Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Silicon Valley

"The 21st century belongs to India', declared Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to thousands of his adoring fans at SAP Center in San Jose, California. As he spoke inside the Arena, protestors carrying anti-Modi posters condemned the presence in Silicon Valley of the person they choose to describe as the "Butcher of Gujarat".

My Invitation and Ticket:

I had received an invitation and a ticket to attend Prime Minister Modi's reception at SAP Center. I thought about attending it long and hard. I was really conflicted about attending and, in the end, I chose not to.

Modi's Soaring Rhetoric:

As Prime Minister Modi wowed almost exclusively Indian-American techie audience in Silicon Valley, there were many who compared his rhetoric to US President Barack Obama's 2008 soaring speeches promising "Change" in America which, for many, have led to a huge letdown in the last 6 years. Modi led his audience with chants of "Bharat Mata ki Jai" and "Jai Baghat Singh" and the they responded by cheering the Prime Minster on with screams of "Modi! Modi".

“[India] has moved on from scriptures to satellites,” Modi said. “The world has started to believe that the 21st century belongs to India.”

"Unwelcome Modi" Rally:

As the Indian Prime Minister spoke to thousands of his adoring supporters inside San Jose Arena, a group estimated by some at 3000 staged a rally against him.

"Prime Minister Modi's 'Rock Star' visit to Silicon Valley can't make up for his rock bottom performance in human and civil rights," Virali Modi-Parekh of Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA) told NBC News. "Since Modi's been in office, violence against religious minorities has spiked. But Modi turns a blind eye while churches are burned and Muslims and Christians are being forcibly converted. There is a culture of fear and victimization, especially against minorities in India, which undermines Modi's standing as a business partner."

Campaign against Modi's presence in Silicon Valley included billboards across Silicon Valley focusing attention on Modi's human rights record; hundreds of bottles of Purell hand sanitizer sent to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, each with a name of a person killed in the Gujarat riots; challenges from South Asian LGBTQ employees of high-tech companies of India's Penal Code 377; a "faculty statement" from 125 academics on Modi's history; a "die-in" dramatizing continuing attacks against minority groups; and social media campaigns using the hashtags #ModiFail, #ChallengeModi, #ModiLiestoUS, #ZuckWashYourHands, according to NBC News.

Academics Letter:

Over 100 US academics wrote an open letter to Silicon Valley tech executives warning them against doing business with Prime Minister who came to push his "Digital India" initiative. The US professors reminded the technology executive that Modi and his Hindu allies are using their power to censor dissident voices in India.

Hindtuva activists allied with Modi have been attacking dissidents with impunity since the Prime Minister's elevation to power in Delhi. M.M. Kalburgi, a 78-year-old professor, was assassinated by the Sangh activists recently. Hours after Kalburgi's murder, Bhuvith Shetty, a member of the Hindu militant group Bajrang Dal, tweeted in celebration: "Mock Hinduism and die a dog's death. And dear K.S. Bhagwan you are next."

Two other high-profile rationalists, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, were shot point-blank 18 months apart in the western state of Maharashtra. Dabholkar, a 68-year-old activist who worked on behalf of villagers exploited by local gurus and so-called godmen, campaigned for the state government to pass an anti-superstition bill. It's been two years since he was killed in the city of Pune, and no one has been charged, according to a report in Los Angeles Times.

Digital Censorship:

Facebook has published data indicating that India leads the world in censoring Facebook posts.  Indian government demanded Facebook blocks 4,765 times in a six month period.India’s approach to Internet speech has been a flash point for years, with the government saying it wants to regulate content that is offensive to religious or ethnic groups, and companies such as Facebook and Google (GOOG) bristling at the restrictions, according to Bloomberg News.

