Thoughts by Bahadar Ali

October 23, 2008

Free Market Economy. Thud…!

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 10:32 am

Relax, I am not going to write an obituary of Free Market Economy, at least not for now. It is also not about stock market crashes. Because these crashes are like fore-shocks that precede a big earthquake. But this about Capitalism which is getting old and hence its derivative the Free Market Economy.

The human being owes a lot to Capitalism, it has given human race an unprecedented progress. The kind of progress man has made during last three hundred years is more than the collective development of four thousand years, preceding this economical model. Capitalism is the product of renaissance. It was considered to be the most natural financial system that has ever evolved. It encouraged competition. It let the individual to work hard and compete. This served two purposes: The consumer got the best at less price and manufacturer grew among ranks for the quality products.

So far so good. However, Capitalism also gave birth to free but heartless market forces. Free market forces are the direct result of human greed. A greed that torpedoed the original healthy competition practices. As smaller merchants grew bigger and they thought the less the competition, the more the profit. So they started buying smaller businesses and an erosion started to the element of Capitalism. Individual businesses started to turn into giants and soon they found their surrounding markets insufficient for their profit appetite. This gave birth to colonialism. The smart European nations engaged in a race of finding new markets and hence colonization of the world started. From Latin Americas to Indo-China, these colonials captured more nations and populations and it was all about acquiring markets. They fought the natives and also fought themselves.

The concept of nation-state and nationalism among other things was also the result of a mutual jealousy. A jealousy to capture more markets. The manifestation of this dark side of human being can be seen in the 18th and 19th century wars in Europe which ended up in the shape of horrible and catastrophic wars named as World War I & II.

Capitalism in its intent was to help human being and help it did till the individual businesses grew bigger then the states. After World War II, US became the flag carrier of Capitalism. Till 1970s the state served as a check, to some extent, over the practices of big companies which by then started working as multinationals. ( Pakistanis and Indians can recall East India Company as the first and unforgettable multinational experience ) Later a new doctrine put into practice which was called Reganistic or Thatcheristic economy. Under this doctrine, the state surrendered and profit hungry multinationals got a free hand in their dealings without any kind of state control. The evaporating state control gave rise to fierce Capitalism or I must say a Very Free Market Economy.

This essentially transformed multinationals into semi-governing units which had their presence everywhere in the world, with their own populations. They acquired enough power to make or break governments. And this was not only confined to smaller nations but even countries like US had to follow the dictates of these MNCs( Multinational Companies ). To quote an example, while US had imposed sanctions over Libya and no individual or business could deal with them, being an enemy country. Three US oil companies got an exemption by virtue of their power and clout.

These MNCs are all for profit and just profit. The notion of serving or helping humanity are the deleted words of an MNCs dictionary. They wanted everything, even those departments such as health and education out of the state’s control to maximize their earnings.

The direct implication of this phenomena resulted in concentration of wealth in fewer hands. If we want to measure the sheer size of these MNCs, you would be surprised to know that only GDP of ten countries is larger than the market capitalization of Walmart! Which is followed by 39 other MNCs and at 50th position we get some country, Norway. This huge size of the companies gave birth to the notion of Trick Down Economy. This essentially means that first deep pockets needs to be filled when once those are filled then some coins might make some rattle on the road, for general public.

I intentionally gave a genesis of MNCs and Free Market Economy. Now these organizations are so huge but it will never reach the contentment and hence more wealth for few and more poverty for masses. This system is now getting fastly into non-sustainable phase. Because when the same MNCs does riskier investments and head for collapse they expect to be bailed out by the public money, the same public which kept on looking towards them for trickle down stage. Not fair. World’s 70 percent wealth is in the hands of 400 individuals and companies. 4.5 Billion people around the globe are passing their lives below the poverty line. This huge disparity is showing the current system has become rickety and needs to replaced.

The recent meltdown of Wall Street can be thought of blessing in disguise. We are witnessing a huge change. A change that is going to put back state control in the affairs of the empire of MNCs. A reckoning to the era of Not-So-Free Economy. If you recall, in late 90s, their was an attempt to divide Microsoft into two companies, to curtail the monopoly, however it couldn’t succeed. I wish it would have been successful and lot of start ups with brilliant ideas might have escaped the acquisition by Microsoft. It is always prudent to make more Bill Gates albeit with less money then to let the wealth be concentrated by one!


