Don’t Let COVID Consume Other Social Ills!

April 29, 2020

COVID … COVID … COVID!  We will PREVAIL

but that doesn’t mean we forget all other social ills ☹.

I don’t recall the source or location of this Twitter picture but KUDOS to the inventor for this simple ‘garbage collector’ system to capture debris, rubbish, flotsam, etc.

So much of Karachi’s industrial waste, rubbish & sewerage finds its way into the Sea through its identifiable & controllable outlets & nalas (nala = stream). 

There are manifold advantages to this simple model-

  • It’s cheap & easy to make – really, all it is, is a modified fishing net! 
  • Easy to set up & operate – the way I visualize it is that you place it over the city sewer and “stormwater drain” outlets where they discharge into the creeks & canals leading into the sea. 

Not only will it contain all the debris, stopping its passage into the sea on the ebb tide; but debris coming into the City on the flood tide will be contained.

  • It will lead to employment – let the villagers on the cusp of these drainage outlets be responsible for the operation of this system.  They capture, collect and bag all such debris & flotsam; the City pays them; and KWSB simply schedules its collection thrice a day from each of these spots.

Take for example the stormwater drain (built in the ‘80’s by the World Bank) which passes Mai Kolachi into Chinna Creek.  Over the last four decades, it morphed into a sewer.  If you place one of these collection nets at the discharge outlet point (where it drops into Chinna Creek), you will effectively capture almost ALL plastic bags, Styrofoam and other floating debris.  This can then be bagged and collected by KWSB or KPT. 

Other such outlets are at – Shireen Jinnah Colony, Lyari River & it’s various streams, Moosa Lane Nala (fish harbour), Korangi Creek & it’s various nalas, Budnai Nala (Sandspit), Gogni & Nalas (Hawksbay), Hub River, nalas near HUBCO, Kanupp & Port Qasim.

WHERE THERE IS A WILL … THERE IS A WAY to clean up this City!

We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 4

April 26, 2020

REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987-

(4 of 12)

Next day I went to Dr. Kanga’s house for lunch and I was surprised to find that his wife had a boutique from which she was earning Rs. 100/- per month. After lunch, I asked her if she would instead like to earn over Rs.300/- per month. I trained her as an Insurance Agent for only one day. The next day, she brought insurance of Rs. 50,000/- from Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto (Grandfather of Miss Benazir Bhutto) and earned a commission of Rs. 1500/- at the first shot. I had Punjabi and Parsi Agents in Karachi working for me and all did very good business and made very good money.

I sent for my younger brother Rathan from Bombay to come and stay with me where he was attending a College, and as my Father had asked me to look after him because when my mother died he was only One year old. I got a two-bedroomed flat at a rent of Rs. 50/- per month and bought a Wolsley Car for Rs.1000/. The furniture was hired from Jagus & Co.

In those days I used to earn not only Commissions on my own income, but 5% commissions on all the sales of the whole of Karachi, Sind, Baluchistan, Afghanistan, Punjab and N.W.F.P., of which I was in-charge.

Dr Kanga introduced me to a Parsi Dhansak Club situated opposite the Empress market, behind Bomanshaw Minocher-Homji Parsi Hospital. The fee of the Club was Rs 5/- per month and we used to have a lunch for Rs. 2/- only which consisted of  Murghi, Dhansak, Kabab, Rotti Fried Pomfret and Pudding and Hot Drinks including Beer. The Members of the Club were Sir Cowasji as the President, Khan Bahadur, Ardeshir Mama, Burjorji Wacha, Hormusji Khajurina, Dadiba Mehta the ex-Judicial Commissioner, etc., I was the youngest member.  I also have the honor of becoming the FIRST Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) in Asia.

