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THE IMPORTANCE OF IT AND CONTRIBUTION OF KALIA GROUP

"IT is the language of 21st Century and without learning it no progress and prosperity is possible. "

By Hanif S. Kalia (FCMA)
Nov 13 - 19, 2000

The world today has changed so much so that the traditional way of learning and earning will not help individuals or even the nations way longer towards the way to progress and prosperity.

Kalia Group is a fast emerging group with diversified business activities with a number of companies to its fold such as Kalia Corporation, Kalia Sons, Kalia Computer Services, Kalsoft, KalTimes etc., working in the fields of money, finance, export and of course, information technology. Kalia Group is striving hard for bringing about awareness toward this phenomenon. It particularly encourages the youth as well as the elders of the society toward this newly born but fast growing technology dominating almost the whole human society.

Role of "it" in economic salvation of Pakistan:

Because of ever changing human behaviour and needs it is very necessary that the progressive approach should be adopted by all means and in all spheres of communities, business enterprises and the impacts on micro-macro economies aspects of the country.

Nowadays prosperity of a country largely examines by the altitudes of economic stability and not the stagnancy. Where the survival in the cutthroat competition becoming difficult and new avenue for revenues generation are in search than the traditional one.

Therefore in present circumstances, Pakistan left with no alternative for its stagnant economy but effectively promote and properly project the Information Technology as a key to success for its economic revival and the stability of its sovereignty and to break the shackles of poverty and of debt.

"The economic salvation of Pakistan lies in developing the field of Information Technology. "

This opinion is not just a belief but it is based on certain solid arguments, hard facts and real figures, which are elaborated as under:

It is a bare fact that India has become a major IT player and has recently increased its defence budget by whopping 27 per cent at the time when its software exports are around $5 billion. At this juncture, a question arises that 'what shall happen when its exports would increase to around $50 billion a year by 2008 or so? And what alternate we would have been left with except to accept Indian bully over our souls?"

Pakistan's economy which is faced with the worst economic crisis of its history as our foreign exchange reserves do not even touch the $2 billion level despite foreign debts and grants. Unemployment is rampant and rising inflation is making life unbearable for the common man. In such a scenario, the only ray of hope remains with this technology.

To diagnosis this economic lacuna, I suggest that close coordination & cooperation of the following four key sectors can bring about a tremendous change of the Information Technology in our country. These four sectors are.

1) Government Sector

2) Private Sector

3) Non-Government Organizations (NGO(s)

4) Media

Role of four key factors

(1) Government sector:

We believe the role of the government is essential and multi-dimensional in nature that only they can perform by using their missionary, vast resources and by using magic wind of policy making if been implemented a dream may come true. These proposed suggestion, which are as follows:

(a) Need for a Full-fledged Federal IT Ministry:

We must remember that IT is a multi-dimensions subject. Councils, committees, or task forces would not work in this matter. If we really want to go ahead in this field we must have a proper planning, infrastructure, far-reaching policies. All that is possible only if we have a full-fledged and independent IT Ministry at Federal and Provincial levels on the lines similar to that of India. In India, such ministry is working with all the necessary powers vested in it, which keeps vigilant eye on all the dimensions of this technology.

While formulating a separate ministry on federal and on provincial level along with separate secretariat are to be formed. These departments will remain in touch with related business houses, manufacturers, suppliers, exporters & other vendors who can gather any information, register any complaints or any activity which should be directly coordinated with the related Minister of the said department. This will narrow down into One-window operation.

b) Formulation of IT Policy & Action Plan:

The government must draft out a consistent and feasible IT policy keeping in view the present circumstances and future needs and also to ensure its implementation. Like the sector of economy, government should also formulate a policy considering these aspects for achieving high results. These policies must contain:

Concrete Policy:

The policy should of such nature that could withstand any pressure and contingency if arise in future. For this we suggest the appointed personnel should have related background.

Consistent & Transparent Policy:

The policy should be clear un-bias and favourable for all concern regardless of the magnitude, so that nobody feels any disadvantage of any sort and every little efforts in this direction should reckon.

Span for Plan of Action:

The government plan of action should be of such that they contain various duration of plan of action like.

Short term plan of action of one to two years duration for immediate action.

Medium term plan of action that spread over 5 to 7 years of span for controlling contingencies.

