OpenAI CEO Sam Altman Says India's AI Startup Potential "Totally Hopeless"

Responding candidly to a question in the Indian capital New Delhi, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said: "The way this works is we're going to tell you, it's totally hopeless to compete with us on training foundation models you shouldn't try, and it's your job to like try anyway. And I believe both of those things. I think it is pretty hopeless." This occurred at an event organized by The Economic Times where Altman answered a question by Rajan Anandan, a former Vice President of Google in India and South East Asia and current venture capitalist.  

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in India

Altman in Delhi: 

Sam Altman, the young CEO of OpenAI, the company that recently launched its revolutionary Generative AI app ChatGPT, was in India as part of a six-nation tour to discuss AI regulation.  ChatGPT has been trained on massive amounts of data and text from the internet, textbooks, newspapers, magazines and academic journals. It can write computer code and carry on sophisticated conversations on a lot of different subjects. Altman is also visiting China. He was invited to speak at an event sponsored by Indian publication Economic Times.  Here's the full exchange between Anandan and Altman about the potential for an Indian AI startup:

Anandan: "Sam, we have got a very vibrant ecosystem in India but specifically focussing on AI, are there spaces where you see a startup from India building foundational (AI) models; how should we think about that. Where is it that a team from India, with three super-smart engineers having not 100, but USD 10 million each could actually build something truly substantial?"

Altman: "The way this works is, we're going to tell you. It's totally hopeless to compete with us on training foundation models. You shouldn't try, and it's your job to like trying anyway. And I believe both of those things. I think it is pretty hopeless."

Challenge Accepted:

Judging by social media responses, most Indians reacted angrily to Altman's negative remarks. They accused him of "arrogance". Others saw his statement as a challenge and responded by accepting the challenge. 

Tech Mahindra CEO CP Gurnani said he accepts the challenge.  “OpenAI founder Sam Altman said it's pretty hopeless for Indian companies to try and compete with them. Dear Sam Altman, from one CEO to another...CHALLENGE ACCEPTED,” tweeted Gurnani.

India's Tech Industry:

Americans like Sam Altman know that India's tech industry is made up mainly of companies that are essentially body shops. These companies like Infosys, TCS and others supply Indian H1B workers to perform routine tasks in IT operations departments of western companies. These companies' revenue, labeled India's "IT exports", comes from the substantial cuts they keep from the wages of millions of Indian H1B workers. These workers replace higher-paid American employees.  Rapid developments in AI technology are now threatening such jobs

In 2016, India filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) when the US raised visa fees to $4000 for each H1B worker visa. Indian government argued that it is discriminatory to the country under its trade agreement with the US.

Indian startups are not based on any original ideas born in India. They are essentially copies of similar e-commerce or logistics or payments startups in the western world. 

Altman in China:

Altman is also visiting China this week. “China has some of the best AI talent in the world and fundamentally, given the difficulties in solving alignment for advanced AI systems, this requires the best minds from around the world,” Altman told participants at the event hosted by the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence.

Western Media:

Indians were justifiably very proud of their great scientific achievement when the India Space Agency ISRO successfully launched the nation's Mars Mission back in 2013. The New York Times, America's leading newspaper, mocked India with a cartoon depicting the country as a dhoti-wearing farmer with his cow knocking on the door of the Elite Space Club. 

New York Times Cartoon
Der Spiegel's Cartoon Comparing India and China

In an article titled "Paper Elephant", the Economist magazine talked about how India has ramped up its military spending and emerged as the world's largest arms importer. "Its military doctrine envisages fighting simultaneous land wars against Pakistan and China while retaining dominance in the Indian Ocean", the article said. It summed up the situation as follows: "India spends a fortune on defense and gets poor value for money".

After the India-Pakistan aerial combat over Kashmir, New York Times published a story from its South Asia correspondent headlined: "After India Loses Dogfight to Pakistan, Questions Arise About Its Military".  Here are some excerpts of the report:

"Its (India's) loss of a plane last week to a country (Pakistan) whose military is about half the size and receives a quarter (a sixth according to SIPRI) of the funding is telling. ...India’s armed forces are in alarming shape....It was an inauspicious moment for a military the United States is banking on to help keep an expanding China in check".

Der Spiegel Cartoon:

In April this year, German publication Der Spiegel published a cartoon as India surpassed China as the world's most populous nation. The cartoon poked fun at India's lack of progress relative to its northern neighbor. It shows jubilant Indians on an old and overcrowded train – many on the roof – as it overtakes a sleek Chinese bullet train.

German Cartoon Comparing China and India. Source: Der Spiegel

Spanish Newspaper Cartoon:'

In May 2022, Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia published a story titled "La hora de la economia India" along with a cartoon showing an Indian snake charmer. Indian media reacted angrily to what they saw as a racist stereotype. 

Spanish Cartoon on Indian Economy. Source: La Vanguardia

US Disrespects India: 

Notwithstanding the geopolitically-motivated public rhetoric of US presidents and other western leaders, the fact is that they do  not respect India. "One hard truth that Indians have to contend with is that America has also had difficulty treating India with respect", writes former Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani in his latest book "Has China Won?". "If America wants to develop a close long-term relationship with India over the long run, it needs to confront the deep roots of its relative lack of respect for India", adds Ambassador Mahbubani. It's not just Mahbubani who suspects the United States leadership does not respect India. Others, including former President Bill Clinton, ex US President Donald Trump, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and CNN GPS host Fareed Zakaria have expressed similar sentiments. 

Source: @BeltandRoadDesk

Trump and Clinton:

There is some evidence to support Ambassador Mahbubani's assertion about America's lack of respect for India. For example,  ex US President Bill Clinton said in 1990s that India has a Rodney Dangerfield problem: It can’t get no respect, according to his deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott. In a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks in 2010, Hillary Clinton referred to India as "a self-appointed frontrunner for a permanent UN security council seat."

More recently, US President Donald Trump mocked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about Indian contribution to Afghanistan.  Trump said he got along very well with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but the Indian leader was "constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan". "That's like five hours of what we spend... And we are supposed to say, 'oh, thank you for the library'. I don't know who is using it in Afghanistan," Trump said.


Riaz Haq said…
India’s diaspora is bigger and more influential than any in history
Adobe, Britain and Chanel are all run by people with Indian roots

Many of India’s best and brightest seem to prepare themselves to migrate. Consider the findings of a paper soon to be published in the Journal of Development Economics by Prithwiraj Choudhury of Harvard Business School, Ina Ganguli of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Patrick Gaule of the University of Bristol. It considered students that took the highly competitive entrance exams for the Indian Institutes of Technology, the country’s elite engineering schools, in 2010. Eight years later, the researchers found that 36% of the 1,000 top performers had migrated abroad, rising to 62% among the 100 best. Most went to America.

Another study looked at the top 20% of researchers in artificial intelligence (defined as those who had papers accepted for a competitive conference in 2019). It found that 8% did their undergraduate degree in India. But the share of top researchers that now work in India is so small that the researchers did not even record it.

In America almost 80% of the Indian-born population over school age have at least an undergraduate degree, according to number-crunching by Jeanne Batalova at the mpi. Just 50% of the Chinese-born population and 30% of the total population can say the same. It is a similar story in Australia, where almost two-thirds of the Indian-born population over school age, half the Chinese-born and just one-third of the total population has a bachelor’s or higher degree. Other rich countries do not collect comparable data.

Softly, softly
Joseph Nye, a Harvard professor who coined the phrase “soft power“, notes that it is not automatically created by the mere presence of a diaspora. “But if you have people in the diaspora who are successful and create a positive image of the country from which they came, that helps their native country.” And, as he notes “India has a lot of very poor people but they are not the people coming to the United States.”

Indeed Indian migrants are relatively wealthy even in the countries they have moved to. They are the highest-earning migrant group in America, with a median household income of almost $150,000 per year. That is double the national average and well ahead of Chinese migrants, with a median household income of over $95,000. In Australia the median household income among Indian migrants is close to $85,000 per year, compared with an average of roughly $60,000 across all households and $56,500 among the Chinese-born.
Riaz Haq said…
In terms of number of AI (Artificial Intelligence) research publications from 2016-2020, China tops with 76,300 papers followed by US second with 44,400, India ranks 3rd with 27,000. Pakistan ranks 28th with 2,600 papers.
Riaz Haq said…
Generative A.I. Can Add $4.4 Trillion in Value to Global Economy, Study Says

The report from McKinsey comes as a debate rages over the potential economic effects of A.I.-powered chatbots on labor and the economy.

“Generative artificial intelligence” is set to add up to $4.4 trillion of value to the global economy annually, according to a report from McKinsey Global Institute, in what is one of the rosier predictions about the economic effects of the rapidly evolving technology.

Generative A.I., which includes chatbots such as ChatGPT that can generate text in response to prompts, can potentially boost productivity by saving 60 to 70 percent of workers’ time through automation of their work, according to the 68-page report, which was published early Wednesday. Half of all work will be automated between 2030 and 2060, the report said.

McKinsey had previously predicted that A.I. would automate half of all work between 2035 and 2075, but the power of generative A.I. tools — which exploded onto the tech scene late last year — accelerated the company’s forecast.

“Generative A.I. has the potential to change the anatomy of work, augmenting the capabilities of individual workers by automating some of their individual activities,” the report said.

McKinsey’s report is one of the few so far to quantify the long-term impact of generative A.I. on the economy. The report arrives as Silicon Valley has been gripped by a fervor over generative A.I. tools like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, with tech companies and venture capitalists investing billions of dollars in the technology.

The tools — some of which can also generate images and video, and carry on a conversation — have started a debate over how they will affect jobs and the world economy. Some experts have predicted that the A.I. will displace people from their work, while others have said the tools can augment individual productivity.

Last week, Goldman Sachs released a report warning that A.I. could lead to worker disruption and that some companies would benefit more from the technology than others. In April, a Stanford researcher and researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a study showing that generative A.I. could boost the productivity of inexperienced call center operators by 35 percent.

Any conclusions about the technology’s effects may be premature. David Autor, a professor of economics at M.I.T. cautioned that generative A.I. was “not going to be as miraculous as people claim.”

“We are really, really in the early stage,” he added.

For the most part, economic studies of generative A.I. do not take into account other risks from the technology, such as whether it might spread misinformation and eventually escape the realm of human control.
Riaz Haq said…
Best universities for Artificial Intelligence in Pakistan

National University- FAST. ...
National University of Science and Technology. ...
Quaid-e-Azam University. ...
Lahore University of Management Sciences. ...
Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences. ...
University of Karachi. ...
Air University.
Riaz Haq said…
Lahore’s Tech Renaissance: From Astrolabes To AI
Amir Husain

Amir Husain is the Founder & CEO of the global AI company, SparkCognition, and the CEO of SkyGrid.

Zaib and I just concluded a fascinating visit to Lahore, Pakistan. We were joined on this trip by Prof. Bruce Porter, former Chairman of UT Austin Computer Science and Chief Science Officer of SparkCognition, along with colleagues from SparkCognition, SkyGrid, and Navigate.

Lahore is an ancient and vibrant city, once one of the largest manufacturing centers of mechanical computers, called Astrolabes. Built by Muhammad Muqim and his family in the 16th century, these computers came hundreds of years before the Jacquard Loom or Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. The city is now busily reinventing itself as a modern hub for entrepreneurship and academia. Our journey unveiled numerous innovative startups, cutting-edge research projects, and the thriving connections between the city’s entrepreneurial and educational ecosystems.

Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)

Our first public event was at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), a prestigious institution renowned for its research and entrepreneurial spirit. Prof. Porter and I had the opportunity to deliver talks on entrepreneurship and artificial intelligence (AI) to an enthusiastic audience of students and faculty members.

Prof. Porter's talk focused on the three generations of AI, tracing its development from search algorithms to expert systems and the Generative AI explosion. The lecture provided insights into AI's potential to transform industries and our daily lives.

After the talks, we connected with professors and students, learning about their innovative startups and groundbreaking research projects. It was inspiring to see the passion and drive on display at LUMS.

IoT, EVs, and Quantum, Oh My!

We encountered three standout teams pushing the boundaries of technology and innovation. The first was the quantum computing group at LUMS which has developed and indigenously built an experimental quantum information processor. I was told by Dean Anwar of the Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering (SBASSE) that this device has two entangled physical qubits based on single photons from a heralded source. This effort lands LUMS on a short list of global quantum computing research organizations. Applications of quantum computing may eventually revolutionize materials science and much more. It was quite impressive to see a cutting-edge effort like this underway at the school.
Riaz Haq said…
Lahore’s Tech Renaissance: From Astrolabes To AI
Amir Husain

Another intriguing venture spun off from LUMS is a startup that develops affordable three-wheel electric vehicles (EVs). As the world increasingly turns to sustainable transport solutions, this company aims to cater to the growing demand for cost-effective EVs in Pakistan and beyond.

