” Russian Referendum – Stage managed by Vladimir Putin ” – July 8, 2020.

          Just as belief and emotion cannot be separated, so are Communism and Dictatorship. Doctrine of absolute rights and dictatorship is the fundamental guiding principle here. Russia under Vladimir Putin ;  China under Mao Zedong ;  Cuba under Fidel Castro ;  and a few other communist regimes have all existed as dictatorial regimes with complete power over people. The general feeling amongst the dictators that they will last permanently and in the end find themselves betrayed by their own associates has been recorded again and again in history.

          Dictatorship has taken a different form in this 21st Century.  ‘Dig oneself in  behind the shield of democracy’  is the prime goal of leaders in many places. Election of Vladimir Putin (67) has made himself an immensely powerful Political Force in the World. The methods adopted and the circumstances under which Vladimir Putin grabbed absolute power may be subject to serious discussions, but he was clever in not allowing any obstacle in his path to accomplish his Aim.

          That Russia’s  Opinion Referendum has enabled a  stable Government for the future years is a positive sign, though. When the entire world is struggling for measures to combat COVID-19 with its impact felt seriously in World economy ; jobs;  and unemployment,  Russia’s efforts to remain stable even if by undemocratic manoeuvres has to be recorded as a good outcome.

          When Russia’s  former Intelligence Officer (KGB), Vladimir Putin, became the Leader in 1999, the thought of him becoming an unshakeable political force was simply beyond dreams. Except for a four year period between 2008 and 2012 when he was the Premier, he has held the position of President in all remaining years.

          This Opinion Referendum ( between June 25  and July 1) has permitted Vladimir Putin to continue for two more full terms of 6 years each (uptil  2036). This, in addition to the remaining 4 years of his present term. It is against the background of  “Constitutional Reforms”  advocated by Putin that he succeeded in this. The question arises as to why he chose to conduct this now when he has another 4 years without a hurdle.

          Reasons can be found in the following :  First, the havoc caused by COVID-19 that was not anticipated in the early stages ;  Second, the damage caused to its Economy ;  and Third, but not the least,  the declining popularity of Vladimir Putin as the undisputed leader. Sweeping air of insouciance amidst the COVID-19 tragedy actually raised Vladimir Putin’s chances of success in this referendum.

          The fairness and probity of the referendum was always in doubt ;  there have been violations of rules and irregularities throughout the period of voting ;  citing the dangers of COVID-19, opponents have been prevented from engaging in campaigns ;  there were complaints of ballot fraud ;  freebies promised and doled out to the voters for supporting the Constitutional Reforms ;  part of the referendum was conducted on line ;  there were failures of supervision and checking of votes – People did not seem to have any other safe option but to accept Putin’s decision.

          Significant to note is the fact that Putin did not conduct this referendum solely for the purpose of extending his reign. He proposed several changes in the guise of Constitutional Reforms, one of which pertaining to the removal of the fixed term rule. 

          Voters can say  “yes”  or  “no”  only.

          He had included in his proposal, aspects like :  (1)  enhancement of retirement benefits ;  (2)  minimum wages ;  (3)  ban on same sex marriage ;  and  (4)  faith in God –  as fundamental items in the changes. Voters are thus compelled to vote on the basis of the reform in its entirety only. Retirement benefits and Faith in God were the factors that firmly tilted votes in favour of Putin and not necessarily for his rule continuing in unbridled fashion.  78.56 %  voted  “yes”  ;  and  21.44 %  voted  “no” in the referendum.

          Everyone will be aware of what happened in China a couple of years ago when President Xi jinping was conferred the status of a ‘lifetime leader’. 

          Stalin, Mao, Lenin, Hitler, Mussolini – all set out to enhance and enlarge their powers permanently in life. 

          This is the cake that Vladimir Putin held in his hands and now eating it too.

          ” Power may well be an enabler ;  Will time remain silent ?” –  is the 64 thousand dollars question.

 

   “Dieu avec nous”

   Wednesday, July 8, 2020 –  2.39 p.m. (IST)

   Tidbit : ” Voting is completely unimportant ;  what is extraordinarily important is  …  …  who will count the votes ; and how?” –  Joseph Stalin.

 

” Being Comfortable with Black History in America ” – July 4, 2020.

          All the lights of the most pleasing and beautifully decorated White House went out on May 31. The place was drowned in darkness.