Long term plan of action that could be spanning over 15 to 25 years duration for permanent solution.

c) Infrastructure:

While pursuing for promotion of IT & software Industry, the government should provide such infrastructure where every citizen can access at the lowest possible efforts & cost. It has noted that whenever these policies or infrastructure are established they create more inconvenience for the people. So far the development of Indus Technology Park & Cyber City at Karachi where 90% of IT manpower lies awaits its implementation through which frustration can be diminished.

d) Mode of Communications:

Communication and Computer Technology are integral parts of IT and without proper communication, the desired development is not possible. Therefore, PTCL should be pressed upon to provide necessary communication facilities on nominal rates. It has become the general tendency of some government departments to think in terms of revenue only and social aspect of given facilities is not taken into consideration at all. This attitude should now be changed.

A nominal profit with certain economic rates should be introduced which may prove beneficial for the development of this technology in the country. It is felt beneficial that PTCL should be privatizing at the earliest and allow private sector to operate and establish new ventures for healthy competition.

Moreover, some world-renowned high tech companies like Microsoft and Oracle are active in our country under certain agreements. They seem to be much keen in providing our masses necessary training in all the areas relating to this technology. These companies can be assigned the task of training our educators /teachers/ instructors and this will go a long way in contributing and accelerating the pace of development in this line of trade.

(e) Credit facilities:

Finance is the essential ingredient for achieving overall progress. A large number of persons having creative and productive ideas cannot capitalize because of the lack of liquid resources. If they are given a helping hand through scheduled banks and DFIs, they may contribute much towards national prosperity. In this connection, the example of Pak Libya Holding can be cited. They are inviting talented IT related personnel to come forward with their ideas along with feasibility. Needless to mention that Pak-Libya is a financing company, which has diverted its certain funds for this purpose.

(f) Copyright Infringement & Related Laws:

Only few multinationals IT companies have implemented their copyrights in Pakistan. Microsoft is an instant example. However, pirated CDs and software of other IT companies are freely manufactured and sold in Pakistan. This is a total violation of Word Trade Organization's intellectual property rights and this is only because of lack of copyright laws, which allows the fake software manufacturers to go scot-free. The government should implement strict copyright laws into its IT policy to apprehend the people indulging in this practice. Other IT related laws and rules like checking of cyber crimes extra should be enforced as early as possible.

(2) Private sector:

Private sector is very keenly looking forward to revolutionary developments through this technology and a number of ventures belonging to local entrepreneurs are in the field. It is estimated that some 300 companies have either started their operation or are in the process of starting the business solely or in collaboration with certain world-renowned high-tech companies. The main role of the private sector includes striving for the development of this technology, attract foreign investments and arrange to train the manpower in this field.

But the question is: how far the private ventures can go in the absence of infrastructure or financing by the government. A good number of individuals are also trying their luck on the strength of their intelligent assets. They also require helping hand from the government.

(3) Non-government organizations -ngo(s):

Certain projects, which can not be initiated by the government because of its scarce means such as establishment of computer centres, computer institutes, universities in abundance while the private sector does not find any profit incentive in such projects. Under such circumstances the NGOs come forward and play their role in providing such institutions on large and small scales supported by the government as well as the philanthropists of the society. Such NGOs and other private sector organizations should be encouraged through financial support such as scholarships and donations.

The NGOs are already playing their role and they have gone much far in this direction. However, the main handicaps is the infrastructure, which hinders their pace of progress. For example, Memon Community have done a lot in this field. The Memon NGOs have also contributed constructive role in the areas of (1 ) Computer Education Improvement Programme (CEIP) at school level and (2) Urdu Tutorial for computer Applications etc.

(4) The media:

What is most lacking in our society is the awareness towards the importance of this technology. This calls for a comprehensive campaign through electronic as well as print media, effectiveness of which can not be denied. It can go a long way in bringing about awareness among the masses by giving prominent coverage to all the activities being carried out in the field of Information Technology. It can inspire the youth for adopting this technology as career and publish/ broadcast/ telecast various informative articles and write-ups. It can provide guidance to the masses, advice solutions to the problems they face in their day to day course of business. It can keep update the knowledge of the students and professionals by publishing the new breakthroughs in this field. Exclusive Radio/TV channels should be established or used for this purpose.

I firmly believes that coordination of all the four key players i.e. the Government Sector, Private Sector, NGOs and Media is essential to bring out the desired results.

Role of Kalia Group in promotion of it:

The Kalia group has strongly vouch and supported the government call in popularizing of Information Technology in Pakistan and in this regard we have activated all our resources.

Kalia Group is fighting on four fronts i.e. Social, Socio-Commercial, Commercial Front and in Media.

