Archive | June 2020

” COVID-19 – Superpower’s Flutter of Confusion ” – June 8, 2020.

          Frequent cinegoers will remember the film, “The Titanic” ,  released 23 years ago (December 19,  1997).  The movie added fictional elements to historical elements. The luxury steamship will start sinking after striking an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland. Those occupying the lower decks in the ship will be prevented from coming out by closure of the doors. Those in the upper decks will also be prevented but not until they escape and take refuge in small boats out of the ship. Even with the danger threatening the lives of everyone aboard the ship, discrimination will neither wither nor be lessened.  On the contrary, it will spell an elevation of the strength and capacity of such actions can be gleaned from those scenes of the film.

          On March 29, 2020, when US President, Donald Trump, announced that the corona deaths will cross the figure of 1 lakh in America, the entire world stood shocked, stunned and confused. That it can happen in America, the World’s  Superpower and the richest nation was the shocking factor.

          America is the aim and esteemed destination of lakhs of young Indians. About 2 lakh students go to America every year for pursuing higher studies. About 4 thousand students wait for visas before the American Consulate buildings every day in India.

          About 14 lakh Indians went to America and returned last year as tourists. Celebrities in the fields of politics, business, theater, and sports travelling to America for better  ‘medical treatment’  is not uncommon. A country renowned for its technology, innovation, higher education, medical facilities, business prowesss, and research is struggling now to contain the death rattle due to COVID-19.

          OECD countries usually earmark 8% of its GDP for healthcare. US  allocation is double that amount – 16% of its GDP. It is equivalent to $ 3 Trillion annually (Rs. 300 lakh crores). Each individual spends $ 11000 (approx. Rs. 830000/-) every year for healthcare. Significant to note is the fact that the Indian average is  Rs. 1625/-.

          It is mandatory that every citizen in America be enrolled in  at least one Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme for availing treatment. Fine for not being in one health insurance scheme at least was removed only in 2017. All health schemes provide for access to American citizen’s basic healthcare requirements. Even if someone is not in the health insurance scheme, he/she will be permitted access to emergency healthcare at all times. Poor people cannot afford the expenses normally, otherwise.

          About 56% participate in schemes of employee organisations ;  22% enroll in Medicaid ;  8% receive independent health insurance benefits ;  4%  receive benefits from Medicare ;  and  10% constitute those on the poverty line who have been left behind in health insurance.

          Senior Citizens, 65 or above, covered by Medicare has been funded by the Federal government. For the benefit of those living below the poverty line and for the alternately abled individuals,  ‘Medicaid’  is the final destination. For this, funding comes from both Central and State Governments.

          Medical expenses are generally high in America. In particular, costs of higher level medical treatments and drugs are quite high. Medical expenses are usually divided into segments and a portion of the expenses in segments can be separately insured. However, the patient has to meet the general expenses. Hence, when the proportion of the patient’s  share is high, cost of medical treatment will also rise significantly.

           Not all treatments are covered by Health Insurance. According to the eligibility requirements of a particular Insurance Scheme, individuals will receive healthcare. Leading hospitals with technologically superior and greater modern facilities (equipment plus infrastructure) exist in America. Indian celebrities choose such medical facilities generally for treatment. They put themselves akin to the rich/ultra rich in America.

          Even while being the richest nation, America does not provide equal facility/convenience for all its people. Health Insurance and the accompanying infrastructure takes the burden of Health Department budget. There is the general perception that the present structure and procedures of the scheme seriously regards with disfavour the Latin Americans, Blacks, and Hispanic people.

          Even individuals filing bankruptcy unable to meet the medical expenses is common in America now. Losing their belongings ; and pledging the house or other immovable property as collateral for equivalent medical care are some of the pitiless incidents observed. About 30000 people die due to lack of medical care every year, statistics reveal.  Apart from the 10% people being unable to join the Health Insurance Scheme, there is now the danger of more people losing healthcare after COVID-19. Every individual losing the job also loses health insurance.

          About 3 crore individuals not finding themselves in any health insurance scheme face different situations in their lives. It is a critical moment in the country’s history now. The authorities are in dialogue with private medical facilities to meet the urgent needs of people in view of the danger escalating amidst COVID-19.

          America is the most powerful nation in the world ;  America spends trillions of dollars to control COVID-19 ;  and yet, we see the highest number of deaths there is what raises serious questions against the Health Department. It is common to witness debates, analysis and discussion on the status of Healthcare during the election period. However, monetarily powerful private medical groups and units have protected their interests, supporting the basic healthcare schemes they desire, is the opinion held, it appears.