October 17, 2008

Enough Talk, Pakistan Needs Help!

Filed under: 1 — bkhan @ 10:29 am

Every evil starts from stomach

Pakistan is going through a very deep crises. One aspect of the crises is economical fiasco. Zardari and his team are literally begging every donor country at this hour of crunch. Pakistan has no money left. Pakistani rupee is crumbling at a worst rate of Rs 83 for one US dollar. A disastrous situation is developing. Naturally we all care about that. I have seen where ever I go in a Pakistani family, people talk about Pakistan, they care about it, it is their second home. But time has come to practically help that country. It needs financial help.

There are 6 million overseas Pakistani’s around the world, if each of us could just put his/her $500 in a Pakistani bank, it would generate $3 billion! There is a major apprehension that foreign currency accounts may be seized by the government, I am sure even if it happens so, $500 is not an amount which might affect the life style of anybody living abroad. This is not about donation, it is just about putting your money in a bank there, that is all.

I understand not everybody can do that, but there are others who can afford to do much more than this and thus this amount can be balanced out. We are attached to that country one way or other. Everyone has some kind of relatives over there. We might have our parents, siblings, uncles, in-laws, friends and we care about them and always cherish to meet them. What happens if this economical crises, which certainly helps radicalization and extremism of all sorts, may hurt our loved ones over there. Bad news doesn’t always come from someone else’s family, it can be anybody, it can be one of ours whom we really care about. It is time to act. It is even worst scene then the earthquake of 2005. That was very sad event, but this time the whole civil society is at stake.

Also, some of my friends would object that politicians are corrupt, they will mismanage the money. True, they are corrupt. But do you think by saying so would absolve us from our responsibilities? Successful countries are composed of vigilant and caring public. Pakistan is not only a country of politicians or military, it is ours too. There is a difference between supporting a government and helping the state. Governments might come and go. Today we have PPP government tomorrow we may have somebody else but state cannot come and go. Right now Pakistani state is in trouble.

As I mentioned in one of my previous article, Pakistan was a source of inspiration in 60s for many. It was a progressive, open minded, and confident state, focused on proving its detractors that she was there to stay. And it proved it. We have gone through a long journey since then, but trust me things are very bad now. Some of my friends objected to my use of word secularism for Pakistan. There is a difference between secularism and atheism. A secular state, and that is how every state should be, respects all religions, creeds, beliefs and thoughts. It doesn’t meddle into the daily life of the adherents of different beliefs. Its job is to provide security to all of its citizens. Right now, if we don’t step in and not help Pakistan, there is a fair chance that things might exacerbate and the secular posture of Pakistan and its public may not be preserved. It might crack into radicalism, like Afghanistan style Taliban government or liberal fascism.

Prosperous economy is fundamental to a satisfied society which in turn is a natural defender of the moderate values in itself.

I have never requested you to forward my mails ever but this time, if you think what I tried to suggest has some substance in it, please do forward this or if you want to write that in your own style please do that. But I think this message needs to disseminated. Also, by writing this I don’t suggest that not yourself think like this, it is just that in our busy life styles we sometime miss certain things and trust me this is something we cannot afford to miss.

Thanking you in advance,

October 7, 2008

Give Them Hope

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 11:07 am

“Enemy At the Gates”, a World War II epic movie. In this film, Hitler’s Army was trying to inundate Soviet Union and the city of the Stalingrad was regarded as the last defense line for Russians. Soviets were demoralized until a new military commander, Nikita Khurushev, steps in. He did just one thing. He tried to rekindle the hope. A hope to survive. A hope to defeat the most modern war machine of its time. And this hope eventually turned the tables on the German Army. Russian civilians, paramilitary fought for the motherland and they got back not only Stalingrad but expelled aggressors out of their borders.

This preamble, serves the beacon house for the current day problems faced by Pakistan.

