International moot on economic and social history of Sindh held at SU
The future strategy for economic and social development of Sindh has to be carefully charted out, as any linear derivation from the national strategy, without carful adaptation in the light of the sharp urban-rural, ethno-linguistic, agriculture-non agriculture income divide, with the attendant political polarization, would prove to be counter-productive. The Provincial Commission should give higher allocation to the backward districts of the province while provide incentives to advanced districts to mobilize resources on their own. Public-private partnership should be encouraged for investment in infrastructure and human development.
The past practices of blaming the federal government for all the ills and shortcomings have not been conducive and a different track needs to be adopted. A more conciliatory and cooperative path may perhaps produce better results rather than an adversarial and confrontational avenue that has not worked in the past. Hence, the growth strategy for future development should include: improving the governance and institutional capacity of the provincial and district governments by enhancing accountability, transparency and rule of law, introducing a citizens’ feedback system and a robust freedom of information law making the urban economy more competitive and efficient, raising the productivity of water, livestock and agricultural land through water course lining, precision land leveling, introducing new varieties of seeds, improved crop and animal husbandry practices, promotion of fisheries and marine products and value-added horticulture, vegetables and oilseeds, mobilizing province’s own revenues by reforming urban property tax, agricultural income tax, improving access of the poor, particularly the rural female population and those living in the backward districts to basic services such as education and health by giving scholarships, free lunches and conditional cash grants for female students, subsidies and free medicines.
The above remarks were made by SU vice chancellor Prof. Dr. Fateh Muhammad Burfat in his presidential address at One-day International Conference on “Economic and Social History of Sindh” organized by the varsity’s Pakistan Study Centre and Senate Hall of the Vice Chancellor Secretariat. World renowned historians from Royal Holloway University of London Department of History’s Centre of Minority Studies Prof. Dr. Sarah Ansari, Prof. Humayun Ansari and noted development economics scholar Prof. Aijaz A. Qureshi from Sindh were the keynote speakers.
Commissioner Sukkur and event Chief Guest Engr. Shafique Ahmed Mahesar said Sindh possessed rich socio-cultural profile, heritage and glory, yet due to continually deteriorating values and standards it had fallen on hard times, for which they all needed to work hard to ameliorate the situation. He congratulated Dr. Burfat and Dr. Mahesar upon successful organization of the international moot.
Prof. Sarah Ansari, deliberating on her topic “Sindh: From, Through and To” said that Karachi as a port city remained academic, economic, social, trade and commercial hub of the British Indian colonial empire with highest cotton and wheat exports. She opined that the notion that Karachi was merely a small town, sitting at Sindh peripheral margins was not correct; arguing that all along Karachi had thrived as an energetic, pulsating urban habitat in constant vibrant connectivity with the world through rail, water and air transportation and communication.
“I argue for Sindh to have enjoyed happy times before during and after colonial period punctuated by World War II, advent of information technology and communication revolution.
However, in the current times, Sindh was facing the intimidating challenges of discouraging socio-economic indicators in the face of population explosion and a horde of other problems”, Prof. Sarah said.
Prof. Humayun Ansari, dilating upon the topic ‘History: Its Role and Significance’ said that there was greater need for documenting and archiving of more history about Sindhi Diaspora residing in Britain.
“Historians need to draw educated conclusions, draw new meaningful, original, interpretive and conceptual historical lines based on irrefutable evidence; rather than merely joining the dots mechanically on the basis of random guess-work”, Prof. Humayun said.
Prof. Humayun further observed that facts did not speak for themselves they needed to be told upon by the historians; adding that historians needed to pull upon historical records and illustrate them as accurately and conscientiously as possible.
“Historical facts cannot be observed directly without medication of the historians who need to reconstruct those facts using their insightful non-fictional imagination”, Prof. Humayun insisted.
Prof. Aijaz Qureshi said that the reason for weak economic growth despite an urbanized, educated population had been declining productivity. This is despite the fact that the contribution of manufacturing and services to GDP recorded an increase during this period while agricultural employment in Sindh had remained stagnant and agriculture’s contribution to the GDP had dropped. Labor productivity in agriculture had remained low and steady in Sindh over the last decade. Productivity in industry and services had also started to decline in the last three years after rising for most of the last decade, implying that the reallocation of labor was not transpiring according to the classical economic growth theory: how to absorb 300,000-400,000 new entrants every year to the employed labor force and equip them with appropriate education, training and skills, how to raise the productivity of agriculture in the face of water shortages, food insecurity and rising demand for meat, dairy and fruits by the urban middle class, how to use the relative strengths of the urban and rural economies to build more synergies between the two and overcome the existing divide, how to improve governance and make state institutions effective and capable for delivery of public goods and service, how to bridge the social gap between the underdeveloped districts and the rural female population and the developed districts and urban male population.
Director Pakistan Study Centre Prof. Dr. Shuja Ahmed Mahesar said that story of Sindh required comprehensive and in-depth academic investigation to unfold very many myths compounding truths about it.
“In this conference, I hope we would be able to know major aspects of history of Sindh including the British period and its impact on economic and social life of the province. This conference will also enhance our understanding of major historical movements and archaeological sites”, Dr. Mahesar added.
Eminent writer, journalist, poet, IT businessman and SANA activist from the U.S Ishaque Tunio also spoke on the occasion.
Dean Faculty of Social Sciences Prof. Dr. Zareen Abbasi tendered vote of thanks.
SU senior faculty Dr. Ghulam Ali Buriro and SU-IELL student Ms. Alina Raza moderated the proceedings of the moot.
A large number of scholars, civil society activists, faculty, researchers, academics and students participated in the conference.
The moot concluded on an insightful question-answer episode and award of souvenir shields and appreciation certificates.
Copyright by University of Sindh