Thursday, July 29, 2010

Overpopulation Causes Environmental Degradation in India and Pakistan

India is ranked 33rd and Pakistan 39th among the most overcrowded nations of the world by Overpopulation Index published by the Optimum Population Trust based in the United Kingdom. The index measures overcrowding based on the size of the population and the resources available to sustain it.

India has a dependency percentage of 51.6 per cent on other nations and an ecological footprint of 0.77. The index calculates that India is overpopulated by 594.32 million people. Pakistan has a dependency percentage of 49.9 per cent on other nations and an ecological footprint of 0.75. The index calculates that Pakistan is overpopulated by 80 million people. Pakistan is less crowded than China (ranked 29), India (ranked 33) and the US (ranked 35), according to the index. Singapore is the most overcrowded and Bukina Faso the least on a list of 77 nations assessed by the Optimum Population Trust.

The index examined data available from over 130 nations and found that 77 of them are overpopulated, including India, Pakistan and China. That means that these nations are consuming more resources than they are producing and are dependent on other countries, and the earth, to compensate for that.

"Dependency and self-sufficiency ratings are based on ratio of footprint to bio-capacity, showing the percentage of footprint not supported from bio-capacity. Sustainable population shows number that can be supported from bio-capacity at current

Concurring with the British report is another similar report prepared by the California-based Global Footprint Network (GFN) in 2008. With a per person footprint of 0.80 global hectares (0.60 for Pakistan) and per person bio-capacity deficit of 0.40 global hectares (0.3 for Pakistan), India is running an ecological deficit of 100 percent. The ecological footprint measures human demand on the biosphere in terms of the land and sea area required to provide the resources we use and to absorb the waste we generate. Bio-capacity refers to the capacity of a given biologically productive area to generate an on-going supply of renewable resources and to absorb its spill-over wastes.

Like per capita emission of green house gases, per capita ecological footprint of an average South Asian is much lower than the world average. The per person ecological footprint was 0.80 for an average Indian and 0.60 for average Pakistani in 2003 when the world average was 2.2 global hectare. At the same time, because of rising population South Asia's total national ecological footprint has doubled since 1961, contributing to the degradation of its natural capital. As a result, while South Asia's overall wealth as measured by GDP has risen for reasons of better exploitation of resources over the years, its per capita bio-capacity has shrunk reducing its per capita ecological footprint. More and more people are sharing a shrinking bio-capacity.

One of the key contributors to declining ecological capacity is the dwindling fresh water. After China and India, there are other relatively less populous countries with large water deficits — Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Mexico, and Pakistan. Four of these already import a large share of their grain. Only Pakistan remains self-sufficient. But with a population expanding by 4 million a year, it has begun to turn to the world market for grain.

As the need for development grows, the natural resources like forests come under threat, endangering the livelihood of the poor, especially the tribal poor in India, who sustain themselves on the forest resources. As most of the densely forested areas are rich in minerals, these have become conflict zones pitting Indian government and resource-hungry industries against the rising Maoist insurgency. What is more, these have become the reasons for conflicts between the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests and other ministries which relate to economic development. Though there is a huge and growing gap between India's haves and the have-nots, the catchy phrase “India now consumes two Indias”, therefore, sums up the Indian “resource overshoot”.

In addition to the dwindling natural resources, there is a serious threat posed by climate change in South Asia. At 8 feet below sea level, Pakistan's financial capital Karachi shows up on the list of world's mega-cities threatened by global warming. Other South Asian cities likely to come under rising sea water in the next 100 years include Mumbai, Kolkata and Dhaka.

However, it's not just the big cities in South Asia that will feel the brunt of the climate change. The rural folks in India are already seeing rising crop failures, increasing poverty and over 200,000 farmer suicides in the last ten years.

