What did “Howdy Modi” achieve?

As you are aware that I am not much into political discussions. But to me “Howdy Modi” an event held on 22nd September 2019, at Houston, Texas was a game-changing event in the history of India. I am not bothered if Prime Minister Modi is from Party A or Party B. Till the end of the last century, India was that dirty country, under-developed, chaotic Place, and of snake charmers. We almost went into bankruptcy in 1992, till we were bailed out by a large loan against national gold reserves.

IT service industry was the first Indian show of technological prowess, well-proven by Y2K and India’s large English-speaking workforce. Rest as they say is history. Not everything is hunky-dory with us even today, but the significant change in our thinking and confidence of all us as a nation, is seen as a substantial change by the whole world. The change has not happened suddenly. There have been reasons as to why this is happening. People of my generation, those born just in 1947 or just after, were a docile lot as far anything foreign was concerned. But some of us were not as docile as they were thought to be. The change started with people like Sunil Gavaskar who looked international players eye to eye and would sledge back. Sachin Tendulkar was born in 1973, and his generation was even more confident; Sachin “screamed” with his bat. Today people of Kohli’s age create fear in the minds of players with their prowess, aggressive and polished behaviour when required.

Such changes started taking place slowly in every field. Finally, the real difference is observed in international diplomacy. In 50 s and 60 s of the last century, we were busy in NAM (non-aligned movement), the favourite baby of Nehru. It was frankly a group of nobody’s; they were neither on NATO side nor the Communist side. India had no identity, and we had forgotten the principle that it’s a power game in this world. But we had no power, including electricity; we were coming out of our problems post-independence and post-emergency. We were meek and weak, and our leadership reflected the status of the nation. We had the leaders we deserved.

During the last twenty-five years, India jumped the fast-growth groovy train. We managed good yearly growth of around 7 to 8 % for some time; even the current low rate of growth is still at about 5%! India managed to give the first non-coalition majority government in many years, and that helped the government to implement many schemes which supported the masses. India is also coming up with decisions that will help new businesses to come up and old companies to grow.

The complete change in the atmosphere was also helped by the strong leadership provided by Modi! Re-election of Modi in 2019 has further helped India to become more confident. We have a large diaspora living in various countries and doing well for themselves as well as for their adopted country. In the last few years, the Indian government provided simple procedures for NRI’s to acquire PAN card and now Aadhar card.

How is this helping India? With confidence, a person or a nation can take bold decisions, make bold statements. Others start taking you seriously and listen to what you say and do! After 5th August action on article 370, Rajnathsingh was asked about dialogue with Pakistan on Kashmir. He boldly declared, “We will have a discussion with Pakistan, but it will now be about Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) only.” External affairs minister answered similarly on the subject recently. He said, “ We are willing to discuss with Pakistan but not with Terroristan!” Except for the terror aspect, Pakistan is not even there on India’s Radar.

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Howdy Modi was a Bollywood style show where India managed to invite the President of the United States to share the stage with Mr Modi. Some people may call it showmanship; some may call it histrionics. Some liberals have already started comparing this event with Hitler’s Goebbels style propaganda before starting the second world war. The above picture shows Nazi rally in Madison square garden; such pictures and dialogues are already being circulated by “liberals” on the social media. The comparison shows the beauty of democracy. Your own countrymen and your enemies are allowed to show dissent. Dissent was seen outside the stadium in Houston.

What did Trump’s decision to give a speech and then be with the spectators in the first row indicate? It showed that the most influential country in the world and democracy to the core is now actively backing India.  Mind you, many people hate Trump, but he is no Hitler, neither is Modi! As typically happens in world diplomacy, Trump had a meeting and a press conference with Imran Khan, Pakistan PM,  the next day, in New York. In this conference, Trump said that Mr Modi is capable of solving the Kashmir problem.

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I am not going to display any pictures from Houston show, but Imran Khan press conference presents a vital facet of the situation. While Trump was talking about Kashmir, Imran Khan was seen counting prayer beads. These prayer beads are called Misabaha. Imran was either hoping that now only Allah can help him and Pakistan, or was it a show for Islamic World that he is the most devoted servant of Allah and the leader of the Muslim world. Is this the same Imran Khan, the playboy, the Casanova of 80s and 90s? I have purposely not reduced the size of the picture so that you can see the beads in Imran Khan’s hands!

 

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I respect Anand Mahindra for his maturity, openness and sense of humour on Twitter. He has aptly expressed the feelings of all Indians in his Tweet above! If Anandaji says this, I am sure of many of us will believe in the effects of Howdy Modi event.

What next after all the showmanship is done? Next day in New York, there was a United Nations conference, Indian top brass met  top brass of more than 20 nations on the side of the meeting, mainly to discuss bilateral cooperation. Kashmir issue might have been discussed too! But India’s stance on Kashmir was boldly declared to the global audience from Houston meet.