The third group is running an agri-tech research initiative that combines AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) to control large-scale agricultural processes autonomously. The project seeks to optimize variables such as fertilizer, water, and pesticide, and monitor plant health, thereby increasing productivity in the farming sector.

Technologies such as these can lift the local economy, increase global collaboration, and scale exports.

Aitchison College

Our next stop was my old alma mater, Aitchison College, a prestigious K-12 school founded in 1885. Boasting one of the world's most beautiful campuses on a sprawling 200 acres of land, the school has evolved from an elite institution to offering full-ride scholarships for applicants from diverse backgrounds.

Michael Thomson, the Principal of Aitchison College, and his lovely wife, Elizabeth, gave us a tour of the school's museum, the impressive chemistry labs, and the nearly complete Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Biotech building. This new facility will be a massive asset for Aitchison and the student community, bringing research and entrepreneurship to the high school level.

One of the most inspiring stories we heard was that of a young graduate from the tribal belt along the Afghan border in North Waziristan. Upon meeting this impressive young gentleman, we learned that after receiving a full scholarship at Aitchison, he is now heading to Dartmouth for higher studies – a transformative opportunity for him, his family, and his village.

Entrepreneurs in Lahore

During our trip, we interacted with numerous entrepreneurs who have contributed significantly to Lahore's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Among them was the legendary Syed Babar Ali, founder of LUMS and Chairman of Packages Ltd. Babar Ali is one of the most admired Pakistanis globally. In his long list of laurels is his dedication to environmental conservation and a term as the President of the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), which he took over from Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in 1996. His contributions to industry and education are immeasurable. At the young age of 97, he continues to work from his office daily, maintaining a hectic and full schedule. His unwavering dedication and passion are truly inspiring.

We also met Aezaz Hussain, the founder of Systems Ltd., Pakistan's oldest software company. Mr. Hussain has led his company with great poise for over forty years. He has now expanded his enterprise globally through a network of affiliated companies. The Systems Ltd. network encompasses businesses in the UAE, Australia, Saudi Arabia, India, Europe, and the US. With around 10,000 employees, Systems is experiencing rapid growth and solidifying Pakistan's position in the global software industry.

Nabeel Ahmed, the founder of Core9, a new AI services company focused on industrial applications and a SparkCognition partner, took us on a tour of the Sundar Industrial Estate. Here, we learned about the nearly 650 manufacturing companies based in the park, spanning industries such as pharma, textiles, TVs, and chemicals. Meeting one of the newest SparkCognition clients, a multinational chemical manufacturer also located within the Sundar Industrial Estate, was exciting and inspiring.

Riaz Haq said…
Lahore’s Tech Renaissance: From Astrolabes To AI
Amir Husain

The Lahore-based team at FiveRivers Technologies has been a tremendous partner for SparkCognition. But FiveRivers also impressed us by showcasing a suite of their domestically built software products gaining traction in international markets. Their SmartWindows application is one such example. The application enhances productivity for power users by supercharging window and state management on PCs. It’s quickly gaining users worldwide.

Later that night, at a wonderful ecosystem dinner organized by Usman Malik of power company, PITCO and Mahmud Hiraj of private equity firm, Baltoro Capital, we met many other members of the innovation ecosystem in Lahore. Usman heads the power plant design arm of PITCO, which traces its origins back to 1938. Mahmud is a founding partner at Baltoro Capital, a leading private equity firm in Pakistan. Mahmud moved back to Lahore after spending 15 years in the finance industry in North America. His fund, Baltoro, is Pakistan-focused and capitalizes on the country’s growing consumer market and rising export competitiveness.

Export is a key area of focus for many Pakistani entrepreneurs, particularly those building high-tech products. One of the guests at the ecosystem dinner was Salem Rehman of EMCO Industries. EMCO is Pakistan's premier manufacturer of high-voltage products for the electric grid. His company has a long history of catering to the domestic and regional markets but has now also started exporting to the United States.

Wrapping up

Our trip to Lahore allowed us to witness firsthand the energy and drive of Lahore’s entrepreneurs. The city is full of innovative startups, research projects, and academies focused on scientific development. This varied and fast-growing ecosystem is a testament to Lahore's immense potential and creativity.

As we continue our work in Austin, build new relationships in Munich, and explore partnerships in Lahore, we hope to contribute to the growth of entrepreneurial communities in all these innovation centers. By fostering connections between these vibrant cities, we can nurture AI and broader S&T collaborations that have the potential to change the world. The unyielding passion of the people we met makes us optimistic about the future of Lahore, of Pakistan, and indeed, of the world.

Riaz Haq said…

Ashok Swain
The US ambassador to India (2017-2021) Ken Juster says Modi even tells the US not to make China angry! How can one expect Modi to confront China. All his bravado comes against Pakistan.


India asked Washington not to bring up China’s border transgressions: Former US ambassador

Kenneth Juster made the statement on a Times Now show when asked why the United States had not made any statement about Beijing’s aggression.

Former United States Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster has said that Delhi did not want Washington to mention China’s border aggression in its statements.

“The restraint in mentioning China in any US-India communication or any Quad communication comes from India which is very concerned about not poking China in the eye,” Juster said on a Times Now show.

The statement came in response to news anchor and Times Now Editor-in-Chief Rahul Shivshankar’s queries on whether the US had made any statements about Beijing’s aggression.

India and China have been locked in a border standoff since troops of both countries clashed in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control in June 2020. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the hand-to-hand combat. While China had acknowledged casualties early, it did not disclose details till February 2021, when it said four of its soldiers had died.

After several rounds of talks, India and China had last year disengaged from Pangong Tso Lake in February and from Gogra, eastern Ladakh, in August.

Juster, who was the envoy to India between 2017 and 2021, had said in January 2021 that Washington closely coordinated with Delhi amid its standoff with Beijing, but left it to India to provide details of the cooperation.

During the TV show, defence analyst Derek Grossman claimed that Moscow was not a “friend” of India, saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Beijing Olympics. Grossman told the news anchor that Putin and Xi had then said that their friendship had “no limits”.

He claimed that India’s strategy to leverage Russia against China did not have any effects. “In fact, Russia-China relations have gotten only stronger.”

To this, Shivshankar said that before passing any judgement on India and Russia’s relationship, he must ask if US President Joe Biden had condemned China’s aggression at the borders along the Line of Actual Control or mentioned Beijing in a joint statement with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Grossman said: “To my understanding, the US has asked India if it wanted us to do something on the LAC but India said no – that it was something that India can handle on its own.”

Juster then backed Grossman’s contention.
Riaz Haq said…
Lightspeed says India not for the faint-hearted amid Sequoia split

Tiger Global partner Scott Shleifer echoed similar sentiment earlier this year. India is likely to produce the highest equity returns globally in the future, he said, but admitting that the world’s second-largest internet market had delivered below average returns for the investor giant historically and the local startup ecosystem was grappling with governance and unit economics challenges.

“Returns on capital in India have sucked historically. If you look at the market-leading internet companies, whether it is Google, Facebook, Alibaba or Tencent, revenue for them got bigger than cost more than a decade ago. You had a great legacy of the last 17-18 years of materially profitable internet companies. So returns on equity in the internet got really high and the returns for investors have been really high. But that did not happen in India,” he said.


Bejul Somaia, the founding partner of Lightspeed India, staunchly defended the allure of South Asia’s investment landscape, even in the wake of unsettling movements such as Sequoia’s decision to segregate its Indian venture.

“The startup and venture model is predicated on learning and adapting fast, navigating to high upside and understanding that the few companies that really succeed drive economies and humanity forward and create enormous value,” Somaia wrote in an essay, posted on Twitter.

“And those that don’t succeed contribute to a cycle of creative destruction that is essential to the development of an innovation economy. The potential of India remains incredibly compelling: a sizable market, high-quality founders and one-way adoption of technology. The question is not whether there is potential, but how best to navigate this potential.”

Somaia’s remarks come on the heels of an escalating critique from certain industry figures who have been openly skeptical about Sequoia’s decision to cut the India and Southeast Asia arm. The storied venture firm said earlier this month that it intends to separate its Indian and Chinese operations from the U.S. mothership, a move that has instigated heated debate in the industry.

Chamath Palihapitiya, the billionaire founder of Social Capital, said he was puzzled by Sequoia’s decision to split up the India business. “I was surprised why they would allow India to leave,” he said on his podcast All-In last week. “India is a country growing at 6% a year. It literally looks like China in 2008-09. I think you would want to attach them to yourself because it makes the U.S. business look better.”

Palihapitiya said he doesn’t buy the idea — the on-record justification provided by the venture firm — that Sequoia is splitting the business because of portfolio conflict concerns.

“Sequoia China is frankly over the last 15-20 years is as good or probably better than Sequoia U.S. Sequoia India, I don’t think, has much to talk about and maybe what Roelof [Botha, Managing Partner at Sequoia Capital] decided was that this team is just not very good, so we might just as well cut it and revisit it later.”

Sequoia India and SEA, the most prolific investor in the region, raised $9.2 billion across 13 funds over the past decade-and-a-half and backed over 400 startups. The firm, now known as Peak XV Partners, has delivered $4.5 billion of realized exits.

Lightspeed India, which also started investing in India over a decade ago, has raised $1.6 billion to date and returned about $1 billion to its limited partners and the value of its current asset holding is $3.4 billion, Somaia said.

“India is not for the faint-hearted. India is tough. But India is worth it,” he wrote.
Riaz Haq said…
JP Morgan downgrades Indian IT sector to underweight from neutral

Infosys, TCS, MphasiS on JP Morgan's negative catalyst watch. Here's why
JP Morgan has reiterated its negative stance on Indian information technology (IT) services and downgraded the sector to underweight (neutral earlier post Q4-FY23 numbers), as it believes the overall demand environment for the sector still remains weak.

The research firm expects most companies in the sector to disappoint while announcing their first quarter numbers for the current fiscal (Q1-FY24). Among stocks, it has placed Infosys, TCS, MphasiS its ‘negative catalyst watch’.
“India IT Services offers investors an opportunity for a short IT Services trade for the second time in six months. After meeting 15 industry participants in Bangalore, we came away feeling that the demand environment for IT Services has likely weakened further in June,” wrote Ankur Rudra and Bhavik Mehta of JP Morgan in a recent note.
Riaz Haq said…
JP Morgan on Indian IT sector: Shares of most IT services companies were under pressure on Wednesday after foreign brokerage JP Morgan reiterated its negative stance on the entire IT services universe. The brokerage said it expects every IT firm to disappoint the street in Q1 and H2FY24. Further, it has placed Infosys, TCS, and Mphasis on 'Negative Catalyst Watch', as reported by Zee Business.

The brokerage has maintained an 'underweight' rating on Infosys with a target price of Rs 1,150. On TCS, too, JP Morgan is underweight and has set the target price at Rs 2,700. As regards Mphasis, the target price is set at Rs 1,550. That's an 18 per cent decline from the previous close of Rs 1,898. Moreover, it has downgraded Persistent Systems to underweight from neutral and cut the target to Rs 4,100 from Rs 4,200 earlier. The brokerage said it finds the stock expensive given slowing growth in a tough macro environment.

The brokerage mentioned that EPAM recently cut its guidance from +3% growth in CY23 to -2% and the cuts were led by a cut in discretionary digital engineering spending. Persistent Systems has the highest exposure to discretionary spending at 83 per cent as compared to peers' 40-75 per cent. Further, it has maintained an underweight stance on Tech Mahindra, but the target price has been raised to Rs 950 from Rs 900 earlier.

At the time of writing this news, the S&P BSE Information Technology index was trading nearly half a per cent lower at 29,087.66 levels. KPIT Tech was the biggest loser on the index (down nearly 5 per cent). Persistent Systems was next on the list with a 2.62 per cent loss. Cigniti, Ramco Systems, LTI Mindtree, and Mastek were also among the losers. However, the stocks trimmed their losses later. At close, the IT index stood at 29,174.47, down 0.17 per cent.

Nirmal Bang Securities is also cautious about the sector. In its latest report, the brokerage said it continues to remain cautious on the IT sector with an 'underweight' (UW) stance and "will wait for better valuations or evidence that the worst is behind us. Only capitulation by the US consumer would, in our view, signal that we are close to the end of the current cycle of pain."

The brokerage further said, "Management commentary/data points across global IT services players and cloud/SaaS players in the June 2023 quarter-to-date (QTD) as well as from the recent meetings we have had in Bengaluru with a few Tier-1 players suggest that the June 2023 quarter is likely to be weak for Tier-1 players as has been widely expected. The situation for Tier-2 players will be much more company-specific."

Riaz Haq said…
Bad times are just starting for #India's #IT outsourcers. JP Morgan has concluded "the demand environment for IT services has likely weakened further in June." All of FY2024 is going to be a 'washout' #technology #exports via @theregister

JP Morgan has predicted tough times are around the corner for India's big IT services outfits.

