Terror in Bangladesh & Turkey; India’s Curry & Dal Crises; Pakistani Mangoes in America

Who terrorized Dhaka and Istanbul? Why were these cities targeted by terrorists? Is terror spreading farther and wider after recent foreign military interventions to check ISIS in Syria? Have mistakes by Muslim nations' governments contributed to the growing wave of terror? Can military force alone end it? If not, what else needs to be done? What kind of comprehensive strategy is needed?

Why is India suffering from curry and dal crises? Why are prices of dal, tomatoes. potatoes and other essential foods rising rapidly in India? What is Modi government doing to increase supply and ease rising food inflation in the country? What are its chances of success in short and long term?

Why are Pakistani mangoes becoming more easily and widely available in America? Are Pakistan mango exports finally ramping up? What took so long for Pakistani mangoes to arrive in significant quantities in Silicon Valley? Can 6 million strong Pakistani diaspora's demand drive greater Pakistani exports of mangoes and food other items?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with panelists Ali H. Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)



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Comment by Riaz Haq on July 3, 2016 at 10:18pm

#BangladeshAttack perpetrators were radicalized youth of the upper class elite of the country's capital #Dhaka


DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh’s capital city reeled in shock on Sunday as clues began to flood social media about the privileged backgrounds of the half-dozen attackers believed to have butchered 20 patrons of a restaurant during a bloody siege here late last week.

The six attackers were killed when the army stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery to end an 11-hour siege early Saturday.

The police declined to name the young men because nobody had shown up as of Sunday night to identify their bodies, but friends and relatives recognized photographs that were posted on a messaging app by the Islamic State, along with praise for the violence.

The men, all in their late teens or early 20s, were products of Bangladesh’s elite, several having attended one of the country’s top English-medium private schools as well as universities both in the country and abroad.

Among them was the son of a former city leader in the prime minister’s own Awami League, the governing party.

“That’s what we’re absolutely riveted by,” said Kazi Anis Ahmed, a writer and publisher of the daily newspaper The Dhaka Tribune. “That these kids from very affluent families with no material want can still be turned to this kind of ideology, motivated not just to the point of killing but also want to be killed.”

That children of the country’s upper classes appear to have joined militant Islamists in an act of such brutality highlighted the radicalization among the largely moderate Muslim population here, a process that has accelerated in recent years.

The attackers intended to kill foreigners, whom they shot and then hacked with sharp weapons, blaming them for hampering the progress of Islam, one of the hostages later said.

For more than three years now, Islamist militants have murdered atheist bloggers, members of religious minorities and others. The Islamic State and a regional branch of Al Qaeda have claimed responsibility for the killings, although the Bangladeshi government continues to insist that local groups were responsible.

The involvement of the Islamic State appeared increasingly more likely during the latest attack, with the organization not only claiming responsibility but later posting the photographs of the men believed to have carried it out.

Some of the rescued hostages remained in police custody on Sunday evening, including a Bangladeshi couple and their two school-aged children who witnessed the massacre, their relatives said.

The country was in the midst of a two-day mourning period declared by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, but in the homes of the young men who had been identified as the attackers on social media, families struggled with grief, shame and disbelief.

On Sunday, the police telephoned Meer Hayet Kabir, an executive with a foreign company in Dhaka, asking him to go to the military hospital morgue to identify a body that was possibly that of his 18-year-old son, Meer Saameh Mubasher.

He said he just could not bear to make the trip.

“How will we arrange a funeral for him in these circumstances?” he asked in an interview in his family’s apartment in a wealthy neighborhood close to the diplomatic district. “Who will come?”

“I will have to apologize to the whole world on behalf of my son,” he said.

Mr. Kabir had already been in close touch with the police since Mr. Mubasher disappeared on Feb 29.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 4, 2016 at 10:13am

#Dutch FrieslandCampina buys #Engro Foods. Targets world's 3rd largest milk market (38 billion liters) in #Pakistan


FrieslandCampina has acquired 51 % of Engro Foods Limited, the second largest dairy producer in Pakistan. It enables the company to take a major leap forward in Central Asia.
Shift to packaged dairy
Pakistan is the third largest milk-manufacturing country in the world, with 38 billion liters on an annual basis. FrieslandCampina wants to take advantage of the shift to packaged dairy products in Pakistan: not even 10 % of milk consumption comes from processed and packaged milk in Pakistan, but FrieslandCampina expects that to change in the near future.

