Friday, January 22, 2010

India Tops in Illiteracy and Defense Spending

I have just published on my blog, Haq's Musings, a guest post by Colonel Pavan Nair, a retired Indian Army officer, a detailed analysis of the Indian defense spending in the context of the nation's growing needs for social spending on food, education and health care. Col Nair prefaces his analysis by lamenting that "defense economics has not been a subject for serious study or debate in Indian academic or military circles. Little or no literature is available with the exception of a few books in the area of defense accounts. Economists and activists have long argued that defense related expenditure needs to be curtailed. Opinion is clearly divided between the developmental lobby and strategic thinkers who wield influence with the political leadership."

Nair then goes on to accept the challenge of defense economics in India by laying out his case with lots of data and sources, and concludes with the following:

Besides external defense, internal security and human-development form a vital part of the overall security and well-being of the nation. Is the rupee being spent wisely? The answer is in the negative both in terms of quantum and efficacy. DE has risen to unsustainable levels in the last decade primarily on account of dependence on imports and nuclearization. There is a trade-off between defense and developmental spending specifically in the area of health which becomes visible in poor human-development parameters like infant mortality rates and child malnutrition. Bangladesh is well ahead of India in these parameters. Internal security has been neglected for too long. There is a need to balance overall expenditure to meet the challenge of the emerging economic and strategic scenario. Force levels need to be reviewed. Like obsolete equipment, obsolete organizations should be dispensed with. The army has become equipment and staff oriented. It also remains manpower-intensive with too few junior officers and a large tail. The Thirteenth Finance Commission could look into aspects of internal and external security to come to a reasonable limit for both. It would also be expedient if the Commission specifies what constitutes defense spending and whether Defense Services Civil Estimates should form part of defense expenditure. DE must be capped at current levels.

I agree with Col Nair's conclusion, and would like to see similar detailed analysis of Pakistan's defense expenditures. Though the problems of poverty and hunger in Pakistan are a bit less serious than in India, Pakistan suffers from high illiteracy and low levels of human development that pose a serious threat to its future.

India has the dubious distinction of being among the top ten on two very different lists: It ranks at the top of the nations of the world with its 270 million illiterate adults, the largest in the world, as detailed by a just released UNESCO report on education; India also shows up at number four in military spending in terms of purchasing power parity, behind United States, China and Russia.

Not only is India the lowest among BRIC nations in terms of human development, India is also the only country among the top ten military spenders which, at 134 on a list of 182 nations, ranks near the bottom of the UNDP's human development rankings. Pakistan, at 141, ranks even lower than India.

India also fares badly on the 2009 World Hunger Index, ranking at 65 along with several sub-Saharan nations. Pakistan ranks at 58 on the same index.

Access to healhcare in South Asia, particularly due to the wide gender gap, presents a huge challenge, and it requires greater focus to ensure improvement in human resources. Though the life expectancy has increased to 66.2 years in Pakistan and 63.4 years in India, it is still low relative to the rest of the world. The infant mortality rate remains stubbornly high, particular in Pakistan, though it has come down down from 76 per 1000 live births in 2003 to 65 in 2009. With 320 mothers dying per 100,000 live births in Pakistan and 450 in India, the maternal mortality rate in South Asia is very high, according to UNICEF.

The reality of grinding poverty in resurgent India was recently summed up well by a BBC commentator Soutik Biswas as follows:

A sobering thought to keep in mind though. Impressive growth figures are unlikely to stun the poor into mindless optimism about their future. India has long been used to illustrate how extensive poverty coexists with growth. It has a shabby record in pulling people out of poverty - in the last two decades the number of absolutely poor in India has declined by 17 percentage points compared to China, which brought down its absolutely poor by some 45 percentage points. The number of Indian billionaires rose from nine in 2004 to 40 in 2007, says Forbes magazine. That's higher than Japan which had 24, while France and Italy had 14 billionaires each. When one of the world's highest number of billionaires coexist with what one economist calls the world's "largest number of homeless, ill-fed illiterates", something is gravely wrong. This is what rankles many in this happy season of positive thinking.

It is time for major South Asian nations to deal with the urgent need for careful balancing of their genuine defense requirements against the need to spend to solve the very serious problems of food, education, health care and human resource development for securing the future of their peoples.

Related Links:

UNESCO Education For All Report 2010

India's Arms Build-up: Guns Versus Bread

South Asia Slipping in Human Development

World Hunger Index 2009

Challenges of 2010-2020 in South Asia

India and Pakistan Contrasted 2010

Food, Clothing and Shelter in India and Pakistan

Introduction to Defense Economics


Pak_Zindabad said...

Don't Underestimate India's Consumers
Western multinationals are often attracted to China's size, but they're bypassing Asia's true shopping powerhouse

An Indophile at it again..I wud be awesome if Haq saab append a proper rejoinder to bring out the truth.

Riaz Haq said...


I think you posted it in the wrong place.

Anyway, the reality of grinding poverty in resurgent India was recently summed up well by a BBC commentator Soutik Biswas as follows:

A sobering thought to keep in mind though. Impressive growth figures are unlikely to stun the poor into mindless optimism about their future. India has long been used to illustrate how extensive poverty coexists with growth. It has a shabby record in pulling people out of poverty - in the last two decades the number of absolutely poor in India has declined by 17 percentage points compared to China, which brought down its absolutely poor by some 45 percentage points. The number of Indian billionaires rose from nine in 2004 to 40 in 2007, says Forbes magazine. That's higher than Japan which had 24, while France and Italy had 14 billionaires each. When one of the world's highest number of billionaires coexist with what one economist calls the world's "largest number of homeless, ill-fed illiterates", something is gravely wrong. This is what rankles many in this happy season of positive thinking.

Anonymous said...

but despite this so called grinding poverty in india, western multinationals are opening up shops in India as opposed to rich Bangladesh and Pakistan. I wonder why. I think they should appoint Pak Zindabad and Riaz as their consultant.

Anonymous said...

"Because there are a lot more code coolies and clerks in India than in Pakistan or Bangladesh. It's nothing more than wage arbitrage."

What is wrong in being coolie (I myself is one) if it ultimately pays good money. It seems to have done wonders in India by increasing the consumerism. I am sure Pakistanis would love to become code janitors too if they get money. Aren't you seeing the jealousy in Pak cricketers now that they lost a great chance to make 1/2 million USD for playing two months of cricket in India.

As things stand the economy of Pak and Bdesh is so poor that cricketers can not even earn 1/10 of what Indian cricketers earn.

Riaz, you can do better than this.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "western multinationals are opening up shops in India as opposed to rich Bangladesh and Pakistan. I wonder why."

What attracts western companies to India now are its many code coolies and clerks. It's nothing more than wage arbitrage.

It's the modern equivalent of the British East India company, looking for cheap labor and markets...rather than just raw materials that drove industrial revolution and colonization of the East by the West. As to the raw materials, the Chinese are buying up most of the commodities from Australia, Canada, Africa, etc etc.

Anonymous said...

"t's the modern equivalent of the British East India company, looking for cheap labor and markets..."

as a former UK resident I can tell that to some extent the reverse is happening now with India taking away the service sector jobs of UK. So much so that some of the vcs in UK insist that the work is outsourced to india to save cost.

what is sad is that Pak is left in the dust. they are no where in this outsourcing scene. forget about leaders india, even Philippines is far ahead of us.

Riaz Haq said...

dcrucher4: "what is sad is that Pak is left in the dust. they are no where in this outsourcing scene. forget about leaders india, even Philippines is far ahead of us."

According to oDesk, Pakistan experienced 328% growth in its outsourcing business in 2007-8, second only to the Philippines (789%) on a list of seven top locations that include US (260%), Canada (121%), India (113%), the Ukraine (77%) and Russia (43%).

Pakistan ranks number one in value for money for developers and data entry and number two overall behind the Philippines where the cost of answering calls is about half of the cost in Pakistan. Pakistan is well ahead of India and just behind the number 1 ranked United States in customer satisfaction.

In spite of the state of war Pakistan is in and a population 1/7th that of India, Pakistan has been attracting outsourcing business as well. Here's a Businessweek report on outsourcing in Pakistan:

Pakistan has become the 20th most attractive outsourcing destination, according to consulting management firm A.T. Kearney. Even as concerns increase about Pakistan’s stability and the growing displaced population due to ongoing military operations with the Taliban, the country made a significant jump on A.T. Kearney’s 2009 Global Services Location Index released May 18. Pakistan went from #30 in 2007 to #20 in 2009.

In fact, the report says that as a region, the Middle East and North Africa are becoming more attractive in the ever-shifting geography of popular outsourcing places. Both enjoy large, well-educated populations and proximity to Europe. The index ranks the top 50 countries worldwide for locating outsourcing activities including IT services and support, contact centers and back-office support. Both Jordan and Egypt have entered the top 10 locales.

Countries are measured on 43 different attributes related to financial attractiveness, people and skills availability and business environment. Yet, cost is a huge motivator for many companies and is one reason that places like Pakistan score so highly. When the same index was released in 2007, about 40% of its weighting was given to the financial attractiveness of a country.

