Monday, July 17, 2017

An Uncivilized Society

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

For centuries, the human behavior has evolved into what the dictionary refers to civilized.  Simply put being civil (nice, respectful, mindful, attentive, caring and many of the words and actions) that are consistent with a lawful society.  Whosoever makes the rules, the entire society follows the, thereby all citizens in the society become a civilized society.

From small groups of people, to congregations, colonies, villages, towns, cities and countries; whatever type of living we belong to they have a set of rules to follow, and we follow them.  Democracies, dictatorships, communists, whatever the ruling constitution of a nation, people simply choose to follow the rules, and if not, they mostly migrate to some other place where they believe the rules of life is more conducive to their liking, and make a new life.

The last part of the 20th century has been an age of communications and information technology, which has driven more relocation of people as it offered a separate set of competence and people who were ready to learn the recent technologies, and relocate to find employment.  It also afforded remote working environment that allowed people to stay where they are, and contribute to the business requirements on a global scale.  Remote support, work from home, offshore support, temporary relocation, and various technology related work forces have become a part of the IT industry, and continue to drive the global workforces.

The 24/7/365 cable networks, email, texting. Internet, mobile communications and various mode of instant communications have quickly evolved and very quickly have become standard tools to work, communicate and connect the world.  In fact, the technologies have evolved faster than the human reaction to how to use them, and the communications tools being developed at a rate, we simply are unable to learn the etiquette of how to use them in a civilized way.

Many of the social media platforms allow us to connect with thousands, if not millions of fellow netizens, and with a few clicks say/share/opinion/simply throw stuff at them.  Certainly, the new ability to mass communicate has not put everyone in a tizzy to start blasting the user groups with nastiness, but you only need a select few to start the net frenzy.  2016/2017 has reached a new frenzy in bots and fakes.  You can simply create anything you want to say, and start spreading it to the www.  Within minutes someone who likes the crap, will pick it up and start spreading it a sources fact.  In the olden days (before www) it took a lot of time to spread rumors, but with www, only a second.  Nasty stuff also gets more attention, as people like dirt.

People have politically forgotten to respond to each other in an organized and civilized way.  Although we don’t see politicians throwing punches at each other (this is quite common in many places), they are more than insulting to one another.  A definition of a civilized society is no longer existent in the 24/7/365 age of TV and instant internet.  Moving away from just the morning and evening news for 30 minutes, now someone is covering the happening 24 hours, and our leaders are ready to provide sensational material; constantly.

With each election cycle, all people get to hear is how bad the other administration is, and offer nothing of consequence with the new administration.  The only constants are growing debt, failing infrastructure and SOS.  The latest fad is to simply divert the issue to the opposition and how obstruction will not allow policy.  Whenever we think we have seen the worst, something worse comes into the view.  And we are really at a point that anything that transpires in governance and how the society is accepting this as a norm will continue to be normal.  Although our history recorded uncivilized and barbaric societies, we are not far from going back in ages.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Taxing Decisions

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

India passed the GST (Goods and Services Tax), on the last day of June 2017.  It joins a group of nations that have implemented the same (supposedly select group) simplified and uniform tax code for selling goods and services.  If we look at the geo-political scape of India, GST begins to simplify the massive and multi-teared (sometimes excessive and unfathomable) and facilitate an easier tax collection system.

While BJP government has been able to garner support to implement GST, India had been contemplating streamlining GST for many years.  Modi and his determination on financial reforms is commendable in negotiating and pushing the legislation on GST.  It certainly has political risks, but Modi has demonstrated that he is willing to take them.

GST is only a portion of the tax code.  It certainly covers all good and services sold in the country, and the nation can start to account for every aspect of the transactional economy.  While people might disagree on various rates for different good and services, the uniformity is important and enforceable.  For every product and service there will no longer be challenges of consumption and tax associated.  The government can adopt different tax rates as needed and appropriate, but the accounting is defined irrespective of the tax rate.  In GST, it considers everything sold; goods and services in India.