“Thanks to this well-organized and very successful company, we have obtained a strong position in the Pakistani dairy market. A growing middle class is switching to processed and packaged milk in Pakistan and Engro Foods provides a platform to build on. This acquisition will contribute to the value proposition we want to give our member dairy manufacturers. We will also help develop the agricultural industry in Pakistan with our extensive knowledge on the dairy manufacturing process and thanks to our Dairy Development Programme", CEO Roelof Joosten said.

“This is a very important event for us. Engro Foods has been very successful ever since its launch in 2006 and has since become one of the most respected companies in Pakistan. Our FrieslandCampina collaboration will definitely have a huge impact on the dairy value chain in Pakistan and will also enable Engro Foods to present the consumer with additional value thanks to an improved product range, while it will also help improve our innovation levels", Engro CEO Babur Sultan added. 

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 4, 2016 at 10:14am

#Dutch company acquires 51% stake in #Pakistan's #Engro for over $448m to target world's 3rd largest milk market


KARACHI: Engro Corporation has signed an agreement with a Netherlands-based dairy company for the sale of up to 51% shareholding in Engro Foods at an estimated price of $448 million, a securities filing said on Monday.

Engro Corporation currently controls approximately 87% shareholding in Engro Foods while the general public owns the remaining outstanding shares. The deal will take place at Rs120 per share, which reflects a discount of about 26% to Engro Foods’ current share price of Rs163.

The majority stake in Engro Foods will be bought by a legal entity in which Dutch dairy cooperative FrieslandCampina will hold approximately 80% shares. International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Dutch development bank FMO will hold the remaining shares in the legal entity.

The share price of Engro Corporation rose 1.4% to Rs337.6 on Monday while the stock of Engro Foods shed 5% to close at Rs155.17 per share.

Engro Fertilizers CEO says Rs390 cut expected

Engro Corporation said in a statement it will stay on as a “significant partner and shareholder” under the new company structure. The stake of Engro Corporation in Engro Foods will likely be around 36% post-transaction.

The Dutch company is required under the local takeover laws to make an attempt to purchase at least half of the shareholding currently owned by the general public.

The provision is supposed to ensure that ordinary shareholders also benefit in case the sponsors of a listed company sell their stake in a major deal. This means general investors will also have a chance to avail the public offer extended by FrieslandCampina to sell at least half of their 13% current holding in Engro Foods.


In a statement on Monday, FrieslandCampina said it expects to benefit from the conversion of the Pakistani market from loose to packaged dairy consumption. At present, less than 10% of tradable milk consumed in Pakistan is processed and offered in packages, it said. The conversion is expected to accelerate in the near future as a result of the growing middle-income class, a desire for higher quality milk as well as the increasing urbanisation, it added.

Topline Securities said Engro Corporation will generate cash of around Rs47 billion, part of which will most likely be invested in energy-related projects with a higher rate of return.

Engro Foods contributed more than a quarter in the corporation’s revenues last year. Therefore, its sale will result in a decline of around Rs4 per share in the holding company’s earnings, as per the workings of Topline Securities.

“However, this decline will be compensated if the sale proceeds are either put in the bank or used to pay off debt. As of the latest quarterly accounts, Engro had Rs72 billion of debt on its books,” it said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 5, 2016 at 9:37pm

#Mozambique to grow arhar, urad #dal (pulses) for India's consumers http://toi.in/Eklw1a via @timesofindia

Mozambique will produce Indian varieties of pulses, mainly arhar and urad, to meet India's growing demand for dals . The Cabinet on Tuesday approved signing a long-term MoU with the African nation to double import of pluses from the present one lakh tonnes to two lakh tonnes by 2020-21.
Announcing the decision, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the crop to be grown in Mozambique would taste like that of pulses raised in India. He said the pulses grown here taste different from the ones produced in other countries. Officials also said the look and taste of imported pulses did not find many takers in India.
Sources said the government will assist Mozambique by providing high quality seeds and technical assistance. TOI has learnt that New Delhi may even provide financial help and will also assure to buy all pulses grown there.
According to a government release, pulses from Mozambique will be imported through private channels or government-to-government (G2G) sales through state agencies nominated by the two countries. "The MoU will augment domestic availability of pulses in India and thereby stabilise its prices," the release added.
Under pressure to check spiralling prices of pulses , the government had sent two teams to Myanmar and Mozambique to explore options for getting the key kitchen item. While Myanmar had flatly told the delegation that they had no mechanism for G2G trade and they preferred the private route, Mozambique ....