          President, Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and son Barron safely took shelter in the bunker in the basement. Military personnel around the White House gathered to ensure protection. 

           Just opposite were protesters in masses who were being driven away by tear gas and rubber bullets. The crowd could not be dispersed. Noise and roar continued deafeningly. Not just Americans but the whole world stood in astonishment that this should happen to the US  President.

           About  43/44  Presidents  have lived in the White House so far. About 19 years back in 2001 (September 9) on that fateful day of the attack on the twin towers in New York, then President and family were safely guided to the bunkers. It was to protect the President from terrorists/extremists then. It is to protect the President from People Protest now.

          The reason for this is not difficult to seek. The cruel killing of 46 years old black man in the hands of police on May 25 affords it. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck for almost 8 minutes. He was handcuffed, begging for life, muttering that ”he can’t breathe”. His cry was only greeted with fierce glare, looks, and actions. Derek Chauvin ignored not just his plea but that of the onlookers too.  “White men’s ears do not probably hear the cry of black men”.  George Floyd embraced death lovingly.

          George Floyd’s death caused public outrage from both whites and blacks. People took to streets in almost all of the 50 States. Not to dismiss the possibilities of outrage spreading to other countries. The storm of protests still continues. America has virtually become a battlefield because of this incident.

          The most powerful nation in the world, America, is facing a tumultuous period now. Uncontrolled COVID-19 cases on one side ; and domestic riots due to racial discrimination on the other. No outsider is responsible for this. The leader’s approach and policy constitute the main reasons – is possibly the general perception. 

           Whites in America make about 60% of the population. By the year 2045 it will become a white minority nation, according to one study. Sensing the danger, Donald Trump fought the election in 2016 on his  “America First”  slogan and won with praise, popular acclaim, earning respect in the process.

          Under President Donald Trump’s Leadership, in America, however, attacks on blacks and minorities seem to have increased 17%.  It includes blacks, muslims, sikhs, and  hindus too probably. The whites there are mostly people migrated from Europe. Another survey says that not a single day passes without an incident of this nature somewhere.

          According to Census 2018, there are 26.5 lakh Indians in America. About 16 Indians are members of the Senate. It is a matter of pride for the Indians. Senator, Kamala Harris,  CA,  a prominent member of this group had called for, “adequate security and protection to the minorities against such attacks”. Her suggestion to the President also calls for constructive measures to safeguard the interests of minorities in America.

           If religion and caste are the curses we fear in India, it is seen in the form of apartheid in America. These have the potential to change the directions of elections in both countries. What is needed is change in the period of time in the history of the nation for these. A new resolution to break the barriers to peace and harmony.

          Lyndon B Johnson in 1965 cancelled the proposed visits of both the then Indian PM, Lal Bahadur Shastri,  and the then Pakistan President, Ayub Khan,  due to the strong feeling that the visits of  these two supposedly black men will make him lose the election.

          Racial discrimination began in America in 1619 itself. American Supreme Court in 1896 had enshrined in the country’s laws that,  “American eyes can distinguish between divisions among people, a trait that is inherent as spelt in the Constitution.” Change has been effected.

          In February (2020) in the midst of a running training, a black man, Mr Arbery, was shot dead (in Glynn County, Georgia) because he knocked a white man.

          Three policemen shot an African American medical worker, 26 year old Breonna Taylor in her apartment (in Louisville, Kentucky) itself without any reason. (March 13).

          In the recent Minneapolis protests, a white man on a bike plowed through the protesters in rage. Many died in this incident. The white man was, however, released. (June 28).

          There is growing anguish and attacks on blacks. Whites feel that blacks are responsible for their plight. This is not America. People with character, compassion, and justice exist in all groups in abundance.

          Chief of Police Department, Art Acevedo, of Houston, while tackling a protest marched with the protesters, went before them, embraced them,  and even fell at their feet with words to the effect : ” President, Donald Trump, please do good to these people ;  be silent “. The people were overwhelmed and he drew national praise. (June 1).

          New York city Police Chief during the prayer meeting of George Floyd in Times square went down on his knees to pay his last respects to the black man. Another senior Police Officer commenced a peace procession holding the placard, : ” Let us live with shared aims”. These were the scenes in Florida, California, and many other cities.

          Former President, George Bush,  expressed his opinion that,  “African Americans to get attacked in their own land is to be condemned”.

