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Regulating Testing Services in Pakistan for Promoting Meritocracy

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Testing and assessment services are rampant in Pakistan as most of Public and Private Sector recruitment is done through these  Testing services. These Testing services are also entrusted with the duty of conducting Admission, Scholarship and Entry tests of Undergraduate, Graduate, Post Graduate, MBBS, BDS, BE and other related degrees.

Though the testing services have brought innovation and transparency in public and private sector recruitments, yet these testing services are questioned for declaring favorable results to those on the basis of  So-called Corruption in the test results and announcing desirable results in the favour of candidates.

The  Testing services  such as  National Testing Services  (NTS) , Pakistan Testing services (PTS) , Open Testing Services (OTS) , Universal testing services (UTS)  Sukkur IBA Testing Service  (STS) , Quality Testing services (QTS) , Baluchistan Testing Services (BTS ) are the few notable testing services operating in Pakistan .

NTS, PTS and OTS have  frequently been contracted Testing services since most of the Public and private sector Organization utilize their services for conducting recruitment, scholarship, admission and entry tests.

NTS leads the testing services as frequently contracted Testing service by all the federal  Provincial Governments for the Posts from Grade 1 to 17.One  still wonders that how  these  testing services are conducting Assessment Tests  for the Posts of Grade 16 and Grade 17 when we already  have  Public service commission at Federal Level and Provincial  Public service Commissions functioning in each province and the State of Azad Jammu & Kashmir to carry out recruitment from grade 16 and above upon the requisitions received from various  Government Departments at Federal  and Provincial Level .

The recruitment policy notified by the PSC’s clearly mentions that recruitment for the Posts of grade 16 and above to be carried out by FPSC at Federal Level and Provincial PSC’s at Provincial Level except Posts in President’s Secretariat ,DG ISPR or ISI etc.

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We have seen in the past that these Testing services were contracted on the basis of benefiting their favourite whereas, the talented and deserving candidates were deliberately deprived of the right of jobs.

These Testing services mostly hire the Paper setters outside of their organization domain and provide swapped /jumbled coloured booklets to the candidates at the time of Interviews. The paper quality of some testing services is usually not at par with the level of recruitment or post and creates confusion amongst the candidates regarding the tests. For example, NTS mostly conducts entry test for the MBBS in various provinces including Sindh and Punjab.

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A handsome amount is accrued from the students on the pretext of Admission and Processing fee that is unjust and an attempt to blatant earning from these collections.

What disturbs the students most that are leakage of paper during the night through social Media channels i.e Whatsapp raising enormous questions over the credibility of these Tests and testing services….?

Last year, such controversy surrounded the NTS when some of the students of MBBS Entry Test complained to the court and protested against the NTS for Leakage the paper on Whatsapp one hour prior to the test thus paving the way for ineligible candidates to the Professional Education of Medical Science.

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Hundreds of Students took to the streets and started chanting slogans against NTS and demanded to reconduct entry test in a transparent manner and at the same time. Earlier the test was conducted separately in various Districts in phases that made the result suspicious and questionable.

In the meantime, NAB raided the NTS headquarters and took the record into their custody. All the newspapers carried the news that due to Entry Test paper Leakages and Key distribution to the students on the basis of corruption was the cause of NAB’s raid.

The Personnel of high ranks at NTS Headquarters denied such raid even the NAB rejected such claims of the raid on NTS headquarters. Well, the drama continued since it was ascertained that an NTS staffer or Test Supervisory or Invigilation staff had leaked the paper with answer key to help their own close relatives to be the future doctors.

In this whole drama, The health departments of the respective provinces remained calm and mum over the issue until the Sindh High court took the issue after hearing the complaints of affectees but court works on the basis of evidence and the same happened there .

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The Provincial Health Minister on the directives of  CM Sindh  announced cancellation of Test and asked the DUHS (Dow University of Health Sciences) Karachi to reconduct the test instead of NTS .

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Hearing the announcement, the candidates, who had passed the test, rushed to the court and prayed to the court to restore the same result as they told the honorable court that the test was conducted transparently and the results were declared on merit. The complainants could not prove the leakage of the Answer key and paper, thus the court ordered to restore the Test Result and directed the medical colleges to proceed with the admission process.