Here is how Ramachandra Guha talks about India's impending ecological disaster in his book "How Much Should A Person Consume?":

"Gandhi's arguments have been revived and elaborated by the present generation of Indian environmentalists. As explained in Chapter Two, India is in many ways an ecological disaster zone, marked by high rates of deforestation, species loss, land degradation, and air and water pollution. The consequences of this abuse of nature have been chiefly borne by the poor in the countryside-peasants, tribals, fisherfolk, and pastoralists who have seen their resources snatched away or depleted by powerful economic interests. For, over the last few decades, the men who rule India have attempted precisely to "make India like England and America." Without access to resources and markets enjoyed by those two nations when they began to industrialize, India has perforce had to rely on exploiting its own people and environment."

As Indians and Pakistanis aspire to higher standards of living enjoyed by the developed world, they will have to find ways to do so without destroying what sustains them. Instead of simply copying how the West industrialized in the 19th and the 20th centuries, the South Asians will have to do it in the 21st century in a sustainable manner by focusing on the development and use of renewable resources.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Environmental Degradation at Siachen

Climate Change Worsens Poverty in India

World's Biggest Polluters

Global Warming Impact on Pakistan

Indian Rural Poverty Worsens

Climate Change Impact on Karachi, South Asian Megacities

Water Scarcity in Pakistan

Syeda Hamida of Indian Planning Commission Says India Worse Than Pakistan and Bangladesh

Global Hunger Index Report 2009

Grinding Poverty in Resurgent India

Food, Clothing and Shelter For All

India's Family Health Survey

Hunger and Undernutrition Blog

Pakistan's Total Sanitation Campaign

Is India a Nutritional Weakling?

Asian Gains in World's Top Universities

India's Vulnerability to Climate Change

South Asia Slipping in Human Development

What Does Democracy Deliver in Pakistan

Do South Asian Slums Offer Hope?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Coke Studio Boosts Cola's Marketshare in Pakistan

Music is aiding Coke in its fight against Pepsi in the cola wars in Pakistan. By sponsoring "Coke Studio," a local version of "MTV Unplugged", Coke has gained significant market share at Pepsi's expense, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. While Coke now claims 35% of all cola sales in Pakistan, Pepsi's market share is now down to 65% from a high of 80% in 1990s which was achieved mainly through sponsorship of cricket in Pakistan.



Coke Studio, sponsored by Coca Cola Pakistan, is a one-hour show that features musicians playing a distinct blend of fusion music that mixes traditional and modern styles. Helped by the media boom in Pakistan, the show has had dramatic success since it was launched three years ago.

A Wall Street Journal story says that Coke Studio is now carried by 27 channels, including regional Sindhi- and Pushto-language channels, where entertainment tends to be more orthodox. The show’s Facebook page has about 200,000 fans and is adding about 10,000 a week. The song “Alif Allah Chambey Di Booty” by Arif Lohar and Meesha Shafi that featured on Coke Studio in June has recorded 531,537 views in just over a month on YouTube. It is popular in both India and Pakistan where the netizens can’t seem to get enough of it.

Here is an except from the Wall Street Journal story on Coke Studio in Pakistan:

Coke and Pepsi's battle in Pakistan shows how some foreign companies remain committed and are expanding here even as others head for the exits because of concerns over terrorism and the country's struggling fiscal position.

Tetra Pak International SA, the Switzerland-based packaging company, is about to complete a €90 million ($116.5 million) factory in Lahore. Metro AG, the German retailer, has invested $175 million to open a string of outlets in the past two years. Adidas AG of Germany has recently ramped up orders of soccer balls from Pakistan, one of the world's largest suppliers.

Others, like U.S.-based Procter & Gamble Co. and Nestlé SA of Switzerland, continue to make healthy profits here. Nestlé, for instance, operates Asia's largest dairy-processing factory in Punjab, Pakistan's largest province.

An upsurge in terrorist suicide attacks and a balance of payments crisis, which led to an $11 billion International Monetary Fund bailout program in 2008, have scared off other businesses. Foreign direct investment in Pakistan fell 39% to $12 billion in the year to July, according to central bank figures. Still, countries like Pakistan continue to matter for consumer-goods companies because they have young populations and growing economies. The economy is set to grow over 4% this year and Pakistan regularly beats out nations in the region, including India, in the World Bank's study on ease of doing business.