(to be continued)

(previous (3rd) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/03/13/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-3/)

#dinshawavari, #avarihotels, #hotelsinPakistan, #oldfamiliesofkarachi, #historyofKarachi, #avarixpress, #avarifamilyhistory, #sunlifeinsurancecompany, #insuranceagent, #petitparsiorphanage, #petitorphanage, #orphanage, #parsiorphanage,  #hotelsinkarachi, #hotelsinlahore, #hotelsinMultan, #hotelsinIslamabad, #hotelsinFaisalabad

“Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery” (Further Ramblings of a Layman [COVID]- 2)

April 19, 2020

Well, we are in a Pandemic and it’s not really about “flattery”- it’s more about …

COPY WHAT SEEMS TO WORK from past and current experiences, regardless of personal or political conflict, geographical boundaries or religion!

So, what seems to be working?

  1. Mitigation strategies-
    1. Scale up COVID tests & diagnosis- doing large number of lab diagnoses allow authorities to slow the spread of the infection by isolating known cases while they are infectious, enabling treatment to be administered at a far earlier stage
    1. Increase easily available, random & free testing
    1. “Test and trace for the high-at-risk groups”, which means increasing the manufacture of local test kits
    1. Continue to maintain social distancing
    1. Limit contact with older people, they being more susceptible to the Virus
    1. Two types of testing is required-
      1. Serology tests- which will identify infected patients with antibodies (this will help determine who is immune and help people get back to normal life)
      1. Rapid-antigen test- to diagnose those who carry the virus (without or with minimal symptoms)
  2. Open testing & drive-through centers in each of Karachi’s – as an example – 178 Union Councils to screen as many people, as quickly, as possible.  All tests would be recorded through their CNICs, immediately tested with temperature scan and throat swab.  People who may have interacted with an infected patient should report to testing centers for checking.
  3. “R-0” (R-naught) is the number of new infections an infected person passes on.  Only when R0 is less than 1 will the pandemic start reducing.  So, all mitigation strategies should continue “one month after you drive down the R-naught to zero”.
  4. Increase LOCAL supply chains so as to provide protective gear, supplies & equipment to front line health workers & hospitals; and going hand-in-hand, continuous monitoring and protection of all medical and other essential workers.
  5. Contact Tracing- tracking travel history & all movements of every COVID patient so as to find & test every person in contact with the patient.  This will identify transmission networks and preempt possible further carriers.
  6. Use of Modern Technology & Communications-
    1. *An accurate communication system that disseminates the movements of potentially infected people, in which geographical areas, etc.  There should be ONE SOURCE of this information and all you need to do is push it out to each of the Telco carriers in the City for onwards distribution to the public.  This will enable less contact between possible affected and those not. 
    2. My brother’s suggestion was to use “easy-paisa” & other such portals to disseminate the Federal & Provincial funds to the needy & poor instead of cash payouts.  With almost 80% mobile subscribers in Pakistan, majority of the recipients will be documented, leading to less fraud.

A macro shift is needed from a patient-centered model to community-system care that offers pandemic solutions for the entire population (with a specific emphasis on home care).  As mentioned in my earlier article (https://dinshawavari.com/2020/04/07/a-laymans-thoughts-on-mitigation-strategies-covid/), self-quarantine & home care should not be discounted- it will relieve the strain on hospitals & health workers.

As before, the views in this Paper are personal, from a series of publications I recently studied-

A Layman’s Thoughts on Mitigation Strategies [COVID]

April 7, 2020

(This is a long article)

Pakistan does not have the resources to sustain a lengthy closure yet we can’t all come out “dancing on the streets”.

However, I feel a four-pronged action is now the order of the day- continue with Coronavirus mitigation, restart limited commerce getting people back to work, the Government works on helping affected companies and uses funds to aid the unemployed (through registered NGOs).

The views in this Paper are personal and formed with a combination of thoughts from family members, inhouse executives and a series of publications on incentives being created by European governments on COVID-19 mitigation (some bibliography at the end).

