Rolling out the Red Carpet

I welcome you to my blog and hope that you will like the tour. Please leave your footmarks with comments and feedback. This will through and through enhance my knowledge and profundity of thought. Enjoy! Asif J. Mir

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Large Dams

Large Dams evoke intense hostility. The governments interpret as an engineering marvel for their ability to control floods, provide electricity, and irrigate farmland, thereby improving the lives of millions of people. Yet, these benefits can come at a cost of environmental damage, displacement of people whose lands are flooded, and economic burdens.

The most serious problems associated with the building of large dams arise because of lack of public participation in decision-making processes, together with inequitable distribution of the benefits and a lack of compensation for negative consequences. This also demonstrates the absence of any coherent water management strategies at all levels and a result of shortsighted planning and political inertia.

The governments should agree that people who will be directly affected by large dam projects should be drawn into the decision-making process, and particularly emphasize the importance of avoiding land-use changes that are so detrimental to the culture of indigenous people and the natural resource base on which they depend, that their way of life is threatened. In this connection, ILO convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, and especially to Article 27 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, refer to the obligation states have under these agreements to consult indigenous peoples and ensure that they are able to participate in the process that affect them.

The governments should review social benefits, decision-making processes and basic principles for planning and carrying it out. A comprehensive public debate reduces unintentional adverse effects on dam project, and particularly its social, environmental and cultural impacts. The government should urge the importance of taking these aspects into account in the decision for large dam project and not merely consider the economic aspects.

The government’s portrayal of the benefits give little weight to the description of its socio-economic and welfare advantages for the population it is intended to serve. It would be interesting to see a more thorough discussion of the alternatives to building dams and of what the economic costs and environmental and social consequences of such alternatives would be.

The decision-making process should emphasize negotiations between the government and local communities that shall be directly affected by KBD and that will give indigenous peoples the right of veto over development projects. All stakeholders should support the intentions behind this point. The adversely affected local populations must be given much more influence over decisions.

The government should go rather too far in the direction of consensus-based decision -making systems. This model might reduce the influence of public-sector bodies on the decision-making process to be a constructive way of dealing with major infrastructure projects, which frequently involve conflicts of interest.

Governments need to adopt a decision-making framework to guide future development of water and energy resources including dam construction. It should seek to go beyond a simple cost–benefit analysis and present a more inclusive approach to analyzing the dam project. This framework should include steps such as looking for options other than dams to meet the objectives, making sure the benefits of the dam are equitably distributed, and safeguarding the rights of people whose homes and livelihoods are destroyed or jeopardized by dams. The issue of the rights-and-risks approach is very important.

People whose livelihoods and communities are harmed by large dam must play a role both in negotiations that mitigate the harm done as well as in development agreements. Such agreements are fundamental commitments and responsibilities of the stakeholders.

Joint negotiations with adversely affected people result in mutually agreed upon and legally enforceable mitigation and development provisions. These provisions recognize entitlements that improve livelihoods and quality of life, and affected people are beneficiaries of the project.Successful mitigation, resettlement, and development are fundamental commitments and responsibilities of the stakeholders.

Storage and diversion of water on trans-boundary rivers has been a source of considerable tension between provinces. Specific intervention for diverting water, KBD requires constructive cooperation. Consequently, the use and management of resources increasingly becomes the subject of agreement between provinces to promote mutual self-interest for cooperation and peaceful collaboration. This leads to a shift in focus from the narrow approach of allocating a finite resource to the sharing of rivers and their associated benefits in which provinces are innovative in defining the scope of issues for discussion.

A dam may be built to serve several purposes, for example flood control, irrigation, hydropower production, drinking water supplies, etc., and a number of conflicting interests will generally be involved. The decision-making process therefore can be very time consuming and costly and can end in disagreement.

In some cases the legislature should take the final decision on large dam, which can ensure that the advantages and disadvantages are assessed at the highest political level. Inadequate legislation is a serious obstacle to sustainable and equitable utilization of water resources.

There is a need for legislation that makes it possible for the government to take decisions that are important to achieve national goals and safeguard considerations of national importance. The large dam project should be evaluated thoroughly before a decision is made, and to ensure that all those affected receive an equitable share of the benefits from the project. A decision to build large dam should not be taken until all affected parties have had an opportunity to express their views on social, cultural and environmental matters relating to the plans and the environmental impact assessment and their concerns fitted in. Asif J. Mir, Organizational Transformation

Killing the Innocent

The sagacious thoughts of my mother continue to reverberate even after sixteen years of her death. She would say, “The red storm used to be the cause of alarm and we would know some murder took place in town.” Today, people are being killed like gnats and no one bothers for the human loss. This causes me enormous pain as a human being, and as a father. I still believe in the value of life without discrimination—Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Jew. I daily continue to witness red clouds hovering above my head signaling a sequence of murders.

