The Real China Story!


Disclaimer: I have written this blog based on Mr Bambawale’s zoom meeting with Indian Express that I attended. If there is some incorrect explanation, it is because of my misunderstanding. It has nothing to do with Mr Bambawale’s views. His views were crystal clear!

Yesterday I heard Gautam Bambawale’s interview on the China situation. The Zoom meeting was arranged by the Indian Express; the interviewer was Shubhajit Roy. For records purposes, Gautam was India’s ambassador to China. Incidentally, another Indian Ambassador to China, Nalin Suri was my hostel mate, in Elphinstone, in the year 1967- he was in the arts stream!

Years back, Andy Grove used to teach at Stanford. Some students were asked how they felt when “THE” Andy Grove taught them. Their answer was simple. They said, ” We felt as if God was teaching us!” I will not take Gautam to that level about his knowledge of China, but he was almost there. He was soft-spoken, knowledgeable, and humble. He had the clarity that he had retired and politely replied to a question that it was not for him to comment on a specific tricky question about future policies. He also refrained from talking about political issues.

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In the beginning, he explained beautifully, the difference in the Chinese philosophy of life and our philosophy—the meaning of word China means Zhong Guo (Middle Country). It means that they are at the centre of the Universe. The 21st century is not going to be the century of Asia, as per the Chinese. As per them, it is going to be the Century of China! Indian thinking is वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्, the world is one family! Gautam explained that because of the difference in basic thinking, Chinese are of expansionist mentality, and Indians want to get along smoothly with all others.

About the Galwan crisis, he said that it is the game-changer in the India/China relationship. Last so many years, both sides have shown restraint. There is an agreement that during any clash, bullets will not be fired. The practice was followed by both the parties during Galwan skirmish too. As a democracy, our government has shared the details of our casualties with all. The Chinese shared the details of losses on their side in the 1962 war in the year 1994. So we may never know the Chinese details about casualty anytime soon.

By game-changer, he meant that China now probably feels that India can be pushovers. Chinese GDP is almost 4 ½ times that of India, which could have given false notions to them about India’s weakness. According to Bambawale, the Indian army has given a fitting reply to the Chinese in Galwan, and we should be proud to have such strong armed forces. He also said that India had matched the Chinese buildup in Ladakh. All the previous events involved not more than 100 to 150 men, but this time buildup is enormous on both sides. Deaths have occurred in such events after more than forty years.

One of the reasons for disputes is that there is no clear cut border demarcation. During the last few decades, border disputes and trade disputes have been handled independently of each other. The border disputes were sorted out over a period, but that did not put brakes to the trade activity. Now the trade between the two countries has reached a level of 100 billion US dollars. According to Gautam, the time has come to delink border disputes and the business. China sent a message to India in no uncertain terms about their intentions. Probably they misjudged the bravery and courage of our troops. They may try to push us again anywhere on the 3400 km border.

But India is also in the preparation mode to give it back to Chinese all along the border. India should reset all the previous ways and give a fresh thought about handling the situation. India’s sharp reply to a brutal Chinese attack is a message sent to China in no uncertain terms. Just after I exited the Zoom meeting, I saw the news on TV that the Indian government has banned 59 Chinese apps from India. It has given instructions to service providers and Google/Apple not to allow users to use or download the apps- they are given 48 hours to do it.

The naysayers will, of course, ask how India will be benefitted from this action. There may not be severe damage financially, but it is the first clear message to China to behave. Commercially there are many things that government can do. But the society in general and the business houses also have this responsibility. He gave a couple of examples. In India, Chinese cell phones have a 60 to 70 % market share. For our next phone, all of us can switch to Samsung- he jokingly said that he is not the agent for Samsung. He also further noted that individual components, products may become expensive for the initial period. It is the cost we as a nation may have to bear to reset our equations vis a vis China.

He was asked why China has started the border dispute? Firstly, he felt that China wants to bring all the Asian countries under their hegemony. This thinking has probably started because there is a global pressure from the world regarding Corona Wuhan’s episode. On the side, the US and China trade war has been going on for a couple of years. China is also in conflict with Japan. But China also gets into fights with the outside world when it has internal or party clashes going on within China. These are their standard diversionary tactics. Overall it seems that China is driven by their wish to show that they are going to be number one in the world over a period.

From here onwards, I will write my two cents on the subject. Why do political parties not come together even in an event when there is a threat to national security? Is tweeter a medium to air one’s views on security matters? Do opposition political parties expect the government to share information about Galwan in the public domain? The government needs to think, discuss, plan execute plans ruthlessly if required. We should not make any decisions emotionally, but we should not forget that the effect of this reset is going to be long term. Colossal money will have to be budgeted for the expenses on the armed forces.

Even if there is a four-day war, we cannot afford it because the economy is already fully stretched due to the pandemic. But if the need arises, we may be forced to make the ultimate decision. If we hesitate, China will try to go for a kill which we can ill afford!


To Hell with China- the confused us!

OUR CHINA BEATERS!

Corona, Ladakh and other things got every Indians’ muscles flexing! Ban Chinese goods, buy Indian and be Indian! The slogans are seen everywhere in discussions, social media and wherever we look. Great idea! But there is a cynical joke. A lot of posters, Ban Chinese goods, buy Indian and be Indian are seen everywhere- the only problem is they were printed and imported from China because these were good quality and inexpensive.

Import and export between nations is not an emotional decision, but such decisions are based on hard bargaining to try and see that both the sides are benefitted- and it needs to be a win-win situation. Import and export values between any two countries are never the same. In the case of China, the import from China is always higher than the export to China for most countries. Why has this happened? China has ensured that the industry grew phenomenally. They maintained quality and lower price than most of the nations in the world. They found efficient ways of sending goods to Europe by using the rail network of Russia. That reduced the transit time by almost 30 days.

Can any nation beat China in their own game? No, it is not easy, and there are other reasons like a dictatorship, lax labour laws and so on. In China, businesses rarely have to face legal hurdles. In democracies, legal issues can really strangle the industry. But is it doable at all to beat China in their own game? Yes, it is feasible, and this “miracle” has been performed by a sector in India. But before this, let me share thoughts of my friend Arvind on the subject.

Nobody, citizens, government, companies or anyone else can stop using, buying Chinese products overnight. The government, unless it officially declares war, can not stop or cancel orders or participation in tenders. It takes time for companies to develop alternative sources. The alternative sources will be costlier since China uses a dumping strategy. Being a totalitarian government, it has many advantages as for labour, company and other laws are concerned.

Atmnirbhar Bharat will be successful only if we as citizens of this country are ready to pay more for some products, initially. Businesses should put the nation first policy too, and the government, bureaucracy and politicians should not manipulate things for pushing their individual interests. Only competent leadership can change the future of the nation.

The link below are views of Rajeev Bajaj, MD of Bajaj Auto and Suzuki India, Chairman Mr. Bhargava. They have spoken pragmatically about China.

https://www.news18.com/news/auto/maruti-suzuki-bajaj-resist-boycott-china-movement-says-chinese-parts-necessary-for-production-2670601.html

I am talking about the Motorcycle industry in India. Motorcycle industry jointly has reached the top position in the world in numbers. In the early part of this century, Chinese companies started pushing their motorcycles in India. The “experts” began writing epitaphs of Indian Motorcycle companies Hero, Bajaj and TVS. But these companies were made of sterner stuff. They got their act together, pulled up their socks. And lo! Within a couple of years, the Chinese bikes were thrown out from Indian markets by customers and not by tariffs and jingoism by Deshbhakts. What did they do? They did the right things.

