Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Past Perfect

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

It has already happened. Past is already on the books, recorded, and can’t be changed.  It is what it is and that’s it.

We call it history.  The relevance of what we have available to record increasingly makes us to do so, and just as we type is the past.  Once again it is perfect as it is already done, and can’t be replaced.

The history has good, bad and the ugly.  They may not be in equal parts, but they are all there, just like everyone of us.  We come in various shapes, sizes and colors, but we find our own way to live, if we do.  There is no set time frame, no set style, no set template for life, it just happens as we start and finish, with something in between.  To get our life recorded, it must have something extraordinary (doesn’t matter the extremes) but something that a normal person doesn’t do, to become a page to be remembered in history.

We don’t all have the opportunity for becoming the next Gates, Jobs or Buffett, or Indian Tata, Birla or Gandhi.  (Sorry if I only sound off with just a few names). The irony of the massive respect for a name is that with billions of us, and just a few names to refer to.  Gandhi, King or Mandela are a creation of extreme circumstances imposed by societies that became so intolerant of fellow people, so we must find figures that will make societies look up to an individual as a symbol of positive hope and change.  We certainly have a few of the 20th century leaders who are in our thoughts, prayers and focus as leaders who paved way for equality.

With billions of us on Earth, just a few wise folks we pay our reverence and use as historic examples.  At the same time, we also use name as Hitler to reference to the genocide and lately we have had several heads or state from the MEA those have been deposed as leaders who had territorial and dictatorial control on people.  They are also given equal or greater coverage as the father figures in history books.

Howsoever we look at stuff, good and bad (perhaps evil) all get documented for reference as history.  The most(ly) intelligent beings can hear, read, review, look and comprehend the good, bad and ugly (Client Eastwood movie references) from history.  As being good means not imposing harm and hatred, we have a good understanding on what not to do from birth to death.

The choices for us to follow the path we choose to can certainly be circumstantial and lately we (may be for a long time) have been using the religion for our actions.  The first and second WW were fought because of dictators, communists and free world order, and the last several decades based on religion and color.  The various regions of the world work on their own brand of hatred and killing, but with each passing year the hatred acquires an expanded footprint.  For some reason history already has recoded the impact of hate, but we deliberately ignore the past, and continue to perfect the next set of hate.  The good remains with same definition, while the bad keeps expanding the definition.

It is simple to say, “I beg your pardon” or a one word “Sorry” when we make a mistake rather than double down.  It is simple to appreciate what is good and bad, rather than reinvent a new interpretation of something that is already well defined.  It is simple to listen, read or learn from history, its already there.  We have it at our finger tips, on our phones, and all it takes is a click or two to appreciate the value of what we already experienced.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Child of India

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

Howsoever I look at myself I am a child of India.  My mother and my mother country remain what they are.  Ten thousand miles, still make me a child of India.  Moving with a small suitcase and a black Samsonite in my hand to the USA to go to school, was not a frequent practice when I came (it is now such a common thing, and no longer in need of a bus full of well-wishers sending you off at the airport) and I did not feel any novelty of a foreign student.  When in stepped out of the airport and saw familiar faces to bring me in and send me off to school next day (in a bus) I did not feel anything new.  When I went to school, worked and did the same things as every other kind in school, I did not feel any different.  My English was salted to the British for the first semester and quickly disappeared, and I did not feel any different.  I finished school (two degrees) and worked, and grew up, travelled and did everything I believe I was supposed to, and good, bad, ugly and whatever life had in store for me, and I was always embracing the next day as it came.  I knew I had to live as life presented, and to date just do that.  Life to very one is unique in its own experiences and challenges, and mine was just that, and I accept it as is, and try to derive comfort from family and friends, and strangers as they whisk in and out.  Overall, there was nothing challenging or out of the ordinary to move from place to place, country to country and work, life, sickness and health and family.  All a part of life and it goes on.  Every instance another page, experience and part of on-going life.

My mother lives in India and the new generation of telephony allows for more frequent voice calls.  Every week we catch up on the same stuff, kids, health and weather and relatives.  I am happy to say there is nothing new, but an occasional mother and son health related updates, but by and large we have nothing that we think has changed, except the children growing up and each season’s weather.  We love our extended family and simply check to see how everyone is, and that’s all the best news I have every week.  We live far away, but we have our routines and one thing every week in common is that she can’t travel to the USA and stay with us.  All in all, life is just simple and weeks on we have something to talk about (except occasional happening with the big family) but I admit I am happy the way things are.  We don’t worry too much about what is happening in USA or India, as we have little control over what happens (only one vote in each country) and seldom talk about the local or national issues.