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 5, 2016 at 10:03pm

#Pakistan journalist rediscovers #Karachi. Daal fry, qeema, parathas for breakfast in now peaceful Lyari http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/roads/2016/07/a_wri... … via @slate

A writer rediscovers her hometown through cuisine and conversation.

By Annie Ali Khan

Getting to the neighborhood was not easy: Just a few years ago, Lyari was a “no go” area because of gangs and politically motivated violence. At 3 a.m., I found myself on the back of a motorcycle, clinging to the driver’s shoulders, trying not to fall off as the bike hopped over a speed breaker. No rickshaw wallah was going to agree to take me to Lyari at that hour. The chai shop’s signature dish, daal fry, is prepared early in the morning, and I was hoping to get a fresh plate and catch some of the regulars.

After having lived abroad for seven years, I have a little more than a trace of an American accent and am still in search of a place to settle in Karachi, getting by in temporary apartments. I feel like a stranger in the city where I was born. But I am returning as journalist, and there’s no better way to get to know a place than to write about it.

On my way, I saw a blank billboard emblazoned with the words “TO LET,” advertising only the opportunity to advertise on it. I remembered that my face had once looked down on the intersection from that same billboard. It had been my first big modeling job, a lifetime ago.

Back then, daal chawal (rice and lentils) was a diet staple because it kept my weight down. Since coming back, I’d heard about a variation on the dish being served at the Juna Masjid Malabari Hotel. Searching for a way to feel at home again, I knew that daal fry—a recipe served with hot, fried parathas—was a delicacy I had to try for myself.

Daal has neither the fancy Mughal airs of Biryani nor the aspirational cachet of fast food. In its basic form, it is a simple food of lentils cooked in ghee (clarified butter), with turmeric, garlic, cumin seeds, and blackened onion sprinkled on top. “Daal roti,” or daal with bread, is used in local vernacular to denote a life sans frills. In the afternoons, daal and rice is sold on street. A plate can cost anywhere from 20 to 50 rupees, roughly 50 cents. Bank clerks in loosened ties and laborers in their worn, discolored kameez can be seen eating by the roadside.

This ubiquitous South Asian dish comes in many forms. I think of the Hyderabadi daal my father used to ask my mother to make for his return from long flights as a pilot for the national carrier—a thick, rich central Indian variant of the dish. I also think of the simple, soupy daal I used to cook on rainy days in New York City.

On the ride over, all was quiet, and even the rustle of leaves of the neem trees could be heard. I mentioned it to my friend, Zain Ul-Abideen, who was driving the motorcycle. “It is peaceful,” he said. “But not too long ago, there was a war here. This place looked like Beirut.” As the motorcycle turned the corner toward our destination, two paramilitary soldiers in fatigues watched us warily from behind a nest of sandbags on the intersection’s corner.

Most of the people at the hotel are rickshaw drivers and factory workers who live in the area returning from a night shift. At the table next to me, four young men are wiping their plates clean. The server brings them greby (perhaps derived from the word gravy), a complimentary extra serving of curry offered by the hotel, used for dipping the last bits of paratha.

The adjoining mosque brings in worshippers returning from their early morning prayers. Outside, under the dim streetlight, I glimpse a group of women walking past. They are Baloch women, returning from a wedding, wearing heavy chadors that cover them from head to knee. It seems unlikely they’ll come inside; these establishments are largely the domain of men. The men walking with them stop inside, along with the wedding band, for a last celebratory meal before wrapping up their night,.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 6, 2016 at 10:31pm

#Modi's #India should be aware it has an image problem: Nobel Laureate Economist Joseph E. Stiglitz http://m.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/india-should-be-aware...

Economist and Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz believes India has much to do to improve its “image” abroad.

Mr. Stiglitz is in Bangalore to deliver a talk on “Global inequality: Causes and Consequences” along with economist Branko Milanivic.

During a media interaction on Wednesday, Mr. Stiglitz said the crackdown on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and “harassment” of students - particularly the slapping of sedition charges against students of Jawaharlal Nehru University - had put India in a small club of authoritarian countries.

“India should be aware that it has an image problem. There are very few governments that have made it difficult for NGOs to operate or engage in harassment of universities. These events have had a strong effect on public opinion abroad. It puts the country in the club of countries such as Egypt, Russia and Turkey. Most people in India will not want to be in this group,” he said.

He believed that with India growing in an open global economy, it was “important for India to do a better job of explaining”.

With India showing growing inequality, Mr. Stiglitz warned that a situation, where the rich one per cent see tremendous growth while the rest see stagnating incomes, will eventually lead to leaders such as (Republican Presidential candidate) Donald Trump thriving.