Those were days when IT companies were on a high, after the success of Y2K in the global market. They started hiring engineering talent from IIT’s, NIT’s and all good institutes. The kids wanted to do only coding in life, engineering career was a no-no. Here was what Bajaj tried. They used to get an opportunity for campus interviews on 7th or 8th day. One year they decided to hire people on zero-day. They told the institutes that they would pay three times the salary that IT companies paid. They got the zero-day slot, but to their surprise, very very few students wanted to join even at such a high salary. All wanted to jump the IT bandwagon. Bajaj reversed their strategy and went to the next level of schools. Changed interview language to Hindi, Marathi, Telugu and Tamil when needed. They got the hidden gems as these kids were good but had a language issue. Rest as they say is history.

Another example of Bajaj. Today they export about 1.8 million bikes a year, their primary market being Africa. In Africa, bikes are used as a taxi or a tempo. Bajaj has earned a name there. Before Bajaj, there were Japanese bikes which were superb but expensive. They had a limited market. The Chinese bikes were sent to Africa in an individual box, and they were assembled by local mechanics and sold. Bajaj made better bikes and despatched them in assembled condition, ready to use. They priced them between the Chinese and Japanese bikes. They have ultimately captured the market and running a highly profitable operation.

So, friends, it is doable. What you need is the will to fight, gauge the market correctly. Besides this, the Motor Cycle industry had the advantage of a large Indian market for Motorcycles. The local market helped them volume, which has proved beneficial.

Coming back to the slogan to hell with the Chinese products. If you look at Chinese cars, they are not so competitive in the world market, yet. But since many global multinationals went to China- Volkswagen, Land Rover, Mercedes, Toyota- all the named companies and others have a significant presence in China. Chinese manufacture seven to eight times the cars that we manufacture in India. In India, we simply do not have a market for more cars. Plus we do not have the infrastructure of roads and pollution control. With smaller numbers, we cannot compete with Chinese in four-wheelers. Mind you, China is still not able to sell “Chinese Branded” cars in the global market. But these vast volumes helped China to create a reliable components industry; the Indian industrial buyers have fallen into China trap due to low price. Many international component companies like Aisin, Denso, Conti, Valeo started China operations in a big way. Corona pandemic exposed the errors made by Industrial buyers. I have discussed this with many senior friends in the industry. The corrective measures have already begun, and over a period, China dependence will come down. It takes time to develop components suitable for your use.

It is impossible to boycott China immediately. It will take at least five years of focused efforts. In automotive products, direct import from China is about 10%. However, many tier two suppliers of the vendors from ASEAN countries import quite a lot from China. It will take time to develop ‘non-Chinese’ tier-two suppliers.

The government can discretely ensure that items like Ganesh Idols, Agarbatti, Patang Manja and such stuff does not get imported from China. These items can not be put on the banned list. So the government can talk to the business community and trade groups to make sure that “Indian” items are not imported. For such things, how do you know that they are cheaper? These are imported simply because trade margins are high. There could be hundreds of such items which can be easily “banned.” This is also doable. When Malaysia started behaving strangely with India, Indian government discretely talked to import organising bodies. Within three months the majority purchase of palm oil was switched over to Indonesia.

The main thrust of India should be to push local manufacture of good quality cell phones, tvs and such things in India. Special efforts will have to be taken. Years back, there was a story of the US pushing the Japanese to allow them to sell the US-made cars in Japan. It was declared during the visit of the US president to Japan, that the market is now open. When the delegation went back to the US and talked to car manufacturers, they realised that the manufacturers would take at least three to four years to manufacture Japan-specific, right-hand drive cars.

So it is good to let out steam, but there is no point in shooting the bullet in your foot! Another point is to find out if banning Chinese goods going to damage Chinese trade more or hit the Indian manufacturing capability? The right way would be do it over a period!

Error 404, Page not found! 

canation1

We try to communicate with each other by different means. But the era of communication and thereby miscommunication can be divided into two different times, BI and AI. BI is before the internet, and AI is after the internet! “Error 404, Page not found” is the typical well-known error from AI times. All of us are familiar with this error. When we are looking for something on the computer, there is miscommunication in the systems. The buzzword for this is protocol issues. Whatever we were searching is not loaded; hence the device gives us the message!

Galgali

But it is enjoyable when we use old methods in modern times. A friend was celebrating his birthday yesterday. As I prefer, I called him to wish instead of sending a message like HBD on WhatsApp! All of us are happy when someone calls us to wish on a birthday or to celebrate an achievement. I was standing in the balcony of my condo while talking to him. He lives across my condo about four hundred meters on the opposite side of the road. I am on the seventh floor, and he is on the 9th floor. I jokingly said, “You have never come to my house, but if you were standing in the balcony, I would be able to see you. I am on my balcony.” He does not have a balcony, but he came in the large window of his house. The photo above shows the building where he lives. I have used a zoom lens for the photo- the building is not close as it looks! It was difficult to “see” at such a distance and height. So I told him, “ I will wave a red bandana to you!” I waved it, he saw me and so could I! We were both happy, like children. I simply used time tested method of waving something bright. There we were enjoying the chat and the thought that we could “see” each other in the lockdown times.

I have this seen in Hollywood movies. Two guys not known to each other want to meet. Then one of them would say, “I would wear Red Carnation on the Blue Lapels.” That is the way to send the signal to recognise others. I was wondering why this combination?

It is a common notion among men. The wearing of a flower in one’s lapel is the least used gestures of elegance seen in modern times. Much of this stems from the perception that flowers lie within the domain of the fairer sex. Sean Connery as James Bond would wear this combination.

Carnation

I sometimes wonder how we communicated at all during BI times. In the year 1980, Jaya was in the US for her MS, Sachin, and I lived in India. Jaya would write to me to fix the “meeting” time. We spoke every fifteen days. In her letter, she would confirm the time of her call. I did not have a telephone at home. So I would go to the designated place to receive the call. I know of someone who called his parents twice in about fifteen years from the US in those days. Both the times it was to inform the birth of his children.

Till my Inter-Science in 1967, I was in Mumbai for education. My father was transferred to Jalgaon, and I lived in hostels. After the examination, I decided to take up the engineering course in Pune. I don’t remember how I communicated with my parents. Maybe I shared the information by post!

There was a fancy instrument called telegram used by the post office. You had to go to the post office to send a telegram. Writing a telegram was also an art. The charges depended on the number of words use. There was regular and urgent telegram. In those days, getting a telegram was mostly connected with bad news. On some occasions, you got a telegram informing that you passed a particular competitive exam with flying colours. Also, ran like me were guaranteed never to receive such telegrams. The information in a telegram was communicated by using Morse code. For those who have forgotten about Morse code, here is the definition.

carnation2

Morse code is a character encoding scheme used in telecommunication that encodes text characters as standardised sequences of two different signal durations called dots and dashes or dits and dahs. Morse code is named for Samuel F. B. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph.

