Saturday, October 19, 2019

Atoms Shoes: Young Pakistani Couple's Startup Gets $8.1 Million in Series A

Atoms shoes, founded by a young Pakistani couple, has attracted $8.1 million investment, according to media reports. Atoms' investors include Silicon Valley based venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins and Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian.  It's the latest success in the entrepreneurial journey that Sidra Qasim and Waqas Ali started in Pakistani town of Okara around 2010.

Sidra Qasim and Waqas Ali Wearing Atoms' Sneakers
Okara, Pakistan:

Atoms.com story began in 2010 when twenty-something Waqas Ali met a shoemaker Muhammad Hussain in Okara at a local panchayat (council meeting), according to Dawn. Waqas brought up the idea of selling shoes online but it did not particularly appeal to Hussain who thought people want to touch, smell, wear and feel shoes before buying them.

Waqas soon dropped out of college and persuaded Sidra to join him in pursuing his dream of selling shoes online. They chose "Hometown" as the brandname for their shoes and set up their business online. The initial funding was a $10,000 prize Waqas won in a competition for start-up sponsored by P@SHA Social Innovation Fund, a Google-backed grant program for Pakistani entrepreneurs.

Markhor:

In 2014, the company was rebranded as Markhor, named after a wild goat which is Pakistan's national animal. The company specialized in high-end hand-crafted leather shoes sold online to mainly western clientele.

Markhor website lacked Paypal or any other financial transaction service for cross-border transaction.  Ali applied for and received a B-1 business visa to travel to the United States and open a bank account there. This enabled them to accept payments online for their shoes.

During his visit to the United States, Waqas met with other e-commerce entrepreneurs from companies such as Warby Parker and Everlane, and met the company’s first two angel investors, who each invested $15,000 to help get Markhor (then called Hometown) off the ground. The success of a $107,000 Kickstarter campaign, a few months later, was due in part to the connections Ali made on his trip to the United States, according to an article in The Atlantic.

Sidra and Waqas were accepted in YCombinator, Silicon Valley's top incubator. The incubator introduced them to top venture investors in San Francisco Bay Area.

Atoms:

The couple has now started their second business, an online retailer for minimalist sneakers branded Atoms.  The company has recently raised $8.1 million Series A funding, according to Tech Crunch. It is being led by Initialized Capital, the investment firm started by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Garry Tan, with other backers including Kleiner Perkins, Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin, Acumen founder and CEO Jacqueline Novogratz, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, TED curator Chris Anderson, the rapper Chamillionaire and previous backers Aatif Awan and Shrug Capital.

Atoms offers shoes in quarter sizes for "perfect fit".  The company says it's not unusual for people to have different size shoes for each foot. It sends customers three pairs of shoes and allows them to keep the left and right shoes that fit them best.  It offers free returns for the rest.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Invest in Pakistan Summit in Silicon Valley

Pakistanis in Silicon Valley

Rasoolpur: Pakistani Village With 100% Literacy, No Crime

Pakistani Village Girl Launches VC-Funded Fashion Tech Startup

Marvel Pays $7.5 Billion For Cavium Co-Founded by Pakistani-American

OPEN Silicon Valley Forum 2017: Pakistani Entrepreneurs Conference

Pakistani-American's Tech Unicorn Files For IPO at $1.6 Billion Valuation

Pakistani-American Cofounders Sell Startup to Cisco for $610 million

Pakistani Brothers Spawned $20 Billion Security Software Industry

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

Pakistani-American Pioneered 3D Technology in Orthodontics

Pakistani-Americans Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 




Thursday, October 17, 2019

Pakistani Journalist Sohail Warraich in Silicon Valley

I had a chance to meet well-known Pakistani journalist Sohail Warraich recently during his visit to Silicon Valley. He was here to record an interview with successful Pakistani-American entrepreneur Osman Rashid, founder of Chegg and Kno.

Sohail Warraich is a senior journalist and political analyst as well as a popular host of "Ek Din Geo K Sath" aired on Geo TV. Warraich's show features interviews with top politicians, businessmen, entrepreneurs, entertainers, sportsmen and other personalities and celebrities. He often points out contradictions and hypocrisies in the lives of his guests on his show by asking them: "Kia yeh khula tazad naheen" (Is it not an obvious contradiction)?  Warraich is known to be close to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who is currently in jail for owning overseas assets beyond means. He wrote Nawaz Sharif's hagiography  "Ghaddar Kaun". Warraich believes the rise of Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) party have been enabled by the strong support of the military and Imran Khan's popularity with Pakistan's rising middle class.

L to R: Sohail Warraich, Misbah Azam, Riaz Haq

Osman Rashid is the son of  a Pakistani diplomat. He was born in London and raised in Islamabad. He came to the United States from Pakistan in 1990s to study electrical engineering at University of Minnesota and earned a BSEE there. He is a successful serial entrepreneur in Silicon Valley.

Osman Rashid invited me and a few other Pakistani-American friends to meet Warraich over dinner at his Los Altos home.  In response to my question about about the current state of affairs in Pakistan, Warraich shared his insights below:

1. Pakistan's middle class is rising and increasingly asserting itself in politics.

2. Pakistani military is the most dominant force in the country. It enjoys broad support among the middle class Pakistanis.

3. The rise of Imran Khan and Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) have been enabled by the support of the military and the middle class.

4. Middle class support for the military will eventually fade and there will eventually be conflict between the two. It could lead to significant political changes in the country.

