Monthly Archives: September 2015

KNOWLEDGE-DRIVEN ERA AND THE DAWN OF KNOWLEDGE PORTAL TECHNOLOGIES

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Institution of Engineers (India) J&K State Center

CELEBRATION OF 48TH ENGINEERS DAY – 2015

THEME: ENGINEERING CHALLENGES FOR KNOWLEDGE ERA

by:  Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili FIE

 

 KNOWLEDGE-DRIVEN ERA AND THE DAWN OF KNOWLEDGE PORTAL TECHNOLOGIES

Today we are living in an age of knowledge explosion. What we studied at Graduation level half a century back, is being taught now at Primary level and the school going children are feeling to be under stress. So is the case with the grown-ups; it has become difficult to keep pace with latest developments of knowledge as every hour some new discovery/ invention takes place. In earlier days the pace of development was much slower and it would take a long time for the news/technology to reach other places. Acquisition of knowledge has been human endeavor right from the beginning. According to a Hadith:  “One has to learn knowledge right from cradle to the grave.” From the following details, we can have an idea of the history of the development of knowledge right from the earliest times, when each era has been a knowledge era according to its own limitations:

The Dawn of History:  Around 1-2 million years ago several humanoid species existed according to fossil finds. For 200,000 years, the dominant human species in Europe and Asia were Neanderthals, who were driven to extinction around 30,000 years ago, by new arrivals from Africa-Homo Sapiens.

The Neanderthals appeared in Europe about 250,000 years ago-the name comes from the Neander Valley near Dusseldrof Germany, where remains were first found in 1856. There is ample evidence that the Neanderthals were cultural beings. Skillfully wrought stone tools and jewellery has been found. Graves showed that they buried their dead with some ceremony. They also used fire – vital for survival in the cold climate of the period. About 30,000 years ago they were outclassed by the more adaptable Homo-sapiens also known as ‘Cro-Magnon man’, named after the place in Dordogne France, where they were first found.

Mitochondrial Eve: In 1986, researchers at the University of California concluded that all humans were descended from a single woman who lived in Africa some 200,000 years ago. They based this on analysis of DNA taken from the mitochondrial specific parts of the human cell. This DNA differs from DNA in the cell nucleus and it passes only through the female line. It mutates at a very rapid but steady rate. It appears that her lineage has survived to present day.

Various Ages:

The Stone Age -(Upper Paleolithic)- 45,000 – 10,000 years ago

Early humans were already expert flint workers by the Upper Paleolithic period. More than 100 distinct tools and weapons have been found at sites in Europe and the Near East. Typical features of Upper Paleolithic cultures included:

Stone spearheads, arrowheads and blades

Bone and ivory tools and weapons (fishhooks, needles and spear throwers)

Jewellery and clothing made of skins sewn using bone needles.

The ceremonial burial of the dead.

Cave art and statues.

The Stone Age –Neolithic- from 12000 years ago:

The later Stone Age saw the development of farming which replaced hunter gathering as the primary mode of existence. By the end of Neolithic, humans had learned to cultivate many crops, wheat barley in the Near East, maize in the Central America, rice in China and potatoes in South America. Farming created surpluses, allowing populations to grow and establish permanent settlements. Other features of Neolithic included:

  • The domestication of animals (by 6000 BC in China and Mesopotomia)
  • A new tool-for example, axes to clear forests and bring new land under cultivation, hoes, sickles and grindstones.
  • The use of pottery to store grain.
  • The construction of the earliest villages and towns, other surrounded by walls to corral livestock (Jericho and Catal Huyuk)
  • Tombs built of stone.

The Metal Ages:

  1. The Bronze Age –from 3000 BC

The first experiments were made in Iran and Turkey some 9000 years ago. Copper and gold were the first metals to be used for tools and weapons, followed by bronze (an alloy of copper and tin). The Bronze Age featured:

  • Copper and bronze tools and weapons (spearheads, arrowheads, chisels, saws).
  • The practice of trade throughout Europe.
  • Early mines and ore extraction methods.
  • High standards of craftsmanship, jewellery, statues and decorations.
  1. The Iron Age: from 1200 BC

Iron was first used long before the Iron Age. The Hittites of Anatolia made iron weapons between 2000 and 1200 BC. Iron working spread in Greece in about 1000 BC, and to Northern Europe, Asia and Africa by about 750 BC. It was brought to Britain by the Celts- members of Iron Age  culture originating in the Austrian Alps. Iron had three advantages over bronze. It gives a sharper, harder wearing edge, it did not need to be combined with another metal, and supplies were plentiful. It was used for nails, tools, weapons, cooking utensils, jewellery and also for religious articles. The European Iron Age is conveniently said to end with the spread of Roman Empire. There was no iron age in Americas, where iron was introduced by European colonists.