Such huge controversies are always attached with NTS warranting the government to regulate these testing services and establish Testing Services Regulatory Authority (TSRA) to keep a check on various recruitment tests that are being conducted in public Sector or Private sector especially the Medical College Entrance Tests conducted by NTS throughout the country this year.

Though, Higher Education Commission introduced its own brand namely “Education Testing Council and announced to conduct all Medical and Engineering colleges admission tests through Education Testing council free of Cost as The Traditional testing services charge huge amounts from candidates as processing fees. This gave, to some extent, a sigh of relief to students that at least a uniform educational testing may replace these testing traditional services. Though ETC of HEC conducted the tests for Federal Educational institutes but unfortunately several Provincial Governments especially Sindh and Punjab once again followed the same practice and once again contracted the NTS to conduct the Medical College Entry Tests in Sindh and Punjab despite its controversial past experiences that furthered the woes of the bright and dedicated students who could be instrumental in bringing innovations in Medical science. But ,with announcement of NTS conducting Medical Entry Test, has shattered  the dreams of hundreds of students .

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The PMDC and PEC must come forward and raise their reservations against the Testing services that are engaged in this lucrative business and looting people with both hands due to their evil designs of making money and destroying the very fabric of Medical education. Even the selection of teachers through NTS in Sindh, Punjab and KPK was marked with irregularities.

It is high time for the Government to mull over the issue and establish the Testing Services Regulatory board or Authority immediately so that rampant irregularities and corruption in these testing services may easily be curbed.

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Regulating all Testing Services operating in Pakistan will lead to transparency and promotion of merit in each of their contracted projects. There is also a need of reviewing their past performance and ranking of their services in Categories. If any testing service hits below the belt then that Testing service may be blacklisted and banned for future contracts or projects.

We need to build standards in the Educational and Professional testing system as we need to create testing services like ETS  global  which prefers online testing technology, Video Interviews through Skype   and Auto marking software  to check the answerer sheets and announce results within hours.

The Testing services need to restructure their testing model and set the papers matching the job description of the post. This will  be beneficial for the company hiring through these testing services as they would have qualified candidate as per requirements.

There is also need to speed up the process of recruitments in public sector through the public service commission at Federal and Provincial level since it takes almost a year for the selection of suitable candidate undergoing Screening Tests, interviewing, Psychological testing and final recommendation.

This whole process affects the performance of the organizations submitting their requisitions for various posts as they will have to wait for almost a year till the availability of the suitable candidates qualifying all the phases of recruitment from Screening to Recommendation.

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AI

A New Challenger to Google’s Throne: Can AI Search Engines Profit?

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A new competitor using artificial intelligence is making waves in the rapidly changing technology sector, where search engine industry heavyweights like Google have long held a dominant position. The tech industry is curious and debating the possibility that a young business is preparing to threaten Google’s hegemony, according to recent reports. There are still unanswered concerns regarding the practicality and profitability of AI-driven search engines, despite the enticing prospect of competition in the search engine business.

The Rise of a Challenger

Google, with its ubiquitous search engine, has become synonymous with internet searches, boasting billions of queries processed every day. Its algorithms have been refined over the years to deliver increasingly accurate and relevant results to users worldwide. However, the emergence of artificial intelligence has opened doors to new possibilities in search technology.

Enter the new player, a company leveraging AI to revolutionize the way we search for information online. With advanced machine learning algorithms and natural language processing capabilities, this upstart aims to provide users with a more intuitive and personalized search experience. By understanding context, intent, and user preferences, it promises to deliver results that are not only accurate but also tailored to individual needs.

Challenging the Status Quo

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The prospect of a new competitor entering the search engine arena raises intriguing possibilities. Competition breeds innovation, and the presence of a formidable challenger could spur Google to further enhance its own search capabilities. Moreover, increased competition could lead to greater choice and diversity in the search engine market, empowering users with alternatives to the established giant.

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However, dethroning Google is no easy feat. The tech behemoth has built a massive infrastructure over decades, comprising vast amounts of data, sophisticated algorithms, and a global network of servers. Its brand recognition and user loyalty are formidable barriers for any would-be competitor to overcome.

