Monday, March 28, 2016

Donald Trump and the New World

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

While Donald Trump has a lot of bluster and illogical comments (notwithstanding the nasty discussion on women, minorities, religion, law, jobs, trade, beauty and money) in his normal campaign day, he does make some very legitimate concerns of Americans come to the public forum.  While the republican party he is currently representing is going all out to deny him their party’s nomination, he is garnering enough support and attention from the republicans and the media to keep ahead of the others vying for the party’s nomination.

It’s no guarantee that he will be the Republican Party’s nominee as of today (28 March 2016), but it looks increasingly certain that Trump will be the republican nominee for president in the upcoming November 2016, US presidential race.

There is a lot of fodder for networks, internet and the political junkies.  The reality shows are constant and no one knows what the republicans will do next.  If you like television and uncertainty of politics, Trump is 100% entertaining in this election cycle.

If the political wisdom comes to fore, and Hillary Clinton is the democratic nominee, this election seems fairly routine.  Mrs. Clinton will probably be the first Madame President of the USA.

Going back to Trump and his blusterous candidacy while it still is going great, there are serious issues that every American has, and he makes them his main points of discussion.  His support is primarily feeding to the American psyche and relating to the country and the rest of the world.  We should give credit to the current administration and their efforts along with other global leaders in their efforts to address and tackle these issues.  It is likely that they don’t feel the pressure of an election to highlight the same, but nevertheless they are serious and concerning issues, and Trump is trumpeting them as his election manifesto, and also gaining a substantial section of the American electorate to listen and vote for him.

His position on reorganizing the alliances makes sense.  We are no longer live with communist verses democratic nations.  The old USSR doesn’t exist, and NATO is a relic of the II world war with a different set of nations and priorities.  USA is also not a nation with excessive funds to keep paying for security of the world without each of those nations paying for receiving the benefit of the US Army.  USA continues its budget deficits (getting huge every minute without a plan to cut) and has not been able to keep up with ever expanding costs.

USA also along with its allies is always reacting, and most times a bit too late to any situation.  The nation can become proactive, or leave the issues alone.  The past generation is a great testament to the failed polices of intervention.  Not one single nation where USA is militarily involved likes the intervention, nor any of the countries have become self-reliant.  They have gone from dictatorship to total chaos and war zones.  So, the WW II model where Europe getting help and becoming a well-organized set of nations, is not happening now.  If a nation will not become a self-governing and democratic society, then no amount of intervention will help.

Trump’s point on sharing the burden of global policing and monitoring is a fair international policy.  Nations should recognize that anyone who is helping needs to be compensated, unless it is a humanitarian cause.  In the case of NATO, Korea and several MEA nations, USA should ask its partners to pay a fair share.

Some of the supposedly good Samaritan deeds of the USA have only created a backlash against the Americans and American interests.  ISIS, Taliban, Al Qaeda, radicals and various organizations which have surfaced only to attack American policies and interests.  While the Americans think they are helping, the creation of these radical and extremist groups continuously proves otherwise.

Most of the terror is unleashed on civilians and public places.  People going about their routines are being targeted constantly by these radicals, purely to disrupt a way of life that is routine and uncomplicated in democracies.  Because of the communications and transportation, a few people are able to disrupt people across the globe, and that too for a cause that is of no concern to the people that they are suicide bombing.  Public places have become easy targets for radicals.

The suicide bombers are constantly attacking crowded places taking down scores of innocents.  They also destroy infrastructure and create fear among the public, and add huge pressure on the police and other services.  The irony is that most of these attacks are happening in places that have embraced these radicals and given them a home and life.  It is difficult to guess what makes a suicide bomber from a normal community?  Killing in the name of what?

Trump successfully speaks to the fear of the nation.  The bombing are becoming more common place in the western societies.  More and more MEA nations are under turmoil.  Many more nations are taking the bombings on a regular basis.
There is no clear path to isolating the radicals and stopping the carnage.  So, playing the touch cop role will get attention.  Trump is capitalizing on this, and rightfully so.  People who live in democracies don’t want disruptions, and debt burden.  Today Americans increasingly are burdened with both, and the current leadership is incapable of handling these and finding lasting solutions.  And when someone on a national stage (perhaps as the next president) speaks to eliminating these fears, people will listen.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Presidential Chair

Vasu Reddy From Chicago

Barak Obama is only the 44th President to occupy the presidential chair in the USA.  For the most prosperous democracy on earth, the USA has yet to have a women president.  In the elections that followed president Regan in the early 1980’s, and each successive election has been more visible because of 24/7/365 cable television, and the subsequent and ever increasing coverage with mobile and internet services.