While the new smart phones allow of communications quickly and easily and inexpensive, along with language translators that are sometimes necessary, the social media also has become a forum for easy opinions and commentary.  As someone who blogs regularly, I do have my own opinions, and they are both political and personal.  My likes and dislikes are in each column I write, and they are just my thoughts and opinions, and often lean democratic.  Social justice, opportunity and remembrance are the soul of what I aspire to write, and not critique.  The hundreds of columns I wrote simply represent my current state of mind, and the week’s wordsmithing.  I love to write and read and I hope I will for the rest of my life.

While the social media allows for effortless way to comment, it also allows for serious debates on how individuals feel about where they live and what the just saw.  India and USA and everywhere in the world are separate places.  While social media like Facebook allows for acquainting with a lot of strangers, it is also a forum to thought and opining, and as there is a room for some 5,000 people to befriend on an account, it also has become an easy forum to critique.

Much of the comments are tilted to the nations inability to control traffic, rains, weather, behavior, nature and abuses, and with huge sections on politics and corruption.  It is granted that very nation has its own way of life and things to deal with, individuals placing a nation they migrated to verses a place of birth, is silly.  India is India and USA is USA, or Canada is Canada and wherever you are outside of India is that’s what it is.  You have a choice to live where you want to, and let India be India.  Politics, corruption and life is what it is and unless you want to contribute to what you are criticizing just let it be.  Just because of a social media forum, your opinion doesn’t mean anything but just typing, it is what it is, and unless every citizen tries to make a positive effort, then it is simply back seat driving.  If you don’t like Canada, India or USA or wherever just go somewhere else and see if you find Utopia.

I am a child of India and an adult of USA.  If you don’t like one place or the other go somewhere else.  No one is stopping.  If you don’t like the rain in Andhra or in Chicago, I am sure there are places on earth that have little or no rain, just go there.  If you don’t like politics of Delhi or Washington, find someplace on South or North pole where there is no one and no politics.  If you don’t like the people where you live, find a desolate place.  Whatever it is you don’t like, find a place you do, and that’s all.  I know for sure there is no Utopia on earth and for those of you searching for one, good luck.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

20/20 on Mass Murder

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

If not for terror in the news, we have mass murder.  These days it has become common place for killing strangers without cause.  There is never a reason to kill another person, but the killing of innocents has become standard practice around the world.  Mass murder for whatever reason is simply inhuman, but is being practiced.  The analysis after the fact is seldom useful, and only adds to the cruelty towards the innocents.

There is a lot of analysis, speculation and thought on psychology of mass murderers and trying to reason with why it happened.  There is no dissection of the reasoning for mass murder.  Seemingly normal human beings attacking strangers has become common place, and the carnage continues worldwide.  The media speculates (as with on everything else) and every outlet there is covers the murder/s until the next one.  No one thinks of children watching, listening or browsing the coverage.  Imagine little ones watching TV with their families being subjected to constant coverage of mass murder, what it could do to their thinking?  There is no doubt that news needs to tell people of what is happening, but bombarding the channels (all outlets) with mass murder will not allow anyone to escape, and no one cares about the two things; one – the murdered people, and the listening public, as it becomes a news story today and later a follow-up segment.

The acts of kindness and heroism of strangers typically plays out with the human beings in us.  We will by and large lend a helping hand, and run towards the needy.  There is a lot more human than anything else in all of us, and with each horror of mass murder we also see the kindness of strangers.  So, it is not all lost in humanity, it is simply some of us deciding to kill.  For whatever reasons behind the killing, the analysis simply doesn’t add up to catching or stopping the next one.

What is becoming common place is the intensity of mass murder.  Targeting innocents (unsuspecting and out in the open) is really the easiest target, as no one knows of the danger in an airport, office, concert, on the road, school, college, or just doing their daily and routine chores.  People must live and do stuff, and they are out in the open and in groups, and are easy targets.  They are unsuspecting and out in the open and the easiest targets.

Imagine the vast spaces of USA, in fact the world.  It is impossible to check, cover, monitor or manage the area, and try to pin point to where someone decides to commit mass murder.  The entire world is not a war zone, and people are not fighting with each other everywhere.  Much of the world is minding their own business and trying to live a normal life, until someone attacks; again.