The Profitability Conundrum

While the potential for innovation and competition is enticing, questions linger about the profitability of AI-driven search engines. Unlike traditional search engines that rely heavily on advertising revenue, the business model for AI search engines is less clear-cut.

Advertising remains a primary revenue stream for search engines, with Google generating billions in ad revenue each year. However, the effectiveness of advertising on AI-driven platforms may differ from traditional search engines. AI algorithms prioritize relevance and user experience, which could impact the display and effectiveness of ads.

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Moreover, the costs associated with developing and maintaining AI technology are substantial. Training machine learning models, processing vast amounts of data, and ensuring the scalability and reliability of AI systems require significant investment. Whether AI search engines can generate sufficient revenue to offset these costs remains uncertain.

Monetizing AI Search Engines

Despite the challenges, there are potential avenues for monetizing AI search engines beyond traditional advertising. One possibility is offering premium services or subscriptions that provide enhanced features and capabilities to users willing to pay for them. These could include advanced search filters, personalized recommendations, or access to exclusive content.

Another option is leveraging AI technology to provide targeted insights and analytics to businesses. By analyzing search patterns and user behavior, AI search engines could offer valuable data-driven insights to marketers, researchers, and other stakeholders. This data could be monetized through licensing agreements or subscription services.

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Additionally, partnerships and collaborations with other companies could provide revenue opportunities for AI search engines. By integrating with e-commerce platforms, travel agencies, or other service providers, they could earn referral fees or commissions for directing users to relevant products and services.

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The Road Ahead

As the tech landscape continues to evolve, the emergence of AI-driven search engines represents a fascinating development with the potential to disrupt the status quo. While questions remain about their profitability and viability, the allure of innovation and competition cannot be ignored.

Ultimately, the success of AI search engines will depend on their ability to deliver value to users while finding sustainable revenue streams. Whether they can truly challenge Google’s dominance remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: the era of AI-powered search is upon us, and the possibilities are endless.

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Business

10 Best Tips to Set up your Shopify, Amazon, and Etsy Stores to Succeed as a Seller

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Introduction

Today’s Era is the age of Digital Platforms and Marketplaces World Wide. Online marketplaces like Shopify, Amazon, and Etsy have made it easier than ever for entrepreneurs and beginners to start their online businesses. However, with so many sellers vying for the attention of customers, it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd. This guide will provide you with the top 10 tips to set up your Shopify, Amazon, and Etsy stores to succeed as a seller. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced entrepreneur, these tips will help you create a successful online business.

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  1. Choose the right platform: Select the platform that best suits your business needs. Shopify, Amazon, and Etsy are popular choices for online sellers.
  2. Create a professional store: A professional-looking store is essential to attract customers. Use high-quality images and write clear product descriptions. Make sure your store is easy to navigate and has a clean design.
  3. Optimize your product listings: Use relevant keywords in your product titles and descriptions to improve your search rankings. Make sure your product descriptions are detailed and accurate.
  4. Offer competitive pricing: Research your competitors’ prices and offer competitive pricing to attract customers. Consider offering discounts or promotions to encourage customers to make a purchase.
  5. Provide excellent customer service: Respond to customer inquiries promptly and provide excellent customer service to build customer loyalty. Ensure your customers are satisfied with their purchases and address any issues they may have.
  6. Use social media: Promote your store on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to reach a wider audience. Share high-quality images of your products and engage with your followers.
  7. Offer free shipping: Consider offering free shipping to attract more customers. You can also offer free shipping for orders over a certain amount.
  8. Run promotions and discounts: Offer promotions and discounts to encourage customers to make a purchase. You can offer discounts for first-time customers or customers who refer their friends.
  9. Track your sales and analytics: Use analytics tools to track your sales and monitor your store’s performance. This will help you identify areas where you can improve and make data-driven decisions.
  10. Stay up-to-date with industry trends: Keep up-to-date with the latest industry trends and adjust your strategy accordingly. Attend industry events and conferences, read industry publications, and network with other sellers.
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Conclusion

Setting up a successful online business requires careful planning and execution. By following these 10 tips, you can set up your Shopify, Amazon, and Etsy stores to succeed as a seller. Remember to choose the right platform, create a professional store, optimize your product listings, offer competitive pricing, provide excellent customer service, use social media, offer free shipping, run promotions and discounts, track your sales and analytics, and stay up-to-date with industry trends. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating a successful online business. Good luck!

