Democracy in Action


The biggest news this past week was the outcome of the Indian Elections (of course, Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi get to dominate the useless news emanating from Washington D.C., for the most part). The coverage by the Western media was mostly indifferent, ranging from an objective matter-of-fact coverage by Associated Press to a hugely opinionated piece published by The New York Times. Such a wide range is to be expected, but I was taken aback by some of the vitriolic media coverage against the outcome, which is that the ruling BJP Party won a very comfortable majority on its own.

While many world leaders sync with Mr Modi (like Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Shinzo Abe) on right-wing political philosophy and a strong-man macho image, it is rather strange that the Western media continues to cast aspersions on the Indian democratic process, as though the Western nations are all above board. I do not have a specific agenda or orientation when it comes to Indian politics and the choice of parties in the elections per se, but I have one thing in common with most people around the world: the trust in the fact that India continues to be the single largest democracy in the world with over 900M voters out of who some 600M people actually voted in the recent Parliament elections, in a mostly transparent process. No other country can match this democratic electoral feat – not China, not the U.S. It takes couple of months to complete the elections in India, but one single day of counting to publish the official results. Elections happening in Asia are no less sacrosanct or less trustworthy when compared to those happening in the U.S. or elsewhere. As we all know, the Presidential Elections of 2016 in which Donald Trump won is suspect due to Russian meddling in the U.S. elections (we do not firmly know that Russia meddled, we have to trust Robert Mueller!). So the moral high ground from which the U.S. can lecture the so-called Third World nations is questionable. It is not that the U.S. government is doing the lecturing, but the arm-chair opinion makers do so with not much involvement on ground realities, and they are mostly left-wing, liberal analysts.

Well, now let us come to the results of the Indian elections. It was a totally surprising result – very few psephologists projected an absolute majority for the BJP, though it was clear for the past few months that the party will form a government with close to 50% of the seats in the Parliament. The elitist, liberal view was that the BJP would have to pay for rising youth unemployment, agricultural farmer problems, the demonetisation fiasco, rising levels of hate crimes, and so on and so forth. The right-wing view was also very clear: the BJP will win handsomely, and form a government on its own (even without its allies).

We now know that the latter view prevailed. India overwhelmingly voted for the BJP, totally obliterating the Indian National Congress and the Nehru / Indira Gandhi / Rajiv Gandhi / Sonia Gandhi / Rahul Gandhi dynasty once and for all. It will not be possible for the Congress to resurrect itself, unless it kicks out Rahul Gandhi and conducts professional party elections, both of which will not happen. The Congress is disorganized and demoralized. The regional parties are equally shattered, except in South India.

So, Mr Modi is entering his second term as India’s Prime Minister, which may be a good thing from the perspective of continuity and continued execution of some of his better policies. He has to focus on generating youth employment, improving the infrastructure for manufacturing, attending to the huge issue of the agricultural economy and farmers’ problems, and in general, focusing heavily on the economy. The GDP growth rate has to accelerate well beyond 7.5% to generate big benefits to the Indian population. The BJP should not get cocky about its dominance and start making strategic mistakes like what the Congress did for over 5 decades of their inconsistent governance. History does teach lessons when it comes to politics and government!

Mr Modi also needs to reassure all Indian citizens that they are equal in his eyes and in the eyes of his party and government. He is the Prime Minister for all of India and not just for the Hindus. He cannot condone hate crimes and atrocities against the minorities. His past silence in the face of such crimes and atrocities has been construed as his acquiescence towards his Hindutva philosophy and the RSS ideology. He should come out firmly and embrace all people of India, irrespective of their religion, caste or creed. This is an absolute must for the continued social peace and integration of India, and this fact would surely be not lost on Mr Modi.

There are many WhatsApp messages coming in from various connected groups on the pros and cons, and analyzing the media coverage of the Indian elections. In my opinion, most of these are meaningless. The elections have been fought democratically and won democratically. Period. The matter ends there. The Indian electorate should now look forward to a vastly improved governance, an enhanced GDP growth rate, more job creation, increased manufacturing (leveraging the problems faced by China in its trade war with the U.S.), and peace.

I would like to wish Mr Modi all success in building a resurgent, dynamic India for all its people.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

25th May 2019

Globalization is Dead……….almost


For the past two decades or so, “globalization” was a sacrosanct terminology, not just in business but across the entire world. It was revered as the capitalistic solution to solving all the ills of the global economy. Several famous authors have written entire books on this concept of globalization, which have endeared millions of people.

