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Showing posts from 2011

India Ranks Near Bottom on Education

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Indian students rank near the bottom on PISA, a global test of learning standards conducted in 74 nations this year. TIMSS, another standardized international test, produced similar results earlier in 2003.



This is the first time that Indian students participated in PISA. Students from Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu took the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, coordinated by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Prior to this participation, students from Indian states of Orissa and Rajasthan took a similar test called Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 2003.

Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh rank high on human development indicators among Indian states. The India Human Development Report 2011, prepared by the Institute of Applied Manpower Research (IAMR), categorized them as “median” states, putting them significantly ahead of the national average. IAMR is an autonomous arm of India's Plann…

IBA Study Ignores Grassroots Entrepreneurship in Pakistan

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A recent report by the Center for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) finds that Pakistanis are less entrepreneurial than their counterparts in the majority of 59 member nations of Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), according to Express Tribune newspaper. The report says that the new business ownership rate, which is the percentage of owner-managers of a business that is three to 42 months old, is 2.7% in Pakistan, "considerably less" than the average rate for factor-driven economies (11.8%).

The results of this IBA CED study, as reported by the media, run counter to the findings of a recent World Bank report titled "More and Better Jobs in South Asia" which shows that 63% of Pakistan's workforce is self-employed, including 13% high-end self-employed. Salaried and daily wage earners make up only 37% of the workforce.

Even if one chooses to consider just the 13% who are high-end self-employed as entrepreneurs,…

Economic Comparison Between Bangladesh & Pakistan

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Economic gap between East and West Pakistan in 1960s is often cited as a key reason for the secessionist movement led by Shaikh Mujib's Awami League and the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. This disparity has grown over the last 40 years, and the per capita income in Pakistan now stands at 1.7 times Bangladesh's in 2011, slightly higher than 1.6 as it was in 1971.



Forty years after the Fall of Dhaka and the creation of Bangladesh on Dec 16, 1971, there's still much talk about it. The Daily Star, a Bangladeshi newspaper, has published a piece on the subject by Akbar Ali Khan marking the 40th anniversary of Bangladeshi independence. In his Op ED, Mr. Khan argues that "political independence provided much more conducive environment for growth in Bangladesh than united Pakistan. Though economic growth in East Pakistan was revived during Ayub Khan's so-called decade of reforms, growth rate in erstwhile East Pakistan was much lower than that of West Pakistan".



In…

Pakistani-American Makes History as First Non-white NFL Owner

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NFL owners are the oldest and whitest of old white guy clubs. Drew Magary
Pakistani-American Shahid Khan made history this week by becoming the first minority owner of a National Football League team. All 31 other owners of NFL teams are white. The deal to purchase Jacksonville Jaguar is for an estimated $760 million and the ownership transfer will be complete Jan. 4, 2012, according to Associated Press. Earlier, Khan agreed in February 2010 to buy a controlling interest in the St. Louis Rams before billionaire Stan Kroenke exercised an option to purchase the 60 percent of the club he didn’t own.

NFL has highly lucrative business because of the extraordinary popularity of football in the United States. Over nine years, starting in 2014, CBS, Fox and NBC will together will pay an average of about $3 billion a year, more than 50 percent higher than their current deals, according to a report in New York Times. Altogether, the four networks, in addition to DirecTV, which pays $1 billion…

Hospital Fire Casts Shadow on India Medical Tourism

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A deadly hospital fire claiming 91 patients' lives in India last week is raising serious concerns about the safety of foreigners being wooed by the nation's growing medical tourism industry.

The fire swept through AMRI, a 180-bed, state-of-the-art facility regarded as one of the best hospitals in India. There were no exit doors or evacuation plan, the windows were sealed, and the local fire department took more than 90 minutes to arrive. Trapped, many of the patients died from smoke inhalation, according to a report in Christian Science Monitor. Most died in their beds, unable to escape the inferno that raged for hours. Residents living in the neighborhood accused the hospital guards of not taking any measures to control the fire and of even preventing others from rushing to the rescue of the victims who were abandoned by the hospital staff. The hospital is known to attract many foreign patients. However, it's too early to tell if any foreigners died in the blaze because m…

India "Time of Reckoning" as its Economy "Explodes"

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For at least two years in a row, BRIC has, in the words of SGS's Albert Edwards, stood for Bloody Ridiculous Investment Concept, not an acronym for populous emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China as Goldman Sachs' Jim O'Neill saw it ten years ago.

