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Showing posts from April, 2008

Pakistan, India on US Piracy Watchlist

The US trade representative's office has placed nine countries, including India and Pakistan, on priority watch list for intellectual property piracy. In addition to the traditional categories of computer software and music, the USTR has added counterfeit pharmaceuticals to the list of concerns.

"Trade in counterfeit pharmaceuticals continues to be a particularly grave concern in light of the risks to human health and safety, and the U.S. continues to be actively engaged in addressing this serious problem," the USTRO statement said. The USTR report also noted that the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit pharmaceuticals is a “growing problem” that particularly threatens consumer health and safety.

It cited a “proliferation” of phony drug production in Brazil, China, India, Mexico and Russia. The priority watch list also includes Argentina, Chile, Israel, Thailand and Venezuela.

Several countries including Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and Ukraine were shifted off the Priori…

India Eyes Satellite Launch Business

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"The mission was perfect," said G Madhavan Nair, chairman of the state-run Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Mr. Nair was celebrating the latest successful launch by India of a mission with 10 satellites from the Sriharikota space center off India's east coast. With its headquarters in Bangalore, the ISRO employs approximately 20,000 people, with a budget of around US$815 million. Its mandate is the development of technologies related to space and their application to India's development. In addition to domestic payloads, it offers international launch services. ISRO currently launches satellites using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and the GSLV for geostationary satellites.

This latest success by ISRO makes India a serious contender in the fast growing $2.5B commercial satellite launch business expected to grow rapidly over the next several years. The BBC is reporting that the rocket carried an Indian mini satellite to gather technological data which wil…

Obama and the South Asians

The views of South Asian-Americans are heavily influenced by the perceived positions of the presidential candidates regarding the South Asian nations. While there are no polls indicating their preferences, there is anecdotal evidence that the Democrats are likely to attract the largest share of South Asian-American votes this year.

The Clintons have had quite a love affair with things Indian since Bill Clinton's days in the White House. Indians see the couple as friends of India and credit them for the close ties between the two nations and the start of the outsourcing trend from the US to India that has intensified in the recent years. On the contrary, Pakistanis still remember Bill Clinton's patronizing speech on PTV during his brief visit there in March 2000.

While some Indians seem pleased with Barack Obama's rhetoric about "sending US troops into Pakistan", many see him as an unknown quantity as far as India is concerned. Some Indians were also turned off by a…

Obama and the South Asians

The views of South Asian-Americans are heavily influenced by the perceived positions of the presidential candidates regarding the South Asian nations. While there are no polls indicating their preferences, there is anecdotal evidence that the Democrats are likely to attract the largest share of South Asian-American votes this year.

The Clintons have had quite a love affair with things Indian since Bill Clinton's days in the White House. Indians see the couple as friends of India and credit them for the close ties between the two nations and the start of the outsourcing trend from the US to India that has intensified in the recent years. On the contrary, Pakistanis still remember Bill Clinton's patronizing speech on PTV during his brief visit there in March 2000.

While some Indians seem pleased with Barack Obama's rhetoric about "sending US troops into Pakistan", many see him as an unknown quantity as far as India is concerned. Some Indians were also turned off by a…

High Food Prices Hit Silicon Valley South Asians

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The prices of rice, chappati, besan, daals, spices and almost all staples consumed by silicon valley South Asians have experienced triple digit price inflation during the last year. After reading about food price inflation and shortages of staple foods in their home countries, Pakistanis and Indians are now feeling the pinch in Silicon Valley as Basmati rice is in very short supply even with a 300% price jump. Jasmine rice, preferred by East Asians, has also disappeared from the grocery shelves at Costco stores. Costco management has decided to limit each customer to two bags of rice to control panic buying or profiteering.



Even with these dramatic price increases, the impact on their wallets from food price inflation is relatively small because Silicon Valley South Asians spend a much smaller percentage of their incomes on food than their friends and families in South Asia. Nonetheless, higher energy costs and the costs of various goods and services used by them everyday is causing …

Silicon Valley Entrepreneur in Pakistan Media Venture

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Shoieb Yunus, founder of a Pakistani media company called Precept Productions, has announced plans to make his maiden film about his hometown in Pakistan. A Silicon Valley high tech entrepreneur, Shoieb has had prior success in his ventures ranging from finger-print sensing software company to a TV production called "Gao, Celebrity Ban Jao", the Pakistani version of American Idol with a good run on Pakistan's GeoTV.