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Digital

Riding the Tech Wave: S&P 500 Hits a Record High

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Introduction: The Bullish Surge

In a surprising turn of events, the S&P 500 has once again shattered records, propelled by a formidable rally in the technology sector. Investors and analysts are taking notice of the remarkable ascent, as the index rides the wave of innovation and resilience. Let’s delve into the factors driving this surge and what it means for the broader market.

The Tech Frenzy: A Driving Force

Unraveling the Tech Rally

The backbone of this unprecedented climb is undeniably the relentless rally in technology stocks. Companies at the forefront of innovation, from Silicon Valley giants to emerging disruptors, have been key contributors. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, investors are placing their bets on the firms shaping the future.

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Pandemic-Induced Acceleration

The global pandemic acted as an unexpected accelerator for technology adoption. Remote work, e-commerce, and digital transformation became the norm, boosting the prospects of tech companies. The S&P 500 reflects this societal shift, with tech stocks leading the charge as the world adapts to a more digitally connected future.

Resilience Amid Uncertainty: A Market Perspective

Navigating Economic Challenges

Despite ongoing economic challenges, the stock market has displayed a surprising resilience. The S&P 500’s new record is a testament to the market’s ability to weather storms and adapt to changing circumstances. Investors are finding solace in the tech sector’s stability, viewing it as a safe harbor in uncertain times.

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Inflation Concerns: A Balancing Act

The specter of inflation has loomed over the market, causing ripples of concern. However, the tech sector’s ability to innovate and adapt quickly provides a counterbalance to these worries. Investors seem to be betting on technology’s intrinsic value, which often lies in its capacity to stay ahead of economic headwinds.

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Winners and Losers: Navigating the S&P 500 Landscape

Tech Titans and Disruptors

Within the technology sector, it’s not just the established giants that are driving the rally. Up-and-coming disruptors, fueled by innovative ideas and agile business models, are capturing the attention of investors. This diverse landscape within tech allows for a more nuanced investment approach, as opportunities abound beyond the well-known market leaders.

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Sector Disparities: A Tale of Divergence

While technology stocks are basking in the limelight, other sectors are experiencing varying degrees of performance. Understanding these disparities is crucial for investors seeking to navigate the complexities of the current market. From traditional industries to emerging sectors, each plays a role in the broader economic picture.

Risks on the Horizon: Acknowledging Market Realities

Overvaluation Concerns

As the S&P 500 continues its ascent, concerns about overvaluation are surfacing. Some market observers warn that the current euphoria surrounding technology stocks might be inflating their prices beyond reasonable levels. Cautionary voices urge investors to remain vigilant and not succumb to the allure of quick gains without due diligence.

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Regulatory Challenges

The technology sector, while a driving force behind the market surge, is not immune to regulatory challenges. Increased scrutiny and potential regulatory changes could impact the trajectory of tech stocks. Investors should factor in these uncertainties and remain attuned to the evolving regulatory landscape.

Investor Strategies: Navigating the New Market Landscape

Diversification in a Tech-Driven Market

Given the dominance of the technology sector, diversification becomes a strategic imperative for investors. While tech stocks present enticing opportunities, a well-balanced portfolio that includes a mix of sectors can help mitigate risks associated with sector-specific fluctuations.

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Long-Term vs. Short-Term: A Balancing Act

The current market climate prompts investors to consider their time horizon. While short-term gains are enticing, a long-term perspective may offer a more stable and sustainable approach. Balancing the pursuit of immediate returns with a commitment to long-term financial goals is key in today’s dynamic market.

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Conclusion: Navigating the Future Terrain

The S&P 500’s new record high, fueled by a technology rally, paints a picture of a market adapting to the challenges of our times. As investors navigate this new terrain, a blend of optimism and caution is warranted. Understanding the driving forces, acknowledging potential risks, and adopting a diversified and balanced investment approach will be pivotal in capitalizing on the opportunities presented by the current market dynamics. In the ever-evolving world of finance, the ability to ride the waves of change may well be the key to sustained success.

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