Another important effect of Houston meet is that there were fifty thousand plus Americans of Indian origin present. They must have felt really proud to see their Bharat  projected in a very effective positive manner. The diaspora will become more confident and try to see how they can help push India’s interest forward. They now know that there is a robust system that is getting established in India under the current government. They see the effect of transparency by way schemes like Visa on arrival, Passport in seven days and so on. They are also observing the fate of corrupts and cheats irrespective of their social and political status. They know that the government means business.

In case if some of you are not aware of efficient ways systems are working, I will share two examples.

On the last day of filing Income Tax returns 31st August 2019, fifty lacs (5 million) returns were filed. In 24 hours we have 86400 seconds. It means on an average, 58 returns were being filed every second!

State Bank of India has a customer  base of more than population of many nations. Now they have started a new system for ATM withdrawals. Before leaving home, send a request for withdrawals (max Rs ten thousand per day) from an App. You will be sent an OTP (valid for 30 minutes). Go to any ATM, currently owned by SBI, punch your OTP, and you are done. Transaction time at ATM must have come down by 75%, is my rough judgement!

Jaihind!

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Sequel to Election-nama!

My previous blog was about Election results concerning the path taken by Indian Democracy post-independence! 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/05/26/status-quo-election-nama/ 

But I could not write more things on the subject, as I limit my blogs to less than certain number of words. For want of a better title, I have given the title to this blog Sequel ….”! I had written about the Khan market gang, Tukde Tukde gang and others who were dead against the Modi regime. Somehow I was very uneasy with their extreme discomfort. Why were these people so uncomfortable? What is the difference between these people and others like you and me? 

I read a blog by Shobha De in Times of India dated 26/5/2019.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/politically-incorrect/how-liberals-living-in-la-la-land-misread-the-asli-hindustani/

She has accepted in the blog that she is from this group of people who thought Modi might just survive or lose the election. ( I feel that gang is too harsh a word). She felt that people like her have now become irrelevant. She has also said that she had hoped that all of them would wake up on 23rd May, the election day, with a big smile on their face. Shobha is one of the very few who have accepted what has happened. 

Some of the reactions from liberals on the election results were

  • Don’t underestimate ‘intelligence’ of voters! They had also voted Hitler, Mugabe, & Marcos to power! They have also voted Trump, Putin & Erdogan to power! 
  • It is a wave; it was always meant to be a wave. The hate wave has gripped India for a while. 
  • I clearly remember 16 May 2014. Everyone was rushing to JNU Students’ Union office to watch the Lok Sabha results. I had a naive belief that @ArvindKejriwal would become PM, that India would reject a mass murderer. That was the first time that I felt like a Muslim in India. 

I have nothing against the different views that people have. One of my closest friends is dead against Modi. I must have discussed election results with at least 50 people known to me. They are all professionals. They have been there and done that! Out of these 50, only one friend was against Modi. But he expected NDA to get 250 seats and he was not against everything by NDA. On the similar basis, I assume that comments above were from a specific group of people, who are in Media, who are in public eye, who had  enjoyed the government jaunts of foreign trips with Prime Ministers and other ministers in “olden days”. (Translated to preModi days). They have also been saying how much Modi is wasting money on foreign trips by taking a jumbo jet with very few advisors; he should travel in a smaller plane! (Translates into reporters don’t get free rides!)  

The 50 people I am talking of are very successful people in life, intelligent, smart and what have you. They were the CEO’s and owners and directors. Does it mean that all these liberals speaking diagonally opposite are better and more intelligent than my friends group? No way.  

Another thing I noticed was the discussion on the exit poll day. On a Marathi channel, there were many reporters as experts. The exit poll figure swung between 237 to 350 for NDA. All the “experts were unanimous in saying that figure would be much less than 237 and could go to as low as 137! It looked as if they wished it to happen. The reporters are supposed to be in touch with the ground realities; they are the knowalls! How can all of them be so wrong? When such vital predictions go wrong, does it affect their performance card? Are they demoted because of such blunder in the forecast? Are they forced to take a salary cut? Such project failures would, in any other job, could lead to people being terminated. I have not read any such news about reporters. 

Reporters, Liberal experts, along with the opposition politicians, have proved one thing during this election that they did not have the pulse of the masses. When they use the word masses, they mean to say, idiots. Other than these groups, no one else  knows what is happening in India.  

I am again quoting from Shobha’s blog because no one else has the guts to accept that they failed to predict the people’s verdict miserably.

The toughest thing people like me — like ‘us’ — have to face up to is our irrelevance. And do so, while keeping that stubborn chin up! Do we have what it takes to look within and find out what changed when we weren’t looking? When were we busy trying to convince ourselves, the past five years were nothing but an aberration? How wrong we were! Not just wrong in our assessment but wrong about virtually everything else! We were clinging on to our nostalgia — our over-romanticised idea of India — while refusing to accept the cold, hard reality that India had changed. It wasn’t even India anymore! It had become Hindustan!  

