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Archive for February, 2009

India’s Triumphant Cultural & Political March

Posted by imrananwar on February 23, 2009

India’s Triumphant Cultural & Political March:

From The Slums Of Bollywood To The Red Carpet Of Hollywood

By Imran Anwar

(New York) It was nearly 30 years ago that my first writings were published in a major Pakistani newspaper, the once defunct and then reborn Pakistan Times. The writings continued during my time with the Jang group, in particular MAG Weekly, in the late 1980s, until I left for the United States.

All during that time, despite all my criticisms of whoever was in power at that time in Pakistan, my writings were always full of hope, desire and confidence of a great future that Pakistan had ahead of it. I also often wondered about why people older than me, some who had also travelled abroad, were far more cynical and much less hopeful.

All through that time I had always been the staunchest supporter and the defender of the name of Pakistan, whether it be in writing letters to the editors of foreign journals and newspapers critical of Pakistan or trying to convince foreign diplomats and journalists, as well as Western citizens, about how great Pakistan was going to be.

One of the important yardsticks, which would perhaps now be called a Meter stick under the metric system, was how we were doing in comparison to India. I distinctly recall how Pakistan had always been a pro-western, America-allied, fairly liberal, capitalism driven society.

India, on the other hand, was a country we competed with on the field of sports, the battlefield, as well as for international influence. We used to laugh at the ugly, dinky little cars that the Indians made, instead of importing the fancy ones we were driving in Pakistan.

Yet in the last 20 years that I have lived in America, India has made amazing, impressive and steady marching progress towards becoming a major global player – in almost every industry in the world. Pakistan during that same time seems to have sprinted downhill – faster than any Olympic athlete could.

It should have been a matter of concern for us when India, the long staunch Soviet and Communist ally, became a major trading partner of the United States, a country on which we had long relied, and whose foreign policies we had often followed. India developed a pool of engineering and other professionals, providing services, engineering, talent and operational capabilities to the world’s largest companies.

In doing so they earned billions and billions of dollars for their country. During this time, we in Pakistan saw the decline of the educational system, the breakdown of institutions, if any existed, and simply the beginning of the end of what might have been a great future.

It was a matter of personal disappointment, almost shame, for me that the day that India launched its first astronaut into space was also the same day that Pakistan went to the International Monetary Fund to beg for survival money. Shame.

During the same time that we were making a name for ourselves, for kidnapping and beheading visitors to our country, India launched, and continues to run, one of the most impressive media campaigns to promote tourism in its country.

Titled “Incredible India!” this campaign appears in major newspapers, magazines and many other places. It simply takes almost exactly the same kind of tourism places and situations that Pakistan could offer visitors but turns it into a must-visit, mystique-filled, once-in-a-lifetime, cultural experience image.

During this time despite the proliferation of private TV channels in Pakistan, another field where the Indians have done an amazing job has been their film industry. They have leveraged it not just in making a name for themselves, but marketing their country and becoming a source of talent abroad. In addition, in exchange, they are bringing even more visitors and foreign exchange to their country,

First their hottest movie stars started appearing in Hollywood films. Then, despite many Indian movies being barely concealed copies of Hollywood scripts, India was able to convince Hollywood to make many Indian-themed movies.

Then they tied their greater and greater visibility in Hollywood, ever improving quality of Bollywood films – which were getting screened in America. They then mixed in marketing of India and its culture and cemented it with the welcoming of American tourists and filmmakers. This was an amazing recipe to lead India to one of its greatest global public relations successes just a few minutes ago.

The Academy Awards ceremony has just concluded in Hollywood, California. As this publication is going to press, the whole world (including a television audience of probably 1 billion people, along with the many millions more who will read newspapers and see photographs online) has seen India emerging as a triumphant victor on yet another field. This time it’ the red carpet of Hollywood and the Oscars ceremony.

Even a movie called Slumdog Millionaire, set against the backdrop of the intense poverty that can be found in India, has turned into a global publicity and financial victory for India, its culture, its movie industry, its tourism and its economy.

And this is not just about showbiz or something that has no global or historic significance. India’s clout, its visibility, its popularity and its new-found confidence – even from something as simple as a movie award – is manifesting itself in its ability to dictate to the world.

India can now even dictate what President Barack Hussein Obama‘s team can or will discuss with the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Afghanistan – who are now in Washington DC.

