A Reckless Mind-Altering President


Democracy is a demon.

How else can we describe the current sorry state of affairs in the U.S., which in turn is causing consternation all around the world?

At the outset, it is difficult to challenge the “simpleton” logic employed by Donald Trump.

  • Is it wrong to make an attempt to control illegal immigration?
  • Is it wrong to separate young children from their parents who are illegal immigrants?
  • Is it wrong to challenge China for its trade policies which have caused a huge lopsided trade deficit with the U.S.?
  • Is it wrong to arm twist the European Union on defence spending for their own protection?
  • Is it wrong to select a conservative Supreme Court Justice who shares common opinions with the President?
  • Is it wrong to impose customs tariffs on imported goods which affect American industries and cause unemployment?
  • Is it wrong to attempt to control legal immigration and disallow spouses of temporary legal corporate employees from working?
  • Is it right for American manufacturers to shift production to low-cost countries like what Harley Davidson has done?
  • Is it wrong to attack the “fake” media when it has been proven that there are instances when the real media reported fake news?
  • Is it wrong to attack long-standing American allies on trade, immigration and defence spending?
  • Is it right to exit from the U.N. Human Rights Council?
  • Is it right to throw away an international agreement with Iran which was signed by the previous Presidential administration?
  • Is it right to schmooze with President Putin of Russia when there is significant evidence that Russia had interfered with American Presidential Elections in 2016?
  • And so on, and so forth………..

Prima facie, it appears that the President is doing all the things that he committed to do while campaigning for the President job, and it also appears that he is right to carry out his commitments to the American people who elected him President, right?

Right. That’s for him.

Right. That’s for the vocal electorate in Middle America who voted for him.

Right. That’s for the coterie of his cabinet members who are not allowed to have their own unique opinion which could be different from those of the President.

Wrong. That’s for the rest of us.

But does he care? Absolutely not.

President Trump is convinced that he is doing the “right” thing for America and the American people. It is his unshakeable belief.

What he does not understand, or does not wish to understand, is that the U.S. is currently the #1 Nation impacting global policies in all facets of human life. Almost. When the U.S. is in such a unique and vaunted position, it is absolutely necessary for it to take the global impact into consideration, notwithstanding the fact that it could sometimes appear to be a philanthropic action, or cause temporary negative impact on the U.S. itself. Unfortunately, no other nation has been able to rise to the level of the U.S. over the past 70 odd years or so. American Presidents cannot be reckless and clueless about rules governing international law, trade, immigration, security, and diplomacy.

While what President Trump does to his people is his own business, Americans are now sufficiently global in their thinking that they should see through if their leader is violating global compacts and policies. Fortunately for President Trump, the U.S. economy has been doing well, and unemployment rate is falling. But, this is a time-sensitive phenomenon, and it only takes a couple of months before things start to unravel, as his trade policies are sure to cause trouble.

Global diplomacy is not about just getting to know each other, shaking hands and indulging in small talk. There is a huge amount of work which goes in, preparing for a global summit meeting. President Trump is now realizing that fact with reference to North Korea.

President Trump indulges in propagating fake news himself at his election rallies. There is only one single truth on every matter, and factual inaccuracies are mounting in his talk at his rallies where wild crowds of supporters cheer him on. He goes back to the White House with increased drive to continue his policies. His twitter feed has become a series of utterances against his “enemies”.

Overall, here is a President who self-indulges himself, berates constantly against his opponents, derides the Special Counsel investigation on Russian interference in U.S. elections, stumbles on conflicts of interests, communicates his racist tendencies, and his bad views on women in general. When a global leader of stature meets President Trump, what do you think will be going on in the mind of that global leader?

It is not hard to guess.

So, President Trump needs to get back to the basics of governance which are probably taught in a U.S. university of repute such as Georgetown in Washington DC itself, or consult past Presidents who could provide him some serious counselling. He needs to kick out sycophants from his Cabinet. He needs to listen to some seasoned leaders such as Angela Merkel of Germany. He needs to understand that running the U.S. government and managing global affairs is totally unlike running a corporation. And, he needs to kill his twitter handle. His digital skills have ruined policy making.

