Here Too!

After spending what seems like a lifetime writing, editing, reworking plans for approval, after running around bureaucrat after bureaucrat for approvals and dodging political bullets, the knowledge that we at IBA are not alone in this khuari comes as such colossal satisfaction!!


Alex Taylor writes about Detroit’s struggles in TIME:

The two companies are seeking $21.6 billion in emergency loans on top of the $17.4 billion they have already received. But both are missing two pieces they must have by March 31 to convince the government that they are viable: approval from bondholders to restructure their debt and approval from the United Auto Workers to restructure their health-care agreement. Complicating the problem, the bondholders and the UAW are keeping a close eye on each other to make sure that neither side gets a better deal.

The companies here are General Motors and Chrysler, by the way. Both heavyweights, and both feeling the pinch.

In this case the approvals do actually make sense. But here at IBA it is such a headache, such a pain, getting approvals. This bureacracy is so infuriating. We get taught that strong hierarchical structures in organizations are a thing of the past, that decentralization and empowerment are the way forward, that flexibility is a key to success, and so much more. But in practice we are required to wait in lines, fill out numerous forms, and most importantly, get everything approved from everyone who has a shadow of power. From everyone who thinks he/she is important enough to merit oversight. Approval from patron, approval from counselor, approval from vice-president of student council, approval from registrar, approval from Dean.

We obviously have nothing better to do in life than run after these people and plead for their signatures, right?

And the politicking. I mean my god. I, as manager of the IBA Photography Society, am organizing an event in collaboration with the Arts and English Literary Societies. The proposal obviously had to get approvals from every living thing in sight, and when I went to my patron (after two days of chasing said gentleman) he asks me ‘Who is organizing this thing? It looks like the Arts Society is taking all the credit for this.’

To be fair the email under discussion was slightly biased, it did imply that the Arts Society was the organizer, but come on.

And this is not just my patron. Another gentleman, another patron, confronted with having to wait (gasp! patience?!) suggested that one society could be thrown off the boat. Well played, sir.

I love your understanding of teamwork.

Yeah, maybe I’m in a bad mood because our dear Marketing Head lied to us quite blatantly and forced us to spend an hour with a bunch of godforsaken researchers and waste our whole evening.

MANDATORY it said.

Mandatory my f’n ass.

Of all the people who were supposedly ordered to come, perhaps 10% showed up. Maybe less. And that too only because they were genuinely led into believing that attending this ‘workshop’ would be a productive experience. At least I was.

God damn these fuckers.

So we’ve been going to City Campus quite regularly in the past few weeks. Classes twice a week, at least one distinguished lecture series session once a week, at least one more seminar/guest speaker session in that week too. So 4 out of 6 weekdays, we spend our afternoons/evenings at city campus and get home around sunset. Effectively the day is thus wasted. I don’t believe it is reasonable to ask us to read hundreds of pages, complete assignments, and handle the rest of our responsibilities if we’re kept at university from 9am to 6pm. Sorry, maybe I’m a weakling, but I just don’t see that as feasible.

Anyway, the story is, we received this email last night, straight from Mr. Humayun Ansari, Head of the Marketing Department.

A brilliant example of integrity set by our so-called teachers.
A brilliant example of integrity set by our so-called teachers.

We get there 15 minutes late, without lunch. (Classes ended at 2 and the event started at 2:30, obviously we had to find time for lunch AND drive halfway across Karachi in that window.) We find that even though this event is supposedly mandatory, there is no attendance register for anyone from Main Campus and once we walk in, there are around 50 people present in all. There is one faculty member in sight, Mr. Jami Moiz, who spends a total of 9 minutes in the auditorium before escaping. He sacrificed 8 min 55 seconds for the sake of keeping IBA pride intact and having at least one faculty member there. Then he probably realized it was a lost cause.

Correction: I later remembered that Mr. Toshio Fujita was also there, sitting absolutely alone in the front row, but he also left before this disaster reached its conclusion (as far as I can remember) and in any case, he has a reputation for falling asleep at such occasions….

And what of the Competitiveness Support Fund? Well, there are two ladies, one smiling blankly at the wall behind us and the other alternating between fumbles, lapses of silence, and bouts of sudden amnesia. She’s talking about interviewing survey research. She’s trying to persuade us to run around the city taking interviews of CEOs for a study on competitiveness in Pakistani businesses. Brilliant. Her selling point is that we will get a CERTIFICATE (with a CSF logo! really!) and it will be OURS FOR LIFE, we will get to NETWORK and experience JOB OPPORTUNITIES. So we take a 100-odd question survey to a CEO who probably doesn’t need a pain in the ass and while he enjoys filling out this 13-section monstrosity, we’re expected to develop a rapport and wow him with our brilliance.

Remember what happened to bearers of bad news in old times?

Yes. So you would forgive me if I feel that business leaders in a recession-hit, unstable, politically charged economy aren’t going to be thrilled about self-criticism.

By this time these guests have realized that no one cares about their presence. The audience consists of students who are talking to each other, playing with their cellphones and assorted gizmos, and sleeping. There is no Humayun Ansari or other faculty member in sight. In frustration the speaker asks for a show of hands from an audience that was meant to number in the hundreds and then, on getting a response of less than a dozen volunteers, gleefully comments that they needed only five people anyway. The erstwhile stage spectator (I think she just came to look at the audience and try to be important) takes the mic and tells us that she is disappointed by our lack of interest and that we have shown her that we are true IBA students, those from a government run public sector institution. How flattering.

I think that’s enough for now. I’ve stopped ranting.

How nice it would be to engage in such fulfilling experiences over and over again. Truly, our guests were most gracious and our time with them was very well spent. Thank you for adding value to my life.


PS. Last week’s session from the head of Indus Motors, Mr. Ali Habib, was really productive. I fell asleep in the middle but that was due to exhaustion, I was averaging 3.5 hours of sleep for the week. But I really listened to him because he actually had something useful to say!

Indus Motors is one of the few auto firms in the world still in the green, but the rest would do well to look at how Detroit is suffering and shape up.

Old Glory - The Michigan Theater is now a parking lot!
Old Glory - The Michigan Theater is now a parking lot!

1 Comment

  1. Quite sadly, i too had my share, last year. I realized what a bureaucratic institute IBA is, and while i was running from one campus to the other, getting approvals and booking the auditorium, i was asked to get the signature of a department head or else the matter wouldn’t proceed further…the nerve of that guy to say “Why do you come to me for a signature? IBA is not a bureaucratic institute, this seminar is not my concern, go to the relevant department head!” God! you can imagine my reaction, nothing decent obviously…
    So we all learn, and sometimes the lessons are disappointing…
    And the seminars, quite honestly, the reason i stopped attending them is that i feel guilty. Obviously if im compelled to be there and the topic doesnt interest me or if i do not understand, i will be bored, ill talk, sleep or do anything better than listen..since i do not want to do any of that (how annoying it may be for the organizers and the speakers, i realized that after my seminar) and so no point in being there. If the topic or the speaker interests me, i really want to go. Btw, i still regret missing Ali Raza’s session.

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