          Financial assistance for various government schemes come normally from the general budget. However, the administration and procedural implementation of the health schemes still seem to favour private facilities. The present COVID-19 crisis and events are the most glaring example of the problem. This has resulted in close scrutiny of the divisions of the Health Department now.

          Though America, viewed as a model for various activities in most sectors and followed by many nations of the world, the present crisis and its fabric there is not an example to follow is becoming evident now. It strikes straight on our face the difficulties and challenges in assigning control of some key public safety activities to private organisations. Significant to note is the fact that our government’s fair dinkum treatment is appropriate and accepted.

          At least 100 years have passed since the Titanic disaster. Unless and until newfangled tech innovations, research, higher education, and applications reach every section of society, no economic development can appeal to all classes of society.

 

   “Dieu avec nous”

   Monday, June 8, 2020 – 11.19 a.m. (IST)

   Tidbit :  ” Art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease “.

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” COVID-19 – Treasury Emptied of Contents ” – June 7, 2020.

          What was achieved in 4 short hours on March 24, 2020, as a precautionary measure against the demonic force, COVID-19, made the economic events taking a dramatic turn for the worse in the weeks that followed. 

          The general perception that COVID-19 spreads fast is also getting stronger. Lifting the lockdown by many States is also becoming a dead ‘duck.

          Management experts usually discuss unveiling of any novel idea, event, or a project in terms of planning, coordination, programming, directing, and controlling. COVID-19, evil and dangerous as it can be, provided no time for anyone to put on the thinking cap in this situation. Everyone stands overwhelmed by the complexity and intricacy of the economic fall.

          Crores of people have lost their jobs,  lost their primary means of living,  lost their businesses, and languishing in isolation. The condition of migrants is a pity. Nobody knows who is to be condemned. They wanted to go back to their native places and even willing to die there. The Government made efforts and arranged for their travel, but again after significant delay.

          In April the Government’s revenue was Rs 27,548 crores of rupees. The expenditure stood at 3.07 lakh crores. To meet this expenditure the government had to take loan(s). Borrowing in this financial year is expected to be about 12 lakh crores of rupees. Hence, the need to open the economy. Hence, the need to lift the lockdown.

          Unfortunately the only thing that is growing seems to be the Coronavirus. 

   Fall in Income  =  Fall in Treasury Wealth.

          Finance Minister’s statement yesterday that no new projects or schemes will be started is a reinforcement of the reality that economy is not fairing well.

          It is quite understandable that COVID-19 control related expenditures placed a restraining impact on spending while being forced to exercise considerable restraint in ignoring criticisms. PM’s  Garibh Kalyan Financial Scheme, and those schemes announced under ‘Independent Programs’  are the only others that gained the exception.

          COVID-19 is an unexpected threat. But, it cannot remain an excuse for not being able to come out with ideas for protecting the people from its ills – be it in terms of public health or the economy of survival.

          The best that can be done at this moment is to seek expert views from the learned and experienced. To think that the Government has not made this is to imagine that birds can’t fly.

          India is also adopting measures that are widely implemented in many other nations. Personally, I am at a loss to offer any  solution other than establishing a  “Special Global Fund” that can be distributed among the needy nations based on : (a) the nature and severity of COVID-19 in the country ;  (b) the country’s independent ability to marshall the available resources for control ;  (c)  the country’s shortfall in terms of effective control ;  (d)  the country’s contribution in terms of global welfare in future ;  (e) the country’s past conduct in times of war, criminal record, etc.,  and  (f) the country’s relationship in its neighborhood.

          WHO,  UN,  IMF  are the ones that can take the lead in this exercise.

          Nationally, big profitable corporations and top 1 – 5% of wealthy need to play a big role in this crisis.

          I cannot be fooled into thinking that some of the above measures are not known already.

          There is nothing new in this world. It is time to display – truthfulness, sincerity, honesty, productivity, and hard working qualities of human beings than ever before.

   “Stop craving more, but start saving more”.

          This alone can transform our “Fall in Treasury Wealth”  into  “Full in Treasury Wealth”.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Sunday, June 7, 2020 –  12.19 p.m. (IST)

   Tidbit : ” Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shuts down for 10 years”.

 

 

” Coronavirus is not Spreading Fast in India – WHO’s Official Statement ” – June 7, 2020.

            The general feeling in India is that Coronavirus is fast spreading. This is not without reason either.

          Coronavirus cases in India has crossed 2,36,000 ;  more than 6600 died even after treatment ;  at least  about 1,50,000 people are being treated in different hospitals in India.

           About 5000 to 6000 Cases of Coronavirus are being reported daily.

