INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
IMPORTANCE FOR PAKISTAN & CONTRIBUTION OF KALIA GROUP

"Information Technology is the language of 21st century and without learning it no progress and prosperity is now possible".

By Hanif S. Kalia (FCMA)
May 21 - Jun 03, 2001

The past 20th century can be dedicated to Industrial Revolution whereas the current 21st century is being revolutionized by Information Technology as it is speedily transferring the global face to new dimensions with altogether a different approach. Very soon, all our day-to-day activities will be governed by IT, whether it be entertainment, education, trade or finance. It is now deeply realized that:

" Information Technology is the language of 21st century and without learning it no progress and prosperity is now possible".

Role of "IT" to achieve two major objectives:

History has shown that economic strength is as important as a strong defence for an honourable survival of a nation.

Both these ingredients are becoming increasingly dependent on I.T. Therefore promotion of IT is absolutely crucial for survival of Pakistan in this new millennium.

Economic progress & prosperity :-

The commerce is moving towards e-commerce and e-business. And soon almost 80% of business would be carried out electronically, which means global opportunities and global competition. If our economy and business doesn't prepare itself for this impending transition it will not be just left behind it will be antiquated and eliminated.

Impregnable defence:-

Building a nuclear deterrent was land-mark and a blessing of God. But we can't rest here. Application of IT is taking the military and defence to new dimensions. If we fail to keep head with these advances then everyone can imagine what will happen.

Moreover, advancement require research & development & that require economic strength which we have seen will not be possible without joining the IT revolution.

Therefore, both pre-requisites for honorable existense are IT dependent and to achieve both these objectives we have to make the most of the ongoing IT revolution and avail the opportunities being offered by the IT waves sweeping across the world to our benefit in stabilizing Pakistan's economy & ensuring progressive prosperity for all futures to come. Therefore, Pakistan must develop INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY. This opinion is based on the following facts & figures:

India has become a major IT player and was able to increase its defence budget in two years by 41% (27+14) because its software exports have gone upto $ 6.2 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 India's dominance over our souls?"

There is no doubt that Pakistan has great potential in developing IT, which was also accepted by the participants of ITCN ASIA 2001 Seminar. Dr. Toh See Kiat, Member Parliament - Singapore, said that Singapore is hub of all IT activities in the South Asia region & there is lot of potential for Karachi to become another hub in this region.

Four key sectors/factors to achieve the desired objectives:-

(1) To overcome the existing economic & foreign exchange crisis and (2) to survive with honour & dignity, I suggest that close coordination & cooperation among the following four key sectors can bring about a tremendous change through Information Technology in our country. These four sectors are:

* Government Sector
* Private Sector
* Non Government Organization (NGO(s))
* Media
* Role of government sector:

We believe the role of the government is that of "Facilitator" but is very essential and multi-dimensional in nature. One can easily visualize that it is only the "Government" that can facilitate the entire "operation" of economic revival & sovereignty making use of the its vast machinery & resources to formulate effective output oriented policies and its sound implementation so as to achieve the aim/mission. In this connection the suggestions are:

Establishment of Full-fledge Federal IT Ministry:

We must remember that IT is a multi-dimensional subject. Councils, committees, or task forces may not work in this matter. If we really want to go ahead in this field then, we must have a proper planning, infrastructure & far reaching policies. This 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. There, the IT ministry is working with all the necessary powers vested in it, so as to keep a vigilant eye on all the dimensions of this technology.

While formulating a separate ministry on federal and on provincial level, separate secretariat/departments are also required to be formed. These departments will remain in touch with concerned business houses, manufacturers, suppliers, exporters & vendors to gather information, register complaints or note activity so as to be coordinated & then communicated to the Minister of the said department. This will help in creating One-Window operation.

Formulation of IT Policy & Implementation:

The government may draft out a consistent/feasible IT policy keeping in view the present circumstances/future needs and ensure its implementation. For the achievements of the desired results, following points may be incorporated:

Inbuilt Strength & Flexibility:

The policy should be of such nature that could withstand any pressure and contingency that arises in future. For this we suggest that the appointed personnel should have related background. The policy should be revival at regular interval and modification should be carried out to keep it in line with the changed circumstances.

Consistent & Transparent:

The policy should be clear, un-biased and favorable for all concerned regardless of the magnitude, so that nobody feels any disadvantage of sort. All efforts made in this direction, small or large must be given its due acknowledgement.

Time Frame for Action Plan:

The governmentt action plan must have a time frame and may be divided into:

*Short term plan of two to three years duration or immediate actions one after the other.

*Medium term plan to immediately follow short term plan for next 5 years for fighting contingencies & consolidating the efforts.

*Long term plan spanning over 15 to 25 years duration for monitoring, control & providing permanent solutions to achieve the target.

Infrastructure:

While pursuing for promotion of IT & software Industry, the government may provide such infrastructure where every citizen can have hassle free access without incurring much cost. It has been noted with concern that whenever such policies/infrastructure are established they create more inconvenience to people rather than encouragement. So far the development of Indus Technology Park & Cyber City at Karachi, where 90% of IT manpower lies, awaits its implementation. Such frustrations can only be eliminated through sound infrastructure.