This is a global index, so it takes a look at where companies worldwide are outsourcing their work. There are plenty of companies in the Middle East, for instance, that outsource work to Pakistan. I would venture to guess the percentage of U.S. companies outsourcing work to Pakistan is much smaller. Yet, I find it intriguing that even as concern rises about the stability of Pakistan that it can become a more attractive destination to do outsourcing.

CBS News reported on May 19, the day after this index was released, that Pakistan faces a growing humanitarian crisis with up to 2 million people displaced by fighting between the military and Taliban militants in the northern Swat valley. Similarly, Mexico has seen growing violence due to the drug wars since the last Global Services Location Index was released in 2007. Yet, it only dropped one slot in the index to #11 from #10 two years ago.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...


"What attracts western companies to India now are its many code coolies and clerks. It's nothing more than wage arbitrage."

Wrong, these kind of arguments discredit you. I agree generally when you write that mainstream Western columnists have some(or significant) bias about India Vis a Vis Pakistan(or even wider Islamic world). Your argument about code coolies is ridiculous for many reasons. A country as developed as Germany has millions of "workshop coolies" employed by Daimler, Siemens etc. Add to this, those coolies working in hair saloons and consumer service industries. Why are those coolies or those coolies who work in Pakistan pulling Rikshaws or driving tractors superior to Indian code coolies?
Another thing is you may not want to know how much innovation happens in India nowadays. There is a good chance that your cell phone and Gamebox have been designed by the coolies in Hyderabad or Blore.
If there is a consumer boom in India, it is because these "code coolies" lifestyle has improved dramatically. This in turn has improved the lives of coolies of these code coolies and there is widespread demand for western and chinese products from all of them.

Riaz Haq said...

Zen:"A country as developed as Germany has millions of "workshop coolies" employed by Daimler, Siemens etc. Add to this, those coolies working in hair saloons and consumer service industries."

With all due respect to you, it's the big wage differential that attracts western companies, including Germans, to India. This is commonly referred to as "cost arbitrage" or "wage arbitrage" by investors and economists.

The "coolie" is not necessarily a derogatory term. It simply implies the low cost of human labor in code writing done by Indians, or people in any other developing nation, including Pakistan.

Software development, in spite of all the tools and technologies, remains a a highly manual and labor intensive activity. It is a fact that, as far as coolie population goes, India is well ahead of all of the third nations, with the possible exception of China.

I do agree that increased consumption by code coolies is a significant boost to the Indian economy. But the rest of the Indian coolie population remains among the most deprived in the world, because of India's very low levels of human development. India has more poor, hungry and illiterate people than any other nation.

Anonymous said...

India has allocated 2x in % of GDP to education than China. and almost 1x in defence.

Time to quit musing now I guess.

For details of Education in India:

66.0% of adults and 82.1% of youth are literate

Seems like results are coming in for future.

Moreover since we are dwelling over Pakistan:
54.2% of adults and 69.2% of youth are literate
Spends on Education is 2.8% of GDP.

For China:
93.3% of adults and 99.3% of youth are literate
% of GDP data has not been updated here. It was 1.9% in 1999.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "India has allocated 2x in % of GDP to education than China. and almost 1x in defence."

Because of lack of transparency and oversight as well as generally poor governance in India, it's hard to tell how much of the budget is actually spent on education. The story is the same in Pakistan, as well. I think China appears to be much better governed, as obvious from the results of higher literacy and better human development levels.

Here's a news story about India's education spending from last year:

Against the target to achieve six per cent GDP spending on education, at present the entire expenditure made in the sector both by the state governments and the Centre is pegged at 3.6 per cent of the GDP.

"The spending by states constitute nearly 75 per cent of the total spending on education. If they increase their spending by two to three times, the target of six per cent GDP expenditure on education can be achieved," Higher Education Secretary R P Agrawal said at an education fair organised by Assocham here today.

He said countries like Denmark and Cuba spend eight to ten per cent of their GDP on education. He said there was a lot of scope for involvement of private parties in the education sector.

Anonymous said...


here is a businessweek article about India. You seem to have a high regard for BW since you have quoted it in this post.

300 million middleclass !!!

No wonder MNCs are making a beeline for India as compared to Pak or Bangladesh or IPL is in a position to offer most fabulous
sum to cricketers ever dreamed. Cricket stars never make as much money as other sports, but in IPL they are getting a fab sum. So much so English cricketers like Andrew Flintoff or Shane Bond of NZ have quit other forms in order to make money.

Anonymous said...

Riaz, here is IPL fiasco in nyt.
The message from franchise owners to Pak players: We don't like Pakistanis. sad.

I think we have to agree that mumbai attacks fundamentally changed the equation.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, Pakistani leadership's awareness of the folly of developing "strategic depth" (via creation of religiously imbued warriors at home and support of Islamic fundamentalist regime in Afghanistan) to fight proxy wars with India is completely different from their potential realization of the need for normalization of relations with India. This is because of the powerful hold of the Military Establishment on state affairs and resources, and the deep symbiotic relationship between armed forces and Islamic parties. The Military Establishment enjoys literally unprecedented economic, financial, and bureaucratic privileges in Pakistan, all of which would be threatened by normalization with India. Similarly, the religious parties would openly turn against the state (as opposed to staying mute on action against "extremist groups" such as Taliban) if normalization were to occur and preceded by necessary steps such as revision of history text books and Pakistani state ideology. In an "ideal" situation, local Taliban should stop challenging writ of the state (by abstaining from imposition of Sharia laws, attacks on government institutions and govt forces, suicide bombs blasts, etc) and focus instead on attacking Indian "enemy" in Kashmir. In other words, the Military Establishment would love a return to the pre-9/11 status quo. The "problem", of course, is American occupation of Afghanistan.... which decimated the Pak-sponsored Afghan Taliban, rattled their Pashtun cousins across the border, and forced Pak Army to take action - at the behest of America in its "war on terror" - against the very groups that it had created.

cont ..

Anonymous said...

That being said, Pak intelligentsia understands that: (a) India has "beaten" Pak at its game with its economic liberalization and is an emerging economic superpower, with attendant rise in military and diplomatic power; (b) normalization with India is necessary to reduce military expenditures in order to shore up domestic economy and improve infrastructure; and (c) Pakistan cannot imitate India's economic liberalization without creating social, educational, political, and economic conditions that are conducive to foreign investment. In summary, there is a clash between the vested interests of the armed forces and their cohorts in their religious parties with the analysis and priorities of the country's intelligentsia. I doubt we will get any clarity as to how this tussle will play out for as long as American foreign aid keeps the economy (barely) afloat.
Regarding the masses, they almost don't account. This is because Pakistan does NOT function as a representative democracy, if and when it holds popular elections. This is because - unlike India - land reforms were never implemented after Partition. So, in rural areas (where the bulk of the population lives) power has remained vested in the hands of local landlords who do not challenge the status quo to preserve their power. Of course, for most of Pakistan's history, the country has been ruled by a military junta. During such periods, public opinion decidedly didn't matter. Having said that, public awareness of important national issues - perhaps in light of increasing hardship - has been increasing steadily. Moreover, the public has demonstrated an ability to mount effective, spontaneous, grass roots agitation to bring about change. Restoration of Supreme Court Justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, is a case in point.

Pradeep (India) said...

Dear Mr. Haq,
I have read your blog posts a couple of times and let me first congratulate you on a finely written blog.

I would like to bring to your notice that though India probably houses the largest number of illiterates, the situation is not as bad as it seems. Unfortunately the numbers that you see are due to 'high-base' effect as opposed to 'low-base' effect. I am sure that a man as well-read as yourself understands that.

PS: That is not to say that we are comfortable with status quo. Indians have realized a long time back that education is the sure-fire way to greater human development. We really are attempting to get there. We however have a lot of hurdles to cross.

PPS: What would also be interesting to see is how many of the post-liberalization kids (post-1991) suffer from illiteracy.

Anonymous said...

Pradeep, the literacy rate among indians <= 25 yrs is around 85%, a huge improvement over over-all literacy rate. Most of the illiterates are of the older generation.

Vishal said...

Riaz, if there were a few more Pakistanis like you, India would be a much better place to live in :) Just kidding !! I appreciate your concerns for India and its citizens.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...

What is most important is trend - if trend in India is improving, after 2-3 decades, India will have much better data to show as post lib. kids will make sure that their children will be literate as well, even if it means less disposable income for the family(because these kids can't work). In case of Pakistan, I dont think that trend is improving and well, is there any viable alternative to current Madrasa system which many or most Pakistanis are dependent on?
Otherwise, the chart Riaz had shown is pretty scary for India. Even more interesting given that many Indians are keen to project "Islamic world" as most illiterate, backwad and overcrowded when the performance of dictatorships of Egypt, Indonesia etc. are remarkably better, leaving "free" India to let one third of its adult population without literacy.

Riaz Haq said...

Zen: "In case of Pakistan, I dont think that trend is improving and well, is there any viable alternative to current Madrasa system which many or most Pakistanis are dependent on?"

