Mounting socio-economic problems in Pakistan stem from some grave missing factors in the awareness of masses and these issues have been ignored by successive governments in the past. It is imperative to bridge the gaps in this respect to see a new Pakistan with new heights. A responsive government needs to play an effective role in this area. Special budget provisions and guidelines need to be provided for action by concerned public sector organisations. This in fact is a sine qua non to the challenge of good governance. Major areas of deficiencies in public awareness would be discussed. The consequence of the grave neglect has been resulting in the loss of thousands of lives and properties in the country. We see horrible scenes almost every day.
The Federal and Provincial Governments should use the following means to impart awareness to masses on a regular basis:
Television Programs and educational advertisements in electronic and print media on a continuous basis.
Billboards on important locations can be used for education of masses.
Social media like Facebook and Twitter can also be effective. Government should make use of this sector in an organised way.
English and Urdu and even regional languages can be used to communicate with masses.
Established and credible NGOs can also be used to impart awareness especially in rural areas.
Developed countries follow these practices through the public sector agencies and allocate specific funds for this purpose to provide effective guidelines for implementation programs.
The following major areas need urgent focus by the Government for imparting awareness to mitigate adverse situations: Rising accidents and mishaps, religious intolerance, increasing crime rates, rising suicides, health care issues involving increase in diseases and fatalities and lastly, family disputes
Let us examine these subsectors and the damage being inflicted to our national life.
Almost every month, we see incidences of traffic accidents especially due to heavy vehicles causing loss of lives. Major causes are defective vehicles and incompetent drivers for which the government agencies are also responsible. However, the vehicle owners need to be educated through a motivational campaign to ensure vehicles fitness and competent drivers to avoid losses. Rise in railway accidents has been very shocking. It appears that the railway workers responsible for maintaining and operating the public roads crossing railways gates are negligent in all cases. Public needs to be advised to be careful in crossing through railway crossings. However, it may be advisable to outsource the maintenance and operation of railway road crossings to the private sector to manage with an IT based management system. A pilot project can be launched on urgent basis.
Other mishaps of houses and buildings collapses have been occurring frequently. Public needs to be educated to take care of their dilapidated houses and buildings. The Municipal authorities should also survey such houses, buildings and guide the developers for repairs before mishaps.
Fortunately, with the implementation of National Action Plan and counter terrorism measures, religious intolerance has been substantially reduced. Nonetheless, there is a need to continually educate the masses through print and electronic media. Religious scholars and intellectuals can play an effective role in this connection through talk shows, dramas etc. PEMRA needs to take measures in this regard.
Controlling crime rates
Education of masses in general can certainly help controlling crime. Adoption of preventive measures by the people at large against criminals can cut down the incidences. Likewise security measures adoption by the people especially women can help decrease crime rate against them. Child care and women self protection guidance can be effective in reducing crime rates in these categories.
Unfortunately, suicides are on the increase in our society. Islamic guidance needs to be provided in print and electronic media from time to time. Suicide is ‘haram’ in Islam. Guidelines need to be provided for providing general awareness to the society.
Health care issues
Prevention is better than cure. Masses need education to take preventive measure against diseases like cardiac problems, diabetes, obesity and cancer etc., and news and social media can be utilised. This would not only improve public health at large but also cut loads on public sector hospitals in particular. Self-help education in diseases control can bring rich dividends for masses welfare.
Due to various socio-economic factors, our family system stability is being threatened. Helplines and reconciliation centers can be set up in towns and cities to resolve family disputes and avoid divorces. Family laws and family courts need to be reviewed. Education through media can provide effective guidelines on family disputes resolutions.
It is high time that the current gaps in the awareness of masses are filled without bureaucratic delays using the powerful print and electronic media with comprehensive public sector support with funds and good management.
It may be advisable to outsource the maintenance and operation of railway road crossings to the private sector to manage with an IT based management system.