Implementation of GST in 2017 is the first major overhaul of tax code in independent India (1947).  As the process of simpler tax code comes into effect, India has begun to first streamline and close the loopholes to the production and delivery to everyday needs.  Now that a national GST is in place, administration is manageable and accountable.  For many years leading into adoption of GST, India’s businesses and people have been prepared for the overhaul, and as it shows in the first couple of days after the new GST, it has no public opposition.  The acceptance and implementation in such a diverse economy shows the need for uniform GST and people’s support for reform.

Indian economy is vastly informal.  GST allows for bringing the informal economy into proper accountability.  The Indian consumer just like any other is used to price changes (mostly pricing up) and a variation in tax to shopping cart is not going to be a sticker shock for the buying behavior.  People will buy what they need and if markets price items beyond affordability, the buyer will find alternatives.  There is no need for the government and the public to panic with new tax code.

For the record France was the first nation to adopt GST, while India joins the GST group, nations such as Canada and Brazil have dual GST.  While the European nations and the nations with high per capita income adopt GST, and is a across the board tax for all its people, India has a major disconnect with income and GST suddenly imposes the same tax rate for the very rich to very poor, and everyone in between.  While the tax rationale is addressed, Modi (for a fact any leader) can start to fix the income and opportunities for all the people.

While the public tries to make sense of taxation, almost all the countries on earth are managing their national budgets on deficit.  Borrowed money adds additional burden on budgets, simply adding an interest line.  This line takes away otherwise available resources for nation building and well-being.  In most cases the borrowing is expanded (politicians love to argue about national debt, but always vote favorably to increase the debt ceiling) and each passing year, the debt only increases and interest goes in hand, reducing the resources for public needs.

As individuals (specially the middle class) aspire to be debt free, so should the nations.  It is perhaps in Modi and his political audacity to make India a debt free (zero deficit) budget nation.  India starting (new) in 1947 with Nehru, has continued to expand the GAP between its receipts and spending.  Every leader has promised but never delivered a debt free nation.  Modi has already taken on the decisions on back money, demonetization and now pushing GST, along with his constant search for India First agenda, can push for a nation with balanced budget.  He can even drive a constitutional amendment that can’t be overturned by simple majority on a balanced budget/debt free nation.

If we leave the political agenda aside, a combination of uniform taxation, scam free (minimize the public coffer looting); all of which translate to better tax collection and better handling of public’s money.  Modi has nothing to lose by pushing the nation first agenda.  His party or any party will have to follow the path of public money, public trust and public support.  When public sees that their coffers are appropriated for public needs, their support will be unanimous. What nation would not want to be debt free, tax compliant and scam free?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Tubelight

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

Love for movies has been life time for me.  On Friday (6-24-2017) I saw Salman Khan’s new movie Tube light.  For some unexplained reason, our bathroom lights were flickering right after I watched the movie.  This movie just like any other movie, is just fine with me.  It has a bit more melodrama (taking you back to a couple of generations of emotions) and has a big cast including Om Puri, Salman Khan and his brother along with a good support cast and thrown in for good measure of Indo-Chinese conflict and melodrama with a couple of Chinese actors.  The movie itself is simple is limited to a small village on the foothills of the Himalayas.  The backdrop is wonderful and picturesque.

The movie critics have panned the movie.  The box office has not been as magical as Salman Khan’s last few movies.  This should not come as a surprise to anyone as the movie itself is not a regular masala movie but focuses on a boy/man who is developmentally challenged and his convictions of innocence.  The movie depicts India’s small and diverse communities.  It captures the nuances of different people, and certainly the brotherhood.  I thought the movie was just fine and really did not have any issue with the central theme of a man with development disabilities, his love for his brother and affinity to people around him, and mainly to truth.  It is a predictable and something we have watched a thousand times.  Being critical of this movie and panning its story is a derivative of making the hero a normal and mentally challenged person, and moving Salman Khan away from his onscreen persona.  The point of making Indian sensibilities a focus got lost in criticizing the movie.

