Riaz Haq writes this data-driven blog to provide information, express his opinions and make comments on many topics. Subjects include personal activities, education, South Asia, South Asian community, regional and international affairs and US politics to financial markets. For investors interested in South Asia, Riaz has another blog called South Asia Investor at http://www.southasiainvestor.com and a YouTube video channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkrIDyFbC9N9evXYb9cA_gQ
Why is H-1B visa abuse in the news? Why are Indian companies under suspicion as the chief abusers? Why does the lion's share of H-1B visas goes to Indians? Are H-1B visa holders replacing higher-paid ($95,000+ per year) American tech workers at significantly lower pay ($60,000 per year)? What proposals are under discussion to control this abuse?
How has President Trump performed in his first two months since inauguration? Why has he lost the key battles for Muslim ban and Obamacare repeal/replace?
Why is President Trump's ex NSA General Michael Flynn seeking immunity from prosecution before offering testimony in the investigation of Trump campaign's Russia links? Did he do something that could lead to his criminal prosecution without immunity? What possible impact would Flynn's testimony have on the Trump presidency?
What are the objectives of the Saudi coalition force variously described as "Muslim NATO" or "anti-Shia" alliance? What signal does the appointment of General Raheel Sharif to head this coalition send to the world? Is it an endorsement by Pakistan of the coalition? How is Iran reacting to it? What are its implications for Pakistan's sectarian violence?
Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these issues with Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)
Here's an excerpt of Nielsen's report Africa/Middle East region that includes Pakistan:
"Consumer confidence in the Africa/Middle East region declined in the fourth quarter, falling four points to 83, the lowest level in more than three years. Confidence was highest in United Arab Emirates, which held steady from the third quarter at 108. Pakistan was the only country where consumer confidence moved in a positive direction, rising five points from the third quarter to 106, the highest score for the country since it was added to the survey in 2008."
The share of Pakistani respondents worried about job security dropped to 21%. 51% of Pakistanis said they are optimistic about better job opportunities in the next 12 months, according to the survey.
“The findings of the consumer confidence reflect a favorable atmosphere in Pakistan. The set of factors that influence the confidence levels of Pakistani consumers goes beyond economics and business, and is reflective of improved security conditions, increased energy availability and low inflation rates,” reported the survey.
“China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has also led to a higher activity in large-scale manufacturing and construction, opening more investment opportunities,” said Nielsen Pakistan Managing Director Quratulain Ibrahim, according to Pakistan's Express Tribune newspaper. “We hope to see this optimism among Pakistani consumers during the coming months.”
Pakistani banks have boosted lending to businesses and consumers. Large-scale manufacturing sector borrowed Rs. 225 billion in 2016, up from Rs 119 billion in 2015. Consumer loans have jumped from Rs. 29 billion in 2015 to Rs. 70 billion in 2016. Auto financing soared 32% to Rs 30.7 billion in 2016, according to the State Bank of Pakistan as reported by Daily Times.
Pakistani consumers and businesses are feeling increasingly confident with improved overall security, rising foreign and domestic investments and better employment prospects. They are earning, borrowing and spending more to further stimulate the economy thereby creating a virtuous cycle. Low oil prices and relatively subdued inflation are also helping. It's now up to Pakistan's political, economic and military leadership to maintain this growth momentum.
What is the significance of March 23 for Pakistanis? How did Pakistan celebrate its National Day? What does the participation of friendly nations China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey in the parade mean?
World's Tallest Building Burj Khalifa Lit Up in Pakistani Colors
What message does Indian PM Modi's choice of Hindu militant priest Yogi Adityanath as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, send to Indian Muslims and the world? Does this election further reinforce the reasons for the partition of India as demanded by Muslims on March 23, 1940?
Who is Khalid Masood, the man alleged to have terrorized London and considered responsible for causing tragic deaths and injuries to many near the British Parliament? How is the Islamophobia industry using this incident to fan the flames of hate? Does Masood have any connection to Pakistan as alleged by some? Is he representative of Muslims and Islam?