What by the way was an alternative to Modi? Naidu who could not retain his government? Banerjee whose workers created mayhem during the election campaign? Banerjee who refused to meet the prime minister (as per her- the “Outgoing PM.”) who wanted to discuss what help Central Government could give to cycloneravaged Bengal? Mayawati who asked a question, “If we can have Ram statues all over, what is wrong in having my statues too?Lalu Prasad who is languishing in jail with a 13year jail term. Rahul Gandhi who proved his merit by the Congress score of 0 in 17 states, including losing at Amethi.  This opposition governing us, was the “over-romanticised” idea of the experts!

I will share with you how people think, differently. A family friend, an excellent mathematician, has different views. She said, “It is the pharma and weapon lobby in the world who made sure that Modi, the hawk, won the elections. Modi will make sure that their products will be bought by India as Modi will definitely go to war with Pakistan.” I do not argue with such brilliant ideas.

All these wise, bright, sharp people were hoping to get the alternatives that are mentioned above. Had this group of politicians won the election to form a government in Delhi, where would they take India? Consider each persons expertise, and we can imagine that they would have been squabbling, fighting all the time with each other; each state trying to steal the projects irrespective of  whether they were useful for India. Yes, the foreign jaunts of the reporters in Jumbo jets would have started. Politicians and business people could have continued to try and loot the institutions and banks without fear.  

All the “experts” sit in their ivory towers in Delhi. Has anyone travelled to villages in Assam? Has anyone seen the bloodletting happening in Bengal? Following a few TRP story of Gau Rakshak killers make these people think that these incidents are controlled from Delhi. Yesterday when all channels were showing Modi’s speech, one channel showed breaking news Video of some horrible beatings in MP. I am all for Exposés! But we should not forget that bad things have been always happening in the world.  There is no extraordinary increase in these numbers during Modi’s time.

Social media and TV has its pluses and minuses. When a bad incident is telecast repeatedly for TRP we feel that the world is bad. Same is the case with WA and FB. But what people actually have in their minds will be known only by direct contact with them. So let us hope that the media, the opposition, the gang all learn their lessons and become responsible and thereby more effective.  I also hope that they stay away from their romanticism and live in the real world! Amen!

Jingoism or Pragmatism!

Years back when Japan started exporting good cars to the USA in a big way in the ’80 s of the last century, there was a lot of noise created in the US! The US decided that this needs to be handled at the highest level. During a visit of a President of the US, they had informed the Japanese government that the President would push Japanese to open their market for American cars. Japanese agreed immediately. During the meeting it was it was declared officially. When the detailing was being worked out, Americans found that American car makers, engineering-wise, were unprepared, to make right-hand drive cars needed in Japan. They lost ¾ years in this! Rest as they say is history.

In the last few years, the winds against the so-called free trade have started blowing in the USA! Even in Britain, Brexit has happened, and Britain is hoping to walk out of the European Union. Brexit is a classic case of a referendum. The young people who did not want Brexit were too busy to take part in the poll. The seniors did. Currently, the British people have a significant advantage of visa-less travel to Europe. The young brigade could jump to holiday locations, for a job or weekend excursions to the places of their choice. British business had a big, trade barrier-free market available to them. Current British Government is trying its best to find a face-saving formula or do what the majority population wants. (even though referendum said otherwise) Another option may be a second referendum.

Every nation, every society needs to look after self-interest and self-respect. As the country grows, its business grows. The business growth will make the nation and its people proud. Value-added growth could happen when modern products and services are developed in the nation internally. The business needs support from the government, for such a growth. The Indian government is attempting to follow this method. When they sign a contract for import of high technology defence items like radar, planes etc. they try to ensure that the deal is in two parts. Initially, India imports some quantities fully assembled; later at least 30% of production is done in India along with some local partners. Make in India is the name of this project. The results of such initiatives will be seen 20 or 30 years hence.

Why do nations change their thought processes? A country like the United States is technologically the most advanced nation in the world. In the last 50 years, they have many world-class organisations, especially in the IT field. Most of the other countries play the catch-up game with them. They have created world-class hardware and software products like iPhone, Android OS, Windows OS, Microsoft Office to name a few of them. They are also famous for aircraft manufacturing facilities. But where hardware manufacturing was involved, they slowly moved production to China. China also has done a terrific job of going up the value chain; China is now called the world’s manufacturing setup.   Similarly, India has become back office of the world. Since the last couple of years, India is also trying to go up the value chain.

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With the election of Trump, thinking in the US has started changing. Why did this happen? When we refer to the USA, we think only of the East coast and the West coast. We never bother regarding the Rust Belt. Rust Belt is the American midwestern area where industries went into decline due to various reasons. The decrease is mainly in sectors like steel, mining and to some extent automobile.  Add to that the local culture which went into a social rot. The problems of this area can be understood if you read a book called “HillyBilly Elegy” by D Vance.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillbilly_Elegy

We will understand better, Trump’s election victory, after reading this book. Jingoism has started after the win and America began to looking inwards by having tariff wars with China and India. Trade wars also led to the wave, “Make in America”!