Coke said sales volumes fell 2% in North America in the first quarter of 2010 but rose 11% in its Eurasia and Africa division, which includes Pakistan.

Pepsi remains bigger in some Middle East nations, where an Arab League boycott of Coke in the 1970s and 1980s—stemming from its investments in Israel—left the playing field open.

In other emerging markets like China, India and Russia, the two rivals are locked in a close race.


Nestle and Unilever, two of the leading food and drink companies in Pakistan have been reporting strong growth in headline sales, according to BMI. Both companies grew their topline sales revenue by more than 20% year-on-year in the year to December 31 2009. Their annual sales are now approaching US$500m.

Against the odds, demand for beer is strengthening off the back of strong growth posted by Murree Brewery. Despite Muslim's accounting for 97% of Pakistan population and extensive bans on the consumption of alcohol in place, Murree has been reporting strong financials. Q1 (three months to September 2009) after duty and tax sales climb by 16% to PKR539.4mn (US$6.5mn), while net profit after tax increased by 26% to PKR63.9mn (US$0.76mn).

As the sales of cola drinks and tobacco products decline in the West, US companies are targeting developing nations with heavy advertising to increase sales.

Bunge, the third biggest US agribusiness company after Archer-Daniel-Midland and Cargill, has bought Chicago-based Corn Products International Inc. for $4.2 billion in stock to add corn-based sweeteners as demand increases for soft drinks and processed foods in China, India and Pakistan, according to US media reports. This acquisition enlarged Bunge's international footprint in emerging economies to drive its growth.

Corn Products is the fourth-largest maker of high-fructose corn syrup in the U.S. and will give Bunge new customers in Pakistan, South Korea and Thailand, Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moskow said in a note on this deal. Corn sweeteners are used in soft drinks and processed foods instead of traditional cane or beet sugar because of their lower cost and higher concentration. A single 12-ounce can of soda has as much as 13 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup, according to San Francisco Chronicle. China, India and Pakistan have all seen double digit annual growth in consumption of soft drinks and processed foods for several years. Last year, the PepsiCo growth in US and Europe was less than 3% but PepsiCo International sales were up 22%, an impressive increase fueled by double-digit growth in China, Russia, Pakistan and the Middle East.

Processed foods and soft drink companies are often blamed in the United States for dramatic increases in obesity and diabetes, particularly among children. Some even accuse them of being merchants of death, not unlike the big tobacco companies. Many health experts argue that the issue is bigger than more calories. The theory goes like this: The body processes the fructose in high fructose corn syrup differently than it does old-fashioned cane or beet sugar, which in turn alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function. It also forces the liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream leading to heart disease.

While the presence and growth of Bunge, Pepsi and other food giants are likely to create more jobs in emerging economies such as India and Pakistan, the price for this opportunity is likely to be the danger of greater health problems associated with fats and corn sweeteners in processed foods and soft drinks.

Similar or even greater health threats are coming from the major expansion of tobacco giant Philip Morris in emerging economies. As the smoking rates in developed countries have slowly declined, they have risen dramatically in some developing counties, where PMI is a major player. These include Pakistan (up 42% since 2001), Ukraine (up 36%) and Argentina (up 18%), according to the Wall Street Journal. Philip Morris is currently building a major new plant in Pakistan.

Globalization can potentially bring many benefits, including access to more jobs and improved living conditions in the emerging economies. However, globalization also brings with it all the ills that have been witnessed in the West, including environmental deterioration and life-style diseases such as diabetes, heart-disease, various forms of cancer etc. The challenge for Pakistan, and other countries like it, is to learn from the mistakes of the West. Instead of just repeating such mistakes, Pakistan, India and China must find ways to extract the benefits while minimizing the cost of modernization.

Growing health consciousness across Pakistan is strengthening demand for low calorie carbonate substitutes and bottled water. With concerns about the safety of tap water extensive, demand for bottled water is growing strongly off the back of modest gains in per capita incomes and more importantly, more widespread product investment by leading players.