When he started out to run for the presidential office, President Regan did not have 24 hour breaking news and instant messaging to reach out to millions of people with a click a button.  The presidents and the presidential contenders had remained civil in debates, advertisements and communications.  The presidential elections were primarily ideological and in line with the party’s agenda.  There was little personal animosity displayed in public, and most of the election drama came with policy challenges and sometimes simple one line pot shots.  The famous one was from Regan to Mondale “where’s the beef”.  It was a simple challenge asking to back-up the statements with substance.  That single line was so popular it still has commercial value in challenging for substance over speech.  The personality and persuasion of an individual seeking the highest office in the country was the main factor to display vision and leadership, in convincing the voters to go to the polling booths to send the individual for the next four years to represent the most powerful nation on earth.

Since the communications, cable news networks and the internet reach every citizen (just about) on earth and continues to become more and more affordable and widely available, the tone of competing adversaries has increasing become negative.  To touch the human attention, the negative connotations and aggressive behavior has become an attention grabber.  Even for a few seconds the negativity does grab attention.  Negative advertising and crass references about the opponents have become staples in all election cycles.  The latest presidential primaries have become more than reality television, which is beyond viewing for a normal family audience.

Combining the cost of elections in each presidential election these days runs into billions of dollars.  The process is long and drawn out and lasts more than a year every four years, and for the duration of the election cycle we only hear negative and abusive advertisements and about each other.  If anyone is paying attention to these comments, no one should be chosen out of the competing candidates.

The irony of each of the election cycle remains the same.  Once elected the party’s policies and agenda are driven by congress and senate.  The majority in power will demand and push to implement their party’s policies and political manifesto.  What has not happened with any of the administrations (even when they change) is balancing the budget and reducing the deficit, along with overhauling the economic, education and immigration agenda.  These remain issues in every election process, but once in office they are issues that are postponed to be dealt with next elections.

Global economic uncertainty and religious and ideological issues continue to be hurdles to managing just the internal issues of USA.  Its outreach to global security and constant threats to its national security, and cost of military and unpredictability outside of its own domain, all add to the burden to managing the national resources.  All negatives and outside of the control of the USA add to the burden to the spending, and constant communications and coverage keep the negatives on the minds of people.  There is no escape from any bit of coverage, and most of it is negative.

Undoubtedly the most powerful chair in the world anyone who aspire to occupy is the USA presidential chair.  The contenders are aspirants who are increasingly aggressive and funded with millions to go after their opponents.  The tone of the campaign is no longer what we called presidential.  2016 is reflecting age old rivalry between gentlemen in a modern communications world.  The decorum and respect is lost to each other (along with the public who needs to listen to these folks), the candidates who are no longer gentlemen in nature only desire to sit on the presidential chair.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Romancing the Internet

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

A lifelong habit of reading everything that was available was a practice long before the Internet became a staple in my daily routine.  No matter what the day brings, reading was something that kept the mind occupied and at most times current.  Reading about whatever was available on earth (sometimes in multiple languages) stating from Shakespeare to now a days Wikipedia, reading is still as exciting as it was in grade school.

The internet allows for more updating on just about everything on a real time basis, and also allows for anytime and anywhere reading.  The age old habit of purchasing (sometimes subscribing) to magazines and newspapers are now done thru investing in a single internet connection.

Beginning to write on romancing the internet, whatever the cost of internet access while at home or on a mobile device (and specially its convenience and availability), by far is factional comparing to the cost of buying newspapers, books, mail, movies (although a bit old), communications including Skype, Facebook, Facetime, Linkedin, Instagram, and many variations of messaging and communications platforms, and in many countries in local dialect and languages (sometimes with translators) all are available for a single fee of connecting to the internet.  How can we not romance the internet?

The value of connectivity is really invaluable as the www is available to just about everyone in the world.  It’s a web that is inclusive and expansive.  Whatever the cost in any location, it more than makes up for the multitude of media people invested daily by combining communications, news, research and updates (instantly) all into one www.

Internet is one medium that keeps one engaged 24/7, just like the romance of the yester years.  As the old romance goes, internet keeps you engaged and interested anytime of the day every day, work, leisure or just slumming, there is no limit or end to where the www leads you to.

While the fundamentals of www are of great value to the world, we do have fundamentalists who use the same medium as a recruitment tool, and hackers working tirelessly to steal and morph and make merry with their deeds on the internet.  But there is always a way to avoid getting pulled into any web, just like driving, by following the rules, there risk to abuse on www is also limited.  As in driving, minding ones business and following the rules keeps one safe, and same apples to using the www.

The benefits of the www by far outweigh the disruptive influences.  As old as the human race is, the good and bad are always parallel tracks, and there is enough checks and balances to avoid what one chooses to keep away.

While the single medium allowing for communications, the internet is constantly expanding in scope and opportunity.  One place where finding whatever you are looking for, with a few simple key strokes.  What once was a many faceted medium is in one www today, and continues to expand the capabilities of people to learn, share, educate, enjoy and most of all connect with each other.  The future is endless in its spectrum of possibilities and opportunities, with a few distractions and abuses along the way.

