Blockchain Applications – Could We See A Different Future?

What is this buzz word all about? Is it something as revolutionary as some people are alluding it would be. In order to understand how revolutionary an idea is or could be, the best way to check is to look at the impact it would bring about and to see how many people will be impacted. So what is blockchain anyway? Blockchain is a digital ledger or database that is distributed across a network of computers. Each block in the chain contains a record of transactions, and once a block is added to the chain, it cannot be changed or deleted. This makes blockchain a secure and transparent way to store data, as each transaction is verified by the network of computers and cannot be tampered with. It is practically impossible to go back and edit records because of the very chain that is a central part of this technology, and in order to actually go out and change something, one would theoretically need to go back and alter the records in all the previous blocks in the chain as well. This makes blockchain a reliable way to store data and conduct transactions, without the need for a central authority or intermediary.

Blockchain technology has been making headlines since its inception over a decade ago, and for good reason. With its decentralized, secure, and transparent nature, blockchain has the potential to revolutionize the way we conduct transactions and store data. In recent years, we have seen an increasing number of real-world applications of blockchain technology across industries. I want to take this opportunity to talk about some of the innovations already undergoing in big or small way which could potentially change a lot of things for the industry. So let’s dive in the use-cases:

Supply Chain Management

One of the most promising applications of blockchain technology is in supply chain management. Blockchain can be used to track goods from their origin to the end consumer, ensuring transparency and accountability at every step of the way. Walmart, for example, has implemented a blockchain-based system for tracking food products from farm to store, which allows for faster recalls in the event of a food safety issue. This is especially close to my heart because of the amount of global food wastage that’s happening right now.

According to FAO’s report on The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI), the number of people affected by hunger rose to as much as 828 million in 2021, an increase of about 46 million since 2020 and 150 million since 2019.  In all, an estimated 3.1 billion people do not have access to a healthy diet.

Meanwhile, according to FAO’s State of Food and Agriculture (2019) report, around 14 percent of the world’s food (valued at $400 billion per year) continues to be lost after it is harvested and before it reaches the shops; while UNEP’s Food Waste Index Report shows that a further 17 percent of our food ends up being wasted in retail and by consumers, particularly in households. According to FAO estimates, the food that is lost and wasted could feed 1.26 billion hungry people every year.

To put things in perspective, we need to have a look at this chart showing Pakistan’s GDP over the years along with few others:

Identity Management

Blockchain can also be used for identity management, as it offers a secure and decentralized way to store and share personal information. Estonia, for example, has spearheaded and implemented a blockchain-based system for managing citizen identities, which allows for secure and convenient access to government services. Following suit, many other countries can easily benefit from such identity management solutions. This is going to be particularly useful for countries where there’s a relatively bigger influx of immigrants year over year, and cases where the birth days have consistently been very high.

Voting Systems

Blockchain can be used to create secure and transparent voting systems, which could help to eliminate fraud and increase trust in the democratic process. Voatz, a blockchain-based voting platform, has been used in several US elections, including the 2020 Democratic primaries. This is uniquely relevant because according to the EIU Democracy Index 2022, the world we live in has almost 65% of nations following democracy in one form or another and approximately 63% of the world population fall under these nations.

Banking and Finance

Blockchain technology is being increasingly used in banking and finance, particularly in the area of cross-border payments. Ripple, for example, has developed a blockchain-based platform for fast and secure international money transfers, which has been adopted by several banks and financial institutions. With the world becoming more global, and the restlessness created by the failure of some mainstream banking institutions (again), it piques the interest of many whether we need to think about banking and finance in a different light now than how we have been made accustomed to see it.


Blockchain has the potential to transform healthcare by providing a secure and efficient way to store and share medical data. This is another tricky area to work with because of the need to keep things confidential, but considering how the technology basically opens itself to allow the users to keep all the information confidential within the system, this has a lot of scope. In fact, in the United Arab Emirates, the government has implemented a blockchain-based system for storing and sharing medical records, which allows patients to access their data from anywhere in the world.


Blockchain technology can also be used in the energy sector to create a more efficient and decentralized grid. Power Ledger, a blockchain-based platform, allows consumers to trade renewable energy credits and manage their energy consumption in a more sustainable way. This is going to be more and more relevant as the world maneuvers around its way into renewable energy resources and thought leaders and business executives both focus on clean energy initiatives.