The situation is improving in both India and Pakistan, but the rate is much slower than the rest of Asia. The other major issue is the continuing and wide gender gap in education, except at the college level, reflecting the reality of class and urban-rural differences. Here is some relevant data:

The total enrollment of all madrasas is about 1.5 million students out of over 33 million students attending all of the public and private educational institutions in Pakistan, according to 2005 national education census. Girls account for 53% of all college students in Pakistan, reports the the same Census.

Youth (15–24 years) literacy rate, 2000 to 2007, male Pakistan: 80% India 87% Source: UNICEF

Youth (15–24 years) literacy rate, 2000 to 2007, female Pakistan 60% India 77% Source: UNICEF

Riaz Haq said...

vishal: "I appreciate your concerns for India and its citizens."

My concern is not entirely altruistic. What happens in India affects Pakistan, particularly in defense spending. If the threat perception can be reduced in South Asia, Pakistan can deal more effectively with the terrorists it faces, and it can lead to a sort of "peace dividend" to meet other more urgent needs for human development.

Anonymous said...

"My concern is not entirely altruistic. What happens in India affects Pakistan, particularly in defense spending. "

This is not a true statement. As long as military as a vice like grip on Pakistan, anything India does will have a effect in Pakistan.

India is not interested in Pakistan any more. Why would it add a big problem to its already long list of problems. Our main focus is the growth in economy which should lift millions out of poverty. The pace may not be as fast as it should be, but still is better than doing nothing.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a novel use of cell phones in Pakistan to improve literacy:

A literacy programme delivered through the mobile phone to disadvantaged female learners in Punjab showed improved literacy skills.

The five-month programme, initiated by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), targeted 250 females aged 15 to 24 years old in three districts.

Pakistan, with half its population illiterate, is the fourth largest contributor to the world illiterate population. The literacy rate for males is 63 per cent, compared to only 36 per cent for females, making the country with one of the widest gap in this region.

One of the main challenges in promoting literacy in the country is the lack of interest, Ichiro Miyazawa of UNESCO Islamabad, told FutureGov. “Many youths, after attending the basic literacy course, often relapse into illiteracy because the available reading materials are either too difficult or not interesting enough.”

In this pilot project which ended last month, these learners who have just completed the basic literacy course, were given a mobile phone each. They receive three text messages a day in the local language. They are required to practise reading and writing the messages in their work book and reply to their teachers by text.

Monthly assessments held at the learning centres showed improvement in literacy skills. While results varied in the three districts – Lahore, Sialkot and Hafizabad – learners who scored C reduced from an average of 52 per cent to 12 per cent.

UNESCO invested US$57 per learner to run this trial programme. Miyazawa expected that cost could be lowered to US$33 if the mobile phones were reused by at least three learners.

“We want the programme to be sustainable. If the learner wishes to continue after completing the programme, he or she can pay US$6 to keep the phone and continue receiving the messages,” he added.

While it will take some time to create awareness and gain acceptance, Miyazawa is confident that the benefits will quickly win the population. “56 per cent of learners and their family members were initially negative about the programme. The parents, in particularly, disapproved of their children carrying mobile phones and doubted that the phones would be used for learning. However, 87 per cent of them were satisfied with the effectiveness of the programme at the end.”

Zen, Munich, Germany said...


Literacy itself is not everything. During my trip to Jaisalmer(in Rajasthan), I came across the owner cum manager of our (3+ *) hotel who could not even read basic Hindi or English(the bragging of my driver about Rajasthan's educational achievements sounded all too funny). On the other hand, this illiterate manager was a very smart guy who could run a business and talk English fairly OK.

On the contrary you would see many literates in Kerala who are not skilled to do any job. But they can atleast read newspapers and see what is going around the world.

"What happens in India affects Pakistan, particularly in defense spending. "

As DataCruncher wrote, military is a big force in P'stan even more than the way civil servants are in India. It is not that military shrinks or expands based on defense need, its the other way around - military creates defense needs.

Riaz Haq said...

One out of every three illiterate adults in the world is an Indian, according to UNESCO.

One out very two hungry persons in the world is an Indian, according to World Food Program.

Almost one out two Indians live below the poverty line of $1.25 per day.

And yet, India spends $30 billion on defense, and just increased the defense budget by 32% this year.

Here are some more recent comparative indicators in South Asia:


Population living under $1.25 a day - India: 41.6% Pakistan: 22.6% Source: UNDP

Underweight Children Under Five (in percent) Pakistan 38% India 46% Source: UNICEF

Life expectancy at birth (years), 2007 India: 63.4 Pakistan: 66.2 Source: HDR2009


Youth (15–24 years) literacy rate, 2000 to 2007, male Pak istan: 80% India 87% Source: UNICEF

Youth (15–24 years) literacy rate, 2000 to 2007, female Pak istan 60% India 77% Source: UNICEF


GDP per capita (US$), 2008 Pak:$1000-1022 India $1017-1100

Child Protection:

Child marriage under 15-years ; 1998–2007*, total Pak istan - 32% India - 47% Source: UNICEF

Under-5 mortality rate per 1000 live births (2007), Value Pakistan - 90 India 72 Source: UNICEF

Zen, Munich, Germany said...


You could mention that HDI of Pakistan at 141 is even worse than already appalling 134 of India. Also, the reports do NOT single out India the way you does. Normally, India and Pak are clubbed together as low standard countries with high population.
Meanwhile, another gem from the report. This is what I am personally amused about, when it comes to pompous anti-Muslim rantings of many Hindus in Western newspaper/magazine blogs such as BBC, Economist, WSJ etc. Islamic world in general and Arab world in particular have a severe "freedom deficit" as put by UN. But why the world is not too keen to give any attention to systematic disadvantage that exist in India against low castes, given that India has almost one sixth of humanity? My only guess is that Western world, from colonial times, sees Muslims as its idoelogical enemies which leads to a lot of anxiety. So in reality, may be a Muslim woman in Uttar Pradesh(which is mentioned in the report) who wears a Burqa has much more dignity than a low caste women who exposes her navels, but for western tourists and documentary makers, the former is oppressed whereas latter is liberated and is a cultural icon. How cute! :

From page 26 of Unesco report:

Caste systems in South Asia disadvantage many
children (Box 4). One striking example comes from
India, where researchers found that children from
low-caste families performed at far lower learning
achievement levels when their caste was publicly
announced than when it was not revealed. The findings
demonstrate the impact of stigma on self-confidence
and learning levels, and on the treatment of these
children in the school environment.

‘The higher-caste students tell us that we smell bad’, one girl said.
Another added, ‘The ridicule we face prevents us from coming to school
and sitting with higher-caste children’. These girls from the hamlet
of Khalispur, near the city of Varanasi, belong to the Musahar or
‘rat catcher’ community of eastern Uttar Pradesh, India.
Khalispur has a government primary school. Despite an entitlement to
receive a stipend, midday meals and uniforms, few Musahar girls attend.
For these girls, school is a place where they experience social exclusion.
Various forms of discrimination reinforce caste hierarchies in the classroom.
‘We are forced to sit on the floor’, one girl said. ‘The desks and benches in
the classroom are meant for the children from the higher castes’. According
to Musahar elders, government policies have improved but social attitudes
have not: ‘They do admit our children to school and we now have legal
rights, but the behaviour of children from other castes and the teachers
is a problem. Our children do not dare attend the school.’
The experience of the Musahar is a microcosm of a much wider problem.
Most governments have outlawed formal discrimination, but altering
social attitudes has received less political attention, limiting the benefits
of wider social reforms.

Riaz Haq said...

Zen: "You could mention that HDI of Pakistan at 141 is even worse than already appalling 134 of India"

And I did do that, if you read it carefully.

As to caste discrimination in India, I did a post on it a while back. It is titled "Dalit Victims of Apartheid in India".

Anonymous said...

caste system is still a big problem in BIMARU states of India. In other states, specially the southern states, it has been tackled to a large extent, specially in education. States like Tamilnadu have a high % of engineers and doctors coming out of reserved quota for low caste and they are successful in their career too.

But let us acknowledge some home truths. Dalits, despite knowing the ills of casteism do not want to become muslims. During the glorious islamic rule in India the % of dalits never changed. Even Ambedkar became Buddhist. He in fact was very critical of islam.

Anonymous said...

Riaz not sure what drives you to be as critical as you are of India. All your "compliments" are back-handed - if that.

Bihar (population 80M) is now the 2nd fastest growing state in India (11.1% average from 2004-2009). BIMARU is dead. And it wasn't done on the back of "code-coolies".

Mayawati, Queen of UP (population 180M) is low-caste. There goes the glass ceiling for caste + woman no?

Rajasthan - recently card-holding member of BIMARU, and among the most conservative states - has Vasundhara Raje as CM.

And India is chugging along at 8+%.

And this Hindu Taliban thing you keep trotting out - either you have no idea of the power they truly wield, or you're spinning way beyond what the facts support. Basing your assertions on Mushrif's book makes them flimsy at best.