COVID MITIGATION

  1. Government contracts local, reputed medical manufacturers to urgently manufacture N-95 masks for entire population.
  2. Isolate areas of city/towns where virus is dense and lock off those areas.
  3. Increase random testing.
  4. All “at-risk” people (demographics by age, prior respiratory problems like pneumonia, heart victims, etc) to mandatorily stay at home.
  5. Guarantee access to COVID testing & care at no cost – no matter a person’s employment status
  6. Make it mandatory for populace wear the N-95 facemasks when out of the house, with stiff, on-the-spot penalties for contravention.
  7. Any COVID family member to be isolated – for mental satisfaction, can stay in their own house but with completely separate facilities, etc otherwise to go to govt mandated facility.  If former, then no contact between family members.
  8. Affected people must inform authorities of their condition, whereabouts – and authorities will keep check on them
  9. Sanitize & disinfect all public areas (be it transport, bus stops, hand rails, etc)
  10. Ensure supply on controlled prices of essential commodities, food items & medicines through utility stores & other channels; and ensure hoarding and price gouging does not take place.
  11. Pass on more benefit of int’l oil price reduction to public while government retains a portion to be used for the poor, daily wagers and unemployed during this crisis
  12. Duty free import for items NOT being locally manufactured- especially medical supplies.

RESTART COMMERCE

  1. Restart industrial activity –
    1. However, only those companies registered with the SECP and Federal &/or provincial revenue boards AND are regular tax assessees would be allowed this facility.
    1. Only those companies NOT directly in contagion areas/zones.
  2. Responsibility of company directors/owners –
    1. Companies to ensure their employees are kept on the payroll- even if on [paid] leave – from the time of COVID downturn.
    1. All normal staff benefits (especially health) to continue.
    1. Daily wagers who are part of company operations would also continue as if no crisis had continued, even if the work for which they were casually employed has finished.
    1. Worker conditions, hygiene & sanitation as per COVID guidelines.
    1. Where possible, these companies to have labour stay on premises to reduce contact with outside world.
    1. ALL workers to wear masks, disposable gloves & use hand sanitizer in their work areas.
    1. When leaving work areas, dispose gloves, use hand sanitizer but keep wearing mask.
    1. Food shifts to be ensured to have minimal people together for meals
    1. All utensils to be cleaned with WHO-recommended cleaners- all surfaces, chairs, etc between food shifts too
    1. All work places, machines, toilets, etc to be regularly sanitized & disinfected.
    1. Temperature reading 3 times for 100% of staff in each shift.
    1. Immediately isolation & care of sick workers.
  3. Public space access – eg malls, offices, hotels, restaurants, etc- hands to be sanitized and guests to be given disposable gloves & face masks.
  4. Resume delivery services with delivery person using gloves & mask; and sanitizing the delivered items in front of recipient before handing it over.

GOV’T BAILOUT OF COMPANIES

By doing the below actions, Gov’t will help companies absorb the costs and shocks of this crisis, yet not give direct cash injection, keep people employed (even if at home) and restart economic activity.

  1. In return Gov’t will assist such companies subsidize their operations & costs from beginning February 2020 to end August 2020.
    1. In the first phase, would only apply to those companies which are directly affected by this crisis resulting in over 70% of their income being affected- and can be proved and established with documentation.
    1. Would only apply to companies registered with the SECP and Federal &/or provincial revenue boards AND are regular tax assessees.
    1. Any misuse & contravention of this bailout by companies would be a criminal action under CrPC.
    1. Specified registered private audit firms would audit revenue-side of each company applying for this bailout prior to bailout facilities.
  2. Following are the bailout suggestions-
    1. Exemption from all statutory taxes, duties & fees (federal, provincial, excise, vend).
    1. Exemption from all labour-related taxes, fees & cess.
    1. Exemption from Provident fund contribution from both parties.
    1. Exemption on all TAXES on UTILITIES for period of shutdown (and all such billing on actual-reading basis and not average-basis).
    1. Heavily subsidized utility costs- electricity, gas, water & sewerage.
    1. Drastic reduction in markup rates by slashing KIBOR to 2%.
    1. Exemption from sales tax.  If full exemption cannot be given, exempt period of COVID crisis and defer the payment of sales for the balance period.
    1. Lifting of restrictions on Input Tax claims.
    1. Defer the payments of supplier & employee withholding taxes.
    1. Defer the payment of Advance Tax.
    1. Easy loans to such companies – for which SBP regulations will not apply and repayment will be over 10 years, with a two-year moratorium.
    1. Moratorium for existing commercial loans on such companies by one year.

