity in our mind for a better tomorrow. We must collectively execute a viable plan to mitigate the sufferings of these 'Flowers Without Smell'.
Akbar Shahbaz, a pioneer of FM radio channels in Pakistan and a philanthropist par excellence said, "Less-privileged are not only the poor and the less-educated. We are less-privileged in terms of health, awareness. Hospitals, NGOs, welfare organizations and pharmaceuticals have treatment of diseases, but, if a reasonable budget portion of millions and billions is spent on creating awareness on prevention of diseases it would result in better health conditions of citizens and less spending on treatment of diseases."
Syed Akhtar Hussain, educator and visionary, said "Quaid-e-Azam declared students as infantry of Pakistan Movement. My children, you can become the infantry of this nation if you devotedly acquire education and build your personality."
Maneesha Gotham, IoBM student said on minority rights, "We should further foster a more tolerant society by re-examining our attitude towards others and set examples of love, justice, and fair play." Arsalan Rabbani, from Aman Foundation said, "Free education and free healthcare for the less-privileged must be guaranteed under the ownership of the state through models of public-private partnership and utilizing capabilities of NGOs.
Policymakers must proactively engage private sector, research universities, think-tanks, civil society, professional associations, coupled with policies catering to income/wealth disparities and a better tax system to better serve the less-privileged." Hira Zainab, Founder, First Hand Foundation, said, "If you want to bring change in someone's life it can be a small act as giving way to an ambulance or it can be a big one as taking care of someone's education." Ms. Dania Zahid, Manager, "Foundation Fighting Poverty" (FFP), an NGO, along with four volunteers, presented FFP's mission, vision, management, values, guiding principles, annual projects and campaigns.
Ali Javed Kanchwala, representing the corporate sector and a business management faculty at Iqra University, said that Pakistan still has the largest poverty rate as violence remains unnoticed and opined that proper laws must be implemented. He said that media must change mindsets and called for the media to promote positive aspects of Pakistan as poverty is a stigma which can be treated once we impart wisdom.-PR