          A poll survey expresses 55% dissatisfaction with the approach adopted to national security problems which can impact the President’s re-election as seen at this juncture. Still 124 days left and who knows what will happen ?

          Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in front of the Embassy in Washington DC has been vandalised (June 2). It is a matter of pain and discomfort to Indians, specially. It is restored yesterday (Thursday) though.

          It is important that we recall Mahatma Gandhi’s own saying : ” My statues can be damaged ;  but not my principles. Religious, Caste, and  Apartheid  differences should be abolished. What is needed is truth and purity of mind. Think for a while and work together as brothers.”

          Albert Einstein held Mahatma Gandhi as his idol. Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy, two of America’s great Presidents had their lasting effect with their Political ideals and Experience in America. They also revered Mahatma Gandhi.

          President Donald Trump visited Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, India, (February 24) attesting to his Greatness. He wrote in the Visitors book : ” The American people stand strongly with a sovereign and wonderful India – The Vision of Mahatma Gandhi. This is tremendous.” As regards the desecration and pulling down of monuments and statues he said strongly : ” You play with our monuments and statues ; and you go to jail for 10 years “. Comes from the bottom of his heart.

           Martin Luther King Jr. held Mahatma Gandhi as his Political Guru. In his speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (August 28, 1963) here’s :  ” I have a dream that one day little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. That they will not be judged by the Color of their skin but by the Content of their character.”

          People yearn for Peace ;  with a strong and emotional desire to make this a reality.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous”

   Saturday,  July 4, 2020 –  11.09 a.m. (IST)

   Tidbit : ”  If you can’t fly, then run ; if you can’t run, then walk ;  if you can’t walk, then crawl ;  but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward ”  –  Martin Luther King Jr.

” What the Heroic Death of 20 Army Personnel Behoves .. ” – June 19, 2020.

          What happened in Galwan on the night of June 15, 2020, was a remarkable achievement for the Indian Army which fought not a traditional war but a melee where personnel pushed and hurt each other physically with stones, iron rods, and spikes. India led by Col Santosh Babu fought the Chinese army consisting of personnel several times more than us and killed at least 50 of them.

          It was not a terrorist violence. It was the fight between our military and that of Chinese. That this should not result in a full fledged war was the chief aim of China. Hence, the departure from using guns. A war like situation and not a real war has been China’s  “Political Strategy”.

          Significant to note is the fact that the war in 1962 was centered around this Galwan valley area . There was the same accusation then that each crossed the line of actual control in breach. The present fight may well be the Chinese tactic(s) to remind India of its retreat in 1962.

          There are two reasons for countries to wage a war :  (1)  Aggressive Occupation and Control ;  and  (2)  Deflecting the attention of people within the nation. That India has its focus and concentration on Containment and Control of COVID-19 and economic revival is not in doubt to anyone.

          Hence, the need for distracting the attention of people does not arise for India. But, for China it is badly needed.  Having exposed itself seriously against most nations of the world with vulnerabilities in its economy ;  problems of unemployment ;  trade war with America ;  sudden fall in exports ;  and people resistance in Hong Kong ;  China faces the pressing need for deflection of  the attention of its people. It is high on its agenda now.

          In 1959 China took hold of Aksai Chin. And in 1960 it occupied the Shyok river valley on the west. There were reports of skirmishes along the border then. China also constructed a highway running 8 km along our border. Ever since that period China kept engaging itself in occupation of land by force.

          China’s financial aid and investment lured the small nations around it to fall in line with its firm control.

          China’s primary center of trade is with India. Household articles,  machines,  toys,  chemicals,  mobile apps,  and devices from China have a huge market in India. These products are dumped in tons in India. Particularly during the festival period, from dust bin to TV find their way into India like waste dump. This makes the ban on Chinese products ‘key’ to the issue of peace negotiations. It will result in businessmen in China to strike a confrontational posture to its own Government.

          China also buys iron ore and other raw materials to make armaments and sell back with huge profits. The ₹ 1120 crore contract to China for making a subway (tunnel) should be cancelled. Same should be the case with 4G agreement too. To help tide over the COVID-19 crisis Indian companies have contributed more than foreign institutions. Tata organisation has helped with ₹ 1500 crores.

          China has also witnessed India as the only nation capable of securing support internationally against it. It regards India as its main challenger. The interest of nations as Japan, Vietnam, and Australia to form a formidable coalition is a thorn in China’s flesh. This also stands as the reason for China’s anger.

