8 February, 2006

fight club: bollywood



That is correct, ladies and gentlemen, Bollywood is remaking Fight Club. Apparently the 1999 original version did not have enough muscial scenes for the Indian audiance’s taste.

Trailer 1 - "Rule #1. You break it, you buy it."

Trailer 2 - "Rule #2. Thank you, come again."

Muscial scene 1 - Rain stage in a crowded club where memebers of the fight club dance around a stripper pole, what is that all about?

Muscial scene 2 - Man and woman dance (or dry humping) to the music on the beach, then camera cuts to Fight Club poster.

Musical scene 3 - Esteban clones dance behind the female lead, and she sings "you gotta go fight them".

Muscial scene 4 - With the background looks like came straight out of "The Sound of Music", a young couple shares a song on top of a mountain and log stacks?!

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by @ 7:10 am. Filed under India, Asia, South Asia, Film

6 February, 2006

the pleasure

Indo-Japanese joint venture Hero-Honda has launched a new ‘women-only’ scooter named The Pleasure. Like Neelakantan at Interim Thoughts, AsiaPundit also wonders, does this bike have any features that would appeal to women - the name indicates some possibilities.:


Hero Honda is not really known for innovation as much as sitting on its laurels. With the base of its bread and butter models the stage was set for the company to do something spectacular. Both Bajaj and TVS have done so on their own right, but HH to me, is a fuddy duddy. The launch of Pleasure does nothing to change this perception. Note that I write this without riding Pleasure. Whats the big idea in marketing a scooter to women? Especially when there is nothing "different" about it? The variomatic segment has a solid performer in Activa, stylish Dio, good looking Nova, youthful Scooty and now a women only Pleasure?

I think Pleasure has got its strategy wrong. By saying women (and only women), they are losing a good part of the market. Now, no young college lad will ever buy it (they do buy variomatics, it is not only women who drive variomatics). I am not saying marketing to women is wrong, but I would go the Scooty way with a Preity Zinta, subtle yet leaving the positioning as "youth". Scooty does have some smart features too. Why will a girl buy Pleasure? Whats the compelling feature in it? There are many things that can be designed to appeal to women in a bike like this, but this is just hollow marketing.

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by @ 8:08 am. Filed under Japan, India, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, South Asia

the philippines vs india

In a BBC survey, the Philippines in the only country where the majority respondents have negative views of India. Manish at Sepia Mutiny asks “why does the Philippines hate India?”

A new BBC World poll says that people in the Philippines, South Korea, France, Finland and Brazil think India is a negative influence on the world (via Style Station). Pakistan was not polled. On the other hand, Iran, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, the UK and Russia rate India highly. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the African countries polled are most neutral about India, while Sri Lanka and India are most neutral about the U.S.

Though India’s global profile has grown significantly over the last year, it fails to elicit strong feelings… The exceptions are two Muslim countries with positive views: Iran (71% positive) and Afghanistan (59% positive). The only country with widespread negative views is the Philippines (57% negative). Notably, India’s small neighbor Sri Lanka has a mere 4 percent reporting negative views and a robust 49 percent expressing a positive one.

Europeans are divided about India. At the positive end of the spectrum is Great Britain (49% positive, 30% negative) and Russia (47% positive, 10% negative), while at the other end are France and Finland—both being 27 percent positive and 44 percent negative. The US leans slightly positively (39% positive, 35% negative).


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by @ 7:50 am. Filed under India, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines, South Asia

31 January, 2006

asian desserts

At Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen asks a question that has long perplexed AsiaPundit: "Why don’t Asian restaurants have good desserts?":

IcekachangI’ll let you all bicker as to whether the stylized fact is true only in the USA, or across the world.  I don’t know if the following explanation is true, but finally I have heard an explanation which might plausibly be true:

    …many traditional desserts require a great deal of work to make, at least when compared to stir-frying some shreds of this and that together.  Most restaurateurs are simply unwilling to go to the trouble, particularly since the profit margin on desserts is generally smaller than that on the main dishes.  The same phenomenon occurs in other ethnic restaurants.  In the old country, desserts and snack foods are made in specialized shops where the volume keeps labor costs down [TC: and freshness up…btw, the emphasis is added].