India has always been and continues to be a nation full of stereotyping.  Indians brand people based on language, color, religion and abilities.  All movies make constant references to human beings, and most times use it as humor.  Indians have a (nick) name for everyone and everything and using a stereotypical reference is a common place.  No one in India (Indians) have a qualm about referring someone as “Tube Light” without any hint of apology or irony.  In all cases people are referred to as how people feel in identifying each other.

I still remember being referred to as a “Madrasi” when I went to study in Utter Pradesh.  I don’t think anything has changed in all these years.  Our mindset remains the same.  Indians have an uncanny ability to come up with a reference to every individual and the way we use nick names is engrained in our psychology.  Sometimes it is hurtful but the references are innocent.  If you remove Salman from the movie Tube Light, his character is a common reference to anyone with developmental challenges, and panning this movie is because of how we got used to seeing him onscreen.

While I searched for the origins of sarcasm, it has been a part of human behavior.  We simply add references and stereotypes to everything and everyone.  India with its diversity has a great dose of such sarcasm built into its system.  It is such a widespread practice, Indians simply accept it as a normality.

While I am not an expert of movie reviews and the psychology of movies goers, this movie is commendable because of Salman Khan, and his shedding his macho image.  It might not deliver the mega blockbusters of his previous movies, but depicts the Indian societies behavior towards its own in both developmental issues and regional intolerance.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Newton’s Third Law

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

Trump always said if some hits you hit them back harder.  Although I start writing about Newton’s Third Law (for every action there is equal and opposite reaction), Trump has 70 years of life’s experience in hitting back at anyone who questions or differs with him.  He is from New York and a real estate developer, and is an old man with life’s experience of hard knocks and hitting back, and more so rebuilding (building and rebuilding) again and again.  No one must like him or dislike him for who he is, as he is the president of the United Sates, and people put him there.  To complain, to keep trying to make him something he is not or doesn’t want to do, is impractical, especially given that he is the most powerful man on earth, leading the USA.

Only referring to previous presidential behavior as presidential is history, and much has changed with each presidency and its time and place.  From Washington to Obama, times are very different in between each president’s time in office.  We certainly are a part of the world that has become more accessible and more violent with each given time and opportunity.

Trump is the 45th president of the USA.  Only 44 men have been in the place he is today, and people supported the election.  He won fair and square according to the US Constitution.  He is not from a political lineage and has no policy experience, nor he was ever surrounded with policy makers.  Trump is not a man of patience and politics.  He simply decides and tries to throw that thought on to the public.  His impatience with political maneuvering and conscious building is non-existent.  He is only supported by the Republican party which was unsure of his words and policies before he got elected, and a clear majority of them are still not sure of the same even after his election, but they support the party’s platform that Trump represents.

Trump doesn’t really care.  He strikes back, and furious about things that doesn’t suit him or his plans.  He has an added burden of his family in the political and business mix.  He loves to say what he feels (always served his purpose), he loves to keep his family around (he always did) and he is impulsive in his actions and words.  The added platform for him is the social media, which he uses constantly to communicate unfiltered comments.  For the president and a man of 70 years, it is impossible to start to be someone different.  Both his age and his position are not something, that someone can provide presidential guidance.  There is no such thing as presidential and Trump is the president and what he is doing in the office is presidential.

America First, is the main verse in every presidential manifesto.  Trump makes it his stump.  Which is a worthy political choice for any politician running for public office.  Each of the presidents implement and find ways to place the nation first, and if we remove the political rhetoric, there is no doubt that all the 44 presidents prior to Trump were all nation first, and people first.  When the nation (or perhaps the world) starts to understand what we have is a president who reacts differently to what the world (anyone) responds to him, then his actions will be accepted as presidential.  We are after all a nation that works on laws.  If we continue to see the president react to each action that (he may or may not like) then just get used to it, as in his time in office, that is what presidential exactly means.


