Posts

Showing posts from 2017

India Breakup; Pakistan NGO Expulsions; Alabama Democrat Jones' Upset Win

Image
Does Lord Meghnad Desai's question "A country of many nations, will India break up" raised in his latest book "The Raisina Model" make any sense? Why would India break up? What are the challenges to India's unity? Is there an identity crisis in India? Is it the power imbalance among Indian states? Is it growing income disparity among peoples and states? Is it religious, ethnic, caste and/or regional fault lines running through the length and breadth of India? Is it beef ban?


Why is Pakistan expelling dozens of foreign-funded NGOs? Is it the fall-out from Save The Children NGO's alleged collusion with the CIA in fake polio vaccination scheme to find Osama Bin Laden? Is it a general concern about the NGOs role in subverting and corrupting society as explained by Stephen Kinzer's book "The Brothers" about John Foster and Alan Dulles? Is it the State Department documents describing US-funded international NGOs as "force multipliers"…

Pakistan Mobile Broadband Speed Fastest in South Asia

Image
Pakistan's average mobile broadband speed of 13.1 megabits per second is the fastest in South Asia, according to Ookla Global Speed Test Index 2017.  Mobile broadband speeds in other South Asian countries are: Myanmar 11.7, Nepal 11, Sri Lanka 9.3, India 8.8 and Bangladesh 4.97.




World Speed Rankings:

South Asia region remains far behind the rest of the world. Pakistan ranks 89, Myanmar 94, Nepal 99, Sri Lanka 107, India 109 and Bangladesh 120 among 122 nations ranked by Ookla.  Norway tops the list with 62.66 Mbps followed by the Netherlands 53, Iceland 52.78, Singapore 51.5 and Malta 50.46 Mbps.  United States is ranked 44 with 26.32 Mbps.

Smartphones/broadband Growth:

The growth of mobile broadband has spurred demand for smartphones. Pakistan now has nearly 50 million mobile broadband subscriptions with as many smartphones. Both smartphones and broadband user base in Pakistan are surging at a rate of 1 to 2 million a month.

Next Billion Users:

Google believes the next billion smart…

Rising Share of Income of Poorest 20% Pakistani Households

Image
The share of national income of Pakistan's poorest 20% of households has increased from 8.1% to 9.6% since 1990 , according to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (NESCAP) Statistical Yearbook for 2015.  It's the highest share of income for the bottom income quintile in the region.

Income Share Change in Asia's Poorest Quintile: 

The countries where people in the poorest income quintile have increased their share of total income include Kyrgyzstan (from 2.5 per cent to 7.7), the Russian Federation (4.4 per cent to 6.5), Kazakhstan (7.5 per cent to 9.5) and Pakistan (8.1 per cent to 9.6).  India's bottom income quintile has seen its share of income drop from 9% to 7.8%.


Although more people in China have lifted themselves out of poverty than any other country in the world, the poorest quintile in that country now accounts for a lower percentage of total income (4.7 per cent) than in the early 1990s (8.0 per cent). The same unfortunate t…

Katas Raj Temple Case Exposes Pakistan's Groundwater Crisis

Image
Pakistan Supreme Court has recently taken notice of the drying water pond at Katas Raj temple located in Chakwal district in the nation's Punjab province.  Hindus believe that it was formed from the tears Lord Shiva shed after the death of his wife Sati.

Why is the temple pond drying up? What is happening to the water source that used to keep it full? Is it symptomatic of a much larger  life-and-death issue of water stress Pakistan faces? Let's explore the answers to these questions.

Groundwater Depletion:

Katas Raj temple pond is a victim of the falling water table due to increasing use of groundwater in Pakistan. Pakistan, India, and the United States are responsible for two-thirds of that outsize groundwater use globally,  according to a report by University College London researcher Carole Dalin.  Nearly half of this groundwater is used to grow wheat and rice crops for domestic consumption and exports.  This puts Pakistan among the world's largest exporters of its rapid…

Credit Suisse: Pakistan's Wealth Inequality is the Lowest in South Asia

Image
Data released by Credit Suisse with its Global Wealth Report 2017 shows that Pakistan is the most egalitarian nation in South Asia. It also confirms that the median wealth of Pakistani households is three times higher than that of households in India.

Wealth Inequality:

Inequality is measured in terms of Gini index. It ranges from 0% for perfect equality (when everyone has the same wealth)  to 100% for total inequality (when all of the wealth is owned by one person).  On this scale, Pakistan’s Gini index is 52.6%, Bangladesh’s 57.9%, Sri Lanka’s 66.5%, Nepal’s 67.3%, China’s 78.9% and India's 83%.



Household Wealth:

Here is per capita wealth data for India and Pakistan as of mid-2017, according to Credit Suisse Wealth Report 2017 released recently.

Pakistan average wealth per adult: $5,174 vs India $5,976
Pakistan median wealth per adult: $3,338 vs India $1,295

Average household wealth in Pakistan is $15,522 (3 adults) vs India $14,940 (2.5 adults)
Median household wealth in Pakistan…

Marvell to Pay $7.5 Billion For Cavium Co-founded by Pakistani-American NEDUET Alum

Image
Marvell Technology announced on November 20 that it would buy Cavium in a $6 billion stock deal, according to CNBC News. The value of the deal jumped to $7.5 billion enterprise value at the close of market on November 22, 2017.

Raghib Husain, Pakistani-American cofounder of Cavium and an alumnus of NED University of Engineering Technology, sent the following email today confirming the deal to his friends:

"Now that the news is public you must have figured out why I was so busy lately. It’s a day with mixed feelings for me. It’s like sending 17yrs old off to college. In any case I’m thankful to Allah to give us opportunity to experience this."

