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January 27, 2020

Modi’s India and Khan’s Pakistan are rising — in corruption


January 27, 2020

NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan are two separate countries. But they have a common problem: corruption. The problem is getting worse under two celebrated prime ministers, Narendra Modi in India, and Imran Khan in Pakistan. That's according to a recent ranking published by Transparency International (TI).

India ranks 80th out of 180 countries listed. That's two notches below the 2018 ranking and four notches down from 2014 when Modi became Prime Minister. Corruption under Prime Minister Modi includes a wave of high-profile scandals that shook his administration during his first term in office. Like a muddy 7.8 billion euro weapons contract to purchase 36 Rafale jet fighters from France. And a $2 billion bank fraud uncovered at India's state-owned Punjab National Bank, this was stated in an article published in foreign newspaper.

Pakistan ranks 120th, three notches below the 2018 ranking when Khan became Prime Minister. Corruption in Pakistan under Prime Minister Imran Khan includes high profile cases like one of the Khan's cabinet members who kept Rs465 millions of properties in his servant's name.

Modi, in particular, has gone as far as to launch unconventional means like getting rid of "black money," ie, the 500 and 1000 rupee notes.

Khan has launched measures to fight tax evasion and corruption.

However, the Modi and Khan governments have been fighting corruption in the wrong places — among their countries’ poor. And they have left corruption thriving in the high areas, among the rich and powerful. Persistent corruption is one of the old vices of frontier and emerging markets. It creates monopolies and oligopolies in critical economic sectors, limiting competition and raising the prices for necessary products consumed by the masses.

Higher prices for necessities, in turn, fuel runaway inflation, another vice of frontier and emerging market economies, which is followed by social unrest, the third vice of these economies.


UAE tech ambitions tarnished by internet restrictions


DUBAI: With its ultra-modern infrastructure and hyper-connected services, the United Arab Emirates is an emerging technology power, but a scandal surrounding a popular messaging application has highlighted tight controls on the internet.

The oil-rich country has invested billions in new technologies and artificial intelligence "to become a forerunner in the provision of smart services" as part of its Vision 2021 development plan.

But although more than nine million expatriates make up 90 percent of the population, making a WhatsApp or Skype call to get in touch with loved ones back home is no easy task.

While free voice over internet protocol (VoIP) telephony is commonly used across the globe, it is inaccessible through normal internet services in the UAE -- except for on the Abu Dhabi-developed mobile application ToTok.