It reminds me of a couple of historical incidents.

Siddhi Johar led the Bijapuri force. Discovering Shivaji’s location, Johar laid siege to Panhala fort. Netaji Palkar made repeated attempts to break the Bijapuri siege from outside but failed.

Shivaji, Baji Prabhu Deshpande with a select band of troops, decided to attempt to break through the siege at night and make for  Vishalgad. To deceive the Bijapuri forces, who would give a chase once they found that Shivaji had broken the blockade, Shiva Nhavi, volunteered to dress like the king and let himself be captured.

On a stormy full moon’s night (Ashadh Purnima), a band of 600 selectmen, led by Baji Prabhu and Shivaji, broke through the siege. The Bijapuri force hotly pursued them. As planned, Shiva Nhavi allowed himself to be captured and taken back to the Bijapuri camp, fully comprehending that he would be put to death once the charade was discovered. This sacrifice, however, gave the fleeing Maratha force some breathing space. Shivaji escaped ahead, and Bajirao and his me kept fighting the suicide mission. The firing of three cannon volleys signalled Shivaji’s safe journey to Vishalgadh.

Narayanrao Peshwa was killed because of the forgery in communication in the communication given to his captors. The message was in Marathi – “नारायणरावांना धरा.” It was changed by his aunt Anandibai to मारा instead of धरा. The infamous treacherous act from Peshwa history is known as “ध चा मा”; the meaning of the message was changed from धरा meaning HOLD to मारा kill! A change in a single alphabet led to the killing of Narayanrao Peshwa.

I meandered from my waving of the red bandana to older methods of communications. But it is fun to delve into older techniques. Now, of course, communication methods have changed. But one issue scientists have not overcome. When the spaceships go to the backside of the Moon, called dark side, the communication stops!

Communication methods return the same as fashion, at least name wise. In the stone age, we used to write on walls; now we report on the Facebook wall! We used morse code but now use the technique of one missed call- “I am late”! Two missed calls- “I have come!” Three missed calls- I have cancelled!”

The human brain is innovative and keeps on finding new ways of communicating. Police still use a good old wireless walkie talkie. HAM radio usage is almost gone after the invention of the Satellite phone. But some people always keep on celebrating technology among the closed group. Probably it is for the old times’ sake.

And the winner is!

Cannes1

People excel in many fields. Some excel over a long time. In recognition of their work, organisations declare prizes or medals. Great! We are always happy when others appreciate us. It could be for our looks or success in an examination. It may be for achievement in art, science or sports! The recognition helps us achieve more, to better ourselves.

Parents encourage their progeny when they are growing up. It is a joyful day in any household when a child puts independent steps without any support. The same is true when the same child cycles on its own. The child is further elated when it rides, shouting, “Ma, no hands!” It has bettered itself.

But there seem to be some organisations and people who make this simple process, complex and controversial. Recently a photographer from India, living in Kashmir, was awarded the Booker Prize. The prize seems to be awarded to Indians to create controversy. Another such person to get the Booker Prize was Arundhati Roy, first Indian to get it. In the first case, the person is not controversial,  nor is the photograph. It is the citation that created the controversy. After Pakistan, so-called, globalised the Kashmir issue, there have been attempts by some people and organisations to keep the issue burning, all the time. Instead of bypassing the regional controversy, they mention words like Indian Occupied Kashmir in the citation. But this is a non-Indian organisation, but there are Indian politicians from a national party who toe the line and blow their trumpet. They could have easily avoided this by congratulating the person for excellent photography and making a statement against the organisation for stoking regional controversies.

But no, they don’t do it. These people practically endorse it. The photograph mentioned above is excellent, but Roy’s book, The God of Small Things, was beyond the understanding of most ordinary people. I bought the book and tried to read it at different times, but to no avail. I have discussed with many friends, and they also had the same opinion. It appears that the persons of her ilk seem to get a license to rubbish the Indian state at all levels, every time. These people will say terrorism is terrible, after 26/11, but will try to link it to the persecution of the people post-partition. She tied 26/11 to Kashmir issue and kept on justifying. When they are asked for a solution, they will say it is for the government to find it; she is only going to criticise. It could be a Narmada dam project or Naxalite issue. She will always be on the side of the sufferers. There is no question that the rehabilitation of displaced people must be done. The reasons behind Naxalite issues are justified, but the means adopted by Naxalites can never be justified.

When the US attacked Afghanistan after 9/11, using force against terrorism was not the solution as per the lady. Probably there should have been a face to face meeting in Davos or St Moritz in some convention centre with the terrorists to resolve issues. When Naxalites have a problem, they attack and kill about a hundred policemen, using landmines. But when the government forces counter-attack, it cannot be justified. There are many such “liberals” who get the Prizes, but they are not staunch enough in their stand against India.

Then there are other organisations which are equally controversial but fortunately not so harmful; sometimes I feel that they are funny! Such organisations have become an industry formed because of the film industry, the world over. It could be Hollywood, Bollywood and film festivals. Films have a place in the modern world. The heroes and heroines become heartthrobs, and people follow every action by them outside the movies too. Hundreds of people wait outside their homes on their birthdays.

Surprisingly, we Indians have not overcome the awe we feel about anything foreign. India produces the maximum number of films in a year. We have our yearly ceremonies like Filmfare awards. In the US, it is Academy awards. The award ceremonies have become a business, and many organisations sponsor these ceremonies. There are popular categories and critics categories. In all these years, Critics and Popular awards have never been given to the same movies. Why is that so? It only indicates that the popular demand is quite different than those liked by critics. Last year there has been a big controversy that the winner of majority awards was favoured, slyly, over other good films.

Anyway, in any area where ranking is done, controversies are bound to be there. But these have reached a stage where a better actor like Amir Khan has stopped taking part in these ceremonies. The surprising aspect is that now he is not selected for these awards. He could be given awards in absentia. But that is not done.

Indians in general and Bollywood gang are enamoured by Hollywood. We get excited when someone from India gets an Academy award. Another thing observed is that Indian movies which show about India’s poverty are preferred movies for International awards. One should be happy and excited if the person receives a prize. It is the recognition of their work. It is a recognition of the work in a movie. But over some time, it is seen that people get a lifetime achievement award. The criteria it seems is to be alive on that day. Some of the persons who have received this award were never famous for their acting skills or versatility.

Then there are national awards given by a government body. In this category too, popular and critic views are in a total mismatch. I will not call these awards processes sham, but these indicate the realities of life. Sometimes favouritism takes place, but it is not the norm.

 

Now the last and the most exciting part of the filmy drama. There is something called Red-carpet walk. When the actors come to these ceremonies, they are decked for the show. They spend a vast amount of money on dresses. For the female actors at Academy awards or Cannes festival, the norm is to show off the biological assets. There is a competition going on to expose more and more. The gossip magazines and photographers are waiting for a moment which is famously called dress malfunction. In the dress malfunction, sometimes a breast pops out for a split second. Sometimes the innerwear of these ladies makes a fleeting display. Oh! Come on! Who is bothered? If you say this, then you are from a minority group! These photos are industry by themselves. If a videographer can catch this on a video, he has made it!