5. The situation of the people of Thar is improving with the development of coal mining and construction of power plants.  There are better roads and growing employment opportunities for the locals. Warraich has visited Thar multiple times recently and found that the media reports of hunger and poverty and lack of health care are highly exaggerated. Such reports could be politically motivated to defame Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistani Author-Journalist Raza Rumi in Silicon Valley

Pakistani-American Astrophysicist Dr. Nergis Mavalvala in Silicon Valley

Pakistani-American Moeed Yusuf in Silicon Valley

Islamic Scholar Javed Ahmad Ghamidi in Silicon Valley

Pakistan Civil Society Activist Jibran Nasir in Silicon Valley

Conspiracy Theories Dominate Pakistan Elections Coverage

Rising Middle Class in Pakistan

Can Imran Khan Lead Pakistan to the Next Level?

Pakistani Hindu Women Ride High on Thar Development

Democracy vs Dictatorship in Pakistan



Friday, October 11, 2019

Invest in Pakistan Summit: Can Pakistan Benefit From US-China Tech War?

About 200 Pakistani-American and other American investors met at Invest in Pakistan Summit in Silicon Valley on October 3, 2019 at San Jose Sheraton. It was hosted by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC. One of the sessions I found interesting dealt with the opportunities presented to Pakistan by US-China technology war sparked by US President Trump's actions against Chinese technology giants Huawei and ZTE.  In response to the US threat to restrict access to American core technology, China is aiming to develop and produce 40% of the semiconductors it uses by 2020 and 70% by 2025, according to Washington-based CSIS report. It is estimated that China needs about 500,000 engineers to achieve this goal. Can Pakistan, a reliable Chinese ally, train and provide some of these engineers?



US-China Tech War:

The technology war between the United States and China has been going on with the roll-out of the 5G next generation broadband wireless technology.  China has developed its 5G technology in an attempt to become independent of the technology developed and controlled by companies in the United States and other western nations.  US has been actively trying to stop adoption of Chinese company Huawei's 5G technology in Europe, East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. So far, the US has had limited success while China's Huawei is continuing to win customers around the world.




Tech Supply Chain Bifurcation:

President Trump has also attempted to block Chinese companies' access to semiconductor components and software developed and sold by US companies. Both Huawei and ZTE have been riding a roller coaster with President Trump's daily tweets on this issue. It has affected reliable access to communication chips, Android operating systems and Google apps store.

The net result of it is that the Chinese have lost faith in US companies' reliability. They are now seeking to to create their own supply chain free of companies from US and its close allies in Europe, East Asia and elsewhere.




China's Plans:

China is currently a net importer of technology. The country wants to move “up the value chain” from final product assembly using imported components to creating advanced technology in China itself, but imports of chips and technology will be the norm for many years to come, according to a report by James Lewis of Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) based in Washington DC.

As of now, only 16% of the semiconductors used in China are produced domestically, and only half of these are made by Chinese firms. It is dependent on foreign suppliers for advanced chips. China aims to produce 40% of the semiconductors it uses by 2020 and 70% by 2025, according to the CSIS report.



Opportunity For Pakistan:

China will need 500,000 engineers trained in chip development over the next 5 years to meet its goal of producing 70% of semiconductors within the country, according to Pakistani-American entrepreneur Dr. Naveed Sherwani who presented at the Invest in Pakistan Summit in Silicon Valley.

Naveed and his wife Sabahat Rafiq see this as an opportunity to train a significant number Pakistani engineers in semiconductor chip development to meet China's needs. This will help develop Pakistan's tech-oriented human capital and open up the possibility for Pakistan to build its own chip design and development industry.

Sabahat said she is already training some engineers at an institute in Lahore for this purpose.  She is hoping to expand it to accommodate more trainees in near future.

Naveed currently heads SiFive, a Silicon Valley startup specializing in RISC V microprocessor cores for customized systems on chip (SoC) development.  RISC V is an open source chip architecture developed at UC Berkeley. It is the hardware equivalent of open source Linux OS software.  Naveed is promoting SiFive in both China and Pakistan for "low-power embedded microcontrollers (as small as 13.5k gates) to multi-core applications processors".

Cloud Design:

Naveed talked about the availability of cloud-based advanced chip design tools that Pakistani chip designers can take advantage of. Among the top vendors offering such tools is  Amazon Web Services (AWS).

AWS says it "offers a secure, agile, and scalable platform with a comprehensive set of services and solutions for high performance design, verification, and smart manufacturing, supporting electronic design automation (EDA) and rapid semiconductor innovation in the cloud. Semiconductor companies, including fabless and integrated device manufacturers, and their IP and foundry partners can benefit from the massive scale of AWS infrastructure to design next gen connected products".

Here's how AWS describes its cloud-based chip design tools offering:

"Semiconductor design simulation, verification, lithography, metrology, yield analysis, and many other workloads benefit from the scalability and performance of the AWS Cloud. For example, compute performance for these applications is enhanced by latest generation EC2 instance types, including the z1d. Run more jobs per core with z1d, the fastest single thread performance of any cloud instance delivering 4GHz sustained CPU, 16 GiB RAM per core, and local NVMe storage. Our virtually unlimited cloud storage and high performance computing (HPC) capability enable you to innovate faster, rapidly design and verify new products, and scale seamlessly to meet increasing demand".