India not only did not attend the meeting, it made clear to the American government that Kashmir is not to be discussed. The American administration agreed to that. In the meantime the same American Administration has expanded the missile strikes it will carry out within Pakistan – while Pakistan’s shameless politicians are merely fighting over dissolving assemblies and not even worried about justice, the one promise that people had asked to be fulfilled, from Karachi to Swat.

The early copies of tomorrow’s New York Times show the exactly opposite paths that two countries born on the same day in history have taken.

The Indian movie industry’s massive triumph on the Hollywood red carpet is one headline related to India. On the same page, the news item related to Pakistan is about a secret United States unit now in Pakistan to train its commandos to battle AlQaeda and the Taliban.

While American companies, and even individual creative types, are literally discussing over cocktails this very minute the next project they want to do in India, the few people discussing Pakistan are wondering if Pakistan will even survive as a nation.

I wonder if I will be around in 20 years to write a similar analysis. And I wonder where in history, geography and world affairs Pakistan will stand on that day. What do you think?


Imran Anwar is a New York based Pakistani-American entrepreneur, Internet pioneer, inventor, writer and TV personality. He can be reached through his web site http://imran.com and imran@imran.com . You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/imrananwar

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Posted in 2009, Afghanistan, AlQaeda, America, Barack Obama, Hollywood, Imran, Imran Anwar, India, Justice, Kashmir, Marketing, Media, Missile, Obama, Pakistan, Politics, President, Washington | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Yellow, Red & Dark Blue Frame Stiltsville Frames, Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida

Posted by imrananwar on February 22, 2009

Yellow Red & Dark Blue Frame Stiltsville Frames, Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida - IMRAN™

I only had the pocket Nikon S6 when we went through Biscayne channel heading back to Miami from the Atlantic Ocean. This is a crop of the merely 2MB image so it cannot compare to what the Nikon D300 takes, but still shows the magical moments to be captured, the memories to be made, never knowing when the world changes.

Imran

Posted in 2009, Boating, Clouds, Florida, Lifestyles, Miami, Nikon, Photography, Sunset, Travel, Yachting | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Speed(y)boat, Slow (air)ship to Miami – IMRAN™

Posted by imrananwar on February 20, 2009

Speed(y)boat, Slow (air)ship to Miami - IMRAN™

Underway in Biscayne Bay, I was able to fire off a few shots of this shiny speedboat flying across the shimmering blue water as an equally bright and blue airship languidly circled the Miami skies over mansions and highrises, ports and parks. Nikon D300 shot, taken from my Sea Ray Sundancer 360.

© 2009 IMRAN

Posted in 2009, Boating, Clouds, Florida, Flying, Imran, Imran Anwar, ImranAnwar, Lifestyles, Miami, Nikon, Ocean, Photography, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Three Trillion Dollar Question & The Answer Is….

Posted by imrananwar on February 16, 2009

The fact is that the American and the global economy are in a severe recession. The biggest problem is a crisis of confidence. Uncertainty is always known to be the enemy of confidence. I am reminded of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle that we were taught in our electrical engineering studies, at the University of Engineering and Technology at Lahore 25 years ago.

The problem with the uncertainty today is that no one seems to know what they are uncertain about. Almost everyone agrees that the economy will eventually recover. Most people can also see the signs, not just here in America, but also abroad. These show some economic activity has begun to take place.

Some of the positive news that has come out in the American media recently has been a decline in the number of homes going into foreclosure. This has come at the same time as higher retail sales figures for the month of January. Of course these numbers may look higher compared to the very dismal sales figures of December 2008. Regardless, it is a positive sign.

However, it seems that at every stage, and at every piece of news, the stock market reacts adversely. My personal suspicion is that most large investors, including players in the stock market, and other influential figures may also be playing an active but insidious role in ensuring volatility in the stock market.

Mind you, I have no actual proof of this. It is merely a hunch. My suspicion is that these people play the stock market not just for regular profit but for nefarious purposes.

The volatility is actually not random but manipulated by certain key investor groups. It is their way of ensuring that people in government, the media as well as the public at large remain uncertain, as well as demanding of a bigger and bigger stimulus package, that is likely to benefit fewer and fewer people.

In other words, the more volatility they show in the market, the more they can get people to panic. The more that happens, or the more things appear uncertain, the greater the likelihood of being able to force the government to spend billions of dollars more, mostly on pork barrel spending or bailouts of crooked bankers.