The sad if that we let it happen again and again.  The news is (analysis) is constant.  The politics and process remains the same.  No one starts to care once the dead are laid to rest, except the families and friends of the affected.  There is no down grading the concern of news and others, but the next one comes again and again.  While the analysis of each instance is ongoing and afterthought, we really can’t plan for the next.  Guns, weapons, politics, religion, and human nature and whatever is influencing the killers is unpredictable and has become unavoidable.

It’s sad but avoidable.  All that can be done is finding more human in humans and perhaps a world that will start looking at life is a onetime blessing, and it can’t be given back.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Protesting Patriotism

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

The last year has been a show of some form of protest mainly with the NFL players.  First and foremost, everyone has a right to protest.  No matter the cause, gripe, issue, statement or whatever we don’t like, democracy (the oldest) allows us to express our displeasure to the act that we believe that is not defending the equal rights to everyone.  Democracy and freedom of speech go hand in hand, and it’s given to every citizen in the USA.
Going by the NFL players protesting the flag and national anthem, it can be a simple solution for these highly paid players, and overly expensive franchises.  The fans in the stadium and the viewing public pay huge amount of money to support their favorite teams, and in turn the teams pay huge money to players and over the top amount of public funding, tax dollars and support to each of the sports franchises.  Respecting the nation, its national flag and anthem and the fans who support the franchise/s should be a priority for the players and owners of each franchise.  There are many instances where the local teams support many causes and charities in their markets, and participate in good citizenship in their local societies.  Suddenly, these guys (who are overpaid) started to kneel or not show due respect to the national anthem and the national flag as a support to protest.  The problem is whatever they wish to protest can be done without disrespecting the nation, and the audience; who are the citizens that support their hugely inflated paychecks and much bigger egos, which are filled with the money made from the fans.

Hey! Why don’t you spend your inflated pay checks and huge profits in supporting the causes that you feel need support?  Why are you protesting (insulting) the national anthem and flag, and the public that feeds your pockets and egos?
With fans forking out billions in support of their favorite teams, they don’t need to witness disrespect to the nation at their cost.  Each of these players could simply stop playing and forego their (inflated) salaries as protest any issue they support.  Remember many union members march and support their causes while giving up their wages, the same can be done by the athletes.

I like my team.  The Chicago bears.  They have not won anything good in a generation, but I still wear my bears shirt and watch or listen to every game, and even pregame and post-game commentary.  I don’t understand any of the analysis, except my team constantly is in the loss column.  We pay hundreds of millions to players, and they are worthless in delivering wins to Chicago, but I still love them, they are my football team, as they are to all Chicagoans.  I love all our teams, Bears, Cubs, Sox, Blackhawks, Bulls and any team that represents our city.  Their losses don’t matter as in my life time, they have all been champions, and one or the other make the city proud and smile.  After all this is the city where Michael Jordan played, and what more can I ask for.  This city is where Harry Carry announced every day for the Cubs, and who really cared if they won? (I did, but was a fan even when they lost every day).  But I am also a citizen, and I love my country.  Every time national anthem plays I stand and wait until it is done.  Whenever I see a flag, I see it with pride.  I am an immigrant, nevertheless a proud and good citizen, who respect the nation and its citizenry.  As much as I love my teams, my loyalty to the nation comes before my love for the local teams, and while my heart is always with my local team/s, my love for the democracy is of greater value to me as a common man.
When I see the huge deal being made from the cause and disrespect, why not these overrated, over paid guys protest by not playing a game or a season (give up the inflated paychecks), or spend all their paychecks in supporting the cause they support.  It’s not good to alienate or disrespect the law, and it is equally stupid to disrespect the national flag, anthem and the citizens, and not taking a pay cut or using their wages to fund the cause or educating the nations about the root cause for their protest.

I am only one of the 300 million citizens and I am sure the nation looks at these payers with dismay when they disrespect the nation and the viewers, who all support the right to protest.  The forum is not where a few guys get paid huge amount of money and show no respect for the viewers, and have no intention of foregoing their inflated paycheck to protest, but insult the viewers.

All those players who protest or wanting to protest.  Please do it, but at your own cost and time.  Use can use the airtime (where we listen to your stories and the commentators dissecting the losses for hours and offering their theories and making us listen, and you can certainly protest, but you don't) The challenge is for you to show that you not only respect the public that supports you and your team, but you really mean to help your cause by stop playing or using your pay check (all of it) to help support your cause, then you are not just a good citizen but also a true protestor.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Nature’s Fury and Human Resistance

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

I love Florida. Although I only spent very few years in South Florida, I still am very fond of my old place, friends and associates and everything I could see, visit and explore in Florida.  Just mind your own business and enjoy the place, and you would be just fine.  For someone who likes the water, beach, great food (not expensive) and people, it’s a wonderful place.  Things were quiet, and everyone minded their own business.