That is from A. Zee’s Swallowing Clouds: A Playful Journey Through Chinese Culture, Language, and Culture.  The author also suggests that the Chinese prefer to eat desserts apart from regular mealtimes; for some reason this is supposed to lower the quality of restaurant-based desserts.  I prefer the first explanation.  Indian sweet shops are fantastic, but U.S.-based Indian restaurants have only so-so desserts.  Comments are open, I am eager to hear your opinions…

(Image via here)

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by @ 7:19 pm. Filed under Food and Drink, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia

18 January, 2006

beer, beer, beer

Light posting today as Mr and Mrs AsiaPundit were having beer this evening at one of Asia’s 25 million British-styled pubs. However, we offer some of the best Asian beer posts in the past few days.

The good: Manish at Sepia Mutiny recounts the origin of India Pale Ale, which AP often cites when making an argument that the British Empire did bring good things to the continent.:

IpaAfter the British East India Company had established itself in India… it had a large number of troops and civilians demanding beer… Ships typically left London, cruised south past the equator along the coast of Africa, rounded the Cape of Good Hope and then crossed the Indian Ocean to reach Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras. The temperature fluctuations were huge, it was a very long trip (about 6 months) and the rough waters of southern Africa resulted in an extremely violent voyage…

Early shipments to India contained bottled porters, the favorite beer in London, which generally arrived flat, musty, and sour… Hodgson took his pale ale recipe, increased the hop content considerably, and raised the alcohol content. The result was a very bitter, alcoholic, and sparkling pale ale that could survive the challenges of travel and shelf life in India.

High hop levels can preserve a beer’s flavor in two ways: they have a limited ability to protect beer from spoilage by some microorganisms, and, more importantly, their bitterness can mask stale flavors. While the beer arriving in India would certainly have suffered from oxidative staling during the long voyage, it could still taste acceptable because of the masking effect of alcohol and hops.

The Bad: One of the better lagers in Southeast Asia is losing market share in its home country:

Pale_pilsenI love cradling the squat brown bottle in my hand, seeing the beads of condensation gathered around the engraved logo, feeling the first slug hit the back of my throat … most of all, I love San Miguel Pale Pilsen for the very reason that Filipinos are deserting it in droves, because it is quintessentially and timelessly Filipino.

Unfortunately, quintessentially and timelessly Filipino is not what today’s beer drinker is looking for. According to yesterday’s paper:

San Miguel Pale Pilsen, the flagship beer of San Miguel Corp. in the ubiquitous squat brown bottle, has seen its market share dwindle to a record low of 29 percent as of September 2005, according to records obtained from the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Asia’s oldest brew, Pale Pilsen, which is exported to other countries and rated as one of the world’s largest selling beers, has been on a downtrend since 2001, when its market share hit 50.76 percent—and further tumbled to 39 percent in 2003.

From 50.6% to 29% in four years is a precipitous decline. There is nothing surprising about this though. Like beer drinkers from Covent Garden to Greenwich Village, Philippine drinkers are looking for that chic beer style. I can’t blame them. When I lived in Britain, my fridge was full of French, Czech, and German beer, not Carling Black Label.

However, when it comes to the squat brown bottle I’m bucking the trend. I guess I’ve drunk more San Miguel Pale than any other brand and I’m not stopping now! Apart from the attributes I mentioned above, San Miguel Pale Pilsen tastes better better than any beer I know. I shall just have to drink harder to make up that deficit.

The Ugly: Much like a opening a box of crackerjacks, the excitement of having a brew in Taiwan is enhanced by not knowing what you are going to find inside:

While there probably isn’t a solution at the bottom of that bottle of Taiwan Beer that you’re enjoying, the Taipei Times reports that there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find something in there.