In a report released Wednesday, based on meetings with 15 players, the firm concluded "the demand environment for IT services has likely weakened further in June."

Author and JP Morgan's head of APAC telecoms and India TMT research Ankur Rudra noted "increased competition for a smaller pie could trigger falling win-rates, pricing and deteriorating deal terms" and projected that deferred project starts, project halts and cancellations are likely to persist.

The firm predicts recovery for the industry isn't likely over the next six to nine months, making all of calendar 2023 – indeed all of financial year 2024 – a "washout."

JP Morgan previously expected that only the first half of 2023 would be tough for India's tech services sector. It's since trimmed its estimates of the industry's revenue by one to three percent for Q1. The report also suggests the sector will not deliver investors' hoped-for revenue figures or growth expectations for around a year.

The report cut JP Morgan's view of Tata Consultancy Services FY24-25 revenues and earnings by one percent, noting that "the unexpected CEO departure could lead to periods of volatility in a time of weaker tech spend and rapidly evolving macro." That's a reference to K Krithivasan taking over from Rajesh Gopinathan as CEO of TCS earlier this month. After 34 years with the firm, Gopinathan stepped down "to pursue his other interests."

JP Morgan also cut its outlook for Infosys by one to two percent over FY24–FY26. Wipro and HCL Technologies predictions went unchanged.

Rudra advised the tough times facing the industry represent a chance for investors to take a short position – potentially profiting from the sector's woes.

India's top outsourcers struggled to hire and retain talent during 2022, when their order books ballooned. In the months since, the industry worried that workers didn't have enough to do and even reneged on job offers.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) CFO Samir Seksaria called FY23 "a year of transition" in the firm's Q4 2023 earnings statement. For most Indian IT outfits, that quarter was marked by missed revenue targets and slowed pipelines.

"There is a slowdown, but still, we believe there is a floor level which will be higher than the pre-pandemic cycle. And the time to recover also should be shorter," said HCL CEO C Vijayakumar in his firm's Q4 2023 call.

However, JP Morgan has ruled out any quick recovery, predicting less than five percent year-on-year growth. ®
Riaz Haq said…
Blow for TCS! Transamerica Life Insurance cuts short $2 billion contract with Indian IT giant

The deal between TCS and Transamerica Insurance was signed in January 2018, as per a release by the IT services company. The deal ensured that TCS earned at least $200 million in annual revenue.

India’s largest IT services company, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), has confirmed that its 10-year deal with Transamerica Life Insurance Company, which was signed in 2017, has been ended before completion due to the current macro-economic environment. The 10-year deal was worth $ 2 billion.

The company said in a statement, “Considering the current macro environment and respective business priorities, Transamerica and TCS have mutually agreed to end the administration arrangement for Transamerica life insurance, annuities and supplemental health insurance, and other employee benefit products.”

The deal between TCS and Transamerica Insurance was signed in January 2018, as per a release by the IT services company. The deal ensured that TCS earned at least $200 million in annual revenue. The release from January 2018 also highlighted that TCS was signed to simplify the service of more than 10 million policies into a single integrated modern platform.

“Transamerica and TCS will work together to ensure a smooth transition of the administration of these products to a new servicing model, which we expect to take approximately 30 months,” they added.

For the financial year 2022-23, TCS has reported a 14.8 percent year-on-year (YoY) increase in consolidated net profit. The profit for the quarter ended March 31, 2023 stood at Rs 11,392 crore.

The consolidated revenue from operations of the IT company came in at Rs 59,162 crore, up 16.9 per cent, from Rs 50,591 crore YoY. In the December quarter of FY23, it stood at Rs 58,229 crore.

The revenue rose 10.7 per cent year-on-year (YoY) in constant currency (cc) terms. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) stood at Rs 14,488 crore with EBIT margin contracting 0.5 per cent YoY to 24.5 per cent. Net margin came in at 19.3 per cent.

This development comes as the IT services company's new CEO, K Krithivasan, started his term on June 1.
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s #Modi is a right-wing despot — not a rock star. Modi, like his far-right contemporaries & fascists from past, has the ability to draw large, adoring crowds in his own country & from diaspora overseas. That includes #US, where he will be flying in this week for his first official state visit.

Hate and fear coated with the veneer of economic prosperity sells.

So Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, like his far-right contemporaries and fascists from the past, has the ability to draw large, adoring crowds in his own country and from the diaspora overseas. That includes the United States, where he will be flying in this week for his first official state visit.

President Joe Biden and some other Western leaders may have serious concerns about India’s belligerence against its religious minorities, particularly Muslims, oppressed castes, dissidents, journalists and other marginalized groups.

But the politicians have found themselves playing along, publicly sidestepping Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party’s horrific human rights record for the sake of bolstering a strategic relationship with India, in hopes of countering China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific and possibly Russia’s aggression.

“I should take your autograph,” Biden reportedly joked to Modi at a summit in Japan last month. Biden went on to tell the Hindu nationalist that the White House has been inundated with invitation requests for his upcoming stop in Washington, D.C., according to the Indian press.

“You are too popular,” Biden apparently gushed, as if he were a nerd talking to the coolest kid in the high school cafeteria, not the despot who was once banned from the U.S. for his alleged complicity in the deadly 2002 Gujarat riots.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also piled on with the flattery recently, likening Modi’s stage presence to rocker Bruce Springsteen’s. That’s an insult to the Boss, who has spoken out against Donald Trump’s Muslim ban and wrote a song that features qawwali, devotional music deeply rooted in Islam.

If anything, Modi has more in common with the bombastic and bigoted “Motor City Madman” Ted Nugent, who has compared Muslims to Dalmatians that bite.

When asked by Reuters in 2013 about the massacre in Gujarat, Modi, then chief minister of the western Indian state, also pulled out a dog analogy of his own. Modi didn’t express much remorse about the violence that left more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, dead. But he did say he was about as sad as he would be if someone drove over a puppy.

Modi, long suspected of failing to stop the bloodshed in Gujarat, was unable to set foot in the U.S. for nearly a decade under a little-known law that bars foreigners who have committed “particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

But since he was elected prime minister in 2014, Modi has been allowed to slither back in to rile up support from Indian Americans who share his views of Hindu supremacy, or are at least willing to ignore it.

Riaz Haq said…
#India’s #Modi is a right-wing despot — not a rock star. Modi, like his far-right contemporaries & fascists from past, has the ability to draw large, adoring crowds in his own country & from diaspora overseas. That includes #US, where he will be flying in this week for his first official state visit.

Modi advocates in the U.S. consistently appropriate the language of social justice in an attempt to discredit other Americans of Indian descent from all backgrounds and faiths who are trying to raise awareness about the deteriorating conditions in the country they or their parents once called home.

This weekend, Modi fans, giddy over his state visit, are holding “unity” marches in several major cities, including Chicago. Unbeknownst to most Americans, this unimaginative bunch is shamelessly stealing a page from the playbook of Indian opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi, who walked over 2,000 miles across India to unite his fellow citizens against divisiveness spread by Modi’s government.

Gandhi, who just finished a speaking tour in the U.S., was sentenced to two years in prison and booted from Parliament a few months after he completed the Bharat Jodo Yatra — Unite India March — earlier this year.

The offense? Pondering aloud, in a 2019 rally, why “all thieves” have Modi as a surname.

Modi may have stolen the hearts of some Indians, but they don’t represent the entire 1.4 billion-plus population. Similarly, many of us Indian Americans won’t feel seen when Modi is cheered on as Biden rolls out the red carpet.

Before Modi’s arrival in D.C., Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International will be screening the damning two-part BBC documentary that was blocked in India for raising questions about his culpability in Gujarat.

Protesters are also expected to flock to the capital and other parts of the country, to remind lawmakers and fellow Americans the carnage in Gujarat was just a gory trailer to the horror show that has since taken center stage in Modi’s India.

“I don’t think Modi’s foreign visits affect Muslims in India, except that some of us cringe at the spectacle,” a journalist from India told me. “... the struggles remain the same.”

The global lovefests have also left many of us wondering if Modi will ever be held accountable, leaving future generations to ask, once again, why so many from the international community stood by, watched and did nothing.

Rummana Hussain is a columnist and member of the Sun-Times Editorial Board.
Riaz Haq said…
Why Prof. Ashoka Mody Believes India is Broken | Princeton International

I have long felt that that upbeat story is completely divorced from the lived reality of the vast majority of Indians. I wanted to write a book about that lived reality, about jobs, education, healthcare, the cities Indians live in, the justice system they encounter, the air they breathe, the water they drink. And when you look at India through that lens of that reality, the progress is halting at best and far removed from the aspirations of people and what might have been. India is broken in the sense that for hundreds of millions of Indians, jobs are hard to get, and education and health care are poor. The justice system is coercive and brutal. The air quality remains extraordinarily poor. The rivers are dying. And it's not clear that things are going to get better. Underlying that brokenness, social norms and public accountability have eroded to a point where India seems to be in a catch-22: Unaccountable politicians do not impose accountability on themselves; therefore, no one has an incentive to impose accountability for policy priorities that might benefit large numbers of people. The elite are happy in their gated first-world communities. They shrug their shoulders and say, “What exactly is the problem?”


Prof Ashoka Mody interviewed by Barkha Dutt
Riaz Haq said…
Excerpts of "India is Broken" by Princeton Economist Ashoka Mody

And economic inequalities now had become much wider. With exquisite timing, on April 22, four weeks into the lockdown, Vogue India invited its readers into another Mumbai world, the twenty-seven-story Mumbai home of Mukesh Ambani, India’s reigning business tycoon and one of the world’s richest people. The Ambani home, located eleven kilometers (seven miles) away from cramped Dharavi, has ceilings so high that the structure is tall as an average sixty-story building. It is equipped with three helipads, a theater that can accommodate eighty guests, a spa, and a garage for 168 vehicles. The “sun-kissed living area” offers a “breathtaking view of the sea.”11

In the India of 2020, the Hindu-Muslim divide and egregious economic inequalities were reverberating echoes of Bengal in the 1940s. And disconcertingly, despite decades of economic progress, the echoes also sounded in the economic desperation of the reverse trek from the city to the village. The ongoing reverse trek revealed the continued risk of sudden income loss, health catastrophe, and the loss of even woeful living spaces: it revealed an India that was broken for hundreds of millions of Indians.12 This book is my attempt to explain why India, for so many, is broken.

Mody, Ashoka. India Is Broken (p. 5). Stanford University Press. Kindle Edition.
Riaz Haq said…
Excerpts of "India is Broken" by Princeton Economist Ashoka Mody

The grim reality is that, to employ all working-age Indians, the economy needs to create 200 million jobs over the next decade, an impossible order after the past decade of declining employment numbers.1 Right from independence, the Indian economy produced too few jobs. For more than 80 percent of Indians, the informal sector employment became the safety net, where workers idled for long stretches, earning below- or barely-above-poverty wages. Demonetization in 2016, a poorly executed goods and services tax in 2017, and COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 struck hammer blows on the informal sector while creating no new options. Indeed, technology accelerated job destruction, especially in retail and wholesale trade. More Indians just stopped looking for work.

Set against this bleakness, many pundits and leaders look back to celebrate and draw hope from India’s high GDP growth rates of the 1990s and 2000s. That celebrated celebrated growth, however, was an outcome of unusually buoyant world trade, rampant natural resource use, and a domestic finance-construction bubble. Even as wealthy Indians accumulated astonishing riches, job creation remained weak. The most severe forms of poverty came down, but still afflicted over 20 percent of Indians; another 40 percent lived precariously, ever at risk of falling back into a dire existence. The median Indian lived in that vulnerable zone—and, looking through a government-induced data fog, still lives there.

The unchanging problem through the post-independence years has been the lack of public goods for shared progress: education, health delivery, functioning cities, clean air and water, and a responsive and fair judiciary. Along with scarcity of jobs, the absence or poor quality of public goods makes the lived reality of vast numbers

Mody, Ashoka. India Is Broken (pp. 398-399). Stanford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said…
Excerpts of "India is Broken" by Princeton Economist Ashoka Mody

The Indian GDP growth story was nearly over. In its 2018 annual report on India, the IMF confirmed that the demonetization and GST implementation shocks had taken a significant toll on the Indian economy. Non-performing loans of banks (loans that were not being repaid on time) had risen from about 4 percent of all loans in late 2014, when RBI governor Rajan first rang the alarm bells, to about 9 percent in 2017. For government-owned banks, almost 12 percent of all loans in 2017 were non-performing (Figure 21.3). The government had done little to discipline big companies for not repaying their debts. Instead, the government once again used scarce taxpayer money to refill the hole that the defaults left in the capital of the banks they owned. These bank recapitalizations added up to about $13 billion in the fiscal year 2017–2018, with similarly large amounts anticipated in each of the next two years. Choked with bad loans, major government-owned banks drastically slowed their lending. The industrial sector, saddled with debt, virtually stopped borrowing. Although GDP growth remained mysteriously high—above a 7 percent annual rate—corporate investment was evaporating.32

Mody, Ashoka. India Is Broken (pp. 343-344). Stanford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said…
Ultra-rich individuals are projected to keep leaving India in 2023. Why do the rich migrate from a country?

