Monday, January 30, 2017

No Longer a Dilemma

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

Today is the 30th of January 2017.  It is ten days since we have sworn in a new president of the USA.  None of the democrats in leadership have had anything new to say in the last ten days, except a tearful Chuck Schumer on television.  It is the republicans and their money bags that are of the opinion on the Shakespearean dilemma “To be or not to be”.

As a child I loved to read anything I could find in the school library, or whatever I could buy with every penny I had.  Shakespeare to Kushwant Singh and everything in between and every language were all invited into my reading time.

Till today, whatever I have read definitely form my opinions of what I hear and somehow try to associate with the written words of many men and women I have had the pleasure and insight into their minds and thinking.

Perhaps one of the greatest of thoughts is written by none other than William Shakespeare.  Perhaps the dilemma of mankind before and after his time, and here is the reference to the entire text in reference.

Please look thru the entire content of the recital in the link, and if you are a literature enthusiast and have yet to read Shakespearean works, its time to open you’re reading minds to him.

I have my thoughts with the American republicans past few days.  I have completely blocked out Trump’s staff and his family and people he is surrounded with.  They are now dealing with alternate facts, and I still have not found the meaning of that.

What about the Republicans?  Although most of them were not enthused prior to the election, and after Trump’s Electoral College win, they have been kissing-up to Trump after the election and through the inauguration.  But what is the deal now?  Its only ten days, and what will they do now?  Fiscal discipline, reducing budget deficit, health care reform, immigration overhaul, tacking terror, and whatever was their manifesto at stake for the public consumption, and Trump have his own agenda.  Now he is simply acting on what he said he will do when he gets to the White House.

The three parties to the question, Trump, Republicans with him and the opposing Democrats, what to do next?  Democrats would simply push their agenda to their vote bank, and unless they get another Obama (who certainly was not the run of the mill presidential candidate USA had) or another strong woman candidate like Hillary Clinton.  Both Obama and Clinton will not be available to run for the presidential office in 2020.  It is probably too early to look for a Democratic candidate, but it is not the quandary for democrats right now.

The decision now is for Republicans and their money bags on what to do now?

My personal opinions of Trump’s election manifesto are immaterial.  My state of Illinois voted for democrat Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.  Even my congressional district and both our state senators are Democrats.  But the nations Electoral College voted Trump in and he is our president at least of next four years. So, I don’t count on support for my state at least for the next four years.

I love politics as much as I love to read.  Watching the immigration and airport chaos over the weekend and trying to think of the great wall of America, and whatever else that is crossing my mind, I start the new week thinking like a Republican, what the @*$%.  God Bless America.  I know the allegiance to the Republican Party needs a huge prayer, except that the Republicans definitely have a much thicker skin than the Donald, and they have snake oil on their greasy hair.  It is the grand Shakespearean dilemma for the GOP, go figure if they can clearly think of what’s happening?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Only In America

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

One of the most endearing and fascinating aspect of the American democracy is the peaceful transformation of power after each presidential electoral cycle.  When Trump was sworn in as 45th President of the USA on January 20, 2017, the democracy was in full display.  Watching the living past presidents (with the senior president Bush and Barbara Bush unable to attend due to illness, and writing a wonderful welcome letter to Trump), President and Mrs. Carter, President and Mrs. Bush, President and Mrs. Clinton, and the newest entrant into the select group of past presidents, President and Mrs. Obama; all of them in the most exclusive club on earth walking into the inauguration and participating in the swearing in ceremony of a man who they did not support.  Their respect is for the ceremony and respect to the constitution in peaceful transfer of power, and the 1/20/2017 ceremonies in Washington DC were something that is true to the American democracy since its inception.  Before I type anymore, I am not sure if this will be the norm after Trump and his time as the president of the United States.  As before the election, and while getting elected, and during transition, Trump and everyone who is around him, are really out of the ordinary individuals, each without remorse or any sense of humility or decency while speaking of anyone else in the world.  With what the public know of these people and what they have displayed so far, there is no reason to expect anything else.  They simply attack, blame and bitch about Obama or Hillary or everything else as dishonest.

Trump is the president and the country and its electoral process made him the president.  For four years he is the president until something unconstitutional is attributed (which requires a very high degree of abuse of power), and people who put him there and people who did not put him there will have to hail to the chief.

Americans are referred to as “the Ugly American”, in general reference around the world (me belonging to the ugly American) but it is more in the attitude because of the superiority of the nation on global stage, rather than a personal reference.  Trump and people surrounding him are fantastic examples of the universal belief, they personify the fact how the world sees us, Americans.

While we honor the election and electoral process, Trump is really surrounded by the biggest bigots in America.  To start with Ryan, McConnell, Republicans in house and senate, governors, his opponents in the primaries and their supporters, his VP, and all the republican smiling faces around him, standing with folded hands behind him after his election are the biggest negatives for Trump.  The Democratic Party is ideologically opposed to any Republican president and they are now in the minority, just as the Republicans were when President Obama was elected the first time.  The political ideology is always going to be prevalent, just that the hypocrisy of the Republicans is on full display.  Trump is only guilty of exploiting every negative aspect of the Republicans in the country, and just achieving what he started out to become the President, and he did.