Is the FBI investigating "coordination" between the Trump campaign and the Russians to influence US presidential elections in 2016? What does "coordination" mean? Is it active "collusion" to leak damaging Clinton emails and other info? Or simply encouraging such leaks to benefit Trump?
Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)
A segment of CBS 60 Minutes, top rated American newsmagazine on television, has recently brought sharp focus on H1B visa abuse. It alleges that the H1B visas are being misused by Indian body shops to bring low-cost Indian software engineers to the United States to replace higher-paid American workers.
H1B Visa Abuse:
The visa category was originally intended to help fill gaps in the high-tech workforce with highly skilled employees from abroad in situations where there aren’t enough Americans. Instead, it has given rise to body shops that bring in workers from overseas, mainly from India, to replace higher-paid American workers.
Recent examples of the firing of American IT workers and their replacement by Indian workers at UC San Francisco and Walt Disney and Co have received a lot of media attention. What has particularly incensed the American public is the practice of forcing the American workers to train their replacements.
Labor Cost Savings:
A loophole in H-1B legislation that US companies are taking advantage of allows them to outsource jobs to Indian body shops without even looking for Americans, if those jobs pay approximately $60,000 or higher. Similar jobs in Silicon Valley pay an average of $110,000 a year.
The average salary of a software engineer ($110,000) in Silicon Valley is about 20X more than the average salaries in India ($6,875) and Pakistan ($4,770), according to Glassdoor.
Excluding the Indian H1B workers' pay, India's IT exports drop to about one-twentieth of the the amount reported by the Indian government as IT exports, according to a 2005 study by US General Accounting Office (GAO).
The Indian body shops like Cognizant, TCS and Infosys that rely on the H1B visa program in the US are "the shining star" of the Indian economy, and the country's largest export, according to an Indian-American professor Ron Hira who is a strong critic of the abuses of H1B program. By complaining, the Indian government and firms that rely on the program are trying to "build up a firewall so that no other reforms can come through and constrain the program in any way."
H1B workers brought in by Indian body shops are described variously as "code coolies" or "H1B slaves". Some call them "indentured servants", like the ones from India who replaced slave labor after the British empire abolished slavery.
“’Indentured servants’ is a pretty accurate term because in many cases that’s exactly what’s going on,” said Phillip Griego of San Jose’s Phillip J. Griego and Associates. Over the years, Griego and his law partner, Robert Nuddleman have represented several H-1B workers in lawsuits against body shops.
Along with cracking down on illegal immigration, a key campaign promise of President Trump has been to create lots of American jobs for American workers. “You’ve heard me say the words, and I’ll repeat them, right now: Buy American and Hire American. It’s not just a motto, it’s a pledge. It’s a pledge to the working people of this country. The era of economic surrender for the United States is over -- it's over,” Trump said at Michigan earlier this week.
Right after the CBS 60 Minutes segment on H1-B visa, Senator Chuck Grassley tweeted: "If u just saw CBS 60minutes abt ripoff H1B visa program is replacing AmWorkers u shld know my/Durbin bill will correct this injustice."
There are reports that new legislation is being offered to change the H1-B program. Among the key provisions of this new proposed legislation are cutting the number of visa by 50% and doubling the minimum salary of H1B workers from $60,000 to $120,000.
The abuse of H1B visas to replace American workers and depress wages is drawing both legislative and executive attention under the Trump administration. High profile cases like the firing of American workers at UC San Francisco and Disney and their replacement by Indian workers has energized the support for cracking down on abuse.
What does the Dutch election result say about the right-wing populism wave in Europe? Is it a setback for anti-Muslim Geert Wilders, known as Dutch Trump, after Brexit and Trump wins? How will it impact the upcoming French presidential election? Will it help or hurt Marine Le Penn's chances?
