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” Three Gorges Dam – A Threat or A Safeguard ? ” – August 4, 2020.

          ” Nectar is also poisonous in excess ” –  the proverb in vernacular Tamil also meaning,  ” Too much of anything is good for nothing “,  probably exemplifies the Three Gorges Dam in China that is becoming dangerous now.

          The dam built to control the forces of floods in the region is now facing the wrath of floods to the extent of being closed. To say that people are worried is an understatement.

          Three Gorges Dam is  a hydroelectric gravity Dam that spans the Yangtse river by the town of Sandouping in Yiling district, Yichong, Hubei Province. It is the world’s largest power station in terms of installed capacity since 2012.  Its height is 181 meters ( 607 feet);  its length is 2335 meters ( 7660 feet ). It took nearly 20 years to complete the construction of the dam. The cost of construction was about $ 28.6 billion.

          Since the construction of the dam was planned in a large scale, fears of faults and mistakes loomed large from the beginning. This primarily constituted the reason for the delay of 40 months over the planned period. Only after this in1994 the construction began. Benefits of the Dam were seen in :  (1)  Flood Control ;  (2)  Increase in Electricity Supply ;  and  (3)  Advantages of expanded irrigation. Construction was completed in 2006. Work on electricity supply was completed in 2012. The dam has 32 main turbines, with a generating capacity of 22500 megawatts.

          There have been constant debates and discussions about the various aspects of the dam during and after the construction of the dam. Even today, 14 years after the competition of the dam, the debates have not stopped among the nation’s geologists. Raising or lowering of water levels in the reservoir contributing to the pressure causing earthquakes has not been ruled out completely.

          In addition, people living on the banks of the Yangtse river for decades have been displaced without due compensation or measures of rehabilitation. Complaints of people regarding this were frequent and the Government even admitted the complaints in 2013. Arguments of defence put forward by the Government pertained to the misuse of funds duly allocated for the purpose.

          In 2003 when the dam was nearing completion cracks in about 80 places were noticed raising doubts about the safety of the dam. Experts then opined that leakages can be blocked by closing and reworking the cracks dismissing effectively the problem as being too hazardous.

          Usually between the months of October and May, the reservoir storage will be kept at a maximum with 175 meters high for electricity generation. When the monsoon begins in June, the level will be brought to 145 meters considering the likelihood of floods.

          Three Gorges Dam is put to its first test in recent weeks due to torrential rains and flood. Torrential rains since June raised water levels above safe levels as it was bracing for Typhoon Hangupit along the East Coast. It is the 4th Typhoon to hit China this year and 2 or 3 more typhoons are likely to hit according to its meteorological centre. Cities along Yangtse and Huawei rivers were inundated and China was on high alert. This is the worst flooding to hit China since 1998. About 150 people lost their lives. Lakhs of people were shifted to protective places. Tourist spots were closed as precautionary measures. About 55 million people were affected by the floods in 27 of China’s 31 provinces. Direct economic loss was estimated to be 144 billion Yuan ( $ 20.6 billion). People feared that the dam would even may collapse. But the rains subsided bringing relief to the country as a whole.

          The dam that was constructed with the aim of combating the challenges of floods has become the most worrisome factor in the minds of people.

          Recently one of the employees of the dam maintenance referred to the damages sustained in some parts of the dam. This was also reported by a news undertaking. The damages have occurred due to the flooding that seems to have been confirmed. Officials, however, maintain that the dam is safe and secure and for 500 years into the future nothing can shake the dam. Their belief is strong sowing the seeds of confidence among people.

          A showcase project,  pride of China,  the dam now sets the thoughts of people whirling around with fear of the next flood.

          Recent floods may have posed dangers to the dam and people, but the fact that the  “Three Gorges Dam”  is the glory and pride of China cannot be erased from our memory.

          China, now, has its task cut out to protect the Dam and erase the fear from the minds of its people.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Tuesday,  August 4,  2020 –  5.39 p.m.  (IST)

   Tidbit :  “. Some people drowned in the floods that were caused by the rains for which they have prayed “. –  Mokokoma Mokhonoana.

” COVID-19 ; Leaders Should not Fiddle While Coronavirus Rages ” – August 1, 2020.

     The primary duty of every national leader is to hold the Citizens as their own ;  protect their safety and security ;  and provide good governance at all times. In particular, when calamities strike or protests and chaos erupt either within or from outside, the singular goal should be to protect the Citizens and put them out of their miseries.

President, Donald Trump.

          COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the deceptive Leadership of some leaders causing mismanagement. US President, Donald Trump, is one whose style of Leadership is wedded to the principle of,  ” take it, or drown it ”  with mishandling and mishaps galore. Spontaneous and drastic actions on issues, national and international, have made him a Leader clouded in controversy in public discussions and arguments.

          Even while speaking eloquent about his friendship with India, he doesn’t hesitate to twist our arms in matters of his prime concern. That the nation, America, now finds itself let down by its own Leader amidst the COVID-19 crisis is not surprising at all.