Like the US, India is an ugly duckling. But it's an ugly duckling freaky strong genes.

ps. note I don't feel the need to compare with Pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Bloomberg report on India's sanitation crisis:

March 4 (Bloomberg) -- Until May 2007, Meera Devi rose before dawn each day and walked a half mile to a vegetable patch outside the village of Kachpura to find a secluded place.

Dodging leering men and stick-wielding farmers and avoiding spots that her neighbors had soiled, the mother of three pulled up her sari and defecated with the Taj Mahal in plain view.

With that act, she added to the estimated 100,000 tons of human excrement that Indians leave each day in fields of potatoes, carrots and spinach, on banks that line rivers used for drinking and bathing and along roads jammed with scooters, trucks and pedestrians. Devi looks back on her routine with pain and embarrassment.

“As a woman, I would have to check where the males were going to the toilet and then go in a different direction,” says Devi, 37, standing outside her one-room mud-brick home. “We used to avoid the daytimes, but if we were really pressured, we would have to go any time of the day, even if it was raining. During the harvest season, people would have sticks in the fields. If somebody had to go, people would beat them up or chase them.”

In the shadow of its new suburbs, torrid growth and 300- ­million-plus-strong middle class, India is struggling with a sanitation emergency. From the stream in Devi’s village to the nation’s holiest river, the Ganges, 75 percent of the country’s surface water is contaminated by human and agricultural waste and industrial effluent. Everyone in Indian cities is at risk of consuming human feces, if they’re not already, the Ministry of Urban Development concluded in September.

Economic Drain

Illness, lost productivity and other consequences of fouled water and inadequate sewage treatment trimmed 1.4-7.2 percent from the gross domestic product of Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam in 2005, according to a study last year by the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program.

Sanitation and hygiene-related issues may have a similar if not greater impact on India’s $1.2 trillion economy, says Guy Hutton, a senior water and sanitation economist with the program in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Snarled transportation and unreliable power further damp the nation’s growth. Companies that locate in India pay hardship wages and ensconce employees in self- sufficient compounds.

The toll on human health is grim. Every day, 1,000 children younger than 5 years old die in India from diarrhea, hepatitis- causing pathogens and other sanitation-related diseases, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.

‘Sanitation Crisis’

For girls, the crisis is especially acute: Many drop out of school once they reach puberty because of inadequate lavatories, depriving the country of a generation of possible leaders.

“India cannot reach its full economic potential unless they do something about this sanitation crisis,” says Clarissa Brocklehurst, Unicef’s New York-based chief of water, sanitation and hygiene, who worked in New Delhi from 1999 to 2001.

Anonymous said...

Scrutiny of certain aspects of Indian life are taboo. Defense spending is one of the I reckon.
And then we have the Pay Commissions. There is no scrutiny of those appointed to these Pay Commissions - whether they have a vested interest in pay hikes either directly for themselves, or indirectly for their kinsmen. The question about productivity is non-existent. No consideration is given to the impact that these pay hikes for government workers has on inflation. No consideration for the fact that so much of government work can be outsourced at great savings - that clerical work and general pen-pushing is done at a much lower rate of pay in the private sector. No concern for the unemployed who see a privileged group of people get continuous pay hikes while they are without jobs. Or for most working people who work at much lower rates than government employees. Its such a farce, but such farces are enacted with such airs of serious and media collusion.

Anonymous said...


Some of your thoughts are supported even in the Indian press:

Reader from India

Riaz Haq said...

The Times of India has reported today that it's a myth that the global financial crisis left India virtually unscathed. In fact, India is the biggest victim of financial crisis-induced poverty, according to data obtained by TOI from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs' (UNDESA). Check out these figures.

The UNDESA data estimates that the number of India's poor was 33.6 million higher in 2009 than would have been the case if the growth rates of the years from 2004 to 2007 had been maintained. In 2009 alone, an estimated 13.6 million more people in India became poor or remained in poverty than would have been the case at 2008 growth rates.

In other words, while a dip from the 8.8% growth in GDP averaged from 2004-05 to 2006-07 to the 6.7% estimated for 2008-09 may be nothing like the recession faced by the West, its human consequences for India were probably worse. The 2.1% decline in India's GDP growth rate has effectively translated into a 2.8% increase in the incidence of poverty.

According to the UNDESA's World Economic Situation and Prospects 2010, 47 million more people globally became poor or remained in poverty in 2009 than would have been the case at 2008 growth rates, and 84 million more than would have poor at 2004-7 growth rates. Of these, 19 and 40 million respectively are in south Asia.

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anoop said...

A piece about Pakistan's failing educational system.
Mosharaf Zaidi,one of the guys interviewed in the video says,"Today, there are 68.4 million children between the ages of five and 19 in this country, and fewer than 30 million of those kids are in any type of school,”.
He adds,"“You look at the consequences of these kids not going to school -- and let's set aside the fearmongering and the scare-mongering of saying, you know, ‘What if all these kids become terrorists?’ Setting that aside, the real problem is that, if you aren't capable of participating in the global economy, you will be very, very poor. And desperate and extreme poverty has some diabolical consequences for societies and for individuals.”

The situation is thus, illiteracy in India means you will lie low in the social ladder. Illiteracy in Pakistan means there is a danger of them becoming Islamic Terrorists especially as the video shows how Madrassas are well funded and replacing state schools who are better of the 2 evils. Even if 1% of those 30 Million kids turn to fundamentalism Pakistan will be further sucked into Mayhem and its very survival will come into question.

Here is the video link. The video is downright scary for any Pakistani.

Riaz Haq said...


I don't think the government schools can ever replace all the madrassahs, because most madrassas are not just day schools.

A better solution is to reform the most radical madrasas, of which there are a few among thousands, mostly in the tribal belt.

This lack of focus on access to and quality of children's education has resulted in the proliferation of madrassahs, a small minority of which being highly radicalized, that fill the vacuum by offering a one-stop shop for poor children needing food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and basic education. Parents simply drop their children off at these madrassas, and essentially let these institutions raise them, and brainwash them in some cases. The total enrollment of all madrasas is about 1.5 million students out of over 33 million students attending all of the public and private educational institutions in Pakistan, according to 2005 national education census. Girls account for 53% of all college students in Pakistan, reports the the same Census.

Riaz Haq said...

Recently, a former editor of the Statesman in Calcutta, Sunanda K Datta-Ray, humorously wrote in the Indian Telegraph what the answer would be to anyone questioning British aid to India, saying that the likely retort would be along the lines of: “Well, after they’ve paid for their military and space programmes, there’s very little left for food."

anoop said...


One of the biggest proliferation charges against Pakistan is that it enjoyed a barter system with North Korea. Its not just the Indians who charge the Chinese with helping out Pakistan by giving missiles and nuclear material, these charges are also made by people from NATO,especially US. Recently, WSJ or Washington Post( I dont quite remember which), quoted CIA officials who said China had given enriched Uranium to Pakistan. So, Indian chargers are not baseless.

Pakistan being a tech starved state does not have the resources to build long distance missiles. It doesn't even have the capability to drop a satellite into space. Forget, precision bombings of targets thousands of miles away using Ballistic Missiles. They, I do agree, possess reverse-engineering skills.

If North Korea hadn't supplied Missile Tech to Pakistan then I dont know by what means have they paid Pakistan back. They dedicate majority of resources to the Military(quite similar to Pakistan,actually). Has Pakistan sold nuclear technology for free? I dont think so.

The period during which Pakistan developed its long range Missiles(stunningly short time, mind you, for a country with very little technological base) and the AQ Khan Proliferation was active in the nuclear black market was about the same. In a decade Pakistan had built and tested long range missiles during the same period when AQ Khan Network was active.

P.S. I,as many others, believe that AQ.Khan was a fall guy for Military which had indulged in Proliferation. National Hero turned to National and International shame. Compare this to APJ Abdul Kalam who was made the country's president in India.

P.S.S. After all this Pakistan asks for Civilian Nuclear Technology. What stops North Korea and Israel to ask for the same if Pakistan ends up getting access to Civilian Nuclear Tech? Tomorrow, Syria and even Iran might ask for the same with weapons in hand. Pakistan,if it gets access to such tech will set a bad precedent which will only encourage more states to develop Nuclear Bombs(and proliferate) while being sure they will get access to Civilian Nuclear Tech sometime in the future on the basis of recent good behavior, a la Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Anoop:"One of the biggest proliferation charges against Pakistan is that it enjoyed a barter system with North Korea."

You are simply repeating the false Indian propaganda to denigrate Pakistan and Pakistanis. It's not surprising, given the Indian agenda of defaming and weakening Pakistan, and some anti-Pakistan western officials, probably motivated by their hatred of Muslims post-911, join India' anti-Pakistan campaign.

As to learning technology from others, the US used Von Braun and other Germans for its missile program. And the Indians did not exactly figure out how to split the atom by themselves, it was done long ago by Americans, presumably with the help of Germans who defected to US or were captured by Americans during WW II.

