Lahore School of Economics

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Keynote address by Dr Rashid Amjad at the Lahore School Convocation

Rector, Lahore School of Economics, Dr. Shahid Amjad Chaudhry
Deans, Professors and Distinguished Faculty
Proud Parents of the Graduating Class of 2012
Honoured Guests
Dear Students



It is indeed a privilege and a pleasure for me to address this august gathering.

This is a solemn yet joyous occasion for it marks an important milestone in the lives of the graduating students who are bestowed with degrees to recognize their successfully completing the prescribed courses and years of graduate or post-graduate education.

But before I join the rest of us in congratulating you on this achievement I find it befitting to recognize the contribution of those who more than any other have made this day possible for each one of you.

These are your proud parents who through their care, love, affection and indeed many sacrifices have made this day possible for you, graduating students and I, therefore, ask each one of you to applaud and acknowledge their great contribution.

Let us also recognize today that the Lahore School of Economics is itself the result of the considerable commitment of its founding fathers and the dedication and hardwork of its staff and indeed students, which have made Lahore School today an internationally recognized school of learning and excellence.
Yet it was not that very long ago in 1993, just twenty years earlier, that a small group of academics and economists met under the Chairmanship of the Late Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mohammad Yaqub Ali, and decided to set-up the National Economic Foundation, the parent body of the Lahore School of Economics. I consider myself privileged that I was one of those who was present on this historical occasion.

In 1997, the Lahore School of Economics was granted the Charter as a degree awarding institution, and in these fifteen years, it has become a leading teaching cum research institution and recognized among the top few in Pakistan in business and economic studies.

Over the years many have contributed to this achievement and no more than the Rector himself. Let me also here pay tribute to late Mr. Mahmood Ali Khan Chaudhry, who took over the reigns of the Chairmanship of the National Economic Foundation and the Board of Governors of Lahore School in 1995 and provided guidance with great distinction and dedication for over 16 years.

I myself am returning to Lahore after many many years but have followed with active interest the growth of this institution and with almost a passion the quality of the education it imparts and the strength and quality of the graduates it produces.

Wherever and whenever I have met Pakistanis on visits abroad, or those sitting next to me on flights coming into or going out of Pakistan, especially those working in the private sector, the one remark that has greatly heartened me is the description that I have most frequently heard of the Lahore School graduates: “The Lahore School graduates are bright and intelligent but what distinguishes them out from all the others is that they are at ease with themselves and at ease with others. This reflects inner self-confidence and are the hall marks of a good team player – and this more than anything else is what we seek in our new professionals.”

What you will not find in books or in the laboratories or in the physical infrastructure of an institution is this “something extra” which Lahore School gives to its students. This is the “atmosphere” and ‘team spirit’, which distinguishes institutions from just ordinary ones from those which gain national and international recognition. We economist call it total factor productivity, but then we economist complicate everything.

The Lahore School is still young and has a long way to go, as Dr. Shahid Chaudhry, our Rector constantly reminded me when I queried about the many challenges the School faces, “The first hundred years are a bit difficult”. But solid foundations are being laid on which we all can build further.

Let me also tell you, the young graduates of the Lahore School class of 2013, that you all are its finest ambassadors and I am fully confident that you will further enhance the reputation and global recognition of the Lahore School.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is said that, “you can take a man out of Lahore but never Lahore out of a man” or to be politically correct “you can take a person out of Lahore but never Lahore out of a person”.

In all these many long years outside Pakistan what I have missed most is this beautiful and magnificent city of Lahore and you cannot imagine the joy I feel on coming back. It has been a city, as our dear father used to say of the best educational institutions where art, literature and culture flourished when he came to study here in the 1930s in Government College, Lahore. Today, Lahore is again blossoming, even in these difficult and challenging times as a city of colleges and universities and I am sure our parents would be proud that the Lahore School of Economics is a leading part of this resurgence.

I hope the setting up of the Graduate Institute of Development Studies at the Lahore School, as a multi-disciplinary teaching and research institution, will play a small yet important role in providing new and cutting edge approaches to development where economics combines with other social sciences – sociology, history, anthropology, law, gender studies, geography, political science, linguistics – to provide a holitistic approach to the complex problems of economic development. The Lahore School plans to offer a two year MPhil programme in Development Studies with one year of course work and one year of research. Its graduates would serve not only in the traditional public and private sectors but also the NGOs and other fast growing civil society institutions which are mushrooming in Pakistan.

I have already described to you the characteristics that distinguish the Lahore School of Economics graduates and makes them stand-out and provides them the cutting edge in a high competitive global economy:

But I must add to this one other. They do not like listening to long speeches!

But before I end I would like to give, not as ‘advise’ as this is rarely appreciated, but let me call them “insights” I have gained from my long years of working life mostly abroad.

  • The first that it is important to make a mark in your profession in the early years of your careers, for the reputation you establish then is one which follows you throughout your working life.
  •  The second that we live in a closely interconnected and highly competitive global economy and in which the pace of technological change will further accelerate. You must, therefore, continuously upgrade your skills – if you are to remain competitive and relevant.
  •  The third in the new global economy it is not so much the colour of your passport which makes you globally mobile, it is the degree which you received today which will provide you the opportunity to gain employment though out the world.

Pakistan today is passing through very challenging times. There is talk of a dysfunctional or failing state. There is much doom and gloom. But Pakistan has always surprised its critics. When the country was founded many thought it would not survive. But the spirit and commitment of its people who had participated in the freedom struggle resulted in little time in a functioning government and later rapid industrialization.

Who will save Pakistan today? It is you the young people of Pakistan, the “youth bulge” that will not only put Pakistan back on the road to stability and prosperity, but also to become one of the leading, fast growing and developing economy in the world.

May God bless you the graduating class of 2012 in fulfilling this role!

Dr. Rashid Amjad, the Director Graduate Institute of Development Studies, Lahore School of Economics and Former Vice-Chancellor PIDE

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 1/26/2013 12:42:00 PM,

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