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Showing posts from November, 2017

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

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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"?

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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?

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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…

Pakistan's Large Scale Manufacturing Soars By Double Digits

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Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM) in Pakistan shot up 11.3% in the first two months of fiscal year 2017-18, according to the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS). It represents a big surge from 5.7% LSM growth seen in Fiscal 2016-17.


The broad-based LSM growth was led by 50% jump in iron and steel production and 31% in auto manufacturing sector. Cement production grew nearly 20%, engineering products 19% and Pharmaceuticals 11% in the July-August 2017.

Although production was driven mostly by strong domestic demand, the exports in July-Sept 2018 also increased nearly 11% over the same period last year.

Among the notable sub-sectors driving strong LSM growth in July-August 2017 are: Tractors 115%,  motorcycles 28.3%, deep freezers 16.2%, air-conditioners 26.8%, electric-fans 22.4%, electric motors 17.3% and electric meters 18.3%, and switchgear 20.8%.

Significant improvement in the country's security situation is helping restore confidence of investors, businesses and consumers who are…

Social Media: Blessing or Curse for Pakistan?

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Is the rapid growth of social media helping or hurting Pakistani state and society?

What are the consequences of the proliferation and abuse of the new media?

What about terrorist groups like ISIS using viral images and videos to radicalize young people?  Or the state-run intelligence agencies and their agents and bots using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread disinformation to manipulate and divide people in countries and societies seen as hostile to their interests?

Is Pakistan being targeted by India's RAW and other hostile foreign intelligence agencies using social media to divide and manipulate Pakistanis by spreading fake news and doctored videos and images? Are they following the blueprint of the Russian intelligencetroll farms that were used against America before, during and after the 2016 US presidential elections?

Should there be any codes of conduct or rules and regulations for social media users? Or should it be free-for-all?

ALKS host Faraz Darvesh discusses the…

Pakistan's Fintech Revolution to Promote Financial Inclusion

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Pakistan is ranked 16th among 26 nations ranked by Brookings Institution with an overall score of 69% in "The State of Financial and Digital Inclusion Project Report" for 2017.  As the world observes the "World Financial Inclusion Week" this week (October 30-November 3, 2017), the Internet revolution is enabling rapid growth of financial technology (fintech) for increasing financial inclusion in Pakistan. The purpose of the observance of the week is to "hold conversations focused on how new products and partnerships are advancing financial inclusion, not just access", according to the Center for Financial Inclusion. It is important for Pakistan where about 100 million adults lack access to formal and regulated financial services.


Importance of Financial Inclusion:

Access to regulated financial services for all is essential in today's economy. It allows people to save, borrow and invest. Those who lack access to regulated banking services are often forc…