In a nutshell, President Trump can recover from his governance lows by actively seeking counselling assistance. All of us need counselling or mentoring at some stage in our lives, and it is nothing to smirk or laugh about. So, here we are – President Trump will hopefully read this blog post of mine and adopt my sage advice rendered to him without any prejudice by a global citizen who thinks globally.

Have a great week ahead,

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

8th July 2018

 

Life in Simple Steps


In today’s world, life has indeed become very complex.

It appears that every individual not only has the need for an economic strategy, but also a social, political, and in fact, even a “gobalization” strategy to boot.

Life was simple in the past, when the connectivity between people was based on face-to-face talk, and at the most phone talks, and written communication. There was a need to think through everything carefully, due to the incisive impact that one can have in such interactions.

While the need for thinking through has not decreased, it is relegated to second position, as youngsters believe that a rather quick response is far more important than a “considered” but delayed response [we are talking here about a delay of say, 30 minutes !]. Given the rapidity at which the world today values responses of any kind rather than well thought through delays, it has become essential to train our minds to react in a superfast manner, while trying not to make mistakes and trying to think through all relevant angles for a meaningful and impactful response.

Come to think of it, this sounds hilarious. Sometimes, we do not take phone calls, due to various reasons – could be family dinner time, could be movie time, could be that you are at a clinic for a doctor consultation. And, if we do not take calls then it is considered as a “non-response”, even if we try to return the call later on. Text messages are expected to be responded to without any delays. LinkedIn messages are another mode of communication. Of course, the most dominant form of communication today is WhatsApp, and I have elected to make most of it “noise free” meaning my phone will not buzz when the message arrives. I will look at the WhatsApp messages when I get a break. However, business communications are received with a ringer, so that I know that I need to respond almost immediately, if not after my current engagement.

Today’s life is full of such interrupts, intrusions into your current activity, and expectations which sometimes defy logic. Life today also demands that we plan for every eventuality – in business or personal matters. A person who does not actively plan his future and the strategies in every sphere of his/her life, can expect to have shocks and consequences of not planning. Today’s world does not forgive or even forget slackers of any kind. The teenagers of today need to understand that world is demanding and unforgiving and necessitates active planning, like what we do in the corporate world.

One way to overcome the hurdles is to plan the life in simple steps, not in leaps and bounds. While planning is crucial, we need to have the tenacity, grit and determination to handle things as they come. If our planning has been good, these things would have been part of the scenarios which you would have worked on anyway during the planning process. Sometimes, simple thinking would facilitate clarity of mind. Our complex minds lead us to confusion sometimes, as we let our minds plot the tree of actions and counter-actions and deliberate on consequences and results. For simple things in life, it is better to let the mind think in simple steps, and “enjoy” the consequences of our actions !

Attaching heavy seriousness to every simple step in life complicates our lives unnecessarily. I have been the victim of some heavy thinking in most everything major I did in life, and in hindsight, I believe I could have had better results without such heavy interventionist thinking. Mind was not clear.

In any case, my suggestion is two-fold: plan your future well with a strategic approach designed to deliver intended results/outcomes, and run your daily life in simple steps. Sounds contradictory, but it is not. Think carefully !

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

20th February 2016

The Talkative Taxi Driver


Many a time, you get a taxi driver in Singapore who chats (or tries to) incessantly with you on any topic under the sun.

I get such drivers often, and almost always I engage in the tit-for-tat conversation on economy, politics, business, and the world in general. One has to be quick to absorb the rather fast ramblings or thoughts coming out of the sharp-witted drivers, otherwise one would miss interesting facts or thoughts ! Once you engage in the conversation, it would continue till you alight at your destination without much of a pause, and you need to be prepared for the same ! Should you wish to be left to your own thoughts and life, then be a bit switched off and morose, and one look at your countenance and the driver would rather quickly conclude that you are not the talkative type.