Summary:

US-China technology war has recently been triggered by US President Trump's actions against Chinese technology giants Huawei and ZTE.  In response to the US threat to restrict access to American core technology, China is aiming to develop and produce 40% of the semiconductors it uses by 2020 and 70% by 2025, according to the CSIS report. China needs about 500,000 engineers to achieve this goal. Can Pakistan, a reliable ally, train and provide some of these engineers? Pakistani-American entrepreneur Dr. Naveed Sherwani and his wife Sabahat Rafiq believe the answer is an emphatic Yes. This will help develop Pakistan's tech-oriented human capital and open up the possibility for Pakistan to build its own chip design and development industry.


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistanis in China

Marvel Pays $7.5 Billion For Cavium Co-Founded by Pakistani-American

OPEN Silicon Valley Forum 2017: Pakistani Entrepreneurs Conference

Pakistani-American's Tech Unicorn Files For IPO at $1.6 Billion Valuation

Pakistani-American Cofounders Sell Startup to Cisco for $610 million

Pakistani Brothers Spawned $20 Billion Security Software Industry

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

Pakistani-American Pioneered 3D Technology in Orthodontics

Pakistani-Americans Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Trump's Straight Talk Angers US Establishment

President Donald Trump has made a habit of telling truths that drive the United States establishment crazy. For example, he told Russian officials in a White House meeting in 2017 that he was not concerned about Russian interference in 2016 US elections because the United States did the same in other countries' elections, according to media reports. In a 2017 Super Bowl Sunday interview with Trump, Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly authoritatively declared Russian President Vladimir “Putin’s a killer.” Trump replied with the question: “What, you think our country’s so innocent?”

Trump did something similar in 2018 after his Singapore Summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim JongUn. When Fox News' Brett Baier raised the question in an interview about "Kim's oppression of his own people", Trump said: “Yeah, but so have a lot of other people have done some really bad things.” Trump's straight talk continues to inflame passions in the US establishment.

American Narrative:

Both O'Reilly and Baier were essentially repeating the standard American narrative that wants the world to believe that "we (Americans) are the good guys and those opposing America are the bad guys".

Trump, an unconventional American leader, displayed rare candor in his responses.  The American  media and "research scholars", managed by the "Deep State", sharply criticized Trump and continued to parrot the standard American narrative asserting that "we're the good guys" while vilifying Vladimir Putin, Kim JongUn and other leaders and countries designated as "enemies".

Young and Barbaric:

Trump appears ready to drop all pretenses of US being "the good guys" standing for "freedom, democracy and human rights".  He is not alone in his assertion that "our country (United States) is not so innocent".  George Friedman, the founder of  Stratfor which describes itself as "American geopolitical intelligence platform", is the ultimate "Deep State" insider in America.  Friedman acknowledges that "America, like Europe in sixteenth century, is still barbaric, a description, not a moral judgment. Its culture is unformed. Its will is powerful. Its emotions drive it in different and contradictory directions."

Friedman argues that "perhaps more than for any other country, the US grand strategy is about war, and the interaction between war and economic life. The United States is historically a warlike country. The nation has been directly or indirectly at war for most of of its existence...the war of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam War and Desert Storm. And the US has been constantly at war in Afghanistan and Iraq since the beginning of this century."

More recently, the United States' interventions in the Middle East have destabilized and devastated Libya and Syria and created a major humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands have died and millions rendered homeless and trying to flee hunger and violence.

Narrative Promotion:

So how does America create and promote its "good guys" narrative in the world and demonize others? How do American image builders gloss over its past characterized by the genocide of the indigenous people, the enslavement of Africans and a history of assassinations, invasions, atrocities, proxy wars, and coups in the developing world? How do their actions escape the "terrorism" label that is liberally applied to others, particularly Muslims?  What modern image-making and promotional tools and techniques has Uncle Sam borrowed from the world of brand creation, promotion and management?

The first thing in creating a narrative is the basic story supported by effective language and vocabulary. It is fleshed out by writers, poets, musicians and artists.  The basic American narrative  goes like this:  America stands for freedom, democracy and human rights. It is a force for all that is good in the world. Those who oppose America are the "bad guys".

The narrative is then widely disseminated, promoted and incessantly repeated by Washington think tanks, book authors, major newspaper reporters and editors,  mainstream journalists, television channels and popular entertainment platforms.

Talking points are developed and shared to defend against any criticisms. Inconvenient truths are obfuscated.  Those who accept the talking points are rewarded and those who persist in criticisms are isolated and punished. Rewards come in the form of funding and access. Punishments are handed out by orchestrating attacks by peers and by denying funds and access.

Controlling the Narrative:

The United States government funds think tanks, hires consultants and directly and indirectly influences mass media and popular entertainment platforms to control and promote its "good guys" narrative and to vilify those seen as competitors.

1. Think Tanks:  Woodrow Wilson Center, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, US Institute of Peace (USIP), Rand Corporation and a several others are partially or fully funded by the US government. These are supplemented by dozens of other think tanks funded by major US corporations which have a stake in promoting a positive global image of the United States. These organizations organize conferences, publish books and "research papers" and offer scholarships to promote the American "good guys" narrative globally.  They have both resident and non-resident "scholars", including some from developing countries like Pakistan. Some of the Pakistani "scholars" working for Washington think tanks also work for major media houses in Pakistan. These "scholars" are widely quoted by the media on issues relating to US-Pakistan relations.