Nothing wrong with the concept itself. In simple terms, “globalization” aims for a borderless world, with supply chains spread all over the world, providing jobs and revenues to countries which had been left out in the blitzkrieg of capitalism. Flow of capital and labour was supposed to follow the opportunities and cost arbitrage. China was the first country to figure out how all this works to their advantage, and over the past quarter century it has built up an incredible economy to rival that of the U.S. and the European Union, leveraging the supply side economics. Of course, it had all the advantages, such as a very low cost labour force, frictionless manufacturing and logistics capabilities, a non-bureaucratic way of governmental functioning, and a fierce commitment towards upgrading the lives of more than a billion people (which other countries lacked in various measures). Would you be surprised to learn that in 1993, the size of the Indian economy was about the same as that of China, but now China’s economy is some 5 times bigger than that of India? I am not, as I am from India, and understand full well that it takes a long while for an elephant to join the economic dance compared to a dragon which is swifter and more agile.

However, now globalization has had its full run, and its impact is waning with the onslaught of economic inequalities – wage disparities are so high that people are not able to sustain their lives while the corporate executives earn 100 times or more. Work as a denominator of productivity should lead to higher wages (not just in the U.S. of course), reduce wage disparities, and generate wealth eventually. Uniform wealth distribution is neither feasible nor possible, but people must have wage growth and more money in their hands to invest. Their nest eggs have to grow as well.

Apart from the inequality factor staring at their faces, Capitalists also have to contend with the new emergence of Socialism, as exemplified by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and others in the U.S. These are powerful voices emanating from the U.S. Capitol and cannot be ignored. The youngsters movement is gathering speed, and most young people are disgusted with corporate excesses and greed.

More and more countries are instituting protectionist trade policies, taking the cue from the U.S. At least the economically stronger countries are following this approach, as their domestic markets are big enough to sustain their economies and on the flip side, cannot be ignored by huge market making corporations. For instance, despite eCommerce Retail policies recently promulgated by the Indian government (to support local companies), Amazon and Walmart cannot ignore the size of the Indian consumer market. While protectionism will rear its head (in the same old fashioned ways from yesteryears), the MNCs have to figure out a suitable way to tackle policy issues, and still grow their business, as their growth can only come from outside their home countries (while their biggest share of profits come from their own home countries).

Where does all this lead us to?

Globalization is going to become rather selective – only if there is serious benefit to both parties, instead of 80% benefit to just one party. The manner in which the U.S. has dealt with China in the recent trade war shows that it is entirely possible to leverage sheer buying power to push the other party to come to the table and negotiate. Actions speak definitely louder than words, and the U.S. has demonstrated that by imposing tariffs which have started biting the suppliers’ top market. For a foreseeable future, the U.S., followed by the EU, will continue to be the world’s top two markets for almost anything that China can produce. India is emerging to be the third such top market, but it has someway to go.

Globalization should never have meant “loss of jobs” in the consuming market. While some jobs will be lost, entire industries disappearing was not postulated under the economic and market globalization theory. Free market philosophies failed to forecast that there will be serious impact to the consuming economies while most of the manufacturing jobs shift to the newly producing economies. The resulting trade imbalance was tolerated while economies were growing just about fine, but when the rust belt disappeared and key high tech manufacturing jobs started migrating elsewhere, the U.S. had to take action. Both George W Bush and Barack Obama did not do anything specific to counter this trend and negotiate with China to reduce the trade imbalance. Trump is the first President who ever dared China to respond, forced China to negotiate, and probably he will also be the first President to win a trade war with China.

Globalization and supply chain coordination will now take a “slightly” back seat, as other economic factors such as protectionism, short term labour issues, and socialism take precedence across the world. Leveraging trade prowess is nothing new but is now seen as a bulwark against one-sided globalization. Asian countries have benefited a lot over the past three decades or so, but now they have to redraft their economic, market and trade strategies to align with the emergence of these new forces in world trade, capital flows, labour movements, and the pressing need for political leaders to respond to their electorate on such issues. Economics 101 is now a critical aspect for running an election, and we will see that in the next U.S. Presidential Elections 2020.

Have a wonderful weekend folks,

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

04 May 2019

So Trump is CLEAN


Finally, the Mueller Report is out.