Newton’s Third law:
When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Only One Place Called Home

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

In you have lived in the Chicago area for about 20 years, you notice the changes to the weather.  Winter is no longer 4 to 5 months long with snow, clod and blowing wind, where you must bundle up before venturing out.  There were Aprils where snow was still around.

It has become a standard phrase for long-time residents in the area to say, “I don’t miss the snow and wintry weather”.  The mid-west might have missed the year (several years) in having snow cover for four or five months, but it does impact the rest of the seasons.  Hot weather in May and not a white Christmas or New Year.  It is strange.

Our four seasons have their own charm, seasonality and importance.  One season leads to the other, people, farming, life-style, everything moderate each-other and life is in full cycle, all four seasons.  Each season with its own charm and importance and reason, keeping with the cycle of life.  Weather was predictable and life revolved around the seasons.

Landing in Chicago from India, you had to appreciate the seasons.  I always loved all the weather.  I look forward to each season, and have always been happy to see them change in front of your eyes.  The rain, snow, humidity (little), hot and wintry weather, and whatever mother nature decides in-between, was just fine.  You just dressed for the weather and moved on.  I believe in my whole driving career there was only one day was lost to a snow day and that too after I drive to work, I had to turn back and go home as there was no way to get into the parking lot.  The company was closed after I drove 25 miles from home to get to work; closed because of snow day.

Those of us who live here adjust quickly to the changes to the weather.  You can tune into new radio 780, and every hour you get ten weather updates, and many at times it does change quickly.

In the beginning of my time in the USA, I thought it was scam by the department stores, to change the seasons to sell their seasonal wear, and this happened constantly so I really believed that there was something sinister with weather and seasonal sales advertisements.

Once you appreciated the weather and the seasonality, you begin to enjoy the changes.  I still do, as well as my children.  There is not enough praise for the glory of mother nature and the beauty of earth.  The good earth.

In the last few years we no longer experience the four seasons in their full glory.  You could be democrat, republican or independent, or not eligible, you all know that there is something different with the weather.  It’s not just us in the mid-west, but the entire world is experiencing the unpredictable weather pattern.  With the irregular weather, we are also experiencing the consequences of unpredictable seasons.  It’s simply can’t be called severe weather, but it’s not natural and seasonal weather.

Don’t blame the politicians, or businesses or polluters.  Each of them are supported by the entire population.  We buy things that pollute the environment and make the businesses rich while they pollute, we give money to politicians who never keep their promises and we trash at every opportunity we get.  We also complain about the inclement weather.  We don’t want to think of the future.  It is east to consume and trash.  It is easy to blame someone else.  It is easy to exhaust the resources.  It is easy to eliminate millions of species.  It is easy to pollute the Earth and beyond.  We are smart and knowledgeable, we simply don’t care.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Grading Modi

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

It is summer in India and it is also the time when students receive their grades.  In India, the toppers in school and colleges get a lot of very good coverage (outside of opportunities).  It is also about 3 years into BJP controlled government in India under Modi’s leadership.  It is an opportune time to grade him.

BJP under Modi’s leadership has renewed nationalism and has displayed better ability to deal with internal and external issues.  It has been a clear observation of the press that Modi is not interested in money or personal benefits.  He has no one to leave it to.  Modi’s family has always stayed far away from his political life and personal life (if he has any personal life?).  Outside of his minimum visits with his very elderly mother, Modi really doesn’t have family around him, nor any personal obligations.

Modi has never shown interest in any personal benefits from his office.  While little is kept secret about Modi and his political life either while he was the CM of Gujarat and now as the PM of India.  His actions and his history are obvious and predictable.

Modi has examples of office bearers before him in Shastri, Rao and Vajpayee.  Men who did not belong to the Nehru/Gandhi family.  All men of extraordinary intellect and great devotion to the nation and its people.  They served India with great distinction, character and wisdom.  Although Modi is in a different era, as with these great men the stigma of scandal and graft has stayed away from him as it did with the great men who occupied the same office.  Modi doesn’t need money (it is a fact that he has very little to his name and needs very little), and he doesn’t have a large coterie of hanger’s on and family that invariably ends up doing something to squander the political power.

