The deluge of numbers pouring into the news on a daily basis is producing an unimaginable feeling of dread pervasive throughout the entire country as it collectively grapples with an unprecedented rise in inflation.
More significant and often overlooked is the rise in prices of basic food items with commodities as basic as onions registering an increase in prices of over 400 percent.
Considering that we spend approximately 50.8 percent of our income on these items, it takes no special genius to envisage an imminent rise in social unrest and crime rates (we have already started to observe such changes - just turn on the television.)
Economists, analysts and thinkers are providing multiple solutions that can help save the country from an economic and subsequently a socio-political meltdown. But in a society that has embraced the Beckanian thought of organised irresponsibility—individual brilliance dies a slow death. This is a moral crisis, not an economic one.
I will stay clear of the numbers here - you can Google them. The numbers only show the intensity and magnitude of the extent to which we all have managed to mess up. But they do not explain the “why”.
While people are suffering, unable to access even the very basic provisions of life, German luxury cars notably plenty Audis and Mercedes have become a common sight on the roads now.
There has been a total shift towards crossovers or SUV’s - the race to brag has become more expensive - car prices have increased 149 percent reaching its highest and we manage to give billions (Rs34 billion/year to be exact) in ON money - the premium you pay to get possession of the car right away.
The real estate sector is owned by whales (individuals with asymmetrical holdings). New societies are springing up everywhere like flowers in the spring. When you ask your ultra-rich friends what their source of income is, the most common and even more vague answer is simply “business”.
My personal observation is that these “businesses” have continued to grow but the total GDP of the country remains almost the same, wages have in fact declined in real terms, manufacturing is falling and joblessness is on the rise. In short, If new businesses are being added to the economy- this should not be the case.
The bureaucracy, officers and other panjandrums are the recipient of millions of rupees in the form of training and grooming in order to equip them with policymaking tools with an goal to devise strategies for the overall progress of the country.
But the moment they perch themselves on those big, burgundy-themed office chairs their vision becomes myopic. The demon of limited time possesses them and all their ambitions to serve the people remain in limbo.
Meritocracy is suspended, hanging upside down, on the hook of nepotism and red tape while the caravan on the road to progress finds itself exhausted, one which is already burdened with ancient boulders of bureaucratic administrative hindrances.
Policymakers don’t seem to be aware of the consequences of their policies (if we can call them that) which is usually captured with mental models like ‘second order thinking’.
A person with a degree in health can be seen heading railways while an engineer is often looking after the affairs of a district. Such misplaced, odd and inefficient resource allocation is prevalent and deeply rooted in our economic structure while the factors of production (land, labor and capital) are serving the interests of individuals rather than converging and being utilized for common goal(s).
Why have I termed it as a crisis of morality? Because the people in government institutions, most of them, aren’t doing what they have been hired or allocated for. They do not think of the bigger picture - many are even unaware of this frame or perspective of thought.
The concerns are self-centric/centered; nonetheless, they should be. Everyone deserves to scale their profile but at the same time, in tandem they also need to work on improving the overall quality and standard of living in Pakistan.
The process of preparation for competitive examinations is impressively rigorous. Candidates learn everything from academic material to personal grooming but considering that our mind is a system and every system requires input to produce output; why it is that despite a high quality of input and training, the output is compromised? Surely, enabling environment is a major factor but who makes or provides that enabling environment?
To answer in the negative or to provide a million reasons for why an innovative idea will not work has become a natural response in Pakistan. The job is to nip evil in the bud not positivity or innovation.
Sadly, we have been doing the latter.
Politicians, rich and influential families, individuals, media persons, educationists, youngsters, businessmen, each and every one is partially responsible for the mess.
Needless to say, those at the helm of affairs should carry the major burden of blame.
When you don’t have food on your table or haven’t eaten from past 3 days you cannot expect a person to observe table manners or talk about betterment of the society. This is the condition of our poor.
While the rich continue to get richer and more powerful, wielding more power than ever and delusional policy-makers focus on all the wrong things, the common man suffers unimaginably.
It seems that we are nearing the tipping point. This is a critical juncture - the twilight.
My hope is that the ball tips towards a more inclusive system and that we see dawn after this twilight.
The article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Recorder or its owners