Real Estate

Blockchain can be used to streamline the real estate transaction process, by providing a secure and transparent way to store and share property data. Propy, for example, has developed a blockchain-based platform for buying and selling real estate, which eliminates the need for intermediaries and reduces transaction costs. It’s a long way before it becomes widespread but once it becomes more common, governments, businesses and individuals will see their visible bend towards this technology for its inherent advantages over the legacy systems.

How to Increase Self-Confidence: 3 Simple Pointers

Self-confidence is an essential ingredient for success in any area of life, from your career to your relationships to your personal goals. However, many people struggle with self-doubt and insecurity, which can hold them back from reaching their full potential. I’m no exception to the rule myself, but over time I have learned to overcome self-doubt and improve my self-confidence through these three techniques. If you’re looking to boost your self-confidence, here are three simple pointers to keep in mind:

1. Remember Your Accomplishments

One of the most effective ways to increase self-confidence is to remember your past accomplishments. Take a few moments to reflect on times when you achieved something you’re proud of, whether it was a successful project at work, a personal goal you achieved, or a challenge you overcame. Remind yourself of how capable you are and how much you’ve already accomplished in your life. This will help you develop a positive self-image and boost your confidence in your abilities.

2. Always Be Prepared

Another key to increasing self-confidence is to always be prepared. Whether you’re giving a presentation at work, going on a first date, performing in front of a large audience, or facing any other challenge, being prepared will help you feel more confident and in control. Take the time to research, practice, and prepare for whatever situation you’re facing. This will help you feel more confident in your abilities and reduce the likelihood of unexpected surprises or setbacks. As obvious as it is, life doesn’t always give you a moment to be prepared, but more often than not, one can benefit by taking this approach.

3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Finally, one of the biggest obstacles to self-confidence is comparing yourself to others. It’s natural to look at others and sometimes feel envious of their achievements or success, but this may also lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. Instead of focusing on others, focus on your own progress and growth. Celebrate your own achievements and focus on your own unique strengths and talents. When you stop comparing yourself to others, you’ll feel more confident and empowered to pursue your own goals and aspirations.

Increasing self-confidence is an ongoing process that requires patience, perseverance, and self-awareness. By remembering your accomplishments, always being prepared, and ending comparisons to others, you can develop a stronger sense of self-confidence and achieve greater success in all areas of your life. Start implementing these three simple pointers today and see how they can make a positive impact on your life. If you have got experiences to share where you did apply one of the three techniques to your advantage, or if things didn’t quite work for you, please share your experiences with me in the comments below.

How Dynasties Have Ruled the World and How Global Emerging Unipolarity is Being Challenged

Throughout history, different dynasties and empires have risen and fallen, each with its own unique approach to ruling the world. From the Roman Empire to the Mongol Empire to the British Empire, the world has seen various examples of how a single power dominates global affairs for many decades. For the last several decades, United States had emerged to become a superpower on the back of a very strong economy, growth and innovation driven enterprises and advanced scientific research.

However, in recent years, the emerging unipolarity in the world has been challenged by several emerging powerful countries, leading to a shift in the balance of power. In this blog post, we’ll explore how dynasties have ruled the world and how the current unipolarity is being challenged.

Dynasties and Empires

Dynasties and empires have been a dominant force throughout history, with powerful leaders using their military, economic, and political might to extend their influence over large areas. From the Persian Empire to the Chinese dynasties to the Ottoman Empire, these powerful entities have shaped world affairs and left a lasting impact on the societies they conquered.

One of the most notable examples of dynasty rule is the Roman Empire. At its height, the Roman Empire controlled much of the known world, with its legions conquering lands as far as modern-day Britain, Egypt, and Iraq. The empire was ruled by a series of emperors, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, who used military force, trade, and diplomacy to extend their influence.

Another example is the Mongol Empire, which was founded by Genghis Khan in the 12th century. The Mongol Empire was the largest contiguous empire in history, with its armies conquering lands as far as Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The Mongols ruled through a system of tribute and control, with conquered lands required to pay tribute and accept Mongol rule.

The British Empire is another example of dynasty rule, which lasted from the 16th to the 20th century. At its height, the British Empire controlled a quarter of the world’s population and land area, with its navy dominating the seas and its industrial might driving global trade. Also at its peak, they used to say “the sun never sets on the British Empire.”