          Not being interested in finding a solution to the border dispute is China’s strategic move. To keep the tension along the border alive on the one hand, and to keep alive the bilateral trade worth $ 100 million – are the two goals China hopes to entertain.

          If India’s weakness lies in the ‘border’, Chinese weakness lies in ‘trade’. If India breaks the trade relationship with China, it will be badly SHAKEN.

          From the beginning India should have held the border row and a solution to that as our primary goal instead of the Trade relationship – analysts say. Failing to understand the real purpose and goal of China for 70 years even while engaging on peace discussions seem our fault in retrospect. India should insist on border row settlement as the basis for bilateral trade from now is the prevailing opinion.

       ” Diplomacy should be met with Diplomacy”.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Friday, June 19, 2020 –  5.39 p.m. (IST)

   Tidbit : ” Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have our way “.

” Valorous Mother Earth India ” – June 18, 2020.

          ” The valour from the Mother Earth India displayed in wars never had its price high. The valour and courage of Tamils also holds its special distinction “

          On the fateful night of June 15, 2020,   the sudden clash that erupted between the Chinese and Indian Armed Forces, took its toll on India in terms of the lives of 20 army personnel and a Colonel. This included the  ‘havaldar’  from Tamil Nadu,  Mr  Pazhani .  It is the pride of Tamil Nadu as well as  a tragedy with a sad ending.

          Despite the historically long-standing cultural, trade, and political relationships between India and China, border disputes are not uncommon in the later years. During the British rule in 1914 an agreement between China and Tibet was stuck. According to this agreement, Ladakh is a part of India. Ever since 1949 when the Communist Party of China came to power (in China) it has been claiming Ladakh as its own.

          From Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh the border between China and India runs for nearly 3500 km.  In Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh,  China’s encroachment of Indian land has become a matter of routine. On each occasion Indian Army has also acted in reprisal.

          Monday night witnessed a dour fight between the Chinese and Indian Army in the Galwan valley in East Ladakh. Significant to note was the absence of any gun fight. The fight started by the Chinese army saw the use of iron rods, stones, spikes, batons, nail studded rods, and sticks. Indian Army too retaliated with vigor. Reports state that 20 Indians and 43 Chinese lost their lives in this fight.

          It is nearly 45 years since the 1975 incident of October 20 in Arunachal Pradesh  border when a clandestine attack by the Chinese on the patrolling Indian Army Personnel took the lives of 4 Indians. It is a matter to be condemned strongly, particularly after the Indian PM’s meet with the Chinese Leader, Xi Jinping in Mamallapuram ;  PM Modi’s visit to China for discussions 5 times ;  and high level military/official talks (still ongoing) in the border area itself between the two countries.

          ‘War on COVID-19 and not war against nations’ is the imperative now. Both the nations are almost equally impacted by COVID-19. Also, China should be reminded that the 1993 (September 7) agreement that  “peace and tranquility shall prevail in the border areas”  is sacrosanct and shall be observed in good spirits. China should make this clear to its army from the higher to the lower level.

          General expectation is that the ensuing video conference talks between our Foreign Minister, Dr S Jaishankar, with the foreign Ministers of Russia and China (on Monday) may well be an excellent opportunity to arrive at a good decision.

          Salutations to the Indian Army Personnel who sacrificed their lives on the night of June 15, 2020, including the brave ‘havaldar’  Pazhani from Tamil Nadu.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous”

   Thursday, June 18, 2020 – 10.39 a.m. (IST)

   Tidbit : ” It is not the size of the dog in the fight, it is the size of the fight in the dog”. –  Mark Twain.

” China’s Reproachful Game ” – June 17, 2020.

          About 3500 km along the India-China border is yet to be defined clearly. Consequently China has frequently been taking unfair advantage in the areas of Ladakh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh by intense accrual of forces causing problems to India. In particular, the areas surrounding Pangong lake and Galwan valley witnessed the problems. More than 2500 Chinese forces erected tents ;  engaged in military exercises ;  erected bunkers .  In retaliation India also engaged in assembling the military contingent for the sake of preparedness. These activities resulted in heightening tension between the nations.

          The clash between the armies of the two nations in the light of the highway being  constructed in Galwan valley continues unabated. The military commanders’  peace process activities involved discussions at least on 12 occasions. Discussions at the level of ‘Major Generals’  in the military took place at least on 3 occasions. With no progress in these talks, June 6 witnessed talks at the level of officials of Foreign Ministry.