Pakistan a country of 170 million people, world’s 6th largest population. It has the fifth largest standing army in the world. A country equipped with nuclear defense system. A country which literally started its journey from scratch in 1947 to a modern developing state. In 1947, the newly born Pakistan had nothing at that time as compare to India. The four provinces that comprise current day Pakistan, were considered the most backward in the pre-partition India. With the exception of Punjab, there was not a single university in rest of the three provinces. A country where newly appointed bureaucracy had no offices and they would establish their offices in the open grounds and under shady trees. Where they would use thorns instead of paper clips. Such a humble beginning Pakistan had.

Then a journey of progress started against all odds. Please keep in mind also that Pakistan is not resource rich country in terms of energy resources or we don’t have gold mines to dig. Despite all this, in the 1960s our GDP was among the top most in the region. India, South Korea, Singapore would look in askance to the development that infant nation was attaining. Some of them also borrowed the blueprints for this development wonder. From these humble academic institutions it created Nobel laureate Physicist like Dr Abdus Salam. Its airline, the Pakistan International Airlines started Emirates and Gulf Air in those times by providing them planes and training

I don’t want to analyze the political mischieves that we committed. Unfortunately, we also got our Eastern wing amputed because of serious mistakes of our rulers but it had many other dimensions too. Today I just want to emphasize that people who talk about Pakistan as a failed state or developing perceptions that nuclear arms might go under the control of extremists. I would simply say they know nothing of Pakistan except the bad judgment about it.

Can somebody explain when IRA would bomb London, did anybody say that Irish Republican Army might take control of UK’s nuclear arms and delivery system? No. Because they knew it is just a stray terrorist activity nothing else. Why would bombing of Marriott would envisage that extremists are going to take charge of Pakistan. Extremist, no matter what name we might give them, Taliban or whatever, represent a fraction even of a fraction of the total Pakistani public. Cannot we see the election results. PPP, PML(N), ANP, PML(Q) and MQM are all secular parties. And these parties obtained 97 percent of the total votes casted. Do we need any further proof that how tolerant and open minded, Pakistani public is. Extremism has no roots in that society.

Yes, we have problems there. Problem can be tackled. But the panacea for most of the ills we are facing, getting back to my opening paragraph, is hope. The top leadership must develop confidence and give hope. The media should stop its sensationalization. The news items like “Pakistan don’t have funds to buy oil for November”, is simply unacceptable. A Country is not a private limited company so that it might file bankruptcy and close its operations. It is a different ball game altogether. Pakistani leadership should stop paying attention to what a journalist of New York Times says about us. We should know who we are. It requires a concerted effort to dispel stupid impressions that Pakistan is at the verge of break up or other crap that has become buzz word especially for US presidency contestants. People of that country believe in Pakistan so why we should give attention to foreign newspaper reporters to tell us about our issues and problems. They are doing it because unfortunately these days words like Islam, terrorism, Afghanistan and Pakistan sells. They are not missionaries to fix world problems but just people who wants to run a successful newspaper with large readership so that they could get more advertisements.

Our head of state should be careful while talking to journalists and at no point any sense of weakness should be given. Every country has weaknesses and problems but those problems are addressed or solutions are found. Pakistan was not created by extremists or fanatics, it was created by a highly qualified, well read, well mannered and religiously very tolerant person, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. And the whole nation regards him as its father of the nation. In this whole equation Mulla Omar or Osama etc don’t fit in anywhere.

Long live Pakistan.

October 1, 2008


Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 1:30 am

A strange thought crossed my mind today. I wonder if Jupiter were our planet and had it been gifted with the same life sustaining conditions as we have here on earth, how difficult it would have been to celebrate Eid there. Surprised? Jupiter has 21 moons orbiting it!

But anyways, it seems, there is some consensus on the earth this time and our only moon has made itself available to be seen by most of the Muslim Ummah around the globe.

On this auspicious and blessed day, please accept a hearty EID MUBARIK to you and your families.

At the same time I can see how difficult this Eid would have been to the families who lost their loved ones in the wake of mindless terrorism in Pakistan. Let all of us should pray to Allah Almighty for peace and stability in Pakistan, so there should not be any family celebrating Eid with tears in their eyes. There should be no child wondering why his father is not there to take him for Eid prayer. There should be no wife looking around with bewildered eyes and not able to see her husband.

I am sorry for talking like this on this mirthful event but what to do. As per Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
laut jaati hai udhar ko bhee nazar kya ki jiye

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