2. News Media:  Veteran American journalist Carl Bernstein, famous for his reporting on Watergate along with Bob Woodward, investigated CIA's use of the American media and wrote a piece describing "How Americas Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up". Here's what he said:

"Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were William Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), Henry Luce of Time Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the Louisville Courier‑Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), the Associated Press (AP),  United Press International (UPI), Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps‑Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald‑Tribune".

3. Popular Entertainment:  It has been suggested that Hollywood has been working with the United States government for a long time.  Some have said that Hollywood is "the unofficial ministry of propaganda for the Pentagon".  Information obtained under FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) confirms that thousands of Hollywood films have received backing from the CIA and the US Department of Defense and other US agencies to promote America's "good guy" narrative. These include 24, Army Wives, Flight 93, Homeland,  Ice Road Truckers, NCIS,  Transformers, Iron Man, Terminator, etc.

Documents obtained recently under FOIA show that the relationship between the US national security establishment and American entertainment businesses is much deeper and more political than ever acknowledged.

4. Books and Literature:  Starting with the Cold War, the American CIA has infiltrated and influenced books and literature to promote the American official "good guys" narrative. "Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World's Best Writers" by Joel Whitney reveals how great writers such as Baldwin, Márquez, and Hemingway were recruited as soldiers in Cold War.

Editors of top literary magazines were used as a vehicle for this infiltration.  The first time the CIA's connections to the Paris Review and two dozen other magazines came to light was in 1966. The CIA used multiple guises to financially support young, promising writers as part of a cultural propaganda strategy with literary outposts around the world.

Summary:

The United States government has developed and aggressively controls and promotes America's standard narrative that claims "we are the good guys and those opposing us are the bad guys".  This narrative glosses over the history of native American genocide, enslavement of Africans and the CIA sponsored assassinations, coups and proxy wars in the developing world. In a couple of recent interviews, US President Donald Trump has acknowledged the problems with the American narrative. Nevertheless, the American narrative is promoted using a multi-pronged strategy that includes the use of think tanks, popular entertainment, books and literature and the mainstream media.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Gates Straight Talk on Pakistan

Hollywood: America's Unofficial Ministry of Propaganda

Free Speech: Myth or Reality?

Social Media Tribalism

Social Media: Blessing or Curse For Pakistan?

Planted Stories in Media

Indian BJP Troll Farm

Kulbhushan Jadhav Caught in Balochistan

The Story of Pakistan's M8 Motorway

Pakistan-China-Russia vs India-Japan-US

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel



Monday, September 30, 2019

"Howdy Modi" Rally in Houston; Trump Impeachment

How have different people reacted to "Howdy Modi" rally in Houston? Does it signify that "Indian-Americans have arrived'? Why did thousands protested against Prime Minister Modi? Was it a big election rally for President Trump who is seeking re-election in 2020? Why did Prime Minister Modi endorse President Trump? Does it expose Indian-American community to charges of hypocrisy in that they vote for Democratic Party to protect their own rights as a minority while also supporting Modi whose policies in India are seen as anti-minorities?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) with President Donald Trump at "Howdy Modi" Rally in Houston

Why are some Hindu-American democrats like Ro Khanna trying to distance themselves from Modi? Why did Silicon Valley's Indian-American Khanna urged his fellow Hindu-Americans to "reject Hindutva"? Why did he join Pakistan Caucus in US Congress?

Congressman Ro Khanna with Prime Minister Imran Khan

Why have Democrats in US Congress started impeachment inquiry against President Trump? What prompted this action? Is it his interaction with Ukraine's President Zelensky where he sought to have his potential presidential election opponent Joe Biden and his son Hunter investigated for corruption? Why has Speaker Nancy Pelosi been so reluctant to do so until now? What are the chances that the US Senate with its Republican majority convict Trump?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with Sabahat Ashraf (ifaqeer) and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/-VHNUwXxJWs





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

"Howdy Modi" Rally in Houston

Silicon Valley's Indian-American Congressman Rejects Hindutva

Sonal Shah to Help Divide the Obama Victory Spoils

Rape of 8-year-old Asifa Bano in Kashmir

Imran Khan in Washington

Modi's Extended Lockdown in Indian Occupied Kashmir

Hinduization of India

Brievik's Hindutva Rhetoric

Indian Textbooks

India's RAW's Successes in Pakistan

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channel

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Imran Khan's UNGA Speech on Hindutva, Islamophobia and Kashmir (Urdu)

How was Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's UN General Assembly speech received? Was he right to tell the audience that Prime Minister Narendra Modi belongs to RSS, the right-wing Hindu Supremacist organization whose member killed Mahatma Gandhi? Does the world know that RSS founders were inspired by Nazism and Fascism? And the RSS members admire Gandhi's murderer Nathuram Godse? Is it hypocritical of Modi to exploit Gandhi's name in his UNGA speech and elsewhere in the West? Do Hindutva followers want to have it both ways? Benefit from Gandhi's name in the West while destroying Gandhi's legacy in India?



Why did Imran Khan talk about the connection between US war on terror after 911 and the rise of Islamophobia? How have countries like India exploited the war on terror to defame genuine Kashmiri resistance movement as terrorism?