The country runs primarily on work, hard work and democratic way of life.  There is a sense of change when power changes hands between Democrats and Republicans and now it is the turn of the Republicans.  They will push their agenda just as the Democrats would, and there should be no surprise.  The president has a great influence on the tone of the political agenda, and if the President and the congress belong to the same party, then the imprint of the party platform is on for two years, or until people voice opinions against the government.  This time Republicans and Democrats have their own agendas, and Trump has his own.  Welcome to a new America, but the country will survive and will do what is best for the nation.  President, Congress, Senate and even the Supreme Court, and any elected and appointed institution is temporary, the nation and people are paramount.

Although very unusual for America, the democracy was in full display on January 21, 2017, Saturday, just one day after swearing Trump as the President, millions of people around the country, in this case around the world took to the streets protesting the policies and rhetoric of Trump and his people.  Trump and his team in the mean time keep blaming everyone for their success.  What is heartening is the day after millions marched voice support for their rights, and they were all peaceful and they were all simply stating their rights in a democracy.  Trump and his cohorts were simply hurling insults at everyone and playing hurt about the media coverage.  The beauty of today is that whatever we say is etched in stone (especially if you are a politician who loves to tweet), and it only becomes obvious when you contradict yourselves.  The next almost four years will be full of these, no doubt.

We will be fine, we will survive this and any other administration and we will continue to lead the world.  Democracy has a way of self correction and self indulgence, and no matter how individuals try to deviate the democracy, it will follow the course of freedom.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Citizen Obama

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

President Obama is completing him final term in office on January 20, 2017, this coming Friday.  Most of my last ten years have been nursing back to health and only a single trip to India to visit my mother in 2016, but plenty of time in understanding politics and global directions.  Both India and USA have been quite active in pushing democracy and development, and some brotherly love between Modi and Obama.

To draw simple parallels, since Modi became the PM of India, Obama was already some way thru his second term as president of USA.  Both men got along really well, and even addressed each other by Barak and Narendra.  A gesture to me was a special connotation of friendship between leaders of the largest and the oldest democracies, and the friendship between the leaders continue to the end of term of president Obama.

Before delving into retirement of Obama, the parallels that can be drawn between Obama and Modi are their beginnings as men in community development and their humble beginnings and their reach out to the underprivileged.

As President Obama rose in politics from Chicago, obviously he is our home town hero.  When I first met him (the only time) he was running for the senate seat (not too long ago, about ten years ago).  Shareef bhai had organized lunch in Chicago (I believe India House) and Satish and myself along with a couple of others had an Indian lunch with Obama and one of his associates.  Although I don’t remember everyone at the table, it was a small fund raising lunch, and when I saw his last interview on 60 Minutes yesterday (January 15, 2017), he looked and sounded the same. We all know he loves Indian food, and his affinity to the community.  I really think Obama has an affinity to every culture and obviously every food.  He was a man with quick intellect (he certainly was curious and well versed) and with quick wit and a very quick smile.  He still is after what he has done in the last ten years.

The most powerful office on earth will become a private citizen in a few days, and his reflections are stark to the day’s reality.  Obama clearly admits to his inability to work together with republicans.  It is glaring that the politicians can be of such different opinions and philosophies.  In his time in office, the acrimony of his opposition was obvious.  Republicans despised everything Obama, and it did not matter what he did.  From his birth to every policy was dealt with such acrimony, it is hard to believe that these people were representing the people.  Obama readily admits to the animosity to him as a person, and also clearly admits to his inability to work with both sides of congress.  It probably will never get easy for the next president and the one after.

Obama’s will walk away from the white house with great dignity and absolutely no scandal, along with two little girls grown-up and well mannered just like their parents.  To me, it doesn’t matter what the Obama’s looked like, or what their politics were, but they were great role models for families and friends, and to people in general.  Obama, was part of the change, and will always be remembered for his path-breaking political life.  He is still young and will have a long list of contributions to make to the society and the world.  I am sure glad he will be back to Chicago and I sure hope to have another Indian meal with him.

I am happy that Obama Presidential Library will be in the Chicago area.  While they build it and after they open it to public, I intend to be a part of it.  Although every president of the USA is a special person, as 43 men before President Obama, he is special.  A man with simple will to achieve what he did, and the simple plan of what he wishes to do after being the leader of the free world. He just wants to be Citizen Obama, spend time with his wife, see his daughters grow up, and yes, he would like to teach.  God bless him and his family and may he be a source of inspiration to the world. “OBAMA OUT”.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Another Year

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

We are already running thru another new year.  2017 is here and we are sleep walking thru the days quickly.  We are still far away from home, ten thousand miles away and journey home is still very arduous and the same as it was more than a generation and half ago.  Nothing has changed with the nation, its reception and of course my people.  No one has changed.  We all just got a lot wiser.

