India’s stealth power
India has proved to be a popular — and clever — investor in poor countries. Many developing countries are vocal about their dislike for the Chinese firms that invest there. Yet, no one bats an eyelid at India’s commercial presence. Why? Tata Motors has huge assembly plants in many countries, including South Africa and Malaysia. Bharti Airtel is one of the biggest telecoms operators in Africa. The Aditya Birla Group is the world’s largest producer of carbon black, an ingredient in car tyres. It is one of Egypt’s biggest industrial investors and exporters. One reason is that, unlike China, state-run firms are not the ones doing the investing. Indian investors include families who have been doing business there for generations, and they also have a better reputation for hiring and buying locally. Even in strategic sectors, such as infrastructure and communications, Indian foreign direct investment is not viewed as geopolitical scheming or hegemonic ambition.
(Adapted from “India Has Proved To Be A Popular — And Clever — Investor In Poor Countries,” by Lusaka and Nairobi, published on April 15, 2021, by The Economist)
Old-school board games
Strategy and cooperative board games have big adult fan bases. The little-known Asmodee has cornered the market with a series of acquisitions since 2007. A decade ago, games like Catan, Pandemic, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings would have come from a half-dozen producers. Today, those titles are made by a single company: Asmodee Holding. Like the Monopoly player who never rolls doubles or lands on Free Parking but suddenly has hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place, the company has quietly bought up game studios and distribution licenses. Asmodee, based just outside Paris, owns about a dozen game publishers and has more than 750 employees, with operations in scores of countries. Press reports indicates its revenue topped $650m in 2019. Makers of games have benefited from millennials’ pursuit of old-school authenticity, the growth of board game cafes, and — over the past year— Covid-19 lockdowns.
(Adapted from “The Company Quietly Building a Board-Game Empire With Catan, Pandemic, and Ticket to Ride,” by Paul Tullis, published on April 13, 2021, by Bloomberg Businessweek)
Importance of education
Pakistan presents an interesting case where basic education is compulsory but sending children to school is not obligatory. About 7m children from age five to nine remain out of the education system with only 52pc primary level students enrolled at secondary level. Hence the participation rates in secular school education are very low, with high dropout rates and gender disparities when compared with other countries within the region, and countries of a similar economic background around the world. Girls are more involved in unpaid child labour such as household chores while boys work, either in the family business, or attend school and work concurrently. The age at start of school also plays an important role because an older child is more likely to drop out of school and to be put to work. Educated parents are more likely to value the importance of education.
(Adapted from “Parents’ Perception Of Education And Choice Of Childhood Activities: Evidence From Pakistan,” by Lubna Naz, Abdul Salam Lodhi and Daniel W Tsegai, published in the Pakistan Development Review, Vol 59, 2020 by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics)
The 20-8-2 rule
Whether we take a run, go for a walk, or play a sport, moving our bodies pumps us up with endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitter, improving our moods and reducing physical pain. Now that many of us are limited to the confines of our houses or apartments, we need creative ways of replicating those motions. There are lots of simple things you can do in the day to get some movement. If you have a printer, move it across the room so you need to get up to grab your papers. Replace your wired headset for a Bluetooth one and walk while you talk. If space is a big constraint, try standing at your desk to improve your metabolic health. One tip is to use the 20-8-2 rule to distress when you can’t go outside. Alan Hedge, professor of ergonomics at Cornell University, recommends 20 minutes of sitting, eight minutes of standing and two minutes of moving for every 30 minutes at work.
(Adapted from “7 Ways To De-stress When You Can’t Go Outside,” by Michelle Bihary, published on April 14, 2021, by Harvard Business Review Ascend)
Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, April 26th, 2021