          According to these talks both nations agreed to retreat from the advances made in Galwan and Hot Springs areas. As it was progressing, a sudden clash between the two sides on the night of June 15 left a higher level officer of the Indian Military (Colonel) along with 20 soldiers (army personnel) killed. One of the soldiers is from Tamil Nadu, by name Pazhani.  The escalation of tension that is witnessed now is a result of this event.

          China has already been sidelined and isolated from many countries including America due to COVID-19 impact. China is now actually indulging in the game of thrones, an intelligent act of creating tension so as to distract attention from truth.

          China, poaching on our territory in violation of legal norms in India is not new. In 2010 it encroached 228 times ;  in 2011 it infiltered 213 times ;  in 2012 it penetrated 426 times ;  in 2013 it intruded 411 times ;  and in 2014 it poached 334 times.  And it continues still.

          In 2013 there have been 150 poaching attempts in 8 months by China. In August, the same year, Chinese military men infiltered the area in Shakladam for 2 days and left. In June 2014, China released its prejudiced map. That Arunachal Pradesh is a part of China was indicated in that map. This kind of encroachment is a continuing game for China since 1962.

          Tension in border areas now may be similar to what was seen in 1962. But, that was India in 1962. India of 2020 is different.

          China’s understanding, comprehension, and interpretation of India 2020 needs to be completely different now than it was in 1962.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Wednesday, June 17, 2020 –  1.19 p.m. (IST)

   Tidbit : ”  I’m  a  mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power “. – Benjamin Franklin.

” Testing – Key to COVID-19 Containment Efforts ” – June 15, 2020.

          People get frantic with worry, anxiety, and shock at the impact of  COVID-19  increasing by the day. It also makes one feel that the serious nature of this is yet to be perceived. Not just in India but all over the world the effect is sustained.

          COVID-19  cases were  79 05 198  and death toll 4 32 262 yesterday. India recorded more than 3 lakh cases. Since June 1, specially, loss of lives seem to get greater in number and severity. More than 9000 people died till yesterday.

          For the third day in succession about 10000 and more are affected because of the virus in India. Of the 3 20 922 cases impacted, about 1 62 378 have recovered. This marks about 50%  recovery.

          Maharashtra stands first ( 104568 cases);  Tamilnadu is second ( 44661 ) ;  Delhi third ((39958) ;  and  Gujarat fourth ( 23038 )  in terms of COVID-19 cases in India. Statistics recorded in the rest of India show  U.P. (13118); Rajasthan (12401);  West Bengal (10968);  and  M.P. ( 20641 ).

          The first lockdown on March 25 happened only under the instructions of WHO.  India in terms of COVID-19 cases stood at 25th place in the world ( a pride indeed ) ;  by May 31 after the 5th  lockdown India ascended to the 7th place (less proud) ; and at this moment India is in 4th place after U.S.A. ;  Brazil ;  and  Russia ( sad ).

          Attribution of COVID-19 to lockdown or otherwise show two different pictures :  (1)  that the lockdown was not needed at all ;  or (2) that the lockdown should have been enforced even before March 25. The above views, however,  seem to have no basis in fact.  The entire world is struggling as to how this disease can be contained without any scientific evidence or result. India is not an exception to this.

          The fact that Lockdown is the reason for the decrease in cases and death toll due to COVID-19 is confirmed only due to the increasing number of cases seen after the lockdown was lifted gradually. About 2876 per lakh have been tested for COVID-19 according to the statistics on June 2. This is only 6% when compared with countries which have been seriously impacted.  From a measly 35 cases per 10 lakh on March 24, we have reached the stage of 100000 tests per day is more than just comforting.

          The chief failure in our cases was that even though we had knowledge about COVID-19 in March itself, efforts to make necessary actions strengthening infrastructure was not in full swing immediately. Research reveals that by July end we may have to treat 30000 to 40000 COVID-19 patients who would be seriously affected. About 3 to 4 % of cases impacted are serious. Accordingly, we need at least 32000 beds.

          More the testing conducted, more the patients diagnosed. They need to be admitted in hospitals and treated. Hence, the State Governments are proceeding at a slow pace for testing ; or are trying to avoid testing altogether. But this kind of attitude is not promising under the circumstances.

