Guess Why Pakistani Analyst Uzair Younus is Making Headlines in India!

Pakistani analyst Uzair Younus has recorded personal impressions of his recent India visit on his YouTube channel, as well as in an interview on another YouTube channel called "Pakistan Experience".  Indian media have gleefully jumped on it with headlines like "Visiting India Was Like Stepping Into The Future" and a "Pakistani analyst" talking of India's "communal harmony". It has helped Younus' channel draw its highest ever views, and inundated it with Indian trolls' comments praising Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi and denouncing Pakistan.  This is yet another confirmation of what former US President Barack Obama wrote in his book "A Promised Land": “Expressing hostility toward Pakistan was still the quickest route to national unity (in India)”. 

Indians See Uzair Younus Endorsing Indian PM Modi's Policies


Digital Payments: 

Younus' "stepping into the future" comment refers primarily to the ubiquity of QR codes for retail digital payments that he observed in India. He said the currency in circulation accounts for 13% (actual: 13.7%) of India's GDP, versus 20% of GDP (actual: 18%) in Pakistan. He also saw the GST (Goods and Services Tax) numbers displayed at all retailers, and the GST taxes being paid everywhere. 

Pakistan's RAAST P2P System Taking Off. Source: State Bank of Pakistan


There's no question that India has made significant strides in digitizing payments in recent years. However, it should be noted here that Pakistan, too, is making progress in digital payments. Raast, Pakistan's P2P payments equivalent of India's UPI, has crossed Rs. one trillion mark in payments in 11 months, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.  Pakistan is also among the world's top 10 smartphone markets. 

Pakistan Among World's Top 10 Smartphone Markets. Source: NewZoo


Infrastructure: 

Younus also praised India's growing infrastructure and compared it with Pakistan's, claiming that the Pakistani infrastructure is better but it only serves the rich. He cited the example of driving time to Islamabad International Airport (serving 5 million population in the metro area) in Pakistan being much shorter than the driving time to Delhi Airport (serving 33 million+ population in the metro area) in India, claiming that it is because only the rich use the Islamabad Airport. This makes me wonder if the 5 million passengers who traveled in and out of Islamabad last year are all rich? 

Communal Harmony: 

Uzair cited the example of a Muslim peer's shrine in Rajkot being looked after by Hindus which the Indian media interpreted as "communal harmony" in its reporting. The fact is that India is ranked as the world's worst in terms of religious hostilities, particularly against Muslims, according to a Pew Survey.  Scoring a high 9.5 on a scale of 10, India’s score is found to be worse than all the South Asian countries, including Pakistan, which scores 7.7, followed by Bangladesh 7.2, Afghanistan 6.5, Burma (Myanmar). 5.9, Sri Lanka 5.6, Nepal 2.6, China 1.3 and Bhutan 0.4.


India Tops Social Hostilities. Source: Telegraph India

National Debt and Deficits: 

Uzair Younus argues that the Indian infrastructure is not built with loans while Pakistan takes on debt to build its infrastructure. It seems that the esteemed Pakistani analyst is unaware of the fact that India is the world's biggest borrower of infrastructure loans from various international financial institutions such as the World Bank, the Asian Development and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. 

India's external debt to GDP ratio is about 20% while Pakistan's is 34%.  In addition, both India and Pakistan also run twin deficits: budget deficit and current account deficit (CAD). India's fiscal deficit is about 6.4% and its CAD is 3.3% of GDP. Corresponding figures for Pakistan are 7.9% and 4.6%. 

India has perennially run huge trade and budget deficits. But substantial western capital inflows since the end of the Cold War have helped India avoid a balance of payments crisis. So, India's economic success is in part due to the change in global geopolitics in this century. In short, the West, led by the United States, is boosting India to counter China. 

India is now emerging as the biggest beneficiary of the Ukraine War and the US efforts to check China's rise. Indian businesses are busting US sanctions to take advantage of the vacuum left in Russia by the exit of western businesses since the start of the Ukraine War.  At the same time, the US is rewarding India by promoting it as an alternative to China in the global supply chain.  Meanwhile, Beijing is warning New Delhi that India "will be the biggest victim" of America's "proxy war" against China. 

Women at Work:

Younus saw many women at work in Indian cities, some engaged in constructions, other riding scooters to work. He compares it to what he perceives as absence of women in the workplace in Pakistan. What he misses is the fact that the female labor participation rate in India is, in fact, lower than in Pakistan, according to the International Labor Organization data.  