What will happen when Modi lifts restrictions on 8 million Kashmiris living under total lock-down since August 5, 2019? Is Modi riding the tiger and afraid of getting off of it? Is Imran Khan right to fear a massacre by nearly million-strong Indian forces? Will India call it "cross-border terrorism" and blame it on Pakistan? Will Modi again try to pull a Balakot? Could it start India-Pakistan war? Would it escalate into a nuclear conflict killing billions around the world?

ALKS host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Sabahat Ashraf (ifaqeer) and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/Kz8S8z-ax1o




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Rape as a Political Weapon Used By Hindutva

Hindu Nationalism Inspired By Nazism, Fascism

Rise of Islamophobia After Sept 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks

700,000 Indian Soldiers Versus 7 Million Kashmiris

Modi's Kashmir Blunder and India-Pakistan Nuclear Conflict

Is India a Paper Elephant? 

Howdy Modi Rally Exposes Indian-Americans to Charges of Hypocrisy

Modi's Extended Lockdown in Indian Occupied Kashmir

Hinduization of India

Brievik's Hindutva Rhetoric

Indian Textbooks

India's RAW's Successes in Pakistan

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channel

Thursday, September 26, 2019

"Howdy Modi" Rally Exposes Indian-Americans to Charge of Hypocrisy

Most Indian-Americans vote for the Democratic Party in American elections. Almost all Indian-Americans in elected offices are Democrats. Notable among them are Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Pramila Jayapal and Kamala Harris. Many Indian-Americans have been appointed to senior positions in executive and judiciary branches by Democratic administrations.  However, they instinctively agree with Republicans. They share Republicans' racism against African-Americans and Hispanics and support President Trump's religious bigotry against Muslims.

Most India-Americans ardently support Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose party is openly hostile to minorities, particularly Muslims, in India. And majority of Indian-Americans are totally unconcerned about the plight of minorities in India.  Modi's declaration “we’ve said goodbye to Article 370" in Indian Occupied Kashmir drew the loudest cheers at Howdy Modi rally which highlighted the hypocrisy of Indian-Americans. The attendees at the Houston rally gave President Donald Trump standing ovation when he said that the United States is "committed to protecting innocent Indian-Americans from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism". Modi effectively endorsed Trump for re-election in 2020 when he declared "Ap ki Bar Trump Sarkar". This essentially turned "Howdy Modi" event in Houston into a Trump election rally organized and paid for by Modi-loving Hindus.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) with President Donald Trump in Houston, Texas

Most Hindu-Americans fail to see the irony that Srinivas Kuchibhotla who was killed by a white nationalist in Kansas in February 2017 was a victim of the same kind of hatred in America that Mr. Modi espouses against minorities in India. Kuchibotla himself was an ardent fan of Mr. Modi’s sweeping Hindutva politics as his wife related after this murder, according to an article published in the Hindu by Indian journalist and writer Varghese K. George.  Here is an excerpt of Mr. George's article:

"The dualism of Indian-American politics has now become unsustainable as Democratic leaders find it increasingly impossible to side with Mr. Modi as he advances the Hindutva agenda. Many of these friends of India were mislead, and had misread Mr. Modi’s politics and they interpreted his success in 2014 as a turn in Indian politics towards more neo-liberal reforms and globalism. Such an image of Mr. Modi was also projected by Indian diplomacy in America. But one American thinker, who interpreted Mr. Modi’s victory as a nativist revolt against a global elite, was none other than Stephen Bannon, the most authentic interpreter of Mr. Trump’s nationalist politics. Mr. Bannon has also been particularly a critic of the H-1B visa and Indian-American immigration. That the Indian Ambassador to the U.S. retweeted a tweet that denounced Mr. Sanders and tweeted about his meeting with Mr. Bannon in glowing terms (he deleted the tweet later) in quick succession bears out the official Indian position on the emerging fault-lines in American politics and the role of Indian Americans in it."


Indian Ambassador Shringle (R) with White Nationalist Steve Bannon

In an opinion piece titled  "“Howdy, Modi” And The Politics Of The Indian American Community" published by ABP LIVE, UCLA Professor Viany Lal captured this reality in the following words:

"..there is absolutely no contradiction between the fact that Indians largely vote Democrat and their instinctive tendency to gravitate towards Republicans. But there is another question that emerges from the comical “Howdy, Modi” show: is this a moment that signifies the “arrival” of the Indian Americans on the national stage and in American consciousness? Many commentators would like to think so: the journalist Sonia Paul, for instance, has characterized the event as a “display of Indian Americans’ Political Power.” It may be that, but such analysis is toothless and uninstructive. Every minority of the size of the Indian American counts, and there are many such communities; but, viewed in relation to Hispanics and African Americans, Indian Americans are still far from being a highly influential voting bloc. Hispanics and especially African Americans are embedded in the history of the nation in vastly different ways; many Indian Americans, even those who have put down roots in the US over two generations, still think of themselves as constituting the vanguard of India and would like to be important players in India itself."

Professor Lal continues his piece to describe the Indian-American hypocrisy as follows:

"...some people may be puzzled about why so many Indians were gathered to hear Modi and Trump when Indians, by a very large majority, are supporters of the Democratic party and certainly vote Democrat in a presidential election...........the majority of Indian Americans have remained wholly indifferent to the plight of minorities in India itself. Though two million Muslims in Assam now risk being rendered stateless, and “lynchings” of Muslims and Dalits over the last few years have unfortunately made India newsworthy, Indian Americans have generally shown themselves remarkably oblivious to the sufferings of minorities while they lose no opportunity to lay claim to rights as members of a minority in the US. They would much rather gravitate towards the Republican party, which is more hospitable to business interests and free enterprise; but the party is also less accommodating to minority interests."