Civilization is closely linked to the development of cities. Urban life emerged as agriculture started to support artisans, traders, government and organized religion as well as people living in the land. From about 3000 BC, cities grew on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Mesopotamia (‘Between the Rivers’) part of the ‘Fertile Crescent.’ They were independent city states at first, then part of empires. At the same time Egypt grew in power, and the eastern Mediterranean became a crossroad for traders and empire-builders.

Land marks of civilization: Many of the major development that we associate with Western civilization first emerged in the Fertile Crescent after 10,000 BC.

Cities: Some of the world’s oldest cities are found in the Middle East, such as Jericho founded 8,350 BC, Catal Huyuk in Anatolia Turkey was the largest city in the world. It flourished 6,250-5,400 BC.

Wheel: The wheel started off in Mesopotamia 3,500 BC as a potter’s tool. It was used for vehicles after 3,200 BC.

Legal Systems: Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC), king of Babylon, codified the oldest known laws. The Jewish Torah dates from the 4th century BC.

Writing: Around 3,300 BC, the Sumerians developed one of the earliest writing systems, a picture based script called Cuneiform, impressed in clay tablets. In about 1100 BC the Phoenicians created a sound based alphabet, later the basis of all European scripts.

Astronomy: The city of Ur was the birthplace of astronomy. By 1000 BC the Babylonians were predicting lunar eclipses and tracking planets.

Mathematics: The number system of Mesopotamia gave us the 60 minute hour and 360 degree circle.

Monotheism: Belief in a single all-powerful God was a key feature of Judaism, and later of both Christianity and Islam.

Important landmarks in the History of the world:

The Prehistoric World: 100,000 years ago

Dawn of History: 10,000 BC – 323 BC

Ancient Egypt: 5000 BC – 30 BC

Ancient Greece: 2000 BC – 146 BC

Judaism: 1200 BC – 70 AD

Ancient Rome: 753 BC – 406 AD

The making of Europe: 402 AD – 1066 AD

Christianity: 4-6 BC – 1453 AD

Islam: 570 AD – 1492 AD

The middle Ages: 1000 AD – 1485 AD

India: 5000 BC – 1857 AD

China & Japan: 6000 BC – 1905 AD

Africa: 7000 BC – 1914 AD

Ancient America: 5000 BC – 1890 AD

The Age of Exploration: 1492 AD – 1779 AD

The Renaissance: 1305 AD – 1633 AD

Clash of faiths (Christianity): 1415 AD – 1633 AD

Age of kings: 1643 AD – 1772 AD

Europe in turmoil: 1775 AD – 1815 AD

Creation of United States: 1607 AD – 1890 AD

The Industrial Revolution: 1701 AD – 1913 AD

New Nations and Empires: 1783 AD – 1901 AD

First World War: 1914 AD – 1918 AD

Russian Revolution: 1861 AD – 1924 AD

Second World War: 1939 AD – 1945 AD

End of Empire: 1940 AD – 1990 AD

The Cold War: 1945 AD – 1990 AD

New World Order: 1980 – to-date.

 Adler’s classification of knowledge:

All subjects fit under or under a combination of constructsscienceengineering, or humanities. Engineering overlaps with the other subjects. Mortimer J. Adler classified knowledge into six divisions: Logic, Mathematics, Science, History and the Humanities, Philosophy, and Preservation of Knowledge. The structure below is based on Adler’s classification.

Constructs

Math

Logic

Philosophy (interdisciplinary)

Communication (interdisciplinary)

Engineering (interdisciplinary)

Science (Natural science)

Astronomy

Biology

Medicine (interdisciplinary)

Psychology (interdisciplinary)

Zoology

Ecology

Agriculture

Sociobiology

Chemistry

Geology

Geography (interdisciplinary)

Physics

Engineering (interdisciplinary)

Medicine (interdisciplinary)

Humanities (Social science)

History

Philosophy (interdisciplinary)

Communication (interdisciplinary)

Behavior

Sociology

Psychology (interdisciplinary)

Ethology (Animal behavior)

Sociobiology

Zoology

Agriculture

Geography (interdisciplinary)

Economics

Business

Engineering

Engineering is an interdisciplinary branch that overlaps with other top-level categories.