What does the BJP sweep in UP elections mean for India and Indian politics? How did the BJP manage it? Did the Muslim vote-split between BSP and SP badly hurt Muslim representation in UP legislature? Has it further strengthened Hindu Nationalists and marginalized Muslims in Hinduized India?
What's new Trump's Muslim Ban 2.0? Why are the federal judges in Hawaii and Baltimore blocking it? Will the 6th Circuit and the US Supreme Court uphold the ban?
How will the long-awaited Pakistan census impact Pakistan's political map? Will smaller provinces with higher birth rates than Punjab gain more seats in the National Assembly? Will urban areas benefit from increased urbanization in gaining more power and resources? How will Sindh's Urdu-speaking population with its lower birth-rates fare?
Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with panelist Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)
World Happiness Report 2017 ranks Pakistan (score 5.269) at 80, well ahead of the rest of South Asia.
The latest world happiness report released on March 20, 2017 ranks Bhutan (score 5.011) at 97, Nepal (4.962) at 99, Bangladesh (4.608) at 110, Sri Lanka (4.44) at 120, India (4.315) at 122 and Afghanistan (3.794) at 141 among 155 nations surveyed.
Norway (7.537) has the highest score that combines economic, health and polling data compiled by economists that are averaged over three years from 2014 to 2016. Denmark (7.522) ranks second followed by Iceland (7.504), Switzerland (7.494) and Finland (7.469) making the top 5.
Modi Gang Tells Critics to Go to Pakistan
At the bottom are Sub-Saharan African nations of Tanzania (3.349) at 153, Burundi (2.905) at 154 and Central African Republic (2.693) at 155. War-torn Syria (3.462) is at 152.
World Happiness Report 2017 offers the following rationale for its annual happiness measurement exercise:
"The first World Happiness Report was published
in April, 2012, in support of the UN High Level
Meeting on happiness and well-being. Since
then we have come a long way. Happiness is
increasingly considered the proper measure of
social progress and the goal of public policy. In
June 2016, the OECD committed itself “to
redefine the growth narrative to put people’s
well-being at the centre of governments’ efforts”.1
In a recent speech, the head of the UN
Development Program (UNDP) spoke against
what she called the “tyranny of GDP”, arguing
that what matters is the quality of growth.“
Paying more attention to happiness should be
part of our efforts to achieve both human and
sustainable development” she said."
The survey uses Cantril Self-Anchoring Scale, developed by pioneering social researcher Dr. Hadley Cantril, consisting of the following:
1. Please imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top.
2. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you.
3. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?
4. On which step do you think you will stand about five years from now?
In addition to the answers to Cantril questions, the survey considers the following six variables: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, social freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption.
Here's another excerpt of the latest World Happiness Report:
"A household’s income counts for life satisfaction, but only in a limited way. Other things matter more:
community trust, mental and physical health, and the quality of governance and rule of law. Raising incomes
can raise happiness, especially in poor societies, but fostering cooperation and community can do even more,
especially in rich societies that have a low marginal utility of income. It is no accident that the happiest
countries in the world tend to be high-income countries that also have a high degree of social equality, trust,
and quality of governance. In recent years, Denmark has been topping the list. And it’s no accident that the
U.S. has experienced no rise of life satisfaction for half a century, a period in which inequality has soared,
social trust has declined, and the public has lost faith in its government."
Going by regions, European and North American nations are at the top of the list while sub-Saharan African nations are at the bottom. The rest of the world is in the middle.
In addition to median income and wealth, the prevalence of depression is among the key factors determining a country's happiness or the lack of it. The World Happiness Report 2015 noted that Pakistan has made significant efforts in treating rural women's depression. Here's an excerpt from the report:
"Community health workers (Lady Health Workers) were trained to identify and treat maternal depression, using a CBT-based ( intervention (the Thinking Healthy Program). The initiative used 16 home-based individual sessions and included active listening, collaboration with the family, guided discovery and homework (Cognitive Behavioral Therapists) is, trying things out between sessions, practicing what was learned). Forty local areas were assigned to either intervention or routine care, with about 450 mothers in each group. At follow-up sessions (after six months) the experimental group included 23% still depressed, compared with 53% in the control group. In another study, psychoeducation is being offered to all mothers."