Not only do Indian-Americans strongly support Modi and his Hindutva policies, they demand that elected Indian-American Democrats do the same. This is best illustrated by their pressure on Silicon-Valley's Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna. Khanna joined US Congress's Pakistan Caucus and rejected Hindutva.  Khanna said in a tweet that "it is the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhist and Christians". A record 230 Hindu-American organizations wrote an angry letter to Khanna in response. They asked him to withdraw from Pakistan Caucus and to highlight "ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits".

Hindu organizations conveniently ignore the long history of atrocities committed by Indian military against Kashmiri Muslims. Nearly a million Indian troops are  currently keeping 8 million Kashmiris in a complete lockdown that is about to enter its 3rd month. They also make no mention of what happened to Muslims who constituted a majority in Jammu in 1947. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed or expelled from Jammu in 1947, according to Indian journalist Karan Thapar.  Here is an excerpt of Thapar's Hindustan Times column on this subject:

"Writing in The Spectator in January 1948, Horace Alexander says: “Hindus and Sikhs of the Jammu area … apparently with at least the tacit consent of state authorities, have driven many thousands of their Muslim neighbours from their homes”. Citing Mahatma Gandhi, he asserts “some two hundred thousand are … not accounted for”. Christopher Snedden, in Kashmir: The Unwritten History, estimates between 70,000 and 237,000 Muslims were killed. Arjun Appaduri and Arien Mack in India’s World believe 200,000 could have been killed and a further 500,000 displaced. Last year, the columnist Swaminathan Aiyar wrote: “In sheer scale this far exceeded the ethnic cleansing of Pandits five decades later”."

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Silicon Valley's Indian-American Congressman Rejects Hindutva

Sonal Shah to Help Divide the Obama Victory Spoils

Rape of 8-year-old Asifa Bano in Kashmir

Imran Khan in Washington

Modi's Extended Lockdown in Indian Occupied Kashmir

Hinduization of India

Brievik's Hindutva Rhetoric

Indian Textbooks

India's RAW's Successes in Pakistan

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channel

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Digitization in Pakistan: Dr. Nadeemul Haq Interviews Riaz Haq (Urdu)

Eminent Pakistani economist Dr. Nadeemul Haq (no relation to Riaz Haq) interviewed Riaz Haq last week for his podcast "Soch Bichar" to talk about the subject of "Digitization in Pakistan" in Urdu. Here is a summary of the interview:


Dr. Nadeemul Haq: How do you define "digitization"?

 Riaz Haq: To me, digitization on a national scale is pervasive use of digital technologies in all aspects of life: business, trade, industry, media, finance, government, education, sports, entertainment, military, etc etc.

NH: What is happening in Pakistan on digitization?

RH: Jahangir Tareen, a close aide to Prime Minister Imran Khan, has recently announced the hiring of a woman of Pakistani origin who is currently working for Google in Singapore. He said she will lead the digitization effort in Pakistan from the Prime Minister's office.

NH: Is digitization possible in Pakistan?

RH: Yes, it is possible. Digitization requires digital infrastructure and human capital. Pakistan is making progress on both of these. You could argue that it is not happening fast enough but both are happening.

A lot of fiber is being laid and Zong has recently completed 5G trials. There are about 70 million subscriptions to mobile broadband. Number of smartphones being sold is rising with 1 million to 2 million being sold each month.  About 30,000 to 40,000 young people with IT skillsets are graduating from various educational institutions.

NH: What can the government do to help increase digitization?

RH: The government's job is in the policy areas to facilitate it. For example, the government bureaucracy needs to ensure that the required licenses for 5G are issued in a timely manner to make it widely available. The government needs to provide various incentives to promote investment in digital fiber and data centers, etc etc. The government also needs to invest in development of human capital and skillsets needed for digitization.

NH: How can Pakistan promote digital entrepreneurship? Startups?

RH: Pakistan needs to help develop an ecosystem for startups:  Legal framework, Incubators, venture capital, etc etc.

NH: Pakistan already has several incubators. What do you think about them?

RH:  Pakistan can learn from Silicon Valley incubators like ycombinator.  Silicon Valley incubators are created and managed by successful entrepreneurs and startup investors. Pakistan does have a few successful entrepreneurs and investors like Monis Rehman (rozee.pk), Zia Chishti (afiniti.com), Musaddir Sheikha (Careem)  and Asad Jamal (ePlanet). Incubators headed by them would be more successful.

NH: What would  be your advice to youngsters wanting to do startups in Pakistan?

RH: Pakistan has the world's 4th largest number of tech freelancers. Some of these freelancers have the potential to start up companies if they can get some good coaching by successful entrepreneurs and have access to venture capital. These youngsters can also grow their freelance business and use the proceeds to bootstrap into successful tech companies.

NH: Please explain for our listeners what is bootstrapping?

RH: Bootstrapping is the use of your own internally generated capital to grow a company. The most successful example of bootstrapping is Microsoft. Bill Gates and Paul Allan had developed a rudimentary BASIC interpreter with their own resources when IBM approached them and asked to purchase their "operating system". Bill and Paul didn't have an "operating system". So they bought one from Gary Kildall of Santa Cruz and sold it to IBM for its PCs. The rest is history.