Though the Attorney General’s Office has redacted a number of things in the report that was released to the Congress and the general public last Thursday, the conclusion of the report is crystal clear: Trump and his Presidential Campaign did not collude or coordinate with the Russian Government to try and influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections, which Donald Trump won against Hillary Clinton.

Why are the Democrats then persisting with the Russia collusion theory? Is it not clear to one and all that Donald Trump is now “clean” with no taint of Collusion with Russia?

Apparently not totally clean.

The issues on the table are two-fold: one is the “obstruction of justice” charge on which Mueller did not make any specific conclusion and left it for Congress to take further action, as the evidence against Trump was not rock solid. The other is the unfortunate manner in which William Barr, the Attorney General, portrayed the report in his press conference held ahead of the release of the report to Congress – totally siding with the President’s position all along, which has been “no collusion, no obstruction”.

And, as Trump says often, the Democrats will never be satisfied on any aspect of the investigation which goes against their expectations.

I agree with President Trump. One has to be totally prepared for the outcome of any independent investigation, irrespective of the outcome as such. One cannot keep praising the independent nature of the investigation by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and then when his conclusions are unpalatable, raise new angles and new doubts and cause disruptions to the effective functioning of an already disrupted and damaged U.S. Government. I am saying this notwithstanding similar damages caused by the Republicans to the Obama administration. Mutual recriminations based on ideology and dislike of a specific individual (Obama by Republicans and Trump by Democrats) are not a civil way to resolve governmental or legislative problems and take the country forward.

I think Trump suffered during the past two years of his Presidency, because he did not know for sure what would happen to him under the Mueller investigation. He was unsure, disoriented, combative, and dysfunctional. That would explain the daily rants that he delivered over his Twitter feed. Some of his utterings could easily have been cited in a Court of Law, if he were a private individual, to his detriment. But then he is the President of the U.S., and a sitting President cannot be indicted. May be if he loses the next election, he can still be indicted as a private individual.

So, we should give him a break, and let him conclude his Presidential term without further legal disruptions not based on fact or strong proven evidence. I am not saying that the Democrats should not fight him on the election front – they have to do that by all means aggressively, given that Trump is going to leverage his “total exoneration” at the hands of the Special Counsel for his electoral campaign in a hugely significant manner. Democrats should stop wasting time now that the report is out, and focus on defeating Trump at the hustings.

To clarify matters, I am personally not a Trump supporter – I only feel that some of his policies are appropriate (not all) for the effective functioning of the government. Securing the borders, protecting the interests of the U.S. when it comes to trade and intellectual property, asking allies not to depend entirely on the U.S. for their security but to increase their own defence investments, seeking a rapprochement with sworn enemies like North Korea by proactively adopting unconventional means, and so on cannot be construed as the misguided actions of a deviant President. He has a right to his own contrarian views and policy directions, and he has repeatedly demonstrated his commitment to those policies by showing the door to those on his team who do not subscribe to his vision. I cannot find anything wrong in his approach, though his hire and fire cabinet has caused discomfort at the Capitol and depicted a sense of dysfunctional government to the general public.

In a nutshell, the Congress should let President Trump govern and run the administration, while keeping a tight leash on his spending and new legislation which do not correspond with their sense of fairness or appropriateness. There is no point in causing constant hurdles simply because the Republicans did that to Obama, and without solid evidence of any wrong doing.

This is my view, and I am ready to be challenged. I wish to caution that appearance of collusion is not a credible legal charge, and appearance of obstruction of justice is also not a credible accusation. It looks like President Trump was bad and sometimes incorrigible in his tweets, he obviously lied in his tweets, he made bad policy decisions, he fired cabinet officials he did not like and more, but all that put together or analyzed separately do not provide adequate evidence of offences worthy of impeachment.

So everyone should get back to work in the U.S. Government and the U.S. Congress. That will also help the ROW (Rest of The World) take a breather from the daily fun show, perpetuated so well by stand up comedians. Not that we don’t like the same, but more of the same in the absence of more news or fake news will be absolutely boring. Right?

Have a wonderful week ahead, folks.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

21st April 2019

Theresa May’s Chaotic Nation


As every week passes, the U.K. is teetering towards the edge of a dangerous precipice. We are seeing this getting played out on TV almost every day, and wondering what is it that intelligent, educated folks in the most civilized and developed region of the world could not resolve to their mutual satisfaction.