A Lancet paper describes the mental health intervention as follows:
"Lady Health Workers (LHWs) were trained to deliver a Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) based intervention to depressed women, beginning in the last trimester of pregnancy and ending at 10 months postpartum. The intervention is based in a psychosocial model and not presented as a ‘treatment’ for a ‘mental health problem’ but rather as way to improve positive and healthy thinking around the mother and the baby. The actual delivery of the intervention was integrated into the routine work of the existing community health worker – called Lady Health Worker (LHW) and delivered at the women’s’ home. LHWs are mainly responsible for maternal and child health care".
The Lady Health Workers (LHW) program in Pakistan has been described as “one of the best community-based health systems in the world” by Dr. Donald Thea, a Boston University researcher and one of the authors of a recent Lancet study on child pneumonia treatment in Pakistan. He talked with the New York Times about the study.
Pakistan's relatively lower levels of depression and suicides (less than 3 per 100,000) in South Asia are reflected in the region's suicide statistics. A 2013 scientific paper titled "Mental Depression of Indian Women" published in "Anthropology" described the situation in India as follows: "Suicidal rate in India is higher comparing to other countries in the world. In each year over a half million people put their own lives down globally, of them 20% are Indians (17% of world population). However, during last two decades the rate of suicide has increased from 7.9 to 10.3 per 100,000".
India's youth suicide rate of 30-40 per 100,000 is among the highest in the world, according to a Lancet study. In addition, Indian farmers' suicides are continuing unabated at a rate of one every 30 minutes for the last two decades.
The problem of suicides appears to be at least in part due to the fact that India's value added agriculture continues be among the lowest in the world. Unlike India, Pakistan managed to significantly raise agriculture productivity and rural incomes in 1980s through a livestock revolution. Economic activity in dairy, meat and poultry sectors now accounts for just over 50% of the nation's total agricultural output. The result is that per capita value added to agriculture in Pakistan is almost twice as much as that in Bangladesh and India.
The key to improving happiness in developing countries like India and Pakistan is to focus on meeting basic needs such as education, nutrition and hygiene, in addition to addressing issues of health, including mental health.
It is well-known that Mr. Husain Haqqani, who served as Pakistan's ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011, has a long history of opportunism. He has switched loyalties many times since he began his career in Karachi, Pakistan in 1980s.
Does former Ambassador Haqqani's latest Washington Post Op Ed titled "Yes, the Russian ambassador met Trump’s team. So? That’s what we diplomats do" signal yet another shift in his ever-changing loyalties?
Is the Washington Post Op Ed an attempt by Mr. Haqqani to ingratiate himself with President Donald Trump by defending the Trump campaigns' controversial contacts with Russia? Is he doing what his current employer Hudson Institute, a conservative right-wing think tank, expects him to do? Is he also reminding the Trump administration of the valuable services he rendered to the United States while working as Pakistan's ambassador in Washington by confessing that "I had facilitated the presence of large numbers of CIA operatives" in Pakistan?
Haqqani's Shifting Loyalties:
Husain Haqqani began his career in 1980s as General Zia ul Haq's loyalist when he was affiliated with Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT), a right-wing student group with close ties to the Jamaat-e-Islami, a political party in Pakistan.
On August 21, 1988, Husain Haqqani covered Gen Zia's funeral as coanchor of PTV, the state-run television network. After the funeral, Haqqani spoke with Los Angeles Times correspondent Mark Fineman and said as follows:
"When Zia was alive, they (Zia's supporters) didn't have to come out. In fact, on most recent Fridays, when I went to prayer, my maulvi (Islamic preacher) has been blasting Zia as a phony and un-Islamic....Yesterday (after Zia's death), he was crying. The basic division in our society is between the Islamicists and the secularists, and this crowd today is saying that the highly religious segment of society cannot be ignored now that Zia is gone."
