Monday, December 28, 2015

Cow Dung Sales Boost E-Commerce in India

Cow patties -- cow poop mixed with hay and dried in the sun, made mainly by Indian women in rural area -- are among the hottest selling items by online retailers including Amazon and eBay in India, according to media reports. Some retailers are offering discounts for large orders and offering free gift wrapping.


Cow dung has a special spiritual significance in Hindu religion. The cows in India do not eat non-vegetarian items and only eat grass or grains which makes cow dung holy and acceptable. In a lot of pujas (worship rituals), both dried and fresh cow dung is used.  From Govardhan Puja to havans, cow dung is used during pujas.

In many spiritual "yagnas", the fire is lit using dried cow dung and desi ghee (clarified butter). It is believed that burning cow dung with ghee is one of the best ways to purify the home, according to BoldSky.com.

In addition, cow dung is the most widely used fuel in India for heating and cooking in rural areas. However, the online orders are coming mostly from cities where it would be difficult to buy dung cakes. The cakes are sold in packages that contain two to eight pieces weighing 200 grams (7 ounces) each. Prices range from 100 to 400 rupees ($1.50 to $6) per package.

Hindus do not eat beef but cow urine  and cow dung are considered sacred.  Urine is believed to be beneficial by Hindus as both a beverage and used for purification of buildings. American newspaper USA Today published a story earlier this year about a urine bottling plant in Haridwar, India. A recent Times of India report said cow urine was used by a group of Hindu activists for cleaning some government buildings.

Online sales of cow dung offer a uniquely Indian blend of ancient Hindu culture and modern information technology being embraced in the country.  Rise of Hindu Nationalists to power under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given renewed impetus to total Hinduization of India.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Coffe, Tea or Pee?

Hinduization of India

Brievik's Hindutva Rhetoric

Indian Textbooks

India's RAW's Successes in Pakistan

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Friday, December 25, 2015

Pakistan Ranked 5th in the World For Financial Inclusion

When people in need of money go to unscrupulous and unregulated moneylenders, they usually get trapped in mounting debts at exorbitant interest rates. In developing nations like India and Pakistan, many end up losing their basic freedom and human dignity when they are forced to work as bonded laborers. How can this situation be changed?

The first obvious answer is to enforce laws and rules against the use of bonded labor. The second, often ignored, answer is to enable people to legitimately borrow the money they need from regulated financial institutions like banks.  In addition, they can also save and invest money as bank customers. This is called financial inclusion.

The Economist magazine publishes an annual Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) assessment and ranking of countries for their policies to promote financial inclusion. In 2015, the EIU has ranked Pakistan 5th in the world among 55 countries surveyed for financial inclusion. Peru (90 points) and Colombia (86) remained the top two countries for financial inclusion. The Philippines was followed by India (71) and Pakistan (64), while Chile and Tanzania (62) tied at sixth and Bolivia and Mexico (60) tied at eighth. Ghana (58) rose in the ranks to clinch the 10th place. Finishing at the bottom of the rankings were Haiti, Congo, and Madagascar.

Pakistan had 41.7 million bank accounts last year for its adult population of about 100 million, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). More than 31.3 million accounts, or 75% of all bank accounts, belonged to the personal accounts category. The SBP has recently modified the regulatory framework to quicken the bank account-opening process with the help of the national database authority, according to Pakistan's Express Tribune newspaper. “NADRA is the real-time online depository of the biometric impressions of close to 100 million people,” Tameer Microfinance Bank CEO Nadeem Hussain said, adding that utilizing its database had so far resulted in eight million one-minute accounts.

According to a new CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor), accumulated research confirms that financial inclusion, defined as access to and use of formal financial services, benefits the poor people. Some 20 randomized control trials (RCTs) indicate that formal financial services, such as microcredit, savings, insurance and mobile payments, can have a positive impact on a variety of microeconomic indicators, including self-employment business activities, household consumption, and well-being. “But benefits are not limited to the microeconomic level,” notes co-author Robert Cull, Lead Economist, Finance and Private Sector Development Research Group at the World Bank. “In addition to benefits to individuals, non-experimental evidence indicates that broader financial inclusion also coincides with greater local economic activity and decreased economic inequality at the macroeconomic level.”

Inability to have a bank account in modern economy causes financial exclusion of such individuals who happen to be poor. Improving their financial inclusion is essential to make them participants in the nation's economy. The State Bank's efforts to promote financial inclusion are part of Pakistan's war on poverty that needs to continue until all citizens have full access to financial services in the country. The high and growing penetration rate of mobile phones offers the fastest way to do this by offering branchless mobile banking to everyone with a cell phone.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Economy Near Trillion Dollar Mark

Pakistan 2.0: Technology Driving Productivity

Branchless Mobile Banking Takes Off in Pakistan

Financial Services Sector in Pakistan

Pakistan Ranks High in Microfinance

Pakistan Deploying Mobile Apps to Improve Governance

Pakistan Mobile Broadband Faster Than India's



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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Pakistan Economy Nears Trillion Dollar PPP GDP Mark in 2015

Pakistan's PPP GDP is nearing trillion US$ mark in 2015, according to the latest figures available from the International Monetary Fund.

Nominal GDP based on current exchange rates is reported at $270 billion in 2015, up from $246 billion in 2014, an increase of $24 Billion.  Pakistan's per capita nominal GDP for 2015 is $1,427.085, up from $1,325.790 in 2014.

The nation's PPP GDP increased from $884 billion to $930 billion, an increase of $46 billion. Pakistan per capita PPP GDP is $4,902 for 2015, up from $4,749 in 2014, according to the IMF.

A dramatic decline in terrorist violence in Pakistan since the launch of Pakistan Army's Operation Zarb-e-Azb and a big drop in international oil prices have helped drive the country's economic recovery in recent months.

Among the clearest signs of recovery are increasing auto sales, growing smartphone purchases and cement consumption.

Pakistan auto industry is booming. Toyota, Suzuki and Honda factories are working around the clock in the southern port city of Karachi and eastern city of Lahore -- yet customers can still wait for up to four months for new vehicles to be delivered, according to media reports. At the same time, increased construction activity is visible everywhere in the country. First 5 months of the current fiscal year have seen sales of 93,570 cars, an increase of 66% over the same period last year.

Over 2 million 3G subscriptions and a corresponding number of smartphones are being bought every month in the country. More than half the people in Pakistan are expected to own a smartphone within the next few years.

Domestic cement sales have jumped by a phenomenal 16.89% to 4.29 million tons during July and August 2015 from 3.67 million tons shipped in the same period last year.

After its September meeting, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said the rise in fixed investment financing in the energy generation and distribution, chemicals and services sectors signal possible increase in their productive activity in coming months. “The implementation of infrastructure development and energy projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will further enhance the improving investment environment. Therefore, there is anticipation of higher economic activity in 2015-16, which is expected to boost credit uptake,” it said.

Even as its economy recovers, it is unfortunate that Pakistan continues to lag behind its South Asian neighbors in human development.  The latest 2015 human development report from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) shows that the country's leadership is continuing fail its people, particularly the youth, by its lack of focus and underinvestment in education and health care sectors. There can be no sustainable economic growth without investing in human development. It requires immediate attention.


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Auto Industry

Record Cement Sales Raise Hope Of Pakistan Economic Recovery

Credit Suisse Bullish on Pakistan Cement Industry

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Pakistan Army Acts Against Terrorists

Pakistan Middle Class Larger & Richer Than India's

Top Global Investor Bullish on Pakistan

The Role of Cement Industry in Economic Development of Pakistan

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