As is to be expected, the U.K. thinks that it always has a “superior” edge compared to any other nation or bloc in the world, and it is not just “any other” country. It is special and used to rule a world when the Sun never set on the British Empire! Is it surprising to find out that the British Government is cocky as ever, and is now run by an indefatigable tough and unforgiving woman who just cannot be beaten in the political game?

However, the European Union (EU) does not subscribe to the above general view that the British are a superior country and could dictate terms even when they want to leave the EU. There has been a general hardening of views on this matter amongst the more poweful members of the EU such as Germany and France. The Brussels folks have been giving a tough time to Theresa May every time she had come calling – always seeking more concessions, to get out of the hole she has created for herself in the U.K. Parliament. To be fair, it is her own Conservative Party which has risen against her autocracy in the Brexit affair, and already defeated her in two Parliamentary votes. What is her credibility in the eyes of the EU politicians and bureaucrats, when she is repeatedly getting booted out by her own party men and women?

Now this has taken more than 32 months and the end is still not in sight. Apart from the Parliament, the Cabinet, businesses, banks and citizens of the U.K. are wondering where all this is going to end up. Businesses are already departing from the U.K. and economic growth is stalling. The British Pound is under pressure. No body knows with any level of certainty how things will work out, and this instability is affecting business decision-making and steering away investments by global corporations. There is no sense of direction or guidance from the government side. People have been left to fend for themselves ultimately, and this fiasco has led them to question the very basis and wisdom of Brexit.

The underlying fundamental issue for Britain in Brexit is all about sovereignty. British people do not wish to subjugate themselves under the rules perpetuated by the EU, they do not want European elections to impact Britain, they do not like the EU’s privacy laws and tax regulations, and what not. I do not yet understand, if that be the case, how come the mighty Britain was under EU rule for the past 47 years? Why did it subject itself to such a free-wheeling, liberal rule in the first place?

Obviously, it was because of the huge economic benefits. Apart from labour mobility, trade in goods was to the advantage of Britain. Even now, Britain’s share of the EU imports is over 44%. The British have always enjoyed trade advantages over the rest of the world and they have effectively leveraged it when dealing within the EU arrangement for the past nearly half century.

Of course, if now Brexit happens, the EU will not only collect the fine due as a result of the divorce from Britain, but also impose trade restrictions which would place Britain on par with other non-EU countries which will be disliked totally by British government. But then you cannot have the cake and eat it too, right?

The Irish backstop has caused huge disconnect in the British psyche. As far as the EU is concerned, the South and North parts of Ireland are separate and distinct. The Republic of Ireland stays within the EU as it is – so there may be EU Customs checks between the two Irelands, which cannot be done as per the Nineties agreement resolving the violent Irish dispute, whereby the border between the two parts of Ireland is supposed to be fully open (I may not be accurate on this topic).

So Brexit could challenge the way the British think about Ireland.

All told, it is a totally confusing and demoralizing time for the British people, who are already suffering from very high taxes and wreaking infrastructure. With the tough immigration stance taken by the government, it is likely that foreign university candidates would reduce their focus on the U.K. Large banks are already planning for a no Brexit deal kind of situation. There will be no new manufacturing investments coming to the U.K. anymore, as the goods produced cannot be exported to the EU without import taxes. It looks like impending gloom everywhere, but then the British are known to negotiate their way out of rather tight spots in the past.

So we can expect something before the new deadline of 22nd May imposed by the EU. Theresa May is likely to lose the third vote in the Parliament on Brexit, so the 12th April dateline will, most likely, be not achieved.

It is amazing to note that, in typical political fashion, it has taken nearly 3 years for the U.K. to get out of the EU in a bad way – what does this say about British skills in getting all that they want, while shortchanging every other partner?

The EU politicians are hedging their bets as well. My suspicion is that they need Britain to stay on in the EU, if only they could manage that outcome with increased sops – but then, not all the 27 EU members will play ball, and such a concessionary approach will also set a bad precedence for the EU in case some other EU nation wants to leave the Union.

Big, unraveling story with not so much of a happy ending for either side is to be played out in the coming days and weeks.

Enjoy the Brexit show.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

24th March 2019

Why the rich shun taxes


Anyone who has followed the World Economic Forum debates would have surely chanced upon the illuminating one in which Dutch Historian Rutger Bregman heavily criticised the rich for not paying their share of taxes.