The film "Streets of Karachi" is being made for Pakistani and international audiences. It is expected to be released in June 2008 in Urdu language with English subtitles. According to Shoieb, "Streets of Karachi" is a drama about a man, who has achieved success in the United States, but realizes that his success and the possession of material things are not making him happy. He visits his ancestral hometown of Karachi, explores the city, sees immense contrast on the streets, and realizes Karachi is a vibrant city as well as the backbone of …

Indian Golf Attracts Big Stars

As India's economy, business and industry experience rapid growth, large amounts of sponsorship dollars are flowing into the various sports including cricket, football and golf. At first, most of the attention was on the big cricket stars such as Sachin Tedulkar grossing million of dollars a year. Then came the Indian Cricket League(ICL) and Indian Premier League(IPL) drawing the biggest names in cricket such as Brian Lara and Inzimam-ul-Haq. The ICL tournaments covered by Zee Sports TV channel have been a great spectacle, comparable to the NFL and MLB games in the United States. Well, the money gusher is now starting to flood Indian golf with $2.5m purse for the Indian Masters golf tournament last February in Delhi.

While a $2.5m purse is small and about the same as Qatar Masters, it represents a growth opportunity that has attracted the big names in golf including South African Ernie Els, Fijian Vijay Singh and Australian Adam Scott. "As these events draw richer and more-agg…

India Follows Pakistan To Food Inflation

The food inflation has hit India a few months after it rose its head in Pakistan. This sequence makes sense based on the fact that Pakistani economy is considered freer than India's economy and the food inflation is driven by rising global demand and tight supplies. In today's global world, it is hard to isolate any national economy from the impact of international economic problems.

In terms of economic freedom, Pakistan is ranked ahead of many regional economies, according to a worldwide index of economic freedom. The 2007 Index of Economic Freedom, jointly conducted by The Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal, has put Pakistan at the 89th place while India is ranked 104. A free economy means an economy that is based on liberal rules that preclude extreme measures against free trade and price increases. Such measures do not prevent problems, they simply delay the impact of such problems, as just demonstrated by inflationary pressures seen in South Asia.

As Indian econom…

William Dalrymple in Silicon Valley

William Dalrymple was invited to Silicon Valley to spend an evening on April 4, 2008, with TIE charter members. TIE is an organization consisting mainly of technology entrepreneurs of Indian origin but it also includes other South Asian entrepreneurs from Pakistan and Bangladesh as well. I had a chance attend this event with Mr. Dalrymple along with other charter members of TIE Silicon Valley.

William Dalrymple is a British writer, historian and journalist. He writes about South Asia, the Middle East, Mughal rule, the Muslim world and early Eastern Christianity. All of his six books have won major literary prizes. His first three were travel books based on his journeys in the Middle East, India and Central Asia.

More recently, Dalrymple has published a book of essays about South Asia, and two award-winning histories of the interaction between the British and the Mughals between the eighteenth and mid nineteenth century. Dalrymple is the son of Sir Hew Hamilton-Dalrymple and a cousin of …

A New Deal In Pakistan

The province of Sindh in southern Pakistan is a rural region of dusty mudbrick villages, of white-domed blue-tiled Sufi shrines, and of salty desert scrublands broken, quite suddenly, by floodplains of wonderful fecundity. These thin, fertile belts of green—cotton fields, rice paddies, cane breaks, and miles of checkerboard mango orchards—snake along the banks of the Indus River as it meanders its sluggish, silted, cafĂ©-au-lait way through the plains of Pakistan down to the shores of the Arabian Sea.

In many ways the landscape here with its harsh juxtaposition of dry horizons of sand and narrow strips of intensely fertile cultivation more closely resembles upper Egypt than the well-irrigated Punjab to its north. But it is poorer than either—in fact, it is one of the most backward areas in all of Asia. Whatever index of development you choose to dwell on—literacy, health care provision, daily income, or numbers living below the poverty line—rural Sindh comes bumping along close to the b…