Female labor force participation rate in India has recently fallen to just 19%, the second lowest after Afghanistan's 15% in the South Asia region. By contrast, Pakistan's women's labor force participation rate is 21%, Sri Lanka's 31% and Bangladesh's 35%. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's mishandling of the COVID19 pandemic has hit Indian women particularly hard, with 90% of those who lost their jobs now shut out of the workforce. 

Female Labor Force Participation Rate in South Asia. Source: World Bank


The precipitous loss of women workers is disastrous news for India's economy, which had started slowing before the COVID19 pandemic, according to a Bloomberg report. Rosa Abraham, an economics professor at Azim Premji University in Bengaluru, tracked more than 20,000 people as they navigated the labor market during the pandemic.. She found that after the first lockdown, women were several times more likely to lose their jobs than men and far less likely to recover work after restrictions were lifted. "When men are faced with this kind of a huge economic shock, then they have a fallback option," Abraham told Bloomberg. "They can navigate to different kinds of work. But for women, there is no such fallback option. They can't negotiate the labor market as effectively as men do." 

Optimism: 

Based on the small sample of people he met in India and Pakistan, Uzair concludes that people in India are very optimistic while those in Pakistan are despondent. Results of a recent Gallup International Poll of 64 nations differ from his conclusion. 

Doing Better Than Parents. Source: Gallup International

Pakistan is in the middle of multiple serious crises. But the vast majority of Pakistanis feel that they have better lives than their parents did, and they think their children will have even better lives than theirs, according to a Gallup International Poll of 64 countries conducted from August to October last year. The poll asked two questions: 1) Do you feel your life is better, worse or roughly similar to that  of your parents? and 2) Do you think your children will have a better, worse or roughly the same life as you? The answers to these questions reveal that Pakistanis are among the top 5 most positive nations among 64 countries polled by Gallup International. Anecdotal evidence in terms of packed shopping malls and restaurants in Pakistan's major cities confirms it. Such positivity augurs well for Pakistan's prospects of successfully dealing with the current crises. It will drive the nation's recovery. 

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Pakistanis said they live better than their parents did. And 69% of Pakistani parents think their children will have better lives than they do. In neighboring India, 54% of respondents feel their lives are better than their parents' while only 43% say their children will have better lives than theirs'.  The global average for the former is 51% and it is 44% for the latter. The poll results put Pakistanis among the world's five most hopeful nations

Uzair Younus' Background:

Uzair talks about his family's humble beginnings in a small Gujarati village near Rajkot which he visited during his India tour. His grandparents fled to Pakistan in search of better lives. He grew up in Clifton, an upscale neighborhood of Karachi. 

In his effusive praise of the neighboring country that has twice elected Modi, Uzair completely missed the fact that Narendra Modi, now India's prime minister, is widely believed to be the perpetrator of a anti-Muslim pogrom in 2002 when he was the chief minister of Gujarat. The Muslim survivors of the 2002 massacre are still languishing near a mountain of trash on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, battling poverty and disease. Uzair Younus should have paid a visit to show solidarity with them. 

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Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Cricket 2023: ‘A hundred in India, as an Australian that’s what you want,’ Khawaja says

by Malcolm Conn

https://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/a-hundred-in-india-as-an-australian-that-s-what-you-want-khawaja-20230309-p5cqx1.html

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi led Australia to the promised land but only a man originally stopped from entering India was able to make a significant impression.

Usman Khawaja continued his exceptional return to Test as the game’s most productive batsman since the beginning of last year, scoring an unbeaten 104as his teammates failed to cash in on a rare benign Indian pitch after winning the toss and batting on Thursday.

Such was the pageantry that the toss was delayed as Modi, with Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese at his elbow, did a lap of the ground in what can only be described as a cricket chariot.

Adulation and lining up with the teams for the national anthems done, the PMs cleared out about an hour after play started to do the tours and announcements which allies of convenience do.

Advertisement
The irony should be lost on no one that it was Khawaja, a Pakistani-born muslim, who dominated the cricket after Modi was choreographically feted at the huge Ahmedabad stadium named in his honour.

The stage-managed political fluff was exposed by Khawaja in the last over of the day’s play when he flicked a Mohammed Shami delivery through the leg side and danced with real, unbridled joy, celebrating his first century in India and first against India.