Challenging Unipolarity

In recent years, the emerging unipolarity in the world, which has been dominated by the United States, has been challenged by several emerging powerful countries. China, Russia, and India are all vying for greater influence in global affairs, with each country using its own unique approach to assert its power.

China, for example, has been using its economic power to extend its influence, investing heavily in infrastructure projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. It has also been building up its military capabilities, with a focus on developing advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing. It has also expanded its influence through it’s One Belt One Road initiative ‘OBOR.’ The OBOR initiative is a Chinese economic and strategic agenda by which the two ends of Eurasia, as well as Africa and Oceania, are being more closely tied along two routes–one overland and one maritime.

Russia, on the other hand, has been using its military power to extend its influence, intervening in conflicts such as the Syrian civil war and the Ukraine crisis. It has also been accused of using cyber warfare and propaganda to undermine the influence of Western democracies.

India has been using its soft power to extend its influence, promoting its culture, religion, and language through institutions such as the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. It has also been building up its military capabilities, with a focus on developing advanced technologies such as hypersonic missiles and artificial intelligence.

Throughout history, dynasties and empires have risen and fallen, each with its own unique approach to ruling the world. However, in recent years, the emerging unipolarity in the world has been challenged by several emerging powerful countries, leading to a shift in the balance of power. It remains to be seen how this shift will play out, but one thing is clear: the world is once again in a period of transition and change, with new powers vying for influence.

Embrace Disruption: The Key to Success in Today’s Business World

Embrace Disruption

In today’s fast-paced and constantly evolving business landscape, it’s essential to embrace the power of disruption. Disruption refers to the process of shaking up the status quo, challenging conventional wisdom, and introducing new ideas, technologies, or business models that fundamentally transform an industry.

Disruption can take many forms, from the introduction of a new product or service that revolutionizes an industry to the adoption of new technologies that radically change the way we do business. Whatever form it takes, disruption is a key driver of innovation and growth in today’s business world.

So, why is disruption so important? For starters, disruptive innovations have the power to completely upend established industries and create new markets and opportunities. They can also lead to significant improvements in efficiency, productivity, and profitability, driving growth and creating new jobs and industries in the process.

But disruption is not without its challenges. It can be difficult to introduce new ideas or technologies into established industries that are resistant to change, and disruptive innovations often face significant regulatory and legal hurdles. Additionally, disruptive technologies can disrupt entire supply chains and create new security and privacy concerns.

Despite these challenges, it’s clear that disruption is here to stay. In fact, many of the most successful companies of the past decade, such as Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb, have disrupted traditional industries and transformed the way we live and work.

So, how can businesses embrace the power of disruption? Here are a few key strategies:

Foster a culture of innovation: Encourage your employees to think outside the box and embrace new ideas and technologies. Create an environment where experimentation and failure are encouraged, and where employees are given the resources and support they need to innovate.

Stay ahead of the curve: Keep a close eye on emerging trends and technologies in your industry, and be prepared to adapt and evolve as needed. Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things, even if they seem unconventional or untested.

Build strategic partnerships: Partner with other companies and organizations that share your vision and can help you achieve your goals. This can include startups, academic institutions, and other industry leaders.

Embrace diversity: Build a diverse team that brings together people from different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. This can help anticipate changes and create synergistic growth.

To sum up, there could be a fight or flight response to an unavoidable reality of our time, and working on preparing ourselves beforehand is the most effective thing individuals and organizations can do.

The Rule of Incremental, Consistent Effort

Building up on an earlier post on the Multiplier effect, there’s another important rule – the rule of incremental and consistent effort. The best summary of the rule is this:

The other side of the rule suggests that if you’re consistently doing less than yesterday, how big of a negative impact would it lead to:

For those who don’t have so much of a mathematical interest in the equations, the point of this rule is that regardless of the size of base, an incremental yet consistent positive change everyday can bring in massive improvement in a year. The flip side being that a marginal yet consistent reduction can lead to massive decrease in the starting base in only a year.

This rule can practically be applied almost anywhere – savings, investments, work effort, planning goals, manual labor, personality and skill improvement – practically anywhere.