History repeats due to lack of proper planning. Apple is the classic case of Make In America failure. There is the story “A Tiny Screw Shows Why iPhones Won’t Be Assembled in the U.S.A.” in New York Times. Apple started churning out great products in the last decade, after struggling since ’80 s of the previous century. They wanted to make the most of it and began subcontracting work. This improved their profitability. Over a period, they shifted all their assembly work in China to Foxconn. Most of the significant components in iPhone were made in the USA or other parts of the world. Assemblies and small parts were made in China. As assemblies entirely moved to China, US industries were left with unused capacity for many small items, and they closed shop or moved to other business. The classic case is of a non-standard screw needed in the assembly. China can produce any quantity of such screws. When an attempt was made to move production back to the USA, capabilities for producing such items were found missing. On top of this, Chinese wages are the US $ 2.10/hr for workers as against the US rates which are very high. On top of this, the totalitarian regime in China does not bother about labour laws. Meeting the targets are achieved by waking up the workers from home at night (when required) and are made to work the night shift. Getting people out of bed for factory work is not possible with US laws and culture.

Jingoism does not solve the problems; it merely creates an unhealthy atmosphere. In the case of Apple, history is getting repeated as it did in the case of cars in the last century! Governments and industry both need to be pragmatic. Apple is facing another issue. The iPhones assembled in China get a tag “Made in China”! The US government wants to charge high tariffs on “Made in China” items. On one side iPhone sells are sliding, margins are slipping; market capitalisation is dropping fast. Higher tariffs will add to Apple’s woes!

While taking any decisions in life, especially when these decisions are business related pragmatism should come to the fore and not Jingoism. The British decided in the referendum about Brexit. The analysis found that high % of citizens in the group above 55 age were for Brexit. Whereas against Brexit was a mixed group, young and old. Brexit is going to create problems for the young ones.

Jingoism takes a society towards a situation where governments promise something during an election or political rhetoric but are not able to deliver — not being pragmatic leads to further churning. Governments try to show their strength by taking a firm stand which is not sustainable. Politicians remain in political mode all the time leading to Jingoism.

Hope the leaders and nations who are following the path of Jingoism learn their lessons quickly; otherwise, the voters correct the same anyway. But for the period till next election, a lot of damage is done to the fabric of the society, and most importantly economic setbacks can cause long term damage to all concerned.

US Government Shut down!

Currently, there is shut down going on in specific departments of the US government. From what I have been reading it appears that the United States is the only country where such shutdowns can occur. All other nations have alternative methods of keeping the departments working. Why has this shutdown occurred?

A government shut down occurs when non-essential discretionary federal programs close. It occurs when Congress fails to appropriate funds. In the normal budget process, Congress appropriates funds by September 30 for the following fiscal year. When that doesn’t happen, it enacts a continuing funding resolution. If Congress can’t even agree on that, it forces a shutdown. That signals a complete breakdown in the budget process.

In the United States, the financial year is from 1st January to 31st December. These shutdowns can occur if certain political adjustments do not happen in time. Current shutdown is the longest ever shut down in the US history. Before ’80 s of the last centuries, such events did not occur because though people did not get paid during the shutdown, they could continue to work without pay. At the beginning of ’80 s, the then attorney general gave a legal opinion that during the shutdown nobody can work. In today’s reference, this means that the affected government employees need to return the government issued electronic devices like cell phones and laptops. They cannot even access their official emails. Not allowed to access the official emails is a real “shut down”. If you have some work pending it will not get done until the government resolves the issue.

Imagine day to day problems in the USA. The flights have taken off, and the Air Traffic controllers come under the shutdown. The flights will not be able to land. (Ok, I am exaggerating!) Assume that security guys come under the shutdown, no flights can take off. I need to check up with my niece; she works for the US government in Washington DC if she is under the shutdown. What will be the effect on people? They will not be paid during this period. Some departments may use their emergency funds to pay the employees for this period, but that has limits. Then they will have to keep on working without pay. The contract workers are the worst hit. They do not get back pay. They go home and await instructions. The people who are on pay cheque to pay cheque budget will be walloped. Their loan default will start. Loan default, in turn, will decrease their credit ratings. There will be a mad rush to look for temporary jobs to handle the financial crisis. Three hundred eighty thousand non-critical employees have been told to go home, but 50000 out of these have been called back, without pay. Four hundred twenty thousand critical employees are already working without pay.

On January 8, 2019, the president Trump addressed the nation. He said a $5.7 billion wall on the border with Mexico is the only solution for a growing crisis at the border. The wall is a crucial piece of Trump’s immigration policy. Since November, the number of migrant families applying for asylum at the border has increased. Homeland Security does not have the funding to process the new surge. Many are showing up in remote areas.