Technology

The list of scholars/scientists in different fields, produced by the world in different countries in different eras runs in to thousands. A few to be named are: Plato-347 BC, Socrates 399 BC, Aristotle- 322 BC, Galileo (1642 AD),  Archimedes- 212 BC, Ptolemy, Hippocrates, Sigmund Freud- 1839, Pythagoras 500 BC, Euclid 300 BC, Brahmagupta 670 AD, Al Khwarzmi 850 AD, Al-Kindi, Al-Razes, Ibn-i-Rushd (Averros), Ibn-i-Sina (Avecina), Aven Zoor (Ibn-i-Zoar), Al-Hazan (Abul Hasan), Al Mamun, Ibn-i-Junus, Nasir-ud-Din Tusi, Albani, Al-Batan, Al-Bucasis of Cordova, Issac Newton 1727, Einistien etc.

A history of ingenuity:

Humans are an ingenious species. From the moment someone bashed a rock on the ground to make the first sharp-edged tool, to the development of Mars rovers and the Internet, several key advancements stand out as particularly revolutionary. Among innumerable inventions, these are our picks for the 10 most important inventions of all time.

The wheel: Before the invention of the wheel in 3500 B.C., humans were severely limited in how much stuff we could transport over land, and how far. Wheeled carts facilitated agriculture and commerce by enabling the transportation of goods to and from markets, as well as easing the burdens of people traveling great distances. Now, wheels are vital to our way of life, found in everything from clocks to vehicles to turbines.

The compass:Ancient mariners navigated by the stars, but that method didn’t work during the day or on cloudy nights, and so it was unsafe to voyage far from land. The Chinese invented the first compass sometime between the 9th and 11th century; it was made of lodestone, a naturally-magnetized iron ore, the attractive properties of which they had been studying for centuries. Soon after, the technology passed to Europeans and Arabs through nautical contact. The compass enabled mariners to navigate safely far from land, increasing sea trade and contributing to the Age of Discovery.

The printing press:The German Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press around 1440. Key to its development was the hand mold, a new molding technique that enabled the rapid creation of large quantities of metal movable type. Printing presses exponentially increased the speed with which book copies could be made, and thus they led to the rapid and widespread dissemination of knowledge for the first time in history. Twenty million volumes had been printed in Western Europe by 1500. Among other things, the printing press permitted wider access to the Bible, which in turn led to alternative interpretations, including that of Martin Luther, whose “95 Theses” a document printed by the hundred-thousand sparked the Protestant Reformation.

The internal combustion engine: In these engines, the combustion of a fuel releases a high-temperature gas, which, as it expands, applies a force to a piston, moving it. Thus, combustion engines convert chemical energy into mechanical work. Decades of engineering by many scientists went in to designing the internal combustion engine, which took its (essentially) modern form in the latter half of the 19th century. The engine ushered in the Industrial Age, as well as enabling the invention of a huge variety of machines, including modern cars and aircraft.

The telephone: Though several inventors did pioneering work on electronic voice transmission (many of whom later filed intellectual property lawsuits when telephone use exploded), Alexander Graham Bell was the first to be awarded a patent for the electric telephone in 1876. The invention quickly took off, and revolutionalized global business and communication.

The light bulb: When all you have is natural light, productivity is limited to daylight hours. Light bulbs changed the world by allowing us to be active at night. According to historians, two dozen people were instrumental in inventing incandescent lamps throughout the 1800s; Thomas Edison is credited as the primary inventor because he created a completely functional lighting system, including a generator and wiring as well as a carbon-filament bulb. As well as initiating the introduction of electricity in homes throughout the Western world, this invention also had a rather unexpected consequence of changing people’s sleep patterns. Instead of going to bed at nightfall (having nothing else to do) and sleeping in segments throughout the night separated by periods of wakefulness, we now stay up except for the 7 to 8 hours allotted for sleep, and, ideally, we sleep all in one go.

Penicillin: It’s one of the most famous discovery stories in history. In 1928, the Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming noticed a bacteria-filled Petri dish in his laboratory with its lid accidentally ajar. The sample had become contaminated with a mold, and everywhere the mold was, the bacteria was dead. That antibiotic mold turned out to be the fungus Penicillium, and over the next two decades, chemists purified it and developed the drug Penicillin, which fights a huge number of bacterial infections in humans without harming the humans themselves. Penicillin was being mass produced and advertised by 1944. This poster attached to a curbside mailbox advised World War II servicemen to take the drug to rid themselves of venereal disease.