I saw such clouds on May 31. A mob of hate criminals put a match to a KFC outlet in Karachi and thus incinerated six innocent Muslim workers. I was genuinely troubled for heavy police force and rangers deployed in Karachi, failed to protect life and property of the innocent. When the police will be engaged in knocking the socks off of the political opponents, anarchic situation is bound to dominate. My wretchedness grew larger when I learnt about the paltry details I could gather about the harmless victims.

Three of them got the job only three days ago. Two were students and working part time to bear the high cost of education. All victims were in their bloom of youth—twenties. Even if they were Americans, Britishers or Israelis, they were weaponless and not engaged in war. Killing such harmless human beings should be deplored and must be disapproved forcefully.

How would the fanatics who killed the innocent differentiate themselves from the killings occurring in Gujrat, Ghaza Strip or Kashmir? Indeed there’s a difference. There the non-Muslims are killers. Here Muslims are killing the Muslims.

Such acts of violence signify the deficient knowledge and hence the misinterpretation of Islam. The hate criminals fail to have a nodding acquaintance with the true spirit of Islam.

Anyone who studies Islam from its direct sources will be influenced by the truth that Islam is a religion of peace. When you open the Qur’an, the very first verse reads: Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim meaning “In the name of God, the most Merciful, the most Compassionate.” The crystallization of the concept and precept is that Allah is God of Mercy and Compassion, and the Holy Qur’an is the book of mercy. If you go through the Qur’an, you will find that most verses, directly or indirectly, express the spirit of peace. For instance, there is a verse in the Qur’an: ‘And God calls to the home of peace’ (10:25). This signifies the eventual purpose of Islam is peace. Implicitly and explicitly Islam insists Muslims to be merciful and compassionate to their fellow citizens.

The principal to my dissertation is the idea based on pluralism in Islam. The Holy Qur’an says: "To each among you, have We prescribed a Law and an Open Way. And if God had enforced His Will, He would have made of you all one people" (5:48). This implies that hostile and biased attitude with other citizens is totally against Islamic behavior.

Once a man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said, ‘O Prophet, give me a masterly piece of advice enabling me to manage all the affairs of my life.’ The Prophet replied: ‘Don’t be angry.’ According to another tradition, the Prophet (pbuh) once observed: ‘Don’t wish for confrontation with your enemy, instead always ask for peace from God.’ This indicates that peace is central to Islam.

In Islam, peaceful coexistence among citizens of the state is simply by dealing with them as citizens with no discrimination in any form. In the early days of the Islamic state, the Jews were recognized for their extreme hate and machinations against Islam. The Prophet (pbuh) nevertheless sustained immense compassion for them. Once a funeral passed by the Prophet (pbuh) and his companions. Muhammad (pbuh) immediately stood up in respect. The companions of the Prophet (pbuh) said, "It is a bier of a Jew." Muhammad (pbuh) replied, "Is it not a soul?" This illustrates that respect even your enemies. This is the fundamental norm in Islam.

Islam does not in anyway allow for the killing of any innocent soul. Verse 45:14 says: "Tell those who believe, to forgive those who do not look forward to the days of Allah: It is for Him to recompense (for good or ill) each people according to what they have earned."

Muslims are even encouraged to be kind to animals and are forbidden to hurt them. Once the Muhammad (pbuh) said: A woman was punished because she imprisoned a cat until it died. On account of this, she was doomed to Hell. While she imprisoned it, she did not give the cat food or drink, nor did she free it to eat the insects of the earth (Muslim and Bukhari).

In light of these and other Islamic texts, the act of inciting terror in the hearts of defenseless civilians, the wholesale destruction of buildings and properties, the bombing and maiming of innocent men, women, and children are all forbidden and detestable acts in Islam. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness, and the vast majority has nothing to do with the violent events some have associated with Muslims. If an individual Muslim were to commit an act of terrorism, this person would be guilty of violating the laws of Islam.

Those with malevolent intentions, have internal problem. Instead of chastising others, they should have a gaze into their own self-conscious and kill the enemy of mankind deep in.

And finally a word about franchise. It is defined by three factors: the grant of trademark or rights, a prescribed marketing plan and payment of a franchise fee for the rights. Although franchise outlets signify US brands, they are developed with national investment. The brand owners only get their share for giving the right to use brands. Asif J. Mir, Organizational Transformation