Although Communication & Computer Technology both are inter-related and integrated to IT but communication is more vital as without which concept of Global Village cannot be achieved. Therefore, emphasis may first be given to PTCL services which at present are not upto the desired standard. Priorities be laid to improve upon its services, may it be through privatization or foreign collaboration. Excellence in PTCL services based on latest technologies will automatically help us acquiring/developing more software to train our manpower with ease and quality. Secondly this will help us in creating an environment whereby we may attract more foreign assistance. For example, renowned companies like Microsoft and Oracle are active in our country under certain agreements. They are ready to provide our masses necessary training in all areas related to this technology. These companies may also be assigned the task of training our educators/teachers/instructors as well so that their quality contribution thereafter can enhance & accelerate the pace of development of IT in Pakistan.

Credit facilities:

Finance is the essential ingredient for achieving overall progress. A large number of persons having creative and productive ideas just cannot capitalize because of lack of liquid resources. If they are given a helping hand through scheduled banks and DFIs, they can contribute much towards national prosperity. In this connection, the example of Pak Libya Holding Company can be cited. They are inviting talented IT related persons to come forward with their ideas and feasibility reports. Needless to mention that Pak-Libya is a financing company, which has diverted its certain funds for this purpose. Local Banks should be encouraged to implement similar schemes (like microfinancing scheme) as is the case for agriculture.

Copyright Acts & Related Laws:

Only few multinationals IT companies have implemented their copyright acts in Pakistan. Microsoft is an instant example. However, pirated CDs and softwares are being freely manufactured and sold in Pakistan. This is a total violation of World Trade Organization's intellectual property rights just because of lack of copyright laws allowing fake software manufacturers to go scot-free. The government should include strict copyright laws for its IT policy to apprehend those indulging in this practice. Other IT related laws and rules like checking of cyber crimes etc. should be enforced as early as possible.

Personal Computers (PCs):

PCs may be subsidized in order to attract more people to take advantage of IT. PC should be priced in the range of Rs. 5000/= so that it is within reach of an average income individual.

Computer Training Curriculum:

Computer training may be started from the very initial stage i.e K.G. so that the new generation develops an aptitude for IT & its execution. For this matter computer training be made compulsory subject in the curriculums.

Role of private sector:

The role of Private Sector is that of a "Key Player" in any game & can very easily be defined through following points:

*Keen observations of the game - "development" taking place all around.
*Contribute & get contribution-"investment".
*Learn new techniques - transfer of technology".
*Keep on improving-"research & development".
*Earn name & fame - 'profit & prosperity".

Not only Private Sector is very keenly observing the revolutionary developments taking place through this technology but a number of ventures belonging to local entrepreneurs are already in the field. It is estimated that some 400 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.

But the question is "how far the private ventures can go in the absence of infrastructure or financing by the government"? Any amount of investment or efforts from Private sector is not enough. The government has to come forward with all facilities & incentives it can offer to Private sector.

Role of non-government organizations (ngos):

Certain projects, which can not be initiated by the government because of its limitations such as establishment of computer centres, computer institutes & universities are also found not feasible by the Private sector as it does not find any profit incentive in such projects. Under such circumstances the NGO's may come forward and play their role in providing such institutions on large and small scales duly supported by the government as well as the philanthropists from the society. Such NGOs and other private sector organizations should be encouraged and their resources augmented by offering scholarships and donations.

To a great extent the NGOs are already playing their role and have gone much ahead in this direction, but the main handicaps is the infrastructure, which hinders their pace of progress. However, The Memon Community has done a lot in this field. The Memon NGOs have played constructive role & were able to contribute in the areas of (1) Computer Education Improvement Programmes (CEIP) at school level and (2) Urdu Tutorial for computer Applications etc.

Role of 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 as their effectiveness cannot 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 business. It can also update the knowledge of the students and professionals by publishing the new breakthroughs in this field. It is now high time to have Radio/ TV channels dedicated for this purpose.

I firmly believe that coordination of all the four key players i.e. Government Sector, Private Sector, NGOs and Media is very essential to have the desired results. Kalia Group, honoring its social responsibilities is striving to promote IT in Pakistan, by offering maximum assistance & taking necessary actions towards coordination of all the above mentioned four sectors.

Role of Kalia Group in promotion of it:

Kalia Group is a fast emerging group having diversified business activities with a num,er of companies to its fold such as Kalia Corporation, Kalia Sons, Kalia Computer Service, KalSoft, Kalvault & Kalpoint.com etc., working in the fields of currency, finance, export and of course Information Technology. Kalia Group is endeavoring to bring awareness regarding among IT revolution. It particularly encourages the youth as well as the elders of the society toward this new but fast growing technology dominating all facets of the society.

The Kalia Group has strongly vouched and supported the government call in popularizing Information technology in Pakistan and in this regard we have activated all our resources. To achieve this mission, the Kalia Group has launched its efforts on four fronts i.e. Social, Commercial, Socio-Commercial and Media.

