India launches satellite for South Asian countries, Pakistan says no thanks

The Indian Space Research Organisation's GSAT-9 satellite was launched Friday, May 5, 2017 in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s GSAT-9 satellite was launched Friday, May 5, 2017 in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

New Delhi (CNN)In a first, India’s space agency launched a satellite Friday to provide communications services to its neighboring countries.

The South Asia satellite, funded entirely by India, was announced several years ago with the intention of serving all eight members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
According to Uday Bhaskar, director of Delhi-based think tank the Society for Policy Studies, the satellite represents a “new form of regional cooperation,” and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called it a “gift to the SAARC region.”
“Even the sky is not the limit when it comes to regional cooperation among like-minded countries,” Modi said after the launch.
The more than $36 million project does not, however, involve Pakistan, which pulled out of the project.
READ: Asia’s space race heats up

Tense relationship

The satellite project comes at a time of heightened tensions between the two countries. This week, India accused Pakistan of mutilating the bodies of two of its soldiers in the disputed territory of Kashmir. Last year, militants from Pakistan killed 18 Indian soldiers in an attack on an Indian army base.
While some have suggested Pakistan may have pulled out due to espionage concerns, Ajay Lele, a senior analyst at the Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis said “in modern times, you do not develop a satellite to spy on a country.”
But N. Sathiya Moorthy, a regional director at the Observer Research Foundation, said India should “do everything to ensure that policy makers (in Pakistan) remain convinced that it is nothing more than what India says it is.”
Lele said Pakistan’s backing out is a missed opportunity for Islamabad. “Problems on earth shouldn’t affect relationships in outer space,” he said.
Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Nafees Zakaria said the country was initially “keen to participate in the project.”
“However, as India was not willing to develop the project on a collaborative basis, it was not possible for Pakistan to support it as a regional project under the umbrella of SAARC,” he added.
He dismissed speculation over espionage concerns as “unfounded.”
The satellite will provide communications and disaster management services across South Asia.

Space diplomacy

The satellite’s launch is seen by many as a move by India to cement its big brother role in the region and improve relations with its neighbors, Pakistan aside.
“India has done satellite launches for countries commercially but never utilized them as a foreign policy tool. Space is no more just a science and technology domain — it is being seen from a strategic and foreign policy perspective,” said Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, head of the Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative at the Observer Research Foundation.
Experts say the move is also designed to counter China’s growing influence in South Asia. In 2011, Beijing launched a communications satellite for long-time ally Pakistan, followed by the launch of another for Sri Lanka in 2012.
“Space is emerging as a domain where you can see increasing competition between India and China. For China, reaching out to South Asia is a way of keeping India under check,” said Rajagopalan.
India's space program is increasing in sophistication.

Disaster control

The South Asia satellite weighs 2,230 kilograms and is carrying 12 top-of-the-line communication transponders, making it India’s most significant space project since February’s record-breaking launch of 104 mini satellites with a single rocket.
Since the 2013 launch of India’s Mars orbiter, the country’s space agency has established itself as a reliable, low-cost global player.
The new satellite will provide telecommunications, disaster management and weather forecasting services, among others.
A satellite focusing on disaster communications could be particularly beneficial to South Asia, home to about a quarter of the world’s population and prone to tropical cyclones, heat waves, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides and floods.
“Bangladesh has serious climatic variations, while Maldives is seeing the impact of climate change. Both countries have a lot to receive in terms of disaster warnings,” said Rajagopalan.
Bhaskar added, “This can go a long way in improving regional human security indicators, particularly in the more impoverished cross-sections of the regional population across South Asia.”

India writes to Pakistan, says New Delhi will only discuss terror

India on Wednesday wrote to Pakistan, saying New Delhi was ready to discuss terrorism that “emanates from the soil of the neighbouring country” and targets not just India, but other countries in the region, as well. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, in his response to his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry’s August 19 invite, reiterated India’s stand that Islamabad must move out of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, according to The Indian Express.

The letter was the fourth one exchanged between the two sides since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech. His mention of Balochistan in the address attracted reactions from various sections in both countries.

On August 16, Chaudhry wrote to Jaishankar, inviting him to discuss the ongoing Kashmir unrest as per a resolution passed by the United Nations, which has also called for a plebiscite in the region. In his reply, the Indian foreign secretary said New Delhi was ready for talks, but only about Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, not Kashmir.

The Pakistan official wrote back on August 19, saying terrorism from India was also a concern for the Nawaz Sharif government. The last response to Pakistan was sent after consultations with top officials from the Home Affairs Ministry. The letter was cleared by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, reported Hindustan Times.