"Over the past few years, a "condom-like" object, live insects, dead cockroaches, cigarette butts, bottle caps and betel nut shreds have all been discovered in bottles of the nation’s favorite brew, Li said."

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by @ 10:42 pm. Filed under Singapore, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, South Asia

17 January, 2006

integrated circuit bindi

AsiaPundit is a bit of a tech geek so the first thing he thought when he saw this was “cool.”


An Indian model wears a Analog integrated circuit (IC) with intelligent charging capabillities for Lithium-ion batteries pasted on a bindi during a launch ceremony in Bangalore.

The second thing was: “Why?”

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by @ 12:03 am. Filed under India, Asia, South Asia

15 January, 2006

indibloggie awards 2005


The 2005 results for the indibloggies are out visit the results here. Congratulations to Amit Varma for taking the top spot, and to DesiPundit and all of the other winners.

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by @ 10:10 pm. Filed under Blogs, India, Asia, South Asia

11 January, 2006

new delhi vs manila

Torn and Frayed says everything you really need to know:

I know that you are all dying to read my witty and erudite insights into the differences and similarities between India and the Philippines, but that seems too much like hard work, so I’ll distill all our shared observations from three weeks into one word: moustache.

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by @ 11:35 pm. Filed under India, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines, South Asia

27 December, 2005

std booths

Gaurav at Vantage Point discovers a reason behind the spread of AIDs in India, government-sponsored STD booths.:

StdboothWhen I spotted the first one, I put it down to jetlag. But then, I kept seeing an “STD Booth” every few metres. I asked my driver to stop the car near one and I realised that the “booth” which was a small yellow kiosk, actually boasted of being “Government Approved”.

There are Government Approved STD Booths all over India, and we are wondering why AIDS is spreading so fast.

As I reached my hotel, I was greeted by an official from the Health Ministry. I immediately asked him to explain to me why there were STD booths all over the place. For some reason, he beamed, and said,

“Oh yes, that is one of your greatest achievements!”

“Excuse me? Achievements?”

“Yes. You see what happened is, our late great Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi, in 84, realised that STD was there only in the big cities, and there too, only with rich folks. Rajeev Gandhi felt this was not fair. He wanted every Indian to have STD.”

“What? Are you serious?”

“Yes, Rajeevji was a great visionary. He wanted even the poorest to be able to have STD. So he called an expert from abroad, a NonResident Indian called Sam Pitroda. Pitroda was asked to suggest how all Indians could have STD in their homes. That time, India had very low rate of STD penetration. Mr. Pitroda travelled far and wide, and suggested that the way to spread STD amongst the masses was simple. It may not be possible for everyone to get STD at home. So he suggested that he would come up with a revolutionary new method to spread STD. That was to set up STD booths so that common people, poor people, everywhere could get STD at a nominal fee.”

“I am shocked!”

(Via Amit Varma)

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by @ 8:37 pm. Filed under India, Asia, South Asia

26 December, 2005

tsunami remembered

One year ago today roughly a quarter of a million lives were washed away:


Sculptures are displayed on Patong beach during a ceremony to mark the one year anniversary of the tsunami in Phuket southern of Thailand. (AFP/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

Photo and text via Thai Blogs:

DesiPundit notes the role blogs played in putting out information and aiding in fundraising and relief and requests that the effort be repeated:

The blogosphere played an important part in disseminating information, collating resources, and offering avenues for fund raising. The team that brought you the SEA-EAT blog has now joined forces and rebanded to form the World Wide Help blog [disclaimer: I am also one of the contributors]. On the dark anniversary of the tsunami tragedy, we refocus the need to keep the relief work going and keeping hope alive for those who are still waiting for our help.