The House had approved a bill on January 3, that would fund all departments except Homeland Security. It would support that department through February 8, 2019. The Senate won’t vote on the bill because Trump opposes it.

On January 4, 2019, President Trump announced that he would continue the shutdown until Congress included $5.7 billion for the wall. He has threatened to declare a national emergency. Trump could then readjust military spending to build the wall without Congressional approval. The administration is also exploring whether it could adjust the funds from the Army Core of Engineers designated for hurricane disaster relief.

But the main problem in all this is that along with Democrats many Republicans also are against the Mexican Wall proposed by Trump. How this will get resolved is anybody’s guess because this issue has now taken a political turn. Republicans say that the wall may not work; there is a need for additional security forces. Democrats say that these funds should be used to improve medical health support given to the public in Obamacare.

There are still a lot of federal cybersecurity workers at their posts carrying out what has been deemed “essential” operations, like defending government networks from attacks and keeping confidential documents from being compromised. But experts warn that trying to thwart hackers at less than full strength is risky. It is evident that cyber threats don’t operate on Washington’s political timetable, and they don’t stop because of a shutdown.

What are the similarities and differences between the world’s two largest democracies? Indian parliament many times does not do any work and is suspended because of chaos. Parliamentary chaos affects future lawmaking and future policies. Non-functional parliament makes sure that the new proposals are not taken for discussion. In the US, the government does not allow the day to day functioning of departments. Who are critical workers and who are non-critical? If workers are non-critical, does it mean that they are surplus?  By this action, there must be a small dent in the GDP too! The conclusion is because government spending is also a part of GDP.

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In the US, the system stops current working and in India system allows the future to be delayed. What system are we discussing? It is the politicians who do all this under the garb of principles. But when it comes to horse trading, politicians in both countries are replicas of each other. Their first priority is always their own seat, then their party and finally their nation. Nation first is a slogan for election times. But then there are many things said in the election time. Elected representatives follow their chosen path, self before everything else!

 

Moral Corruption!

 

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Moral Corruption is the worst form of corruption in this world. When I read the news about the arrest of Carlos Ghosn, Brazilin born Chairman of Nissan Corporation, I was both surprised and sad at the same time.  

Carlos Ghosn, KBE born March 9, 1954, is a Lebanese–Brazilian–French businessman, who has served as the chairman and CEO of France-based Renault, chairman and CEO of Japan-based Nissan, and chairman of Mitsubishi Motors. From June 2013 to June 2016, Ghosn was chairman of Russia-based automobile manufacturer AvtoVAZ. Ghosn is also chairman and CEO of the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance, the strategic partnership overseeing Nissan, Mitsubishi and Renault through a unique cross-shareholding agreement. The Alliance, which includes AvtoVAZ, has held approximately 10% of the global market share since 2010, and as of 2017 is the third largest automobile group worldwide, having previously been the fourth largest automobile group worldwide since 2010. 

 Nissan moved to oust long-serving boss Carlos Ghosn after accusing him of misleading investors about the size of his salary and misusing company assets for personal gain, marking an abrupt downfall of one of the automotive industry’s most feted executives. 

The usual question coming to my mind is why, why and why? Why did he do this? Money cannot be the reason, saving on taxes illegally could be the reason but that again means that he was trying to make more money, which my mind cannot accept. His package for 2017 was reportedly 7.4 Million Euros.  He was found to have misreported his earnings. Over years he misreported the earnings to the tune of US $ 88.70/ million. How much money does a man need? This question is similar to the title of the famous Tolstoy story, “How much land does a man need?” What makes humans corrupt? It is said that the power corrupts people and absolute power corrupts people absolutely! He had many enemies and people felt that too much power was concentrated at one centre. He brought the group of the companies mentioned above from the brink of bankruptcy! As a group, this is considered the third largest group in the world.  

To me, corruption is of two types where people take bribes to do some work (more corrupt amongst this group take the money and don’t do work!). Others are like Ghosn who have everything going for them but think that they can get away with anything. While doing unscrupulous things such people give many excuses. What excuse Mr Ghosn will give will be interesting to note. While he was doing such dealings, did he have the moral authority to question people reporting to him about malpractices?  As a CEO how did he guide the teams to create company policies against corruption?  Is it not hypocrisy? 

A friend was running many businesses. He was head of the family and came from a typical business trading community. He, his brothers and the family homes were raided by Income Tax sleuths 3 to 4 times. There would be headlines in the newspapers giving the family name too! But he took pride in this. He said people will know how much money they had! Once after a raid, he was in a great mood and shared with me details of how he made much more money by following incorrect business practices. His calculation included the tax paid, fine paid and bribes paid! He said the after bribes IT sleuths would not bother to see the real amounts of cheating! He proudly said that they made an additional 50% profits than what they would have made. Newspaper item be damned! I had gone to his office just after the latest raid. He was in a sombre mood, so I asked him what happened to his “I don’t care” attitude? He said that his mother had given him a piece of mind. She rightly asked him that when the family has so much money why do all this wrong stuff? He had no answer to that. I asked him, “How will answer HIM when you reach the pearly gates?” He again had no answer. He died a few years later and I hope that HIS immigration authorities did not trouble him too much; I am told that they do not accept bribes!    