AID THE UNEMPLOYED

By working with & through registered NGOs, the government can use cash incentives directly for other affected workers directly, the underprivileged & families who are not covered by above companies.

  1. Food rations to poor people and out of work families to be conducted by & through REGISTERED NGOs only- like Rotary clubs, etc. 
    1. Government will provide the food rations to said NGOs but distribution will be NGOs responsibility.
      1. This will ensure that food is fairly and honestly distributed. 
      1. Each NGO can be responsible for a certain geographic area and monitor/record said people through their CNIC. 
      1. Such data to be provided by NGOs to provincial gov’t who in turn will cross check it with NADRA database.
    1. This will be the starting point for the creation of an official unemployment database too.

The above will ensure government resources and personnel are better redirected to controlling & curing actual COVID cases in known contagion areas.

“…and people who keep their jobs ‘are less unhappy and shocked [..]

They are less likely to dramatically cut their consumption.

That limits the overall economic damage.  

When social distancing ends, millions of employer-employee

relationships will have been destroyed,

slowing down the recovery [..].

(REFERENCES-

1. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/01/business/france-coronavirus-unemployment.html

2. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/30/opinion/coronavirus-economy-saez-zucman.html

“WHATEVER HAPPENS, HAPPENS FOR THE BEST”

April 2, 2020

Life is all about experiences and based on those experiences, over time, your outlook towards life and the world forms & changes.

Likewise, I too have become more philosophical, definitely more religious and have come to sincerely believe in (& follow) a saying we learnt from my father–

Whatever happens, happens for the best;

Whatever happens, happens the way God wants it to

   because that’s the best way

So when my sailing friends, Bill & Kate Gover invited me to cruise with them on ‘SY SENETO’ around the world (https://billkatesail.wordpress.com/), I jumped at this opportunity for their Pacific leg.  About four weeks – a leisurely cruise – interspersed with squalls (and calm) – but nothing grueling like it would have been in a Clipper or Fastnet race.

My wife Dinaz did – and my family would’ve – supported this 100%, as they have my other whims and fancies.  Then I remembered my mother-in-law lives with us since 2017, when she had her stroke; and while Dinaz primarily takes care of her, I too help out where I can- especially moral & physical support to Dinaz.  So, it really wouldn’t be right or fair for me to go gallivanting the oceans while my wife solely supported her mom.  Hence my deep regrets to Bill & Kate.

No one knew COVID-19 would hit the WORLD just four months into their ‘adventure of a lifetime’!  Had I gone on the sail, not only would I probably have been stuck in some port; there would have been no flights back; I wouldn’t be with my family; and they and I would be worried for each other while the Coronavirus engulfed the Country (just as Bill & Kate must be currently for their family and vice-versa as they sail the Pacific).

So here’s the punch- while regretting the voyage was the right thing to do, in hindsight I now believe I was never meant to go as it never had been on the cards for me … “whatever happens, happens for the best”!

Likewise, the pandemic we are facing now is happening for a reason and if mankind can just learn and evolve from this experience, we will be the better from it.

WHERE ARE WE HEADING

March 26, 2020

(source- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ongoing_armed_conflicts)

Insurgencies, ethnic violence, civil wars, conflicts and over 200,000 deaths in 2019 alone!

  • Afghanistan conflict
  • Yemen crisis
  • Syrian civil war
  • Kurd conflict
  • Iraq conflict
  • Libyan conflict
  • Kashmir conflict
  • Palestinian conflict

(source- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ongoing_armed_conflicts)

This list doesn’t even touch on intra-country “insurgencies”!