Monday, March 07, 2016

What is left of Andhra Pradesh?

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

Since the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into two states; the new and reduced Andhra Pradesh (“AP”) and the new state of Telangana, the new and reduced state of AP has been a step child of the central government, with neither the old government that divided the state, nor the new government that is in power now (and also a coalition partner in power for the residual state of AP) have shown any inclination towards the needs of the new state.  While Modi was the chief guest for foundation laying for the new state capital in Amaravati, he came to make a speech and his gift to the new state was dirt and water.  Although presumably holy, the water and dirt did not add anything to reassure the people of new state of any type of plan or any kind of commitment from the PMO.  The special status and infrastructure development ideas are just that, ideas and rhetoric of the past and before the last elections.

It was Congress that was in power at the center and also in AP, when the bifurcation became a reality.  Now the residual state of AP doesn’t have Congress in the state (decimated in the last election) and BJP in control in the center, with local TDP as a partner in government of AP, noting is being done to fulfill the plans that were outlined in bifurcation plans for the state.  Although everyone in power and now not in power supported the bifurcation, no one is even remotely able to remember what they committed to the people prior to June of 2014.

The AP reorganization act came into effect and subsequent bifurcation happened on June 2, 2014.

To start with Hyderabad is declared as the joint capital of two new states for 10 years.  This is the biggest farce in the separation.  Hyderabad is nowhere close to the boundaries of the two new states.  It is in the heart of the Telangana state, thereby being a common capital is nothing but disadvantageous for people of AP and also to the government of Telangana.  There is no way the new state of AP can claim any interest in the city, its infrastructure, tax revenues or anything, but only as guests who are unwelcome.  The government of both the states and their every representative is hostile to each other, and not a single effort or word of cooperation is extended.  People who live in each territory don’t really care about the nuances of the politics and government, and they have long ago moved on with their respective addresses.

Although both the states belong to Telugu people, and have a lot of common roots, there was plenty of animosity between the politics of the states, and the voices that were leading Telangana and still to a degree continue to be hostile to AP.  At the time of bifurcation the animosity in Telangana was at its peak and there was nothing that could have removed the animosity in public display towards AP and also its people.  Although bifurcation has to a large extent removed the people issues in public discussions, the states remain at odds.  People have moved on and wherever they live they have already added the new state to their address.

When the government in the center decided to divide the state and have a common capital for 10 years, that too located in the middle of Telangana state, and force the new government of AP to conduct its business from there, and also have a common governor who lived in Hyderabad, was probably the stupidest idea that congress can think of since independence.  There is no wonder the 2014 election dealt such a result for the INC, that the party may never be able to recover from the spectacle of defeat it suffered.

The center before the bifurcation has been completely aware of the political and ideological issues that existed and the difficulties that would arise from the split, that too without proper planning and allocation of required resources to both the states.  If there was a plan that supported the AP reorganization act, it is either non-existent or really never funded.  People of both the states expected the policy makers would take the decades old issue to a planned conclusion, and also put in place a long term plan to resolve issues and planned development.  Nothing has been implemented almost going into 2 years of the bifurcation.  People expected this of congress as the INC policies of divide and rule have always been an extension of the British.  You could expect no better in the division of AP, and also the subsequent results of the election that followed.  People simply voted INC out, after that and while we now have new government's at both center and state have been in power, the state still has no resources allocated as planned and nothing of significance left, except for a load of promises that have not come to fruition.  In dividing the state Congress got nothing; politically or in goodwill.

This is truly dramatic in the short history of India since its independence in 1947.  AP even after bifurcation is still a major state, divided and without a capital city (although announced), without a development plan, and without a special status to deal with the planning and development for the foreseeable future.

The political climate in the state is disruptive and mainly based on caste equations.  The opposition is unprepared and incapable of debate and dialogue, and most times the party in power simply counter attacks anything and anyone who points to mismanagement.  In so far as meeting election promises, just about every one of them is just that, promises.  There is no correlation between plans and reality.

The center really shows little sign of encouragement in building the infrastructure in the new state.  The strange disconnect is that the BJP and TDP are both aligned with each other, but there is absolutely no common agenda.  There is also a gap in managing whatever resources that the center is sending AP and how the resources are being utilized, which further distances the budgets verses expenditures.  It’s really complicated to fathom what will happen to the state and its plans.  For now the opposition in the state is incapable and inexperienced to force the government to act on its manifesto, and the state government to get the center to help with its needs.  A whole lot of nothing in meeting the needs of the state in almost 2 years, and only the man upstairs can intervene and help the common folks.

Past Perfect

Vasu Reddy from Chicago It has already happened. Past is already on the books, recorded, and can’t be changed.   It ...