The Worldwide Help Blog has sent out a call for observing the Tsunami Remembrance Week from December 26th-January 1st. Write about it on your blogs. List your favorite charities or better still, make that last year-end donation. Use the Technorati tag - Disaster Remembrance Week [HTML code:
rel=”tag” rel=”tag”>Disaster Remembrance Week

More at IndianWriting, Jakartass, Brand New Malaysian,

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by @ 10:04 pm. Filed under Blogs, Malaysia, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Thailand, Weblogs

21 December, 2005

india’s sting season

Via Amit Varma’s India Uncut, six more Indian parliamentarians have been exposed as corrupt through a journalistic sting operation.:

Sting2NEW DELHI: Last week 11 MPs had to wrestle with Duryodhan. Now six others have been trapped in a Chakravyuh.

A sting operation, codenamed Chakrayvuh, conducted over six months by two former Tehelka journalists, Jamshed Khan and Mayabhushan Nagvekar, and telecast on STAR News on Monday showed six MPs striking deals to get projects implemented in their constituencies using funds from the MPs’ Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).

The exposé comes exactly a week after Operation Duryodhan, conducted by another former Tehelka journalist, Aniruddha Bahal, and telecast on Aaj Tak, showed 11 MPs accepting bribes to raise questions in Parliament. In fact, Chakra-vyuh had to be wound up after Duryodhan because MPs had become wary of requests from unknown parties.

Under the MPLADS, Rs2 crore is sanctioned every year to all members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for carrying out developmental works of their choice in their constituencies. With nearly 780 MPs in Parliament, the annual budget for the scheme works out to Rs1560 crore.

Indian journalists seem far more willing to resort to entrapment than their Western peers. That’s not likely because of different ethical standards, it’s probably because none of us can afford to bribe a Western politician. We simply don’t have the budget to compete with the lobbyists.

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by @ 8:15 pm. Filed under India, Asia, South Asia

india’s labor deficit

Although both India and China each boast populations of more than a billion souls, the two giants also face severe labor shortages in key areas. Via the New Economist, a Bloomberg column on the situation faced by Indian call centers.:

CallcenterTo maintain its global share of 65 percent in information technology and 46 percent in business-process outsourcing, the country will need 2.3 million professionals by 2010. According to McKinsey’s calculations, India may face a deficit of as many as 500,000 workers. As much as 70 percent of the shortage will crop up in call centers and other back-office businesses, where proficiency in English is the No. 1 prerequisite for landing a job.

People within the Indian outsourcing industry are aware of the problem: A number of executives cite high employee attrition and galloping wages as signs that the labor market for undergraduates in India is getting tighter.

It isn’t obvious why that should be so. In a country where millions of educated young people are unemployed, why do call centers feel compelled to give pay raises of 10 percent to 15 percent a year? Why don’t they boot out the highly paid workers and grab the eager aspirants?

And why do they offer their employees free dance lessons on top of a $4,000 annual wage — worth $36,000 when adjusted for purchasing power in the local currency — when they can’t pass on the increase in costs to the U.S. bank or the European insurance company that is paying for the call centers’ services?

The answers may have a lot to do with India’s education system. A labor shortage is bound to surface unless India’s colleges can produce more employable graduates.

McKinsey produced a similar item on China’s plight a few weeks earlier. While this may raise concerns on whether China and Indian have the human capital needed to sustain their booming economies, overall it should be seen as an amazingly good thing. The end result of this is a push for higher wages and improved education in both countries.

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by @ 3:33 pm. Filed under China, India, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, South Asia

18 December, 2005

counter-surveillance headdress

AP has slipped in his promise to deliver 10 Asian-inspired Christmas gift ideas, in part due to the TypePad outage, so AP will try harder tomorrow. Today, AsiaPundit is happy to endorse the counter-surveillance headdress.

AsiaPundit likes the design of the counter-surveillance headdress, although he agrees that it lacks a needed degree of utilitarianism. Surely having a laser beam attached to one’s head would make a person the subject of more scrutiny and suspicion rather than less.

Headdress-Picture SmallThe purpose of the “Counter-Surveillance Headdress” is to empower the wearer by allowing him/her to claim a moment of privacy.