I am always amazed at the kind of taxi drivers who choose (yes “choose” rather than forced) to drive taxis in Singapore. While they may not be the majority of the taxi drivers on the roads, once in a while one would encounter such folks who are kind of bored in their retired lives and have opted to drive taxis not exactly for monetary purposes but more for utilising their time in a concrete manner rather than whiling away their time.

I have had both kinds of drivers over the years – some who are forced to work for economic reasons and constantly complain about costs of living, and the other type who “choose” to work after retirement. Of course, there are other kinds of drivers who keep to themselves, but they are in minority in my experience.

From the constantly complaining drivers, you could learn a lot about the Singapore economy and the inherent costs of sustenance. One could sometimes be startled at the openness of the taxi drivers – one would expect some kind of “tight” bad mouthing rather than open airing of grievances, especially with foreigners. But then, Singapore has become an open society over the years of good economic growth and is now being challenged to get away from the recent crowning of the “most expensive city in the world” by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Everyone and sundry seem to be knowing about that report, with which the government does not seem to agree.

From the rather “learned” taxi drivers who have an optional engagement with taxi driving for leisure, one could learn how to handle life’s problems and challenges – I recently took a long ride with one such driver who has had a good living and retired couple of years ago, and after some do-nothing life, he chose to drive around people in this city. He was talkative but engaging – he outlined the issues faced by his generation and the totally different issues being faced by today’s Singapore. He had some ideas on how to rein in costs of living. He had unique insights into the way of the foreigners who live here and how the locals constantly push their own limits to survive.

From such engagements, I have become only wiser with a better perspective of life. Of course, there are many other avenues to get wiser, but this is something not to be sniffed at. Taxis are a big part of Singapore life – you just have to see the taxi queues outside almost every major mall or MRT Station, or office complex. Without taxis, this city cannot operate, and taxi drivers have unique life wisdom which they often choose to share with the unknown strangers who travel with them.

Benefit from their insights !

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
23rd March 2014

Voice from the Past


Today I had the rare opportunity to hear a voice from the past.

While it is not strictly true that I am hearing that voice after some 23 years (having met the person sometime 12 years ago), it still had a big and pleasant impact on me.

It is rather surprising, isn’t it ? We are so used to new relationships forming every other day in our corporate and business life, and sometimes in personal life, that we tend to forget the importance and impact of some old voices from our past.

I had a long chat with that friend who called me this morning, we talked and talked and chatted about inconsequential anecdotes from our lives and how our lives have changed in all these years.

While talking, he remarked that it is all about our judgement and decisions that we continually make in our respective lives that causes our “rivers” to change course and navigate in the long journey of life. We could have made different decisions which would have made us richer or happier, for instance. We always tend to compare with those folks who used to work with us in the past and who continued to toil in almost the same job for decades but who are in a much better position today. All that is natural, right ?

My friend said that at the end of the day, everything is relative – there is no absolute richness or happiness or even an absolute comparison. I joked that his intellectual capacity seems to have been enhanced over the years as maturity is catching up on him. He made other rather unsavoury remarks and we laughed for quite some time !

In any case, long lost voices add a sense of bonhomie and conviviality to one’s self and enhances the self esteem. I am sure it happened to my ex-colleague and friend who called me today. I told him specifically that he needs to derive far more wisdom by regularly reading my blog ! He may not understand but it would eventually help him !!

It was a good and pleasant chat, and more meaningful as life goes on……..we still remember and recall the petty incidents which energized our lives in those distant past years………..we recall the people we were working with……all that is amusing and energizing. We try to find out what happened to all those folks.

Good, hope we can do such things more often in our lives,

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
25th January 2014

Decline of Religions’ Dominance


Global religions are slowly losing their importance and criticality to human survival and sobriety.