          When on March 25 India announced its first lockdown Coronavirus cases stood only at 4 digit figures ;  now it has crossed the 6 digit mark.

          Despite these figures pointing to a near grave situation, the WHO has officially stated that Coronavirus has not spread fast in India.

          Dr. Michael Ryan of WHO while speaking to observers in Geneva yesterday said :  ” In South Asia, among the nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and others where population levels are high, Coronavirus has not multiplied fast. But the damage still exists “.  He also added that  :  “Coronavirus is becoming a social contagion now and it has the potential to spread rapidly”.

            Dr Michael Ryan has not failed to commend India’s efforts emphasizing that the actions taken have actually contributed to the aim of Containment. At the same time with the Economic activities opening and gaining traction, it is still not out of the woods.

            Two negative aspects in force now in India are the problems of a huge population ;  and the problem of migrants.

            Lead Scientist of WHO,  Dr Sowmya Swaminathan, (daughter of the well renowned Agricultural Scientist, Dr  MS Swaminathan) described the situation in India in respect of Coronavirus : ” India’s population is 130 crores. Considering the population is extremely huge, the Coronavirus spread is comparatively low. The two factors that can give the real picture are the growth rate ;  and doubling of the cases of Coronavirus. These factors confirm that in India Coronavirus has not spread quickly “.

          India is a big nation. It has cities with extremely large population. The system of healthcare in different States are different too. These present the challenges to effective control of COVID-19.

          Subsequent to the lockdown and the relaxations in activities announced by the States, enforcement of precautionary methods must be stringent. People need to understand this factor. While entertaining huge aspirations it is incumbent that people need to be fully cognizant of why certain actions are given special importance.

            Social distancing cannot be effectively achieved in most cities or even in towns in India. Hence, the need for face masks, particularly outside homes.

            Social distancing is nearly impossible in many workplaces ;  public transport ;  and the educational institutions –  and yet several States want  an early opening of these activities.

            “Institutions and authorities comprising each of these three elements must think, analyse, and decide on the precautionary measures first prior to opening”  –  said, Dr Sowmya Swaminathan.

            In view of the above, it is clear that effective control of Coronavirus lie with people is a fact as much as the fact that Coronavirus has not spread fast in India.

            Hand washing ;  use of face masks ;  and  social distancing are the three magical elements making the triad of the  ‘combative spirit’  against  COVID-19.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Sunday, June 7, 2020 –  9.09 a.m. (IST)

   Tidbit  :  ” The virus will become just another endemic virus in our communities ”  –  Dr Michael Ryan.

 

” China’s New Security Law in Hong Kong – Waiting for an Eruption of a Volcano ” – June 6, 2020.

Tiananmen Square

            Capitalzing, exploiting, and profiting from the World’s focus on combating COVID-19 pandemic, Xi Jinping’s  China has been practically processing its days’, months’, and years’s old desire to implement programs successfully. In the trouble ridden China Sea, Chinese Navy Security has drowned countless numbers of Vietnamese fishing boats. China has condemned the election and inauguration of Tsai- Ing wen as President of Taiwan for the second term.

            The usually common and standard practice every year of announcing the Union between China and Taiwan has been released without the word  “peaceful”  this time. Chinese army has been intruding in Indian areas near Ladakh blatantly breaching the international norms of regulated behaviour. Above all, China has hardened its grip over Hong Kong by bringing a new  ‘Security Law’.

            On June 4  every year the anniversary day marking the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 will be held. In 1989 several thousands of students and workers engaged in that struggle for democratic reforms based on right of speech protection. China contained that uprising with military repression measures. Thousands sacrificed their lives in that struggle for the right of speech.

           Remembrance Services in memory of that event used to be held in Victoria Park in Hong Kong every year for the last 30 years. Due to COVID-19 pandemic this year the Hong Kong adminstration had banned that gathering. Violation of the ban will meet with serious measures of oppression was also the general feeling.

            As per China’s direction the Hong Kong administration did not prevent anyone gathering in Victoria Park this time. But, in all other places such gatherings have been chased away.

            This year’s anniversary day gathering had a special importance than usual. Against the backdrop of the approval of the new “Security Law”  by China’s Parliament the gathering may witness an eruption of violence was anticipated worldwide. It was, nevertheless, clever of China not to make way for that by specifically ignoring any gathering, without control,  in Victoria Park.

            When Hong Kong united with China, some agreements were part of the Union and accepted by China. During the process in 1997, the agreement permitted China and Hong Kong to have the administrative function under separate constitutional methods. From 1997 to 2047 Hong Kong will function as a Republic is the chief feature.