According to the latest edition of the Henley Private Wealth Migration Report (2023), India is expected to witness a net outflow of 6,500 ultra-rich. The more technical term for these ultra rich is High Net-Worth Individuals (HNWIs) and it refers to people so rich that they have an investable wealth of US$1 million or more. In rupee terms that threshold means Rs 8.2 crore or more. Investible wealth refers to an individual’s net investable assets, namely, all their investable assets (property, cash and equities) minus any liabilities.

India’s likely net outflow (net of inflow and outflow) in 2023 will make it the second worst performer on losing HNWIs after China. In 2022, India saw an outflow of 7,500 such individuals.

“The top five destinations for net inflows of high-net-worth individuals in 2023 are projected to be Australia, the UAE, Singapore, the USA, and Switzerland. On the flip side, the largest net outflows of millionaires are expected to come from China, India, the UK, Russia, and Brazil,” writes Andrew Amoils, the Head of Research at New World Wealth, the organisation that provides the data for this report (SEE CHARTS 1 and 2 for countries witnessing biggest net outflows and inflows).

To be sure, as of the end of 2022, India was among the 10 richest countries in the world — ranked 10th in the so-called W10 grouping — if one goes by the HNWI population. India has 3,44,600 HNWIs, 1,078 centi-millionaires (those with wealth exceeding $100 million) and 123 billionaires (those with wealth exceeding $1 billion or Rs 8,200 crore). India has a population of 1,428 million.

For comparison, China has 7,80,000 HNWIs and 285 billionaires while the US (with a population of just 340 million) has 52,70,000 HNWIs and 770 billionaires. The W10 includes (in order of HNWIs in each country) the US, Japan, China, Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, France, and India.

Explaining what motivates the world’s wealthiest to migrate from one country to another, Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners, writes:

“Affluent families are extremely mobile, and their transnational movements can provide an early warning signal in terms of a country’s economic outlook and future country trends. Like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, they alert us to dangers that may lie ahead as they are more sensitive to potential threats to their wealth and usually have the resources to take a corrective course of action to preserve their legacies. An increasing outflow of millionaires often points to a drop in confidence in a country, since high- and ultra-high-net-worth individuals have the means to leave and are usually the first to exit and vote with their feet when circumstances deteriorate.”

What are the top priorities of the wealthy?
Steffen writes that “political stability, low taxation, and personal freedom have always been key metrics for millionaires when it comes to deciding where to live. However, the priorities of affluent individuals are shifting to the intangible but equally vital elements that impact; their children’s prospects, the quality of their lives, and the legacies they leave.”

He points out that apart from being a safe haven for wealth, security is also a key factor, “which is why so much private wealth is flowing into countries that offer a robust regulatory environment where the rule of law is respected, and economic freedoms are guaranteed.”

Riaz Haq said…
Over 75% of the world's poor deprived of basic living standards (nutrition, cooking fuel, sanitation and housing) live in India compared to 4.6% in Bangladesh and 4.1% in Pakistan, according to a recently released OPHI/UNDP report on multidimensional poverty. Here's what the report says: "More than 45.5 million poor people are deprived in only these four indicators (nutrition, cooking fuel, sanitation and housing). Of those people, 34.4 million live in India, 2.1 million in Bangladesh and 1.9 million in Pakistan—making this a predominantly South Asian profile".

Riaz Haq said…
#India’s deadly #traincrash: Forget the truth, blame it on #Muslims. It’s the latest instance of how in an #Islamophobic India, justice and accountability have themselves been derailed. #Hindutva #Islamophobia #Modi #BJP via @AJEnglish

By Apoorvanand

Apoorvanand teaches Hindi at the University of Delhi. He writes literary and cultural criticism.

It happens only in India that even a train accident is used as an opportunity to demonise Muslims.

Just after the recent terrible train crash near Balasore station in the eastern state of Odisha, in which more than 280 people died, posts started circulating on different social media platforms and WhatsApp groups, blaming Muslims for the accident.

Could it be a coincidence that it was a Friday when three trains collided with each other in Odisha? As if the Friday angle was not sufficient, a lie was invented that the station master was Muslim. To make it look more sinister, the photo of a religious shrine near the railway track where the accident had taken place was spread on social media claiming that it was a mosque, suggesting that there must be some link between the mosque and the accident.

It was immediately exposed as a lie. It was a Hindu temple and not a mosque. But imagine if it had actually been a mosque – the baseless conspiracy theory would have received fresh wings.

Sadly, fact-checking only cements doubts created by fake news in minds that are already prejudiced against Muslims and are being told day and night that Muslims are conspiring against the nation. These are minds trained to think that there is a need to keep an eye on Muslims and to subjugate them using laws and, if necessary, violence.

The railway minister ordered an inquiry into the accident by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which has long given up the pretence of acting as an independent investigative agency and is principally used to target political opponents and probe cases along ideological lines laid down by the country’s ruling masters.

In this case, handing the case over to the CBI circumvents the normal process in such situations, which is an investigation by the commissioner of safety. The result: Instead of paying attention to flaws in safety measures, which could raise uncomfortable questions for the government, the investigation into the accident will now keep alive a criminal conspiracy theory. It aligns with the rumours spread just after the accident.

Close on the heels of this accident, the chief minister of the state of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, made a speech to discourage the use of chemicals in farming. Giving it an anti-Muslim twist, he vowed that “fertiliser jihad” would not be allowed. He was using this occasion to target Bengali Muslims in his state, whose main occupation is farming. Suggesting that they were spoiling the land by using chemicals, he was giving yet another justification for evicting Bengali Muslims and taking away their land, building on a campaign he has relentlessly pursued in recent years.

Sarma is recovering from the defeat of the BJP, his party, in the legislative election for the state of Karnataka, where he was a star campaigner. He, along with other leaders of the BJP, turned the election into an anti-Muslim hate campaign, saying that he had closed hundreds of madrasas and would ensure that all are closed. He also parroted familiar tropes about Indian Muslims, portraying them as against family planning. Statistics show that rates of polygamy are almost identical among Hindus and Muslims in India, and Muslim fertility rates have fallen sharply in recent decades. But facts are inconvenient when the aim is to spread lies about a religious minority community.

Riaz Haq said…
Hundreds of scientists in India have expressed concern over the removal of topics like theory of evolution and periodic table from tenth-grade textbooks.


Hundreds of scientists in India have expressed concern over the removal of topics like the theory of evolution and the periodic table from 10th-grade textbooks. The latest omission is one in a series of changes made this year, including in history textbooks. Critics say that it's part of the ruling BJP government's agenda to replace Western scientific concepts with traditional Hindu theories. From Delhi, Shalu Yadav reports.


SATYA PAL SINGH: (Speaking Hindi).

SHALU YADAV, BYLINE: "For thousands of years since we've been hearing stories from our grandparents, no one has ever said that they saw someone go into a forest and seeing a monkey that turned into a man. Darwin's theory is scientifically wrong."


SINGH: (Speaking Hindi).

YADAV: Those were the words of India's ruling BJP party MP Satya Pal Singh in 2017, rubbishing Darwin's theory of evolution and advocating its removal from school curriculum. Six years on, his wish has come true.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: A certain circuit went on to say that there is a banning evolution in India.

YADAV: English naturalist Charles Darwin's theory that states that humans shared a common ancestor with apes has been removed from grade 10 science textbook. The government justified the move by saying that the theory is still a part of grade 12 syllabus, but the reality is that only a small fraction of students choose the science stream beyond grade 10, and even smaller fraction of those choose biology. And so the exclusion of this theory from grade 10 syllabus means that millions of students will never get to read about it. The chapter on periodic table has also been scrapped.

AMITABH PANDEY: We are trying to compete with China. We are trying to compete with the U.S. But how is it possible without scientific temper, without scientific worldview?

YADAV: Amitabh Pandey is one of the hundreds of scientists who wrote an open letter protesting the government's decision. He says depriving students of basic scientific knowledge is dangerous.

PANDEY: I'm afraid this is taking India backward. Last decade, we have lost almost two generations. But world is going ahead. Nobody will wait for us. Nobody will care for us.

YADAV: The belief that ancient Hindu practices are superior to modern science is not new in India. It existed way before the Hindu nationalist BJP government came to power in 2014. But this viewpoint, which used to be on the fringe, is now taking the center stage.



YADAV: This is the voice of India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, claiming that the world's first plastic surgery was performed in India thousands of years ago on a Hindu god, Ganesha, who sports an elephant trunk on his face. He also claimed that genetic science existed in ancient India. Taking a cue from the prime minister, many ministers and government officials have made similar unscientific claims.

MEERA NANDA: That whole business of ancient Indians being the first scientists is part of that whole agenda of making India great again. You know, it's Trumpian in that sense. You know, make India great again by making it Hindu again. That's sort of thing is going on.
Riaz Haq said…
A Pakistani University Employs Artificial Intelligence to Boost Agriculture

A member institution of the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) in Pakistan, the Iqra University, appears to have spared the South Asian country of an impending food crisis, predicted within two years.

Agriculture is an indispensable component of economic growth, food security, job creation, and poverty reduction in developing countries like Pakistan. It accounts for almost a quarter of Pakistan's GDP and employs over one-third of its population.

The team of Dr Mansoor Ebrahim, Dr Kamran Raza, and Dr Hasan Adil at the university's Faculty of Engineering, Sciences, and Technology has developed 'Smart Farming,' an innovative urban farming solution of its own, reports UNAI.

The project's primary goal is to create a test bed based on the hydroponics technique that integrates the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) and systems with artificial intelligence (AI) to create an effective, controlled, and autonomous environment for plant growth.

Smart Farming is the adoption of Web 5.0 technologies into agriculture, with hydroponics being a notable example. This process involves cultivating plants without soil in nutrient-rich water. Dr Mansoor said that despite the various projects underway around the globe, there is yet to be a comprehensive solution providing all related elements in one package.

This project strives to provide an innovative solution to various agricultural problems in Pakistan, combining both physical and digital technologies for maximum sustainability and adaptability.

In addition to designing a completely monitored hydroponic farming system, the team has also incorporated an IoT interface in order to measure Total Dissolve Solids (TDS), PH, humidity levels and temperature, and perform automated operations to ensure optimal crop health.

Outlining the project's technological elements, Dr Mansoor explained that the sensors are employed to ensure a steady state of plants. Data collected from the IoT sensors is then processed and analysed by an AI-based system trained on both images of plant stages as well as live pictures of crop yield provided by drone cameras set to collect information at regular intervals.

The overall system can be managed and reset conveniently using a user-friendly, mobile-based application. Its pioneering framework promotes a number of advantages, such as superlative water saving of nearly 90 per cent, 25 per cent reduction in fertilizers and low area utilization, and leads to substantial cost savings on transportation and carbon emissions.

As a result, 'Smart Farming' has been praised at the national level and has been awarded funding by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan.

Dr Mansoor, the project lead, points out that favourable results in the first phase are already visible, with many vegetables successfully grown and initial targets achieved. They have been able to perfect the nutrient solution that has yielded excellent outcomes. This remarkable crop output clearly illustrates that 'Smart Farming' is a promising and environmentally friendly method of cultivation. Moreover, its automated system reduces labour efforts, cost and area needed for cultivation, thereby making it suitable for urban setting.

Perfecting the algorithm still requires vast amounts of data sets to be fed into the system, training it and enabling it to make accurate decisions and craft flawless communication for its eventual purpose—automating the agricultural process altogether. Until that is achieved, this project will need to continue being a collaborative effort between machines and people,” said Dr Mansoor.

The initiative has tremendous potential for replication on a large scale, which could both sustain and give strength to the current labour market of the farming world, he declares.

Riaz Haq said…
Over 100K ChatGPT accounts hacked, India & Pakistan top list of nations with most cases: Report

A report from Group-IB, a cybersecurity leader based in Singapore, over 1,00,000 ChatGPT credentials surfaced on dark web marketplaces.

ChatGPT is the most popular application on the Internet right now. Owing to its super-intelligent abilities, millions of people are signing up for it around the world. Now, it seems thousands of ChatGPT accounts were compromised recently and India tops the list.

A new report has revealed that over 100,000 OpenAI ChatGPT credentials surfaced on dark web marketplaces between June 2022 and May 2023. Group-IB, a cybersecurity leader based in Singapore, identified as many as 1,01,134 stealer-infected devices with saved ChatGPT credentials.

The report by Group-IB’s Threat Intelligence unit said that Asia Pacific saw the largest number of ChatGPT accounts stolen by info-stealers, 40.5 per cent between June 2022 and May 2023. Meanwhile, the Middle East and Africa, and Europe stood at second and third spots with 24,925 and 16,951 instances respectively.