NH: Will digitization in Pakistan hurt employment? 

RH: Yes, that is a very valid concern. I remember when there was a Blockbuster video rental store at almost every corner in major American cities and towns. Netflix wiped them out and the franchisees and employees of the these stores lost their businesses and jobs. Similarly, Uber rid-hailing service has hurt established taxi companies and taxi drivers. However, companies like Careem, Lyft and Uber  have opened up the possibility for anyone with a car to become taxi drivers on part-time and full-time basis. It's spawned "Gig Economy".

Here's the link to the podcast:

https://nhaquepod.podbean.com/e/digitization-and-startups/

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Public Sector IT Projects in Pakistan

Pakistan's Gig Economy 4th Largest in the World

Afiniti and Careem: Tech Unicorns Made in Pakistan

Pakistani American Heads Silicon Valley's Top Incubator

Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans

Digital BRI and 5G in Pakistan

Pakistan's Demographic Dividend

Pakistan EdTech and FinTech Startups

State Bank Targets Fully Digital Economy in Pakistan

Campaign of Fear Against CPEC

Fintech Revolution in Pakistan

E-Commerce in Pakistan

The Other 99% of the Pakistan Story

FMCG Boom in Pakistan

Belt Road Forum 2019

Fiber Network Growth in Pakistan

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel


Sunday, September 22, 2019

Drone Swarms: Saudi Oil Fields Attack Shows Their Destructive Power

Dozens of cheap drones were deployed against Abqaiq and Khurais oil fields to cut Saudi Aramco's production by half, according to multiple media reports. Saudi and US officials have blamed Iran for the destructive hit. This is the first time that cheap drone swarms loaded with explosives have dodged sophisticated air defense systems to hit critical infrastructure targets in the history of warfare.  And it is not likely to be the last time as more nations and non-state terror groups are inspired by it to develop and contemplate using such tactics.  Some are close to home for Pakistanis. For example, in a clear warning to Pakistan, an Indian NDTV headline on July 12, 2019 blared: "Swarms Of Indian Drones Being Designed To Take Out Targets Like Balakot (Pakistan)".   Will Pakistan develop drone swarm capability, especially after India's expected deployment of Russia's S-400 air defense system?

Drones Swarm
Attack on Saudi Aramco:

Saudi sources have revealed through the media that 25 drones and missiles were used to hit two sites — the Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities which produced 5.7 million barrels of oil per day. Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of carrying out the attack. Iran has denied. Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for the attack.

The incoming low-flying small drones and missiles successfully evaded US-supplied sophisticated air defense system. Multi-billion dollar cutting edge American military hardware mainly designed to deter high altitude attacks has proved no match for low-cost drones and cruise missiles used in a strike that crippled its giant oil industry.

Drone Swarms in Syria:

Israeli claimed earlier this year that its fighter jets hit targets in Syria where Iran was preparing to attack Israel using explosive-laden “killer drones,” according to New York Times. “The drone itself is like a missile,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman.

Last year, Russian military reported that a swarm of low-tech armed drones attacked a Russian military base in Syria. The swarm was made up of 13 small drones packed with explosives.

Russia said it shot down seven drones using anti-aircraft missiles while the other six were taken under control and landed by its military. Three of the drones survived the landing.

The Russian government accused the Syrian rebels of launching the attack.

India's Drone Swarm Plans:

A team of engineers and software experts at India's state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd  (HAL) and NewSpace Research and Technologies, a Bengaluru based start-up looking at next-generation aviation technologies, is working furiously to fly the first Indian swarm drone prototypes in two years, according to NDTV. The Indian drone initiative is called SWARM or ALFA-S or Air-Launched Flexible Asset, says NDTV.

The NDTV story described India's SWARM as follows: "Each swarm could have dozens of individual drones. If detected, some of the drones would be shot down, but the sheer numbers of the swarm would overwhelm enemy defences such as surface-to-air missile units to ensure a high probability of mission success".

China Drones Swarm:

At the conclusion of the Global Fortune Forum in Guangzhou, China last year, the event's hosts set a world record for the largest drone swarm ever deployed. For 9 minutes, 1,180 drones danced and blinked out an aerial show. It was cool. It was also an interesting look into the potential future of aviation, according to a report in Popular Science.

Earlier in 2019, China's Global Times reported that country had built helicopter drones capable of intelligent swarm attacks. The drones in the swarm can be a combination of different types, including those that can drop proximity explosive mortar shells, while others can carry grenade launchers, or make suicide attacks, Liu Liyuan, a spokesperson of the company, told the Global Times.

American and British Drone Swarms:

Earlier this year, British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson told attendees at an event hosted by a London think tank that UK will fund the development of “swarm squadrons of network-enabled drones capable of confusing and overwhelming enemy air defenses,” to complement the British fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

Los Angeles Times recently reported that the U.S. military has been exploring different iterations and uses of the drone swarm concept for more than a decade, using research programs bearing names such as Cicada, Gremlins and Valkyrie.

Pakistani Drone Swarms:

So far there has been very little reported about Pakistan working on drone swarms technology. However, the need for Pakistan to have such technology has become much more pressing after India's decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense system. The S-400 is reportedly very effective against even the most modern fighter jets like the F-35.

Pakistan does have low-flying terrain-hugging cruise missile Babar but it is far more expensive and problematic to use in conventional war. Drone swarms offer a cheaper, better and less problematic alternative to cruise missiles.