          The recent announcement by the Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, in Chennai, specially,  is interesting in this context. Those who undertake testing including their family members should be quarantined for 14 days is the announcement that raises doubts about blocking the test efforts.

          In reality, however, decreasing the tests will not result in any decrease in the spread of the disease. On the contrary, this will only increase the spread.

          Conclusion :  Increased testing ;  Quarantine the diagnosed ;  and stringent lockdown can only be the triad ensuring the containment efforts globally.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous”

   Monday, June 15, 2020 –  11.09 a.m. (IST)

   Tidbit :  ”  UN  is taking efforts to contain reports of Corona rumour mills “.

Read More…

“Coronavirus Pushes Leaders and People Over the Edge ” – June 14, 2020.

          Six months have passed since the Coronavirus with its giant grip began to put the squeeze on people. Number of people affected physically and behaviorally has crossed 77 lakhs and the death toll crossed 4.27 lakhs.

          Even as the impact of Corona took off like a rocket throughout the world, leaders have failed to get their eyes in to control.

          Lockdown is causing loss of jobs and increases poverty. Individual incomes are declining rapidly. This will be felt in a sharp decrease in total productivity as per the reports of research. According to another joint report by King’s College, London ;  Australian National University ;  and the  UN Economic Development Research Institute, –  about 100 crore people will likely suffer from poverty. The news came as a shock to leaders, experts, and analysts. The news was also a kind of shock horror to the people who had to assimilate the fact that these 100 crore people will be pushed to a condition without being able to earn ₹ 142/-  per day. India is one of the 10 countries facing this stark reality – caution the researchers.

          India is likely to face a situation where people above the poverty line will become poverty stricken due to heavy financial loss. A report bt Arthur D Little records at least 13.5 crore people will lose jobs ;  about 12 crore people will be pushed to poverty ;  and about 4 crore people will be pushed to the gravest poverty. People aware of these findings are in a state of shock.

          The above studies go to prove that  “Lockdown”  is not a panacea for COVID-19 and leaders are still grappling with the twin challenges of protecting people from the disease, and preventing economic slide. There is growing general perception that government is not taking serious note of the economic fall out of COVID-19.

          A section of political analysts attribute the lack of focus on COVID-19 to the clever and secret methods used in politics to increase their strength ;  big businesses to increase their profitable activities ; –  to the detriment of the health of people.

          Significant to observe is the activity in a State like Tamilnadu to change the names of places in vernacular language with English letters giving the appearance of the vernacular pronunciation. A clever way to distract the attention of people.

At this juncture, it appears that the leaders have found their match in Coronavirus.

         Whether they hold a ‘master plan’  to redeem the economic, health, and safety pride of individual nations is what will ultimately be watched eagerly by the people.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous”

Sunday,  June 14, 2020 –  1.59 p.m. (IST).

Tidbit  :  ” Thought is more than a right – it is the very breath of man ” 

Read More…

” He Who Laughs Last Laughs Longest ” – June 13, 2020.

          Nepalese Prime Minister,  KM Oli,  appears too keen to break the relationship with India. The legislative amendment passed in the Parliament on Wednesday (June 9, 2020) does not lend itself to any joint discussion between Nepal and India.

          Legislative amendment gives the right to Nepal of the geographical area covering Lipulekh pass on the western border extending over 400 sq km. This amendment needs to be approved in the Upper House and accepted by the Nepalese Leader. This change will remain sacrosanct without being changed or rescinded by either the present or future governments.

          The Upper House today (Saturday, just now, afternoon/evening) unanimously voted to amend the Constitution to update the Country’s new political Map, laying claim over the strategically key areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limpiadhura along its border with India.

          Now the Constitution amrndment will fructify the updating of the national emblem by incorporating the new controversial map.

          The bill will now be sent to the National Assembly where it will undergo a similar process. It requires 72 hours for the bill to be sent and its passage seems ‘certain’. Practically speaking, it is all over now.

          Peaceful discussions between India and Nepal seems unlikely at this juncture.

          Recent actions and announcements of PM, KM Oli, reflect the serious opposition he holds against the Indian Government. His statement in the Parliament that 85% of COVID-19 spread in Nepal is due to the return from India of people in large numbers and that it further caused a doubling of the disease in the last month reflects poorly on him.

          It is no surprise that just as the migrants from many areas in India left for their native homes, Nepalese working in various parts of India also left for their home country. 