After the death of the general in a fiery air crash, Haqqani joined Prime Minister Sharif's right-leaning Muslim League and served as his press secretary followed by ambassadorship in Sri Lanka.
When Nawaz Sharif lost his job, Husain Haqqani joined left-leaning Pakistan People's Party and became Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's spokesman.
In a piece published in 1999 by Asian Wall Street Journal, Haqqani explained his changing loyalties in the following words: "Over the last three decades, I have alternated between being attracted to and repulsed by political Islam". The fact is that Mr. Haqqani has always been attracted to whoever is in power.
Currently, Haqqani is doing what is expected of him by his bosses at the right-wing Hudson Institute, a Washington think tank funded by the extreme right groups in the United States. Gatestone Institute, an offshoot of the Hudson Institute, is actively engaged in funding and promoting Islamophobia in America.
Washington Post Op Ed:
Ambassador Husain Haqqani has said in his Washington Post Op Ed that "I had facilitated the presence of large numbers of CIA operatives" in Pakistan.
Here's an excerpt from it.
"Among the security establishment’s grievances against me was the charge that I had facilitated the presence of large numbers of CIA operatives who helped track down bin Laden without the knowledge of Pakistan’s army — even though I had acted under the authorization of Pakistan’s elected civilian leaders."
Since the Op Ed claims to tell the world "what diplomats do" as part of their duties representing their nations abroad, it raises the following questions:
1. Is it part of an ambassador's job to send foreign intelligence agents into his or her own country without the knowledge and consent of his country's intelligence folks?
2. Can an ambassador trust that foreign intelligence operatives will only do what they promise in the ambassador's home country? Could it be that Bin Laden hunt was just an excuse to let in "large numbers of CIA operatives "who most likely have a far wider wider agenda, including tracking Pakistan's nuclear assets and spying that could risk Pakistan security?
3. Can an ambassador trust foreign intelligence agents more than his country's intelligence professionals?
4. How can an ambassador make sure that undercover foreign agents unknown to Pakistan's intelligence agencies would stick to doing only what they say they will do?
Husain Haqqani's Grudge:
Since his dismissal as Pakistan's ambassador in Washington, Mr. Husain Haqqani is nursing a grudge against Pakistan that is evident from his "research recommendations" for US policy on Pakistan.
For example, in a 2015 Wall Street Journal piece, he questioned "why are we sending this attack helicopter to Pakistan?" The "we" here is noteworthy given that he is currently a citizen of Pakistan. Mr. Haqqani's main worry was that "American weapons will end up being used to fight or menace India".
In 2016, Mr. Haqqani argued against US sales of F-16s to Pakistan and agreed with the Indian lobbyists that the F-16s would be used against India, not for fighting terror as Pakistan said.
Pakistan People's Party's Role:
Pakistan People's Party leaders have rejected Husain Haqqani's claim that he "acted under the authorization of Pakistan’s elected civilian leaders" when he "facilitated the presence of large numbers of CIA operatives" in Pakistan.
The PPP parliamentary leader Mr. Khursheed Shah has denounced Haqqani as a traitor and said “This man is issuing statement in an effort to gain attention of new US administration.”
Mr. Husain Haqqani has a long history of changing loyalties. He has often recommended US policy positions that are seen as detrimental to US-Pakistan ties, especially since his 2011 dismissal as Pakistan's ambassador in Washington. He has recently said he "had facilitated the presence of large numbers of CIA operatives" in Pakistan when he served as Pakistani ambassador in Washington from 2008 to 2011. His claim that he did so with Pakistani government's authorization has been rejected by the leaders of the Pakistan People's Party that governed the country at the time.
Here's a video of Riaz Haq rebutting Husain Haqqani:
How does President Trump's latest travel ban on citizens of 6 Muslim nations differ from his earlier executive order blocked by courts? Will the new order face similar block? What is the economic impact of Trump's travel ban on US travel and tourism industry? Will it lead to increased trade deficit and job losses?