To tackle economic inequality, he said there needs to be high growth, with lesser focus on inflation, and continuation and strengthening of welfare programmes such as NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) in India.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 7, 2016 at 4:42pm

Bromance aside, #Obama regime doesn’t really think much of #Modi’s performance or #India’s GDP figures http://qz.com/724502 via @qzindia

Narendra Modi’s “friendship” with US President Barack Obama doesn’t appear to be going in the direction that the Indian prime minister would like.
The American government has become the latest critic of the Modi government’s failure to deliver on its promises and raised doubts about the country’s estimates of its economic growth. The Indian government has been “slow to propose other economic reforms that would match its rhetoric, and many of the reforms it did propose have struggled to pass through parliament,” Washington noted in its Investment Climate Statements for 2016.
The Investment Climate Statements, prepared annually by US embassies and diplomatic missions, provide information on investment laws and practices in each region, specifically to aid American investors in their investment decisions.

Modi’s victory in 2014 was a turning point for investor sentiment in India. He had come to power with a complete majority, so most observers assumed his government would be able to implement reforms more smoothly. That hasn’t been the case. The Indian Parliament has failed to pass some key reforms, the US government said, citing examples of the land acquisition bill and the goods and services tax (GST) bill.

“This has resulted in many investors retreating slightly from their once forward-leaning support of the BJP-led government,” the report said.
In August 2015, opposition parties in the Indian parliament managed to stop a refurbished and contentious land acquisition bill that Modi and his government backed. This was a major setback for the “Make in India” campaign as acquiring land for factories continues to be a complex and painful procedure in the country. Projects worth Rs53,000 crore ($9 billion) are stuck due to land acquisition problems in India, according to some estimates.
The government is still negotiating details about GST with opposition parties. GST aims to streamline India’s convoluted tax structure and is likely to provide an immediate boost to the country’s GDP.
“Overstated” growth

Given that several key reforms are yet to be implemented, the country’s claim as the fastest growing economy in the world may not be correct, the US government said. “Ostensibly, India is one of the fastest growing countries in the world, but this depressed investor sentiment suggests the approximately 7.5% growth rate may be overstated,” the report said.

The US isn’t first to doubt India’s GDP growth data. Many economists—and even the country’s central bank—have in the past voiced concerns over the new method of calculation that instantly increased the country’s GDP growth from 4.7% to 6.9% for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
The on-ground situation in India also indicates that all isn’t well. For instance, the pace of manufacturing growth is slow, private investments are yet to pick up, job creation is tepid and exports need a boost.
Socio-economic challenges

The report also warned potential investors of India’s sluggish legal system and complex business environment.
“Although India prides itself on its rule of law, the country ranks 178 out of 189 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report in the category of enforcing contracts,” it said. “Its courts have cases backlogged for years, and by some accounts more than 30 million cases could be pending at various levels of the judiciary.”
Each of India’s 29 states and seven union territories has unique tax structures, labour laws, education levels and quality of governance, which means “investors must be prepared to face varied political and economic conditions,” the report said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 10, 2016 at 12:13pm

"White prejudice and discrimination keep the Negro low in standards of living, health, education, manners, and morals. This, in turn, gives support to white prejudice. White prejudice and negro standards thus mutually ‘cause’ each other." (Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma, 1944)


Study Reveals Americans' Subconscious Racial Biases

A Swedish researcher found in 2010 that implicit bias against Muslims correlated strongly with the way hiring managers decided to interview either Swedes or Arabs for a position.

"Most of these implicit racial biases are consequence of subtle messages seen in the media, popular culture, that suggest one group is good, and another group is bad-- associating one group with crime, another group with accomplishment," Rich Morin, senior editor at Pew, told NBC News.

The highest level of implicit racial preference revealed in the entire study was among whites being tested for bias against Asian Americans, with 50% of whites tested in the study revealing a subconscious preference for other whites over Asians. Thirty percent of whites had no implicit bias, and 19% of whites had a subconscious preference for Asians.

The second highest level of implicit racial preference was among whites tested for bias against blacks, with 48% of whites recorded as having a subconscious preference for other whites over blacks. Twenty-seven percent of whites tested had no preference between whites and blacks, and 25% of whites preferred blacks.

A higher percentage of biracial black-white adults and biracial Asian-white adults displayed implicit bias in favor of whites, when compared to bias in favor of their respective minority group.