The design of the headdress borrows from Islamic and Hindu fashion. The reason behind this is to comment on the racial profiling of Arab and Arab-looking citizens that occurred post-9/11. Unfortunately the fear of terrorism led to the targeting of those of non-western decent. Therefore in its design my headdress is a contradiction; meaning although it’s goal is to hide the wearer it would make the wearer a target of heightened surveillance.

The “Counter-Surveillance Headdress” is a laser tikka (forehead ornament) attached to a hooded vest and reflective shawl. The laser is activated by pressing a button enclosed in the left shoulder area of the vest. When pointed directly into a camera lens, the laser creates a burst of light masking the wearer’s face. Additionally the wearer can use the reflective cloth to cover the face and head. The aluminized material protects the wearer by reflecting any infrared radiation and also disguises the wearer by visually reflecting the surroundings, rendering the wearer’s identity anonymous.

In spite of the downsides of this innovation, this is deserves an endorsement. Seriously, a laser beam attached to the head… how frickin’ cool is that?

AP would love to incorporate a few laser-beam devices into his own wardrobe. If anyone knows where to buy, say, counter-surveillance cufflinks do leave a comment (Mrs AsiaPundit needs hints for stocking stuffers).

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by @ 11:50 pm. Filed under Asia, South Asia, Web/Tech

13 December, 2005

indian blogs mentioned in bribe scandal

Kudos to Cobrapost for its sense of humor. As part of a sting operation to nab corrupt politicians in a bribe-for-parliamentary questions scandal, Chandra Pratap Singh from Madhya Pradesh’s Sidhi constituency was paid to ask the following in Parliament:

Is it true that while NRI firms such as India Uncut of USA, Sepia Mutiny of Britain and AnarCap Lib of Netherlands have been allowed to invest in Indian SSIs, the reputed German investment firm Desipundit has been denied permission? If so, the reasons thereof? Is the Union Government of India planning to make automatic the long procedure of permission for SSIs to import new technologies such as Trackbacks, Pingbacks, Blogrolls, Splogs and Hitcounters?

While nearly all the questions had a public interest element in them, some, like the one above, were passed on to the MPs with the intention of showing how easy it was for amateur teams to infiltrate the system and get bogus questions submitted in the balloting process. While, in this case, these were harmless, humour inducing efforts, in the hands of powerful lobbies this power acquires a sinister dimension. It is important to note some MPs like Kushwaha, Ram Pal and Gandhi even promised to put in questions “to harass” NISMA’s enemies.

This is not a joke. See page three of Cobrapost report here.

AsiaPundit is now considering which People’s Congress member he can buy some sponsorship from in the next session.

(Via Amit Varma’s India Uncut, and congrats to Amit on the mention in Parliament.)

UPDATE: More at Sepia Mutiny:

PratapsinghWhat the F%ck?? As Ennis blurted out loudly in our North Dakota HQ earlier this morning, “Sweet! We’re famous! Dude(ette) - this is so much cooler than I thought the blog would ever get.”….

Now for the part I don’t understand. Why the hell were we labeled as a “British” blog entity? Desipundit is similarly pissed that his “firm” was denied permission to invest in Indian SSIs. Something very Syriana-like is going on here if you ask me. The powers that be are trying to manipulate the playing field. :)

My parents who are in India right now are going to get a kick out of this. They always thought that we’d get in trouble with the U.S. government but never thought that this blog would play a minor part in taking down Indian politicians all the way from North Dakota.

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by @ 3:40 pm. Filed under Blogs, India, Asia, South Asia, Weblogs

12 December, 2005

india needs women

India’s most wealthy states are apparently the ones most suffering from a gender deficit, with the number of male children outnumbering females by a more than 10:9 factor.:

MarsStates such as Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and Delhi now have fewer than 900 girls per 1,000 boys.” He explains:

    The phenomenon of declining sex ratio that showed up in Census 2001 is worst in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Western Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharastra. This defies all demographic theories as these are prosperous states. You expect that when people live better, have better education and economic security, there will be less of a traditional bias against the girl-child; but in India, like China, it has only worsened the situation. Suppose like China, instead of just one, we had a two-child policy, then the Jats and Punjabis would ensure that they had two sons.