Contraceptives: Not only have birth control pills, condoms and other forms of contraception sparked a sexual revolution in the developed world by allowing men and women to have sex for leisure rather than procreation, they have also drastically reduced the average number of offspring per woman in countries where they are used. With fewer mouths to feed, modern families have achieved higher standards of living and can provide better for each child. Meanwhile, on the global scale, contraceptives are helping the human population gradually level off; our number will probably stabilize by the end of the century. Certain contraceptives, such as condoms, also curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Natural and herbal contraception has been used for millennia. Condoms came into use in the 18th century, while the earliest oral contraceptive “the pill” was invented in the late 1930s by a chemist named Russell Marker.

The Internet: It really needs no introduction: The global system of interconnected computer networks known as the Internet is used by billions of people worldwide. Countless people helped develop it, but the person most often credited with its invention is the computer scientist Lawrence Roberts. In the 1960s, a team of computer scientists working for the U.S. Defense Department’s ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) built a communications network to connect the computers in the agency, called ARPANET. It used a method of data transmission called “packet switching” which Roberts, a member of the team, developed based on prior work of other computer scientists. ARPANET was the predecessor of the Internet.

Present State: Today information is a powerful tool. People are increasingly becoming dependent on information generation in the electronic media the world over. A user can now have all the latest information that he needs on his finger tips: electronic newspapers, yellow pages, telephone directories, stock exchange prices etc. Access to information as a basic right can stimulate the world’s economy to the benefit of all. The business community has now come to understand information as a valuable commodity required for planning, directing, controlling, decision-making, motivating, and fore-casting and so on to ensure positive and gainful operation.

A quarter century ago about 50,000 computers existed in the whole world. Today there are more than 150 million. A typical American car today has more computing power than the lunar-landing craft had in 1969.

If computer is the most important thing that man invented since the wheel, software is the fuel that sets the wheels of the machine running.

In 1960 a transatlantic cable could carry only 138 conversations simultaneously. Today a fiber-optic cable carries 150 million. No communication has grown faster than the internet, which already connects more than 50 million users worldwide. Anybody with a computer modem and a telephone can Tele-shop, Tele-bank, and Tele-learn 24 hours a day.

The story of telecommunications can be traced to about two centuries back ranging from first facsimile (FAX) machine of 1843 to the Digital Cellular phone in 1990.

A report by the OCED estimates that more than half of the GDP in rich economies is now knowledge based, including industries such as Telecommunications, Education, Television, Computers, Software and Pharmaceuticals.

Abstract Knowledge has been the staple source of competitive advantage for many organizations for hundreds of years. During the 1990s, the onset of Internet and Information Superhighway, allowed KM to take off. It provided more opportunities for knowledge sharing and knowledge transfer than there had been in the past. This paper discusses the paradigm shift from agricultural to industrial economy and then to new Knowledge Economy. It provides a conceptual view of Knowledge management and its key drivers- highlights the evolution and the functions of portals- also elucidates different tools and technologies which act as platform to bring people together to share knowledge in the form of expertise, competencies, and skills irrespective of time and space constraints. It concludes that the future is for Knowledge Portals that provide flexible knowledge environment for large number of users.

Keywords : Knowledge Driven Era, Knowledge Portal Technologies

1.Introduction: Knowledge and innovation have played an important role in the development of society throughout history. The transformation from Agrarian to Industrial Society and now to the Information and Knowledge Society has largely been brought about as a result of the accumulation of Knowledge and the advances in Information and Communication Technologies. Digitization, open systems standards, and the development software and supporting technologies for the application of new computing and communication systems – including scanning and imaging technologies, memory and storage technologies display systems and copying technologies have intensified the move towards Knowledge codification, increased share of codified knowledge in the knowledge stock of advanced economies. All knowledge that can be codified and reduced to information can now be transmitted around the world.

  1. 2. Paradigm Shift: “There is a central difference between the old and the new economies: the old industrial economy was driven by economies of scale, the new information economy is driven by the economies of networks” – Carl Shapiro and Hal R. Verian – Information rules.

In an agricultural economy land is the key resource. In an industrial economy natural resource such as coal, iron ores are the main resources. A knowledge economy is one in which knowledge is the key resource. … One in which the generation and the exploitation of knowledge has come to play the pre dominant part in the creation of wealth. It is not simply about pushing back frontiers of knowledge; it is also about the more effective use and exploitation of all types of knowledge in all manners of economic activity. The knowledge economy is emerging from two defining forces; the rise in the knowledge intensity or economic activities, and the increasing globalization of economic affairs. The combined forces of information technology revolution and the increasing pace of technological change are driving the rise in knowledge intensity. Globalization is being driven by national and international deregulation, and by the IT related communication revolution.