It is a quiet and peaceful place.  While the tourists flock form all over the place, the locals like the weather, locality and peace.  While I also appreciate many places on earth with similar weather and conditions, Florida is a place for 6 million people, and it is wonderful.

The keys are my favorite part of Florida, along with Miami beach and Everglades, Disneyland, shopping and just about everything.  Just driving in Florida is relaxing, and often adventurous.  I don’t know how to swim, but my home pool was good enough for me to enjoy the water.  While the life itself is quaint and relaxing, it is also not that expensive, and all said stress free.  The very rich to people with limited resources still have the same beautiful ocean, sand and views.

As the water, sand, sun, smiles, style and people (food is included) all get used to each other rather quickly, Florida is also in the zone of sea levels that are precarious.  The eco system is precarious.  Even a little bit of sea surge will overtake much of the beautiful and enjoyable space of Florida coast, and this is something no scientist must provide any evidence to support.  It is simply that people love the sea and sand and the pleasant weather, and they will build as close to this is as possible to enjoy the nature’s goodness as possible.  No one stops us, and no one worries about the eventual fury of nature, and no one thinks in their life time any massive natural disruptions in their community.  Florida and its cities have had some massive natural disasters, and as they escaped catastrophe last week, they have done so many times.  It’s only natural for human beings to hope for the best, and riding out hurricanes is one of those things we seem to believe that we will escape, unscathed.  We have from the beginning of time, both respected and ignored nature’s ability to do what it pleases, and we have well recorded instances of populations getting wiped out.  We still try to ride out the natural disasters (despite the warning, including some who suggest ignoring the warnings) with bear bones of our homes.  One thing to ponder is what good is a single home, if the whole neighborhood is wiped out?

There is no science or politics involved, only perhaps the profit.  When you keep suggesting that human interference into nature will cause more natural disasters, and the bigger and bigger natural disasters will become a normalcy.  Whether we like it or not, any major change to any life style has consequences, and the whole human population makes every effort to add their part to the earth’s constitution.  With 13 billion making small adjustments (corporations make huge adjustments) there is bound to be a huge overall impact on how Earth handles the change.  So, we can think of a hurricane or two or three, every year and the damage done to our state, or start combining the effects of severe weather around the world to accept our contribution to the changes to the weather.

We only have one Earth, and its ability to sustain and reestablish the natural balance for all of us is limited, and time consuming.  We really are not allowing for sustainability nor replenishing the natural abilities.  We can think of what next with severe weather (while continuing to argue) or come up with the ingenuity to sustain our earth.  The choice is clearly ours.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Inimitable and imaginable thoughts

