Are Some Pakistanis Feeding into Indian Delusions of Grandeur?

Many Pakistanis are singing effusive praises of India on social media platforms and racking up millions of views, according to a report in the Indian  mainstream media. These Pakistanis are boosting their earnings by feeding into the Indians' delusions. The "India Today" report claims that, in the last 6 months alone, the number of channels using the hashtag #pakistanireactiononindia on YouTube increased by 1,000, and the number of videos by 5,000. Calling it an "industry" is an acknowledgment of the profit motive of the Pakistani YouTubers. These YouTubers steer clear of anything that even remotely challenges their unadulterated praise of India. For example, they make no mention of India ranking worse than Pakistan on income poverty, hunger and overall happiness. Nor do they talk about thousands of Indian farmers killing themselves every year.  Nor do they mention extremely high levels of unemployment in Modi's India. 

Modi Claims "chhappan inch ki chhati" (56 inch chest)

India's Population:

India is the world's most populous country with a population (1.4 billion) over 6 times larger than Pakistan's (230 million). India has the world's largest number of social media users and hundreds of millions of book readers. The profit motive for praising India extends beyond just the social media. It also includes book publishers and authors who see an opportunity to profit from it. India's English language book market is the world's third largest, behind that of the United States at the top and of the United Kingdom at number 2.  It is the fastest growing market today which will make India the world's number 1 market in the next ten years.  It could happen sooner if the book sales in the US and the UK decline faster or those in India grow more rapidly than they are already.

Indian Delusions: 

Delusions are a symptom of mental disorders, and are characterized by a belief in something that is not true. Here's how India Today describes what it calls "The Praise India Industry" and how it is received by Indians: 

"Indians love people from abroad lauding their achievements, but seem to derive the biggest satisfaction when Pakistanis gush over India's success. Pakistanis have understood that and have tapped into that, creating an entire industry of YouTubers in Pakistan". 

India's leaders and their western boosters have been promoting the country as an emerging superpower to counter rising China. They cite the size of India's economy, demography, military and consumer market to back up their assertions. These claims are challenged by India's former chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian and Josh Felman, former head of IMF in India, in an article titled "India's Size Illusion".  In a similar article titled "The Chinese Threat No One Is Talking About — And How to Counter It", Sameer Lalwani, a senior fellow for Asia strategy at the Stimson Center, has raised serious questions about India's ability to counter China in the Indian Ocean region. 

Akhand Bharat (Greater India) Mural in India's New Parliament Building

Modi's 56 inch Chest:

"Desh ka bahut nuksaan hua hai", acknowledged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his military's 2019 failures against Pakistan in Balakot and Kashmir. This marked a major shift in Modi's belligerent tone that has been characterized by his boasts of "chhappan inch ki chhati" (56 inch chest) and  talk of  "munh tor jawab" (jaw-breaking response) and "boli nahin goli" (bullets, not talks) to intimidate Pakistan in the last few years.  These events should force India's western backers to reassess their strategy of boosting India as a counterweight to China.

India's Illusions:

Indian government's former Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian has enumerated and challenged arguments for what he calls "India's Size Illusion" as follows:

1. India’s economic size has not translated into commensurate military strength. Part of the problem is simple geography. (German Chancellor Otto Von) Bismarck (1815-1898) supposedly said that the US is bordered on two sides by weak neighbors and on two sides by fish. India, however, does not enjoy such splendid isolation. Ever since independence, it has been confronted on its Western frontier by Pakistan, a highly armed, chronically hostile, and often military-ruled neighbor. More recently, India’s northern neighbor, China, also has become aggressive, repudiating the territorial status quo, occupying contested land in the Himalayas, reclaiming territory in the east, and building up a large military presence along India’s borders. So, India may have fish for neighbors along its long peninsular coast, but on land it faces major security challenges on two fronts.

2.  Then there is the question of market size. As Pennsylvania State University’s Shoumitro Chatterjee and one of us (Subramanian) have shown, India’s middle-class market for consumption is much smaller than the $3 trillion headline GDP number suggests, because many people have limited purchasing power while a smaller number of well-off people tend to save a lot. In fact, the effective size of India’s consumer market is less than $1 trillion, far smaller than China’s and even smaller relative to the potential world export market of nearly $30 trillion.

Indo-Pacific Dominance:

In an article titled "The Chinese Threat No One Is Talking About — And How to Counter It", Sameer Lalwani, a senior fellow for Asia strategy at the Stimson Center, has raised serious doubts about India's ability to counter China in the Indian Ocean region. Here are a couple of excerpts from the article:

1. China has been building dozens of advanced warships that seem poised to head toward the vast body of water through which 80 percent of global seaborne trade transits.....Indeed, a deeper (US) partnership with India — the world’s largest democracy, on an upward economic trajectory, seemingly perfectly positioned to counter China on land and at sea — has been something of a holy grail for at least four U.S. administrations.......Yet what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a decade ago called a “strategic bet” on India does not seem to be paying off. Indian naval and political power in the Indian Ocean region is faltering, giving way to influence by Beijing. Many of these problems are of India’s own making.