Terms, Politics and Moral Turpitude can be treated as synonyms. Moral turpitude is a legal concept in the United States and some other countries that refers to “an act or behaviour that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community”. The concept of “moral turpitude” might not have precise definition, but it has been described as an “act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man. Very rarely do we see politicians who do not fit this definition.

Politics has supposedly started with a view of doing social work. Hundred years back we really had politicians who took this work as their life’s mandate, did everything as God’s work. But today’s politicians do the “Social Work” only for power and making money. We have hundreds of examples where politicians have made money that could last their seven generations. At least one good part is they do it openly and are not ashamed of doing these deeds. Moral Corruption has taken over the politics and it appears that the things will go from bad to worse.  

Once in a while educated and polished people do enter the politics. But to me today is sad in the life of Pune city. Vivek Velankar, social worker, an engineer by training, worked in IT area for 15 years and then took a plunge in social work. He was doing a good job and people like him are the safety valve to the conundrum called our liberal, democratic society. Such persons ask tough questions when needed and debates happen and many times right decisions are finally taken. Today he has joined the forces with a group of people in Pune, who feel that making it mandatory to wear helmets while riding two-wheelers is wrong. Unfortunately for them, the Supreme Court has given this ruling so nobody can change it.  This group argues that it is the concern of the individuals to decide what is safe for them. They will do whatever they want. But the statistics have shown that in fatal two-wheeler accidents at least 90% riders are helmetless. Many get major head injuries; ultimately it is a burden on the health system of the society because only so many hospitals can be built and run. Persons like Velankar should be helping the government agencies and the courts using their forum to make sure that riders wear helmets. If people like him take this awkward stand the unnecessary confrontations happen, police system is burdened to catch non-users. What is achieved? I used to drive two-wheeler to work in the late ’70s. All the time I used to wear a helmet! It was not compulsory then!  

We have read about morally corrupted people in public life! M J Akbar was supposed to be a thinking writer, editor and publisher. Sanjay Gandhi was another example; his aim was to get people thinking strongly about population control but the way he bulldozed was simply not acceptable! Trump giving sermons is a big joke; he is well known for his funny ways in personal life and business practices. A President of a large, developed nation like the USA using doctored videos for the political propaganda is simply not acceptable.

Life is full of surprises, you never know what you may find about someone, whom you think you know well! Of course, I do not know Mr Ghosn. But my friends’ attitude towards life came out into open after Income Tax raids. People talk of social work, donations, nation first and all such moral things but real life when their mask opens up, you only feel surprised and sad! How much money does a man really need? Maybe I am too naive! But one thing I know, how much land does a man need! It cannot exceed 6’*3′!

 

 

          

Is everything fine with this world?

Famines, Fevers and Fights is the troika that has been ruling the world for a long, long time! Not that situation has changed much but the effects of this troika appear to be under control. Why was this happening in this world? What led to such situations? What were the issues that brought the human race to their knees? Was everything well with life? Were people happy when the troika controlled everything and kept humans on the leash?

We, humans, are such that we get used to everything in life. We get used to poverty, we get used to wealth, we get used to disabilities, we get used to a continuous state of war, with a break in between! Till the second world war, somewhere in the world, fights led to disputes, which would result in the war of words, finally into the real war. These wars have killed so many people that during any century, these would contribute significantly to the death toll.  The number of casualties in WW I was forty million and in WW II were 60 million which was 30% of those of the then world population of 2.3 Billion! Now deaths are more due to man-made reasons, old age than due to illnesses and wars that could not be controlled.

Famine deaths have been very common but during the last 50 to 70 years famines have been manageable. It’s not that the crops have not been failing, there have been seasons of no rain. In Australia, it did not rain for five years in a certain area. It was interesting that the children born during that period could not understand the meaning of the poem “Rain, Rain Go Away”! A couple of years ago, due to poor rains in Maharashtra, water tanker trains hauled water 500 km away and helped alleviate the problems in Latur. The world still has a large number of people who don’t get food but it is the failure of management and food distribution system of the world. Food has been available in plenty. Farm and milk revolutions have created massive stocks about which governments don’t know what to do! There have been mountains of butter and stacks of milk powder which cannot be sold. Shortages and famines are much more controllable and are things not to be afraid of!