The traditional view of economics and politics has been that the rich would want to be taxed less, as they believe that they could directly contribute to nation-building in a more productive and efficient manner, instead of letting governments fritter away the increased taxes in an irresponsible and inefficient manner. After all, is it not true that business entrepreneurs are more adept in building functioning businesses and creating more jobs with the increased money that is available to them by way of reduced taxation?

Sounds good and appropriate?

May be not.

Our societies (in almost all countries) are characterised by income inequalities and non-inclusive growth benefitting few rather than the many. Inclusive growth remains a dream for many nations which aspire to equitable income distribution and growth benefits for all. Is it wise to just leave this most important objective of governments and societies to the whims and fancies of the richest people of the world? Of course, there have been good examples of the very rich people like Bill Gates, but there are also many, many bad or poor examples of rich folks who do not invest their less-taxed money on much-needed job creation or philanthropy.

Achieving a reasonable level of income equality is a very essential pre-requisite for national economic development. Such equality will then extend to education and healthcare for the citizens. As we know intuitively, any society will develop in a holistic manner if we address education, healthcare, infrastructure and systemic issues plaguing the society leading to crime and inner-city violence, etc., So, equitable income distribution is an absolute must for a society to develop faster without its attendant ills, and put it firmly on a path to economic and social growth.

But then, the rich do not want to pay more taxes. As the U.S. just demonstrated, the U.S. Congress successfully passed the tax reform bill which essentially reduced the tax rates for the wealthy (Republicans favour less taxes and less role for government in nation-building as core fundamental principles of their Party). When the wealthiest nation in the world is not playing ball to raise taxes on its most wealthy citizens, it means that the rest of the world is going to be disillusioned, thinking probably that they are on the wrong trajectory, based on what some academics state in their opinion pieces. Then the world would lose its battle against income inequality.

I quote here from the World Economic Forum 2019 event transcripts (I could not resist it!): “The ratio between executive pay and that of an average worker has grown from 30:1 in 1978 to 312:1 today. The top income tax rates in 1970 worldwide was 62%; that has been negotiated down to less than 38% in rich countries, and 28% in developing countries. In many countries, high tax rates on the rich have been abolished, while $170 billion every year is taken to tax havens.”

I am sure it is clear to my readers where the developed world is headed: less and less taxes for their wealthy (as their governments probably do not need the increased tax collections that are absolutely possible and needed for reducing their own countries’ income inequalities and providing for their homeless people sleeping on the streets). This is not a good thing even for the developed world.

What about developing countries? Many developing countries are unfortunately characterised by heavy levels of corruption, money laundering, stashing of illegal money, public bribing to win elections illegitimately, and weak systems of judiciary to counter the encroachment by the executive and the self-serving legislatures. This has become a never ending downward spiral of less and less money being devoted to national development and eliminating poverty. Of course, we can argue that pulling poor people above the line of poverty is a more urgent need in these countries than accomplishing income equality or reducing income inequality. But then, the poverty lines are set so low that it would take many generations before the poor folks could reach any semblance of equality in the society, while at the same time not having equal access to education and healthcare.

It is important for governments to realise that they cannot forsake the development of their countries by surrendering to blackmail by their rich people to take the business elsewhere, like what many tech companies did in the U.S. over the past couple of decades. Under pressure from President Trump’s administration, companies like Apple have finally agreed to bring their money back from low tax jurisdictions to the U.S. and invest in job creation in the U.S. [sorry folks, I have to give credit where it is absolutely due, and in this particular case, President Trump did the right thing to exert pressure that was much needed to make tech companies behave – after all, they should show some patriotism, not just driven by economic greed caused by low taxes elsewhere].

It is not at all surprising that the rich do not wish to pay more taxes, and are, in fact, working to persuade their governments to reduce not just their income taxes but even their inheritance taxes. They mostly think they are smarter (and most of them are) than the rest of us. They think that they are capable of strongly influencing their politicians and governments. They think that they can invest the extra money left in their hands in ways wiser than what their own governments can do.

Well, well, now you get the overall picture – where the society is and where the rich at the top are. Don’t get me wrong – it is not illegal to be rich, but it is unconscionable not to be willing to pay fair share of taxes or avoid and evade taxes altogether. What happened to the people in the middle and bottom of the pyramid who helped the rich man’s enterprise to get to where it is today? Without them, can anything of value be produced in any industry or business? Did they get their due share of incomes? Did the rich even bother to find out if these folks got their fair access to education for their children, healthcare for their families, and so on and so forth. Did the governments bother at all? As long as democratically elected governments are subservient to purely economic interests, the situation on the ground is unlikely to change, and income inequalities will continue to persist.