The Industrial revolution didn't exactly start in India or Asia, nor did nuclear and missile technology. It came from Europe. And the Asians learned from Europe. Many foreigners, including Indians and Pakistanis and Chinese, who are educated and live and work in the United States and Europe acquire new knowledge here, and some of them return home to share it with their fellow countrymen.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a report by Gary Milhollin in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
November 1989, pp. 31-35:

Agni's foreign ancestry dates from the 1960s. In November 1963, the United States began India's space program by launching a U.S. sounding rocket from Indian soil. (Sounding rockets fly straight up into the atmosphere to conduct scientific experiments. They are too small to launch satellites.) The United States was followed by others. Between 1963 and 1975, more than 350 U.S., French, Soviet, and British sounding rockets were launched from India's Thumba Range,[1] which the United States helped design. Thumba's first group of Indian engineers had learned rocket launching and range operation in the United States.

Among them was the Agni's chief designer, A. J. P. Abdul Kalam. In 1963-64, he spent four months in training in the United States. He visited NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia, where the U.S. Scout rocket was conceived, and the Wallops Island Flight Center on the Virginia coast, where the Scout was being flown. The Scout was a low-cost, reliable satellite launcher that NASA had developed for orbiting small payloads.

Soon afterward, in 1965, the Indian government asked NASA how much it would cost and how long it would take to develop an Indian version of the Scout, and whether the United States would help. NASA replied that the Scout was "available . . . for purchase . . . in connection with scientific research," but warned that "transfer of this technology . . . would be a matter for determination by the Department of State under Munitions Control."[2] NASA nevertheless sent India technical reports on the Scout's design, which was unclassified. India's request should have raised some eyebrows: it came from Homi Bhabha, head of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission.

But Kalam had the information he needed. He returned to India and built the SLV-3 (Space Launch Vehicle), India's first satellite launcher. Its design is virtually identical to the Scout's. Both rockets are 23 meters long, use four similar solid-fuel stages and "open loop" guidance, and lift a 40-kilogram payload into low earth orbit. The SLV's 30-foot first stage would later become the first stage of the Agni.

anoop said...


"You are simply repeating the false Indian propaganda to denigrate Pakistan and Pakistanis. It's not surprising, given the Indian agenda of defaming and weakening Pakistan, and some anti-Pakistan western officials, probably motivated by their hatred of Muslims post-911, join India' anti-Pakistan campaign."

Typical defensive response, devoid of logic or factual basis. US's name might be referred to in almost every article in the Pakistani media but US's media is not that Pakistan centric or 'muslim hating'. Pakistanis are US obsessed for obvious reasons(Biggest Aid giver, former 'ally', Pakistani reliance on US for defense needs,etc). But,US media have no reason to single out Pakistan, and especially for the silly reason that they 'hate Muslims'. If they are fabricating stories just because Pakistan is a Muslim state then why are they not fabricating stories about their ally Saudi Arabia,Turkey, Indonesia,etc.So, your point about US's media bias against Pakistan does not stand.
The very fact that you are living there shows how liberal US is. Great way to pay back the land that feeds you.

"As to learning technology from others, the US used Von Braun and other Germans for its missile program. And the Indians did not exactly figure out how to split the atom by themselves, it was done long ago by Americans, presumably with the help of Germans who defected to US or were captured by Americans during WW II."

Lets suppose Von Braun had moved to some 3rd world country somewhere in Africa. Just because Von Braun had the knowledge of how to build a missile would he have built a missile in that African country? No.
Everybody knows how fission works and most of the physicists would explain in great detail about all the chemical reactions of a nuclear explosion and about the devices to be used. But, can all make bombs? America utilized his services because it could. It gave him shelter and he helped his adopted country using the technology which was already existing in the United States. He could not have done so in some poor, technology starved African nation.
The example of Pakistan has shown if a low-industrial base country really devoted a huge chuck of resources and attention and with some outside(Chinese, in this case) help then it could build a nuclear bomb.

And, we all know about AQ Khan stealing blue prints from Holland.

To quote from the above link,"As a scientist working for the Dutch Urenco firm in the 1970s, Khan had access to blueprints for uranium enrichment technology, which he stole and brought back to Pakistan when he returned home."

So, the major scientific achievements of Pakistan is not much of an achievement at all. Beg, borrow and steal Pakistan did it and it,I guess, should be proud of it.

A non-Indian, International journal also agrees with the supposed 'Indian propaganda'. Check this.

To quote a few lines,"According to senior US officials, equipment Pakistan exported to North Korea may have included gas centrifuges used in creating weapons-grade uranium. The the shipment took place as part of a barter deal between the two countries in the late 1990s. In return, North Korea provided Pakistan with medium-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons."

I would like to point out one thing. The world is not that angry with Pakistan for developing the bombs as much as proliferating it, to sell it to the highest bidder. Look at how respectfully it treats India and how dismally it treats Pakistan. India got the NSG waiver with the help of its clean record. Pakistan can never hope for the same kind of waiver.

anoop said...

Here, is another of Pakistan's renowned journalists Ahmed Rashid says,"I think that the military was certainly involved. A proliferation at this level cannot have been done single-handedly by a small group of scientists. The military had to be involved. I mean, the simple fact is that when we are talking about a barter deal with North Korea, it's fairly obvious ... who is going to benefit ... from the Pakistan side. General Beg, as army chief, I am sure was involved ... . It was an institutional commitment that the army had and unfortunately it has been tragic. In the long term, it is going to be devastating for Pakistan. "

There you go Riaz, a Pakistani intellectual spreading 'propaganda',as you like to call it, against his beloved state. He even uses the term "barter deal" when describing Pakistan's 'achievements',as you like to call them.
Unlike you ,Mr.Rashid still lives in the country of his origin. Probably that is why he never writes for Pakistani Media but only Western ones. The Truth is not that attractive thinks the Pakistani media, I think.

Youtube has tons of videos about him.

Riaz Haq said...

Anoop: "why are they not fabricating stories about their ally Saudi Arabia,Turkey, Indonesia,etc."

Obviously, you don't read the US media much. There is a lot of hate against the countries you mentioned in the US media, particularly against the Saudis who they see as devil incarnates, and occasionally against Turkey when its leaders strongly criticize Israel. During the elections, many hateful Americans also targeted Indonesia for their disdain against Obama who lived there as a child.

The bias of the US and Indian media against Pakistan is not hard to miss by any casual reader.

As to Rashid, the best description of him that I have heard is that he is a "native orientalist" or an brown "imperialist" in the mold of Kipling or VS Naipaul. He is someone who welcomes any foreign intervention from his white friends in the Islamic world, including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan which he thought would be good for them. He has also been a strong supporter of US invasion of Afghanistan, calling for more American troops there for a long time. His friendship with anti-Pakistan and pro-India Northern Alliance forces in Afghanistan is well known.

Pakistan is particularly targeted by the Western governments and media (and their Pakistani friends like Ahmad Rashid) because it's the only Muslim country in possession of nuclear weapons and missile technology that they do not accept. They are always finding excuses to relieve it of its defensive capabilities in the face of hostile neighbor India equipped with the same.

anoop said...


"His friendship with anti-Pakistan and pro-India Northern Alliance forces in Afghanistan is well known."

-->Well known, huh? May I have a source of the above information? He lives under the shadow of ISI.

"Pakistan is particularly targeted by the Western governments and media (and their Pakistani friends like Ahmad Rashid) because it's the only Muslim country in possession of nuclear weapons and missile technology that they do not accept."

Riaz, after many years of living in the west you still think the west looks at Pakistan through the prism of Religion?
If it is so then why does the world 'pamper' a Majority-Hindu nation? Or, a majority Jewish Nation? Why only the Muslim world is targeted,according to you?
Its like reading the Urdu Press loaded with cliches and unsubstantiated claims. The world treats Pakistan for what is worth- a 3rd world country ruled by dictators for more than half its existence,a nuclear tech country with a history of proliferation. Any neutral observer,like Rashid,whom you obviously dont think much of,speaks out the truth you dont like it. I'd be very much interested to know on what basis have you said he has links with anti-Pakistan forces.
Stop uttering these cliched statements. They sound ridiculous. US attacked Afghanistan because 9/11 happened and Al Qaeda was there. It attacked Iraq for oil. Not because they were 'Muslim' countries.
Why do only Muslims, particularly from Pakistan,being to have this victim mentality whenever you talk about West? The world is not divided into Muslim and non-Muslims. And, Pakistan is not that important in the larger scheme of things to be given special attention. Pakistan doesn't threaten any Western country as it doesn't have delivery vehicles which can reach such long distances. Why would they be threatened by a lowly power like Pakistan which is dependent on the West for its economic survival? Pakistan has itself declared that its defense is India specific. India,smartly, has not made any such statement.

Pakistanis have this tendency to blow up their nation's centrality when there is none. I agree that it has to play a crucial role in Afghanistan but apart from that its worth is very low in the longer term.

Here, is an interesting article in a Pakistani daily about how unimportant it is when compared to a giant,fast growing neighbour India.\04\14\story_14-4-2010_pg3_2

"They are always finding excuses to relieve it of its defensive capabilities in the face of hostile neighbor India equipped with the same."