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

Throughout childhood and adulthood, I have lived a life of my own.  Essentially meaning that always life in a hostel, shared accommodation, rented and shared apartment, life with aunts and uncles, and my own apartment, home or condo.  The ability to move from place to place, share with schoolmates and friends, and eventually with family and children.  The moves and folks I shared with my accommodation and food, have never impacted what I was and how I behaved.  I simply was myself, irrespective of where I was and who I was with.  I am very sure there were times I was not the best roommate or a welcome guest or the best family member, as I simply like to mind my own behavior, and seldom wanted to involve in matters that of not personal.  This might have been just the way I want others to be with me, and I try to behave the same with others.  I care and feel with my heart, and the impact of life’s events are hard on my system to handle events, so I also try hard to not be impacted as I suffer personally by taking things to heart.
In the USA if you lived if I have, there are many people you come in touch with, your own family and friends, community, fellow nationals and may immigrants just like you.  They are all like your own journey, working, students, families and relatives and sometimes just friends.  I have these and a lot of new associates, acquaintances and new members of the vast and common core of immigrants.
In all these years of being by myself, in India or outside it has not been on mind to worry about who I associate with or who I wanted to be friends with.  I don’t think I will do so in the future.  What I have noticed is that even the very well educated, well acquainted, well healed members still show the imaginable thoughts on their affinity to communities.  I notice this more with the freewheeling comments on social networks.  While we are all entitled to opinions (I have mine at least once week on something), the most well-established members of the community have prejudices of others with different names.  This has become more obvious with movies and their content and names.  People are becoming experts on the community by writing their reviews (on community rather than movie) and somehow associating to their displeasure on what others are.  Lately the social media accounts and many opinions on community and caste have become commonplace, but pertaining to communities that are not their own.  Arjun Reddy movie is one such example, where the opinions have been so much to just the name of the movie and how it was directed.  I finally saw the movie, and felt it was another movie with a simple story of love and physical and self-abuse, ending with the routine ending of the lovers being united.  Although critics and moviegoers find it different, I found the movie a simple story of love with perhaps current Indian setting.  It was not a ground breaking or trend setting movie, but was different than Telugu movies.  The social media and the promotions have been focused on the hype of the language and movie making, and how the actor/s are taking the movie to the stage.  I would believe that creating the hype is to sell more tickets, and all the actors and makers will probably have moved on by now to their next movie.  What has been uncommon is how people have taking extreme opinions on this single movie.  Especially for those in the USA, who have the luxury of so many various languages and options for moviegoers.  For a cheaper price, your theatres have multiple choices.  Anyone who likes movies have an enormous choice of movies that you can imply pick to watch.  Each movie is made with some conviction by the makers and language and genre are simply a choice of the audience.  Indian moviegoers should know this as we do make regional language movies and many of them are translated (dubbed) into all major Indian languages.  And moreover, they are of different concept and genre.  No one is asking the moviegoer to see a movie that they are unwilling to watch.  But the ability to write on social media is allowing for everyone to find something negative to comment on.  It is a phenomenon that has no logic.
First you are not forced to watch a movie.  Then you interject the community or negativity to the making of a simple movie.  (we no longer have pathbreaking concepts, just mashups).  Then you put it out and a lot of your followers then start to add their own take on it.  Many of them not even watching the movie, but just for opinion) and the trial of comments continue until they end up being a critic of something the movie has nothing to do with.  This typically starts with someone who is educated and has been a part of a large immigrant community.  Anyone who is reading this can associate with my imagination, and start to write something good, something sensible, something endearing, something encouraging, or simply don’t write.  No one in 21st century America should worry about last names, rather the future of their children and families and their future generations.  Not some dumb title of a move or content of a movie.  You have better and more important things to worry about.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Precious and Thrown Away

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
Life itself is fleeting. For the earth is referenced to in billions of years and many references to the creator for his magical creation of forms of life, mainly the most intelligent of them of all; the human being.  While the evolution of humans is something we continue to discover, we already know that life is fleeting and precious.  We know that it is one life to live and whatever before or after is irrelevant.  Very few human beings live up to being a 100 years old, remining all of us that the life span of any human being is just a fleeting moment on earth.
In the human mind invincibility with life and what each person makes life to be is the thinking.  We are certainly creatures made of circumstances and opportunity.  (We continue to prophesize on opportunities are what we make of).  We throw in the conditions of life and continue to evolve into a mundane environment of what we want to look up to.  Just imagine what is on the mind of a just born baby? Probably only hunger followed by nature’s call and a warm embrace of the mother.  We quickly start to build our mind around (ideas) our circumstances and start to behave (adapt) to whatever they might be.  In each case our daily routine and behavior revolves around circumstances.  The tenacity of human beings is their ability to try and adapt to their given circumstances.  In most cases a generation ahead of us will keep instilling the desire to do better, and push us to an environment less challenging than theirs.  Study, work, live and have a smarter and cleaner life than theirs; and often with their sacrifices through their time, effort, resources and efforts.  All are geared to make things better for their next generation.
It is natural for us to want our off springs to have better opportunities and better conditions for life.  All our emotional wellbeing is typically attached to our children and what happens with their life.
From an open-air living and working only for food, only with a few people as a clan, we have grown to 7.5 billion people.  The basic instincts (I believe) are still intact on human reflections.  We have formed countries (keep forming and redrawing or encroaching), religion(s), boundaries, governments (various forms of them) and more over leaders.  One would have to guess if all 7.5 billion humans were one single clan (searching for a term here) how life would be monotonous.
One major psychological factor that we have developed is following one more human.  This not simply to follow their path of success or righteousness, but simply follow the ideology for another person.  In this time and age where we have every bit of information to appreciate and understand the minute by minute happenings in the world, we still are ideologically tied to what we call as leaders.
While our history is full of people who have set notable examples of life, teachings and practices we also have a great deal of leaders who have tried to influence on our nuances of fear and future.  Why we behold to any fear is really out of the observable human reaction.  We are all fully capable of making our own decisions, and whatever environment we are a part of we have a choice to our own wellbeing.  In 2017, we continue to behold our thoughts to others.  We also look at great wealth creators give away all their fortunes to betterment of fellow humans, we also look at leaders driving their followers into things what we really don’t need to inflict on each other. So much disparity on the same earth and same world, and same human beings.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Continuous Reinvention of Democracies

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

The law of the land in any democracy is to make the law and all its people follow it.  Defining democracy can be very simple or very complicated, but enjoying the freedom that is fostered what makes it a rightful aspect of life.  The law of the land starts with electing representatives with a simple majority, who in turn manage the people’s business the administration and making or adjusting the law of the land to best suit the needs of its population.  As all the elected representatives are for a definitive period (sometimes limited to reelection, or term limits), the electorate always has the option to replace or reelect the same person.  Essentially people have the ultimate power to choose who represents them.