Good to think about during a Sunday………..

Have a great week ahead, folks.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

10th March 2019

The pro-life argument


On this one thing of life and death, I am proud to be termed as a “conservative”.

I know that I am liberal (in U.S. terminology I am “left of centre” or left-wing liberal – which I do not agree with as I believe I am a centrist on most issues) in my views (both political and social), as opposed to right-wing conservative views. Being a liberal or a conservative comes from personal experiences and an understanding of what is good for the society as a whole, not just for oneself. It takes some analysis of the environment, politics, and society. It is not easy to “assume” a pole position because that is how the world sees your position. Irrespective of what the world thinks of you, you do have an absolute independent right to think what you want and position yourself in philosophical terms as a thinker in your own right. Who can challenge that?

So, let us now analyze one thing on which I side with the so-called conservatives. We do not have this kind of discussion in Singapore or India, but unfortunately the world gets influenced by what happens in the U.S. on most things. Though both India and Singapore are more conservative on social issues than the U.S., I have not seen such matters discussed in public or court of law, thereby prudently avoiding social disputes which could be rather disruptive.

However, in the so-called first-world great power of the U.S. there are many things being discussed which depicts a society in constant conflict with itself, such as racism against blacks, hatred towards immigrants, vindictiveness against people who hold opposing views, and amongst many such issues, abortion.

Abortion is an extremely sensitive topic in the U.S. My readers would be aware of the landmark Roe vs Wade judgement of 1973 by the Supreme Court of the U.S. I am not going to delve into it, except to say that ruling legalized abortion rights of women. If you have been following U.S. politics of late, you would have witnessed the U.S. Congress members questioning judicial appointees if they support the above judgement. In general (though not always), the Democrats support the abortion rights of women, and the Republicans do not support. President Trump has indicated that he is pro-life, which is another way of saying that once conceived, women lose the right to a legal abortion.

As I said earlier, we do not discuss abortion in our part of the world. However, I felt compelled to write about this topic as it applies to the U.S., as I read about “late-term” abortion laws enacted by some states in the U.S. I personally believe that once you hear and record the foetal (fetal) heartbeats, then any abortion amounts to taking the life of the foetus away from this world without its consent. I am not going to be liked by the abortion proponents in the U.S., as this subject matter is close to the heart of the left-wing liberals as opposed to the right-wing conservatives. I do not wish to colour this matter as a religious topic on which the Church, for example, would have a say. That is not the case (though the Catholic Church opposes abortion, to be sure). In my mind, what matters is the decision-making power of the individual woman who has conceived, and is staring at the possibility of abortion.

This is a hot topic in the U.S. as you can imagine, especially in the light of the change in the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court towards the addition of more conservative judges by President Trump over the past couple of years. Both Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavenaugh are ambiguous on the Roe vs Wade judgement which is acting as precedence for the Supreme Court – given a strong case, they could tilt the court towards an anti-abortion judgement. The liberals are mortally scared of that possibility.

Notwithstanding that possibility, my contention is simple: does a human have the right to take away the life of an unborn (or going to be born) human, once it is unambiguously proved that the would be new-born is having heartbeats, and breathing like any other human? do we misconstrue this issue as the “inviolable right of a woman over her body” rather than a life & death matter, which needs to be investigated further? This is not about legal precedence or religious opinion. It is about making the right decision when that decision involves a new life. How can we compartmentalize this issue as women’s constitutional right only? What about the rights of the unborn baby?

There are ongoing multiple challenges to Roe vs Wade in various state courts in the U.S., such as in Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, Florida, etc., While these challenges would be vehemently opposed by organizations such as Planned Parenthood, American Civil Liberties Union, various womens’ and medical associations, the point is that this is not about securing or re-securing a constitutional right, this is not about liberals vs conservatives, and this is not about the Democrats vs the Republicans.

This issue is much larger.

I am not going to conclude on this matter here with my own prescription to solve the problem, I am just positioning the same in my own light, as I felt strongly about foetal heartbeats occurring in general six weeks into a pregnancy. So, now we are faced with a huge human challenge, which only humans can address and resolve. Not the politicians, not the courts, not any religion. May be Roe vs Wade will go unchallenged. May be women will continue to enjoy their constitutional right to aborting their foetuses anytime irrespective of the heartbeats. But one thing is for sure, Americans need more education on this topic than what has been offered to them in schools.