          There is unrestricted movement of  people between India and Nepal. Living or working in the areas without valid permit or visas is almost the norm between India and Nepal.

          During the months of May and June (now) about 7000 to 8000 Nepalese people left India everyday. More than 2 lakh have travelled back to Nepal by trains or buses. Attributing this as the sole reason for Nepal contracting the disease and spewing hatred against India exposes and reinforces not just His (Nepal PM’s) bad intentions but also causes pain and harm.

          It is not uncommon to experience border disputes between countries that hold a long history of bond. In times like those the nations commonly engage in discussions to arrive at a peaceful end to the problems.

          India-Nepal  relationship is one that succeeds in keeping interest and attraction based on historical participation in food and marriages. The strengthened relationship witnessed through years have sustained due to these attractions despite the Nepalese leaders’ policy of Opposition to India.

          Nepalese Foreign Minister, Hon Pradeep Gyawali, sought fair discussions with India through exchanges based on the basic historical facts. It is perhaps a laugh-out-loud moment to seek out discussions after the legislative assent to the expropriation of 400 sq km in the Upper House on Wednesday. It makes clear that the facts of historical importance are not in favour of Nepal.  Hence, this decision, perhaps for a discussion.

          Sugauli agreement of 1816 between the East India Company and Nepal remains the basis that Nepal follows. Sarda river (Kali river) is the western border according to that agreement. But, in 1879 the map was redrawn after undertaking an intense land review. Based on that India subsequently released maps. Sarda river’s origin is Kalapani’s natural springs which joins the small branch from the Lipulekh pass. That Nepal has not refuted  the thesis or the argument till 1990  is significant.

          Second, following the Chinese siege of Tibet in 1950, Safety Blocks in the border between Nepal and China were erected by India according to their requests. King Mahendra of Nepal in 1969 gave the call for disbanding those safety blocks to India. That call did not make any reference to Indian Military Security  extensions in Kalapani. Historical evidences such as this do exist and can be cited.

          As expressed by the Uttar Pradesh, CM,  Yogi Adityanath, Nepal PM, KP Oli’s actions will only result in uniting Nepal with China as happened with Tibet earlier.

          Nepal now faces a situation where it has to make its choice between a friendly relationship with India or joining as a part of China.

          Nobody can be proud of what happens to the 400 sq km extension that Nepal has manoeuvred to put in its map. Who wins finally is what counts. He who laughs last laughs ‘longest.

 

   “Dieu avec nous”

   Saturday, June 13, 2020 – 6.09 p.m. (IST)

   Tidbit :  ” In Politics nothing happens by accident, if it happens, you can bet it was planned that way ” –  Franklin D Roosevelt.

 

 

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” Political Necessities Can Turn Out to be Political Mistakes ” – June 11, 2020.

          Dr C Rajagopalachari, ( Statesman,  last Governor General of India, and Former CM of Chennai ) , while advocating how ‘Taxation’ should be approached had this to say : ” It should be like the bees (beetle) sucking honey from the flowers “,  implying that it should neither destroy the flower nor prevent the bee from getting the honey it desires. Taxation should be such that it achieves the twin benefits of securing resources for the Government and erasing the profound damaging effect in the lives of people. That the country does not have leaders of Rajaji’s ilk is the plight of our people now.

           Petrol with a basic price of Rs 18/-  is now being sold at  Rs 75.77  in Bangalore. Diesel with a basic price of  Rs 16. 50  is being sold at Rs 68.66 in Bangalore. Excise duty, State Tax, and transportation expenses, and others on these constitute 75%.  Central and State taxes alone comes to Rs 50/- on petrol and diesel. Subsidy on petrol was withdrawn in June 2010 and that on diesel in October 2014. It led to the decision of deciding the petrol and diesel prices every day based on international crude prices. A decision that needs to be welcomed.

          The argument that everyday tax revenue for the Government need not be wasted due to subsidy can be maintained and defended against attacks and opposition.

          In the beginning the above decision was exercised bimonthly. Later it became the practice to fix the price daily. It is from here that the Government’s unfair practices began.

          Fixing of oil prices helped distract people’s attention to inflation and rise in prices of the products they needed. One way it can be looked at is that the Government is acting in a dishonest way to gain an advantage. When the crude oil prices in international markets increase, petrol and diesel prices will also increase immediately. However, a decrease in crude prices did not simultaneously result in a decrease in petrol and diesel prices. 