Why this troika is not feared anymore as it was 100 years back? Main reasons are the fast speed of financial growth, leading to plenty of everything; another reason is the improvement in the medical field, general cleanliness and hygiene! One more reason is that human race has become wiser and does not try and start a war at the drop of a hat! Nuclear Arms are the good deterrent! People have seen the effect of these on Hiroshima and Nagasaki! So, two sides may take belligerent stands but will try their utmost to see that wars are not actually started! Brink of war situations are many but the conversion ratio of the brink of war situation to the actual wars has become poorer leading to more peace than war.

The troika now looks to have been reined and if any of the three F’s bring up their heads, it is because of system failures or errors. Third F, Fights or wars, were the end result of Famine and Fever! Why is this so? It is because the human race felt helpless to control the outbreaks of first two F’s and would try to cure them or overcome them by invoking the Gods, praying to the Gods! In the famous Hindi movie Guide (1965), the people of the village take help of Dev Anand, whom they mistake as a Guru! They try to invoke the God taking Guru’s help! The helplessness created despondence in the human race and nobody ever thought that it was possible to overcome such issues!

The change in thought process came about because of plenty of good things, in fact, plenty of everything. Last 50 to 70 years have shown major changes in the two most populated nations in the world, China and India. China has been on the Maglev high-speed train of progress since the late 70’s. Now China has become number two world economy. It already manufacturers the largest number of cars in the world. It produces 55% of EV’s in the world!  India with its own 25 years of Bullet Train type of high-speed progress at the rate of 6 to 8% for last 25 years, is expected to become number three economy in the world in next 10 to 15 years. India manufactured 2.4 million two-wheelers in the last month. Both these nations are bringing out large number people from below poverty line every year. Things are looking rosy for the time being!

So, what should the world be afraid of? Why the world should be afraid of? The real world cannot have any vacuum! History tells us that something major happens somewhere in the world, all the time. There has to be a major flood or an earthquake or too much snow! There has to be a typhoon or a major accident! So, these things will keep on happening but the two major issues that could bring things to boil can be climate issues and bull in the China shop syndrome!

Climate issues are too well known and humans have been flogging the globe for a long time, in most cases knowingly, some cases unknowingly. Then there are “smart” world leaders like Mr Trump who has taken a decision that the USA should withdraw from worldwide climate control efforts! The other major irritants are terrorists and their organizations. They do some spectacular things like World Trade centre and Bombay attacks on Hotel Tajmahal! But compared to the calamities the human race has faced, on the scale of 1 to 10, these attacks could be at one or maximum two on the scale of ten! Their actions have TRP value, their actions have caused hurt to our psyches! Their actions are like flies flying around us. But some of the flies are smart and go inside the bull’s ear! The bull is always waiting around the China shop. Fall of Saddam Hussain was caused by a reaction by the world causing the irritation inside the ear of the bull known as the USA! It resulted into one-sided spectacular war; event almost on par with World Trade centre attack and destroyed Saddam’s Iraq!

Humans need to be careful about such reactions or like reactions by Mr Trump. By delaying actions on climate control humans might make irreversible damage! By leading to Iraq type of war, humans can press the wrong button leading to the catastrophe which the world has never seen before! The progress in high tech areas is at a breakneck speed. If we don’t keep track of what is happening in areas like AI, Biotech and others, some bad eggs could create an unprecedented disaster. All you may need is a bottle some highly poisonous liquid to be poured into the lake supplying water to large cities! All you may need is a mad set of people who can push the “modern virus” not the killer fever virus, but the computer variety. This attack could be a mutating type of attack and in a matter of hours can cripple everything like the movement of planes, cars and trains; banking operations, critical operations like satellite operations. Of course, I am talking of an Orwellian scenario! Things hopefully will remain controlled, such attacks could remain contained in a local area! But humans will have to remain alert, all the time. Outwardly everything will look fine but we will never know when the “attack” will come!

Humans took thousands of years to reach a reasonable state of stability; let us all remain together in our endeavour to keep the earth interesting but peaceful place! We will always be “blessed” with real-life characters like Saddam and Trump! But there are reasons like Himalayas, Alps and Rockies to ignore them. Let us all work together to retain the beauty of Niagara Falls, Machi Pichu and Tajmahal. Let us keep the atmosphere such that we have more Tagore’s and Shakespeare than having more Hitlers and Mussolini’s! Let us enjoy beaches and forests rather than creating forests of buildings! Let us fill the Vacuum, I have talked about, with better and better glorious things!  But this will make us work hard on climate change and pollution. Let New Delhi, (the most polluted city in the world)  be the first city which will be able to see the Sunrise and Sunset every day!

Meandering!

 

Meandering means following a winding course. This adjective is used for rivers. I saw some beautiful pictures of meandering rivers, on the net and felt like sharing with you! The river water just takes its course following the path of least resistance. Today my thoughts are meandering like the river and jump from one thought to another, just meandering along. In my city Pune, we have two rivers called Mutha and Mula. Their confluence is within the city. Mutha river has a path which hardly meanders, in fact, the river hardly has any water around the year. I am generous in this description. In any year, there are only 3 to 4 days when it can be called a river otherwise it is a stream! This is during monsoons when the upstream dams get full!