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Hubris personified
POLITICS AND PLAY | Narendra Modi at the Narendra Modi stadium

by Ramachandra Guha

I was first alerted to this mischief by a friend, who, hoping to travel to Ahmedabad for the Test, found that tickets were on sale to the general public only from the second day. Ticket websites said there were no tickets available for the first day. My friend however found that an acquaintance had acquired a ticket through what one might call the ‘bhakt quota’. As it happens, Australian fans had also not been able to get tickets for the first day. Learning of this, Peter Lalor wrote a report in The Australian where he remarked, with regard to the non-availability of tickets, that “with neither of the first two Tests lasting three full days it is an enormous frustration to the hundreds of Australians who have travelled to India for the Border Gavaskar Trophy. Not to mention tens of thousands of local cricket fans.” Lalor also observed that “the Indian PM is notorious for stage managing events,” adding that “it is expected that hordes of his handpicked fans will fill the stadium for his appearance at the national anthem with the Australian PM.”

Following Lalor’s report, Australian diplomats lobbied with the Board of Control for Cricket in India. A special booth was opened to sell tickets to the several hundred cricket fans who had travelled to India from Down Under. This still left, as it took an Australian writer to point out, tens of thousands of home fans in the lurch. They had no one to lobby on their behalf. The cricket media in India is, by large, as ‘godi’ as the rest of the media, loath to offend the BCCI, which, under its current management, acts as an arm of the ruling party.
Riaz Haq said…
SVB collapse: Indian startups should resist pressure from large investors to domicile outside, says Mohandas Pai

https://www.businesstoday.in/silicon-valley-bank/story/svb-collapse-indian-startups-should-resist-pressure-from-large-investors-to-domicile-outside-says-mohandas-pai-373082-2023-03-12

He advised founders of India-centric startups "to be careful" and "not get carried away" by investors who force companies they fund, to domicile in the US and open bank accounts there as well, according to a PTI report.

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Union IT minister to meet Indian startups amid concerns over ..

Read more at:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/98586043.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

On Friday, US regulators pulled the plug on SVB - a key lender to US startups since the 1980s - after a run on deposits made it no longer tenable for the medium-sized bank to stay afloat on its own.
SVB has exposure to over 20 startups in India and began investing here in 2003.
According to startup research advisory Tracxn, SVB has invested in several Indian firms, including Paytm, Carwale, Bluestone, Shaadi and Sarva. In October last year, SVB had invested $150 million in contract intelligence company Icertis.
Following the collapse, startup founders and investors in Mumbai exchanged rumors about which fledgling company might be the first to fall, Bloomberg reported.
India has one of the world's biggest startup markets, with many clocking multi-billion-dollar valuations in recent years and getting the backing of foreign investors who have made bold bets on digital and other tech businesses.
SVB's failure, the biggest in the US since the 2008 financial crisis, has roiled global markets, hit banking stocks and is now unsettling Indian entrepreneurs.
Two partners at an Indian venture capital fund and one lender to Indian start-ups told Reuters that they are running checks with portfolio companies on any SVB exposure and if so, whether it is a significant part of their total bank balance.
An Indian founder told Bloomberg News he failed to retrieve company funds and is now left only with working capital. Another was scurrying to stop and reroute customer payments into his company’s SVB account, while also setting up new arrangements for salary payments. Three founders and a startup investor said they hadn’t slept in 48 hours.
Riaz Haq said…
Uzair Younus عُزیر یُونس
@UzairYounus
Astonished by how many people tuned in to listen and engage about my trip to 🇮🇳 on the
@pakistonomy
YT channel!

The metrics chart is evidence that people in both countries want to travel and engage with one another.

If that curiosity wasn’t there, folks wouldn’t be tuning in.

https://twitter.com/UzairYounus/status/1634515360803061760?s=20
Riaz Haq said…
Is India ready to take China’s place in the global economy? That’s just wishful thinking

https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3213475/india-ready-take-chinas-place-global-economy-thats-just-wishful-thinking

by Sameer Basha


Australia and other US allies looking for potential trade and investment partners to reduce their reliance on China are knocking on India’s door

But India’s modest economic size, challenging investment environment and substandard infrastructure are major deterrents to fruitful collaboration