What does the latest Transparency International's Asia survey say about the prevalence of bribery in India and Pakistan? Which countries are the best and the worst? Who are the biggest victims of such bribery? The rich or the poor?
Why is Imran Khan critical of the successful Pakistan Super League final in Lahore, Pakistan? Why did he denigrate foreign players who came to Pakistan to play the final? Does his language border on racism?
What did PMLN's Javed Lateef say about PTI's Murad Saeed and his sisters that so enraged Murad Saeed and Imran Khan? Is such verbal and physical abuse justified for parliamentarians?
Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with panelists Ali H. Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)
Recent reports of Russian hacks of the American Democratic Party's election campaign staff to influence the outcome of US elections have brought international cyber espionage in sharp focus once again. How many nations have such capabilities? What are their names? Are India and Pakistan among them?
Pakistan is believed to be among a couple of dozen nations with serious cyber espionage capabilities. This belief has been strengthened among the cyber security community since Operation Arachnophobia is suspected to have originated in Pakistan.
Bloodmoney: A Novel of Espionage:
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius frequently writes about the activities of intelligence agencies and often cites "anonymous" intelligence sources to buttress his opinions. He is also a novelist who draws upon his knowledge to write spy thrillers.
Ignatius's 2011 fiction "Bloodmoney: A Novel of Espionage" features a computer science professor Dr. Omar who teaches at a Pakistani university as the main character. Omar, born in Pakistan's tribal region of South Waziristan, is a cyber security expert. One of Omar's specialties is his deep knowledge of SWIFT, a network operated by Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication that tracks all international financial transactions, including credit card charges.
Omar's parents and his entire family are killed in a misdirected US drone strike. Soon after the tragedy, several undercover CIA agents are killed within days after their arrival in Pakistan. American and Pakistani investigations seek the professor's help to solve these murders. Ignatius's novel ends with the identification of the professor as the main culprit in the assassinations of CIA agents.
In 2014, researchers from FireEye, a Silicon Valley cyber security company founded by a Pakistani-American, and ThreatConnect teamed up in their investigation of "Operation Arachnophobia" targeting Indian computers. It features a custom malware family dubbed Bitterbug that serves as the backdoor for stealing information. Though the researchers say they have not identified the specific victim organizations, they have spotted malware bundled with decoy documents related to Indian issues, according to DarkReading.com.
The reason it was dubbed "Operation Arachnophobia" has to do with the fact that variants of the Bitterburg malware detected by the researchers included build paths containing the strings “Tranchulas” and “umairaziz27”, where Tranchulas is the name of an Islamabad-based Pakistani security firm and Umair Aziz is one of its employees.
Operation Arachnophobia targeted Indian officials. It appears to have been Pakistan's response to India's Operation Hangover that targeted Pakistan. Investigations by Norway-based security firm Norman have shown that the Operation Hangover attack infrastructure primarily was used as a means to extract security-related information from Pakistan and, to a lesser extent, China.
"Targeted attacks are all too common these days, but this one is certainly noteworthy for its failure to employ advanced tools to conduct its campaigns," said Jean Ian-Boutin, malware researcher at ESET security company. "Publicly available tools to gather information on infected systems shows that the attackers did not go to great lengths to cover their tracks. On the other hand, maybe they see no need to implement stealthier techniques because the simple ways still work."
Attack Easier Than Defense:
The fact that cyber attacks so often succeed suggests that it's easier to attack a system than to defend it. By the time such attacks are detected, it's already too late. A lot of valuable information has already been lost to attackers.
However, it's still very important to possess the cyberattack capability as a deterrent to attacks. Those who lack the capacity to retaliate invite even more brazen cyberattacks.
Need for International Treaties:
Cyberattacks on infrastructure can have disastrous consequences with significant loss of human life. Disabling power grids and communication networks can hurt a lot of people and prevent delivery of aid to victims of disaster. It's important that nations work together to agree on some norms for what is permissible and what is not before there is a catastrophe.
