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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.

How far ahead of Pakistan is India?—I

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


Comments are closed.

TidBit Sep 23, 2023 07:11am
Pakistan should never budge an inch from its principled stand on Kashmir--once you start with this premise, then the rest does not matter. For Pakistan, never ever budge an inch from its principled stand on Kashmir means doing nothing with India. Because, the moment you trade, you have given up your principled stand. You cannot have it both ways. Either you give up your principled stand and trade, or stay within the confines of your principles and dont trade. As for India, it does not matter what Pakistan does.
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Adi Sep 23, 2023 09:32am
We had one opportunity for peace with Vajpayee & Nawaz Sharif. Musharraf should burn in eternal fires for what he did to the subcontinent. As I read Pakistani newspapers, I think it’s less about Kashmir than about forging a more secure identity for itself. For instance, 15th August 1947 is the culmination of Indian struggle for Independence from British rule. What is 14th August 1947? Culmination of the Pakistan movement - freedom from India.
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Aurangazeb Sep 23, 2023 10:18am
Why should India trade with Pakistan ?
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KU Sep 23, 2023 11:26am
Our industry, agriculture, and urban properties/businesses were acquired by the opportunists at least 2 to 3 years before independence. At the end of the 2nd World War in 1945, Britain had no motivation to continue their hold on its colonies, especially India. This confidential information was exchanged by the British government with their Indian counterparts in 1945 and was to benefit many leaders and businessmen in would-be Pakistan. The unequal distribution of industry, irrigation, etc., was not the main cause of how far ahead India is today, but it was the existence of opportunists and lust that laid the foundations of corruption in our country. These opportunists wasted a further 25 years by indulging in power politics and showed no interest in the development of industry, education, and economic development for the future. The losers in this unequal distribution were millions of migrants who lost their lives and the ones who survived, find themselves left far behind to date.
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Spaceman Sep 23, 2023 03:48pm
"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." As a country Pakistan always had the wrong priorities. Pakistan almost demands that India plays cricket in each others countries. However, trade is strictly off limits. Strange. India knows that trade with China is important to it and cannot disconnect at this point without consequence. It is now looking to diversify and localize its demand market. Countries build leverage by establishing trade partnership.
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Az_Iz Sep 23, 2023 07:25pm
China is among the to five trading partner for almost every country in the world, including US and EU members. If they stop trading with China, their economies will shut down in a few weeks. That is the big reason nobody wants to shut down trade with China, even though many would like to do that. Whereas India is in the bottom five trading partners for many countries. If they completely stop trading with India, they can move on.
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Az_Iz Sep 23, 2023 07:28pm
Mumbai city is also the place where thousands of Muslims were shot dead by security forces, in no time, in 1992.
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Az_Iz Sep 23, 2023 07:39pm
The big difference between Pakistan compared with India and Bangladesh is, Pakistan’s savings rate has been about 10 percent less than the others, at every stage of development. The gutless politicians take the easy route. Selling petrol at half the price. Not able to even stop retail shops from staying open until midnight and waste electricity, which never happens anywhere else in the world. Whatever money is earned through exports and remittances is used mostly for cheap consumption. Then go seeking loans and supporting from brotherly countries, when you cannot pay the bills. There is hardly any public transport, but luxury cars are imported. Only 30 years after discovering Thar coal, it is being used now. In the meanwhile, they built power plants with imported coal and gas. Just by increasing the savings and investing in dams and other productive projects, the country can make significant progress.
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Az_Iz Sep 23, 2023 08:01pm
Pakistan also started of with hurdles. It got one out of nineteen universities. It got a couple of major industries out of about thirty. It also absorbed a much higher percentage of refugees. India absorbed about refugees who were about two percent of the population. For Pakistan it was about 10 percent. It further hosts another 4 million Afghan refugees. It does not get any external help for this, nor is this appreciated by anyone. And Pakistan itself does not brag about it. You cannot quantify this. But something the country can be proud of.
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Az_Iz Sep 23, 2023 08:10pm
Hosting and integrating refugees who were fleeing for their lives during partition , making up almost ten percent of the population is a great achievement. Then hosting another 4 million refugees from Afghanistan is another achievement. The country neither receive any help nor appreciation for these two great tasks. And Pakistani themselves don’t brag about it. That is character of the people of Pakistan. This cannot be quantified, and it will not show up in any GDP and per capita numbers.
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Az_Iz Sep 23, 2023 08:29pm
Object poverty like that in India, is not visible in Pakistan. A point, even a critic of Pakistan like Javed Akhtar noted, when he visited Pakistan. It is another matter that he went on to say that Pakistan is good at hiding them. One of the reasons for this is the generosity of its people, who take care of the poor, better than in India, where they are mostly left to fend for themselves.
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Az_Iz Sep 23, 2023 08:45pm
Pakistan is beginning to gain some traction in IT. It should scale this up. IT is the easiest of all the engineering majors. It is also the least capital intensive industry. India realized this much earlier. There is no reason why Pakistan couldn’t do this as well.
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Awami Sep 24, 2023 09:30am
@Az_Iz, IT is very advanced but AI technology is just emerging and country can devote more students in that area.
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Awami Sep 24, 2023 09:49am
@Az_Iz, @Az_Iz, My feeling is competing in IT at this time is very hard as those things are very advanced and advancing hyperbolically than linearly. If you look at graduates in IT , presently to start needs good command in Machine language. Most IT grads have no knowledge beyond rudiments. A person knows reading and writing can not write a novel or poems. Same way todays IT grad from Pakistan in computers can not compete in US market. Our people work at small specific jobs but not major 'projects,. Successful people are modest and know what they can do. Country can do far better in many service areas where no high tech, or No Midtech but NO Tech is required. Some times people have not worked in HighTech have wrong ideas as they have not worked. As have been working in these areas unfortunately many IT graduates will be unemployable.
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Awami Sep 24, 2023 09:58am
@Az_Iz, India started when industry was starting. They had basic knowledge and they gained as industry was growing. They grew up organically with growth. Computer is not " Mathematics but is more straight forward to some extent mechanics work. They are like car mechanics. Car mechanics learns from experience as time goes and he repairs cars. So mechanical Graduate can not do that work though he may know thermodynamics and theory of machines. People should think before going as country does not teach practical work. ( Not only computers but in most fields)
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Javed J Sep 24, 2023 07:59pm
I would rather read about Bangladesh's transformation. Remember Bangladesh was a basket case. Erstwhile East Pakistan was poorly managed just like Pakistan is being managed. Bangladesh should be an inspiration for provinces like Balochistan. Journey from East Pakistan to Bangladesh is remarkable.
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