2. There is increasing discussion and advocacy among China’s foreign policy scholars and former officials about an Indian Ocean fleet. Indeed, the idea is consistent with China’s efforts to acquire military facilities in the Horn of Africa, on Pakistan’s Indian Ocean coast, in Myanmar and in the UAE, which offers access to the Persian Gulf. China has also engaged in intelligence collection efforts in the region and increased its port visits and diplomatic presence.

India's "Accidental" Missile Firing:

India's March 9 "accidental firing" of Brahmos nuclear-capable supersonic cruise missile into Pakistan has raised serious questions about the safety of the Indian nuclear arsenal. Do the people in charge of India's nukes have basic competence to handle such weapons? Was this really an "unauthorized" or "accidental" firing? Why was there a long delay by New Delhi in acknowledging the incident?  Could Pakistan be blamed if it assumed that extremist right-wing Hindu elements had taken control of the missile system in India and fired it deliberately into Pakistani territory? Has the Indian government risked the lives of 1.6 billion people of South Asia?

Could this "errant" missile have brought down commercial passenger planes that were in the air at the time of this "accidental" firing? Here's an excerpt from Bloomberg detailing air traffic in the flight path of the Indian Brahmos:

"Several planes passed through the direct trajectory of the missile that day, which flew from the Indian garrison town of Ambala and ended up in Mian Channu in Eastern Pakistan. They included a Flydubai jet heading to Dubai from Sialkot, an IndiGo plane going from Srinagar to Mumbai and an Airblue Ltd. flight from Lahore to Riyadh. All crossed the missile’s trajectory within an hour of its accidental launch, data from flight-tracking application Flightradar24 show.  Other international flights in the vicinity of the missile’s trajectory -- and within its range -- included a Kuwait Airways Co. jet heading to Guangzhou, China from Kuwait City, a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight to Riyadh from New Delhi, and a Qatar Airways service from Kathmandu to Doha, the data show. No advisory to pilots operating in the vicinity -- known as a notice to airmen or NOTAM -- was issued". 

India: A Paper Elephant:

In an article titled "Paper Elephant", the Economist magazine talked about how India has ramped up its military spending and emerged as the world's largest arms importer. "Its military doctrine envisages fighting simultaneous land wars against Pakistan and China while retaining dominance in the Indian Ocean", the article said. It summed up the situation as follows: "India spends a fortune on defense and gets poor value for money".

After the India-Pakistan aerial combat over Kashmir in 2019, New York Times published a story from its South Asia correspondent headlined: "After India Loses Dogfight to Pakistan, Questions Arise About Its Military".  Here are some excerpts of the report:

"Its (India's) loss of a plane last week to a country (Pakistan) whose military is about half the size and receives a quarter (a sixth according to SIPRI) of the funding is telling. ...India’s armed forces are in alarming shape....It was an inauspicious moment for a military the United States is banking on to help keep an expanding China in check".

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Comment by Riaz Haq on July 2, 2024 at 8:54am

Stampede at #Hindu festival in #India. Police in the #Hathras district said at least 60 confirmed dead. Another 27 people confirmed dead in the neighboring Etah district after being brought to #Etah hospital. #HathrasStampede

A stampede at a religious gathering in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday has killed at least 87 people, according to local police.

The incident happened at a prayer meeting, known as a satsang, in the Mughal Garhi village in the Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh, officials said. The village is around 200 kilometers (124 miles) southeast of the capital, New Delhi.

Police in the Hathras district said at least 60 people have been confirmed dead.

Another 27 people were confirmed dead in the neighboring Etah district after being brought to Etah hospital, according to police and health officials.

“The numbers may rise. People are being taken to hospitals in Hathras district and neighboring district of Etah,” Manish Chikara, Hathras district police spokesperson, told CNN.

Video distributed by Reuters showed crowds gathering outside a local hospital in Etah alongside distraught relatives. Medical personnel could be seen carrying people on stretchers.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences in an address in the lower house of India’s bicameral parliament known as the Lok Sabha.

Modi said the government is engaged in “relief and rescue work” and is coordinating with the state government. “The victims will be helped in every way,” he said.

Speaking to reporters, Ashish Kumar, the district magistrate of Hathras, said the stampede happened as people were leaving the event, which was held to celebrate the Hindu deity Shiva.