To me, the controversies in giving prizes, that create an issue about the sovereignty of a country, are a problem. If citizens of that nation are not bothered about these controversies, then there is more problem. But the dress malfunction is probably sometimes done on purpose! Your take, please!

I am okay with controversies because people have a different opinion. But when large nations like India have to suffer, I can not appreciate it.

Angry and Frustrated- your tears won’t be wasted!  

tears1

When I talk to friends, the words worried, scared don’t come in the discussion. Careful is the word that is generally discussed in my age group. But lately, anger and frustration are some of the words that are now used often. Yesterday, a friend, Raju, said that he felt that people like us who are sitting in lockdown under the comfort of homes and cushion of money have become desensitised! Another friend Suya, alias Suhas was even more frustrated. He heard the news of 16 migrant workers who got crushed under a freight train. He discussed this with his family. His son in law, a young businessman, was frustrated and was very angry. He let his anger out and wrote down his feelings. I am sharing this note with you.

Suya

I have given the gist in English below.

The death of these migrant workers has shaken the young man to the core. What was their fault? These were daily wage earners who got stuck in a place thousands of km away from their native places. Is it a crime to feel like going home? Poor fellows were walking back home, along the railway track, as there was no conveyance available. Here he does not want to blame any system of governance or the government. Migrants felt that they have even lost the right to go home. One of the ladies gave birth to a child near Jalgaon on her way back home. How sad is the situation? There are rules and regulations, which is fine, only if people survive.  

The note written below is by my friend Suhas. It is in Marathi, so as usual, I have written the gist of what he has said, in Blue.

Suya1

Trying to keep democratic traditions, most of us behave like invalids- maybe we are mentally invalid. No government has understood the difference between giving support to the fallen, and to remove the felled dead bodies. The war against Corona cannot be fought by this invalidated society by taking away the poor migrants, or those who are breaking social distancing while purchasing the vegetables. These could as well be those standing in the queue for alcohol as if there is no tomorrow. To take these people away is not the way to fight this war. If we can not find the right way, then we should be prepared to remove the dead!  

 

He is a healthy person and runs his business. All of us may be giving help to deserving people. But these numbers are so large, and he feels helpless. Friends at least give these poor your real tears!

It is a real heart-breaking banter from the young man. Let me tell you he is a modern man. He and his wife had trekked to the Everest base camp. He has completed Iron Man!

How has the world reached this situation? Which direction will this take, and when will this be over? Many questions come to mind, and we realise that there are no answers.

Have things changed suddenly? No, they have not. The world always had a disproportionate distribution of haves and have nots. In the day to day grind of living, we all have no time to look at these things. We do discuss these things, sitting or on our terrace with light music in the background. There is, of course, a barbeque counter keeping great food going. In between our Dom Perignon’s and Teachers or Chivas Regal, we need to get the conversation going. So, we discussed the plight of daily wage earners. We sometimes discussed the slums and boasted how aggressively Dharavi, of one million people a square Km, is fast developing into an entrepreneurial hub. Bollywood comes up with movies like “Gully Boy”, showing that a Dharavi boy can become a rap hero of Mumbai. We go to the cinemas and pay a thousand rupees per head to see such movies.  These things do not change Dharavi.

I am using Dharavi as a metaphor, but these types of zopad pattis have existed since independence. Their number has been going up, the number of people living in each Basti is up all the time. I do not think that any human being likes to live in the squalid conditions that exist in these colonies.

We need to to understand the reactions of the young man above and that of my friend Raju. Our day to day grind has desensitised us to the difficulties faced by these people. We have learnt to let this happen in the background, continuing to live our life. Our “earbuds” are always in place, avoiding the din generated by the plight of these unfortunate people.

Briefly, we will see why this has happened. Let me assure you these issues are there the world over. In China, “old china” is always well hidden behind the great Chinese Wall of each megapolis. The most advanced and developed country the USA has 3.3 crores (33 million) people who have till date registered for the Government dole of US $1000/ pm as the current situation hits them. The US has a population of 330 million, and 10% of them have registered. Children and the elderly are not in the workforce, so the real number of force is 15 crores. So, 22% of the American workforce are daily wage earners who have no income currently. I am surprised that in one-month, finances of so many people are shattered. It means that poor people are poor whether you are in India or anywhere in the world, including the US!

India’s reasons for poverty are well known. The main reason being the plundering of wealth by the British. In the first forty years of independence, Indian experiments with Socialism/Communism made things worse. On top of that appeasement policies sent the population control policies to a toss. We have been boasting of “our large force” of people. At 33 crores, the US cannot reduce poverty, how could a country of 130 crores, with low per capita income levels could do it?

The pandemic brought all these issues out. Well-endowed people have some time in hand. I am happy that some of us have started thinking about the poor. The young man must be sensitive at heart and is not afraid to display his frustrations and anger. He gave path for his tears to flow like a river. I am sure that in future he will do something great for the society and will make us proud. His nervous energy will not let him be a silent spectator to the conditions of the poor! All the best young man!

India needs experts in various fields, but we need more people like this man to alleviate the situation of the poor in our nation. Somewhere, somebody will hopefully start this silent revolution of making the poor as the inclusive elements of our society. I pray to God that this reaction will become a chain reaction as we have in the atomic fission. I also hope that it will spread all over India and the globe.

I want to share some good news with you. Another friend, Anil’s sons, run a large construction business in Pune. Projects had come to a total halt, like everything else. While speaking to him the other day, he said that since their projects are in the rural zone, they have received permission to resume the work. I asked him, “From where you would get people?” He said, “Pramod, we had decided to retain all eight hundred people during the lockdown. We helped them with money and food, stay, and whatever was needed. Only twenty odd people went home. It is a routine yearly holiday when migrants go home. But these people have said that as soon as the transport starts, they will be back.” Great job Anil by you and your family. 👏👏👏

Young man, please do not lose heart. There are good people around. Many of them do not blow a trumpet that they have done something for society! I am sure that people are taking advantage of today’s situation for introspection. Raju you have a lot of social contacts, utilise them. Forget the politics, do it for society.

 Suhas, you and me, the retirees, can help the poor at least in our ecosystem. If each of us can support 2 to 5 people, in our COEP group, we would be helping 700 people regularly. It is doable!

How will the world look a year hence? 

NewWorld1

The world, as we know, has seen a few events that have been gamechangers. The recession and the internet are significant changes, but some events were such that these affected our whole life, not only in specific spheres. We are always expecting new inventions to change our life for the better. But the events 9/11 in the US and 26/11 in India changed our lives a great dealAnother such change was when petroleum prices started shooting up in early ’70 s.  

But the current pandemic is the biggest game-changer in human history. I was thinking about how it would change the way we go about various aspects of our life. I initially thought that the change it will bring about would be on par with events like 9/11 and 26/11. But this event will surpass all other events by miles.  

Look at the changes it has brought about in the religious congregations. I had never expected to see these changes. Entry to Mecca and Medina during Haaj pilgrimage has been stopped temporarily by Saudi Arabia. More than two million people visit every year. When Easter congregation took place recently in the Vatican, the Pope spoke with no people around. In India, Ram Navmi and many such celebrations soon will take place in empty Mandirs. In Israel, the Jews are also not coming together for holy programs. The only “honourable” exception is Pakistan which has officially declared that people can come to mosques for prayers, thanks to the threats by religious leaders. These leaders feel that God will win over the Virus!  