            Even while accepting China’s leadership, Hong Kong’s  Uniqueness ;  Individual Human Rights ;  and  Democratic Justice Department will continue to be preserved is the Guarantee that kept the British and Hong Kong at peace. Since then, however, China indulged in expropriation of the rights of Hong Kong people sequentially. At the same time, by itself keeping away from the economic operations of Hong Kong, China wanted to keep Hong Kong as the Centre of International Financial Exchange.

            Ever since 1997, under the guidance of China all institutions in Hong Kong started implementing some measure of National Security Act with hope. In March 2019, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, announced a new act. According to that act, suspected criminals in Hong Kong will be taken to China for enquiry. This problem laden bill met with strong opposition from the people. It then turned into a  struggle  against China. Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, tried to control the struggle through oppression of rights. Finally, however, the bill was stopped for a period of time.

            Now, without the power of  Hong Kong, China’s Parliament has made : (a) political opposition to China in Hong Kong ; and  (b) acting under the instigation/inducement of foreign nations – as serious criminal acts through its  “National Security Law” with independent/individual democracy coming to a full stop. Hence, the policy of  “One Country, Two Separate Administration”  will only be a namesake.

          The  “National Security Law”  will take effect from September this year. 

            ” It will be a surprise if  VICTORIA PARK, where the anniversary day of Tiananmen Square massacre is held every year doesn’t become  BEIJING’s  TIANANMEN SQUARE “.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Saturday, June 6, 2020 –  9.59 a.m.  (IST)

   Tidbit : ” Oppression worketh out its own Destruction ” –  James Linen. 

” COVID-19 Vaccine – Global Solution is the Need of the Hour ” – June 5, 2020.

            Global focus is now centered around minimising the loss of lives due to COVID-19 and to find a suitable  ‘vaccine’  for the purpose. Scientists and researchers all over the world are busily engaged in this task now.

            Department of Health, U.S.A.,  and the multinational drug company, Astra Zeneca, want to discover a suitable vaccine compressing the usual 10 years of research into months with eager and enthusiasm. Their main focus of attention is to find the vaccine before this October ;  performing successful trials ;  and releasing at least 30 crores of doses for immediate use. Similar attempts are ongoing in many other countries including India.

            The speed and initiative in the discovery of a new vaccine for COVID-19 is understandable. At the same time, it is also important to conduct the required trials for a safe and secure Medicine.  Medical emergency, half baked and less well planned ideas with the sole aim of deriving profits should not guide the efforts in any manner. The solution will be worse than the problem if this happens.

            COVID-19 has revealed the whole dimension and magnitude of globalisation of the human race itself. The patent rights of the ‘vaccine’  for Companies discovering it is an important issue here. It is only legitimate and justifiable for the companies spending millions and billions on research to claim the patent rights. But there is also the need for norms and regulations in the exercise of these rights. A discovery that cannot be used for treatment of common patients may not be important enough to have a noticeable effect in society. What is the use of doing it ?

            Companies spending huge sums of money to find such medicines get the rights of  discovery and commercialisation for 20 years normally. Hence, the cost of medicines are proportionately high. Such efforts having a great influence as a result of years of work are beyond the realms of developing nations. Hence, cure of diseases of Ft Plate People using such medicines seems impossible. There are several contentious cases (TRIPS) happening frequently between the multinational drug companies holding international patents and developing nations in International Courts and Courts in respective Nations. At a time when the entire world is eagerly waiting to come out of grievous economic situations, this problem assumes quite a significance.

            It will definitely be a great effort to find a ‘vaccine’ or drug within a short period of time. But that drug or vaccine to work in an easy and natural way in terms of cure for all people is the real challenge. The debate on this has already started.

            “Sanofi”  is a big French multinational pharmaceutical company and is a global leader in healthcare. It has reached the final stages of finding a vaccine for COVID-19. America has given the complete funding for the purpose – for the company for research and development. The Chief of this Company has declared that serving American needs is its priority at this juncture. French President is angry with the Company because of his firm conviction that  ” any Protective Drug or Vaccine should be of Universal, Global benefit without dictating terms based on Market Forces “.

            World Health Organisation (WHO) has extended some concessions to national governments to protect common people/society. COVID-19 is a threat. Hence, setting aside the intellectual patent rights paving the way for assigning full rights of the vaccine discovery to the Governments exist in an argument that is pervading the discussions now.

            The capacity to discover such vaccines by Companies should not be impeded. Scientists and researchers in different companies and places involve in their research activities independent of one another. If coordination and integration between them – who compete in their single minded journey of a vaccine – time, energy, and resources can be easily controlled.

