India, China and Pakistan Doing Stuff As Usual


Hi! Welcome to the 4th edition of Boomtown, our newsletter written and published every Friday at exactly 4:20 p.m. If you’re reading this for the first time, then welcome. The weekend is almost upon us (if you still checking what day it is. We stopped checking for sometime, loosing track of a few weeks, hardly leaving home except to walk in a park nearby) and the world seemingly booms forth stories upon stories which left us in laughing splits at each other. Let’s dive in.

In India – Alcohol>Cannabis>Opium

According to the International Narcotics Control Board, the global drug trafficking trade is worth up to $650 billion. In short, the recreational drug market is too lucrative to ignore, especially when left unregulated, driving sales underground away from the legal free markets. 

Boomtown readers can trust us to get to the bottom of everything without taking sides. Just to clarify, there are four broad sides – the government, the consumers, the makers (growers) and the distributors. For good measure, there’s a fifth side as well – the general public who like to take matters into their own hands and deliver armchair judgements which make sense or not, we aren’t really sure. We have to check. 

Yesterday, sitting around, we wanted to check the top 3 psychoactive substances that Indians consume and of what kind? We decided to rely on the figures released by the Indian Government. More specifically, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in association with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in a report titled ‘Magnitude of Substance Use in India, 2019’

Below are some summary excerpts taken from the same report as published by the ministry.

  • Alcohol is the most common psychoactive substance used by Indians. There are about 16 crore persons who consume alcohol in the country.
  • After Alcohol, Cannabis is the next commonly used substance in India. About 3.1 crore individuals use cannabis products (bhang, ganja and charas)
  • After Cannabis come Opioids. 2.26 crore individuals use opioids which includes Opium (or its variants like poppy husk known as doda/phukki), Heroin (or its impure form – smack or brown sugar) and a variety of pharmaceutical opioids made by multi-national companies like Johnson and Johnson or Purdue Pharma (in 2014, many opioid based medicines were included as ‘essential medicines’, the same medicines manufactured by the same companies that caused the opioid crisis in the United States), many of which have serious side-effects.

And lastly the below excerpts also caught our eye – 

  • 5.2% of population aged 10-75 years (about 5.7 crore individuals) need help for their alcohol use problems (i.e. they consume alcohol in a harmful or dependent pattern)
  • 0.66% of Indians aged between 10-75 years (about 7.23 lakh individuals) need help with their cannabis use (i.e. they use cannabis in a harmful or dependent pattern).

All right then. That’s quite self-explanatory. 

Let’s keep blazing. 

Chinese Smartphone Suppliers Have A Laugh

India for the third time in the last few months has again banned another 118 apps whose developers hailed from China. The first ban took out 59 apps while the second one took out 47. As per the Ministry of Electronics and Information and Technology “they are engaged in activities prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”. “This move will safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users. This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety, security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace”

We agree. Maybe if India had a strong data privacy and protection law (India does not have a data privacy law. Not yet.), the Chinese companies would probably have a few guidelines about what to do. As per us, since India does not have a data privacy law in the first place, why would any international company bother to spend their money in setting up their data servers in India? Even Facebook (with 400 million Indian users) and Google do not store Indians’ data in India. Why would the Chinese? There are no guidelines yet. 

In today’s Economic Times, we couldn’t help but notice another matter no one’s talking about. To summarize, here’s what it said:

Smartphone prices in India may rise with Chinese suppliers of key smartphone components such as display panels and battery packs hiking prices by approximately 15%. The higher cost of the key components – which make up some 25% of a smartphone’s value – may lead to higher prices or lower discounts, developments which may drag critical festival season sales”

So one one hand, the Indian government is claiming that they’ve dealt a blow to Chinese companies’ aspirations in India, while on the other hand Indian consumers will probably end up paying more for their smartphones, a market where the Chinese smartphone brands have more than 80% market share. 

Never a dull day in India. 

Let’s keep blazing. 

Welcome to the World Cannabis Market, Pakistan

Pakistan has done it. 

The Pakistan Cabinet has approved the use of cannabis and hemp for making medicines, oils and all other possible applications that can arise out of commercializing one of humanity’s oldest cultivated crops for food, medicine and clothes. 

As per Hindustan Times:

“Pakistan has approved the domestication and commercialisation of medicinal and industrial cannabis and hemp at a Herbal Medicine Park in Jhelum”, said the Pakistani minister for science and technology,  Fawad Chaudhry. Chaudhry called it a landmark decision that will help Pakistan enter the billion-dollar Cannabidiol (CBD) market. “Cabinet has approved the first license for @MinistryofST and PCSIR [Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research] for industrial and medical use of Hemp… [The] landmark decision will place Pakistan in billions of USD CBD market,” he posted from his Twitter handle”

“Worldwide, this fibre is replacing cotton. Clothes, bags, and other textile products are being made using this plant’s fibre. This is a $25 billion market and Pakistan can take a big share in this market,” Chaudhry said, adding, “this is under government control, so further research can be done and adequate safeguards through ministry of narcotics can be placed.”

Good one Pakistan! 

Have a great weekend everyone 🙂

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