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India has been increasingly viewed as a natural ally to countries like Australia, which see it as an economic and military counterweight to China. They believe the best way for this to happen is through foreign direct investment into the country, to allow for a gradual transition of enterprises from China to India.
In its 2022 Investment Climate Statement on India, the US State Department called the country “a challenging place to do business” and highlighted its protectionist measures, increased tariffs and an inability to adjust from “Indian standards” to international standards.
The 2023 Index of Economic Freedom ranks India 131st in the world and 27th out of 39 economies in the Asia-Pacific region. The Indian government places equity limits on foreign capital in some sectors of the economy. In these sectors, according to the government’s circular of its FDI policy, beyond the cap imposed on foreign ownership, the entity must be “owned by/held with/in the hands of resident Indian citizens and Indian companies, owned and controlled by resident Indian citizens”.
In addition, ambiguities in the tax code have meant companies like Vodafone, Cairn Energy and GE Capital have found themselves in the cross hairs of tax authorities, putting into question India’s maturity as an FDI hub.
Such actions have seen India’s FDI inflows, as a share of the global total, fall from 3.4 per cent to 2.8 per cent between 2019 and 2021, whereas China’s share has have risen from 14.5 per cent to 20.3 per cent. In recent years, companies like Harley-Davidson and the Royal Bank of Scotland have either downsized or exited India, with German retailer Metro AG selling its operations after two decades in the country.
When one compares the relative size of their economies, China had a nominal gross domestic product of US$17.7 trillion in 2021, while India’s was US$3.2 trillion. India invests only 30 per cent of its GDP, compared with 50 per cent for China; and 20 per cent of its economy comes from manufacturing, as opposed to 30 per cent of China.
Investing in a domestic network of roads, airports, seaports and rail lines, as well as streamlining FDI regulations, allows China to move its products from factories to consumers efficiently, making it an attractive prospect for investment. That is not to mention the world-class infrastructure that has transformed the urban landscapes of both old and new cities within the country.
Despite India’s economic progress, poverty is still a defining feature in its sprawling metropolises. Former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan has also weighed in on the India-China competition, stating: “The argument that India will replace China is very premature as India is a much smaller economy as of now.”
Unfortunately, India is not currently in a place to deliver on the expectations placed on it by countries like Australia, which remain stuck in a geopolitical gambit with China. Simply banking on its large population is a fickle way of viewing the options amid a decoupling from China’s economy. India is still decades away from realising its true potential.
The two countries’ goals also differ. China is transforming itself into a technologically driven economy in order to exceed the potential of the US. In contrast, India is attempting to position itself as a market-driven economy utilising its large population as a manufacturing base to compete with China.
Riaz Haq said…
Is India ready to take China’s place in the global economy? That’s just wishful thinking

https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3213475/india-ready-take-chinas-place-global-economy-thats-just-wishful-thinking

by Sameer Basha

Australia may be merely continuing along the tried and tested path of seeking “great and powerful friends”, as it has done in the past with the UK and America, to take care of it and help protect its interests. It may see in India a stable and uncomplicated trading partner compared to China.
However, thorough planning is required to meet the challenges and avoid the risks before conducting business in such an environment, which appears absent from current conversations. In 2021, India was Australia’s sixth-largest two-way goods and services trading partner, valued at A$34.4 billion (US$22.9 billion), and the fourth-largest goods and services export market, valued at A$19.3 billion, representing a 4.2 per cent market share of Australia’s total exports.

However, China is Australia’s largest two-way trading partner, at A$267 billion, representing 32.2 per cent of Australia’s total trade. Some A$178 billion of goods and services made it to Chinese ports in 2020-2021. Australia hopes to expand bilateral trade to A$100 billion with India.
Anyone in Canberra who sees India as a viable substitute for China is seriously out of touch, and will be putting the nation’s export industries in a precarious position with their wishful geopolitical decisions not based on the realities on the ground.
Sameed Basha is a defence and political analyst with a master’s degree in international relations from Deakin University, Australia

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When faced with sanctions from Beijing, Canberra exhibited a resilient front. Still, internal anxieties about the impact on its economy led Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to visit India recently, a potential export market and replacement for Australia’s economic ties with China.
Comparing China to India is like comparing apples with oranges, with the only similarity being their billion-plus populations. The United States is encouraging its allies like Australia to bet big on India as the slow process of decoupling investments from China begins.
Riaz Haq said…
In spite of their recent troubles, the Pakistanis (rank 108) are still happier than Indians (rank 126) and Bangladeshis (rank 119), according to the World Happiness Report 2023 released today.

The country rankings show life evaluations (answers to the Cantril ladder question) for each country, averaged over the years 2020-2022.