Social front:

On social front, Kalia Group is doing its best for the promotion of IT technology through its own registered social welfare organization i.e. KOORDINATION GROUP commonly known as KRG. This organization, headed by myself came into existence a couple of years back, so as to attain (in scheduled phases) the unique objectives in the field of education, housing and other welfare activities. 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 problerns, has been selected for the lst phase. IT education and training is therefore our first priority with emphasis on job orientation.

To fulfil the commitment made in this respect, a result oriented committee on Information Technology for KrG has been formulated. Leading IT professional Mr. Abdul Ghaffar Memon with 35 years experience is the Chairman. Mr. Iqbal Kasbati, a senior Chartered Accountant and Mr. Khurrum H. Kalia, a Gold Medallist from renowned IT Institute of Pakistan Managing Software Development as Director KalSoft alongwilh many others well known experts and professionals of this field are the members of this committee

The role of KrG is being appreciated for following achievements:

*The establishment of Sir Adamjee Institute of Technology (SAIT) through Pakistan Memon Educational and Welfare Society.
*The Ladies wing of KO-ORDINATION Group under the able Chairpersonship of Mrs. Mumtaz H. Kalia for increasing the awareness among women folks, girls schools & colleges.
*The Scholarship Committee, under the chairmanship Mr. Owais S. Kalia is providing scholarships, grants and computers to the needy and deserving students of Memon Community on Qarz-e-Hasna following the principle "Charity begins at home".
*KO-Ordination Group has planned to publish a weekly column captioned as "IT-WORLD" in Gujrati, Urdu & English to update the masses and youths in particular regarding IT, career guidance and training. It is necessary to mention here that IT-WORLD is already on the website of "KalPoint.com" which is also providing various free public services since 23rd March, 2000.
*KO-Ordination Group has also 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" specifically to attract foreign employers to the benefit of our un-employed talents.

Commercial front:

As mentioned earlier, Kalia Group has well recognized & accepted the challenges of the 21st century and is therefore endeavoring to master Information Technology. Having this vision focused, the Kalia Group has entered into a new era engaging all spheres of Information Technology through KalSoft (Pvt.) Ltd. - a software house in commercial sector.

KalSoft is engaged in developing quality softwares both for the local and foreign markets. KalSoft's main concentration is toward exporting quality software that not only earns precious foreign exchange for the countty but also promotes Pakistan as an emerging player in the 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 three MOUs worth US $80 million. The detailed break up is as following:

*MOU with eS2R of U.S.A for software export worth US $ 50 million.
*MOU with E-Commerce gateway of Singapore for software export worth US $ 20 million
*MOU with Euro Software Park Netherland for software export worth US $ 10 million

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 Business Software Development and Web Development. KalSoft believes in flexibility and adaptability. The prominent features of the software tools and technology being used at KalSoft are:

*Java using JDK 1.2,

*WML for WAP

*JSP

*Java Script

*Oracle

*CORBA

*Microsoft SQL Server

*RMI (Remote Method Invocation)

*Microsoft Access

*COM/DCOM

*IIS and Microsoft

*ISAPI

Transaction Server

*Visual Basic 6.0 and Visual C++ 6.0

*ASP

*Assembly

*Cold Fusion 4.1

*XML

KalSoft is also in the process of achieving universal quality levels of CMM-I, II and during the year. There are only 41 IT companies in the world, which have acquired CMM-V, KalSoft will have the honor to be the first in Pakistan. Implementation of ISO-9001 is already completed and KalSoft is ready for External Audit for ISO 9002.

Socio-commercial front:

On Socio-Commercial front, Kalia Group has established a socio-commercial organization named as "KalPoint.com". and is now, without any doubt, the largest interactive Website in Pakistan spread over more than 20000 pages and is providing free public services in more than 20 fields/sectors including Prize Bonds, Foreign Exchange, em@il, Real Estate, Employment, Matrimonial, Automobiles, Running Business etc. and a lot of information from education to showbiz. Of course, a successful attempt to put an ocean into a bottle and this can only be truly realized through visiting this website as seeing is believing. It is noteworthy that presently most of the commercial transactions are done B2B and B2C, whereas, "KalPoint.com" has taken a leap in this field & has introduced the concept of C2C. Its prime objective is to create awareness in developing IT concepts in our beloved country PAKISTAN.

The media:

Kalia Group has again taken the initiative in this regard for publishing a weekly column - IT WORLD, 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 MEDIA COMMITTEE.

Moreover, IT WORLD as mentioned earlier, is Pakistan's first IT E-zine being one of the category of "KalPoint.com" having comprehensive coverage regarding latest news and views in English language. It is playing an important role in creating awareness about Internet & E-Commerce in particular and IT in general.

Conclusion:

The end results of the above mentioned efforts are very promising and encouraging. Kalia Group, therefore, is further accelerating its activities, of course, with the co-operation of the enterprising philanthropists of the Community & other organizations. Having full faith in Almighty Allah, we are very optimistic that Inshallah our Government, the Private Sector, the NGO's & the Media will play their due role in acquiring excellence in Information Technology, thereby, ensuring a prosperous future with honour & dignity for all Pakistanis.