In fact, O'Neill has himself expressed disappointment in India, one of the BRICs, a designation that has boosted foreign investment in India and helped accelerate its economic growth since 2001.

"All four countries have become bigger (economies) than I said they were going to be, even Russia. However there are important structural issues about all four and as we go into the 10-year anniversary, in some ways India is the most disappointing," said O'Neill as quoted by Reuters.

Noting India's significant dependence on foreign capital inflows, Jim O'Neill went further and raised a concern about the potential for current account crisis. "India has the risk of ... if they're not careful, …

Lahore Company Recycles Waste Profitably

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Asif Farooqui is making millions of dollars by turning thousands of tons of waste in Lahore into liquefied petroleum products and fertilizer for farmlands.

Words like "clean" and "green" are not usually associated with the streets of major South Asian cities, but Farooqui's Waste Busters, a successful waste management business, is slowly changing the image of the Pakistani city of Lahore, according to an Aljazeera report.



The business started modestly a few years ago with just six donkey carts and a few workers to collect the trash and manually process it. Today, it has 200 garbage collection vehicles, several waste management plants and employs over 3000 people. Its plants separate garbage in to organics, plastics and metals to produce LPG products, fertilizer, and recyclables for reprocessing and reuse. And it is being done profitably.

An example of reprocessing and reuse is a Lahore-based company called Green Earth Recycling which turns shopping bags and other…

American Multi-nationals Moved 1.5 Million US Jobs to India and China

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American corporations created 453,000 jobs in India, a whopping 642% increase in a decade that saw the same corporations cut 846,000 jobs at home.

Overall, US multinational corporations added 1.5 million workers to their payrolls in Asia and the Pacific region from 1999 to 2009, and 477,500 workers in Latin America, according to US Commerce Dept data as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

From 1999 to 2009, the multinational companies also reduced capital-investment spending in the U.S. at an annual rate of 0.2% and increased it at a 4.0% annual rate abroad. This occurred in spite of huge Bush era tax cuts for the rich.



Bulk of the increase in overseas investment and hiring by U.S. multinationals has been in the service sector where most of the American middle class jobs have been lost. Among U.S. multinational firms in manufacturing, about 60% of employment is still in the U.S. But the manufacturers cut their U.S. payrolls by 2.1 million in the 2000s and added 230,000 workers overse…

Sharing Blaochistan's Vast Mineral Wealth

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The US state of Alaska has a small population of only 680,000 people and vast territory measuring 1.5 million square kilometers. The state is endowed with tremendous mineral wealth--particularly oil and gas. Alaska Permanent Fund was set up in 1976 to ensure that ordinary Alaskans get a share of this natural wealth. Currently the fund has assets of over $38 billion and each Alaskan will receive $1,174.00 in cash from it for 2011.

Pakistan's Balochistan province shares some similarities with the US state of Alaska. It is the largest of Pakistan's four provinces in terms of area (347,190 square kilometers) but the smallest in terms of population (6.6 million). With large reserves of copper, gold and natural gas, it is probably the richest of Pakistan's provinces in terms of its natural resources.



Most of the grievances of the people of Balochistan stem from a sense that they have not benefited from the resources under their land. Powerful tribal chieftains in the province …

US Role as Nuclear Proliferator to India

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The story of how India acquired nuclear weapons gets almost no attention in the Western media as they continue to focus on nuclear proliferation by Pakistan's AQ Khan.

The nuclear proliferation narrative in the mainstream American and European media begins with A.Q. Khan's network rather than the actors in North America and Europe as the original proliferators of nuclear weapons equipment, materials and technology to India in 1960s and 1970s. These nuclear exports from US to India continued for several years even after the Indian nuclear test in 1974.



The real story, as recounted by Paul Leventhal of The Nuclear Control Institute, begins with the US and Canada supplying nuclear reactors and fuel to India in 1960s. As the story unfolds, we learn that the spent fuel from Canadian Cirus reactor was reprocessed into bomb-grade plutonium using a reprocessing plant provided by an American-European consortium, and later used to explode India's first atom bomb at Pokhran in 1974. …

Pakistan's Largest City Karachi Ranks High on Human Development

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While Pakistan's HDI of 0.504 (2011) ranks it among UNDP's low human development countries, its largest city Karachi's HDI of 0.7885 (2005) is closer to the group of nations given high human development rankings.



