What a waste
How India is throwing away the world’s biggest economic opportunity
IN THE past 35 years, hundreds of millions of Chinese have found productive, if often exhausting, work in the country’s growing cities. This extraordinary mobilisation of labour is the biggest economic event of the past half-century. The world has seen nothing on such scale before. Will it see anything like it again? The answer lies across the Himalayas in India.
India is an ancient civilisation but a youthful country. Its working-age population is rising by about 12m people a year, even as China’s shrank last year by 3m. Within a decade India will have the biggest potential workforce in the world.
Optimists look forward to a bumper “demographic dividend”, the result of more workers per dependant and more saving out of income. This combination accounted for perhaps a third of the East Asian miracle. India “has time on its side, literally,” boasted one prominent politician, Kamal Nath, in a 2008 book entitled “India’s Century”.
Reasons to be cheerless
But although India’s dreamers have faith in its youth, the country’s youngsters have growing reason to doubt India. The economy raised aspirations that it has subsequently failed to meet. From 2005 to 2007 it grew by about 9% a year. In 2010 it even grew faster than China (if the two economies are measured consistently). But growth has since halved. India’s impressive savings rate, the other side of the demographic dividend, has also slipped. Worryingly, a growing share of household saving is bypassing the financial system altogether, seeking refuge from inflation in gold, bricks and mortar.
The last time a Congress-led government liberalised the economy in earnest—in 1991—over 40% of today’s Indians had yet to be born. Their anxieties must seem remote to India’s elderly politicians. The average age of cabinet ministers is 65. The country has never had a prime minister born in independent India. One man who might buck that trend, Rahul Gandhi, is the son, grandson and great-grandson of former prime ministers. India is run by gerontocrats and epigones: grey hairs and groomed heirs. The apparent indifference of the police to the way young women in particular are treated has underlined the way that old India fails to protect new India.
3:16 pm • 10 May 2013 • 7 notes
Musarrat Nazir is a Pakistani singer and actress who sang and acted in many Urdu and Punjabi films. And also made Farrah Fawcett feel bad about her hair.
8:57 pm • 4 January 2013 • 40 notes
Desi pride: In the exuberant world of truck art
Islamabad, Pakistan: Patterns of birds, flowers and animals animate miniature trunks, kettles, lanterns and other household objects displayed in the cramped space under a single fluorescent bulb in the kind of tasteful garishness proverbial to Pakistani truck art.
Love. Love. Love.
12:24 pm • 19 December 2012 • 117 notes
The Middle Man in Chapati Mystery by Manan Ahmed
The construction of nationalist identity in Pakistan, since 1971, has relied exclusively on a communal reading of South Asian histories – positing Hindu and Muslims as inchoate categories. Such reductive narratives may suit the purpose of nationalist discourses but they do not represent history. I have decided to tell the story of Seth Naomul Hotchand as a story of a broker between regimes of power, as a local negotiator of globally written politics. In my telling, Hotchand is a symbol—not of treason or collaboration but—of the fugue state that cripples the modern nation-state, which forgets pasts just as easily as it invents new ones to fill the gaps.
The “Orient” is a fiction, and a romance. The fiction espoused by the British officer in the opening quote frames our colonial and postcolonial stories – a Hindu son’s revenge for a Muslim injustice wrought upon his father. This romantic story swivels on its axis in postcolonial Pakistan – all Hindus are traitors, and can be represented by the money-lending, vengeful Seth Naomal Hotchand, who brought down a princely state. In what follows, I lay out a fuller picture of Hotchand’s life and argue that the real tragedy lies with the collective memory to which his history has been ascribed.
Painting by Daisy Rockwell.
Wish this was a chapter in our national curriculum on both sides of the border.
12:09 pm • 5 December 2012 • 28 notes
“The impact of America’s drone war in the likes of Pakistan and Yemen will linger on, especially for the loved ones of the 178 children killed in those countries by U.S. drone strikes.”
U.S. Drone Strikes Are Causing Child Casualties: Video and Report.
War Costs’ latest video (with accompanying report) brings attention to the children who have died as a result of drone strikes. The video names some of the children who perished in these strikes, and points out the obfuscation tactics of American officials who will not own up to the significant amount of civilian casualties that have occurred due to this legally- and morally-dubious policy.
The nauseating irony that these strikes are being carried out with the approval of a Nobel “Peace” Prize winner.
2:32 pm • 3 December 2012 • 138 notes
A New Approach | Khalid Aziz
Pakistan and the world needs to change its approach to secure women rights.