This is the Cantril ladder: it asks respondents to think of a ladder, with the best possible life for them being a 10 and the worst possible life being a 0. They are then asked to rate their own current lives on that 0 to 10 scale. The rankings are from nationally representative samples for the years 2019-2021.

World Happiness Rankings 2023 based on 3 year average among 137 countries

Finland Rank 1 Score 7.804

China Rank 64 Score 5.818

Pakistan Rank 108 Score 4.555

Bangladesh Rank 119 Score 4.282

India Rank 126 Score 4.036

Lebanon Rank 136 Score 2.392

Afghanistan Rank 137 Score 1.859

Happiness Gap Between Top Half and Bottom Half

Pakistan 4.427

India 4.64

Country name Ladder score Standard error of ladder score upper whisker lower whisker Logged GDP per capita Social support Healthy life expectancy Freedom to make life choices Generosity Perceptions of corruption Ladder score in Dystopia Explained by: Log GDP per capita Explained by: Social support Explained by: Healthy life expectancy Explained by: Freedom to make life choices Explained by: Generosity Explained by: Perceptions of corruption Dystopia + residual

Finland 7.804 0.036 7.875 7.733 10.792 0.969 71.150 0.961 -0.019 0.182 1.778 1.888 1.585 0.535 0.772 0.126 0.535 2.363

China 5.818 0.044 5.905 5.731 9.738 0.836 68.689 0.882 -0.041 0.727 1.778 1.510 1.249 0.468 0.666 0.115 0.145 1.666
5.818 0.044 5.905 5.731 9.738 0.836 68.689 0.882 -0.041 0.727 1.778 1.510 1.249 0.468 0.666 0.115 0.145 1.666

Pakistan 4.555 0.077 4.707 4.404 8.540 0.601 57.313 0.766 0.008 0.787 1.778 1.081 0.657 0.158 0.511 0.141 0.102 1.907

Bangladesh 4.282 0.068 4.416 4.148 8.685 0.544 64.548 0.845 0.005 0.698 1.778 1.133 0.513 0.355 0.617 0.139 0.165 1.361

India 4.036 0.029 4.092 3.980 8.759 0.608 60.777 0.897 0.072 0.774 1.778 1.159 0.674 0.252 0.685 0.175 0.111 0.979

Lebanon 2.392 0.044 2.479 2.305 9.478 0.530 66.149 0.474 -0.141 0.891 1.778 1.417 0.476 0.398 0.123 0.061 0.027 -0.110

Afghanistan 1.859 0.033 1.923 1.795 7.324 0.341 54.712 0.382 -0.081 0.847 1.778 0.645 0.000 0.087 0.000 0.093 0.059 0.976
Riaz Haq said…
India is home to a quarter of the world’s hunger burden with nearly 224.3 million people undernourished in the country. The situation is even more dire among children under the age of five — 36.1 million are stunted, accounting for 31% being chronically malnourished.



https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/voices/good-health-begins-in-healthy-soil/



Riaz Haq said…
India is among the least happy countries in the world—worse than even war-hit Ukraine

ndia is also worse off than neighbors like Nepal, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and others

https://qz.com/india-is-less-happy-than-even-war-hit-ukraine-1850246790

India has been one of the least happy countries in the world in recent years.

It was ranked 126 out of 137 countries surveyed, according to the 2023 edition of the World Happiness Report released yesterday (March 20). It was placed worse than neighbors like Nepal, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and others. The country is worse off than even war-hit Ukraine.

The annual report for the 2020-2022 time period uses life evaluations from the Gallup World Polls, which survey a representative sample of adults from every country, to arrive at its conclusions.

A lack of social support and connections among citizens during the covid-19 pandemic has been identified as the key reason for Indians being so gloomy. The pandemic-induced lockdown left millions of Indians stuck in social isolation, leading up to stress and depression.

Experts said that a lack of social connections over long periods of time, along with severe unemployment, high inflation scenario and healthcare worries, took a toll on people’s mental health.

“While people in India were least likely to have had daily interactions with nearby friends or family, at 58%, they were among the most likely to say they had interacted with friends or family who live far away (42%),” the State of Social Connections study by Gallup, Meta, and academic advisers in 2022 stated. Moreover, there was no notable relationship between households and social support in India.

About 55% of Indian women said they “never” interacted with people from work or school in the past seven days, compared to 33% of men. Even social media platforms were of little help to Indians.

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