I am not talking about the Universal God here. I am talking about the religions which have dominated humankind all this while, without really naming or listing them out here.

People have witnessed untold misery due to fights between religions and because of the fundamental ideological differences which have created animosity between people of different religions. Combined with the cultural differences resulting from religious mandates, one has witnessed “clashes of cultures” of late even in developed countries.

I believe that one reason why religions continue their influence is due to their show of might and ability to instil fear using outdated thoughts and philosophies, not in tune with the modern views of the 21st Century. Their ability to generate a consumer pull towards the icons of the religions is proof enough for them to continue their ways and obstinacy without the need to modernize for the new teenagers.

That’s the way I look at things. May not be the way that others look at things though.

I am amazed at the quick switch of even the best educated folks when it comes to religions – they quickly switch over to the side of their respective religions or convey their displeasure if the conversation veers towards religious matters which could potentially offend them or their beliefs. Their education notwithstanding, this is the situation that I have come across the maximum during my people interactions on the social circuit.

Well, I am not saying that being a conservative religion follower is a problem for others – I am just saying there should be a limit to what one should be prepared to go forward, in the name of his or her religion. Given that religion separates rather than unites people around the world, it is critical to recognize that fact and act in a manner that puts things in perspective, as people do have to live together and how can there be a division and difference as to the need for living peacefully ?

So, I would like to see less focus on religion in society at large, and less conformance to religious diktats going forward. Man created religion and religions are certainly useful in some contexts, but cannot set a boundary condition for our behaviour.

Well, think about in detail and in depth, and you would see that God is not the defining aspect of a religion. A religion wants followers and money and commitment to its philosophy and cause – that’s it. It is not meant to provide a “touch or pathway” to God – which every man and woman has to find out for himself or herself.

Food for thought and a good evening’s worth of debate and argument, for sure.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
16th Mar 2013

Not necessary to be the First


It is perfectly OK to be competitive.

It is fine to want to be the best and the first in the world. No question about that ambition.

India wants to become the world’s third largest economy in a short span of 9 years from now, by 2020. There is no problem.

But are we going to achieve that by trampling over each other, pushing our way up by shooting people ahead ? Definitely not.

Indians must learn to work together as a team to achieve the country’s ambition and vision to become a top player in the world, not just in terms of economic muscle, but in terms of political weight at the high tables of international diplomacy. The U.S. and China have that kind of power. Do we have ?

Long way to go. There is more internal fights and scandals in the government and outside, which are being witnessed on a daily basis. Even in something as mundane as sports, there are fights between the government minister and sports bodies. In fact, these days the newspapers and TV channels have become more of scandal mongers than true disseminators of news and news analyses.

When there are fights and internal differences which cannot be bridged, then you start to see cracks in the manner in which we approach problems and resolve the same. There will be long delays with attendant loss of business and growth. There will be weakening of the fabric of civil society. There will be dogmatic fights between political parties. And, so on and so forth.

At the end of the day, the achievements will speak for themselves. And these achievements will not happen if we fight.

One can see how the people push and climb over each other in simple queues even when there is no trouble, and that push is symptomatic of what happens in other avenues. For long, India has been a “shortage” economy, crippled by shortages of key consumption items. The tendency to push and climb over others arises from that mentality.

But we have now arrived at some better stage – we are one of the top 10 economies in the world. We do have poverty which is still widespread. We have a government which defines poverty line as something below INR 25 earnings per day, which is nothing short of ridiculous – the limit should have been at least INR 100 in today’s highly inflationary economy. But whatever are the numbers, India is far better today than it was in 1990.

But culturally, are we moving ahead towards a refined society ? We don’t have to be first always, we don’t have to beat the Chinese, we should realize that we are still admired all over the world for various accomplishments not the least of which is the strength of our democracy, et al.

As Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore once said – I do not have the exact quote, but he said something to the effect that Singapore would find the true character of its citizens when a famine strikes the country – then we would know how the multi-racial, multi-ethnic society survives by helping each other. The same thing applies even more strongly in the Indian context, wherein we have a great many number of races, religions, cultures, etc., It is important to take cognizance of this fact of working together in nation-building for the long-term instead of rushing past and lose one’s character.

Some rambling this is, but nevertheless I have written what has been on my mind for some time,

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
24th Sept 2011
Mumbai

Escape from Windows


I mean, escape from Microsoft Windows here.

Again, my new home laptop has started giving the “hanging” problem. It has and Intel i5 CPU, 4 GB RAM and 500GB HD, and runs Windows 7 Home Premium version. There is no reason why it should hang.

Today my daughter complained so much that I had no option but to sit down and diagnose the problem. At home, probably they think I am a “Windows Doctor”. Of course, the other side that they don’t fully know is that I keep experimenting with performance improvement of the system, to make it run faster and start up smoothly in less time !

Well, those experiments could be a problem. However, I do not think the system should give trouble when all that I have done is to download and install a standard Windows application, not an unauthorized program. Any software application that I had ever downloaded was after extensive research and from reputed companies.

So why then my friend Windows 7 is hanging repeatedly ?

May be to commit unintended suicide !

When I spent some time on the system this morning, I took some tough decisions – uninstall of several applications not required for the system, allow the Windows Operating System to take more control of the laptop and what applications start at the start-up, run the Anti-Virus Scanner for a deep scan of the computer, apply all the Windows Updates that were pending for download installation, at least four restarts, and other stuff.

After some 45 minutes work, the system looks like improving, but alas, it hung again – the Windows Updates could not get installed automatically. So, though the system warned that I should not shut off the computer while the updates were getting installed, I forcibly shut off the system, as the spin wheel was not spinning !

After all this, the laptop seemed to return to some stability, and started working all right.

However, I am now awaiting the stress test results from my daughter – not that she was going to stress the system out physically. But youngsters have a way of running a computer very differently from the organized manner in which we run the system. It may be better they do the testing rather than the diagnosis !

Will report later, but I am slowly moving away from Windows………may be the iPAD2 is good enough for normal computing !!

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
08 May 2011
Mumbai

366th Blog Post


This is my 366th post in 208 weeks (I started my blogging venture towards end of 2005 in Singapore).

That works out to some 1.75 blog post per week. The original ideas was to do just one piece per week, then I accelerated after the move to India, with so many things to write about, as compared to Singapore ! Suffice to state that I am still discovering a lot about India !!

I did not, and am not writing for any mass consumption. I always wrote to release my views in writing to me, as I believe this enhances my grasp and understanding of a global view on a subject matter vis-a-vis my own view on the same matter. Most of the time, my views have been partial or unique in their own ways. I have experimented in articulating on a wide variety of subjects, as you can see from the drop-down list of “Categories”.

In between, I wanted to convert my blog to a photo-blog, inspired from an ex-colleague’s beautiful photo-blog. I did upload a lot of photos to my blog, but always as part of a theme. But soon, I lost interest in photo-blogging, as that required a keen sense of photogenics, and access to camera all the time. I still upload some photos, of quite mediocre quality, as I am not interested to invest more like some of my friends do. Happy with a simple digital camera that I bought 5 years ago !

I received a lot of comments (and spam of course) on my blog posts. I enjoyed reading and digesting each one of them, including the spam ! I found technical ways to enhance my blog, increase the traffic, post advertisements on my blog, etc., tried out briefly, and then abandoned these tools as the purpose of my blog is not commercial. I even bought a web domain from Bluehost for two years, did some technical work on populating the site, etc., but now happy to continue with WordPress, which has become even better over the past few years for amateur bloggers – probably the best out there.

I have now experimented on how to convert my blog into a book. Amazing how technology allows quick and effective expression of human thoughts/ideas and remains as a true beacon of entrepreneurship.

At the finish of the first decade of the 21st Century, full of eventful 10 years, I am at a crossroad. Do I continue to invest time during Saturday late evenings to continue blogging, or call it a day ? Watch this space !