    In India, there is an unholy alliance between tradition and technology. Tradition is marked by son-preference. Technology started in the ’80s with amniocentesis, most readily available in Punjab, the state made most prosperous by the Green Revolution, and having a long tradition of son- preference. Today ultrasound is the sex-selective technology that is widespread in most prosperous states.

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by @ 10:29 pm. Filed under India, Asia, Economy, South Asia

cobrapost bites

Cobrapost, an independent Indian news portal, has shaken Indian politics by exposing a ‘bribes for questions’ scandal in India’s Parliament. Via India Uncut.:

The Times of India reports:

A sting operation by a television news channel has caught 11 MPs taking bribe purportedly for asking questions in Parliament.

These aren’t only the more down and out MPs either, they are from across party and ideological lines. While most belong to the BJP, there is healthy representation from in-power parties like the Congress and RJD. Mayawati’s BSP also finds a place in the line-up.


The Left parties, happily out of the mess, have demanded the immediate resignation of all the MPs.

For once, I’m emphatically with the Left on this. This instance also shows the importance of a free media in a democracy. Sting operations have got a bit of a bad name of late, but when they are in the public interest, as in this case, they provide an invaluable service. Kudos to Aaj Tak, the news channel in question.* More, more. This is just a shadow of the tip of a rather gigantic iceberg.

Update: The BJP has sacked those of its MPs who were caught taking bribes on camera. I presume the other parties will follow suit. I won’t be surprised, though, if the politicians concerned keep a low profile for a while and then return to active politics. In India, you can’t keep a good con down.

*Update 2: It turns out that the sting operation was actually conducted by Cobrapost, and more details will emerge there in the hours to come. Well done!

Well done indeed.

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by @ 10:20 pm. Filed under India, Asia, Media, South Asia

more adjusted maps

Sun Bin has gathered a brilliant collection of global maps, adjusted for economic and demographic considerations. This one adjusts country size according to (1995) gross domestic product data.:

Wealth Scale

As Sun Bin notes, Russia and China have grown a lot over the past decade, so a new wealth adjusted map would be welcome.

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by @ 3:07 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia

10 December, 2005

why india and china matter

AsiaPundit loves maps and this one is brilliant. Here is the world with countries sized adjusted for population. Asia dominates the world, and India and China dominate Asia.


(via BoingBoing)

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by @ 7:17 pm. Filed under China, India, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia

8 December, 2005

an ode to bush

AsiaPundit earlier this week expressed concern over the curriculum of Pakistani madrasas, what was being taught in mainstream public schools is also disturbing.:



by anonymous

Patient and steady with all he must bear,

Ready to meet every challenge with care,

Easy in manner, yet solid as steel,

Strong in his faith, refreshingly real.

Isn’t afraid to propose what is bold,

Doesn’t conform to the usual mould,

Eyes that have foresight, for hindsight won’t do,

Never backs down when he sees what is true,

Tells it all straight, and means it all too.

Going forward and knowing he’s right,

Even when doubted for why he would fight,

Over and over he makes his case clear,

Reaching to touch the ones who won’t hear.

Growing in strength he won’t be unnerved,

Ever assuring he’ll stand by his word.

Wanting the world to join his firm stand,

Bracing for war, but praying for peace,

Using his power so evil will cease,

So much a leader and worthy of trust,

Here stands a man who will do what he must.

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by @ 7:31 pm. Filed under Pakistan, Asia, South Asia


Prospectors get ready. The domain names ‘google.asia,’ ‘dell.asia’ and ‘anyotherfamousbrand.asia’ addresses will soon be available.:

Main-Logo2Internet governance board moves ahead on `.asia’ domain, stalls on red-light district

BOSTON — The quasi-governmental organization that oversees the Internet has tentatively approved a ".asia" Web domain to unify the Asia-Pacific community, but the group has delayed a decision on whether to move forward with a ".xxx" zone for pornography sites.