"To summarize: I started Cavium with Syed in late 2000, took public in 2007 with a Market cap of about $600M, ten years later in 2017, we are an established semiconductor company with revenue of $1B, 2000 employees and Market Cap of $5B and now consolidated for over $6.5B enterprise value. At the market close on Wednesday, the deal a…

Information Technology Jobs Moving From India to Pakistan?

Image
Outlook India recently ran a story headlined "Noida to Islamabad". It suggests at least anecdotal evidence of information technology jobs beginning to move from India to Pakistan. The number of jobs is only 125 but could it be the tip of a larger iceberg? Are western companies finding Pakistan becoming more competitive with India in terms of cost and skills on offer? Let's try and answer these questions.

Noida to Islamabad:

Outlook India report said 125 employees at a US-based information technology service provider were laid off in Noida in New Delhi, India, and the very next day an equal number of workers started working for the company in Islamabad, Pakistan. Here's an excerpt of Outlook India story:

"On the night of November 1, stretching into early next morning, close to half the workforce at the Noida office of a US-based IT service provider was informed that their services were no longer needed. A former employee says salaries for the staff at the Noida off…

Pakistan's Total Education Spending Surpasses its Defense Budget

Image
Pakistan's public spending on education has more than doubled since 2010 to reach $8.6 billion a year in 2017, rivaling defense spending of $8.7 billion. Private spending on education by parents is even higher than the public spending with the total adding up to nearly 6% of GDP. Pakistan has 1.7 million teachers, nearly three times the number of soldiers currently serving in the country's armed forces. Unfortunately, the education outcomes do not yet reflect the big increases in spending. Why is it? Let's examine this in some detail.

Pakistan Education Budget:

The total money budgeted for education by the governments at the federal and provincial levels has increased from Rs. 304 billion in 2010-11 to Rs. 790 billion in 2016-17,  representing an average of 17.5% increase per year since 2010.


Private Education Spending in Pakistan:

2012 Data from UNESCO and the World Bank shows that the private spending on education is about twice as much as the monies budgeted by federal an…

Pakistan Per Capita Cement Consumption Hit New High of 170 Kg in 2016

Image
Pakistan's domestic cement consumption reached 35 million tons in 2016, up from 30 million tons in 2015, according to a report published by Global Cement.  Using the latest census population of 207 million, it works out to about 170 Kg per person consumption. The increase is driven by a combination of CPEC-related infrastructure projects as well as commercial and housing construction.



While domestic demand for cement is continuing its upward trend, the exports have suffered a major decline. In 2009, the exports hit a high of over 11 million tons, constituting 34% of all cement dispatches at the time. Since then, they have fallen to below 6 million tons or 14% of all sales.

Pakistan cement industry is booming. There is some disagreement about where the biggest demand is coming from.  The CEO of Thatta Cement says it is 60% infrastructure and 40% housing but others say it is 70% housing and 30% infrastructure.

Pakistan's 11 cement manufacturers are investing a combined $2.25 bil…

Pakistani Students Win Silver in International Genetic Engineering Competition

Image
A team of undergraduate students representing Peshawar has won a silver medal in a genetic engineering competition organized recently by the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation in Boston, Massachusetts.



iGEM Team:

The team was made up of students from several cities and towns across Pakistan including Lahore, Attock, Islamabad, Multan, Faisalabad, Khyber Agency, Nowshera, Charsadda, Peshawar, Swabi and Mardan.

The team was hosted by Institute of Integrative Biosciences of CECOS University of IT and Emerging Sciences Peshawar. It was sponsored by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP)’s Directorate of Science and Technology, according to media reports.

The team's silver-medal-winning 2017 entry is a genetically engineered fish called "Reporter Fish" that can detect five different heavy metals and change color to indicate the presence of metal contamination in the water. It used an Arduino electronic circuit board with bacterial-human interface device that enabl…

Is US Playing the "India Card" Against China With "Indo-Pacific Quad"?

Image
Has Asia-Pacific become Indo-Pacific? Is George W. Bush's Quad back again? Is this Trump's version of Obama's Pivot to Asia? Let's examine what happened during President Donald Trump's recent Asia Trip.

Obama's Pivot to Asia:

President Barack Obama's Pivot to Asia initiative and his efforts to create Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) seemed to have been all but abandoned by President Donald Trump after his inauguration in January 2017. This is part of a pattern of Mr. Trump's campaign to erase the Obama legacy and put his own stamp on all things American. However, it now appears that the Obama legacy is being repackaged by the Trump administration under new names such as "Quad" in "Indo-Pacific" region. Its aim remains the same: To check China's rise.

Trump's Quad in Indo-Pacific:

In a speech to business leaders during his visit to Vietnam, President Trump repeatedly called for a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” describing a region …

Thick Smog in Delhi and Lahore: Is India Crop Burning to Blame?

Image
Thick smog enveloping Pakistan's Punjab province has seriously disrupted road and air traffic and created significant health emergency for the people, according to Pakistani media reports. Indian cities, including the nation's capital New Delhi, are also suffering from it.

Is India Responsible?

Pakistani officials have blamed "the incursion of smoke and particle matter from the burning of crop stubble in the Indian Punjab." Particulate matter of 2.5 microns or larger as measured in micrograms per cubic meter is up to 80 times higher than the upper limit of 10 micrograms per cubic meter considered safe by the World Health Organization.

Is the Pakistani claim supported by data? Let's try and answer this question with satellite images of the area released by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).


NASA Satellite Images:

Here's how NASA's Earth Observatory described the situation last year:

"In early October 2016, Eart…