Social behaviour is also bound to change. Indian way has been to say Namaste, with folded hands, to people when you met them. The Western way was to shake hands. Now Namaste is becoming an international norm of greetings when people meet. In India, we find that the queue is formed when there is no option. Even when there is a queue, there is a lot of jostling. But now social distancing norms are forced upon us. During business discussions, most of the times, people think that to make a final decision, it is better to meet face to face (F to F). There are advantages of F to F meeting as people can see each other’s subtle actions and reactions. Sometime non-action or poker face is also a reaction. When video conferencing becomes a norm, people will learn to study the different nuances of these meetings- a person may take a small break from VC, every time the meeting reaches a critical juncture and so on. When F to F meeting is asked in future, people will have to justify the need.  

Definition of patriots could get modified. After the second world war, the cold war led to a race to produce and procure weapons of mass destruction to keep the armed forces battle ready all the time. Billions and trillions of dollars have been poured into this industry. You try to remain ahead in the weapons race as per your enemy’s battle readiness or weaknesses which were known anyway. The armed forces soldier is the patriot who must pay the ultimate price during battles or in small escalations. But suddenly now we have different patriots, different foot soldiers in their PPE’s and masks. They are fighting our battles with an unknown and unseen enemy. Do we ever remember a time when nations said thank you to health workers? With the raging war on the invisible enemy, the frequent conventional wars have reduced dramatically. The money from the “real” weapons will be available for something more useful and purposeful.  

There is bound to be an essential change in the global way of dealing with each other. During pre-pandemic days, the US and recently, to some extent, China, was leading the way in forcing the worldwide systems. Now the chances are that we would become more collaborative and treat each other with respect. Some small countries are the least affected by current issues, whereas the US, Italy, Spain, Great Britain and France are poorly struck. These countries are rich, having better medical facilities, better social norms. But they are the worst hit by the pandemic. It might be a great lesson to the world to collaborate and work with each other.  

In the recent past, these countries felt that commerce was the end of this world. You need only WTO, EU, and world bodies to regulate commerce. Everything will be hunky-dory once the issues like Brexit are negotiatedThe terrorists were far away in various deserts and were to be handled by volunteers from armies. To hell with experts who are always discussing viruses, global warming, and so on. The pandemic has shown that these “commercial” countries need to be ready on “war footing” all the time, pun intended. There are other things than getting rich. People die of an unknown and invisible enemy in rich countries too; warts and all are seen in such situations. Rich countries thought that poverty is in countries like India and Pakistan. But when the economy is forced to shut down, the reality cannot remain hidden; this stark reality was brought out when 22 million Americans registered for the dole– the US government is going to pay US dollars One thousand/month to each one of them during these tough times. Hopefully, the jingoism of weapons and commerce will come down in the system. 

What more will change? Plenty. Now we will realise that when we eat that inexpensive food item from a low-end restaurant, the waiter there never got paid leave. When we see people breaking social rules of distancing, we will understand that the teachers who taught civics in school were themselves not adequately trained. The nations need to improve the life of the people at the bottom of the pyramid. I am not suggesting that we become socialists, but these people need to have a better deal. The brutal attack by pandemic first hits the bottom of the pyramid, economically, the world over. Rich and poor can die of the epidemic. You can’t change this but the lives of the weak collapse before they come to know what hit them. Poor is a poor even if he lives in a rich country. Their woes remain hidden in the so-called standard times. But as we have seen, one month of lockdown has crushed the lives of millions and millions. The system needs to change to take care of such things. Healthcare should be inclusive, to have more and more people under it. The society should be such that the bottom of the pyramid is well covered for unforeseen events.  

We need to correct the mistake we have made. The pandemic exposed these mistakes. There is a suggestion by some to relax the lockdown to allow people to start working again. But there is no vaccine, and there is no cure. In the absence of these two, the only way is to contain and test! Getting well today is left to HIM, as there is no known cure. But the whole world should start planning to ensure that lowincome people do not suffer in future catastrophic events.  

How can we contribute to make it a better world!? You can do the following things within your ecosystem. Your maids, drivers and people in that financial strata have difficulties like shortage of funds (they will not ask you)! You ask them! They can also have a problem with their data balance on the phone becoming zero. The shops are closed, and these people cannot recharge. So, you call them, they cannot call you! Help them recharge! These look tiny issues, but when you collate them for a large population, it is a huge problem. You and I can help this group of people to mitigate their problems. From your ecosystem, your colony, then your town or city, then state and the nation we can help each other to alleviate issues by collaborating! Yes, collaboration at every stage is the name of the game!  

Don’t forget that the enterprise is at its best in emergencies! Testing kits, Ventilators, Masks, PPE’s have developed at a fantastic speed. Yes! We can do it!  

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Relentless Life Cycle!

When our children were younger, we would tell them that “Thandi Baba” ( a mythical figure) will come if you do not go to sleep now, or some such statement. Every family has its version of Thandi Baba. But now the latest version of Thandi Baba is threatening the whole world. People are worried; people are skeptical about life! Life always moves forward in a sinusoidal waveform. There are ups, and there are downs. But the current situation is such that we seem to have forgotten this concept. People are thinking that the current situation is going to last forever. Internet, FB, Smartphones and WhatsApp appeared in that particular order. These things completely changed our life. When these are active about a subject, we feel that it is the only subject in the world.

Even 50 to 70 years back, the information remained locked within countries. We hardly knew anything about the western world; western world anyway was the least bothered about us. Now those with smartphones have the whole world in their hands, literally. We get all the information live, 24/7!

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Back to the sinusoidal wave! Why are we so much worried about the current situation? We had second world war going between 1939 and 1945. Though Indian soldiers fought on behalf of the British, except for far east India, the heat of that war did not reach us. On top of that, we were under British rule. We had our worries about the British Raj. But Europe, Russia, the US and Japan had borne the brunt of world war II. Are our fears about the pandemic unrealistic? How many deaths will be there in the worst-case scenario?

Estimates for the total casualties of World War II suggest that some 60 million people died in the world war II, including about 20 million soldiers and 40 million civilians. Many civilians died because of disease, starvation, massacres, bombing and deliberate genocide. In Hiroshima, when the bomb was dropped, 1.4 lac people were killed and more by after-effects. The same figures in Nagasaki were 78 thousand, and more later due to after-effects. But these were all human-made horrors. The current one is invisible- it is Thandi baba!

It took years for the world to know the real death figures. Just imagine that the internet and TV were available in those times. Rumours and fear would have killed many more people. Friends, have we forgotten that there are peaks and troughs in life? The current one is a longish trough in our life. So why not have a relook at life? Every day, we are getting the treat of bird’s chirping for a long time. We can hear them till they are either bored or tired! As the traffic is low, the pollution levels have gone down in the cities. Life is good for retirees like me. It is not a must that we go somewhere. Life is healthy except that we can’t go out anywhere. You will ask me why it is healthy? With maids not able to come for work, all their work is shared by Jaya and me. There are life’s lessons available if you want to take them. If you are cleaning the floor, you move forward, but while wiping the floor with a mop, you move backwards. You will learn to take life as it comes! Wiping the floor can not be done moving forward! 🙂🙂

Have we forgotten that there are ups? I distinctly remember what happened to me in 2013. I was detected with Cancer, end 2013; treatment of Immunotherapy and 34 radiations were needed. That was a deep trough in my life. But in parallel, there was a high peak of happiness. Our granddaughter was born in the same time frame. We had enjoyed her arrival, that brought us the biggest joy. That joy continues even today

We all live through life with ups and downs, but particular troughs, deeply scar us. For example, second world war holocaust. Hitler and his Nazis killed more than 6 million. It is the conservative figure of the number of Jews who were killed. These scars have damaged the Jewish race permanently. The only reason the Nazis killed was that they were Jews.