There are several other positive signs. The price of oil continues to remain low. President Baraka Hussein Obama, with the support of his Democratic majority in Congress, has succeeded in passing a massive stimulus package. This stimulus package as it is called is nearly $800 billion worth of mostly government spending.

This package has come on top of nearly $2 trillion being pumped into American banks. In other words almost $3 trillion is getting spent on restarting the American economy. But is it going to be enough? That is the massive historical question.

My personal feeling is still ambivalence towards these amounts being spent.

I am highly opposed to the massive money poured into banks that did not lend money to consumers. Some of these shameless perpetrators of corporate malfeasance, and gross negligence and incompetence, went on to give themselves billions of dollars in bonuses. One yearns for the days of public hanging of vile characters like that.

Similarly, the money being spent on big government projects are not the answer for short-term solutions that we need to jumpstart the economy really quickly. For example, many projects will take months, if not years, to actually get rolling. Many approval processes and similar formalities will insure other delays. That means any hiring or new jobs that come from these projects may take years to come into the economy.

As a matter of fact, if the economy recovers on its own, especially with the private sector leading the way, it is even possible that by the time these government projects come online most of the capable talent will already be in private service. That means either less experienced or less capable people will end up running those projects. That increases the likelihood of failure and wasted money.

For months I have been proposing an alternate economic recovery plan. My proposal was based not on spending $3 trillion but one trillion.

My proposal is very simple. I suggest that the government set aside $1 trillion and create a state run bank. This bank would issue a short-term limited use credit card. On average the $1 trillion would be given out as a $10,000 credit card to 100 million American households. The range of credit available on these cards would be $5000-$25,000 (hence the average of about $10,000 per household).

The credit cards would be issued with a very simple set of rules. They would only be given to people who are legal residents, or citizens, and who had paid taxes in the last three years. They would not have filed bankruptcy during that period. People would have between 30 and 90 days to use up the entire limit on their credit card. That means “use it or lose it” would be the rule.

This would ensure that one trillion American dollars would jump right back into the economy within 30-90 days. People would be allowed to buy anything legal at any American merchant who accepts these credit cards. These credit cards could even be used to buy an American automobile, if people wanted to. That way American consumers money would be going to American automakers to help them recover – but without it being a no strings attached bailout, as was previously being asked for.

This credit card would not be a giveaway. The entire money borrowed by the consumers would have to be repaid in full, with interest, to the government. However, instead of 15-25% interest rates that most banks charge on credit cards, if they were even issuing new credit, people would be able to pay in this credit card loan back to the government at a nominal interest rate of about 5%.

Even at this 5% rate consumers would be saving a ton of money in interest payments. At the same time even the government would be making a lot more money in interest income than it has been getting from literally giving away taxpayer money to banks at nearly 0%.

Instead of the government trying to set up the infrastructure for doing this, I would have MasterCard, Visa and American Express compete for the business of merchant processing. The condition would be that they would not charge the typical 3-5% transaction fee to merchants but 0.5%
In exchange merchants would have to pass that in savings to consumers. It would still be a win-win-win for everybody.

The credit card companies would still get to process hundreds of millions of new transactions – without having to do any marketing. Merchants would be ensured of immediate new cash coming in through these transactions – without additional cost. Consumers would benefit from the lower costs being passed on to them – without having to wait for expensive credit lines from sleazy banks.

People would have the choice of paying this credit card in monthly statement payments, just like any other credit card. In addition they could also make payments to this credit card loan by adding some of the amount due to the annual taxes that they pay.

Within five years most of the money will be recovered in full, with interest. $1 trillion will immediately go into the US economy to jumpstart it. Many consumers will be able to buy things that they are unable to afford for lack of credit right now. Thousands of merchants will be able to stay in business with the influx of cash. States will benefit from sales tax revenues starting up again. Manufacturers will be able to keep factories running and people employed. Above all, the solution benefits every American, at every level of education and economic strata, not just a few.

I believe my $1 trillion answer is the solution to the $3 trillion question. What do you think?

Posted in 2009, America, Automakers, Banking, Barack Obama, Consumers, Credit Cards, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, Future, Imran Anwar, Investment, Money, Obama, Politics, President | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Three Trillion Dollar Question & The Answer Is….

 
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