…and now a virus pandemic…

My personal belief is that with the current Coronavirus trajectory, COVID19 has the potential to overshadow all these world conflicts & flashpoints with fatalities.

So, what’s going on? 

  • Is “nature” correcting this Century’s rife?
  • Is this a wake-up call to live within the resources that Earth has given us – not to destroy it?
  • Maybe this is meant to teach us forgiveness & humility towards fellow man – not hubris & greed?
  • Should we encourage education & knowledge for the betterment of mankind – not child labor?
  • If science is to lead the path for a better tomorrow, wouldn’t it be better to do it collaboratively and collectively – rather than conflict & strife?
  • Wasn’t religion meant for our salvation & give a purpose to life – not as a means to power?
  • Maybe the world needs to concentrate on “small government” to help citizens – not big business?  (also refer- https://dinshawavari.com/2019/06/14/what-does-a-government-do-for-us-%f0%9f%a4%94/)
  • Is this pandemic a test to measure the level of universal aid & collaboration – or politics getting the better of humanity?

…OR, maybe the answer is ALL OF THE ABOVE???

TDF Ghar (https://www.dawoodfoundation.org/tdf-ghar/)

March 18, 2020

We Karachiites are foodies!  So, when we received a circular for a Bohri food night, we jumped at it, on the roof of TDF “Ghar” (“house” in Urdu)- super dinner, pleasant weather, outstanding view of Quaid-e-Azam’s Mausoleum, typical Parsi loudness and laughter, great service by our Bohri hosts & excellent value for money!

However, what was just as interesting was TDF Ghar- one of the old, pre-partition houses in the old city of Karachi, wonderfully restored by TDF.  Quoting from TDF’s history –

“TDF Ghar was built in 1920-30’s.  This house was initially owned by a Hindu woman, Haribai Motiram, which she sold in April 1948 to Hajiani Hanifabai for her daughter Aisha Bai Dawood in June 1948 as a residence.

In April 1961 the House was donated to The Dawood Foundation.  In 1965, Ahmed Dawood established Hanifa Hajiani Haji Gani Vocational Training Center for Women.  The training center used to enroll over 150 students per batch and train them in typing, cooking, sewing, painting, hand & machinery embroidery and English language. 

TDF Ghar is open to all to promote informal learning spaces in Karachi.  TDF Ghar is based on a self-sustainability business model- revenues generated from rentals and tickets is re-invested in the upkeep and development of the Ghar.”

With a small café on premises, we experienced families, youngsters & groups socially interacting with each other; playing board games; reading; using the library.  It was an amazing experience.  It was surreal finding such an oasis in bustling Karachi!

Kudos to The Dawood Foundation for yet another public service to the citizens of Karachi … and Pakistan!

(https://dinshawavari.com/2019/08/30/ohthe-clean-clean-not-streets-of-karachi/)

We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 3

March 13, 2020

REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987- (3 of 12)

I accepted Karachi because I used to read articles on the Late Mr. Jamshed Mehta in the Jam-e-Jamshed and was highly impressed. He asked me in how many days I would like to go over and open the Karachi )Office. I told him within 48 hours I would go to Karachi, as I require one day to go to Udvada and Navsari for Prayers and for meeting my relations and friends and the next day I would go to Karachi. He told me that the Manager’s Agreement require  at least 8 days to be made ready, signed, stamped and completed and therefore, I could go within 10 days. This Offer was a God sent gift to me.

When coming to Karachi, I travelled by Steamer ‘VITA’ in the first class, and I became acquainted with Mr. Pesi, Solicitor of Bombay who was the son-in-law of a well-known Karachi photographer called Jalbhoy Sethna. Pesi was friendly with Dr. Kaikobad Kanga and he requested me to make Kaikobad as the Doctor of the Company, so that when the Insurance cases are examined, he could make some money.   Dr. Kanga had come to receive Pesi at the Seaport of Karachi, where I was introduced to Dr. Kanga who took me to Jehangir Baugh, which was a Dharamsala for the Parsis.