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
30th December 2009
Mumbai

How to tackle a feeling of being shortchanged


Just ignore it !

Well, what else to do to avoid getting depressed ? Depression is not a good status.

Ofcourse, there is another way.

Recently, I went through such feelings, obviously imposed……the danger in such a situation is that, apart from feeling “low”, there are fleeting images of the oppressor crossing one’s eyeballs many a time in a day. Which is again not a good thing, as the oppressor tries to dominate one’s feelings by visual imagery.

Well, I am not saying anything new here, am sure that most readers have encountered such feelings or devastation one time or the other. The key learning for me was to tackle the oppressor visually, kill him/her (like in a PlayStation), and then banish the thought or feeling forever. It does not happen that easily, but I find it better to assume a younger or boyish role and fight it out.

Then, the mind becomes a bit freer, the feelings become more neutral, and attitude improves towards others. Not an easy thing again, but it is worthwhile attempt to get back control of one’s feelings. You could have been shortchanged, accused, incorrectly blamed, punished, tagged, or characterized publicly or even privately by the oppressor. However, it is critical to disassociate one’s feelings of wronged, from one’s own being for a moment. If that is not possible, it is better to become a “feeling aggressor” or a “bio dominator” – a sort of mental aggression to tackle the feeling, and get out unscathed.

Also, I found it is better to speak out with someone very close to gain back a modicum of sense into one’s own mind and behaviour. I strongly believe that there is no point in losing composure for no fault of your own. It is important to realize that you have not committed any crime and the punishment is either incorrect or way beyond normal measure.

The mantra is “Don’t React” and “Gain Control”. I have been following this principle for quite some time, and it has been working out for me. And, I am sure it would work for most people. It is relevant to state here that the usual method of quick retaliation is not the way to go, as it would lead to loss of peace and self-control.

So folks, “Gain Control” over your feelings and yourself !

Cheers, and Have a Great Week Ahead,

Vijay Srinivasan
15th Nov 2009
Mumbai

Word Count on Blog Posts


Wow, that’s a new topic, and I hope my friend who commented on my earlier post on “Aspartame” reads this one !

I have been made conscious about the fact that I am too verbose when it comes to writing articles. Some people do complain that I am longish when talking to people or addressing a group of people. I have strived hard to correct this second complaint, and I have discovered to my pleasure that I am indeed able to limit any consequential damages by limiting the word count which flows out of my mouth. Collateral damages could continue however.

When it comes to writing about my own personal exploits or commentaries on world affairs, I am finding it tougher to limit my word count, despite pressures from well-wishers like the friend I referred to above. While I am not enamoured about his writing either, I have to say that he is more savvy and marketing-oriented rather than self-centred when it comes to expressing his thoughts. However, I am writing for my own pleasures, and I have belaboured many a time to mention this aspect to my friends who insist that they will come by and drop into my blog. Well then it is their problem, I guess.

I think it is important to express oneself lucidly with abundant clarity and the English language offers fabulous opportunities for the same. I am not confident about other languages though. I am not a cartoonist who can express figuratively what I have in mind. My mind is complex, and so no choice but to cull out of my brain what it is thinking and trying to tell me. I hope my friend realises that this a truth that even he has to face sometime.

Given this kind of complexity, and also given the fact that life is far too complex to solicit brevity of any kind, I have no choice my dear friend except to write lucidly and test the reader’s patience. If you have come this far, it shows that my language skills are good and adequate to keep your mind focused on what I am trying to communicate.

Well, I must be the only person who has written so much about “word count on blog posts”. Please leave my blog now and enjoy the start of the weekend. And my friend, I was not able to connect with you even though I was in Singapore, I am now returning to Mumbai this evening ! Sorry about that, next time will arrange to meet with you and have Char Kway Teow in East Coast !!

Have a wonderful weekend.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
7th August 2009
Singapore Airport