The district magistrate said police had given permission for the private event and officials were “put on duty for maintenance of law and order and security,” but arrangements inside were handled by the organizers.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 10, 2024 at 7:56pm

‘Note ban, GST, COVID shocks cost ₹11.3 lakh cr., 1.6 crore informal sector jobs’

India Ratings says in FY23, GVA in the economy by unincorporated businesses was 1.6% below 2015-16 levels; firm estimates 63 lakh informal enterprises shut down between FY16 and FY23

In 2022-23, the Gross-Value Added (GVA) in the economy by such unincorporated enterprises was still 1.6% below 2015-16 levels. Moreover, their compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) was 7.4% between 2010-11 and 2015-16, but slipped into a 0.2% contraction since then, the rating firm reckoned based on the recently released findings of the government’s Annual Survey of Unincorporated Sector Enterprises (ASUSE).


The latest data suggests that the real GVA of unincorporated firms in manufacturing, trade and other services (MTO) was ₹9.51 lakh crore in 2022-23, with an 18.2% share in India’s real MTO GVA, falling sharply from 25.7% in 2015-16.

“The shrinkage has been sharper in other services and trade, with the informal sector’s share dropped to 32.3% and 21.2% in 2022-23 from the pre-shock level of 46.9% and 34.3%, respectively. In the manufacturing sector, the share of the informal sector fell to 10.2%, from 12.5% during the same period,” the firm said in its report.


Had the macro shocks not taken place during the post 2015-16 period and the growth in these enterprises followed the pattern between 2010-11 and 2015-16, the total number of such firms would have reached 7.14 crore in 2022-23, with the number of workers employed rising to 12.53 crore, India Ratings concluded.

The unorganised sector contributes over 44% to the country’s GVA and employs nearly 75% of the work force employed in non-agricultural enterprises, as per the 2022-23 Periodic Labour Force Survey.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 12, 2024 at 9:07am

1.6 Crore Jobs Lost Due To Note Ban, GST, Covid: India Ratings & Research Study

India’s informal sector has faced a series of macroeconomic shocks since 2016, leading to substantial economic losses. According to India Ratings and Research, the cumulative impact of these shocks, including demonetisation, the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), and the COVID-19 pandemic, has resulted in an estimated economic loss of ₹11.3 lakh crore or 4.3% of India’s GDP in 2022-23. This blog explores the severe impact on the informal sector, job losses, and the implications for India’s economy.

Impact of Macroeconomic Shocks
Demonetisation, GST, and COVID-19
The informal sector has been severely impacted by demonetisation, the GST rollout, and the COVID-19 pandemic. These shocks have disrupted the functioning of informal enterprises, leading to a decline in economic activity and job losses. Sunil Kumar Sinha, principal economist at India Ratings, noted that 63 lakh informal enterprises shut down between 2015-16 and 2022-23, resulting in the loss of about 1.6 crore jobs.

Decline in Economic Contribution
The Gross-Value Added (GVA) by unincorporated enterprises in the economy in 2022-23 was still 1.6% below the 2015-16 levels. Their compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) fell from 7.4% between 2010-11 and 2015-16 to a 0.2% contraction since then. The real GVA of unincorporated firms in manufacturing, trade, and other services (MTO) dropped significantly, with their share in India’s real MTO GVA falling from 25.7% in 2015-16 to 18.2% in 2022-23.

Employment Challenges
Job Losses and Sector Shrinkage
The informal sector has seen a significant decline in employment. The number of workers employed in the non-agricultural sector increased to 10.96 crore in 2022-23 from 9.79 crore in 2021-22. However, this was lower than the 11.13 crore people employed in the sector in the ‘pre-shock period’ of 2015-16. The manufacturing sector witnessed a notable decline in jobs, with employment dropping from 3.6 crore in 2015-16 to 3.06 crore in 2022-23.

Structural Shift Needed
India’s over 400 million informal labour market requires a structural shift to address the challenges posed by these macroeconomic shocks. The rise in the formalisation of the economy has led to robust tax collections, but the reduced unorganised sector footprint has implications for employment generation. The informal sector’s share in various sectors has decreased sharply, highlighting the need for measures to support and revitalise this critical part of the economy.

Future Prospects and Recommendations
Addressing the Decline
To mitigate the impact of these shocks and support the informal sector, India needs targeted policies and interventions. The government should focus on providing financial assistance, improving access to credit, and enhancing the business environment for informal enterprises. Additionally, measures to ensure job security and create new employment opportunities are crucial to addressing the challenges faced by the informal labour market.

Enhancing Economic Resilience
Strengthening the resilience of the informal sector is essential for sustained economic growth. Promoting digital literacy, enhancing skill development programs, and providing incentives for formalisation can help informal enterprises adapt to changing economic conditions. Ensuring social security and welfare measures for informal workers will also contribute to building a more inclusive and resilient economy.

India’s informal sector has borne the brunt of multiple macroeconomic shocks, resulting in significant economic losses and job reductions. Addressing these challenges requires a comprehensive approach that supports informal enterprises, enhances economic resilience, and promotes inclusive growth. By implementing targeted policies and interventions, India can mitigate the impact of these shocks and ensure the sustained growth of its informal sector.


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