  1. 3. Knowledge Management: Change is the order of the day. Increases in the organizational information and change have created a great need to manage knowledge to ensure effectiveness. Knowledge management can be viewed as the process of identifying, organizing and managing knowledge resources. These include explicit knowledge (information), ‘know how’ (learning capacity), ‘know who’ (customer capacity) and tacit knowledge in the form of skills and competencies. Key drivers for knowledge management. Some of the key drivers for knowledge management are mentioned below:
  • Achieving organizational efficiency: Knowledge management plays a significant role in achieving organizational efficiency. In the new economy, speed and responsiveness are determining success factors. Indeed, in the Internet world where customers expect services to be available on a 24-hour basis, firms have no choice but to make a quantum-leap improvement in various aspects of their services. This in turn has created the need for organizational to have organized information to facilitate their operations, information that is timely, accurate, useful and, more importantly, tailored to the organization’s need.
  • Staying ahead of the competition: In order to stay ahead of the competition, firms nowadays understand fully the need to know their customers and their competitors very well. Lee, Wee and Bambang-Walujo (1991) highlighted that intelligence gathering/market intelligence is a crucial activity that companies must undertake in today’s competitive business world.
  • Maximizing Organizational potential: The ability of an organization to innovate and create knowledge will depend largely on its ability to capture and manage knowledge. However, knowledge creation is an incremental process that requires the existence of a knowledge infrastructure. Knowledge management is about identifying and managing existing knowledge resources. It is also about making these resources available for knowledge workers to use in their work. Knowledge management professionals can play an important role in facilitating the knowledge creation process by facilitating knowledge-sharing and providing access to knowledge resources as and when these resources are needed.
  • Managing intellectual capital: In the knowledge-based economy, the value of an organization is largely measured by the value of its knowledge (or intangible) assets. Intellectual capital involves human capital, customers’ capital, structural capital and business intelligence capital. Each of these categories relies heavily on the creation and management of knowledge assets.
  1. Knowledge Portal Technologies: The World Wide Web (WWW) has paved the way for the information age. With a competitive market demanding more information from various quarters, the Web has turned out to be a variable resource. In the early days Web surfers were frustrated by the delay in finding the information they needed. The first major information retrieval leap came from the development of Web search engines such as Lycos, Excite, AltaVista, etc. While everyone lauds the Web for offering unbridled opportunities to explore and discover new things, many still want someone else to aggregate a variety of interesting content in one place instead of creating massive and unwieldy bookmark files in their browser. These new online services 9 3 are Web sites, delivering the old formula of content, community and core services, but in a new package and transformed as Web portals. Evolution of portals, Search Engines, Navigation Sites, Portals, Search Indices, Search Indices Content Management, Categorized Content, Collaboration Personalization Key Functions (Awad, Elias M. and Ghaziri, Hassan M.-2004) The main goal of a portal is to provide a single point of access to all information sources. Therefore portals must be the ultimate tools for universal integration of all enterprise applications. At the same time because every individual has different information needs and knowledge uses, portals have to deliver a personalized interface. Keeping in view the complexity of these challenges portals must include the following functionalities:
  • Gathering: Documents created by knowledge workers are stored in a variety of locations. In order to be accessible data and documents need to be captured in a common repository.
  • Categorization: This category profiles the information in the repository and organizes it in meaningful ways for navigating and searching. Portal should support categorization at all levels, including the knowledge worker and customer levels.
  • Distribution: This facility supports the distribution of structured and unstructured information in the form of electronic or paper documents.
  • Publish: This facility publishes information to a broader audience, including individuals outside the organization.
  • Personalization: This is a key component of portal architectures because it allows individuals to enhance their productivity. It is becoming a necessity for successful portals. This is due to the proliferation of information available through the portal. To take advantage of this facility knowledge workers must be able to manage or prioritize the delivery of information on task function or interest basis.
  • Search/Navigate: This component provides tools for identifying and accessing information. The knowledge worker can either browse or submit a query. Collaboration Knowledge portals provide a platform for people to engage in discussion and exchange information. The framework includes interactive facilities such as chat sessions, bulletin boards, and application sharing together with shared workspaces, whiteboards, and collaboration and authoring tools. Collaboration in the knowledge management context is the ability for two or more people to work together in a coordinated manner over time and space using electronic devices. One has to distinguish between two types of Collaborations:
  • Asynchronous collaboration
  • Synchronous Collaboration.

Below are given few advantages and disadvantages of Synchronous and Asynchronous Collaboration tools. Synchronous Collaboration, Asynchronous Collaboration, Teleconferencing, Electronic Mailing Lists. In use extensively by senior management Lists have been in use for a number of years and staff, conference telephone calls represent an extremely cost effective (if relatively expensive) collaboration technology.