It was 13th December 1929. In those days Karachi winters were so cold that people used to keep ‘Angithi’ even at 12.00 noon to keep themselves warm. A manager of the Dharamsala was Dadi and he told me ‘O Bombay ka Parsi, if you do not take Brandy and put on a heavy overcoat, you will be dead by tomorrow’. Mrs. Kanga took me to a shop in Elphinstone Street where I bought an overcoat and bottle of Hennessy Brandy for Rs.3/-.

(Angithi- Photo credit- http://www.dsource.in/resource/kitchen-products/stoves/angithi

(to be contd.)

(previous (2nd) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/02/21/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-2/)

“Mangroves: Custodians of the Coast” (A film by The Dawood Foundation)

March 11, 2020

I was invited by the British Council on a documentary on the ‘Mangroves of Sindh’, directed by Anam Abbas & sponsored by the Dawood Foundation- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AE5V221BvUg, alongwith a group of school children.

One of the greatest advantages of the Mangrove ecosystem are their intricate roots- they slow water flow thus protecting shorelines during storms by absorbing & reducing wave energy and water velocity respectively.

Besides being a habitat for birds and sealife, mangroves act as a natural barrier for land erosion due to currents and wave velocities.

Unfortunately, villagers in Pakistan cut down these life-saving trees for the wood and their rich, mineral-based leaves, as a fuel source and income.

‘Mangroves of Sindh’ identifies a practical SOLUTION – create cheap, alternate fuel sources for villagers. 

To change any ‘evil’, one must change the system from its roots.  While the subsequent discussions asked school children to consider careers in the Civil Services, my thoughts are we should go even further back- to the school level.  You cannot change a system if people don’t identify the threat of devastation, which can more effectively be taught from primary levels.

Malaysia uses the Mangroves forests as an eco-tourist platform, especially during monsoon seasons.  My family took a “mangrove tour” over a decade ago- a mangrove boat ride, eagle feeding and a third attraction I don’t remember now.  The government gave fisherman small engines so that when fishing was banned, they could use small boats for such tourist visits, thus earning income in off-season.

Another fantastic video is ‘The Edge of Delta’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0SJrsc32U8 by Tariq A. Qaiser.

There are small changes within our System, which can be accomplished easily and with minimal cost to the government.  IUCN, British Council and individuals are doing what they can within their resources but isn’t it time our governments stepped up to help the environment and, by extension, our coastal villages and cities?

Keynotes II ~ ’79 to ’86 – by Lynette Dias Gouveia

Legendary Musicians of Karachi

Keynotes II with Hilary Furtado, Nobert Furtado, Maxwell Dias, Trevor D’mello, Alan Vanderlowen,
Ainsley Highfield, William Joseph, David Joseph
Artwork ~ by Farah Abro © Legendary Musicians of Karachi

© Legendary Musicians of Karachi

Keynotes II with Hilary Furtado,  Nobert FurtadoMaxwell Dias,  Trevor D’mello, Alan Vanderlowen,  Ainsley Highfield, William Joseph,  David Joseph, Allan Smith and Neil Araujo.

Photographs contributed by Lynette Dias Gouveia and  Ulysses Polacco
Artwork ~ by Farah Abro

———————————————————————————-

Category ~ Legendary Musicians of Karachi

Keynotes II

It was 1979 or thereabouts when Nobert Furtado aka Nobby (bass) and Julius Saldhana (keys) returned to Karachi from the Far East after performing there for several years with legendary musicians; Colin D’Souza (guitar) and Martin Fernandes (drums).   They hooked up with Bobby Fredrick, Tony D’Souza (TJ) and Maxwell Dias aka Max and immediately started playing at the Horseshoe Restaurant as “The…

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