Comment by Riaz Haq on July 14, 2016 at 8:20pm

#Drought-hit #India back in global corn market. 2nd large import order after 2-decades of self-sufficiency. http://on.wsj.com/29SFhww via @WSJ

India, the world’s sixth-largest consumer of corn, said this past Sunday that it intends to import 500,000 tons of corn in hopes of bringing down local prices for the commodity. That would be more than twice the size of its 240,000-ton international order in April—its first corn imports since 1991.

“This is historic. India has not yet imported such a high volume,” said Deepak Chavan, an analyst at Farm Futures Pvt., a commodities consultancy. “A big market is being opened to the world.”

The government said it will invite bids next month for the new corn imports.

A global glut of corn—generated in part by huge stockpiles in the U.S. and shrinking demand in China—has slammed corn prices in the last five years. Global corn prices are more than 50% below a record price of $8.49 a bushel reached in 2012. India’s turnabout to become a major importer of corn could help counterbalance the challenges for the sector.

India consumes around 20 million tons of corn a year and uses it mostly in animal feed and to manufacture starch. The lion’s share of India’s corn exports have traditionally gone to Southeast Asia.

Corn imports and exports are restricted by New Delhi to protect the country’s farmers. Local farmers usually meet local demand and export the leftovers. But two consecutive years of drought have slashed production and eaten into stockpiles, pushing up domestic prices of corn by as much as 15% in the last year.

Corn production in India fell for the last two years because the June-through-September monsoon rains were well below average. Though the rains are looking much better so far this year, corn production is expected to continue to fall because farmers have planted less of it.

“There was hardly any crop during the last two years,” said Krishnarao Kale, a farmer in the western state of Maharashtra. “If the crop fails this year as well, I will stop growing corn.”

The biggest winners of India’s import drive could be the suppliers that can guarantee corn shipments without genetically modified corn, said Cole Martin, commodities analyst at BMI Research in Singapore. India prohibits the import of GMO corn.

“The Indian government will find its goal very challenging, if even possible,” because most corn producers use GMO varieties, he said.

Most of the corn from the big exporting countries such as the U.S., Brazil and Argentina is genetically modified. The nongenetically modified variety is available in Ukraine and some European countries, including France.

Rajiv Yadav, a grains and oilseeds analyst at Noble Natural Resources India Pvt. in New Delhi, said the Indian government needs to change its corn policy to be able to meet the country’s growing corn demand.

Allowing the planting of GMO seeds would increase India’s corn harvest, while allowing the import of GMO corn would free the country to import much more affordable corn, Mr. Yadav said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 14, 2016 at 8:48pm

#Bangladesh bakery attack mastermind is hiding in #India: Report http://toi.in/EUDJVa via @TOIWorld

A key aide to Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina on Thursday indicated the government's willingness to share a dossier of "missing youths" with India, underlining the country's intent to jointly fight cross-border terror.
The comments by Gawhar Rizvi, a senior foreign affairs advisor to Hasina, follows a Dhaka Tribune report that claimed a key plotter in the July 1 Gulshan carnage slipped into West Bengal seven months before the attack. Investigators in Bengal have been on the lookout for a key JMB operative, Md Suleiman, whose name cropped up while questioning an IS operative Abu Al-Musa Al Bangali alias Musa arrested by the state CID from Burdwan 10 days ago. Suleiman was Musa's handler for the past two years.
Speaking at a conference on regional cooperation, Rizvi said Bangladesh was preparing a dossier on missing youths from the country and would share the information with India to help trace them. In this month's terror attack at Holey Artisan Bakery, three of the terrorists who hailed from affluent families in Dhaka had gone missing four to six months before the attack. Further investigations revealed that over 100 youths, most in their 20s, are missing from Dhaka.
The Dhaka Tribune report claimed the mastermind behind the Holey attack had slipped into India and was hiding somewhere in Bengal. "Investigators dealing with the dreadful Gulshan attack claimed to have identified the mastermind, saying he fled the country at least seven months ago after finalising the operation plan and is now hiding in West Bengal..." the report stated.

The Dhaka Tribune report claimed the mastermind behind the Holey attack had slipped into India and was hiding somewhere in Bengal. "Investigators dealing with the dreadful Gulshan attack claimed to have identified the mastermind, saying he fled the country at least seven months ago after finalising the operation plan and is now hiding in West Bengal..." the report stated.

Around the time of the "disappearance", sleuths here say Musa met Suleiman in Malda, a bordering district. The two had earlier met six times between 2014 and 2015.


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