Advantages: cheap technology, personal, immediate

Desadvantages: limited communication medium feedback, expensive, often does not work well across time zones, Computer Video/Teleconferencing, Web-Based Discussion Forums, Computer-based teleconferencing and there are a number of different online video- teleconferencing is a rapidly discussions forum applications in use.

Evolving technology that has tremendous Advantages : same as electronic mailing potential for distributed organizations lists except requires slightly faster Internet connection.

Disadvantages : cultural resistance, Web-Based Discussion Forums, Online Chat Forums, Lotus Notes Allow multiple users to communicate, Lotus notes is a comprehensive collaboration simultaneously by typing messages on tool that includes e-mail and groupware, a computer screen.

Advantages: comprehensive collaborative solution employing state-of-the-art technologies for communication, document management and work flow.

Disadvantages: expensive to deploy when compared with other collaboration technologies. Content Management. Another important issue handled by content management is the way documents are analyzed, stored and categorized. Once the documents have been gathered, they must be analyzed so that their content is available for retrieval and use by the system or end users. As documents enter the portal system, they are stored for later retrieval and display. However, it is not useful to simply put the documents away in their raw form. Systems typically analyze the documents content and store the results of that analysis so that subsequent use of the documents by the system and users will be more effective and efficient. As the number of documents under management grows, it becomes increasingly important to gather similar documents into smaller groups and to name the groups. This option is called categorizing.

The new technology trends in implementing portals: Portal & New Technology Directions Global, just-in-time knowledge sources and services, Analytic Tools, Intelligent Training, Collaborative Learning, Performance Support User-,task-,and situation tailored interaction, Human Computer Interaction, Collaborative Filtering Information, Brokers Knowledge, Integration Knowledge Management, Multimedia Multilingual Multi-document Digital Libraries, Seamless collaboration across geographic, temporal, organizational, and mission boundaries, Collaborative Environments, Intelligent agents to monitor, filter, search, extract, translate, fuse, mine, visualize and summarize information for a variety of operational needs, Intelligent Agents 9 6 Examples of Knowledge Portals ( http://www.unesco.org) UNESCO has a vital role in gathering, transfer, dissemination and sharing of data, information and knowledge. UNESCO has created public domain portals for diverse groups of users with very rich contents.

Conclusion: Knowledge is the key source of a postindustrial society and telecommunication is the key technology. The advances in information and communication technologies, the Internet revolution, and the move towards the Information and Knowledge Society have highlighted the importance of knowledge and need for Knowledge management. Collaborative applications such as e-mail, calendaring, scheduling, shared folders and threaded discussions promote knowledge sharing and knowledge transfer. Both software vendors and knowledge-aware companies are investing huge sums in the development of efficient Knowledge Management solutions. These investments and the potentials of new technologies, additional bandwidth, and future Internet services will allow for a completely new form of process-oriented, user-centered portals that will cater for sophisticated users and provide knowledge for competitiveness.

Khwaja Baha-ud-Din Muhammad Naqshband (RA) (1317-1389AD)-a great Sufi Saint of Central Asia has classified knowledge in to three categories. One is bookish knowledge. Many books were written, the author died, the book was eaten by moths or perished in fire or floods and many forms of knowledge perished this way. This is grouped as perishable knowledge. The second form of knowledge is that of verification but this too is not a reliable one. Today we say sun is stationary, tomorrow we find it is in motion or atom is indivisible but next day we find it is otherwise. Thus this form of knowledge is unreliable based on theories. A third form of knowledge neither needs books nor verification, it is transferred from person to person and this is the most reliable one. You must consider that the scholar of this knowledge has reached its climax when he says, “I know nothing”, as the ocean of knowledge has no boundaries and it is like a fathomless deep ocean. Then Khwaja says that I can contact a person who is thousands of kilometers away or who has passed away thousands of years ago. The former is known as “Tai Makan”; the later is known as “Tai Zaman” i.e. distance and time is no bar for him and surprisingly it is the lowest stage of this knowledge. This knowledge is called ‘Ilim-i-Ludni’- Spiritual knowledge. From the above presentation it appears that the exoteric knowledge is in race with esoteric knowledge. Today we hear that research is in progress in electronic teleportation of physical bodies, besides travelling in to the past. A research scholar of Astrophysics of international repute stated that only 4 % of total space is known so far, besides the dark matter in space is still unexplored. There is no edge of space and nothing exists beyond that. We are yet to know what future knowledge has in store for us and what we consider impossible today may become a reality tomorrow. Here I would like to quote Dr. Iqbal:

عروج آدم خاکی سے انجم سہمے جاتے ہیں

کہ یہ ٹوٹا ہوا تارا مہ کامل نہ بن جاۓ

Here I quote Shaikh Sadi Shirazi from his book Kareema (Scrolls of Wisdom)

درفضیلت علم              –بیچ فضیلت علم کے

بنی آدم از علم یابد کمال           —  بیٹاآدم کاعلم سے پاتاہےکمال

نہ ازحشمت و جاہ و مال و منال          —           نہ حشمت اور مرتبہ اورمال واسباب سے

چو شمع ازپئ  علم باید گداخت    –مانندشمع کے واسطے علم کے چاہئےگھلنا

کہ بے علم نتوان خدارا شناخت           –کہ بغیرعلم کےخداکونہ پہچان سکے

خردمندباشدطلبگارعلم            –عقلمندہووے طلب گارعلم کا

کہ گرم ست پیوستہ بازارعلم          —   کہ گرم ہے ہمیشہ بازارعلم کا

کسی راکہ شد در ازل بختیار           — جوکہ ہوازل میں نصیبہ ور

طلب کردن علم کرد اختیار          —       طلب کرنا علم کا کیااختیار

طلب کردن علم شد بر تو فرض          –طلب کرنا علم کا ہواتجھ پر فرض

دگرواجب ست از پیش قطع ارض         —  پھرواجب ہے واسطے اس کے کاٹنا زمین کا

برو دامن علم گیر استوار         —   جا دامن علم کا پکڑمظبوط

کہ علمت رساند بدارالقرار  –کہ علم تجھ کو پہنچائے گابہشت میں

میاموزجزعلم گرعاقلی        —             نہ سیکھ سواعلم کےاگرعقلمندہےتو

کہ بے علم بودن بود غافلی –کہ بے علم رہناہوے غفلت

ترا علم  در دین و دنیا تمام       –تجھ کوعلم دین اور دنیا میں کافی ہے

کہ کار تو از علم گیرد نظام        –کہ کارتیراعلم سے لےآراستگی

 

ON THE EXCELLENCE OF LEARNING

 

Sons of Adam from learning will find perfection

Not from dignity, and rank, and wealth, and property.

Like a taper one must melt in pursuit of learning,

Since without learning one cannot know God.

A man of wisdom is a student of learning,

For the market of wisdom is always brisk.

Whoever is fortunate as regards Eternity,

Maketh choice of the pursuit of knowledge.

This pursuit of knowledge is a duty on thy part,

Even if it be necessary to traverse the earth.

Go, seize fast hold of the skirt of knowledge,

For learning will convey thee to everlasting abodes.

Seek nought but knowledge if thou art wise,

For it is neglectful to remain without wisdom.

From learning there will come to thee perfection as regards religion and the world,

For thine affairs will be settled by knowledge.

(Shaikh Sadi Shirazi RA) (1291 AD)

A YEAR AFTER SEPTEMBER – 14 FLOODS

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A year after September -14 floods

After the September floods, the J&K Govt. stated that the state suffered the following losses:

Amount of loss:  Rs. 1 trillion

Families affected: 12.5 lakhs

Housing sector: over Rs. 30,000 crores

Business sector: over Rs. 70,000 crores

Structures damaged : 83,044 pucca houses (fully), 96,089 partially

21,162 kachha houses (fully), 54, 264 partially

99,305 huts, cowsheds.

Lives lost : 281 (186 in Jammu & 85 in Kashmir), 29 missing

Areas under flood water for over one month: posh localities of Rajbagh, Jawaharnagar & Indranagar.

Villages affected : 5642 (3,153 in Jammu & 2489 in Kashmir)

Villages submerged for over 2 weeks : 800

Bridges/culverts damaged: over 550

Roads damaged: 6000 kms.

Carcasses removed from Srinagar city: 1500

Garbage : hundreds of tons removed

6-9 months children vaccinated: 7 lakhs

Many deliberations were held by various organizations regarding the devastating floods; one was the two day seminar held in November -14 at Lalit Palace Hotel, organized by the Deptt. of Earth Sciences Kashmir University and Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR). The participants in the seminar were: Central Water Commission-(CWC), National Institute of Hydrology-NIH, National Geographical Research Institute-NGRI, Central Ground Water Board-CGB, National Disaster Management Authority NRSC/ISRO and National Green Tribunal, India Meteorological Department (IMD) and State Government Agencies- Irrigation & Flood Control (IC), Public Health Engineering (PHE), Rural Development, LAWDA, Srinagar Development Authority-(SDA), IMPA, Agriculture Department , academia from Kashmir University, Indian Institute of Technology-NIT Srinagar, Jammu University, and various segments of the civil society, including experienced professionals. I had also an opportunity to participate in the seminar.