          At a time when the bond of friendship forged between America and WHO should be strengthened, he chooses to opt out, in addition to the suspension of its financial contribution – an act viewed as unjustified. His declaration that America’s war with Coronavirus is over when the cases and death toll prove the contrary was shocking to say the least.

          There was widespread condemnation to his responses and the manner in which he treated the death of the black man, David Floyd, in the hands of a white policeman. His call for the military to be engaged in the control of protests (due to David Floyd’s death) was not accepted by his own Defense Secretary. A single, simple statement in a peaceful voice,  “Justice for the killing will be provided ”  would have possibly ensured the much needed elixir to the protesters and the oppressed. His utterings on the contrary served to escalate the anger and frustration of the people. As a candidate seeking his second term intensely, a change in his leadership style is the compulsion of time now.

          President Donald Trump’s first public appearance with a face mask during his visit to a military hospital was, however,  deeply appreciated for his special concern.

President, Jair Bolsonaro, of Brazil

          Brazilian Leader, Jair Bolsonaro, is no less controversial than President, Donald Trump. When a reporter asked him about the death of nearly 5000 people in Brazil recently, – ” So,  what ? “,  Jair Bolsonaro retorted angrily and shocked the entire world with his sheer act of obstinacy. There were also serious complaints when thousands of Citizens were languishing and fighting hard against the Coronavirus in hospitals and other places, in Rio de Janeiro and other cities, Bolsonaro was making the most of his time in  leisure pursuits of  ‘shooting’. Brazil’s death toll is now close to 90000. He was adamant that he will not wear the face mask, just like the US President. He has now contracted the disease. Having been confirmed in 3 successive tests he is now reported to be recovering. Even as many pray for his recovery, they are eagerly awaiting the redemptive power of the love of people to make him a responsible Leader.

President, Xi Jinping, of China

          The so called divine games of China are too well known. It has not shirked from its opposition to its many neighbours even as the entire world is pointing their fingers of accusation for the spread of Coronavirus on China. Border skirmishes with India ;  Desire to control the South China Sea fully through its destabilizing manoeuvres (it drowned a Philippine boat last year, and during the first week of April it drowned the Vietnamese fishing boat );  laying undue claims over the islands belonging to Japan, Vietnam, and Philippines ;  and  imposing Hong Kong Security Law – are just a few against which countries from around the World have raised voices.

North Korean Leader, Kim Jong-Un.

          North Korean Leader, Kim Jong Un, known for his dictatorial behavior has called for enhancing the military strength and capabilities enormously while maintaining a continuing stance of Opposition to South Korea is not in good diplomatic taste. With a majority of people of North Korea in conditions of abject poverty, his call for drinking tea and consuming turtle char instead of food grains appears to be shock tactics persuading them to submit to his actions.

          Instead of being reminded of the idiom, “Emperor Nero fiddled when Rome burned”,  leaders around the World should rise to the threat of COVID-19 with  (a)  moral responsibility,  (b)  great maturity,  (c)  serious understanding,  (d)  focus on important matters,  and  (e)  effective leadership.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Saturday,  August 1,  2020 –  12.29  p.m. (IST)

   Tidbit : ” When written in Chinese, the word  ‘crisis’  is composed of two characters – one represents danger and the other represents opportunity ”  –  John F Kennedy.

” America’s Presidential Election, November 3, 2020 – Advantage India ” – July 19, 2020.

          US  President Donald Trump’s ‘Political Power Play’  (PPP) is his trump card in this election. He came up trumps on many occasions by skilfully handling the trumped-up charges against him with his ‘Political Power Play’. With just one signature he can display his threatening behavior invoking trade barriers, immigration ban, visa suspension, financial withdrawal, exports ban .. .. or display his healthy behavior supporting arms sales, military assistance, financial assistance, friendship, ratification of treaties and the likes. It needs a thoughtful approach for the Leader to take actions for the safety and welfare of the people. His score sheet always showed a good score. Until the COVID-19  crisis, of course.

          November 3, 2020,  marks an important date in the American Election Process. With just 107 days away, the two major political parties have firmed up their candidates. Donald President, the incumbent President,  seeks a second term for the Republicans ;  and Joe Biden, former VP, seeks his first term for the Democrats. Countries around the World are taking a close look at the developing events in America to decide who will be better for them.

          The role played by Indians in these Elections has always been a matter of opinion, substance, and interest, specially in the last three decades and more. Michigan, Florida, Texas, Virginia, Pennsylvania are some States where the influence of Indians is expected to be significant. Also significant is the fact that they hold their share in the election campaign process by active participation.

          President Donald Trump’s Visit to India in February 2020 and his participation in “Namaste Trump”  event in Ahmadabad had the above fact in mind evoking discussions at great lengths. News outlets laid special emphasis on this event depicting President Donald Trump’s role more as a ‘political play’  than that of an ‘Americans President’. The public perception, however, in India was that it was an acknowledgement of admiration for the President and his achievements.   

          The merit was followed by the mess immediately after his return.