To sum up, the real power is always in the progress in whatever you do and not really where you start. This is the real reason many startups end up challenging and outperforming massive companies in the long-run. Also the reason why some people seem to keep achieving everything whereas a lot of people don’t seem to be able to much done despite spending hours at length in intermittent sprints. This is also a valid reason to consistently put our best foot forward – finally, this is how many leaders have transformed themselves and even the fate of their nations in less than their lifetime.

The One Thing This World Needs the Most

Whenever I marvel at how human beings have progressed so much in a wide range of areas including arts, literature, architecture, science and technology, I also keep thinking about things that could be even better.

Although it is heartening to see people work hard and take the entire generation forward, one thing that I feel we need the most today is kindness. Whilst people are always trying to get on the fast track to success, we may start to believe we don’t have time for that, but one of the things that distinguishes our human race from millions of other species is their ability to feel the others’ pain without having gone through it – to empathize.

We are definitely blessed to be living in a wonderful time where the determined can achieve much and create a lasting impact on a far bigger group of people than was ever possible before in our history. The legacy we need to be working to leave should be spearheaded by kindness. This will in turn also make this world a better place to live and would ensure our time here is well-spent.

Car Preparations for Road Trips

Amongst the most common questions that I got, one was around car related preparations for a long road trip. Hence, this post. I’ll try to focus on the things you should check or get checked before a road trip to ensure the likelihood of a smooth trip is much higher. Having said that, just like any other mechanical thing, cars can break down and I’d address some of the things to carry along to face some of the possible unforeseen scenarios.

First things first, get your car properly cleaned inside and out. When you’re headed for a road trip, the car’s engine should generally be good especially since it’s going to be traveling for longer distances, possibly for at least a few hours without any stops. If you have a fairly recent model, these are some of the things you should check before embarking on a road trip and once in the morning everyday during the trip:

Engine Oil: Ensure that engine oil level is within the prescribed range, and would be good with regards to the prescribed mileage for the trip. If you are anticipating clocking in few thousand kilometers in the trip, it’s better to get it changed before the trip.

Oil Filter/Air Filter/ AC Filter: Get them replaced too to avoid any troubles later.

Tires: Ensure they are in good condition, check the treads, and signs of strains, bulge or damage. If they don’t look right, replace them as you really don’t want to be left stranded with tire problems in the middle of the journey. Also, ensure the condition of spare tire is good and the air pressure levels in all tires (even spare one) is 30-35 psi (preferably 30 psi).

Battery: Check it is in good condition.

Brake Oil: Check the brake oil level is within the expected range, and if not, just ensure you fill it up to that.

Radiator Coolant: Use a good quality coolant. Flush the radiator if you haven’t done that in a while.

If you’re using a car model from a few years ago, do check these additional things before starting your journey:

Gear oil levels, steering and brake oil fluids, wheels’ alignment, replace spark plugs (ensure they’re thoroughly cleaned, and even keep a set of 4 as spare ones), get steering and suspension checked, get the rain wipers, car lights/blinkers/fog lights checked, check the car horn, ensure there are no issues with car’s tire shields, get the AC/Heater system checked to ensure everything works, and get the brakes serviced before the trip. I’d recommend you to get your car’s fuel pump checked too, as the quality of fuel available across different fuel stations varies and sometimes all it needs is cleaning the filter with petrol (this ensures the fuel pump would not let you down in the trip – the fuel you would get in some of the places especially in-and-around the mountainous region is not as good, so this would prevent any unforeseen breakdowns – also, if it is possible, put in hi-octane while you’re traveling in hilly areas).

Apart from the things to check, these are some things you should carry:

A good quality jack suitable for your car, a dual-motor battery-operated air pressure pump, extra mobil oil, tool kit including screwdrivers (at least one flathead and one phillips), wrench, plier, hex keys, wires, wire cutting pliers, tire pressure gauge (if possible), tire puncture repair kit (get a simple one if possible, for super emergencies), some extra wires, zip ties, duct tape, and a few jet clips of different sizes, good quality battery torching cable set, good quality towing rope with heavy hooks, WD-40 or similar liquid aerosols spray, some car air fresheners, few bottles of fuel injectors, a good collection of DVDs/other media (card/USB, etc.) for music/videos to play during the trip (there would be patches where internet may not be available), sunglasses, hand sanitizer, gloves, a small garbage bag/dustbin, car mobile holder, power bank(s), and car phone charging and aux cables.