Various issues were deliberated upon like: Important contributory factors – Geography of Jhelum Basin, Extreme weather Event, Overflow of Jhelum, Heavy Rainfall (ruling out the cloudburst, ethical question of Kandizal & Illegal Mining), Visible damage in the Kashmir valley,Preventive Measures Suggested by the Experts & other measures, Initiatives taken post September floods for overcoming shortcomings, Road Ahead, Initiatives suggested by the experts, Key Issues, Short term and Urgent recommendations, Urgent Long-term Recommendations besides the Long-term Recommended Measures.

The seminar proved to be an excellent opportunity for exchange of ideas between experts from different field. The real challenge lies in dealing with the problems on the ground and overcoming the existing obstacles.

Sushoba Barve the Executive Director of Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation has put forth the findings  discussed at the seminar on the subject held by CDR.

What measures are required for flood mitigation in the Jhelum basin? We cannot prevent floods but steps can be taken to manage floods better. At a seminar on the Kashmir floods last year, experts put forward many suggestions.

In the process of urbanization, Srinagar has lost many wetlands and water bodies over the decades. Flood spill channels have been encroached upon and residential colonies have come up there. During the floods of last year, these areas were the worst affected. Floodwaters followed he natural path and inundated whatever came in their way. Restoration of wetlands, water bodies, and  the removal of encroachments in the flood spill channels should be high on the list of the state government.

Coordination needed

In J&K, the Irrigation and Flood Control department has no power over Lakes, Waterways and the Wullur Lake as these come under separate authorities. Coordination and decision making was difficult during the 2014 floods. As all the lakes, water bodies and the river are integrated, there needed to be swift coordinated response by Irrigation and Flood Control Department. Instead it was delayed.  Control of all the water bodies/lakes and wetlands in the Jhelum Basin needs to be brought under one regulatory authority for their integrated management, being a single catchment area served by the same wetland. Maharashtra created such an authority some years ago for this purpose and has now an integrated and cohesive policy.

Revision of the existing land use policy and building codes is required along with strict enforcement and implementation to minimize human and economic loss. Urban planning is going to be a challenge for the Srinagar Development Authority, in the light of last year’s floods. Should horizontal development of Srinagar stop? Land for housing is scarce, as a result people have built houses on wetlands.

Among the issues that were discussed by experts after the floods was the question of whether  the railway line obstructed the floodwaters, thus making Srinagar more vulnerable. Proper studies will have to be undertaken to find out the truth and suggest remedies for the future. This also raises the question of the urgent need to have an environmental impact assessment of all existing and future developmental projects to ensure minimum loss of public properties, livelihoods of people and the infrastructure.

As people and communities are almost the first respondents in any natural disaster, comprehensive community-based disaster risk reduction plans need to be prepared at the district level on priority and communities given training on how to handle such emergencies. Several Indian states already have such trained community response teams.

For several years, the J&K government’s proposal for the construction of an alternative flood channel has been pending before the Central government. Following the floods, there has been a loud public demand that this be undertaken urgently. This involves massive expenditure. Although the experts had supported it, there is new evidence that is making it necessary to have a relook at this proposal. Academics have been continuously doing studies since the floods bringing out new facts. According to some expert observations, there is evidence to show that the floodwaters from Srinagar were not moving towards Wullar Lake as should have naturally happened. Further studies are needed to determine the causes for this – if it is true – and more so to make Srinagar less vulnerable.

All this makes it abundantly clear that knowledge-driven, all-inclusive multidisciplinary flood planning needs to be initiated on a priority by engaging technocrats with relevant expertise to develop insights into flooding mechanisms in the Jhelum Basin building on comprehensive existing studies and last year’s experience.

As the 8 hour travel time for water wall was precious to act in September-14, so was the year that has passed since September last and no practical steps seem to be taken on ground at least by way of time bound dredging (deploying floating/other dredgers) of river Jhelum and FS channel that would increase the carrying capacity of river from 25,000 to 45,000 cusecs and of FS channel from 5000 to 10,000 cusecs to carry the brunt of minor floods. The shortfall of other 65,000 cusecs out of the total 1,20,000 cusecs warrants long term measures as recommended by the experts.

Meanwhile people could not wait and they have gone ahead with the restoration of their damaged structures/shops with over-delayed or even false promises of aid from the rulers, which is supposed to be their genuine right and not a gift from the rulers.

Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili (Former Chief Engineer)