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Uber’s Upstart Rival in Pakistan makes use of Rickshaws, Low-Tech telephones

Uber's Upstart Rival in Pakistan Uses Rickshaws, Low-Tech Phones

As taxi hailing large Uber enters Pakistan, a bitacknowledged neighborhood competitor is counting on a mix of new thoughts and antique generation to tap what can be a large bite of the marketplace: low-earnings citizens who travel in rickshaws, not cabs.

referred to as Rixi, the Lahore-based totally carrier hails rickshaws in preference to vehicles. Its platformisn’t smartphones, however older SMS cellphone messaging that permits close by drivers to bid for anyperson‘s commercial enterprise.

Pakistan has extra than a hundred thirty million cellphone subscriptions, however simplest 21 percentagejoin statistics programs, and, whilst the proportion is rising, there are possibilities throughoutemerging economies in Asia to faucet a especially low-tech purchaser base.

In Thailand, Taxi Radio makes use of calls and textual content messages to place cabs and those in contact and is popular with those with out smartphone apps, and HeyKuya!, an SMS-based providerissuer in the Philippines, was recently received by using Indonesia’s YesBoss.

Rixi founder Adnan Khawaja says his enterprise works with extra than 1,000 rickshaw drivers in Lahore, in which many humans depend on small, noisy three-wheelers that are nicely ideal to beating site visitorsin the jap metropolis‘s crowded streets.

Rixi works by means of bypassing bad phone penetration in the low-profits rickshaw marketplace bypolling drivers’ places using cellular phone towers and matching passengers’ messaged places to factorson Google Maps.

if you observe … Uber’s operational model, they’ll be relying on the smartphones,” stated Khawaja. “Ininternational locations like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, that population is […] growing, however it’s stillsmaller in comparison to the vast market.”

Uber declined to touch upon Rixi’s commercial enterprise version, and said that at the same time as it had tested SMS-based totally offerings, there had been no immediately plans to set up this sort ofservice in Pakistan.

“We preserve to discover products that might stimulate demand … and higher carrier the city, whetherthat may be a bike, whether that could be a rickshaw, whether that is a chopper,” said Zohair Yousafi, Uber’s head of enlargement in Pakistan.

To entrepreneurs like Shehmir Shaikh, who currently launched errand start-up Scooty Bhejo in Lahore, Uber is missing a trick over Pakistan’s virtual divide and its huge, low-earnings shipping market.

overseas, Uber has made waves due to the readily available era that human beings are the use of, like iPhones of their hands,” he stated. “We don’t have that right here. (And) the primary form of transport is not vehicles.”

Roadblocks to achievement
Adam Ghaznavi, a generation entrepreneur who has studied the rickshaw market, thinks Pakistan will no longer necessarily be a huge market for taxi journey hailing apps like Uber, however it can be verybeneficial for an equivalent app for rickshaws.

“If someone can determine that out, the potential is large,” he said.

so far, Rixi says it has registered approximately one hundred,000 rides because it launched in past due2013, and is averaging approximately 100 rides a day. that is only a fraction of the roughly two hundred,000 journeys that rickshaws in Lahore take every day, in step with the Awami Rickshaw Union.

“Rickshaw drivers do now not understand whatever approximately those (on line apps),” said Majeed Ghauri, head of the union, which represents the drivers of 60,000 of Lahore’s roughly eighty,000 registered rickshaws. “They genuinely need their daily wages.”

Ghauri said market dynamics and customer behaviour within the low-earnings market had been markedlydistinctive from the ones in the taxi journey sharing arena.

moreover, Rixi’s placetracking, reliant as it’s far on vague cellular telephone tower triangulation and Google Maps, has thrown up some major kinks.

numerous customers complained that Rixi’s carrier changed into not able to supply on its promised 15-minute service delivery time.

“Even inside the maximum densely populated cities inside the united states, the accuracy is no more than a few hundred metres, which is not correct sufficient for a driver searching out a passenger,” statedDanielle Sharaf, a era entrepreneur whose organisation offers valuedelivered services for cell phones.

Rixi says it has an errors charge of best three percent, and says mismatches are due to its reliance onoutside services together with Google Maps.

Ghaznavi stated a main hurdle to adoption inside the Pakistani marketplace is the shortage of literacy,both conventional and virtual, among rickshaw drivers and passengers, compared to those the use oftaxi trip hailing apps.