About 30 nations, including US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, China, India, Iran, Israel and Pakistan, possess cyber espionage and attack capabilities. Growth and proliferation of such technologies present a serious threat to world peace. There is an urgent need for nations of the world to come together to agree on reasonable restrictions to prevent disasters.
A Transparency International (TI) study of 16 Asian countries, including India and Pakistan, has found that India has the highest bribery rate. 69% of survey respondents in India said they have paid a bribe, given a gift or done a favor to receive government services like education and health care. Vietnam follows with 65%, Thailand 41% and Pakistan 40%. China reported a much lower 26%.
The Transparency International study released in March 2017 is part of a regional series for the Global Corruption Barometer. 22,000 people participated in the survey to answer questions about their recent experiences with corruption in 16 countries and territories in the Asia Pacific region.
The study found that Japan has the lowest incidence of bribery at 0.2 per cent. South Korea and Australia recorded 3% each, Hong Kong 2% and Taiwan 6%. While 46% to 60% of Indians say they paid bribes for various public services, including in public schools and hospitals and for getting IDs, voter cards and permits and accessing utilities and the police, 31% to 45% said they paid bribes for court services as well.
Unlike the rest of Asia, the poorest people are the biggest victims of corruption in India (73%), Pakistan (64%) and Thailand (46%).
Pakistan fares worse than India in terms of bribes paid to police and courts but better in access to schools and health facilities.
The TI report said that "police top the list of public services most often demanding a bribe. Just under a third of people who had come into contact with a police officer in the last 12 months said they paid a bribe.
Overall, 38 per cent of the poorest people surveyed said they paid a bribe, which is the highest proportion of any income group".
Although this report suggests Pakistan is doing better than its neighbor India, the corruption levels in Pakistan remain very high relative to more developed Asian economies. The worst part of it is that the poorest people who can least afford to pay bribes are the biggest victims of such corrupt practices. Fighting corruption requires a broad-based effort. The mass media need to play a role in exposing it; the lawyers and the judges need to do their part to address it. And the civil society at large needs to speak up whenever and wherever they see it.
U.S. President Donald Trump's revised travel ban on citizens of six Muslim-majority countries will not reduce its impact on tourism, according to Taleb Rifai, the head of UN World Tourism Organization. "People don't go to places where they don't feel welcome," he added.
Reports indicate that foreign travelers from many non-Muslim majority countries have also been met with hostility by US officials upon arrival in the United States.
Mem Fox, author of children's books advocating tolerance and acceptance, was detained by U.S. immigration officials as she arrived in America to give a talk about the importance of tolerance and acceptance, the Washington Post reported. She said "the manner in which we were interrogated — in public view about really private information — was terrible. It was the insolence that was beyond mind-boggling.”
Hopper, an app which uses data to predict and analyze airfares, says that its research indicates that searches for flights to the US between January 26 and February 1 by internet users from 122 different countries dropped 17 per cent compared to the first three weeks in January, according to media reports.
Trump's travel ban has already resulted in a worldwide 6.5 per cent drop in the number of airline bookings for travelers headed to the United States, according to Daily Mail.
Meanwhile, New York City projects it will see 300,000 fewer international visitors in 2017 than it did in 2016, a 2.1% dip, according to a report in USA Today. It's the first time that group of travelers has shrunk since 2008, according to NYC and Company, New York's tourism arm.
The US travel industry had nearly $250 billion in sales to foreigners in 2015 and had a $98 billion trade surplus, the most of any sector, according to MarketWatch. Without travel, the U.S. trade deficit would be about 20% larger, $600 billion instead of $500 billion.
It seems that President Trump's policies are not only hurting America's image abroad but also contributing to potential job losses in travel and tourism industry that employs millions of Americans. Such policies are more likely to hurt than help the "working class white" Americans who voted for Mr. Trump.