Why a non-christian country is being 'pampered'? Because of its track record.
Fact #1:India has never attacked Pakistan, even in 1971 technically Pakistan started the hostilities.
Fact #2: India did not proliferate sensitive nuclear technology which has the potential to kill millions! A sign of a responsible power.
Fact #3: India has not sent any terrorists to liberate any part of Pakistan.
Fact #4: India is thorough democracy and has been one ever since its Independence. Compare this with the sad state of affairs in Pakistan.
Fact #5: India has not sold its citizens for dollars like Mushy has done.
Fact #6: India doesnt bomb its own people on the behest of a foreign power. Nor, does it let any power violate its sovereignty by flying drones into its territory with the sole aim of killing its people.

I suggest another article which I think is very important.

Riaz Haq said...

anoop: "Well known, huh? May I have a source of the above information? He lives under the shadow of ISI"

Just read his books. The latest one called "Descent into Chaos" talks about his close relationships with Northern Alliance leaders, and he says he urged Americans and Brits to support the NA in very high-level meetings he attended. Rashid is not just a neutral, objective reporter; he has been a participant in the Afghan drama over several decades, schmoozing with all the key players he mentions in his books.

The ISI knows it, but can't do anything...a testament to the freedoms enjoyed by dissenters and writers like Rashid, Hoodbhoy and many others under both military and civilian govts in Pakistan.

anoop: "Riaz, after many years of living in the west you still think the west looks at Pakistan through the prism of Religion?"

It's not just me, but the west that looks at me and others like me through the prism of religion. The old history of conflict between Christians and Muslims since the Crusades has reared its ugly head since the 911 attacks.

And it's not just the ill-educated right-wing xenophobic bigots who relentlessly attack Islam and Muslims, but also the western intellectual elite brought up on very biased narrative in the Euro centric history about the crusades. You can see this bias in the works of people like Voltaire (Mahomet), and Dante (Divine Comedy) who portrayed Muslim prophet as the devil incarnate.

You can read more about the westerners bias against Islam and Muslims in a book "Muhammad in Europe" by Minou Reeves.

anoop: "Pakistanis have this tendency to blow up their nation's centrality when there is none"

There is a history of US seeing Pakistan as central to its strategy during the cold war, and again after 911.

the cold war, Pakistan was in CENTO alliance and helped the United States spy on the Soviet Union via U2 spy planes that flew from Peshawar. And again, the US relied on Pakistan to defeat the Soviet Union in the 1980s in Afghanistan.

Since 911, Pakistan has once again become central in the US "war on terror".

anoop: "Why a non-christian country is being 'pampered'?"

The US has had a strong interest in India even during the cold war, particularly after the Chinese defeated India in 1962 war. The US became so alarmed that it offered a lot of direct economic and even military assistance (via UK) to India after 1962 to maintain it as a counter balance against China. And lately, it's the well known collaboration between Indian and Israeli lobbies that has helped India in Washington. The US-India-Israel axis is not imaginary; it's real in Washington, Jerusalem and Delhi.

Riaz Haq said...

Part of the problem fueling anger and insurgencies is the growing number of the poor in India. Here's a recent Reuters report:

India now has 100 million more people living below the poverty line than in 2004, according to official estimates released on Sunday.

The poverty rate has risen to 37.2 percent of the population from 27.5 percent in 2004, a change that will require the Congress-ruled government to spend more money on the poor.

The new estimate comes weeks after Sonia Gandhi, head of the Congress party, asked the government to revise a Food Security Bill to include more women, children and destitutes.

"The Planning Commission has accepted the report on poverty figures," Abhijit Sen, a member of the Planning Commission told Reuters, referring to the new poverty estimate report submitted by a government panel last December.

India now has 410 million people living below the U.N. estimated poverty line of $1.25 a day, 100 million more than was estimated earlier, officials said.

India calculates how much of its population is living below the poverty line by checking whether families can afford one square meal a day that meets minimum nutrition needs.

It was not immediately clear how much more the federal government would have to spend on the poor, as that would depend on the Food Security Bill when it is presented to the government after the necessary changes, officials say.

India's Planning Commission will meet the food and expenditure secretaries next week to estimate the cost aspects of the bill, government officials said.

A third of the world's poor are believed to be in India, living on less than $2 per day, worse than in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, experts say.

Riaz Haq said...

A BBC report on Pak defense budget hike:

Pakistan has announced it is to increase defence spending by 17% in the coming year, with analysts saying much of it will be used to combat militants.

In his budget speech to parliament, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said security forces should know they had the support of MPs.

Defence spending will rise to more than $5bn a year from next month.

Pakistani forces have carried out major offensives in the north-west over the past year.

However, there has also been a wave of deadly attacks by Islamic militants throughout the country.

"I think security is our topmost issue," said Mr Shaikh.

"We are facing a situation in which our armed forces, paramilitary forces and security forces are laying down their lives. They are bearing pain for the country and the people, I salute them. They should know from this house that we all stand by them."
Suicide attacks

In the past three years more than 3,400 people have been killed across Pakistan in bomb blasts and suicide attacks blamed on Taliban militants.

Last week more than 90 people were killed in co-ordinated attacks on two mosques of the minority Ahmadi Islamic sect in Lahore.

Pakistan, a vital ally for the US, has been heavily burdened by the cost of fighting Taliban insurgents along its Afghan border.

Mr Shaikh said government policies had reined in inflation - from 25% down to 13% - and brought economic stability.

"We are seeing the beginning of recovery," he said.

In 2008 Pakistan secured a $10bn loan package from the International Monetary Fund to keep its economy on track.

Analysts say the IMF is now putting pressure on Pakistan's financial institutions to make further reforms.

Riaz Haq said...

A US NIH funded study published in Lancet says over 200,000 Indians die of Malaria among 1.3 million infectious disease deaths reported in the country, according to a report by the BBC:

he number of people dying from malaria in India has been hugely underestimated, according to new research.

The data, published in the Lancet, suggests there are 13 times more malaria deaths in India than the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.

The authors conclude that more than 200,000 deaths per year are caused by malaria.

The WHO said the estimate produced by this study appears too high.

The research was funded by the US National Institutes of Health, the Canadian Institute of Health Research and the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute.

The new figures raise doubts over the total number of malaria deaths worldwide.
Difficult diagnosis

Calculating how many people die from malaria is extremely difficult. Most cases that are diagnosed and treated do not result in fatalities.

People who die of extremely high fevers in the community can be misdiagnosed and the cause of death can be attributed to other diseases and vice versa.

As most deaths in India occur at home, without medical intervention, cause of death is seldom medically certified.

There are about 1.3 million deaths from infectious diseases, where acute fever is the main symptom in rural areas in India.

In this study, trained field workers interviewed families, asking them to describe how their relative died. Two doctors then reviewed each description and decided if the death was caused by malaria. This method is called verbal autopsy.

Some 122,000 premature deaths between 2001 and 2003 were investigated.

The data suggests that 205,000 deaths before the age of 70, mainly in rural areas, are caused by malaria each year.

anoop said...

"The administration raised the issue of Cold Start last November when India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, visited Washington, Indian and American officials said. Indian officials told the United States that the strategy was not a government or military policy, and that India had no plans to attack Pakistan. Therefore, they added, it should have no place on Mr. Obama’s agenda in India. "

--> That is why it is imperative for Pakistan to clamp down on anti-India Terrorist groups so that this doctrine is not put into effect. The day it is clear that no Terror group will attack India from Pakistani soil, this Coldstart concept will fall on its face.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a WSJ piece by Amol Sharma justifying India's arms buildup:

At Mazagon Dock near the southern tip of Mumbai, hidden behind high concrete walls, hundreds of Indian workers are putting the finishing touches on the hulls of two 217-foot Scorpène-class attack submarines, the first of six slated to be built over the next few years.

Nearby, workers are adding to India's fleet of stealth frigates and guided-missile destroyers.At Mazagon Dock near the southern tip of Mumbai, hidden behind high concrete walls, hundreds of Indian workers are putting the finishing touches on the hulls of two 217-foot Scorpène-class attack submarines, the first of six slated to be built over the next few years.

Nearby, workers are adding to India's fleet of stealth frigates and guided-missile destroyers.

One big reason India is beefing up its arsenal: China.

"It goes without saying that India must be seriously concerned with the rise of China's strategic power, including its military and economic power," says Ashwani Kumar, member of parliament from India's ruling Congress party. "India has consistently opposed an arms race—but India will not be found wanting in taking all measures necessary for the effective safeguarding of its territorial integrity and national interests."

From the Arabian Sea to the Pacific Ocean, countries fearful of China's growing economic and military might—and worried that the U.S. will be less likely to intervene in the region—are hurtling into a new arms race.

In December, Japan overhauled its defense guidelines, laying plans to purchase five submarines, three destroyers, 12 fighters jets, 10 patrol planes and 39 helicopters. South Korea and Vietnam are adding subs. Arms imports are on the rise in Malaysia. The tiny city-state of Singapore, which plans to add two subs, is now among the world's top 10 arms importers. Australia plans to spend as much as $279 billion over the next 20 years on new subs, destroyers and fighter planes.