World history has known that the war’s start and end. There are deaths, and there is destruction. It happens for a specific period. But the current scourge is such that people do not know how long it will last. Another thing it has done is that it is covering the whole world. There is no geographic limit for the spread. A most crucial aspect of the scourge is that there is no known cure. Okay, by no means it can be called a killer disease. But since there is no known cure, some nations, including India, have found that the social distancing and full lockdown of the country is the only solution. India’s current lockdown period is till 15th April, but nobody is sure if it is going to be adequate. The total lockdown has stopped all businesses, factories and trade, except those that come under essential services. All buses, trains and flights have been suspended. So everybody has to stay at home. We can see only so much of TV, surf the internet for a certain amount of time. You can’t intermingle with friends and neighbours; those who cannot work from home for reasons specific to the nature of work, have nothing to do. We spend almost ten hours of daytime at work. It is not easy! But is there any option?

The most unexpected collateral damage is the reverse migration of daily wage earners from big cities. These people are not sure how long the current situation is going to last. These people fear that they will have no place to live, no work, no money and hence no food. People in droves have started walking back to their homes in villages. From yesterday the government has changed the rule for a short duration and to provide these people transportation back home. Unfortunately, the situation at home is also not going to be different. But the migration is more due to the emotional pull. They would prefer to be at home in such a situation.

It is the relentless bombarding of the information, news, tables, charts and graphs that can depress anybody. In today’s time, we don’t even know which of the data, papers reaching you are false. The other day, I received a twenty-page report created by someone from Johns Hopkins Hospital. (It was found to be fake) Some websites are giving yeomen service to us by checking which of such papers are fake. The report gave such a bleak picture that anybody could get depressed.

Why do people go to such extent to spread rumours? Our neighbour went through major surgery. Because of the current condition, her supporting staff is not there to help her. Jaya phones her every day and offers her to cook something for her. Yesterday while talking, she told Jaya not visit her till 3rd April because her astrologer has said to her that starting from 30th March till 3rd April, all the constellations will be in a wrong position. It can be harmful to her health. So be it! (BTW her astrologer is from the WhatsApp University) It is another way of spreading rumours inadvertently, simply because the lady believes in such stuff.

Friends, talk to each other. No situation in this world lasts forever. Good things will be back. There could be a big financial shock until the situation changes. The world is going to take years to come out of this. But there is no fear like dropping of Atom Bomb when large population died in an instant. The war against the scourge will be won at some stage. But it is the economic war that the world should be worried. That time frame could be like that of second world war five to six years, if not longer. All businesses, large, medium and small are going to pass through a churn. But we humans are fighters; we always win in the end. There will be no Superman or Hanuman to help us. It is the massive efforts of the human race, that will take us to a peak of happiness!

Twenty years hence! 

I was just wondering how the world will look twenty years hence. There is a major change going on in the world called industry 4.0! What jobs will be available, and what businesses could lose out? It is difficult to tell, at the same time, it is not so difficult. Robotics, AI are two game changers which are already on the horizon for ordinary people, but for techies, these are already around for some time. Will there be any bloggers after twenty years? Yes, they will be there, but there is good chance that I will not be around.  

So here we go! 

  1. Call Centre operators 
    1. We have already seen the BOTS (Web Robot) operating 
    2. Many times when we talk to toll-free numbers with Amazon, Flipkart et al. we are talking to BOTS. They are trained to answer standard questions based on our identity and our discussion history. Their “brain” gets updated as we call more. In case we ask some information which they cannot answer, AI trains them to say “Could you hold on for a minute? I will transfer the call to my supervisor.” The supervisor could be a human being, giving support to 20/30 such BOTS. 
  2. Automobile drivers 
    1. Companies are going very strong in creating technology for driverless cars. Such vehicles are already plying in certain areas in the US. Amazon is already using driverless trucks to transport their goods. Google’s Waymo and GM are two companies that are way ahead of their competitors. Over a period, there is a good possibility that the requirement for drivers will go down drastically. 
  3. Accountants 
    1. AI and Blockchain technologies together are creating business solutions that do the work of charter accountants. The data entry and the checking are rule-based. The rules don’t change every day, but even if they change, there are methods which will take care of these changes. It could be one profession that could get replaced fast.
  4. Bank Tellers 
    1. All of us are observing this phenomenon for some time. ATM card proliferation is taking place exponentially. People can withdraw money from any ATM. But in future, it can so happen that you may not need to withdraw money. My son Sachin who lives in the US rarely has any cash with him. Most places he pays by credit card. On the petrol pumps, I have seen him paying by using the RFID device for more than ten years. In India, recently, RFID tags are introduced to pay the toll on highways.  
  5. Travel agents 
    1. Travel agents? What is that? I have been buying all my travel requirements on various websites. I don’t remember when I last purchased travel tickets from an agent. It includes bus journeys too!  
  6. Newspaper delivery guys 
    1. Internationally, people have reduced buying the newspapers drastically. The print volume has gone down so much that it is no more viable to print the newspaper. Small newspapers are slowly shutting shop, and the large ones will also follow suit. In India, we are still lucky that readership is still manageable. But the trend of people getting their news on TV and the Internet is already set in!  
  7. Journalists 
    1. When there are no newspapers, what is the need for conventional journalists? Everybody will be reporter in future. The news organisations will need to check the authenticity of the news items. But with vastly improved cell phone cameras, video proofs are available.  
  8. Telemarketers 
    1. Robots will replace the telemarketers, the same as in the case of call centre operators, with one human managing large number of robots.  
  9. Referees 
    1. What will the referees do in sports events? The vast number of cameras capture each action, including fouls, no-balls in cricket, shuttle falling outside court in badminton. These technologies are already there. The role of umpires and referees will be significantly reduced. 
  10.  Assembly line workers 
    1. We have observed this happening for quite some time. The robots have been doing a lot of things. The advantage of robots is they usually don’t make mistakes, and they have no mood changes. They are never on holiday or don’t take sick leave, suddenly. 

This list can go on and on. But I am also going to write about businesses closing down.  