These are the additional tips for the trip:

Get the fuel tank filled before getting on the motorway, especially M5 from Sukkur to Multan as these generally don’t have fuel stations and you would have to get off the motorway to get it refueled which is a time waster.

Try using a good quality fuel injector along with refueling the tank. Put an entire bottle in at once. This improves the mileage and helps clean the carburetor and keep the engine in better shape. You can use a bottle every time you fill the tank, but I’d recommend using one every second or third refill.

Try to get your car washed, cleaned everyday. Some of the hotel staff can help you with that if you pay them something, so you don’t necessarily have to go to a service station every time.

Keep an eye on the tire pressure and engine oil levels – these tend to go low in higher altitudes sometimes.

When driving on high gradient plains, slopes and curves, try to minimize the use of brakes. One, that’d help extend the life of the brakes in general and two, it would ensure they are effective as they won’t heat up due to over usage (a lot of amateur drivers overuse the brakes going down the hilly parts and even climbing up – it also causes a lot of unnecessary wear and tear).

Wear your seat belts – applies to everyone but especially the driver and the person sitting beside the driver.

You can probably use an inflatable bed, but that takes up a lot of space so I recommend keeping a blanket or two and few pillows for comfortable naps, especially for kids.

These were the things I could remember to share, if any of you have more things that I may have forgotten and are useful, please send me a note so that I can edit this post accordingly. Have a safe journey!

Exploring Pakistan’s Beautiful Landscape – 4250KMs in 2 weeks

As some of you are aware, my wife and I decided to take our kids on a road trip this December with an initial idea to see and play in snow and make a snowman. After several rounds of stories about Frozen’s Olaf, the kids clearly knew what to expect and it got them excited already. Now that we have completed our trip, most of the people whom we relayed our experience to mentioned they’d love if they could have these details, tips and tricks and that would encourage them to do something like this on their own. I’m posting this to help others who may be planning to venture out on a road trip in Pakistan.

We tried to enjoy our trip with a relaxed pace, visiting places that we wanted to go to starting everyday when we wanted to so it was a fairly freestyle flexible plan. Here’s a link to our trip itinerary for those of you who are interested.

The places we covered or stayed in are: Multan, Mingora Swat, Malam Jabba, Bahrain Swat, Kalam Swat, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Abbottabad, Nathiagali, Patriata, Murree, Khewra, Faisalabad and Bahawalpur.

The road network in Pakistan is pretty good especially with the motorways M1-M5 across KPK and Punjab, driving is not an issue. The belt which is slightly difficult to drive is from Hyderabad to Sukkur Rohri. There’s hardly an issue with network throughout and wireless internet devices also work well for the most part. On the motorway, you can easily access help by dialing ‘130’ as the motorway helpline and they’re very responsive.

The best way to start off the journey is to start early morning from Karachi and head straight to Multan to break the journey by staying in a hotel. One can make a small pit stop or two leading up to Multan and rest overnight out there. As the City of Saints is famous for the Multan’s special sweet “Sohan Halwa”, it’s best you buy from here only. There’s a place called “Hussain Agahi Road” where you’d find the two most popular brands selling this halwa: “Hafiz” and “Rewari” – once you leave Multan, you’d find other random brands selling this halwa but none of those are as authentic as them, so don’t wait to buy these later.

After a refreshing night, we headed out to Islamabad, and in our case we decided to chill out a bit and take a good night’s sleep before going to the actual destination the next day. After having our breakfast, we took Swat Expressway to reach Mingora, Swat. The weather around mid December was decent, and surprisingly not-so-called. Do try the sweet “malta” fruit when you enter Swat, it’s unbelievably good but ask to taste first to be sure they’re the sweet ones. We decided to make Mingora our base for 2 nights as it’s an hour’s distance away from Malam Jabba and has much better resorts/hotels as compared to Malam Jabba. For the ones who have the budget, you may decide on staying in PC Malam Jabba, that way you’d be able to make the most of the snow activities in Malam Jabba. For Malam Jabba, snow boots are a must. You can buy them from Karachi or decide on renting them from there only. There are few vendors renting out boots for Rs. 100/pair.