Together, these efforts amount to a simultaneous buildup of advanced weaponry in the Asia-Pacific region on a scale and at a speed not seen since the Cold War arms race between America and the Soviet Union.

The buildup is unfolding as the world's military balance appears to be shifting in tandem with its economic balance. China is beginning to build a military to match its powerful economy. This is happening as the U.S. and its staunchest allies, including Britain, are looking at flat or falling military spending—and as Russia is struggling to revive its armed forces in the post-Soviet era.

China is still far from challenging the U.S. for global military supremacy. But its recent actions have countries in the region planning for a much different future.

In Australia, a report published Monday by an influential defense think tank concludes that the China threat has sparked an "urgent need to refocus" military development "to offset and deter the rapidly expanding People's Liberation Army." The report by the Kokoda Foundation, prepared with input from senior defense officials, says Australia "cannot overlook the way that the scale, pattern and speed of the PLA's development is altering security in the Western Pacific."..

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a Daily Mail story on cash-strapped UK's decision to extend $1.5 billion in aid to India:

So why has the Government just changed its mind, and decided to give £1 billion in aid to India over the next three years, making in the largest single recipient of our largesse?

At a time of cutbacks I struggle to understand the case for increasing aid even to the poorest countries. In the case of India, I find it impossible to grasp why we should think it desirable to shell out £1 billion to the fourth- largest economy in the world.

Could it be post-colonial guilt? If so, it is misplaced. When Britain left the country in 1947, India was the 12th-largest industrial power in the world, and had the most extensive railway system in Asia. It was the semi-socialist policies applied for the next 40 years that held India back until free market reforms began to transform it.
Perhaps Mr Obama knows something I don’t, but I wasn’t aware that in the Twenties and Thirties the Raj employed a huge secret police force and used widespread torture.

Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, denied this was a motive during an interview yesterday morning on Radio 4’s Today Programme. I hope he meant it. India will trade with us if we are able to produce goods and services which its people want to buy.

More likely, there is an outdated sense that it is our duty to disburse funds to the supposedly less fortunate — rather like an impoverished parent continuing to subsidise children who have grown much wealthier, and are more than capable of getting by on their own. I suspect that giving so much money makes us feel more important than we really are.

The decision is so apparently senseless that it is almost impossible to unravel. What makes it more senseless still is that the Indian government has signalled that it would not object if British aid were ended. There would be no hard feelings. India can look after itself. One of its senior diplomats is reported by The Times as saying: ‘We will help if you want to withdraw.’


No one disputes that, despite its phenomenal growth, India still has countless millions of poor people, though many fewer than it used to have. Its population, after all, is many times greater than ours. But despite its challenges with poverty, it spends some £20 billion a year on defence, not much less than Britain, and is a nuclear power. It also splashes out about £1.5 billion a year on its space programme, a luxury which this country cannot afford.

Arguably India should be spending less on defence, and nothing on its space programme, and be diverting more funds to the alleviation of poverty. But the country is a democracy, and its government will be held to account for the decisions it makes. It is hardly our business if India wants to spend so much money on a space programme.

But surely it is madness for us to be channelling precious funds to a country which chooses to have prestige projects that are beyond our own means.
It was the Tories, not the Lib Dems, who decided that international aid should not only be ‘ring-fenced’ but increased by a third to £11.5 billion by 2015 while domestic budgets, apart from the NHS, are being slashed. This was a controversial decision in view of the ineffectiveness of much development aid, not to mention the corruption that sometimes surrounds it.

India, although a democracy, is by no means corruption-free. A report by the country’s auditor general, seen by the Mail last September, revealed widespread aid abuses, including wasting money on thousands of colour televisions and computers that were never used, and several instances of fraud amounting to millions of pounds.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Telegraph India report on how the British govt is defending continuing aid to India:

London, Feb 16: The UK government today said it was making changes to its aid programme to India following popular anger that helping one of the fastest growing economies in the world is “unjustifiable”.

“From now on in India we will focus our support on three of the poorest states,” said Chris Mitchell, the international development secretary.

Bengal will be cut out for Britain considers Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar to be the poorest states.

Speaking during “International Development Questions” in the House of Commons, Mitchell was forced to respond to critics such as Tory MP Philip Davies.

“India spends 36 billion dollars a year on defence, 750 million dollars a year on a space programme, has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and is developing its own overseas aid programme,” said Davies, who represents Shipley. “Many of my constituents, given that we are having to cut public expenditure in this country, will think such aid to India is now unjustifiable.” UK aid is worth £280 million a year for four years.

Mitchell said UK aid was “in transition” and added: “Our programme will change to reflect the importance of the role of the private sector and private enterprise.”

He explained: “There are more poor people in India than in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. We should focus on the poorest areas, particularly on the roles of girls and women.”

He told MPs that 60 million children had enrolled in Indian schools since 2006. “That’s a tremendous tribute to the work of the Indian government, but it would not have been possible without the intervention of British aid and support.”

Some MPs spoke up for the need to continue with the aid, among them Labour’s Barry Gardiner whose constituency of Brent North in north London has many people of Gujarati origin. He argued the help was “vital” and told the Commons a quarter of the world’s poorest people lived in India.

The children’s charity body Plan International also defended British aid to India.

“The fact that eight Indian states account for more poor people than in 26 of Africa’s poorest countries combined shows there’s a need for aid in India,” its head of advocacy Adam Short said.

“In spite of its economic successes, India is home to 421 million poor people. We work with more than a million children in the country’s least developed communities. Through our work on child welfare, education and health, we know how vitally important it is to ensure aid reaches the most marginalised children and communities.”

Marxist economist Lord Meghnad Desai could be relied upon to take a distinctive line.

In an interview to The Telegraph, Desai said: “The truth is India does not need the money but the experts at DFID (Department for International Development) are better at getting through to the health and educational sectors than the government of India.”

“It is a criticism of the government of India that it cannot manage to do in its own backyards what other people can do. It should commission DFID to do the work and pay them for it.”

Riaz Haq said...

Pranab Mukherjee has just revealed the outlines of India's 2011 budget.

I think the double digit increases of 24% and 20% on education and health care in 2011 Indian budget are a much-needed welcome change.

What is not reassuring, however, is the fact that social spending still lags defense in India, a country with the world's largest population of poor, hungry, illiterate and sick people.

Riaz Haq said...

India tops arms imports in the world, according to Bloomberg News:

India replaced China as the world’s top weapons importer, according to a study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, as it aims to modernize its armed forces and project power through the region.

India received 9 percent of the volume of international arms transfers from 2006 to 2010, with 82 percent of that coming from Russia, Sipri said in a report released today. That topped China, South Korea and Pakistan, it said.

“The increases are substantial, and if you look at the Indian plans for the near future, they are massive,” Siemon Wezeman, a Sipri researcher who helped write the report, said in a telephone interview. “It’s worrying from the fact you are bringing a lot of weapons into an area that isn’t particularly stable, where you’ve got countries that have been at each other’s throats.”

India’s internal security threats and rivalries with Pakistan and China, the nuclear-armed neighbors with which it has border disputes, have driven the increase in expenditures, Wezeman said. The country’s plans to boost defense spending in the next decade to modernize the military have attracted U.S. and European firms banned from selling weapons to China.

The average volume of worldwide arms transfers in 2006-2010 was 24 percent higher than in 2001-2005, the report said. The Asia-Pacific region led the world, accounting for 43 percent of arms imports. It was followed by Europe at 21 percent, the Middle East at 17 percent and the Americas at 12 percent.
Economic Growth

India’s $1.3 trillion economy may expand by as much as 9.25 percent in the next financial year, the fastest pace since 2008, according to a Finance Ministry survey released last month. The World Bank estimates that more than three-quarters of India’s 1.2 billion people live on less than $2 a day.

Purchases by India of submarines, aircraft carriers and transport airplanes “can only be seen in the framework of regional ambitions,” Wezeman said.

India is seeking to buy 126 warplanes in the world’s biggest fighter-jet purchase in 15 years, according to the Indian Defense Ministry. Paris-based Dassault Aviation SA (AM), Chicago-based Boeing Co. (BA), Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), Sweden’s Saab AB (SAABB), Russia’s United Aircraft Corp. and European Aeronautic, Defense & Space Co., based in Paris and Munich, are competing for the contract.

The outlays on weapons have allowed India to demand technology transfers as part of purchases, Sipri said. The U.S. and Europe have banned weapons sales to China since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. U.S. military officials have questioned China’s motives in developing ballistic anti-ship missiles and radar-evading fighter jets.
‘Huge Market’

India is “in a position where they have this huge market at a time when exporters are in desperate need to find export markets,” Wezeman said.

The U.S. remains the world’s largest exporter of military equipment, accounting for 30 percent of arms deliveries between 2006 and 2010, the report said. The Defense Department is requesting $671 billion for the 2012 fiscal year starting Oct. 1, $37 billion less than this year’s request.