            THIS IS WHAT SHOULD BE THE AIM OF WORLD LEADERS NOW.

            Common funding from WHO or the UN to the drug companies (including researchers) with a General Licence offer will be the right SOLUTION to this problem.

            Drug research should not be a victim of lack of concern or relaxations. Commercialisation at unregulated prices should be avoided.

             For the sake of World Peace and a Worldly Solution, this problem should be viewed and approached in a different angle/perspective.

 

   “Dieu avec nous”

   Friday, June 5, 2020 – 9.59 a.m. (IST)

   Tidbit  :  ” Knowledge is very vital in life’s transformation and transition. We are exactly in this moment NOW”.

 

” India-Nepal – A Relationship that cannot be Broken ” – June 3, 2020.

          Damaging split between India and Nepal is something that causes not just anguish but physical/mental strain. The relationship that was felt inseparably linked just a quarter century ago, is now under intense pressure. Differences in ideas and views between India and Nepal make Nepal feel India as its Political adversary.

            Border conflict between the two nations is reaching a point of explosion. Nepal in its parliament recently unveiled its new map including the areas of Lipolekh, Limpiadhura, and Kalapani. These are actually areas covering the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. India has already rejected Nepal’s claim to rights and inclusion of these areas in the map.

            To some extent we also need to think of our share in making the way for Nepal. The path of Kailash-Manasarover   ‘holy journey’  (pilgrimage) includes Tibet ( under China’s control). For the benefit of Indians undertaking the journey, a link road connecting Dharchula (a town in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand) and Lipolekh was made, the construction of which is in full knowledge and recognition of Nepal. This highway (link road) besides being used for the Holy Journey is also used for swift shifting of military armaments to the Indian borders – a fact also known to Nepal. The highway itself is not an irritable gesture but the inauguration of it by our Defence Minister, Sri Rajnath Singh, in the full glare of media was. China’s supportive backchannel cues cannot be discounted.

            The border dispute is also not new. In the war between King of Nepal and the East India Company ( Anglo Nepalese War of 1814-1816 ), Nepal lost one thirds of its geographical area. The Treaty of Sugauli establishing the boundary line of Nepal was signed in December 1815 and ratified by March 4, 1816,  between the East India Company and the King of Nepal. The treaty marked Kalapani and Lipolekh as disputed areas. Unavoidable circumstances and reasons stalled the efforts of the King of Nepal to raise the issue further.

            In August 2019 Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated and  2  Union territories were made -including Ladakh. India released its map marking the border(s) then. It included Kalapani. Nepal raised its objection at that time. This was really the origin of the problem that we see today.

            When Nepal raised its objections to Dharchula-Lipolekh highway (link road) India could have remained calm and silent. Indian Army Chief,  Naravane’s statement referring to the incitement and inducement of China for Nepal’s objection to the highway stirred up the trouble and debate  –  Nepal’s anger increased following this. It also prompted Nepal’s PM,  KM Sarma Oli to state in the Parliament that India’s Coronavirus is more dangerous than China’s or Italy’s. This caused a damaging split in relationship between the two nations.

            India’s desire/initiatives to end the King’s role in Nepal made way for China to become closer to Nepal. China’s influence in Nepal has been 25 years old. It is no surprise that the financial resources secured from China lured Nepal towards China.

            The decline of Nepali Congress marked the growing strength of Maoist and Marxist-Leninist Parties in Nepal. China played its big role in bringing the two parties together and make it the Nepal Communist Party. In fact China’s ambassador played a significant role in bringing about peace when there was resistance against the Nepal PM, KP Sarma Oli.  Nepal Communist Party aided by China’s instigation had also a significant part in flaming hatred and distrust against India. This is all too well known.

            Sudden slide in Nepal’s Economy coupled with growing unemployment ;  Disenchantment with Nepal PM’s  inefficiency coupled with his loss of popularity in Nepal  –  are waves mounting against KP Sarma Oli now. At this critical juncture the border dispute (problem) has come in handy to gain political advantage through Nepalese Nationalism.

            A nation without any ports and surrounded by land only cannot disregard or boycott India totally in relationship.

            For the same reason India also will not be keen on treating its relationship with Nepal too easy to a point where Nepal may willingly shake hands with China.

            What is important is to make our approach shine with prospects of a relationship with Nepal without physical and mental suffering while preventing China to make use of our mistakes for its benefits.

          Make no mistake ;  this is one problem that won’t go away easily.

 

   “Dieu avec nous”

   Wednesday, June 3, 2020 – 9.29 a.m. (IST)

   Tidbit  :  ”  Politics have no relation to Morals ” – Niccolo Machiavelli.