Summary:

Recent attack on Saudi oil facilities has ensured that swarming attack drones will soon be real weapons for militaries around the world. Reports suggest that some rebels in Syria have also used drone swarms to attack Russian military bases. Among the nations reportedly pursuing this technology are China, US, UK and India. It is also very likely that Pakistan will also pursue development and deployment of drones swarms with the expected deployment of Russian made S-400 missile defense system by India.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistan-China Defense Industry Collaboration Irks West

Pakistan's Cyber Attack and Defense Capability

Is India a Paper Elephant?

Pakistan's Aircraft Exports

Pakistan Navy Modernization

IDEAS 2014 Arms Show

Pakistan Defense Industry

Silicon Valley Book Launch of "Eating Grass"

Pakistan's Human Capital

Pakistan Economy Nears Trillion Dollars

Pakistan's Sea-Based Second Strike Capability

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channel

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Silicon Valley's Indian-American Operator of Home Health Care Biz Charged in Medicare Fraud Case

Federal prosecutors in Silicon Valley have filed fraud charges against 30 defendants in a patients-for-cash kickback scheme. Indian-American CEO Ridhima "Amanda" Singh of Amity Home Health and Indian-American Bhupinder Bhandari are among the key defendants charged in the case. Pakistani-American Dr. Mariam Hasan, a graduate of Karachi's Dow Medical College, has also been charged. In addition to South Asians, the accused come from many different national origins, according to media reports.

Ridhima Singh, daughter of Dr. Rajiv Ahuja of Fremont, funneled $8 million in bribes — in Warriors tickets, Louis Vuitton bags, and “literal envelopes of cash” — to doctors, nurses, social workers and marketers in the South and East Bay who sent patients to the company, said David Anderson, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California. Those new patients brought $115 million in Medicare funds for Amity and a related corporation, Advent Care.

Here's the full list of individuals and companies changed in the scheme:

Defendant    Role    Age/Residence    Case Number

AMITY HEALTH CARE Home Health Care Provider 19-71440 ADVENT CARE, INC. Hospice Care Provider 19-71459

SINGH, AMANDA CEO of Amity 33, Livermore 19-71430

ADDISON, BRENDA Amity employee 49, Oakland 19-71431

BHANDARI, BHUPINDER Doctor 59, Pleasanton 19-71441

DEGUZMAN, MERVINA Nurse/Case Manager 41, San Jose 19-71447

HICKS, KIMBERLY Doctor 59, Oakland 19-71451

KABANSKAYA, YELENA Doctor 39, San Jose 19-71452

MYINT, GERALD Doctor 68, Union City 19-71448

NGUYEN, TAM Doctor 44, San Jose 19-71453

POSADA, JUAN Doctor 58, Cupertino 19-71449

SCZENDZINA, EWELINA Marketer 42, Gilroy 19-71434

TAYLOR, SCOTT Doctor 61, Oakland 19-71455

WATSON, HENRY Doctor 63, Oakland 19-71423

ZHANG, ZHENG Doctor 62, Saratoga 19-71457

SANTOS, GLENNDA Marketer 47, Castro Valley 19-71433

MANCUSO, APRIL Doctor 38, Los Gatos 19-71445

REYNOLDS, KERISIMASI Doctor 37, Los Gatos 19-71446

CARIAGA, CATHERINE Nurse/Case Manager 31, Fremont 19-71458 

TIRONA, TERENCE Nurse/Case Manager 33, Hayward 19-71454

DEL ROSARIO, SAL Case Manager 44, San Jose 19-71456

GAY, ANDRE NICOLAS Doctor 39, Union City 19-71460

HASAN, MARIAM Doctor 37, Milpitas 19-71450

ROY, BELINDA Nurse/Case Manager 59, Fremont 19-71443

SUNO, NICOLE Marketer 38, San Leandro 19-71421

TEODORO, STELLA Nurse/Case Manager 37, Union City 19-71444

TACORDA, HILDA Marketer 40, Hayward 19-71432 PINA,

REBECCA Marketer 38, Redwood City 19-71442

SINGH, VINEETA Social Worker 42, Hayward 19-71422

PRESCOTT, CAROLINE Marketing Director 53, San Ramon 19-71420

Ridhima Singh pushed associates to get her more patient referrals. “It’s been so many years and i know you are aware of what the expectations are,” she texted one associate in November 2018, according to the prosecutors. “I’m not here to fight I’m pretty clear cut and u know that. I’m drama free but things can get to my nerve when I don’t see the mutual understanding.”

The suspects face a maximum of 10 years in prison and $500,000 if they are found guilty.

Judge Joseph C Spero released the defendants on bail. He urged them not to violate the terms of their bonds. He also said that the case may not reach a conclusion for years. He told Ridhima Singh: “A complicated case like this could take years and you don’t want to be sitting in a jail cell.”

Back in 2014, Pakistani-American cardiologist Dr. Asad Qamar, the second highest Medicare biller in America at the time, was investigated by US Department of Health and Human Services for unnecessary surgeries and over-billing. He settled with the Department by agreeing to pay $2 million and release any claim to $5.3 million in suspended Medicare funds.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistan 3rd Largest Source of Foreign Doctors in America

Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans

History of South Asians in America

Pakistani-American Cardiologist Investigated by US Dept of Health

Silicon Valley Indian-American Congressman Joins Pakistan Caucus

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channel