The music lovers of India will remember the song by Pankaj Udhas.  “Chitti Aaayee Hai” from the film “Naam” fro 1986.  Nostalgia and love for your home never fades. Listen to the song here, its still heart warming and heart touching.  Those were the days when you really wrote and waited for a letter to come back.  In living almost all of my life away from home, nothing depicts the love for home, for your people and your own everything from your birth place; irrespective of how many years you have been away.  It was the time when the mobile. Internet and instant communications were linked to star trek.

Today we are constantly or Skype or Facetime, text and instant messaging, emailing and calling, and use every device available to be in touch.  Hearing a distant voice or watching a screen to see the person on the other side is a part of normalcy.  We still can’t touch and feel, but hear and share.  A thousand new ways to be in touch, really still far away.  I have no complaints about what we have done in just a few years to communicate and be in touch, simply the missing factor is touch and feel and smell of home.

The journey and the time and process have not changed much.  It takes as long as it was 30 years ago, with millions more traveling from here to home.  Don’t ask me where here is, as where ever you are there are us.  In reality we are a lot more crowded today on the road, in the bus, in the train, in the air port, on the plane, actually everywhere.  It will be a fairly long column if we discuss the etiquette, so we simply focus on another year and the same distance from home.

The minute we start to make the trip home, we are impatient, and impertinent.  Really don’t think of what surrounds us when at home.  The standing in line and waiting disappears as soon as we get into boarding area at the airport.  We become a local without delay, but with an attitude of an NRI in India.  Strange as it might sound the accent that really is not there and the impatience that should never be a part of life, appear out of no where.

What really matters is reaching the destination I would point out, but not the arduous journey.  Many trips to the same destination but still each one is as precious as it was the first.  Here is another year and I would imagine it will be the same as last one, home still far away and still wonderful.  Happy New Year everyone, make this one a bit easier than the last.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Forgotten Reality

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

Peace and Happiness to everyone in 2017. 

At the dawn of New Year 1/1/2017, India was reporting that 90% of the 500 and 1000 Rupee notes were back into the banks as the process of demonetization comes to an end.  From 11/1/2016 to 12/31/2016.  Getting 90% of the old currency out of circulation is not just a very good effort, and for a nation that is plagued with corruption and fakes, this is somewhat a super human result.  There was a Times of India column recently that said the expectation of a wind fall for the government doesn’t seem real because 90% of the old notes are already redeemed.  This is a disingenuous claim by TOI and the news channels, which already reported that money being burned, thrown thru the train toilets, thrown into the rivers, thrown into the trash cans, and simply being left everywhere and being donated everywhere.  Assuming all the old notes that were legal were only 90% accounted for, it is still a 10% wind fall of the entire money that should have been in circulation, and if 10% of the entire value of printed high value notes is not a windfall, the reporting agencies must be on dope.

First the difficulties still being faced by the normal citizen are real, and 50 days of long lines to exchange money is hard to endure.  It is obvious that the normal citizen is the one who is most effected in the demonetization process as the list of requirements needed to exchange old notes and/or deposit them, and long lines they continue to endure is just for common man, and the rich and the crooked have already got into the action of getting their hands on unreasonable amounts of new currency and have already started the new ways of hording new currency.  To a large extent the India’s corrupt will find ways to get their hands on whatever process the government can think of to curb corruption.  There will be no 100% proof of avoiding the illegal hoarding of money.  The demonetization simply forces everyone to reveal the old bills, and what comes from new notes is something to deal with.

The government, the news channels and the citizens complained that Pakistan and others printed Indian currency to promote terror in India.  The special reference to fake Indian currency coming from Pakistan to promote terror in Kashmir, and other areas of India was constantly highlighted.  Indian banking system did not have a full proof system to validate currency, but once the demonetization was announced, the streets of Kashmir are quiet.  The news channels don’t high light this anymore.  Also, the greater good is that all the fake notes are now worthless.  In reality a 10% windfall of real Indian currency and also 100% curbing of fake notes, is more than a financial windfall, but it is also a security apparatus that immediately helped with curbing the terror and violence, and also eliminating fakes from the banking system.

The banks also report billions being deposited into the banks, or exchanged.  While Indians like to hold their money in cash, the demonetization has encouraged new deposits into the banking system.  Even if this adds a 25% new value to the currency in deposits, it is a windfall for the banks with new resources available for investments.  So, once again reporting the value of new deposits should have been given the front pages.

Perhaps the greatest effect f demonetization is that the unreported income, all of a sudden is taxable income.  The government continues to actively take steps to encourage people to deposit money with the banks, and also report any unreported income.  If the new reports are to be accurate, the IT department has been very busy with people and businesses reporting massive amounts of new income (and paying taxes and penalties) and also the IT raids yielding mega money that was unaccounted for.

What is the windfall that the news agencies were expecting that the Indian government has not achieved?  It is true that the process might not be perfect, but it has certainly eliminated the hoarding, hawala, terror and anti-social and anti-national activities.

A combination of all the after effects of demonetization is such a windfall of the Indian economy to allow for TOI of any news outlet to start piecing together 100% of the after effects of the demonetization, and they will certainly come-up with a thesis that will show a multitude of economic and societal value, while the long lines and loss of life are unacceptable.  But India being what it is, it would have been impossible to announce a long term demonetization and still achieve the listed objectives.

Past Perfect

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