I know that abortion is a very sensitive topic – an extremely touchy subject to most women. I am not against their legal rights. I am just wondering if we have missed the pro-life argument posed by a heart-beating foetus, if it had a chance to present its case in a court of law?

Some critical thing to think about, right?

Of course, I welcome brickbats and strong retaliation from my women readers. As a generally neutral centrist, I welcome their feedback – positive or very negative, no problem with that. If I have to change my views, then there has to be an extremely strong rebuttal, for sure.

Cheers, and have a great week ahead, folks,

Vijay Srinivasan

3rd February 2019


The elusive Nobel Peace Prize


Former U.S. President Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, as we all know – he probably deserved it, though I am not able to pinpoint one single accomplishment which would have motivated the Awards Committee to select him. Though President Obama is not my favourite, he obviously deserved the award for his peace-making efforts around the world and for his push towards nuclear non-proliferation.

It is very obvious that the current U.S. President Donald Trump never liked that Nobel Prize going to Obama, and is probably of the strong view that if there is any U.S. President who deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, it can only be him. He thinks he has eliminated the North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile threat by schmoozing with Chairman Kim Jong Un, building a personal rapport with him, walking around the summit hotel venues, wasting U.S. taxpayer money, and giving rambling press conferences at the end of his rather useless summits. He did one with Chairman Kim Jong Un in Singapore in June 2018 with huge fanfare, and he has just “un”finished another one in Hanoi, Vietnam earlier this week.

And, he expects the Nobel Awards Committee to take note of his peace overtures towards North Korea, and probably award him the 2019 Noble Peace Prize for his huge, earth-shattering peace accomplishment. Does anyone, just anyone (excluding his Republican Party supporters) believe him? Why would the august committee of Nobel Prize foundation even recognize him?

    President Trump has the distinction of singularly destroying the credibility of the U.S. Presidency and the U.S. Congress and other government institutions
    He is the first President ever who has abused and misused Twitter to communicate not only his views on sensitive foreign policy matters, but also use it to attack his political opponents and detractors
    He is the first President to single out sitting Judges and attack them for judicial decisions which went against him
    He continues to rubbish the FBI, the CIA, the Dept of Justice, and the Office of the Special Counsel
    He actively schmoozes with dictators such as Chairman Kim Jong Un, President Putin, President Duterte, Crown Prince MBS, and so on and so forth – his explanations and justifications of why he does what he does are just laughable and his actions will eventually destroy the global standing and credibility of the U.S.
    He thinks he is larger than life, due primarily to his ability to “make” deals – he has tried to make deals only with dictators and murderous regimes, and even there, he has failed miserably. What happened to his “The Art of the Deal” credentials?
    He is totally unable and unwilling to make deals with democratically elected leaders, who are subject to the same democratic constraints that he is subjected to, which he totally ignores for his own personal interests

It is absolutely clear to one and all, that President Trump is a show-man from the world of real estate and casinos. He is gambling and acting only on his instinct – and this is a real low for U.S. diplomacy. When history is written, I am sure that his gullible approach to global diplomacy, his mistreatment of the closest allies, his mafia style “shell out the bucks or else” approach, his denigration of global institutions and also the U.S. democratic framework – all this and more will be covered in depth, as such a disastrous experiment cannot be repeated.

While there are very bad examples of how past U.S. Presidents indulged in regime changes around the world (the South American misadventures of CIA led to thousands of killings and disappearances) against the influx of Communism and Socialistic ideology, President Trump has taken a different approach towards destruction of democracy – he is doing irreparable damage not only around the world but more so within the U.S. itself. He has been responsible for re-emergence of racism which is despicable. People act on Presidential cues, and we see the results as unimaginable acts of racism against the Blacks across the U.S.

Well, if the Nobel Prize Committee chooses President Trump for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize because he achieved all of the above, while stopping the nuclear weapon testing by North Korea, then let us celebrate the demise of prudence and democracy around the world. Let us join the beautiful Dictators’ Club and help rationalize anti-democratic forces. When Michael Cohen said in his Congressional Testimony earlier this week that President Trump won’t go away quietly if he loses the next Presidential Elections, did I get goose bumps? You tell me.

Have a great weekend, folks,

Cheers

Vijay Srinivasan

2nd March 2019