Voter preferences, choices and needs are reflected each time they vote.  Exercising the right to vote and choose the representatives that follow, enforce and reinvent the law of the land on a continuous basis makes the democracy to reinvent the people’s process again and again.  It is continuous.

From the oldest democracy to the largest democracy, the right to vote is the supreme form of expression of freedom.  The votes evolve with the nation and international needs, and they also evolve with the practical needs of the society.  The experiences of the past and the needs of today, and how candidates represent their ways to address them, and finally how convinced is the voter makes the next winner.  A combination of socio-economic reality and the combination of promises verses deliverables to make up the choice for the voter, over the past 20 to 30 years the television, internet and more recent mobiles have made the voter interaction and reach instant and readily available to feed to the information overload.  Voter once again must decode the truth from what is being fed.

Irrespective of the election cycle, the voter choice is made on perception and need.  It is true that each election and its electoral deliverables adapt to the current events.  Although long term implications of the decisions taken by the government impact past and future, the current needs weigh heavily on voter decision making.  Catastrophes do play into elections, but they don’t happen every day to swing the elections.

Today’s events and coverage, the mood of the electorate and certainly how a candidate pitches will sway the percentage of people who comprise of the swing votes that will determine the winner.  The swing is slim as most elections are so close and 50.01% is all that is needed to victory.  When the electorate is deciding to vote on a party platform (irrespective of what they are pitching) the undecided or independent voters are to a minimum in the population, and almost all the time the candidates are not just pitching their base of voters, but also to the undecided.  The undecided are the ones that typically deliver the electoral victory.

Huge electoral margins are anomalies in democracies.  People are divided based on their ideologies, need, opportunity, opinions and many other factors that are unrelated to governance.  So, gaining the swing voters into perspective typically determines the victory.  Prejudice and dislikes also count, but in a democracy, you are free to decide on who to vote, as only you are aware of what is in you mind.

While democracy itself is self-sustaining (people like being free to make choices) the process of democracy itself continues to reinvent and incorporate the nuances of a free world.  Each election also reinvents the process and systems of democracy, and peaceful transition of power.  Freedom of choice allowing free thinking, allowing the citizens to evaluate, reevaluate and reinvent the thoughts into each election, and continuing to drive them for the benefit of people.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Rich Man & Poor Man