Yesterday my day started with a phone call from my friend Shrikant who is holidaying in Spain and Portugal. A rumour had reached him that a dam upstream of the river Mutha had broken and water was flowing above one of the bridges. Thanks to social media! I told him that there was a breach in the canal which draws water from the dam. The breach had caused a bit of flooding in the shanties along the canal, causing damage to homes of many families. As the water kept on coming on an extremely busy major road, there was a traffic jam in large part of the city. In the social media, the breach in canal got converted into a dam breakage!

Another friend who is currently in the US, sent me a message that I have become old, after reading my blog “What really is Romance?” I sent him 🤣🤣 as a reply! Dilip and I were classmates and both are around 70. I was wondering how I suddenly became old with one blog? My definition of romance was being together, sharing everything with each other, face life’s tough situations with a smile, together. Just a touch of hand and caress is romance. These are practicalities of life and has nothing to with age Dilip! Personally, I feel that I am around 45, age-wise, when I am in the gym I feel as if I am 55! Never in my life yet I have felt my real age around 70. Five years back I underwent cancer treatment. My health was down for about six months but even during the treatment my zest for the life never went down.

Our Supreme Court has taken five major decision a short span of last ten days. The interesting part is that 3 of them involved something related to sex. First one was about the gays. Now gays can openly move around in the society, maybe with their heads high. But I always used to wonder what is normal? A man and woman have liking for each other, have sex and make babies. As against that two men or women have liking for each other, have sex and obviously can’t make babies. What is abnormal in that? What was illegal in that? Why their heads had to be down? The gays are made such by nature. Do we mean to say that in “normal” people there are no freaks, there are no perverts, there is no rapist? In fact, rapists are the worst normal persons who go and rape kids, they go and rape even old women of the age of 70 plus.

Next one is about adultery. Finally, the Victorian era seems to be coming to an end – the judgment on Section 497 is progressive in many ways. In the context of changing social realities of our times, especially the transforming gender equations. Justice Chandrachud has cited the violation of Articles 14 and 21, saying that Section 49 perpetuates the subordinate status of women, denies them dignity and sexual autonomy, and is based on gender stereotypes. Previous law said that in the case of adultery if a man had consensual sex with a woman without permission from her husband, he could be arrested. The judgement has removed the criminality from the law. It is allowing women sexual autonomy! We are moving with times!

The latest one is about Sabarimala Devasthanam. They did not permit ladies between the age of 10 and 50 to pay their obeisance at the Devasthanam. They declared that women in this age group have their menstrual cycles active hence they are impure! Hence, they should not visit! Men who had taken this decision seem to forget that they came into this world because their mother had an active menstrual cycle and had sex with someone. They are the result of these two so-called impure acts! This is the tact used by men in patriarchal society to control things the way they wanted it. The court has said that in the democratic nation, rights of individuals are above the so-called traditions which have formed in a society and the thought process, which is totally irrelevant today. Some years back there was an incident. There was a case of theft at Sabarimala and 35-year DCP came to investigate. To the horror of the priests, the officer was a lady! Of course, she went inside and did her job!

Then there was the famous case of Babri Masjid. Supreme Court has given a decision that the case has nothing to do with religion and should be treated as a civil suit. According to the verdict, it is simply a land dispute case and will be decided based on the evidence available.

The last case is about the so-called intellectuals arrested by Pune police. A big noise was made by intellectuals about freedom of speech and freedom of expression. They claimed that it is a politically motivated case and should be summarily dismissed. Supreme Court has said that there is evidence to prove that these intellectuals were connected with a disbanded Maoist organization who have various plans, including bringing down the Indian Government by using force! What is it with these intellectuals? They do not say a word when Maoists kill people, last week two MLA’s in Telangana were murdered. Sometimes back 71 security forces were killed in an IED attack. Not a word of protest. These people have been praising terrorists as if they are freedom fighters fighting for India. Under the garb of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, these folks and their followers make statements which an enemy would generally make. When terrorists are killed, these guys write to the Human Rights Commission. But when security forces are brutally kidnapped and murdered, they are away on a holiday to cold climes! They are strong followers of communism at its worse, though all over the world communism has died.

Ignorance is bliss they say but is not treating your medical issues on time the right thing to do? Heard this one from a neurologist. The patient was diagnosed for MS, multiple sclerosis. This condition is tough on your body. The doctor further said that this has been going on for five years! Why do people delay going to doctors? The person accompanying the patient mentioned that he also suffered from diabetes, which currently was well controlled. Only thing is that the he needs dialysis twice a week, side effect of “controlled diabetes!” Amen!

On a lighter note, thank Mr Trump for starting a trade war with China. Mercedes Benz is now exporting their cars to the USA, from India instead of China! So long….