When it came to the country-wise number of compromised ChatGPT credentials, India topped with 12,632, followed by Pakistan with 9217 and Brazil with 6,531. Bangladesh witnessed the fewest instances with 2,463.

The company’s threat intelligence platform found the compromised credentials in the logs of info-stealing malware that was traded on dark web marketplaces over the last year. The number of logs containing compromised ChatGPT accounts reached 26,802 in May 2023. The company’s findings indicated that a majority of the ChatGPT credentials that were up for sale on the dark web belonged to the Asia-Pacific region.

In the last few months, more and more professionals were using ChatGPT to enhance their productivity, software development, and even business communications. The chatbot stores the history of user queries and responses from the AI. Resultantly, any unauthorised access could potentially jeopardise confidential information. This sensitive information can be later used to target companies and their employees. Based on Group-IB’s latest report, ChatGPT is wildly popular in dark web communities.

Info stealers are a type of malware that gathers information saved in browsers such as cookies, browsing history, bank card details, crypto wallet information, etc. They collect this information from browsers installed on infected computers and later share it with the malware operator.

The info-stealers can also mine data from instant messengers and emails along with other sensitive information from a victim’s device. This kind of malware works indiscriminately and can infect as many computers at once via phishing or various other means to collect data.
Riaz Haq said…
In a first, Pakistan sets up task force for ‘accelerated adoption’ of AI

Key objective of task force is to develop roadmap for AI adoption in several government institutions
Minister says AI integration in governance, health care, education systems will revolutionize sectors
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government has formed a national task force to accelerate the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in different sectors, including business, development, governance, education, and health care, the Pakistani planning ministry said on Friday.

Governments as well as private sectors across the world are reaping exceptional benefits by integrating AI into their day-to-day functions. Global technology company, Intel, says that artificial intelligence can help companies and government institutions work efficiently, manage costs, and improve research, among other benefits.

The incorporation of AI in different government sectors will lead to improved decision-making processes, personalized medical treatments, and enhanced learning experiences and solutions that were previously unattainable, according to the planning ministry.

“Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal has formed a 15-member National Task Force (NTF) on Artificial Intelligence (IA) for the country’s national development,” the planning ministry said in a statement.

“The key objective of the (NTF) is to develop a 10-year roadmap for accelerated adoption of AI in the business, development, governance, education, and health care sectors. The NTF force will comprise experts in artificial intelligence as well as representatives from the government and private sectors.”

The planning minister emphasized the importance of artificial intelligence for progress in the near future and stated that it would bring “transformative changes” in the fields of economy, governance, and education, according to the statement.

The task force aims to harness the power of AI for Pakistan’s development and growth while ensuring that the benefits are accessible to all segments of society.

“Establishing the NTF on AI is part of the government’s commitment to embracing AI and its potential to transform the country’s economic landscape positively,” the statement quoted Iqbal as saying.

By investing in AI, Iqbal said, Pakistan could unlock new opportunities for growth and development and improve the lives of its citizens.

“The integration of AI in our governance, health care, and education systems has the potential to revolutionize these sectors and bring about significant progress,” he added.
Riaz Haq said…
AI in Pakistani courts of law | International Bar Association

A judge in a Pakistani court recently employed GPT-4, Open AI’s most advanced chatbot, to help render a judgment in a case. This decision sparked widespread debate regarding AI’s capabilities and the possibility of it replacing legal professionals, including judges. This article explores each aspect of the debate, as well as discussing the potential shortcomings and detriments of AI in a court of law.

The judgment
The case of Muhammad Iqbal v Zayad in the Sessions Court in Phalia, Punjab was a civil suit brought by the plaintiffs over a petrol-pump property dispute. Judge Amir Munir dismissed their appeal for an injunction. The court used GPT-4 to formulate the decision based on existing laws, finding that the chatbot’s suggestions were consistent with Pakistani law, specifically the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. The judgment includes an explanation of how AI is shaping the future of legal decision-making, citing countries such as the UAE and China which have already used AI in courtrooms. It further reinforces the fact that the chatbot provides a logical explanation of relevant laws and procedures and states that the difference between GPT-4’s and the judge’s answers is ‘only in form and not in substance’. A point to note is that the use of GPT-4 did not influence the judgment and was only a test to explore the use of technology in deciding cases and reducing the burden on courts.

AI’s capabilities, shortcomings, and its role in courts
First and foremost, the information cut-off date for ChatGPT is September 2021 which makes it an unreliable legal assistant as it cannot advise on any laws or amendments preceding the cut-off date.

A more pressing issue is that of Open AI’s political compass. The software is essentially trained by human feedback, which results in it inheriting human-like qualities, specifically the general political biases of its users. While this could be a useful quality for content-writing, there is no place for a political bias in a court of law. Researcher David Rozado gave GPT-4 four political orientation tests, all of which came out as ‘broadly progressive’. Although ‘OpenAI is trying to make their latest GPT model more politically neutral’, Rozado notes, ‘this is a very hard problem to solve’ because much of the training material is itself biased. While AI made available to the public is in its nascent stages of development, it will require strict centric political moderation in the future if it is to be properly used in a court of law.

Unclear standards of accountability are another shortcoming of the use of AI in courts. If a case were to be misjudged based on the AI chatbot’s recommendations, it is unclear on whom the liability will fall: the judge who relied on the AI, the AI system, or the developers?

Lastly, there is currently no statutory framework regarding the use of AI in courts in Pakistan or any other country for that matter. AI cannot be completely integrated in courts unless it is heavily regulated by the law, providing limits and liability procedures.

In Australia, however, a decision from the Supreme Court of Victoria in 2016, McConnell Dowell Constructors (Aust) Pty Ltd v Santam Ltd & Ors (No 1), required the review of a large number of documents which would require over 23,000 hours of manual review. The judge ordered the use of Technology Assisted Review (TAR) and stated that a seemingly impossible manual review would undermine the Code of Civil Procedure. Evidently, AI can be used to perform simple but time-consuming tasks involving legal expertise but it is not capable of formulating a judgement that takes into account not just the law but societal implications, human emotions and nuances.

Riaz Haq said…
Explore the Transformative
World of AI
Witness AI in action at the AI Summit'23 - Pakistan's leading conference and expo on Artificial Intelligence.

The AI Summit will host a gathering of leading subject matter experts for talks & research presentations, along with specialized workshops on Artificial Intelligence.

The high-level conference will bring together forward-thinking enterprise brands, market leaders, AI & Big Data evangelists and start-ups to explore and debate the advancements in Artificial Intelligence & Big Data.

Join us for engaging talks, workshops & panel discussions, as well as interactive showcases of trailblazing work in AI.


ISLAMABAD, Feb 27 (APP):Pakistan’s first Artificial Intelligence (AI) Summit organized by a leading end-to-end digital services company 10Pearls concluded at the Pak-China Friendship Center here Monday.

The event was a massive success, with more than 1500 registrations, comprising professionals, students, enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.

The AI Summit, first launched in 2019, aims to ‘explore the transformative world of AI’, share the latest developments in AI, recognize innovations by emerging AI entrepreneurs, power conversations with leading international and local AI experts, and provide hands-on knowledge about various AI tools, technologies, and techniques.

The 2023 edition of AI Summit, held at the ITCN Asia, featured 30-plus eminent speakers who conducted enlightening tech talks, stimulating panel discussions, and engaging fireside chats. The Summit also hosted hands-on workshops and showcased demos of new innovations by emerging AI start-ups.

Syeda Sana Hussain, Senior Director of People and Programs, 10Pearls said that the AI Summit 2023 was a huge success! It garnered massive footfall; the conference track and workshops were fully packed with a super-charged and enthusiastic audience.

All the emerging AI start-ups that showcased their products received phenomenal response, attracting the interest of potential investors and the public alike. This is the incredible success of AI Summit 2023 shows the transformative role AI can play in addressing the complex challenges of today’s world, and 10Pearls is thrilled to be at the forefront of leading in innovation.”

Riaz Haq said…
54 Universities and Colleges are offering BS Artificial Intelligence in Pakistan

Institute City Degree, Duration Fee Deadline
1. The Government Sadiq College Women University Bahawal Pur BS , 4 Years 31340 11-08-2023
2. The Islamia University Of Bahawalpur Bahawal Pur BS , 4 Years 47800 26-08-2023
3. Bacha Khan University Charsadda BS , 4 Years 0 17-10-2022
4. Gomal University D.i. Khan BS , 4 Years 0 18-11-2022
5. National Textile University Faisalabad BS , 4 Years 0 16-08-2022
6. The University Of Sufism And Modern Sciences Hala BS , 4 Years 24000 10-07-2023
7. University Of Haripur Haripur BS , 4 Years 38000 22-09-2022
8. Air University Islamabad BS , 4 Years 162340 07-07-2023
9. Bahria University, E-8 Campus Islamabad BS , 4 Years 172800 03-08-2023
10. Comsats University Islamabad BS , 4 Years 174000 12-07-2023
11. National University Of Computer And Emerging Sciences, Islamabad Islamabad BS , 4 Years 272000 05-07-2023
12. National University Of Modern Languages, Islamabad Islamabad BS , 4 Years 0 11-07-2023
13. National University Of Technology Islamabad BS , 4 Years 140000 02-05-2023
14. Mehran University Of Engineering & Technology Jamshoro BS , 4 Years 120000 22-05-2023
15. Dawood University Of Engineering And Technology Karachi BS , 4 Years 70000 10-08-2022
16. Sindh Madressatul Islam University Karachi BS , 4 Years 70000 14-07-2023
17. University Of Kotli Kotli BS , 4 Years 0 15-09-2022
18. Information Technology University Lahore BS , 4 Years 0 06-07-2023
19. Hazara University Mansehra BS , 4 Years 0 20-09-2021
20. Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan Mardan BS , 4 Years 75440 30-09-2021
Riaz Haq said…
Joint Statement from the United States and India (part on AI cooperation) | The White House

President Biden and Prime Minister Modi welcomed the establishment of a joint Indo-U.S. Quantum Coordination Mechanism to facilitate collaboration among industry, academia, and government, and our work toward a comprehensive Quantum Information Science and Technology agreement. The United States welcomes India’s participation in the Quantum Entanglement Exchange and in the Quantum Economic Development Consortium to facilitate expert and commercial exchanges with leading, like-minded quantum nations. The United States and India will sustain and grow quantum training and exchange programs and work to reduce barriers to U.S.-India research collaboration. The leaders welcomed the launch of a $2million grant program under the U.S.-India Science and Technology Endowment fund for the joint development and commercialization of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and quantum technologies, and encouraged public-private collaborations to develop high performance computing (HPC) facilities in India. President Biden also reiterated his government’s commitment to work with U.S. Congress to lower barriers to U.S. exports to India of HPC technology and source code. The U.S. side pledged to make its best efforts in support of India’s Center for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) joining the U.S. Accelerated Data Analytics and Computing (ADAC) Institute.

Both President Biden and Prime Minister Modi acknowledge the profound opportunities and significant risks associated with AI. Accordingly, they committed to develop joint and international collaboration on trustworthy and responsible AI, including generative AI, to advance AI education and workforce initiatives, promote commercial opportunities, and mitigate against discrimination and bias. The United States also supports India’s leadership as Chair of the Global Partnership on AI. The leaders applauded Google’s intent to continue investing through its $10 billion India Digitization Fund, including in early-stage Indian startups. Through its AI Research Center in India, Google is building models to support over 100 Indian languages.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan sets an audacious goal for AI in education system – Cryptopolitan

TL;DR Breakdown

Pakistan's Ministry of IT & Telecom has drafted an ambitious policy to integrate AI in its education system, aiming to transform into a knowledge-based economy.
The government plans to train a million IT graduates in AI and related technologies by 2027, recruiting 10,000 new trainers for the task.
By 2026, the policy seeks to fund 1,000 AI-led R&D initiatives and register over 2,000 AI-related patents.
Pakistan, in an audacious push for technological growth, has charted an ambitious course for the incorporation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into its education system.

The country’s Ministry of IT & Telecom has forged a policy aimed at catalyzing the rise of AI, signaling its readiness to adapt to the rapidly evolving digital landscape.

In its pursuit to transform into a knowledge-based economy, Pakistan is gearing up to invest in and nurture human capital proficient in AI and related technologies.

Transforming the educational landscape with AI
Central to Pakistan’s AI policy is the goal of instilling AI competencies in the country’s workforce. As per a survey conducted by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication in 2022, a scanty portion of the IT and computing workforce – less than ten percent – were found to be adept in AI and allied technologies.

In a determined stride to bridge this gap, the government has declared its commitment to training one million IT graduates in AI and related technologies by the year 2027.

This monumental effort will necessitate the recruitment of at least 10,000 trainers who can deliver high-impact education in AI and associated fields, as stated in a draft of the National Artificial Intelligence Policy.

Not limiting its vision to education alone, the ministry has also set forth ambitious objectives related to research and development, and intellectual property.