Source: Bloomberg


There's no question that Mr. Narendra Modi is wildly popular with Indians at home and abroad. The Prime Minister has made a lot of promises to the Indian people. And the more he speaks, the higher the expectations. Meanwhile, India's exports have declined every month for the last 9 months and the corporate profits of Indian companies continue to be weak. At the same time, Mr. Modi's allies in the Sangh Parivar are stepping their activities challenging the "Secular" foundations of the Indian Constitution. So the question is:  Is the Modi phenomenon beginning to unravel already?

Pakistan Launching T20 Cricket League

Pakistan will soon be starting its first professional sports league along the lines of for-profit sports leagues like Major League Baseball (MLB) or National Football League (NFL) in the United States.

 India's IPL (Indian Premier League) was the first such league in the cricket world. It was started by India's Lalit Modi who studied professional sports business at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

Several other countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, England, Sri Lanka, South Africa and the Caribbean nations (West Indies), followed suit with their own versions of premier league. Pakistan is the latest country to join this movement with its own league called PSL or Pakistan Super League.

Pakistan is the 2nd largest cricket market after India in terms of viewership. It's the 4th largest market after India, England and Australia in revenue terms.

The launch of Pakistan Super League (PSL) will help significantly increase cricketing revenue and put Pakistan in second place in revenue terms. It will also help generate revue for Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to promote domestic cricket in the country.

There are five categories of players being recruited to be part of PSL — Platinum, Diamond, Gold, Silver and Emerging.

PSL has already signed up top international cricket stars like Kevin Peterson (England), Chris Gayle (West Indies) , Brad Haddin (Australia), Grant Elliot  (New Zealand) , James Franklin (New Zealand), Brad Hogg (Australia), Shakibul Hasan (Bangladesh), Dwayne Bravo (West Indies), Sunil Naraine (West Indies) and Ravi Bopara (England) . Other names will soon be revealed.  Several top international coaches have also agreed to join.

The star power is attracting major broadcasters to bid for media rights in different regions of the world. Broadcasters can expect high advertising rates with many big international stars playing in each team. In addition, big businesses will provide funding as sponsors of league matches.

Each team will have a salary cap of about $1 million for about 3 weeks of work. PSL will comprise of just 24 matches, with each team playing the other twice. Each tournament will end in less than a month.

There will be 4 foreign players and 2 under-19 Pakistani players in each of the 5 team currently in the works. The rest of the teams will be made up of Pakistani players who are now playing at the national level and the first class matches.  The teams are: Islamabad Blasters, Karachi Super Stars, Lahore Warriors, Peshawar Kings, Quetta Challengers.  80% of the league's revenue will be shared among the franchisees.

Under-19 Pakistani players will receive Rs. 2.5 million fees for 3 months of play. This will encourage more talent to compete and help improve the quality of young players in the country.

Pakistan Super League is expected to be played in February 2016 in Dubai and Sharjah stadiums in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It's the best thing to happen to Pakistan cricket in a long time. Let's hope that the security situation will soon allow future tournaments to be played on Pakistani soil.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Wahab Vs Watson: Cricket At Its Absolute Best

Pakistan Cricket Needs Top Sports Psychologist and World-Class Batting Coach

Pakistan Won 1992 World Cup After Losing to India and West Indies

Top Ten Sledges in Cricket

Pakistan Breaks Australia's 34-Match Winning Streak

Obama on Cricket

Case For Resuming India-Pakistan Peace Talks

Pakistan Punish Aussie 2-0 in T20 Series 

Afridi's Leadership

Pakistan In, India Out of T20 Semis

Pakistan Beat India in South Africa 

Kiwis Dash Pakistan's ICC Championship Hopes

Pakistan Crowned World T20 Champs

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pakistan's New Net Metering Law For Rooftop Solar, Wind

Pakistani power regulators have approved a regulatory framework for solar and wind energy for both commercial and residential installations. The framework includes feed-in tariffs for commercial power producers and net metering for residential applications of up to 1 MW.

