The month of March is identified with many things. Some nice like the onset of spring, some inspiring like the Pakistan Day, others dreaded like the ides of March, but the Pakistani students think of it primarily as when the annual matriculation examinations are held. It is the first major examination they take and it has a big impact on their future course of action. The basic requirement for even the smallest of jobs has now become being a matriculate. Even a jawan in the army has to be one too before becoming eligible for the job. For years and years, this examination has been held in the length and breadth of the country without any major upset. We, therefore, decided that enough was enough and something was needed to be done to derail this activity too. (Derailing being a national pastime.) So voil In the spirit of taking one step forward and two steps back somebody, or some people together, decided that the paperwork was to be shunned this time around and the whole enrolment procedure was to be given the online option too The advantages of information technology, computerised communications and paperless offices are not lost on anyone and that is the way the world is functioning now, more or less. The people, who wanted to change the old way of doing things, did not cater for two problems or eventualities. One being that we really like that entire handwork and file concept. It reminds us of the British Raj and the last century, and we like living in the past. We like to do copious and bothersome things, which give the keeper of the files immense power over us and we, too, feel confident about the fact that we can interface with a human face when a problem has to be solved. (Woe betide us when someone decides that the whole patwari system is to be wrapped up and computerised files are to be maintained instead.) Secondly, nobody remembered that there is a whole training required of those who will manage the computerised system. It was just assumed that, much like the fairy who was Cinderellas godmother, a wand will be waved and we will change the copious writing-by-hand clerks into IT experts, who will manage the online forms and the whole thing will be handled super efficiently. On the other hand, the students on hearing this news, particularly those who lived away from big cities, were happy to have the option of applying online and thought that Pakistan too was progressing and a lot of botheration would be saved by this new facility. Alas For the dreams one dreams. Come exam time and the students witnessed a huge chaos, the likes of which have not been seen in the Education Department for a long time. Almost 40,000 pupils found they had no roll numbers, no intimation, nothing The last few days before an exam, when a student should ideally be studying and revising his subjects, the countless poor boys and girls were running from pillar to post trying to fix the royal mess of the forms which had incorrect names, pictures, etc. Nobody had any answers or solutions for them and although some have gone ahead and sat for the exams anyway in a haphazard manner. It may well mean a whole academic year wasted, without it being any fault of theirs. The same carelessness was applied to assigning exam centres which, this time around, included even jails, hithertofore unheard of as possibilities for same There seems to be a pattern to this behaviour. Destroy what exists, in the name of progress, but without enough homework and preparation resulting in loss of even the existing, functional system. Postscript: While we grapple with the problems of everyday life, there has been a loud thunder from the courts that says: Off with their heads. It is the call coming from the superior judiciary for the heads of FIA and NAB, who have not obeyed their commands The government of the day is inclined to deny the orders. The people have instinctively realised that time for fastening the belts is upon us again. We wait at our ringside seats for a battle between the institutions. The side which the army tilts towards will win, of course. For a change, there are no definite predictions this time about the outcome. The faujis are keeping their cards very close to their chests. Still rumours abound that they support the recently resigned gaddi nasheen from Multan as the next Prime Minister. Pir Sahib of Pagaro has also given a similar indication. Que sera sera, as the song goes. The rest of us hope that whoever happens to be in the position of power in the future will be country friendly and people friendly, as opposed to yaar friendly and family friendly The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: tallatazim@yahoo.com