What happened to Malala Yousafzai was a horrific act that shows that the Taliban will not hesitate to use terror as a weapon to create fear amongst the population. While the world has the option to choose its stories, we, in Pakistan, do not have that luxury. As in other wars, the most affected are the least protected and most vulnerable amongst the population: women and children. The blame doesn’t lie with one party alone. They are all culpable. The U.S. violates human rights in the region with drones which kill many innocents. The Pakistani military, while striving to clear the region, also humiliates and kills locals. Finally, the Taliban who want to wrest away the state from a legitimate but poorly managed government, also deploy violence.
10:04 am • 29 November 2012 • 17 notes
On Balochistan, Elections and Mengal | Mahvish Ahmad
The government has denied any military operation in Balochistan. Its opponents – from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Nawaz Sharif to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s Imran Khan keep talking about ‘free and fair elections’. As the first and most important step, they say, to ‘fixing’ Balochistan.
There has been a lot of theories on why the nationalist leader, Akhtar Mengal, came to Pakistan. Rumors have circulated and theories have been spun on whether he talked to the army before coming. Did he broker a deal? Did he come so he could contest elections? Mehreen Zahra-Malik wrote a great piece on the talk about town.
But whether you applaud his visit, or downright condemn it, it’s hard to look away from his Six Points – all of which call for an immediate cessation to state-led violence.
10:03 am • 29 November 2012 • 8 notes
Anti-capitalist Feminist Struggle, and Transnational Solidarity - An interview with Chandra Talpade Mohanty.
I love reading and listening to Mohanty’s views on issues like neoliberal global capitalism and gender and more. I also love how she puts much emphasis on transnational solidarity in the face of Empire and collective Western hegemony. This is highly worth watching.
Click on the link to watch!
1:59 pm • 28 November 2012 • 45 notes
Tanqeed - A magazine of politics and culture on Pakistan and beyond
Tanqeed is an experiment in critical reflection on Pakistan. It is a blogzine, a scrapbook and a reporters’ notebook. From observations on politics, culture and media to podcasts, multimedia, and rejected pitches, Tanqeed takes account of a country that has hitherto been overtaken by its representations.
Tanqeed - Urdu for constructive criticism - is now on Tumblr! Initiated by Pakistani academicians and journalists, Tanqeed is a blogzine revolving around the political and cultural issues within Pakistan with an aim to create a forum engaging in long-form, in-depth journalism concerning under-reported and neglected stories. This is an excellent opportunity for those interested in studying Pakistani politics as well as global issues within a clearer and smarter context.
Follow Tanqeed on Tumblr | Twitter | Vimeo | Facebook. Subscribe to the main website here. Stay tuned for more updates!
5:06 pm • 27 November 2012 • 68 notes
Pakistan’s legendary columnist and critic Ardeshir Cowasjee (1926 - 2012) passes away today
Famous (and even notorious) for his fearless, unapologetic views on his country Pakistan, Ardeshir Cowasjee was a man who did not think twice before uttering the truth. “Cowasjee was appointed by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as Managing Director of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) in 1973 but was jailed for 72 days in 1976 by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for which no explanation has been given to date; it is said that Prime Minister Bhutto did that to rein Cowasjee because the latter was becoming increasingly vocal about Bhutto’s authoritarian ways. Cowasjee subsequently started writing letters to the editor of Dawn Newspaper, which led him to become a permanent columnist. Since then, his hard-hitting and well-researched columns in Dawn have continuously exposed corruption, nepotism and incompetence in different local, provincial and national governments for the last twenty years.In 2011 Cowasjee bid farewell to Dawn by publishing his last article in the newspaper on 25 December 2011, however he has hinted that he may write rarely for the newspaper in the coming future.” [x]
I grew up reading his brilliant views, I saw him on national TV making anchors and hosts ever so uneasy with his bluntness, often saying, “Yeh sala log (Loosely: These bastards)” about the various governments of Pakistan. He was never afraid to call a spade a spade. It is said that he was once threatened by a judge to “watch his mouth” but Cowasjee did not budge, he did not change a single thing about his moral take on issues. He was an inspiration to many.
Ardeshir Cowasjee sahab was a “columnist extraordinaire, bane of landgrabbers, humanist, philanthropist,” as Human Rights Watch’s Ali Dayan correctly put him. Another Pakistani legend bites the dust. A golden piece of Karachi died today. May his soul rest in power.
8:39 am • 24 November 2012 • 89 notes
“The government in Lahore, Pakistan has approved the building of two underpasses at Kalma Chowk linking Garden Town and Gulberg’s Main Boulevard at a cost of Rs1.125 billion, with construction work due to start in just a few days.”
Two underpasses at Kalma Chowk approved.
Lower income families can’t afford to go to school or get medical care, several towns don’t have access to clean water or good security, many don’t have food to eat but this irresponsible git goes on to make more unnecessary changes to the city. We’re not poor. We’re stupid.
6:56 am • 24 November 2012 • 28 notes