While you’re headed to Malam Jabba, and if you decide to drive all the way up there, make sure you have taken some medicine to avoid motion-sickness (something like Stemetil would help avoid dizziness and vertigo issues). While you’d drive up there, some of the things you would have to notice is hotels and car rental people would keep advising against it and sell you their packages, but it’s doable if you are a decent driver and your car is in good condition. Also another thing is somewhere during the trip up to Malam Jabba, you’d inevitably come across someone selling you chains to put on the tires saying it’s not a doable plan otherwise. My suggestion is that if there’s no snowfall, you should not opt for the chain as that’d put an unnecessary strain on the tires and you’d be surprised to find auto rickshaws all the way up without any chains, so cars are no issue.

Malam Jabba has a lot to offer: Skiing, Chair lift, Ziplining, Jumping Castle for kids, and a lot of snow to play with. You can enjoy the piping hot pakoras and tea in that cold weather while enjoying the breathtaking views from the top.

Once done with Malam Jabba, we stayed another night in Mingora and moved on to Bahrain Swat. There’s not much else out there except a range of mid-range hotels and being an hour’s distance from Kalam, this makes a perfect base for onward travel. The road from Bahrain to Kalam is a bit tricky as it’s a smooth road for the most part except a few patches of unpaved road where they’re reconstructing bridges. This means you have to be careful speeding up on the route and also the unpaved roads can become slippery in rain/snowfall conditions. We drove all the way up to Kalam bazaar and then there’s a forest right after. That’s almost all you can do in your car, and you have to rent a 4×4 for places beyond there. You can rent a 4×4 for 2 hours or so to cover the 4-5 spots after this point for Rs.4000-6000, but if you don’t want to do it, you can still enjoy the views in-and-around Kalam forest by hiking up there, and you’d see several areas with patches of snow blankets. This is most suitable to make a snowman or have a friendly snow fight with friends and family. The beauty of this place is very difficult to explain with words and probably the reason this is called “Switzerland of Pakistan.”

We didn’t stay in Kalam because it gets very cold at night and doesn’t have many good hotels with all the heating and hot water facilities. In fact, we didn’t stay in Bahrain for more than a day and got back to Fizaghat to stay at a good hotel before concluding our Swat adventure. We also tried the food at a famous restaurant there called “Hujra” which has decent food which they serve in cozy family rooms (hence the word ‘Hujra’).

On our way back to Islamabad, we visited Faisal Mosque and then headed to Daman-e-Koh to check the view of the city. After that, we went to check out the Centaurus Mall, which is just another mall but has a bunch of familiar fast food joints. Since we planned to visit Ayub Park in Rawalpindi the next day, we decided on staying close-by at a hotel in Rawalpindi. Ayub Park is a must-see for a good day out with kids since it has rides for children of different ages, a mini-zoo with several interesting animals (not just tons of deers like they have in Bahria Town Karachi).

From there, we decided to leave for Abbottabad. It was a perfect place for us to stay at since it’s an hour’s drive from Nathiagali and 2.5 hours’ drive to Murree. We explored Nathiagali one day (check out the Nathiagali Park and enjoy the Snowtube), kids can again play with snow for hours and it’s generally a fun place to visit. Nathiagali also has a ton of accommodation options, but the mid-range cottages have water issues and you may find issues getting water in taps at night as temperature drops.

We ended up exploring Patriata and Murree the next day and decided to not stay in Murree because it was so full of people and we wanted to avoid staying in such places. It’s almost 2 hours from Islamabad, so we went back to Islamabad to rest, and checked out Lake View Park the next day. We also enjoy the F1 Traxx park nearby in addition to a private Speed Boat ride in the lake. We were not rushing around, so stayed another night in Islamabad.

We headed to Khewra the next morning to explore Khewra Salt Mines, it’s the second largest salt reserve in the world. It has a guided tour which you may take if you opt for the train ride to the inside of the mine. There you can see many important monuments in Pakistan created by using salt. Since Khewra is almost mid-way between Lahore and Islamabad, we had planned to make it a stop-over and head to Lahore, but due to the intense fog, we decided to de-tour and stay in Faisalabad for a night. When you are in Faisalabad, try out a Pakistani restaurant called ‘Baba Tikka’ – it is a place inspired by Kolachi and other Do-Darya restaurants and serves very good Pakistani cuisine. Another thing to try out in Faisalabad is cream chaat from Meher Fruit Chaat shop which is open 24/7.