Social front:

On social front, Kalia Group is doing a lot for the promotion of this technology through its own registered social welfare organization named KO-ORDINATION GROUP - KG. This organization, headed by myself was brought into existence a few years ago to attain unique objectives in the fields of education, housing and other welfare activities scheduled in phases. The first objective is to educate and train the citizens, in general and Memon Community, in particular so that they become successful IT professionals. IT, being the panacea for all social, economic and political problems, has been selected for the 1st phase. IT education and training is our first priority for obvious reasons. Simultaneously, emphasis is greatly on job orientation.

The committee of Information Technology of KG has been formulated. Leading IT professional Mr. Abdul Ghaffar with 35 years experience is the Vice Chairman. Mr. Iqbal Kasbati, a senior Chartered Accountant and Director Khurram H. Kalia, a Gold Medallist from renowned IT Institute of Pakistan, besides many others well known experts and professionals of this field are the members of this committee.

The role of KG is well appreciated in following achievements:

The establishment of Sir Adamjee Institutes of Technology (SAIT) of Pakistan Memon Educational and Welfare Society

The Ladies wing of KO- Ordination Group under the chairperson-ship of Mrs. Mumtaz H. Kalia is striving hard while visiting in the girls schools and colleges in increasing awareness among women.

A Scholarship Committee has also been formed under the chairmanship of Mr. Owais S. Kalia to provide scholarship, grants and computers to the needy and deserving students of Memon Community on Karze Hasna basis on the principle "Charity begins within home."

KO- Ordination Group has planned to bring out a BI- Monthly newsletter, "KALTIMES" in Urdu and English to update the people in general and youth, in particular regarding IT, career guidance and training. The same has already been on the website of"Kalpoint.com". Kalpoint.com has already been providing various free public services since 23rd March, 2000.

KO- Ordination Group has formed an "Employment Committee" headed by Mr. Sikandar S. Kalia as its Chairman. This free service is also being put on the website "Kalpoint.com" particularly to attract foreign employers.

Socio-commercial front:

On Socio-Commercial front Kalia Group has established a socio-commercial organization named Kalpoint.com. It is a unique project in a sense that it provides free services in various categories from prize bonds, estates and property, hotel reservations, ticket reservations, air-flight inquiry, matrimony and a lot of other topics. When most of the ecommerce transactions are done B2B and B2C, kalpoint.com has introduced the concept of C2C. Its objective is to create awareness about developing concepts of IT.

Kaltime, a part of Kalpoint.com, is Pakistan's first IT e-zine and a continuation of the vision of Kalpoint. It is not just a comprehensive guide on IT-related events and topics but a forum for people's expressions of this field.

Commercial front:

The Kalia Group accepted the 21st century challenge and extended the frontier in Information Technology. Therefore, keeping vision focused the Kalia Group has now entered into a new era engaging in all spheres of Information Technology by the name of KALSOFT (PVT) LTD.

On commercial front, KalSoft (Pvt) Ltd., is a software house developing quality softwares both for the local and foreign market. KalSoft's main concentration is towards exporting quality software that not only earns precious foreign exchange for the country but also promotes Pakistan as an emerging software market.

KalSoft is a company managed on progressive lines. It is rapidly growing and cultivating clientele on national as well as international level. It has already signed one MoU?????. with a Info-tech Company of international repute based in Singapore as well as a company in USA. Some negotiations are in progress with other clients. Some government departments are also approaching the Subject Company for certain software required by them including Police Department and Sindh Governor House.

Apart from creating IT awareness in the country, Kalsoft provides employment to young and qualified professionals. Presently Kalsoft has an excellent team of professionals who are keen to learn new technology and attain cutting-edge performance in software technology.

Kalsoft offers in Business Software Development and Web development. Kalsoft believes in flexibility and adaptability. The prominent features from some of the software tools and technology being used at Kalsoft are:

Java using JDK 1.2,

JSP

Oracle

Microsoft SQL Server

Microsoft Access

IIS and Microsoft Transaction Server

ASP

Cold Fusion 4.1

XML

WML for WAP

Java Script

CORBA

RMI (Remote Method Invocation)

COM / DCOM

ISAPI

Visual Basic 6.0 and Visual C + + 6.0

Assembly

The media:

Kalia Group once again have taken an initiative in this regard while publishing a weekly column. INFOWATCH is a bilingual column (Urdu and Gujrati) being regularly published in the leading newspapers and Magazines of the Community. It encompasses latest news and views regarding IT. Mr. Munaf S. Kalia is heading INFOWATCH COMMITTEE and is very ably supported by Mr. Ashraf A. Latif, a leading journalist.

Results of the above mentioned efforts are very promising and encouraging and we are accelerating our activities with the due co-operation of the enterprising philanthropists of the Community. We expect the similar role to be played by the Government, other Private Sector and other NGOs as well.