India with its 1.3 billion people today is very different when Shastri, Rao or Vajpayee were in power.  Modi is in the internet and mobile and instant connectivity world.  Modi is personally aware of the power of the connected world and is also very well versed in using the digital and social media.  His regular program Man Ki Baat reaches out to hundreds of millions of people.

Indian politicians used “Garibi Hataoo” since before the independence from the British in 1947, and today it still is a rallying cry.  Modi is a master in catering to the underprivileged of India, and he has an excellent outreach to the poor as his upbringing as a child identifies with the poor.  His initiatives on cleanliness, toilets in every home, educating the girl child, women empowerment, small business and farmers loans and banking, communications, and the ever-popular eradication of black money are all pushed hard by Modi himself and his party’s volunteers across the nation.  All these initiatives are of importance to the Indians and are a path for nation’s introspection.  They are needed and everyone benefits from them, and they can be done.  Modi started off as a man with public persona of a superman internationally, but his agenda has always remained India first.  At the end of three years, Modi has not deviated from his party’s agenda.  To do everything that caters to everyone in a nation of 1.3 billion people is a super human task, but Modi does focus on a path to national development which is all inclusive and aligns with his party.  Modi does this well.

It is fascinating to see Modi in public both as BJP worker and a nation’s leader.    He is a master in working on his party’s and the nations initiatives.  With constant public and media scrutiny he has not displayed anything different with both his public and private persona.  It remains the same.

India, its people, and the world has had enough time to access Modi as India’s leader and his governance.  One might not agree with his politics but there should be no disagreement with his intentions.  In a nation that has a massive and growing young population, and its geographic diversity, Modi has done well in 3 years.  He keeps driving his initiatives and keeps a brisk schedule in attending to the nation’s needs, and above all he is scam free.

You must give him a distinction.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Other People’s Power

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

Billions of dollars are spent on US presidential elections.  This is just for the president, and untold amounts are spent on congressional and senate elections.  Politics itself is a massive industry (in every election cycle) as advertisers, promotions, travel, hotels, people, industrial and human resources, cars, busses, oil and gas, and everything else in the country is mobilized and paid for by the campaigns.  Although the money is raised by the candidates, it mostly flows back into the economy.  It is well accounted for and well spread out into the nation’s economic system.  Candidates raising money and spending it on bashing each other, is in one way adding to the economic activity.  Although we don’t hear the coverage on economic impact of raising campaign money and spending it.  With each election cycle the campaign spending keeps growing (just like our national debt).

Political action committees and various loop holes in the system allows for raising huge campaign contributions and spending by small group of individuals.  They also yield massive power in directing the economic and political direction of the nation.  Both the democrats and the republicans, as simply politicians, who get elected with the help of massive contributions.  That’s the lead for power, with other people’s money or it really is other people’s power.

Why are people making massive political contributions?  No one gives political contribution just for the love of politics, they do it to influence an economic and political agenda.  The billions spent on political campaigns can be spent on education, health, urban development or any other people related programs, but the political contributions are limitless outweighing the philanthropic or humanitarian causes.  My comments no way ignore the huge contributions made to humanitarian causes, it is just politics command power that comes with winning elections, and money has a major part in winning elections.

In the 2016 USA presidential election Trump did not need anyone’s money.  He started out campaigning that he was going to self-fund himself, which ended up not being the case.  But it was very appealing to have someone run with own money.  The idea was he would not be indebted to other people’s money.  Trump ended up taking in more money than anyone else, and continues to take OPM.  Although we are only in the first few months of Trump’s presidency, he has already started raising money for 2020.

It is a fact that political agenda will follow the money, and put someone in power.  The more money, the more opportunity for power.  There are distinct differences between the priorities of political parties and their ideology, and just about half of the population determines the priorities every four years.  Money that powers the presidency drives the next four-year agenda.  Nothing drives the national agenda other than the very large amounts of money.