Friday, February 04, 2005

Rethinking Kashmir

Rethinking Kashmir

I read with great interest Prof Mukthar Ali Naqvi's rebuttal (May 17) to Prof Hoodbhoy's article in Dawn.

Unfortunately, Prof Naqvi seems to have got his facts all wrong. India's exports crossed $50 billion recently, while its imports crossed $56 billion. While this trade deficit is close to Prof Naqvi's figure of $8billion, he conveniently glosses over the fact that India has a current account surplus - by which the forex inflow was more than the services imports, which also explains its burgeoning forex reserves.

The curious reader would have observed that in the duration between Dr Hoodbhoy's article and this letter, India's forex reserves have gone up by $6 billion, all without any form of foreign aid.

Prof Naqvi is again wrong when he says that companies like INFY are suffering losses. What has happened is that the margins have reduced from over 50 per cent to somewhere around 10-12 per cent, a more realistic figure, considering the slowdown in the industry. At the same time, Prof Naqvi ignores the huge outcry over outsourcing to India, in the US and the UK, caused by companies like Intel, Accenture and IBM shifting their software development to India. Incidentally, when was the last time a computer major shifted its operations to Pakistan?

My intention is not to say that India is heaven. Surely, India has too many problems that need to be resolved - poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, population, communalism, just to name a few. The same problems plague Pakistan as well. So, the need of the hour is not one-upmanship - as Prof Naqvi has unfortunately tried to do, but statesmanship, as displayed by the prime ministers of India and Pakistan.