By 2026, the policy stipulates the funding of at least 1,000 AI-led R&D initiatives in academic and private sectors. Furthermore, Pakistan aims to register over 2,000 AI-related patents by the same year.

A pragmatic approach toward digital currencies
As Pakistan strides toward an AI-enhanced future, it maintains a cautious stance toward the domain of digital currencies. The country’s Finance Minister, Aisha Ghaus Pasha, recently announced that cryptocurrency will never be legalized in Pakistan.

A stringent ban on digital currencies is being put into effect, with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Information Technology Ministry tasked with its implementation.

The ban on cryptocurrencies, although seemingly restrictive, has its roots in pragmatic considerations. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental body founded by the G7, has advised against the legalization of cryptocurrencies.

By aligning with the FATF’s directives, Pakistan seeks to secure a bailout from the International Monetary Fund and avert inclusion in the FATF’s gray list of countries with unsatisfactory Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing practices.

The grand vision underpinning Pakistan’s National AI Policy embodies a comprehensive strategy to capitalize on the potential of AI to boost the nation’s economy and improve the lives of its citizens.

The policy offers a roadmap for the responsible and effective adoption of AI, aiming for long-term and sustainable benefits. It sets forth a plethora of developmental initiatives to stimulate AI-led innovation and facilitate industry-academia collaborations.

Through progressive, evidence-based, and forward-looking measures, Pakistan aims to usher in a transformative era of AI-enabled growth. The country’s focused efforts to empower its young population with AI skills and foster a dynamic AI economy underscore its resolve to harness the next frontier of technological opportunities.
Riaz Haq said…
Vulnerable employment, total (% of total employment) (modeled ILO estimate) - Pakistan, India | Data

Bangladesh 54%

Pakistan 54%

India 74%


Sandeep Manudhane
Why the size of the economy means little
a simple analysis

1) We are often told that India is now a $3.5 trillion economy. It is growing fast too. Hence, we must be happy with this growth in size as it is the most visible sign of right direction. This is the Quantity is Good argument.

2) We are told that such growth can happen only if policies are right, and all engines of the GDP - consumption, exports, investment, govt. consumption - are doing their job well. We tend to believe it.

3) We are also told that unless GDP grows, how can Indians (on average) grow? Proof is given to us in the form of 'rising per capita incomes' of India. And we celebrate "India racing past the UK" in GDP terms, ignoring that the average Indian today is 20 times poorer than the average Britisher.

4) All this reasoning sounds sensible, logical, credible, and utterly worth reiterating. So we tend to think - good, GDP size on the whole matters the most.

5) Wrong. This is not how it works in real life.

6) It is wrong due to three major reasons
(a) Distribution effect
(b) Concentration of power effect
(c) Inter-generational wealth and income effect

7) First comes the distribution effect. Since 1991, the indisputable fact recorded by economists is that "rich have gotten richer, and poor steadily stagnant or poorer". Thomas Piketty recorded it so well he's almost never spoken in New India now! Thus, we have a super-rich tiny elite of 2-3% at the top, and a vast ocean of stagnant-income 70-80% down below. And this is not changing at all. Do not be fooled by rising nominal per capita figures - factor in inflation and boom! And remember - per capita is an average figure, and it conceals the concentration.

8) Second is the Concentration of power effect. RBI ex-deputy governor Viral Acharya wrote that just 5 big industrial groups - Tata, Birlas, Adanis, Ambanis, Mittals - now disproportionately own the economic assets of India, and directly contribute to inflation dynamics (via their pricing power). This concentration is rising dangerously each year for some time now, and all government policies are designed to push it even higher. Hence, a rising GDP size means they corner more and more and more of the incremental annual output. The per capita rises, but somehow magically people don't experience it in 'steadily improving lives'.

9) Third is the Inter-generational wealth and income effect. Ever wondered why more than 90% of India is working in unstructured, informal jobs, with near-zero social security? Ever wondered why rich families smoothly pass on 100% of their assets across generations while paying zero taxes? Ever wondered how taxes paid by the rich as a per cent of their incomes are not as high as those paid by you and me (normal citizens)? India has no inheritance tax, but has a hugely corporate-friendly tax regime with many policies tailor-made to augment their wealth. Trickle down is impossible in this system. But that was the spiel sold to us in 1991, and later, each year! There is no incentive for giant corporates (and rich folks) to generate more formal jobs, as an ocean of underpaid slaves is ready to slog their entire lives for them. Add to that automation, and now, AI systems!

Sadly, as India's GDP grows in size, it means little for the masses because trickle-down is near zero. That is because new formal jobs aren't being generated at scale at all (which in itself is a big topic for analysis).
So, our Quantity of GDP is different from Quality of GDP.
Bilal said…
Exactly - the very top 10% of India's talent pool has always gone to the US. Who'd stay back in India if they could migrate ?

And these bhakts make it seem like India is a wonderful tech haven, better than the USA.

Indian experience with manufacturing has not exactly been stellar, whether hardware or software.
Riaz Haq said…
Aatif Awan
1/ Starting from Pakistan's heartland & now expanding to the world's farm (Brazil), what a journey it's been for the
team. Congrats to them on launching AgromAI, a fintech venture in Brazil that leverages AI & geospatial data to create agri financial solutions


Aatif Awan
2/ Think insurers having highly accurate, individual farm-level intelligence to underwrite crop insurance. Imagine banks using the same information to provide credit to farmers. At $170+ billion, Brazil is one of the top agri markets. Crop insurance alone is at ~ $2B annually


Aatif Awan
3/ What's amazing is that the tech is built in Pakistan by Pakistani product and engineering talent. And it's finding traction in one of the largest markets for agritech


Aatif Awan
4/ Really proud of the Farmdar founders
, Ibrahim Akbar Bokhari and the entire Farmdar team on this huge milestone. Congrats team!

We hope this will inspire many other "Made in Pakistan, For the World" products


Pakistan’s Farmdar Has Just Launched a New FinTech Startup in Brazil

Named ‘AgromAI’, Farmdar’s fintech startup in Brazil will use artificial intelligence (AI) and geospatial data to provide financial services
Pakistan based agri-tech startup ‘Farmdar’ has just announced the launch of its new fintech venture. What’s unique about this new expansion is the fact that it is based in Brazil; a new industry in a new country, sounds exciting right?

Named ‘AgromAI’, Farmdar’s new fintech startup will utilize artificial intelligence (AI) and geospatial data in order to provide financial services, but how would it do so?

Well, according to Farmdar co-founder and CEO Muzaffar Manghi, Latin America is going through a severe climate change, therefore both rainfall and temperatures are evolving at a massive speed, putting both insurers and agricultural business at risk.

AgromAI, using its geospatial data and artificial intelligence systems, will make sure that financial institutions and insurers can avoid and respond to these risks. Having individual farm-level intelligence, these insurers and institutions will have the best insurance risk management in place, allowing an increased productivity and growth in Brazil’s agricultural sector.

“Pakistani technology will be used by some of the largest businesses in the world, and with more developed markets as a stomping ground,” said CEO Muzaffar Manghi while talking about the new startup.

“We are extremely proud to export our artificial intelligence and data-backed products developed solely by Pakistani engineers. This is a testament to the innovation of Pakistani talent and their potential to make a contribution to the global agritech industry,” said Farmdar in its official press release.

Agriculture makes up for a large part of the Brazilian economy, with the country being the world’s third-largest exporter of agricultural products and an agricultural production valued at $170+ billion, whereas Brazil’s crop insurance market, the primary target for AgromAI, accounts for over $9+ billion annually.
Riaz Haq said…
The West needs to get real about India | The Strategist

by John McCarthy, ex Australian Ambassador to India

The first is that India’s economic promise—particularly as an eventual rival to China—is overblown.

Doubts about the extent of India’s promise have been around for a couple of decades—in fact, ever since some commentators started suggesting that India would one day outstrip China.

These doubts were cogently expressed by Harvard academic Graham Allison in a recent essay in Foreign Policy. Allison, inter alia, suggested that we need to reflect on several ‘inconvenient truths’:

We have been wrong in the past about the pace of the rise of India—namely in the early 1990s and the middle of the first decade of this century.
India’s economy is much smaller than China’s—and the gap has increased, not decreased. In the early 2000s, China’s GDP was two to three times as large as India’s. It is now roughly five times as large.
India has been falling behind in the development of science and technology to power economic growth. China spends 2% of GDP on research and development, compared with India’s 0.7%. On artificial intelligence, the figures are startling. For example, China holds 65% of AI patents, while India holds just 3%.
China’s workforce is more productive than India’s. The quality of their respective workforces is affected by poverty and nutrition levels. As one example, according to the 2022 UN State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, 16.3% of India’s population was undernourished in 2019–2021 compared with less than 2.5% of China’s population.
The second argument is that India’s worldview is quite different to that of most Western countries.

India rightly sees itself as a force in international affairs. It aspires to be a powerful pole in a multipolar world. It adheres to a doctrine of strategic autonomy. It is guided by what it thinks is best for India, not by alliances or what others want of it.

India’s China-driven strategic congruence with the US is not the same as a quasi-alliance relationship. India doesn’t operate within a framework of mutual obligation. It doesn’t expect others to come to its aid and it won’t join someone else’s war.

In a recent Foreign Affairs article entitled ‘America’s bad bet on India’, an American academic of Indian origin, Ashley Tellis, argues that New Delhi would never involve itself in any US confrontation with China that did not threaten its own security.

The Tellis piece has weight because he was a main intellectual force behind the ‘nuclear deal’ concluded in 2008.

The problem is that Modi’s government can only lend itself to highly qualified identification with democratic principles.

Elections in India are generally fair, and Modi’s sway is vigorously contested by the main opposition party, by Congress and by regional parties. That’s good.

However, Modi remains an unabashed Hindu supremacist whose political machine largely disregards the aspirations of Muslims and other minorities. It reacts vengefully to criticism and scores badly on most of the international indexes that measure democratic freedoms. To some, India is an illiberal democracy; to others, it’s an electoral autocracy. But, for sure, it is not a liberal democracy.

Western interests dictate that we put grunt into our relationship with India with energy and determination. It is unquestionably an increasingly important country. But we must have realistic expectations of India and deal with as it is, not as we might like it to be. Otherwise, we risk disappointment.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistani student uses AI to combat propaganda on social media

Muhammad Umar, A Pakistani student at Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), has made a significant contribution in detecting propaganda on social media platforms, especially in cases where there is a mixture of low and high-resource languages.

Umar, who is from Pakistan and speaks Urdu as his first language, is one of many people who are contributing to the large amounts of research and time being spent on languages other than English for preservation, education, and language modelling.

Umar, who holds a Master of Science in natural language processing (NLP), is aware of the influence that language has on public conversation and the way that opinions are formed.

“Propaganda is a pervasive tool used to manipulate public opinion, and it is a growing concern in the digital age, especially in bilingual communities where little to no work has been done to detect it. Most propaganda detection work has been done on high-resource languages, such as English, leaving low-resource languages largely unexplored,” said Umar, who is part of the university’s first cohort of NLP graduates.

Umar noted that code-switching, which involves mixing multiple languages in the same text, is common in low-resource language communities and can make propaganda detection more challenging.

“In linguistics, code-switching refers to the practice of alternating between two or more languages or language varieties in a single conversation or text. In the context of my thesis, code-switched social media text specifically refers to social media text that uses a mixture of different languages, including English and Roman Urdu.”

Despite graduating, Umar is continuing his research and hopes to submit a paper related to detecting propaganda techniques in code-switched text at the 2023 Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP) conference, one of the primary high impact NLP and artificial intelligence conferences for NLP research.
Riaz Haq said…
Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez in #Pakistan? #AI-generated pics of pop singers are viral. #Pakistani artist Saboor Akram also gave a traditional makeover to Harry Styles and envisioned him posing in a floral-print kurta set. Ed Sheeran, also dressed in a kurta, was imagined clicking a selfie with people in Rawalpindi.

While Taylor Swift is busy regaling her fans with back-to-back concerts in the US, an artist imagined her flaunting a desi outfit while posing for a picture in Pakistan using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Not just Swift, the artist also generated photos of several other international singers such as Selena Gomez, Harry Styles, Rihanna and Ed Sheeran, posing on the streets of Pakistan. Taylor, in the viral AI-generated pictures, rocked a heavily-embroidered red kurta set with a mustard dupatta. Selena, on the other hand, flaunted a floral-print ensemble.

Saboor Akram, an artist from Pakistan, also gave a traditional makeover to Harry Styles and envisioned him posing in a floral-print kurta set. Ed Sheeran, also dressed in a kurta, was imagined clicking a selfie with people in Rawalpindi.

That’s not all! The artist also gave a traditional makeover to American television personalities Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner. The sisters were seen dressed in simplistic kurta sets.

The internet appeared to be rather amused by the pictures. “Never knew I needed Harry Styles in a kurta until now God Damn,” an Instagram user commented. “Want Selena’s fit,” read another comment.