  1. Petroleum Business
    1. Currently, this is one of the biggest businesses in the world. With the advent of electric vehicles, the requirement of these products will drastically reduce. Trials are already being done on electric aeroplanes and boats. These developments will reduce the petroleum product requirement further. The demand for EV’s also will be forced by the need for better environmental pollution control.  
  2. Coal 
    1. Coal business is going to go down over a period for the same reason, pollution. Non-conventional energy-producing methods like solar, wind and nuclear power are set to push aside coalbased energy production. Over a period, the coalbased power plants will have to shut down, along with that the coal mines. 
  3. Law business 
    1. It is already seen that AI can give law advice easily. IBM’s Watson has proven this. Law decisions are based on the laws and rules; it also is dependent on the previous interpretation of the law. AI can easily combine these twto advise customers.  
  4. Automobile servicing and repair business 
    1. As the electric vehicles are used in large numbers, the requirement for shops giving these services will come down in a big way. The IC engine cars have more than 2000 parts in the drive train. Whereas in the EV, the drive train has about 18 items. Only the electric motors have the moving parts. Hence, the repairs and maintenance work will be as good as zero in the drive train. 
    2. The IC engine drive train has parts that are manufactured by forging, casting, rolling and heat treatment processes. These processes form a large percentage of the primary engineering industry. These industries employ a vast number of people. As the requirement goes down, there will be no growth. There will be a big slump. There will be slump in the industry, making machines and machinery required for these core engineering businesses.  
  5. Cigarette  
    1. Now people have realised that cigarette smoking is injurious to health. It is not just a government slogan. Younger people have reduced smoking of tobacco products as well as their E equivalents. It is one industry that will go down, but it is good for the human race. Unfortunately, alcohol consumption does not show sign of reducing.   

What is the reason for writing the blog? Well, the writing is on the wall, but we fail to see it, many times. People who are in the process of joining the workforce should think before joining any industry. Seniors should advise young people based on the information shared.

The list is not exhaustive, and many more jobs and industries could end up on this list. It is a good idea to keep track of such information to avoid obsolescenceTake care! Keep your eyes and ears open!  

 

Slowdown! Recession and the cycle! 

Economic cycleThe science of economy is something which I don’t understand, seriously! Noble laureates give their theories, experts write essays, but an engineer like me understands only physics. Whatever goes up must come down! It is the theory of gravity. Sometimes it goes up slowly and comes down fast with a thud. Sometimes both speeds are similar. Economic growth goes up swiftly and comes down slowly sometimes. India has been lucky that it came out of the 2008 recession reasonably unscathed and bounced back for the last eight years to a decent growth rate of 6 to 8%.

Many factors lead to growth. Similarly, different factors slow down the economy. These factors are market sentiment, buying power, and so on; the Indian economy since independence did not show correct growth due to a parallel economy. The parallel economy, in the local language, is called Black Money. What is black money, and how does it get generated? Many businesses like construction, land dealings, trade pay each other by cash. Cash payment is made to avoid Income Tax. A part of business activity is never shown on paper. When there is “no business” there is no profit hence no Income Tax. The parallel economy also grew because of unprecedented corruption activity. Nobody takes bribe by cheque, so spending is also done in cash.

In some cases, corruption is in kind by gifting condos, high-end cars, or items which can be bought in cash. Such gifting is done in the name of non-earning spouse or a relative. In Many cases, such assets are “Benami” assets in the name of one’s sweepers, peons and drivers. In a recent interview, Mahindra & Mahindra Chairman Anand Mahindra said that the economy has been going through a process of ‘detoxification’. Since the negative impact of disruptions is now over, the economy is expected to see an upside in FY21, Bloomberg TV reported Chairman Mahindra as saying at an event in Davos, Switzerland. “The prime minister has been quite obsessed with the kind of growth he wants, and that is transparent, free of corruption” Mahindra also said. He also felt that the upcoming budget is expected to be watched closely by different quarters of the economy amid the slowdown.

The Indian economy is seeing a slowdown for some time now on account of a fall in consumption and demand. The government announced a slew of measures in the past few months to revive growth ranging from bank recapitalisation and boost in liquidity.

The perception right now is that government actions caused the slowdown. But on the other hand, if you are going to detox yourself, you always have a process of cleansing before you start recovering and running again. Demonetisation and GST were the part of disruptions that have now ended, and the economy is already seeing signs of life. From the next fiscal, India will surprise the world on the upside is the general market sentiment.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently slashed the growth estimates for both the Indian and the global economy. The global growth is expected to reach 3.3 per cent in 2020, compared to 2.9 per cent in 2019, the slowest pace since the financial crisis a decade ago. The Washington-based international crisis lender revised downward India’s GDP growth projection to 4.8 per cent for FY20 and 5.8 per cent for FY21. “India’s domestic demand has slowed more sharply than expected amid stress in the non-bank financial sector and a decline in credit growth,” the IMF report said.

Detoxification had to be done. It has not eliminated black money. But the reports say that it is reduced to some degree. The government is relentlessly after the businesses and businessmen who have cheated their customers and banks. People like Modi and Mallya are in jail in Britain. Other business people like Sahara Subrata Roy, D S Kulkarni, Wadhawan are in prison. Unitech projects have been taken over by the government to give homes to 21000 people like you and me. The authorities did not have the guts to detoxify the banking system in olden days. The detoxification process has started bringing out huge NPA’s (non-performing assets) of many banks. These NPA’s were created with the help of bank employees sometimes. But many times, the businessmen cheated the banks. Under the garb of hidden NPA’s our economy was “doing well”. When the cleansing act began a few years back, the loan sanctioning processes became a little tougher. The result of more scrutiny was that credit availability came down. When the available credit comes down, business activity slows down. It is a spiral that any economy dreads. But system correction was a must.

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Growth any any country cannot be perpetually high. As the base increases rate of growth is bound to come down.

On one side, the automotive industry has slowed down, but there are reasons like availability of Ola’s and Uber’s of this world. But there is a surprise that the SUV introduced by KIA is selling like hotcakes. There is going to be one more hurdle here; the government is pushing for Electric Cars or initially more efficient IC Engine Hybrid cars. These cars will be more expensive than current IC Engine cars; the young generation is now changing their thought process. They don’t buy cars, but prefer Uber and Ola; they rent homes instead of buying homes. India has now become number two in the world behind China for the Smart Phone market. Spending ways are changing.

I am happy about this downturn for another reason. Gita Gopinath from IMF explained that the Indian recession has caused a 0.1 % reduction in the growth rate in the world economy. It indicates that India is not a small cog in the world economic wheel. At the same time, she has also said that the worst for the Indian economy is over, and it will start the upward movement in growth rate from this year 2020! The statement will disturb some people because they hoped that bad times would continue. Each group has his/her agenda! Some for political reasons and others for TRP reasons! The lousy news is THE news!

Indian economic experts had made similar predictions and statements! But we believe in someone who sits in cool climes; even if the person is desi, it is okay! Old habits die hard!

I have observed an interesting thing in international diplomacy. Turkey and Malaysia had no business to poke their nose in the internal affairs of India. They made some statements which were not necessary. When India protested, they continued in the same vein expecting the docile Indian response of yester years. But they must have got a shock of their life. India kicked them where it really hurts. India had ordered one ship worth US $2.2/ billions, on Turkey; it was put on hold. For Malaysia, India was the most significant customer of refined palm oil. A few hints here and there, the purchase pattern changed within a few months. Indian traders switched over to Indonesian palm oil. Malaysia was shocked, and they have no option but to accept it. Their prime minister accepted that Malaysia is too small to retaliate. They are trying to offer some sweet deals to India. But India is ignoring them.