In a regional human development analysis for Pakistan done by Haroon Jamal and Amir Jahan Khan of the Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC), Karachi ranks at the top with HDI of 0.7885, followed by Jhelum district's 0.7698 and Haripur's 0.7339. Lahore has HDI score of 0.6882 and Rawalpindi 0.638.



Majority of the nations ranked as high human development are less populated than Karachi with its 15 million+ inhabitants, and none is experiencing the massive waves of poor rural migrants from some of the least developed areas of Pakistan which Karachi continues to absorb after each disaster in other parts of the country, natural or otherwise.



Karachi often makes news for its recurring episodes of violence which claim many innocent lives. Yet, the city conti…

Pakistani Fulbright Scholar Joins Fight Against Terror

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Simulation software developed by Fulbright scholar Zeeshan Usmani is helping investigators analyze bombings and pursue perpetrators of terror in Pakistan. Usmani is the product of currently the world's biggest Fulbright program being offered in Pakistan, with approximately 200 scholarships for advanced degrees in 2011 alone.

Usmani collaborated with Daniel Kirk at Florida Institute of Technology to develop Usmani-Kirk model for analyzing suicide bomb blasts. The model uses various inputs like before-and-after video footage, bombing debris, chemical residues, victims' injuries, casualty patterns, autopsy data and other available clues about suspects and forensic data to piece together the details of each incident and to help identify the cause and the perpetrators.



Upon returning to Pakistan with a doctoral degree, Usmani was introduced by a business executive Adnan Asdar to Karachi's senior police officials who were investigating the Ashura bombing of 28 December, 2009. Th…

Pakistan Poised to Reap Huge Demographic Dividend

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Pakistan has the world’s sixth largest population, seventh largest diaspora and the ninth largest labor force. With rapidly declining fertility and aging populations in the industrialized world, Pakistan's growing talent pool is likely to play a much bigger role to satisfy global demand for workers in the 21st century and contribute to the well-being of Pakistan as well as other parts of the world.






With half the population below 20 years and 60 per cent below 30 years, Pakistan is well-positioned to reap what is often described as "demographic dividend", with its workforce growing at a faster rate than total population. This trend is estimated to accelerate over several decades. Contrary to the oft-repeated talk of doom and gloom, average Pakistanis are now taking education more seriously than ever. Youth literacy is about 70% and growing, and young people are spending more time in schools and colleges to graduate at higher rates than their Indian counterparts in 15+ age…

Pakistan Ranks Among Fastest Growing Broadband Markets

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High-speed broadband expansion led by PTCL has propelled Pakistan to become the fourth fastest growing broadband market in the world and the second fastest in Asia, according to a recent industry report. Serbia leads all countries surveyed with a 68% annual growth rate from Q1 2010 to Q1 2011. Thailand (67%), Belarus (50%), Pakistan (46%), and Jordan (44%) follow Serbia. India is in 14th place worldwide with a 35% annual growth rate.





Leading the charge is PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunications Ltd.), Pakistan's state-owned telecommunications company, which recently launched 100 Mbps fiber to the home broadband service using Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology. Earlier this year PTCL rolled out bonded VDSL2 technology to deliver 50 Mbps to its existing DSL customers, five times the top speed of the nation's highest level of service at the time, at a construction cost of just $200-300 per home passed.

Nearly 200,000 new subscribers signed up for broadband from the end of…

Pakistan's Growing Education Market

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Although the growth in the total number Pakistanis studying abroad has slowed since the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001 in the United States, the world's sixth most populous nation continues to be among the leading sources of foreign students in America, Europe, Australia and new emerging higher education destinations in Asia.

As the number of Pakistani students in the United States has declined from a peak of 8,644 students (ranked 13th) in 2001-02 to 5,222 in 2009-10 (ranked 23rd), English-speaking OECD nations of the United Kingdom and Australia have become the biggest beneficiaries getting increasing market share of the Pakistan education market. Both nations have benefited in spite of the fact that the UK and Australian visa rejection rates for Pakistanis are higher than for students from other nations.



A recent British Council report says that 9,815 Pakistani students (Source: HESA) put Pakistan among one of the top six countries which account for 54 percent of the UK’s (…