Under the new Net Metering Law, NEPRA, the Pakistani power regulator, will grant power generation licenses to solar and wind system owners. The owners will need to register the critical equipment used, particularly the make and model of inverter and generator used. Among other technical considerations, the generator must also install a manual disconnect device to take the system off the network if necessary, according to details published by PV Tech publication.

Net metering is a billing mechanism that pays solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. It allows a residential customers with rooftop solar panels to generate more electricity than the home uses during daylight hours and sell it to the power supply company. It will require a bi-directional meter (or two separate meters) for implementation.

Pakistan has already introduced feed-in tariffs (FiTs) for larger renewable power systems to supply electricity to the national grid on a commercial scale.  It paved the way for a 1000 MW Quaid-e-Azam solar park being built in Bahawalpur.

Pakistan's renewable power policy and regulatory frameworks have drawn praise from international law firm Eversheds which has described the country as “one of the most exciting renewables markets globally, with an abundance of potential”. Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) of Pakistan's CEO, Amjad Ali Awan has said that "Pakistan’s renewable market is relatively new but it provides an attractive investment opportunity with compelling structures which make it bankable as well as marketable."

Net metering law is necessary but not sufficient to promote widespread use of renewable energy. It will take serious coordinated efforts of Pakistan power regulator NEPRA, the country's nascent solar industry and various utilities like K-Electric to start implementation. Meanwhile, consumers could install a stand-alone rooftop solar system that can be connected to the grid in future. They just need to make sure to select high-quality equipment, particularly inverter and switch, for this purpose which will most likely be acceptable to utilities.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Deploys IT Apps to Improve Service in Public Sector

Solar Power For Pakistan Homes, Schools, Factories

Shakti Solar Model For Pakistan

Pakistan's New FIT Policy For Alternative Energy

Media & Telecom Revolution in Pakistan

Pakistan Building 1000 MW Wind Farms

Pakistan Launches Wind Farm Projects

Renewable Energy to Solve Pakistan's Electricity Crisis

Electrification Rates By Country

Wind Turbine Manufacturing in Pakistan

Pakistan Pursues Hydroelectric Power Projects

Solar Energy for Sunny Pakistan

Wind Power Tariffs in Pakistan

Pakistan's Twin Energy Shortages

Friday, August 28, 2015

Top Silicon Valley Incubator Y-Combinator Picks Pakistani-American as COO

33-year-old Qasar Younis, a Lala Moosa born Harvard-educated Pakistani-American, is the new Chief Operating Officer of Y-Combinator, a spawning ground for emerging tech giants Dropbox, Airbnb, and Stripe in Silicon Valley, according to Fortune Magazine.

Qasar Younis (Source: Linked-In)
Younis was born on a farm in Lal Moosa, Gujarat, Pakistan. He was brought by his parents as a 6-year-old boy to the United States where his parents found work as blue collar workers in the auto industry in Detroit, Michigan.

Younis' start-up TalkBin was offered a $7 million seed round by Y Combinator. However, it was acquired by Google in 2011 even before signing the seed-round term sheet. Younis joined the Google Maps team where he worked to bring local businesses onboard them. He stayed there for three and a half years.

Y Combinator is set to graduate 222 startups, including Pakistani start-up Markhor, this year. There are currently 7000 startups vying for 106 spots in the program, according to ProPakistani.pk. Markhor, co-founded by Waqas Ali and Sidra Qasim is the first Pakistani company based in Pakistan to be accepted into Y Combinator as a part of the Summer 2015 class, according to Tech Crunch. Markhor launched a Kickstarter campaign that brought in over $107,000 in seed money from 508 backers in two months.

Silicon Valley is home to 12,000 to 15,000 Pakistani Americans. Thousands of them are working at Apple, Cisco, Google, Intel, Oracle and hundreds of other high-tech companies from small start-ups to large Fortune 500 corporations. Pakistani-Americans are contributing to what Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee describe as "The Second Machine Age" in a recent book with the same title.