Stockholm-based Sipri, founded in 1966, conducts research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament, according to its website. A substantial part of its funding comes from the Swedish government, it said.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Times of India report on illiteracy in Indian Punjab, particularly among Dalits:

CHANDIGARH: As SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab cries itself hoarse over mega development in the state and improving quality of life, there are a staggering number, nearly 31,000 children below 14 years of age, who have never been to a school, owned books or known what it is like to read or write.

A household survey, conducted by the state government in December 2010 has brought out that the worst sufferers are those belonging to the scheduled caste category. Out of 31,000 children below 14 years of age, who are not studying in any school, about 17,000 are SCs.

Ludhiana has the maximum number of such children, 4610, followed by Amritsar , 3313 and Tarn Taran, 3103. The report was tabled in the Punjab assembly on Saturday by the education minister S S Sekhwan , in reply to a question posed by Congress MLA A I S Mofar. Though meauation, the comptroller auditor general's report clearly blamed the state government for failing to provide even basic facilities like a safe building, chairs and desks to the students.

Besides, the schools are riddled with problems of absenteeism among teachers which is having a direct impact on the results of the schools. The pass percentage of Class XII, said the CAG report, is practically stagnant around 72% during the past five years. sures being taken to bring these children to schools were enumerated but the government has not been able to come up with a justification regarding the staggering high dropout rate in schools.

The Economic Survey, 2010-2011, indicates that in 2008, nearly 50% boys in classes I to X and nearly 50% girls dropped-out from government schools. Though Economic Survey and the government's own report has been silent on the factors that had led to such a situation.

Mayraj said...

Peace-loving India, the world's largest arms importer

Defence spending has leapt since the Mumbai attacks of 2008 as Delhi steps up security and deterrence

By Andrew Buncombe, The Independent

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

India, one of the few nuclear powers, is in the middle of a multi-billion-dollar military spending spree that has quietly seen the country of Mahatma Gandhi and non-violent protest emerge as the world's largest importer of arms. It is expected to retain that position for at least five years.

As the country works to expand its regional strategic influence and to counter what it considers existential threats from Pakistan and China, India now accounts for nine per cent of all global arms purchases. Its current defence budget of £22bn – an increase of around 11 per cent on the previous year – is more than double what it spends on education and health combined.

Speaking last week in Delhi, Defence Minister AK Anthony, said: "India has always been a votary of peace and advocated peaceful relations with all nations. [But] we need to ensure optimum deterrence to fully safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation. Peace and security go hand in hand with social and economic progress and depend upon one another."
Yet some analysts and industry insiders detect an uncertainty within the broader Indian establishment about what role it should play. While India might purport to take on a larger regional position there remains an apparent reluctance to take on greater responsibility.

There are also strong voices within India who argue that in a country where hundreds of millions of people are living in poverty, there are more pressing spending priorities.

The representative of one US weapons manufacturer said there was an opportunity for Delhi to do more, such as helping to police Gulf sea-lanes, and other areas strategists refer to as the global commons.

The representative, who asked not to be identified, asked: "Is India happy with the idea of exporting security? There is a fundamental dichotomy... The military/civilian separation is quite wide. But it's coming to a head. The security issue is growing. India feels threatened by China and does not know what to do."

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a piece by Lan Pritchett of Harvard University on India's poor performance on PISA:

Compared to the economic superstars India is almost unfathomably far behind. The TN/HP average 15 year old is over 200 points behind. If a typical grade gain is 40 points a year Indian eighth graders are at the level of Korea third graders in their mathematics mastery. In fact the average TN/HP child is 40 to 50 points behind the worst students in the economic superstars. Equally worrisome is that the best performers in TN/HP - the top 5 percent who India will need in science and technology to complete globally - were almost 100 points behind the average child in Singapore and 83 points behind the average Korean - and a staggering 250 points behind the best in the best.

As the current superpowers are behind the East Asian economic superstars in learning performance the distance to India is not quite as far, but still the average TN/HP child is right at the level of the worst OECD or American students (only 1.5 or 7.5 points ahead). Indians often deride America's schools but the average child placed in an American school would be among the weakest students. Indians might have believed, with President Obama, that American schools were under threat from India but the best TN/HP students are 24 points behind the average American 15 year old.

Even among other "developing" nations that make up the BRICs India lags - from Russia by almost as much as the USA and only for Brazil, which like the rest of Latin America is infamous for lagging education performance does India even come close - and then not even that close.

To put these results in perspective, in the USA there has been huge and continuous concern that has caused seismic shifts in the discourse about education driven, in part, by the fact that the USA is lagging the economic superstars like Korea. But the average US 15 year old is 59 points behind Koreans. TN/HP students are 41.5 points behind Brazil, and twice as far behind Russia (123.5 points) as the US is Korea, and almost four times further behind Singapore (217.5 vs 59) that the US is behind Korea. Yet so far this disastrous performance has yet to occasion a ripple in the education establishment.
These PISA 2009+ results are the end of the beginning. The debate is over. No one can still deny there is a deep crisis in the ability of the existing education system to produce child learning. India's education system is undermining India's legitimate aspirations to be at the global forefront as a prosperous economy, as a global great power, as an emulated polity, and as a fair and just society. As the beginning ends, the question now is: what is to be done?

ANOOP SAP said...

jai hind,
The day will come when india attains 100% literacy and 0% in poverty, and i know they day will come when there will be no corruption, and we are working harder for that, the day will be far but i know the day will be cumming and am prepared for that.


Riaz Haq said...

TOI on UNESCO EFA report:

India has by far the largest population of illiterate adults — 287 million or 37 per cent of the global total, said a report released on Wednesday.

The "EFA Global Monitoring Report, 2013-14: Teaching and Learning: Achieving quality for All", commissioned by the Unesco, said 10 countries (including India) account for 557 million or 72 per cent of the global population of illiterate adults.

"India's literacy rate rose from 48 per cent in 1991 to 63 per cent in 2006, (the latest year for which data was available), but population growth cancelled the gains. So there was no change in the number of illiterate adults," the report said.

Stressing the importance of "quality education", Unesco's New Delhi director Shigeru Aoyagi said India was facing a challenge of quality education.

"Though we have more than 99 per cent children in schools because of the Right to Education Act, the quality of education being imparted is a big challenge that should be addressed," he said.

"The most crucial agents of quality education and learning are teachers and students. Teachers are the most important element that can improve the quality of education," he said.

The report said that without attracting and adequately training enough teachers, the learning crisis will "last for several generations and hit the disadvantaged the hardest".

The report also said that a global learning crisis was costing governments $129 billion a year, and that 10 per cent of global spending on primary education was being lost on poor quality education that was failing to ensure that children learn.

"It leaves one in four young people in poor countries unable to read a single sentence, affecting one-third of young women in South and West Asia," it said.

The countries include Bhutan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

At the report launch, Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia said it was essential to change the content in our textbooks, so that the "future generation is more aware" about the various issues prevalent in society.

"The country will not change with IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) and IAS. It will only change from the classrooms," Sisodia said.

"There is no other option but to spend quality money on education, and make it a priority," he added.

Riaz Haq said...

11% hike in defence budget maintained

Pakistan has raised its defence spending by around 11% for the coming financial year as it sought to sustain the recent gains against terrorism and to counter external threats, mainly from India.

Interestingly, India also increased its defence budget by around 10% in March, although its size is six times bigger than Pakistan’s total defence outlay.

For year 2016-17, the government allocated Rs860.1 billion compared with Rs775. 8 billion spent by the three armed forces in the outgoing fiscal year, showing an increase of Rs85 billion.

Out of the whole defence budget, Pakistan Army gets 47%, 20% goes to Pakistan Air Force, while Pakistan Navy’s share is around 10%, according to defence ministry officials.

The budget document reveals that out of the Rs860.1 billion, Rs327 billion have been set aside for employees-related expenses, Rs216.1 billion for operating expenses and Rs211.7 billion have been earmarked for physical assets.

However, the figures do not include Rs177.6 billion allocated for pensions of retired military personnel that would be given from the civilian budget and a separate allocation for the security-related expenses.

Additionally, military would also be given Rs192 billion under the contingent liability and Rs100 billion out 170 billion under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF).

For the past four years, defence spending has shown an average annual increase of 11%. Military officials defended the increase insisting that Pakistan military’s expanses are lowest in the region given the volatile security environment.

The officials explained that army’s share in the defence budget is around Rs390 billion, which according to him, is less than 8% of the total national budget outlay.

They also claimed that despite the war on terror, Pakistan’s defence budget actually declined in terms of expansion of the national budget.

Since 2001, India’s defence budget has been jacked up from $11.8 billion to $52.2 billion in 2016-17 making it a leading defence spender in the world.

The military officials also argued that last year the maximum budget allocated for the army was spent on non-development expenses such as pay and allowances. Only 6% was left for development schemes.

Giving comparison of various countries on defence spending per soldier/annum, the military officials claimed that Pakistan spends $8,077 per solider annually, while India allocates $17,554, Turkey $31,184, Saudi Arabia $269,060 and the USA spends $426,814 per soldier annually.