“This is so cool! Desi Taylor Swift,” another Instagram user wrote.

Riaz Haq said…
Report reveals widening European interest and shift towards STEM

Students from Pakistan and Bangladesh are driving interest in education across continental Europe – a region that is maintaining a “strong appeal” for international students – but government policy, among other factors, may be impacting students’ choices, according to new research.

“Although India generates the largest share of relative demand [at bachelor’s level], this fluctuates drastically and has gradually declined overall,” the report noted. “Conversely, you can see that Bangladesh and Pakistan have increased their share of the interest.”

The research tracks a similar trend in master’s, with India showing a “general decline in interest year-on-year”, with Bangladesh and Pakistan, alongside students in Turkey and Iran, showing “strong demand to study master’s programs”.


Additionally, program preference is shifting towards artificial intelligence, data science & big data, business intelligence & analytics, entrepreneurship and engineering management.

Analysing data collected in the year up to May 2023, the Studyportals Destination Europe report delves into trends in master’s and bachelor’s programs, as well as taking a closer look at the business and management discipline – which the paper noted as most popular for international students in general.

One in five students looking to study in Europe are interested in the discipline, the company noted.

While Germany “holds significant global market share of student interest”, the analysis found a “drop in relative demand” for its programs, while Norway had seen the “largest decline” in relative demand. The drop is likely influenced by the introduction of tuition fees, the paper said.

At the other end of the spectrum, Italy is continuing to grow in its popularity among international students, at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels.

Riaz Haq said…
No homegrown Indian contenders have emerged to challenge the dominance of large language model titans such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google Ventures–backed Anthropic, or Google’s Bard.

“While there are over 1500 AI-based startups in India with over $4 billion of funding, India is still losing the AI innovation battle,” say analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein.

To their credit, many of India’s major startups are using machine learning to enhance aspects of their business operations. For instance, e-commerce giant Flipkart uses machine learning to refine customer shopping experiences, while Razorpay utilizes AI to combat payment fraud. Unicorn edtech Vedantu recently integrated AI into its live classes, making them more accessible and affordable.

Industry insiders attribute India’s dearth of AI-first startups in part to a skills gap among the nation’s workforce. Now the advent of generative AI could displace many service jobs, analysts warn.

“Among its over 5 million employees, IT in India still has a high mix of low-end employees like BPO or system maintenance. While AI isn’t at the level of causing disruptions, the systems are improving rapidly,” Bernstein analysts said.

Dev Khare, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners India, recently assessed the disruptive potential of AI and warned that jobs and processes in industries such as market research, content production, legal analysis, financial analysis, and various IT services jobs could be impacted.
Riaz Haq said…
‘Super, super big’: Pakistan’s indigenously developed AI tool makes a worldwide splash

The AI tool helps users create personalized raps, bios and dating profiles based on their Twitter posts

Within three days of its launch, AIAV reached over 200,000 users from 194 countries around the world

The AI tool performs its task by combining ChatGPT, widely regarded as the best generative large language model, with specialized technologies such as Elasticsearch and GoogleNLP. The result offers unparalleled speed, efficiency, and accuracy.


When Pakistani artificial intelligence engineers Hammad Khan, 29, and Saad Mughal, 27, initially developed and released an AI tool, they meant to test the waters of the world of AI. Little did they know that the locally developed app would end up making a massive splash worldwide.

In layman’s terms, AI is a branch of computer science concerned with building and managing technology that can learn to make decisions and carry out actions on behalf of a human being. AIAV, developed by Khan and Mughal, residents of Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi, helps users create personalized raps, biographies, and dating profiles all based on their social media persona.

Here’s what the tool does for you: Enter your Twitter handle and wait for the AI engine to scan all your tweets. Once it’s done rummaging through hundreds of your tweets and poring over content you posted on Twitter, AIAV produces the user’s brief biography, a personalized rap, and a dating profile.

Such was the tool’s popularity within three days of its launch that AIAV became one of the fastest generative AI products to reach more than 200,000 users from 194 countries earlier this month.

Khan and Mughal, co-founders of the tech consulting firm AlphaVenture that specializes in data and AI, said they developed the tool and launched it in the first week of April.

“I published this and went for an iftar party, and when I came back to my home, I realized that the tool has gone super, super big,” Khan, chief executive officer of AlphaVenture, told Arab News. “Because initially, I intended that maybe 1,000 people might use it or test it, but what we were seeing was astronomical as everything was crashing down.”

Khan is a graduate of the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology, one of Pakistan’s leading private universities.

The AI tool performs its task by combining ChatGPT, widely regarded as the best generative large language model, with specialized technologies such as Elasticsearch and GoogleNLP. The result offers unparalleled speed, efficiency, and accuracy.

Khan said the next 72 hours after the launch were an “interesting experience” as the two founders slept less and had their hands full trying to scale the tool in accordance with its rising demand.

“Every time we would try to scale it, every time we would try to maybe build more things on it, 10,000 or 20,000 people would come in,” he said. “We were literally in awe.”

AIAV has so far reached an impressive 12 million users worldwide and clocked in over 400,000 user signups.

“Primarily, the whole idea of building this tool was to test it and maybe compete with the likes of startups in the Silicon Valley and see how far we can take it, and I think now it’s pretty well tested,” Khan said. “We have tested it with over 400,000 users. Now, I’m pretty happy with the result, but honestly, we didn’t expect this.”

The majority of the tool’s users are from the US, UK, and the Middle East. Many of them believe that its “personal nature” caused the AI program to attract people from all parts of the world.

Mughal said the duo was making modifications to AIAV so that the response generated by the context engine was more accurate. The founders are also in touch with a few venture capital funds for financing.

Buoyed by AIAV’s phenomenal success, Khan and Mughal, who live in Karachi’s middle-class Gulistan-e-Jauhar neighborhood, have their eyes set on broadening the tool’s application.

Riaz Haq said…
The ChatGPT API will allow developers to integrate ChatGPT into their own applications, products, or services. ChatGPT is a sibling model to InstructGPT, which is trained to follow an instruction in a prompt and provide a detailed response. Learn more about ChatGPT in the blog post. To learn more about the ChatGPT API, please visit our API articles.

Please note that the ChatGPT API is not included in the ChatGPT Plus subscription and are billed separately. The API has its own pricing, which can be found at The ChatGPT Plus subscription covers usage on only and costs $20/month.
Riaz Haq said…
Discover four Pakistani startups at the forefront of AI/ML
by Eunice Cheng | on 06 DEC 2022

Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Epiphany joined forces in 2021 to co-curate an artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) bootcamp called AI/ML Reactor. AI/ML Reactor is a rigorous 5-week virtual program aimed at driving AI/ML awareness and empowering startups in Pakistan.

We received an overwhelming response for this program. Twenty-five startups were chosen out of 250 startups that applied from all provinces in Pakistan. Participants had access to exclusive master classes, a group tech mentoring session, and one-on-one mentoring sessions with AWS specialists and thought leaders. At the end of the program, they presented their AI/ML solutions to a panel of judges (see Demo Day).

Meet our winners from the 2021 Reactor!
Salesflo – 1st prize
Salesflo is one of Pakistan’s fastest growing software as a service (SaaS) platforms. They build tools to improve in-field sales efficiency for consumer goods.

Ozoned Digital Ltd (“Ozoned”) – 2nd prize
Ozoned is an insurtech startup that aims to digitally transform the insurance value chain. It services multiple stakeholders (insurers, insurance brokers, insurance agents, customers, and others) in the insurance ecosystem.

XpertFlow – joint 3rd prize
XpertFlow is an AI-powered preventative healthcare company founded in 2019. Its mission is to reduce mortality from hospital acquired infections (HAIs) that eventually lead to sepsis.

Trukkr – joint 3rd prize
Trukkr provides financial services and technology for logistics in Pakistan. It gives both large and small businesses a comprehensive technology platform to manage and provide all their logistical needs. Trusted by some of the biggest companies in the country, Trukkr saves organizations time and money, while providing them with deep data and powerful insights.

Riaz Haq said…
Ethnic Appropriation? ChatGPT Creator Mira Murati is an Albanian American, Not Indian American as Reported by Indian Media - American Kahani

What’s in a name? A slippery slope, if one were to go by the way some in the Indian media went to town claiming Mira Murati, Chief Technology Officer of OpenAI, the company that created ChatGPT, is an Indian American.

She is not. She is an American of Albanian origin. Although there is almost no biographical information available online, most websites identify her as an Albanian, including Albanian websites. One of them claims that the 1987-born technologist was born in Vlora, Albania.

ChatGPT has had a sensational debut last year because of its potential applications. As says, “this artificial intelligence bot can answer questions, write essays and program computers.”

The Indian media reports, however, widely quoted Murati’s recent interview with Time magazine where she expressed her concerns over its misuse, mainly using it as a peg to claim that she is an Indian American. Several leading newspapers published an Indian agency report that misreported Murati’s ethnicity.

One Indian blogger who runs “Biography Reader” even went on to claim that “she was born in a middle-class Hindu family. Her father’s name is Mr. Murati. Her mother’s name is Mrs. Murati.”


Inside OpenAI, the Architect of ChatGPT | The Circuit


Mustafa Suleyman (Syrian Muslim): the Liberal Activist Ensuring Google DeepMind Benefits All of Humanity

Mustafa Suleyman is one of the three cofounders of DeepMind, an artificial intelligence (AI) lab in London that was acquired by Google in 2014 for a reported £400 million — the search giant's largest acquisition in Europe to date.

Listen to a few of Suleyman's talks on YouTube and you'll quickly realise that he's a left-leaning activist who wants to make the world a better place for everyone as opposed to an elite few. He differs from many of today's tech founders in that he genuinely seems to care about the welfare of everyone on the planet.

The 35-year-old — affectionately known as "Moose" internally at DeepMind and among his friends — lives in Peckham, South London, with his artist fiancée. He can often be seen on Twittermaking his thoughts known on issues like homelessness, diversity, and inequality, and also once retweeted Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

DeepMind may be owned by one of the largest companies in the world but Suleyman strongly believes capitalism is failing society in a number of areas. He explained this during a talk at a Google event in 2017.
Riaz Haq said…
Evolution of AI’s Significance in Pakistan

The hype around Artificial Intelligence (AI) has increased over the past decade, but in Pakistan, this began gaining momentum around 2017 onward. It began with a few opinion pieces in institutional publications calling for the securitisation of AI against “hybrid war” to proper governmental initiatives by two different political governments. Near the very end of its tenure in mid-2018, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) government led then by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, inaugurated a National Centre for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI) at the National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST), followed by a Rs 1.1bn budgetary allocation for select universities (mostly in Punjab and Islamabad, one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Sindh each); most importantly, NUST was declared as the headquarters from where these research and development (R&D) efforts on AI would be coordinated.

A month later (May 2018), the succeeding federal government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), led by then Prime Minister Imran Khan, approved the Digital Pakistan Policy. This was the first high-level government policy to lay out a plan to set up innovation centres in different thematic areas across the provincial capitals and minor/auxiliary cities, which included AI as a special focus area. The year concluded with the President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi, himself a former PTI leader, ambitiously declaring his own Presidential Initiative for Artificial Intelligence & Computing (PIAIC).

On the practical side, it is a rudderless policy driven more by utopian ideals instead of factual appreciation of strengths and weaknesses.

Two years later (during the PTI government) in 2020, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) took the lead in setting up a Centre of Artificial Intelligence and Computing (CENTAIC). The next year (2021), PAF also inaugurated a Cyber Security Academy within Air University, during which the Air Force’s C4I lead also announced the intent to set up an Air Force Cyber Command.

Shortly after the deposition of the PTI government by the incumbent Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance in the first half of 2022, the budget was approved to set up a Sino-Pak Centre for Artificial Intelligence (SPCAI) at the Pak-Austria Fachhochschule: Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology (PAF-IAST) in Haripur, which purportedly collaborates through linkages with academia and industries in Austria and China. Also, in the same year, the Pakistan Army announced the inauguration of its Cyber Command, which reportedly consists of two divisions, one of which (the Army Centre of Emerging Technologies) is reasonably believed to include AI in its focus areas.

The incumbent PDM government, through the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, had reportedly constituted a 15-member National Task Force (NTF) on Artificial Intelligence with the purported objective of supporting national development, even before the draft policy was published. The dichotomy is mind-boggling since MoITT has the primary mandate of supervising ICT-related initiatives.

Ignoring the Elephants in the Room

The authors of the draft National AI Policy are surprisingly oblivious or intentionally ignorant of major obstacles to its proper appreciation and implementation (adoption).

Riaz Haq said…
Forget world domination, India won’t catch up with China any time soon

It will take many years of stellar economic growth for India to begin matching China in economic importance, and no amount of miraculous thinking or “China plus one” investment is likely to accelerate that.
Also, many other important economic indicators remain problematic. India accounted for about 1 per cent of global manufacturing in 2000, compared with 7 per cent for China. By last year, India’s share had grown to 3 per cent against China’s 31 per cent. In 2000, India accounted for just 1 per cent of the world’s exports, and China 2 per cent. By last year, China accounted for 15 per cent of global exports against India’s share of 2 per cent.