At its annual meeting this past weekend in Vancouver, British Columbia, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers took up several topics related to the global administration of the Internet, which has become a heated topic because the U.S. has insisted on maintaining oversight.

The new ".asia." domain would supplement suffixes available for individual countries, such as ".cn" for China and ".jp" for Japan. ICANN earlier approved ".eu" for the European Union; registrations for that begin Wednesday.

Registrations for English-language names in ".asia" could begin six months after ICANN grants final approval. But first, ICANN and the DotAsia Organization Ltd. will have to spend weeks or months ironing out contract details. The DotAsia group, which consists of domain name operators in Asian countries, also plans to explore permitting site addressess in Asian languages.

(via the Asianist)

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by @ 2:01 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Web/Tech

4 November, 2005

indian consumer spending

The Indian Economy Blog points to a commentary by chief Morgan Stanley economist Stephen Roach on India’s development. AsiaPundit has made no secret of his admiration of Roach, he is one of the more energetic of the big investment bank economists and not afraid to break from conventional wisdom. As Reuben notes, “in case you’re wondering why an article by Roach matters, you certainly are underestimating the man’s influence (for better or for worse) among the movers and shakers in finance and industry in the US.”

Here Roach notes one of the weaknesses of China’s boom - the absence of domestic demand - and discovers an opposite situation in India.:

The consumption story — the organic sustenance of sustainable growth and development — casts India in a very different light. Don’t get me wrong — the Indian consumer is hardly a powerful force on today’s global stage. As the accompanying chart shows, India’s per capita income and consumption levels are about half those of China’s. But it is growth at the margin that always drives powerful macro and market trends. And the Indian consumption story is, first and foremost, one of accelerating growth off a low base. The potential comes from the structure of the Indian economy: Private consumption currently accounts for 64% of Indian GDP — higher than shares in Europe (58%), Japan (55%), and especially China (42%). India’s transition to a 7% growth path in recent years is very much an outgrowth of the emerging consumerism of one of the world’s youngest populations. The increased vigor of private consumption provides a powerful leverage to the Indian growth dynamic that is rarely found in the externally-dependent developing world.

This came through loud and clear on my recent travels through India. Over a span of four days, I met with a number of corporate executives, investors, and senior government officials. Everywhere I went, the focus was on the Indian consumer. I met with the managements of a good cross-section of India’s major consumer companies — Hindustan Lever (softgoods), Pantaloon (retail), Raymond Textiles (clothing), and McDonald’s (fast food). I also spoke with executives from banks and drug companies — all of whom have important consumer businesses. And I met with leading industrial companies such as Reliance, where a major five-year initiative has just been announced for the development of nationwide chain of hyper-stores and super-markets. I even went to the Phoenix shopping mall in Mumbai, which was bustling with activity. I have made similar trips to malls in China. There was one key difference between these two experiences — the locals were buying in India. This is consistent with what I heard from most of the consumer companies I saw — solid acceleration in same-store sales comparisons over the past six months.

AsiaPundit has not yet visited India, although the differences between shopping centers in mainland China and elsewhere in East Asia are striking. The upscale shopping centers in Singapore, Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur are invariably packed with consumers. But in relatively wealthy Shanghai, upscale shopping centers such as Times Square and Grand Gateway are so empty it’s easy to forget you’re in Asia.

It took most of Asia’s developed economies decades to build a consumer culture - if India has built one before its major development spurt starts, it isn’t unreasonable to argue that leap-frogging is possible.