Pakistani-American entrepreneurs, advisers, mentors, venture capitalists, investment bankers, accountants and lawyers make up a growing ecosystem in Silicon Valley. Dozens of Pakistani-American founded start-ups have been funded by top venture capital firms. Many such companies have either been acquired in M&A deals or gone public by offering shares for sale at major stock exchanges. Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs (OPEN) has become a de facto platform for networking among Pakistani-American entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. It holds an annual event called OPEN Forum which attracts over 500 attendees. 

Here's a video of a recent presentation I made at University of Chicago Booth School of Business on Pakistani-Americans in Silicon Valley:

Talk by Riaz Haq for Pakistan Club Chicago May... by urduonair



A PDF version of my full presentation at University of Chicago Booth Business School is available on PakAlumni WorldWide

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistani-Americans in Silicon Valley

Pakistani Diaspora World's 7th Largest

Pakistani-American Population Second Fastest Growing Among Asian-Americans

Organization of Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs

Karachi-born Triple Oscar Winning Graphics Artist

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fire-eye Goes Public

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley 

US Promoting Venture Capital & Private Equity in Pakistan

Pakistani-American Population Growth Second Fastest Among Asian-Americans

Edible Arrangements: Pakistani-American's Success Story

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Top Global Investor Mark Mobius Sees "Brighter Future For Pakistan"

Joseph Mark Mobius of Templeton Emerging Markets Group sees "many reasons for a brighter future for Pakistan".  Mobius, armed with B.A. and M.S. degrees in Communications from Boston University, and a Ph.D in economics from MIT,  is a top global fund manager with a good track record of investing in emerging markets.

In a blog post titled "Building Corridors to the Future in Pakistan", an obvious reference to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Mobius says he and his team "have been investing in Pakistan for a number of years, and see it as an overlooked investment destination with attractive valuations due to negative macro sentiment". It should be noted that Karachi Stock Exchange listed companies' average price-earnings multiple of just 10 is less than half of regional markets such as Mumbai with PE ratio of over 20.

Source: Bloomberg

In addition to new foreign investment in CPEC and low PE ratios, Mobius offers the following key reasons for his bullish outlook for Pakistan:

1. The Pakistani stock market has been one of the top-performing markets in the last five years (ended June 2015).

Source: Economist Magazine
2.  The MSCI Pakistan Index has more than doubled with a 129% return during that time frame, compared with a 45% return for the MSCI Frontier Index and 22% increase in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index in US dollar terms.

3. Even after KSE-100 strong performance, valuations of Pakistani stocks still remain relatively attractive. As of end-June 2015, the trailing price-to-earnings ratio of the MSCI Pakistan Index was 10 times, versus 11 times for the MSCI Frontier Index and 14 times for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

4. Pakistan government efforts on expenditure control and divestments have been positive, but the government will need to remain committed to the economic and structural reform program.

5. An internal anti-terrorism drive was made in the wake of the tragic Peshawar incident in December 2014, which targeted schoolchildren. Mobius thinks these efforts need to be maintained over the longer term to develop a better security climate for businesses and the society as a whole.

6. In the political environment, delays in the implementation of reforms or deterioration in the political or security situation could adversely impact the country’s macroeconomic development and fiscal position, hinder investment and weaken investor confidence.

Bottom line for Mobius: Despite a number of ongoing challenges, there are "many reasons for a brighter future for Pakistan".

Related Links:

Haq's Musings 

Time to Go Long on Pakistan?

China Deal to Set New FDI Records in Pakistan

Post Cold War Realignment in South Asia

Haier Pakistan to Expand Production From Home Appliances to Cellphones, Laptops

Pakistan Bolsters 2nd Strike Capability With AIP Subs

3G, 4G Rollout in Pakistan

Pakistan Starts Manufacturing Tablets and Notebooks

China-Pakistan Industrial Corridor