“The rise of the center class is the important thing to resolving the rickshaw scenario. proper now, themiddle elegance is not traveling on a rickshaw, the lower middle elegance is,” he stated.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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Tags: Apps, Rixi, Uber, Uber Pakistan


In Pakistan too, a debate about sexual harassment in the workplace

In Pakistan too, a debate about sexual harassment in the workplace
Photo Credit: Aamir Quereshi/AFP
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In the eyes of many, the offices of Pakistan are filled with lecherous bosses. All too often, working women have tales of their perversions: the lesser ones include gaze and glance, the occasional grope, the unwanted text message, the innuendo; the bigger ones include invitations to meet outside the office, over lunch or dinner – with plum assignments, promotions, job security and professional reputations hanging in the balance.

Resignation is no guarantee of reprieve; there are reference letters to be obtained, future employment to be worried about. In an expensive, inflation-wracked and increasingly competitive Pakistani workplace, there are many women who continue to be targets for men with power.

The arithmetic of want and need is in display; divorced women, single mothers, the older and the unmarried are particularly vulnerable to harassment. In the words of one single mother who endured 10 years of harassment, the pursuit is constant, and any attempt to escape is punished further with denials of promotions and humiliation before colleagues. Co-workers, often witnesses, say nothing, eager to avoid a situation that could result in retaliation, a loss of their own positions. Sexual harassment from superiors is hence often coupled with isolation by colleagues who watch, witness and withdraw. The harassed are not only the persecuted but also the pariah.

Legal protections

There is a law against all this in Pakistan. The Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010, which will be six years old, is a thorough document. The code of conduct included in it defines harassment as “any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favours or other verbal or written communication or physical conduct of a sexual nature, or sexually demeaning attitudes, causing interference with work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, or the attempt to punish the complainant for refusal to comply with such a request or is made a condition for employment”.

It goes on to add that “the above is unacceptable behaviour in the organisation and at the workplace, including in any interaction or situation that is linked to official work or official activity outside the office”.

The abuse of authority, creating a hostile work environment, and retaliation are the three categories that mandate action against a harasser. Detailed stipulations are set out for the establishment of investigative committees, ombudspersons, etc, who are charged with resolving the issues raised. A range of penalties from censure to outright dismissal are postulated. All employers are required to display the code of conduct prominently on their premises.

When the law was passed in 2010, it was feted as a success. It would take time for its provisions to change the culture of the workplace, the more circumspect said. Change comes slowly but a law is a first step; a legislative commitment supported by elected representatives’ signals that the path ahead will be a different one, in this case one where the harassment of women in the workplace would not be permitted.

Not much has happened since then. Harassment is still rampant in the workplace (the majority of workplaces have little idea as to what the code of conduct is, let alone of the requirement to display it visibly in employee areas).

Women still regularly report being verbally harassed and even physically assaulted by their superiors who, making calculations regarding their need for a job, their desire to get ahead, their inability to refuse, unabashedly continue with such acts. In the face of unwanted advances, Pakistan’s women continue to find themselves alone, unsure of where to take their complaints and how to protect themselves.

Even in the development sector, where the very agenda of many organisations is to empower women, similar problems persist. In one, a co-founder of an organisation faced so much harassment by a male colleague that she was ultimately forced out. New, more pliant women hired to take her position have since complained of similar problems. The man in question, however, remains untouched, undoubtedly displaying similarly harassing behaviour to new prey. Other men have come to his defence – perhaps recognising their own behaviour in those of others and eager to ensure that no one gets punished.

Misogyny is manufactured in two major flavours in Pakistan. The first is on the premises of religious obscurantists whose hankering for the reinstatement of a strictly segregated society sees the harassment-filled workplace as a grim substantiation of their warnings. Women should not be in the workplace at all, the male conscience is unable to police itself.

Daily doses of misogyny

The second, one that wrongly labels itself as liberal and progressive, imagines it to mean a licence to harass and harangue. A woman’s willingness to put up and shut up is, in its mind, the product of this progressivism, its illogical mindset equating women in the public sphere with women sexually available to all men who may want them. The two flavours compete, their poisons infecting the working lives of women – doctors, lawyers, shopkeepers, bankers, teachers, professors and countless others – who are daily force-fed these bitter morsels of misogyny.

Laws alone cannot change society; the sexual harassment of women (and nearly everyone who reads this article either knows someone or is someone who has faced harassment) continues because it is considered permissible, something women ask for when they leave their homes.

This belief is reflected all the time and everywhere in Pakistan, in soap operas that vilify working women as predators out to seduce innocent men, to workplace conversations in which men dissect the desirability of their female colleagues, their participation often a measure of a masculinity that fears competition from women. In the matter of sexual harassment in Pakistan’s workplaces, there are the guilty and the very guilty, they are far too many men complicit, quiet, eager to embrace or enforce their right to harass.