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by @ 11:07 pm. Filed under China, India, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, South Asia

chinese take over diwali

China has taken over Diwali/Deepavali, the Hindu celebration of lights. At least they’ve cornered the market on festive supplies, Neelakantan notes from Mumbai.:

DiwaliThe Chinese have taken over Diwali well and truly. Houses all over Mumbai have Chinese lights in their balconies ( a very Bombay thing to hang glittering lights in balconies during Diwali). Dirt cheap and almost use and throw (you wont meet anyone who has had these lights for 3 years). They are cheap LEDs, I think and in any case quite unlike the bulbs we owned in our house for 15 odd years when each Diwali meant a few trips to the electrician apart from some of our own pottering with testers and wires.

Visit any mithaiwaala and you will see a range of items. Many of them have stopped making samosas, dhoklas for the diwali festivities. Why would they. These are items with low margin. When they can sell Kaju Katli for 500 bucks a kilo, who will spend time making Dhoklas which sell for less than 100 a kilo!

I’m not surprised. China cornered the Christmas ornament market quite some time ago. About 80 percent of lights and decorations In the AsiaPundit household are made in China. I’m now curious about China’s menorah and dreidel production capacities.

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by @ 9:38 pm. Filed under Culture, China, India, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, South Asia

26 October, 2005

blog quake day

Due to the relocation of Global Headquarters, AsiaPundit was remiss in not blogging the quake in South and Central Asia. But I would be doubly remiss if we didn’t mention Blog Quake Day. Buy a T-Shirt.

Aid-GlobeWhen first graders are going to canvas their ‘hoods for charity, when victims of the South Asian Tsunami are giving after losing almost everything, when nearly every person who is reading this can afford to do even more than the two groups I just mentioned in this sentence, then yes, we have no excuse.

I wrote that accusatory sentence a few days ago, as I posted about those selfless Tsunami-survivors. I asked, “What if we could do good?”, specifically in the context of our blogging, since we had all come together in a breath-taking, powerful way to stand up for truth, freedom and justice. Could we also unite to fight apathy? Disaster fatigue? Inertia?

I think we can.

Thankfully, people with more energy than me seized my flicker of an idea and ran with it. They heard the tentative call I put out after a fold. And they are doing good.

DesiPundit, predictably, is at the center of this movement. Sepoy at Chapathi Mystery was a pioneer when it came to quake relief. Even Instapundit, the big, bad, brand-name blog I quoted, along with TTLB, picked up on Blog Quake Day.

Now, it is our turn and after you read this, it is your turn. Today is Blog Quake Day. Do something. Give. Write. Post. Comment. Link. Give some more. Think. Do. Tag (“Blog Quake Day”).

Now, it is our turn and after you read this, it is your turn. Today is Blog Quake Day. Do something. Give. Write. Post. Comment. Link. Give some more. Think. Do. Tag (“Blog Quake Day”).

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by @ 9:47 pm. Filed under Pakistan, India, Asia, South Asia, Central Asia

china to help crush maoists!

The Hindustan Times reports that China is going to help stamp out Maoism - at least outside of China. The Chairman’s corpse will stay in the mausoleum, but China will contribute to India’s counter-insurgency campaign, the Chinese ambassador to New Delhi says.

China ready to help India crush Maoists

 S=96062883 K=Mao's+Mausoleum V=2 Sid=E L=Ivi Sig=126Q8Equv Exp=1130413377 *-Http: Www.Iisg.Nl ~Landsberger Images Maosi01In a significant announcement, China’s top envoy has declared that his country is ready to help India to crush its nagging Maoist insurgency that it once actively supported.

Chinese Ambassador Sun Yuxi said at an interaction here that Beijing did not even know why the Maoist guerrillas in India called themselves followers of the man who led the communists to victory in China in 1949.

“If there is any help (you expect) from us to India to get rid of them, we will try to do our best,” the top diplomat said candidly.

“We are also wondering why they call themselves Maoists. We don’t like that. We don’t like that at home. We don’t have any connection with them at home.

“If they call themselves Maoists, we can’t stop that way. But definitely it (the Maoist movement in India) does not have any connection with the government of China.”

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by @ 7:46 pm. Filed under China, India, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, South Asia

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