Ahmed is a PhD student whose dreams recently got squished by the so called laptop scheme. The story starts when one day his friend, Danial, calls him all ecstatic to register in the laptop scheme, which entitled all the PhD and MS students to a laptop free by the government. But we Pakistanis never learn from our mistakes. Ahmed’s reaction to this news was ‘Haan yar, chalo shukar humain bhi to kuch mila’ but instead it should have been, ‘laptop? Mil hi na jaey!’
Apparently schemes like these come with numerous hidden conditions. If Ahmed was sensible enough, he should have first checked the eligibility criteria on the HEC website before getting his hopes high. The website clearly states that any PhD or MS student employed in a private or a government organization will not be entitled to a laptop. So the question now remains, who is left to receive the laptops among the PhD and MS students, the unemployed minority and those who by the play of chance somehow got recognized as unemployed while being employed. This last notion must have popped some questions in your mind, so let me elaborate.
The government used the national tax number (NTN) of all the students to ascertain their eligibility. NTN is the number assigned to each employee from whose salary the income tax is deducted monthly from their bank account given that it is a payroll account or either by the persons’ organization if it is registered with federal board of revenue (FBR). However there are several small firms and employees of private offices who don’t get registered in the category of employed persons. So by depriving a student from a laptop based on the NTN system, the criteria for deeming a student eligible is totally unfair. NTN number should not be considered sufficient. If the government really wanted to ascertain that the most deserving individuals got the laptop, they should have determined a more accurate method. NTN numbers are not updated based on salaries or the current status of an individual. To further elaborate let us go back to Ahmed and his friend.
Ahmed’s friend was currently unemployed as his contract as a corporate teacher at a University had expired. So when Danial steps forwards all gleeful to receive a laptop, the officials inform him that he is not to receive a laptop because he is employed. Denial steps back devastated and heartbroken and to further add salt to his wounds, a 5o year old PhD student is handed over a laptop. Apparently, this was too much to bear and Danial broke out screaming, ‘inko kaisay mil gaya? Yeh to job kartay hain!’
While Ahmed was lying in bed fuming at the mishappenings of Danial, his another friend calls in to tell him the good news ‘Yar mujhay aaj laptop mil gaya’ Normally, Ahmed would share his friend’s happiness, but this time he was speechless, why so? Because his friend was an employee at a private organization, earning above one lac rupees and already possessing a laptop given to him by his company. I think you pretty much got the idea of Ahmed’s anguish. No need to explain further.
HEC clearly states the intention of such schemes on their website. To aid scientific development and research. Countries aside Pakistan, are investing generously in their education sector through scholarships and electronic items such as laptops. Such schemes should be irrespective of any condition. All students should be entitled to such benevolence. In case of Danial, a laptop was a necessity considering he was unemployed. In case of Ahmed, a laptop would have been a motivation, even if he was employed at a good position. Governments have attracted students towards the research sector through such privileges and have hence stimulated growth and development.
The government should not use such schemes as a means of boosting their image, as was evident in this case. Sometimes sincerity gives you a much better fruit them advertisement. Government should not just take case studies as a means to generate ideas for their advertisement campaigns, but should rather dig into the essence of such examples.