          When prices increased, it was always in terms of rupees, and when prices decreased it was in paise only. This resulted in tremendous benefit to the government due to continuing high prices  in times of crude prices decrease. It started happening during the time of UPA.

          When PM Modi took charge in 2014, the excise duty of petrol was Rs 9.48  and for diesel it was Rs 3.56. Today the combined Central and State taxes come to Rs 49.42 for petrol and Rs 48.09 for diesel !

          On March 9, 2020, crude prices internationally saw a deep decline from $ 52/- to $ 31. It was unprecedented and not witnessed earlier since 1991. The corresponding decreases in prices of petrol and diesel should at least have been Rs 10/-.  On the contrary taxes have raised and revenue from that has been used for meeting the shortages of govetnment revenues.

          In April, the crude prices in international markets declined by $ 15, ( price stood at $ 16 ) but the government failed to share the revenues for the benefit of people. Now the trend is an uptick in crude prices. The daily price fixing procedure that has been stopped due to the lockdown (now in its 82nd day) will resume after the interruption. Past four days have witnessed the petrol and diesel prices being increased regularly.

          Government raises the tax on petrol and diesel to meet the shortage in its revenues generally. Oil companies want to use the increase to meet their losses. But the burden falls on people who suffer either loss of jobs or reduction in income;  or directly through job freezing/lock up initially. When compared with the crude prices of the month of January, a $ 23 decrease in crude prices still exist.

          Everybody will accept the proposition that the Government should be fair and transparent. Actions should reflect the integrity and honesty fully. But, the prevailing general feeling is one that sees the opposite causing not just harm but great injustice to the people.

           Prices rising alarmingly ;  general feeling remaining negative ;  difficulties facing people causing fear and worry –  the end result will certainly not be a gain but a loss to the administrators.

          For the economy to return strong or for the economy to bounce back, production expenses should fall or public savings should rise. For this to happen there must be a fall in petrol and diesel prices.

          Government should probably hold an inflexible determination not to enlarge the income beyond the real necessities of the government.

          THIS CAN BE THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA OF OUR GOVERNMENT.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous”

   Thursday, June 11, 2020 –  10.29 a.m. (IST)

   Tidbit : ” Our necessities never equal our wants ” –  Benjamin Franklin.

 

 

 

 

 

” To Which Path Coronavirus is Leading India ? ” – June 10, 2020.

          Coronavirus which had its origin in China and made the world go into a spin is causing huge damage to the world in physical, economical and emotional terms.

            World over countries are struggling to contain COVID-19 due to lack of a vaccine. Lockdown continues still in many countries including India. About 70.86 lakh people have been affected because of the Coronavirus in the world today. About 4.6 lakh people died.

Expatriates in a containment unit for testing in Kuwait.

            As per latest statistics about 20.7 lakh people have been affected due to Coronavirus in America. About 1.10 lakh people died. Next in the list is Brazil. Italy, Spain, and England have witnessed a decline in Corona cases while India, Russia, and Brazil are witnessing an increase.

Catholic priest on a smartphone lives treat in Spain.

          In Brazil about 6.91 lakh coronavirus cases and 37000 deaths have been reported. As the cases and deaths grow by each day the government has controlled the release of statistics in this regard. Corona related websites have also been blocked.

Riding Bullseye in empty stadium in Georgia.

          Among the 245 nations that are affected, India and Brazil remain the countries where the spread causes deep alarm. Per day increase in Corona cases in India is 4.3%  and in Brazil it is 4.4%. Russia’s perday increase is 2% ;  while in America it is 1.2 % ;  and in England  0.6%.

An empty boulevard in Albania.

            India is literally in a shock due to the increasing rate of COVID-19 with per day cases numbering 10000. With about 2.66 lakh cases  reported  and more than 7400 deaths India’s struggle continues.

            When in March (when lockdown started)  India stood as an example to all nations of the world as the least affected. It comes as a great surprise to the countries now that India faces the wrath of Corona seriously.

          Medical experts say that containment of Corona is politically and economically possible only when government approaches the challenge transparently. Central and State Governments should intensify the efforts, failing which India will reach the 2nd spot in terms of affected nations next to America.

            THIS IS THE PROBLEM REQUIRING SERIOUS CONSIDERATION TODAY.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Wednesday, June 10, 2020 – 10.29 a.m. (IST)

   Tidbit :  ” People don’t abandon people they love, they abandon people they were using “