India enthusiasts celebrate the youthfulness of India’s population, but ignore the reality that this is a problem rather than an advantage when they are poorly educated or even illiterate. To accommodate them, India must produce an estimated 90 million new jobs before 2030.
Allison reminds us that China produces twice as many STEM-qualified (in science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates as India, spends almost three times the percentage of its GDP on research and development, and produces 65 per cent of the world’s artificial intelligence patents (vs India’s 3 per cent).
As Bloomberg noted in April: “India is far behind China in key aspects important for manufacturing that include infrastructure, bureaucracy, attention to detail and even a sense of urgency.”

Supporters of India in search of a “hobble China” narrative have been encouraged by companies such as Apple and its main Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn, which have made tentative steps to build investments in India, but ignore the challenges they have faced, and the reality that China remains their main manufacturing base.
They have ignored the withdrawals of companies like the Royal Bank of Scotland, Harley-Davidson and Citibank, and the many other companies with plans on hold. They have tended to celebrate the deliberate obstacles to prospective investment in China, even where China is a natural partner and the benefit of collaboration is huge.
Rather than harbouring dreams of dominating the world, India’s policymakers would benefit us all by opening up their economy and recognising that even if India does not surpass China, it can still be a huge driver in the global economy. China and India together account for one third of the world’s population, one third of the global consumer class, and a quarter of all consumer spending in purchasing power parity terms.
The 21st century may not be India’s century, but it is almost certainly Asia’s. Washington needs to come to terms with that, and perhaps New Delhi does too.

Riaz Haq said…
The Science of Self-Confidence


Several of us had gone to visit a top Indian bureaucrat. While we entered his room and stood, he kept looking at his cell phone with his glasses reflecting his Facebook page. It took him a while to lift his face and recognize us. He perhaps thought we would be impressed by how loaded with responsibility he was. I was thinking about how juvenile in an adult body he was. What a life of stress he lived playing his drama day in and day out.

People worry about being confident in social affairs. Many courses run to polish social skills and to learn to radiate an aura of confidence. Many self-help books have been written, some good, some bad, and some that teach one to be psychopathic and manipulative.

While the tricks and put-on social mannerisms might help in the short term, one eventually becomes more confused. In this exploration, I draw upon my observations growing up in India, shedding light on what contributes to genuine self-assurance and what leads to confusion.

Indian culture is structured to control its populace through humiliation and punishment. Parents and teachers have no compunctions about beating children. The berating and demeaning behavior continues into adulthood. Nothing is on equal terms. One side must address the other as “sir.” The same people are either obsequious or arrogant, depending on whom they are dealing with. No one escapes this quagmire, not even those at the top.

Indians end up thoroughly broken, crippled psychologically and spiritually. The culture emphasizes might over right, overshadowing values like reason, morality, and fairness.

To cover up their psychological deficiencies, Indians desperately crave power. They need the crutches of a fleet of servants or bodyguards, a desperate attempt for status. But it is an escape. Their hearts know what they are. Those in power show their power by being busy and heavy-handed, forever afraid of getting too close to anyone, for it would entail the risk of their inner hollowness getting found out. They end up surrounded by mindless sycophants, an existence that any sane person would run away from.

Most people never make it that far and spend their life crawling up in a rat race for power, money, and status. They desperately need the approval of others and to be a part of a cult or group they can identify with. Many people chose to lose their identity in the mob, religious rituals, superstitions, or in being mindless slaves.

However, there is a way out for those who choose to be free, escape the maze, have their own minds, and have an honorable existence.

To Indians, Westerners look the most confident and self-satisfied. They think copying specific Western ways—their language, clothing, etc.—is how to get similar confidence. While these are valuable tools in their own right, they cannot build self-confidence.

Worse, Indians copy what is not even Western values: promiscuity, drinking, drugs, hip-hop, flirting, etc. They only see and find attracted to what the worldview they developed during their upbringing makes them.

Western confidence comes from being better rooted in universal principles. This is only possible in a culture of free exchange and criticism of ideas, a culture of reason, respect for others, “even” for children and animals, the search for truth, and a culture of introspection.

Beyond the Western world, the dynamics shift. East Asian cultures embrace elements of Western institutions while retaining a higher emphasis on honor and personal responsibility. However, they don’t encourage independent thinking as much as the West does, are socialized to participate in the rat race, and are left vulnerable to peer pressure. Their confidence suffers.
Riaz Haq said…
India's Modi is not the world's guru

Publicity campaign ahead of G20 summit strikes the wrong note

Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar

In the run-up to the Group of 20 summit this weekend in New Delhi, billboards and bus stops in every Indian city are plastered with images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will preside over the gathering of leaders from around the globe.

The posters hail India, via Modi, as a Vishwaguru -- a Sanskrit term for world guru or teacher to the world. Similar advertisements have covered the front pages of major newspapers.

India has never seen an advertising blitz of this magnitude. A former finance secretary estimated the cost at 10 billion rupees ($121 million) and rising. He sees the push as the start of Modi's 2024 reelection campaign.

It is of course convenient to have the government, rather than the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), pay for this ad campaign. Indian politicians of all stripes have done similar things in the past, but the scale of the current campaign beggars description.

By law, the most that can be spent on a campaign for a parliamentary seat is 9.5 million rupees. The legal cost to contest all 543 seats in the Lok Sabha would thus be no more than 5 billion rupees.

Critics who think Modi is trying to impress foreign visitors are clearly mistaken. This advertising blitz is aimed at financing the promotion of the prime minister in the election run-up, portraying him as a great leader of not just India but the world.

This message plays well with the Hindu nationalist BJP, whose members believe India was the greatest and richest civilization in the world in ancient times but then enslaved and impoverished by Muslim and British invaders. Modi himself says he has rescued India following centuries of "enslavement."

In the face of both threats and inducements, the Indian media is not talking much about Modi's use of government money to advance a personality cult or boost his election prospects. Dissenters of all sorts, whether in business, media or the nonprofit sector, have faced raids for supposed tax or foreign exchange violations that are likely to keep them tied up in court for years.

Indian media companies, meanwhile, are making millions of dollars from running Modi's advertisements, which they would lose if they played their intended democratic role of speaking truth to power. Very few are willing to pay this price.

Modi's notion of being the world's guru is just as ridiculous as his twisted history of "centuries of enslavement," which has been used to attack India's religious minorities.

A guru is nothing without disciples. If India or Modi himself is the world's guru, who are the disciples? The least likely candidates are Western powers which believe, rightly or wrongly, that they are the true global gurus.

It might seem that India's disciples would be most likely to come from its geographic neighborhood rather than distant lands. But even a cursory examination shows otherwise.

Does Pakistan regard India as a guru? No, it is India's greatest foe. It has allied with China, India's other major foe, to try and put India in its place. No disciples there.

What about Bangladesh, which India helped to achieve independence from Pakistan in 1971? There is now little gratitude for India's help, which is accurately viewed as a ploy to split and disempower Pakistan rather than an altruistic move to aid Bangladeshis.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is about the only Bangladeshi politician to express somewhat pro-Indian views, and even she has to step carefully. The Hindu share of Bangladesh's population has shrunk from 30% at the time of Pakistan's independence in 1947 to 7.5% today, as many have migrated to India to escape discrimination and persecution. No sign of Indian disciples in Bangladesh.

Riaz Haq said…
India's Modi is not the world's guru

Publicity campaign ahead of G20 summit strikes the wrong note

Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar

A guru is nothing without disciples. If India or Modi himself is the world's guru, who are the disciples? The least likely candidates are Western powers which believe, rightly or wrongly, that they are the true global gurus.

It might seem that India's disciples would be most likely to come from its geographic neighborhood rather than distant lands. But even a cursory examination shows otherwise.

Does Pakistan regard India as a guru? No, it is India's greatest foe. It has allied with China, India's other major foe, to try and put India in its place. No disciples there.

What about Bangladesh, which India helped to achieve independence from Pakistan in 1971? There is now little gratitude for India's help, which is accurately viewed as a ploy to split and disempower Pakistan rather than an altruistic move to aid Bangladeshis.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is about the only Bangladeshi politician to express somewhat pro-Indian views, and even she has to step carefully. The Hindu share of Bangladesh's population has shrunk from 30% at the time of Pakistan's independence in 1947 to 7.5% today, as many have migrated to India to escape discrimination and persecution. No sign of Indian disciples in Bangladesh.

Sri Lanka? Many there harbor ill will toward New Delhi in the belief that it supported the development of the Tamil Tiger insurgency when Indira Gandhi was India's prime minister in the early 1980s. The insurgency became a civil war in which up to 100,000 were killed. Hard to find disciples there.

What about Nepal, a predominantly Hindu nation? Ever since then-Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru intervened in a royal power struggle in 1951, Nepalese have viewed New Delhi as an imperial power to be feared. India has on more than one occasion blocked essential supplies to Nepal to try to exert political influence. Nepalese may be Hindus, but they are anything but Modi's disciples.

What about the West? It sees India as a rising economic power to be wooed. Western investment is pouring into India and the West lauds India's success in digital payments, financial inclusion and social programs.

But some in the West also castigate the Indian government for eroding democratic values and human rights and suppressing civic groups. Freedom House, an American rights group, downgraded India from "free" to "partly free" in its 2021 index of political and civil liberties around the world. Sweden's V-Dem Institute classifies India as an "electoral autocracy."

In its annual World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders ranked India a dismal 161st. In the global Human Freedom Index compiled by the Cato Institute, India fell from 75th place in 2015 to 112th in 2022.

Indian government officials criticize these indexes as flawed. Maybe so, but the notion of India as a Vishwaguru sounds like a bad joke in the West.

India has certainly provided the world with yoga, transcendental meditation and the Bhagavad Gita. Indian mathematicians invented the concept of zero and sundry equations in ancient times. Bollywood has global fans today for its films and music.

This adds up to a reasonable amount of soft power. Alas, it is not the stuff of which world gurus are made.
Riaz Haq said…
For an AI lesson, India must look back — 300 years

By Andy Mukherjee Bloomberg

Read more at:

India’s dominance in tech outsourcing is facing an existential challenge not unlike what its world-beating textile industry battled — and lost — 300 years ago. In the early 1700s, it took 50,000 hours to spin 100 pounds of cotton. “Indian spinners were regarded as the most productive in the world, and they produced the best-quality product,” as Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson, economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, note in a new paper. By 1795, however, automation had crunched the labor demand to 300 person-hours. The profound impact of the industrial revolution on cotton-spinning may be poised for a repeat in a $250 billion white-collar powerhouse. Each year, 5 million Indians churn out billions of lines of code for global banks, manufacturers and retailers. Research by McKinsey & Co. showed last year that with generative artificial intelligence it’s possible to cut the time taken for code generation by 35 per cent to 45 per cent, and slash documentation time by nearly half. This is just the beginning. As generative AI morphs into artificial general intelligence — machines rivaling human cognitive abilities — even highly complex tasks may not require expert programmers.

The improvement in speed “can be translated into an increase in productivity that outperforms past advances in engineering productivity, driven by both new tooling and processes,” McKinsey says. But how will the gains be distributed between customers and software vendors? More importantly, how will they be shared between shareholders of outsourcing firms and their employees?

Acemoglu and Johnson glean insights for the interplay of machine and labor by comparing the age of AI to the early industrial revolution and the shift it produced in the thinking of David Ricardo, a prominent classical economist, ace bond trader and and politician. As the spinning jenny became progressively more efficient, suddenly there was a lot of yarn looking for weavers, creating lucrative new jobs. The golden age of weaving, the MIT economists surmise, is probably when Ricardo came to his famous conclusion that “machinery did not lessen the demand for labor.” It was when handlooms gave way to power looms in the early 19th century — leaving no alternative occupation for displaced labor — that Ricardo updated his view. He acknowledged in a 1819 speech to the British parliament that “the inadequacy of the wages to the support of the laboring classes” was one of “two great evils for which it was desirable to provide a remedy.”

India’s tech companies are stuck on Ricardo 1.0, and investing very little into a future where artificial intelligence has made their current code-writing business irrelevant. The optimistic view goes like this: Someone needs to prompt generative AI’s large language models with the right questions. Natural-language processing and prompt engineering will create jobs. Finding unique and affordable use cases — especially in local languages — may be another avenue for the most-populous nation to utilize its talent.


Trouble is that artificial intelligence will come with its own power loom. Companies will recover their hefty investment costs by selling souped-up devices. “We expect AI-enabled hardware to be the only sustainable and meaningful way consumers and corporations begin paying for AI features, justifying billions of dollars invested in GenAI,” writes Nilesh Jasani of GenInnov, a Singapore-based global innovation fund.

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