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

India the largest democracy lead by Modi as its prime minister and the USA the oldest democracy lead by Donald Trump as its President, are both quite a contrast in making daily news.  Both the leaders have robust opposition to their agenda, but the contrasting personalities handling the politics, policy, perception, personalities and pertinence are as different as day and night.
The common trait between Modi and Trump is their use of social media.  They have millions of followers and both are active on social media.  That’s where the similarities end.
For their followers on social media, the leaders of the largest and oldest democracy the contrast is obvious and reflect their approach to governing and life.  The reality is that Modi is from a very small town with very limited resources to his family, and Trump a well to do real estate family with New York as his base and a wealthy man who just wanted to be president.  For both India and USA, the elevation Modi as PM and Trump as President is a true mark of democratic society.  The fact that they are the leaders of India and USA reflect the processes that are people oriented and people driven.  This is one more time we must remind ourselves of the value of democratic societies and free speech.
Modi in general doesn’t publicly criticize or admonish his staff, ministers or anyone around him.  He works very long hours and he is agenda driven.  His party and his administration constantly reinforce their manifesto, and generally stick to their stated agenda.  Modi in his first term as PM of India, has been taint free and focused on his basic intent to drive India to a better human, political and economic environment.  As large as the Indian population is Modi has a challenging task of bringing the Indian population to a surviving wage and sanitary environment.  What is endearing to me is Modi chronologizing his social media accounts with his travels, his policies, his remembrances, his meetings, his plans and his challenges.  Almost all of Modi’s daily updates somehow reach out to a section of the Indian society and at least make them be a part of the nation’s leader’s work and his plans and schedule.  He has been the PM for more than 3 years and he has been continuing to push his election (his party’s) manifesto, and has been successful to a good measure.  Modi’s challenges are not what he would like to do, but the massive task of India as a nation and its ever evolving political and regional challenges.
Trump is rich and new to politics.  He is used to managing a private real estate enterprise (nothing public that must report to the shareholders) and only he was in control of his actions.  His life is well documented and until a couple of years ago he was not involved in public policy or politics.  In his still infant presidential role, Trump has continued to be impulsive as he was in his private enterprise.  His social media challenges are more challenging rather than policy, and his contrasting communications are often contradictory to his own public pronouncements.  As every word that was said before being a politician and after he has become one, the difficulty is to keep the message straight.  USA is a well healed nation with its economy, its people, its military and its borders are all in contact motion of protecting the nation, and running despite of the politics.  USA is much too large for a single person, or single party to put it at risk, and it can self-correct any anomalies.  Outside of the truly democratic enterprise, the nation is also self-affecting and self-analyzing.  No one person even if it is the nation’s leader is above the law of the land, and respect (eventually) for the rule of law is still followed.  The problem with Trump might not be his social media skills, or his political skills.  His problem is exact opposite of Modi.  Trump and his message can be directed to his election (republican) manifesto.  No matter what the political pressures are, Trump should stick to his work to do, and stay with policy making.  The first six months of Trump’s issues have been more with his own party and his social media attacks.  All we need to keep Trump and the republicans on the same agenda, and leave the personal attacks on social media to himself.  All will be well as we do have a Republican congress and Republican president, and a republican agenda is supported by 50% of the population.  If Trump’s presidency will have to start working on policy and legacy, it can simply stick to the republican agenda and push a daily resolution of the republican party agenda.  Trump offering to cut the deficit to zero sounds wonderful to me, and most of the forward-looking citizens.  If he does nothing but simply eliminate the government waste and budget deficit, he would have brought his businessmen skills (he keeps touting) to governance.  Trump certainly has the business skills and he has his party in his tail winds, and pushing even a single point agenda (zero deficit) he will be well deserving of a legacy of performance.  He is only number 45 on the presidential list, and the citizens are for sure capable of choosing a leader.

The poor man as a prime minister and a rick man as a president are both in the same time for the civilization and have a huge contrast in where they come from.  Their social media skills are reflective of their personalities that are in opposite spectrum, and perhaps also reflective of the economic agendas of the nations.  The reflection of the contrast in reaching the massive audience is also reflective of the audience and its interest in what they expect of their leader.  The audience is what will drive these leaders and their agenda and policies.  We can perhaps reflect the nations receptivity to what their leaders represent.  It’s us people who drive democracies and it is us people we elect our leaders, and whatever messages we get back from our leader’s is simply our doing.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Magic of Personal Time

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

We no longer have any more personal space.  Our phones, computers, work, home, driving, shopping, walking and whatever we are doing including sleeping is on a clock or on a timer.  Someone is monitoring or watching what we do, even if we are unaware.  Our whereabouts and our habits are recorded and available.  Not that we should worry, but our every moment is there to rewind and review.  Despite the ever-increasing archiving of our every action, some of us (many of us) are beginning to constantly update our every moment.  What was at a time the life styles of the rich and famous, is now the same for someone on Facebook or Instagram.  Personal albums no longer are that, but on the net for everyone to see, and perhaps reminisce and criticize.  Our daily routines are common updates.  While a personal space is on a constant update, the same is also being exploited by the fanatics and politicians.  For whatever it is worth our life is out there in the cyberspace and updated and archived as we live it.
The more we advance technologically (which is now only beyond our imagination) the less we can claim to privacy.  The judicial system and educational system certainly have a great amount of difficulty in pacing with the technology advancements.  We can’t be complaining about our ability to talk, text, google and be in touch; all with relative ease and claim to privacy.  The disappearing private space (time) of one’s life is a common aspect of today’s advanced (and continuing) communications.
Do I really want to know everything?  The breaking news, instant communications and 24/7 monitoring that is a part of everyday life, and do I really want this? All while keeping every waking moment as a constant update all in as many channels of communication as possible.  The real-time news and analysis (mainly geared to the negatives), even the weather update every 10 minutes, really makes good listening for about 15 minutes, then becomes repetitive.  Even when referenced as breaking news, what we hear is simply repeated and again, until something else becomes breaking news.
We combine personal updates as much as we can and then we get network coverage constantly, and everything is breaking.  On a lighter side, recently Trump’s white house spokesman had said that Trump’s tweets should be considered as official presidential pronouncements.  This man is no longer working for Trump and the white house, and Trump is quick to change his positions as fast as he can type.
Life and technology is what we have made for our self.  We can be inspired by what it could be and how far can we imagine and innovate.  There should be no doubt that we will continue to discover and dream of unimaginable facets of our mind.  There is absolutely no limit to what the human ingenuity can do.  There is no contest or there is no poll that determines the next innovation, and what comes with the next generation of technology is first the invention, then the after effects.  We neither have control of our ability to innovate and invent, nor the ability to foresee the after effects of our inventions.  As is with everything in life, the good and the bad (sometimes ugly) goes with each aspect, and technology gets no respite with after effects.
Imagine the days of solitude and life uninterrupted?  No longer the case, even on the space station.  What would it be to get on a motorcycle (a huge Harley Davidson) and just drive coast to coast.  No plans, no GPS, no one else; just drive until the next stop, and keep driving and visiting the grand and welcoming nature.  Leave the mobile behind, and no internet to follow, just you and the Harley and the wonders of the nation, and just keep riding, and just enjoying the nuances of the nation’s beauty and diversity.  Irrespective of how long you ride, nothing is going to change in the world.  The breaking news will continue to break, will be the same when you log back in.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Focus on People’s Agenda