Here's a video clip of Coke Studio with Arif Lohar and Meesha:



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Media Boom

Pakistan's Murree Brewery in KSE-100 Index

Health Risks in Developing Nations Rise With Globalization

Pakistan's Choice: Globalization Versus Talibanization

Life Goes On in Pakistan

Pakistan Crowned T20 World Champion

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Deprivation Index: Indians Worse Off Than Africans and Pakistanis

A new multi-dimensional measure of poverty confirms that there is grinding poverty in resurgent India. It highlights the fact that just eight Indian states account for more poor people than the 26 poorest African countries combined, according to media reports. The Indian states, including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, have 421 million "poor" people, compared to 410 million poor in the poorest African countries.



Developed at Oxford University, the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) goes beyond income poverty based on $1.25 or $2 a day income levels. It measures a range of "deprivations" at household levels, such as schooling, nutrition, and access to health, clean water, electricity and sanitation. According to Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) country briefings 2010, 55% of Indians and 51% of Pakistanis are poor.

OPHI 2010 country briefings on India and Pakistan contain the following comparisons of multi-dimensional (MPI) and income poverty figures:

India
MPI= 55%,Under$1.25=42%,Under$2=76%,India_BPL=29%

Pakistan
MPI=51%,Under$1.25=23%,Under$2=60%,Pakistan_BPL=33%

Lesotho MPI=48%,Under$1.25=43%,Under$2=62%,Lesotho_BPL=68%

China
MPI=12%,Under$1.25=16%,Under$2=36%,China_BPL=3%

Among other South Asian nations, MPI index measures poverty in Bangladesh at 58 per cent and 65 per cent in Nepal.

While OPHI's MPI is a significant improvement over the simplistic income level criterion for assessing poverty, it appears that the MPI index gives nearly three quarters of the weight to child mortality and school enrollment, and just over a quarter of the weight to a combination of critical factors such as access to electricity, sanitation and clean drinking water which are essential for proper learning environment, increased human productivity and healthy living.

South Asians face a massive challenge in overcoming pervasive poverty that makes the region look worse than the poorest of the poor nations of sub-Saharan Africa.
Just think about the South Asian situation in terms of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Over 76% of Indians and 60% of Pakistanis living on less than $2 a day are busy struggling at the bottom of the pyramid to satisfy their basic physiological needs. They have no time or to think about freedom and democracy which belong near the top of Maslow's pyramid. It will take a lot more than the usual rhetoric of freedom, democracy and human rights to help them. It will take serious and focused effort to improve their situation through better governance and greater spending on human development. Real progress will not happen as long as South Asians hang the petty thieves and elect great ones to high offices.

Here is a video clip about grinding poverty in resurgent India:



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Slipping in Human Development

OPHI Country Briefing: Pakistan

OPHI Country Briefing: India

Slumdog Inspires India's "Big Switch"

Mumbai's Slumdog Millionaire

Poverty Tours in India, Brazil and South Africa

South Asia's War on Hunger Takes Back Seat

British TV Accused of Making "Poverty Porn"

Orangi is Not Dharavi

Bollywood and Hollywood Mix Up Combos

Grinding Poverty in Resurgent India

Slumdog Is No Hit in India

Pakistani Children's Plight

UNESCO Education For All Report 2010

India's Arms Build-up: Guns Versus Bread

South Asia Slipping in Human Development

World Hunger Index 2009

Challenges of 2010-2020 in South Asia

India and Pakistan Contrasted 2010

Food, Clothing and Shelter in India and Pakistan

Introduction to Defense Economics

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rising Grievances Among Indian Information Technology Coolies

India's IT sector business is essentially driven by low-cost call centers, first-line tech support, simple repetitive code writing, and execution of pre-defined test suites. A typical Indian IT worker is increasingly being called a "cyber coolie" or sometimes a "code coolie", the former term having been coined by an astute Indian columnist Praful Bidwai back in 2003.

India has become the world’s top provider of business-process-outsourcing (BPO) call centers, with revenues nearing $50 billion a year by selling cheap back-office services. The call center revenue constitutes the bulk of India's IT exports.