After Faisalabad, we went to Bahawalpur to explore the city of Nawabs and see a place called Noor Mahal. We enjoyed their light and sound show that lasts for 25 mins, and is worth attending. After the show, we checked the Palace itself which has now been converted to a Museum. We then explored Bahawalpur a bit more by going around, and checked-in to a hotel there for the night. The next morning we started off early and came back all the way down to Karachi. We barely made two pit stops, and since we were mentally ready for the long trip back home, it was manageable and went well.

That’s how we concluded our trip ending up with 4250km traveling across KPK, Punjab and Sindh.

Innovation During Recession

What do these companies have in common?

Zendesk, OneDrive, Dropbox, ThemeForest, Asana, KhanAcademy, AirBnB, Okta, Uber, WhatsApp, Udemy, Stripe and Square.

These companies have helped radically improve the way we collaborate and learn, and almost all of these leveraged technology to innovate and solve a dire problem of that time, but interestingly, another common thread amongst all these companies is that they were formed around the last recession. The word “recession” has its roots in the latin word “recess” which means a period of time where proceedings or activities are temporarily suspended. While we’re in the midst of a situation where people are more concerned about the oncoming days, these innovative companies are a reminder of the array of opportunities that await us.

Innovation during recession

Zendesk (2007), OneDrive (2007), Dropbox (2007), ThemeForest (Aug 2008), Asana (2008), KhanAcademy (2008), Airbnb (Aug 2008), Okta (Jan 2009), Uber (Mar 2009), Udemy (2009), WhatsApp (2009), Quora (June 2009), Stripe (2009), Square (2009), Pinterest (Dec 2009), Instagram (Oct 2010), Snapchat (Sep 2011), Zoom (2011), Coursera (2011).

Of Conspiracy Theories

With the Coronavirus spread and the entire world struggling to face this challenge, I have a few conjectures around how this virus started and why this has become one of the fiercest epidemic we have faced in a long time. There are four theories I’m thinking could have been a reason for this –

Theory 1: This is politically motivated, and man-made fiasco prepared in a lab with the purpose to let China down in the global race towards becoming the world leader.

As it is, China is the world’s factory. Most of the things most of the people use and buy are coming from China, even when the companies producing them are not really based out of China. This has given the country a lot of technological excellence and created a big dependency on their production. Moreover, whilst the world’s dependency on China has increased, China’s dependency on the world for its own consumption has shrinked as illustrated in this McKinsey research below:

All along, another interesting development has been the rapid progress of Chinese Supercomputers in the Quantum computing race, where 219 of the fastest 500 supercomputers are Chinese. Also, amongst the top 5, there are 2 Chinese supercomputers closely following US’s lead in this race. The conventional computers are based on bits that can process 0 or 1, hence, binary, but quantum computers are based on qubits and have the power to process 0 & 1 at the same time, thus giving them much more computing power to do advanced calculations at a much faster pace. Now, these quantum computers can theoretically help banks do better and faster risk management, solve the biggest warehousing and inventory management problems, or help tech companies ensure their code is bug-free, or even help government espionage by cracking cryptographic codes, which mandates significant number crunching.

This has deep implications for the success of an economy in this new age, where information and access to information has become the key to attaining that status. Clearly, the leaders in this race would have the power to access a lot of classified information as well, eventually giving them an uneven advantage over others.

Yet another interesting angle to this theory has been the rise of 5G and its impact on how things are done. Whilst the increases in expected speed are prodigious at an estimated 50Mbit/s to over 2Gbit/s at the start and expected to grow to even 100Gbit/s (100x faster than 4G), there are big concerns around surveillance through potential espionage by Chinese equipment vendors, primarily Huawei. Even a report published by the European Commission and European Agency for Cybersecurity warns against using a single supplier for a carrier’s 5G infrastructure.

Advancement in technology boosting fast-paced progress in supercomputers, quantum computing, 5G infrastructure are inevitable, and China’s lead in these areas could be a possible reason for concern for some of the other developed economies.

Theory 2: This is politically motivated, and man-made fiasco prepared in a lab with the purpose to reduce the global aging population (hence, the old age benefit) to help contain the ever increasing health expenditure of countries, especially the developed ones.

