Mohamed Ali: The link between unemployment and terrorism

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As urbanization intensifies throughout the whole planet, competition is becoming increasingly harsh in major cities.

This is deeply felt in nearly all countries, whether industrialized, developing, or chronically poor. As a consequence, millions of people, particularly those of young generations, are becoming unemployed as the side effect of such competition. Throughout the long, painful periods of waiting for a job, as described in this TED talk as ‘waithood’, many of these people, disenchanted with diminishing hopes and possibilities, resort to extreme measures to express their anger with the long wait they have to do. Whether they join terrorist organizations, engage in riots, join gangs and other mafias, or commit other extreme crimes to survive in big cities, more and more such reports are circulating around the mass media worldwide, and the rate is increasingly alarming.

Mohamed Ali, a Somalian-born human rights advocate, gives his thought-provoking talk about how to eradicate seeds of terrorism, one of which he proposes is to cultivate entrepreneurship and incubate innovation among these youth. He takes some examples back from his hometown, Mogadishu, to justify his argument. And without him, though, we won’t be as easily optimistic about the fate of this state as he is; we have to be very grateful that someone like him still has unwavering optimism on Somalia, despite all the troubles we still hear on mass media nowadays.

Be enlightened with his talk below.

Surviving the sanctions

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Iran will always be remembered as a miracle. Not that it has such an impressive economic growth; its oil subsidies, surpassing 80 billion US$ every year, and also the world’s highest, has disproportionately cramped the growth rate to date. Not that because it has an abundance of oil either; its plentiful resources have been the soft target for numerous emerging powers, particularly US, Russia, and China. And not even that its civilization is brought out of magic.

The miracle itself can be attested to the very fact that despite the malaise yielded by economic sanctions, spiraling inflation, and very high unemployment rate, and to exacerbate the whole matters, numerous natural disasters (most notably mass-killing earthquakes, rehearsing the pattern in an epoch spanning over three millennia, and most recently, its heavily autocratic regime, the whole nation can still survive. ‘Survive’ may not be a pretty word, for that can not describe the insurmountable plight bulk of the populace has experienced. Nevertheless, what that as yet sustains the whole country to this moment is, in short, the strong sense of persistence among much of its people.

Now the country seemingly glitters with hopes. With the appointment of Hassan Rouhani as the new leader of Iran, replacing his hard-line predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and with new possibilities of nuclear talks between Iran and the United States, and with Rouhani’s pro-reform agenda many experts have likened him to China’s pro-reform leader, Deng Xiaoping, the people are waiting for the moments when their plights are gradually taken off their souls. And they are still waiting.

In this October issue, Monocle attempts to document Iranian businesses struggling to survive amid waves of sanctions having been imposed on the whole economic system by the United States. Read the full article here.

Excerpt:

Sanctions are only half the trouble. Eight years of maladministration – under the increasingly unpopular government of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – have devastated Iran’s domestic industries and sent inflation soaring. Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005 during the beginning of a steep climb in global oil prices. The price per barrel jumped three-fold under his watch and Iran made more money than during the rest of its century-old crude export history combined.

The populist newly elected president spent this windfall transforming the Iranian economy. “Ahmadinejad flooded the economy with petrodollars. Cheap loans were given out for almost anything… Exotic fruits from places such as Egypt and Latin America were imported for the first time since the Revolution,” says Houman Dolatshahi, managing director of Tehran-based Atieh Bahar Consulting Group. “The domestic sector died, which caused a spike in the unemployment rate and the liquidity also brought inflation,” he explains. Inflation now stands at 44 per cent, year on year. Several experts put the inflation and unemployment figures even higher.

Ahmadinejad changed Iran’s – particularly Tehran’s – consumer market inexorably. Banned or heavily levied products such as iPhones, Western-branded clothes and large, status-symbol cars found their way into the market via importers with access to cheap foreign currency though government connections. But the sharp drop in the rial since the end of 2011 has exposed the folly of Ahmadinejad’s monetary policies during his first six years in office.

Dropping out: is it a wise choice?

Go to a college, work hard and play hard for three or four years, earn a degree, and get to work. Yes, that’s undeniably a normal facet in our lives, a spell-binding ‘must-do’ habitude that has long rooted in most of the societies in the last century. Either we ourselves or our parents – to a further extent, our distant relatives, uncles, aunties, grandparents, cousins, and whatsoever familial names you can make – have never ceased pursuing these goals, with all the audacity that we can afford to make great accomplishments suited for the curriculum vitae we are going to submit to these future employers.
It turns out the world is becoming increasingly uneasy for university graduates to secure a permanent job.
In a life process either before or after graduation – something that is intensely fast-paced, cut-throat, and savagely competitive, we are all demanded to secure great scores – or mention the least, good-enough remarks – to fill our resumes. We come and go by lectures after lectures. We have to learn to be independent. We have to adjust everything anew to our long-in-our-comfort-zone minds. We have to make new friends, leaving our families, or probably, childhood pals behind. And we realize maturing up is not something we have always imagined in our childhood.
There are some people who have this strong feeling about dropping out of universities or colleges: they are out of the blue startled to realize they are unhappy with the courses they are taking; that those ‘inner voices’, unceasingly coercing them to discover their ‘true passions’, or to ‘shed a new light in their real lanterns’; or that the ‘new friends’ are not thoroughly the ideal friends they are supposed to be. Then they face two similarly uneasy choices: either you proceed the studies you abhor so much no matter how well-qualified the lecturers are, or you face humiliation from your family, the discreet disappointment in the faces of your parents. That you choose not to live in accordance to what the societies demand, that everybody surrounding you thinks you are insane.
Or there are other segments of the societies who choose to cope with the entire hindrances facing them, attempting to re-adjust their mindsets, how they assume society and the reality themselves, and find themselves fully transformed, out of their Euclidean comfort zones, but with the consequences, possibly, of ‘losing their inner identities’, of getting lost in this vastless world.
Either you choose to drop-out or to carry on, remember one thing: it is, in the end, no more than Pascal’s wager. Either you win all, or you get nothing. There are myriad graduates, who, even with the curriculum vitae overwhelmed with achievements and awards, may still end up getting unemployed. There are even more myriad drop-outs who can, in their worst luck, end up homeless and need to hinge on government’s social security schemes to stay alive.
But there are also university graduates who eventually succeed in their careers and have happy families afterwards. Or drop-outs – if, and only if, you have immensely well-crafted talents like Bill Gates or Lawrence Ellison or Sergey Brin or Larry Page – who end up becoming billionaires. The truth is: either you choose to proceed to colleges or not to, it has little to do with our careers. In the end, everybody, as Stanley Kubrick once said, needs to shed light for oneself.
Two essays here present the pros and cons of dropping out from universities/colleges. Click the links to read more.