Harish Trivedi of Delhi University has characterized India's call centers as "brutally exploitative" and its employees as "cyber coolies of our global age, working not on sugar plantations but on flickering screens, and lashed into submission through vigilant and punitive monitoring, each slip in accent or lapse in pretence meaning a cut in wages."

An Indian blogger Siddarth Singh says that "one cannot dispute the fact that our IT industry is at best a glorified labor provider, and our feted “IT Giants” have failed to provide even a single proprietary product which could create waves in the global IT industry (perhaps except Finacle, a banking and finance solution by Infosys, and which is used by a number of MNC banks around the globe).

Siddarth asks the question, "So, what does Indian industry actually excel at?" Then he offers the following answer: "Well, we are the leaders in the so called IT Enabled Services, or ITES. These are basically services such as BPOs, call centers, KPOs etc, which extensively use IT to provide backend and customer services to primarily overseas customers. That our ITES industry is hugely dependent on foreign clients is also not a secret anymore, with hardly any Indian company enlisting the services of such companies".

A recent letter from a Bangalore based Indian IT worker addressed to the editors "The Hindu" newspaper read as follows:

This is how people in the West have started referring to people in developing nations. In the old days, of course, we Indians were referred to as "coolies" because we provided cheap labour. Nowadays, we are being called "cyber coolies".

Why? Because most software companies find it cheaper to get their job done in countries like India and other developing nations. There are many people in the U. S. and Britain who raise a hue and cry when jobs get exported to countries like India — especially jobs related to call centres and the software industry.

The fact that they refer to us as coolies shows that they haven't lost their imperialist outlook....


People and the media are often misled by "R&D" in the name of some of the western companies' locations in Bangalore.

In reality, Bangalore appears to be the code coolie capital of the world...it's not about tech, it's about cheap labor performing low-level tasks at rock-bottom wages. It's just cost arbitrage in the service sector.

I have no doubt there are some smart techies in India doing leading edge high-technology work, but these are exceptions. The overwhelming majority of the so-called IT work in India is call centers or low-level routine software tech support, maintenance, testing, etc. which is widely described as code coolie work. It's mostly about cost arbitrage, not advanced tech.



The call center business in India is unregulated by government, exposing workers to working in small spaces for long hours, close monitoring, and harsh working conditions. This is of considerable concern to some of the call center workers in light of the Bhopal tragedy and its aftermath which are symptomatic of how little Indian democracy cares for its people...be they industrial workers or cyber coolies in bondage who are exploited, held back and their lives totally controlled by foreigners under the "high-tech" and "IT" labels.

Even the identities of call center workers are changed in the same way as were those of the African slaves in the West. They are forced to take on western names and put on fake accents to please their customers in the West for a few bucks. The sad part is that, after over 60 years of independence from the British, some of the Indians still crave western approval and boast about the polls showing high approval ratings of India in the US. It shows that Indians' mental slavery after "globalization" is much more powerful than the physical slavery they endured for over a thousand years.

There are reports that some of the cyber coolies of India are beginning to revolt, according to the Times of London. They are creating “e-unions” and are planning to target British and American clients in a campaign to improve their working conditions.

Some of them are now protesting over low pay and aggressive management that will not negotiate with traditional trade unions, according to the Times story.

Instead of appealing to the deaf ears of Indian government or unresponsive managements of Indian-owned BPO firms, their strategy is to approach their British and American clients for support. Those who refuse may face a sabotage campaign by the same workers who have helped cut their costs.

Here is a pre-view of the upcoming NBC serial "Outsourced" about call centers in India selling to Americans:



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's IT Industry

Reality Check on Indian IT

ICT: Hope or Hype?

Truth About India's IT Revolution

Education in Pakistan

Musharraf' s Legacy

Quality of Higher Education in India, Pakistan

Pakistan's IT Industry Takes Off

Pakistan Launches UAV Production Line

Pakistan's Defense Industry Going High-Tech

Pakistan's Software Successes

Pakistan's Industrial Sector

Pakistan's Financial Services Sector

Auto Sector in India and Pakistan

Pakistan Textile Industry Woes

Pakistan Software Houses Association