The Indian diaspora is quite highly placed in developed economies where a number of Indians are also part of advisory structures, but when the time comes in India to select a Finance Minister preference is given to an elected person with domestic experience.
In Pakistan, however, we have had Prime Ministers and Finance Ministers who never spent an hour in public life in Pakistan. They went back to their stations or ‘bases’ abroad as soon as they were out of power.
Competition & comparative studies
Unlike Pakistan, India has always benchmarked itself against China, which is a much a bigger player. Pakistan, however, was never able to bracket itself with any reasonable competitor owing to its myopic view of the world. Pakistan should have benchmarked itself against India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia.
However, over time, especially after 1971, we are constantly downgrading our benchmarks. We deeply admire the cultural settings of the UAE and Saudi Arabia. On account of lack of social and commercial relations with India and Bangladesh, our generation born after the 1980s is not able to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of societies of India and Bangladesh, which are comparable to our own society.
As a result of which, our youths believe that their society is much inferior to those of the USA and Canada. Ironically, they start admiring the monarchies of sheikdoms of the Arab world. This means we haven’t set any proper benchmark in our quest for development.
Therefore, we are now being bracketed with Afghanistan, Nigeria and Somalia. One of the biggest losses that we have incurred by not having social and commercial relations with India is that we have lost the idea of competitiveness.
Our common man erroneously believes that India is a society where there is constant aggression against Muslims without realizing the fact that there are areas in Mumbai such as Mohammad Ali Road and Crawford Market where millions of Muslims observe their religious obligations in more peaceful manner than in some parts of Pakistan.
The author is a witness to Friday congregations that take place on roads in Mumbai downtown due to shortage of space. No security arrangement is required as there is no history of any event in the last 30 years. This, however, does not mean that everything is ideal for Muslims in India.
To illustrate the difference, a case study of comparison between two enterprises engaged in almost the same business originating from the same area. This is the story of the ‘Sohrab’ bicycle of Pakistan and the ‘Hero’ bicycle of India.
Sohrab in Pakistan:
The company began in 1952 as a collaborative effort of group of traders in Lahore, following a foreign exchange crisis which severely restricted imports in Pakistan. The traders saw an opportunity to domestically produce and sell bicycles, and consequently founded Sohrab on 8 September 1953 under Section 9 of the Co-operative Societies Act II of 1912. It initially had 22 members and produced 5 bicycles a day. It now has 228 members and produces approximately 2,000 bicycles a day.
The following is the story of Hero in India:
Hero Cycles was established in 1956 in Ludhiana, Punjab, manufacturing bicycle components. Today, Hero Cycles is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of bicycles, producing 18,390 cycles per day. Hero Cycles Ltd. is part of Hero Motors Company. In 2016 Hero Cycles exported to over 70 countries world-wide.
The founder of Hero has the following history:
Om Prakash Munjal was born in Kamalia (the present-day Faisalabad District). In 1944, his family moved to Amritsar to start a bicycle spare parts business with his three brothers, Brijmohan Lall Munjal, Dayanand Munjal and Satyanand Munjal.
The business flourished, however, within a few years, the Partition of India occurred and severely affected the business environment in Amritsar. The brothers moved the base of their operations to Ludhiana.
In 1956, they moved from component manufacturing to complete bicycle manufacturing with the brand name Hero, the first bicycle manufacturing unit in India, producing 639 bicycles in the first year. Munjal died on 13 August 2015.
The author is aware of the fact that Pakistani enterprise is not exploring its full potential and some of the members of the cooperative are interested in selling the factory, which is now located within Greater Lahore where its land’s value has appreciated enormously.
They are not interested in diversifying operations to increase output with a view to boosting export of this product by exploring new markets abroad. Unless and until we place these practical examples before our people our arrogance will not go away.
It is about time we learnt with humility and accepted our mistakes. The author is aware that a USA President came all the way to Ludhiana to visit the Hero bicycle plant in the 1960s. We had Batala Engineering Company Limited (BECO) producing looms in the 1970s.
Now it is in no more as the factory is almost shut for many decades. It is also about time our nation wrote a history of the mistakes it has committed in the field of economic policymaking since its birth over 75 years ago.
It is an undisputed fact that the Kashmir dispute has dominated India-Pakistan relations ever since the Partition. Pakistan should never budge an inch from its principled stand on Kashmir. However, this lingering dispute cannot be allowed to provide sustenance to an illusionary and completely flawed narrative that advocates a no-trade-with-India policy. China, too, has a border dispute with India, but these two neighbors trade with each other. This writer strongly believes that economics is a by-product of a politico-social environment. Unless that environment is corrected there cannot be any societal stability for sustainable economic growth.
(To be continued)
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023