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

Although the negatives get more (constant) coverage, the direction of a democratic government is driven by the election manifesto and the actions after a victorious campaign.  The people who voted (for the winning candidate) and the press will pay attention to the results of the pre-election manifesto.  Actions that follow the promises prior to the election will always be appreciated and rewarded with continued electoral victories.

It is given that poll promises are voice against the opposition and to attract votes.  Promising handouts is common and playing to the audience.  People love to hear the candidates of their party talk of how well (better) their candidate will cater, comparing to the other party.  To win an election, candidates will kiss babies, shake every hand, eat at McDonalds, sleep in motels and do what normal people do; and they will speak to everyone and promise to do what their party’s manifesto displays.  Nothing changes with each election, except the candidates.  Every candidate promises everything their base electorate wants to hear (sometimes much more) and at every opportunity criticize the opponent.  In an election, you got to promise the moon and you must tell people what an idiotic choice your opponent is.

Incumbent has an advantage in elections, especially when the party followed thru on the campaign promises of the past electoral victory.  As the electoral promises are tailored to their base vote banks, it is easy to tout the promises kept.  The electorate is any way highly polarized and party specific, leaving a few independents.  The victory depends on getting the people to vote.

The democratic elections continue to embark on party specific deliverables to cater to their vote bank.  The elections them self are close contests, barring a very few elections where there is a blowout.  Every candidate is carefully chosen to represent a party, funded to go through a long and arduous campaign, spend hundreds of millions and appeal to their vote bank, and after all this get people to get out and vote.  We can track the elections and notice that the ideal representatives of any party have become difficult to choose, difficult to get elected and when elected it is almost impossible to deliver on the promised agenda.

People have increasing access to information (good and bad and in-between).  The media coverage (constantly) is focused on finding holes in the day to day affairs of the politicians.  The head of the state and every word (action) gets scrutinized with expert analysis, and there is always positives and negatives in the same space.  Today archives are instant and constant, and easily attainable.  The information is easily retrieved and referenced.  It is impossible to make a statement and ignore or retract it. Emotional outbursts, impromptu statements and reactions, humor and sadness, family and friends, work and vacation and everything that is done, said and written is constantly recorded, archived and retrieved; and all very easily accessible.

A clear case of media verses leader is on full display in the USA.  It’s not just Trump, but every elected leader (anyone) is under the microscope in the USA.  Even the common man who is on social media, their following and comments and activities; everything is available for scrutiny.  The media analysis is brutal.  While the elected officials often struggle to keep their promises, the press is always looking for inconsistent statements and actions.  While it sounds contentious, the checks on politicians is constant.  The voter gets only to cast the ballot once in an election cycle, the media focuses on keeping the politicians accountable.

There is little doubt in the power of democratic process, but the elections are held on a rigid schedule and they are evenly divided with the electorate.  The margin of victory is slim, and the impossibility of accountability of elected officials adds to the overpowering the administrative challenges of elected governments.  While accountability is constantly questioned, the focus on people, their needs and respect to their reasoning is that is needed.

Monday, July 17, 2017

An Uncivilized Society

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

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

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


Vasu Reddy from Chicago

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.

Past Perfect

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