According to the World Health Organization, nearly two billion people across the world are expected to be over 60 years old by 2050, a figure that’s more than triple what it was in 2000. Because of such increases in their aging populations, some of the world’s largest economies have started facing subsequent increases in their health-care costs, higher pension costs, and a decreasing proportion of their respective citizenries active in the workforce.

Haider, Faraz 2017, Countries With The Largest Aging Population In The World, WorldAtlas, viewed 23 March 2020,

Clearly, with a diminishing fertility rate, and advancement in health technologies leading to longer average lifespans mean the global population is moving towards a higher proportion of their people above the working age. Understandable a lot is changing in terms of extension of retirement age, change in pension benefits and overall increase in the world GDP as well, but there’s a significant financial burden attached with this aging population.

A small portion of the population accounts for a large share of health care spending in a year. Although we tend to focus on averages, few people actually have spending around the average, since individual health care needs vary over the life course. Some portion of the population (the elderly and those with serious or chronic illnesses) require more and higher-cost health services than those who are younger or otherwise typically in need of fewer and less costly services.

This is not something that has started to show up all of a sudden, global aging population has been a phenomenon we’ve known about. It has been accepted as a fact of life for the most part, and people have largely come to expect it to be that way. “In the developed world, people live longer with very intense disease — and costly treatment,” says Vegard Skirbekk, professor at Columbia University’s Aging Center.

This seems to be a sensitive issue, as countries are supposed to be working towards the welfare of their own citizens and increasing life expectancy leading to an aging population is something to be proud of in many ways, but it does mean a higher health care spend – given this disease does not give much of a second chance to an older segment of the population, it does mean even when we’ve got this pandemic under control, most of the lives lost would be elderly people.

Theory 3: This is politically motivated, and man-made fiasco prepared in a lab with the purpose to initiate an economic crises, leading to unbelievably good asset prices for fresh entry – hence, ensuring the status-quo prevails and the few wealthy continue to dominate and control the finance (hence the world) for another few decades, or more

The argument here is that the global wealth divide is sharply skewed with most of the wealth falling within few hands. It is easier to explain this through a visual depiction of how lop-sided the wealth equation currently is:

Although this is a state of affairs in general, over the past few decades and specially with the rise of the internet, telecommunication and new technologies, the composition of the few at the top has changed. This includes all the adults who became billionaires in the past decade or so. Thus, in order to keep the status-quo and keep the wealth within the selected few, this crises was needed. The thought behind this is that a crises of this proportion creates a massive shock for the economy leading to most of the assets becoming mispriced due to the confusion and negativity. This creates an entry point for extremely wealthy to take new positions at very low prices, thus ensuring that when things get back to normal, they retain their status in terms of accumulated wealth.

Theory 4: This is politically motivated, and man-made fiasco prepared in a lab with the purpose to move the global economy, thereby creating an opportunity to exert global power and influence to ensure access to the global superpower club

The thought behind this theory is that this crises would take the world by surprise and create a widespread panic (which it has already). This kind of situation would lead to fundamental changes in the way the world operates. In this situation, the ones who are able to control the healthcare access through top-notch facilities and vaccine development for instance would also be the ones which would control global capital flow. This would mean their global power and influence would increase.

Moreover, the impacts of this created situation would be asymmetrical – so even with the spread of this disease to 195 countries (as I write this), the negative impact would be varying. Now, of course the countries that have the most number of cases or where the virus is spreading fast would be hurt, but many countries from the developing world also would be hurt worse when the virus penetrates and spreads there, because they would be less equipped to deal with it due to fewer medical facilities, ventilators, testing kits, tracing challenges, fewer quarantine centers, relatively lesser doctors/nurses and medical staffs and higher density of the population. Many of these developing countries boast a growing population, but with the aftermath of this medical emergency, these states would be in terrible straits which would spiral into fewer opportunities for the skilled and educated, leading to brain drain to those countries who are competing to get the lead in the global superpower race.

In conclusion, these all are just some theories about the possibilities of how and why this virus has spread. Regardless of whatever the motivations behind this were, I sincerely hope it is contained soon, and the world doesn’t have to pay a big price for this in terms of loss of lives or a lasting disease for many.