Friends, in the economy of any country and for that matter world, there are always cycles of growth and downturn. A downturn can be because of market sentiments, inflation and sometimes the combination of two, stagflation. The experts of every country find ways that suit their economy. Japan for years is not doing great because of their efficient methods of working. The Japanese markets are too small for some of their giants like Toyota, Honda, Docomo. They have no option but to export and open plants in different countries. The German case is also like Japan because its economy is entirely dependent on the exports of superb engineering products. The economies of different countries are now changing from a global open market to the one which is suitable for own requirements. The US has become a leader of such self centered thoughts.

It is going to be a game of diplomacy where each country will look for ways which will be to their benefit only. Brexit is a latest classic example of this thought process. In each country, the opposition plays the political games of troubling the incumbent governments. Whichever is the government in any country, they can make mistakes, but they all put the interest of the country ahead of everything else.

For commoners like you and me, it is necessary to be remember that economic activity is a cyclic process. It goes down and then it bounces back; we need not worry about these issues.

 

 

 

 

Brexit, Megxit or Exit!  

 

United Kingdom could exit (brexit)  European unionWhere is the British empire heading? The empire where once the sun never set seems to be imploding. Brexit and Megxit appear to be the symptoms of this implosion. If you look at the history of Britain, they ruled the world for a couple of hundred years. Their first setback was in what came to be known as the United States of America. Boston Tea Party, in the year 1773,  in US history marked the end of the stranglehold of the British Empire. In India, the so-called Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 was the beginning of the process of the countdown of the British dominance in India. It culminated in India getting independence in 1947.

In the year 1973, Britain joined the European Union- then known as the European Economic Community. The European countries realised that countries other than Germany, Britain and France were too small to grow strongly. The coming together created the European Union in the year 1993. It is coming together of the countries and creating a competing and robust face of the Union in the fast-changing world. It created a common currency Euro and made a border-free movement of goods and people. For the practical purpose, the EU is like a country, and the different nations are the states within that country.

The EU formation created a small movement in Britain. The movement supported by people who wanted Britain to come out of the EU. It was a group of older people who remembered the Empire and had never come out of the thought that the British were driven out of most of the colonies, world over. These people were probably blind to the changes that had taken place in the world. They failed to visualise that the world economic balance was now in equal proportions between the US and the Asian countries like Japan, China and India. Europe’s only chance to compete was being together, and hence EU was a relevant development. But the narcissist Britishers voted in the referendum in 2016 to come out of the EU. The poll led to the start of the British exit- Brexit from the EU. People forgot that it was easier said than done. The past glories don’t help in future; one has to work hard to succeed. Brexit has led to significant turmoil in Britain, cutting short the career of one Prime Minister and called for an early election in the year 2019.

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The second event that is currently creating waves is Megxit. It is a request by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, to allow them to withdraw from Senior membership from the Royal family. The withdrawal, they feel, would let them spend half their time in North America. They also thought that it would give them financial freedom. The reason for this is the hounding of Meghan, who is half African American, by the tabloid industry in Britain. The most influential and respected family in the world, the British Royal family, could not prevent these racial attacks on Meghan, who was a model and an actress before her marriage to Duke of Sussex, Harry. Is this the beginning of the end of the British monarchy as we know it? Are things imploding in Britain at a speed that may be impossible to slow down?

The thoughts behind Brexit and Megxit are quite similar. It is about thinking that they are the best. It is a thought process of Caucasian, white people who believe that the bloody Indians need to be ruled. Yes, there are internal rivalries between the French and the Germans and the British. But oh, those Poles or those Czechs! They are meant to work on construction sites or something equivalent. As the colour of the skin starts becoming darker, thinking changes. A coloured Joffra Archer is excellent, as long as he takes wickets. The moment his form dips…

Royalty with Afro American background! How is that possible? Given below is the passage from Washington post about Meghan.

Ever since she began dating Harry in 2016, Meghan has been the target of coverage that can’t even be called forensic scrutiny, as that would imply a degree of accuracy. British tabloids were funhouse mirrors when writing about her, committed not to news but the distortion of her image. She has been routinely picked apart and reassembled as a vicious caricature, the list of her alleged faults and faux pas endless. Her crimes are amorphous, ever-changing and at times opposed; she was cast as a bleeding-heart liberal or a money-grabbing social climber depending on the audience. Many hoped the arrival of her son, Archie, would help the media show a kinder side, but that was not the case. 

No tabloid said any such thing about Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge; the Wife of Williams, Harry’s elder brother.  The nearest they came to harassing her was trying to take her photos with a telephoto lens when she was on a private beach taking a skinny dip. But everything was perfect about Kate because she was a white Caucasian female who fits the template.

Britain has already started discrete and sometimes not so discrete way of showing the displeasure about Pakis. Pakis is a term generally used for Indians, Bangla Deshi’s and Pakistani people. They would send all of them back to wherever they came from if it were possible; many of them are doing exceedingly well in Britain. I will give you an example of their thought process. A Rear Admiral, retired, from Indian Navy got down at Heathrow. His post preceded his name on the passport.  A lady at the immigration counter asked him, ” Sir, do you speak English?” He smiled and said in propah British accent, “Oh, Lady! It’s Tuesday today, isn’t it? I speak English on Tuesdays, French on Wednesdays, German on Thursdays!”

Brexit is also the result of such thoughts. Free movement of goods and people is excellent as long as those Poles and Czechs do not come and take away low skilled jobs. Britishers forget that they are a part of Europe. Albanians are gangsters and Hungarians are a necessary evil; that is how the people who voted for Brexit think. These are the same people who think that royalty cannot be from a mixed-race! If someone marrying into the Royalty is Caucasian from Europe, that is fine. But they can’t be mixed blood from anywhere else; be it China or Japan or India. Mixed African-blood? Oh, my God! It is not acceptable at all.

But nothing is new in this thought process. In Hindu mythology, Gods have always been described with fair coloured skin; and demons are all the time having big moustaches and dark colour. In our society, if we meet someone who is good looking, our opinion about him/her is always fair, initially, pun intended. Similarly, if that person is fair-skinned, it is even better. We use derogatory terms describing people with a dark complexion.

The most surprising aspect in Meghan affair is that Royalty also faced significant issues at the hands of the press; the reason being the mixed-race of the Her Royal Highness Princess Meghan! Oh, sorry! I cannot say this, now she is only Princess Meghan. They have given up the title HRH now as an arrangement within the royal family as even the Royalty could not prevent hounding by the Hounds of the cousins of the Fleet Street!

A smallish nation like Britain cannot behave like this for practical reasons. Now they have almost a non-existent manufacturing base. North Sea oil will be important until petroleum products remain essential for the world economy. It is possible that after the exit from the EU, London may not remain the Financial Centre of the world.

Effects of Brexit can be challenging to predict, but there will be tough times. If the press can hound the Royalty, it can always create issues for the significant population of non-Caucasians living in Britain. Albanians. Czechs, Poles anyway will go away due to Brexit.

So, what next? Brexit-Megxit and finally Exit from the global scene? It is difficult to exist in this “bad, bad” world without collaborating with others. God save the Queen and Britain.

Out of curiosity, I saw the site www.royalsussex.com. You may also want to view it. I came to know many new things from the website about British Royalty.