          COVID-19 tragedy ;  job losses ;  economic slowdown ;  death of the black man, George Floyd in the hands of Police ;  protests throughout the country – all within a period of four months marked a major setback that does not hold out much hope for his recovery. His Campaign strategy,  “America First” and  “Keep America Great Again”  is still an ace up his sleeve.

          There were serious doubts about his “spontaneous action results”  among Indian officials when President, Donald Trump, took charge first in January 2017 sowing the seeds of uncertainty about a thriving relationship between the two countries. Removal of the waiver granted to India on buying Oil from Iran in May 2019 ;  trumping up the charge that India places a higher tariff on American exports ;  and suspension of H1B and L1 visas are some decisions that still irk India. Trump, however, was liberal in sale of military armaments and techniques. His anti China stance and strong condemnation of terrorism issues of Pakistan are viewed in India’s favor. President, Donald Trump, also stood by India on the issues of Abrogation of Article 370 and CAA. He didn’t speak a word against it, maintaining a cautious silence. Democrats on the other hand spoke freely against those two issues.

          “Howdy Modi”  in Houston (September 22, 2019,)  and  “Namaste Trump”  in Ahmadabad (February 24, 2020) paved the way for a conciliatory approach to our relationship. President, Donald Trump’s laudable attempt to crown PM, Modi, as ” an individual whose care for the welfare of Indians is unique ”  even while pointing to his refusal to lower the tariffs for American exports was a masterstroke.

          Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, on the other hand has recorded in his Campaign website a clearly opposing stance against CAA and Abrogation of Article 370. He also criticised the defence deal signed between India and US during President Donald Trump’s Visit to India in February 2020, saying that the two countries should be working together, instead, to combat Climate Change. But he strongly supported fair trade with India and on the issue of Suspension of visas he clearly stated his intent to revoke it when he comes to power.

          In most fundraising speeches, Joe Biden, has been a loyal supporter of India on many issues. Biden calls India its  ” natural partner” and strengthening of US-India relationship as his high priority. He hinted at a more inclusive and generous immigration policy. Respect for Human Rights and promoting diversity are two aspects embedded in the DNA of Democrats. He also recalled the landmark Civil Nuclear Agreement with India he supported as Senator and continued through his 8 years as VP while reassuring and reaffirming his support, strengthening India’s belief that America will be a strong and dependable/reliable ally. His Campaign speeches in support of India are to all intents and purposes a clever move to placate the Indian diaspora while retaining their interest.

          Joe Biden, is keenly aware of the excellent personal relationship between Donald Trump and PM, Modi, and the need for him to plan a counter strategy to win over them. Joe Biden accusing Donald Trump on not doing enough to counter the Chinese desire for dominance is also viewed as an opportunity to sustain a good relationship with India. Joe Biden for his part hopes to be viewed as a better Leader.

          Joe Biden could also use John Bolton’s observations of Donald Trump in his book : ” The room where it happened : A White House Memoir ”  on India’s Iran oil purchase ;  slowing down of Chabahar port project work ;  Trump’s dislike of India’s purchase of S-400 missiles from Russia ;  Donald Trump’s initial  insouciance regarding minority rights of Uighurs in Xinjiang ;  and Donald Trump’s unpredictable relationships with Japan, Europe, and Canada. These can trigger more doubts in the minds of the voters still.

          There is an interesting parallel with the doubts that existed in 2016 when Hillary Clinton was the opponent. Donald Trump was the victor then. Hence, it is not without reason if people expect Donald Trump to win this time too.

          Since 1992 America had 3 Presidents who completed two successive terms. President, Bill Clinton,  President, George W Bush, and President Barack Obama. People gave them chances willingly. It will not be a mistaken belief if Donald Trump hopes that this trend will continue. Along with this is also his hope that in the next 106 days he will be able to turn the tide in his favor with people support for his economic programs.

          Events of the next three months within America and outside (internationally) will shape the choice and make the voice of Americans heard in the General Election in November 2020. The election will also witness economic and strategic interests weighing more than political, party, or personal interests in the choice of decisions.

          Recent actions of America in Hong Kong, South China Sea, economic sanctions against China along with a tough stand – are regarded as an encouraging pointer to America’s interest to promote and protect its relationship with India – a powerful nation in Asia. Donald Trump  still remains popular ; he can still come within an ace of victory.

          Donald Trump or Joe Biden in 2021 in America – either will be a generous, favourable, and advantageous leader supporting India for sure.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Sunday, July 19, 2020 –  6.09 p m.  (IST)

   Tidbit :  ”  India will hold a very special place in our heart ” – President, Donald Trump, in Ahmedabad, February 24, 2020.

 

 

 

” Singapore General Elections – Difficult to Rewind the Past ” – July 18, 2020.

Lee Hsien Loong, PM, Singapore.

          Following Taiwan and South Korea,  the Election of Parliament in Singapore has left the entire world watch in awed silence.

          Singapore became independent in 1959, but it was only in 1965 that it proclaimed itself as a fully independent, Democratic and Sovereign Republic. Its 18th General Election was held on July 10, 2020 when it elected the 14th Parliament of Singapore since its Independence in 1965 using the first past the post Electoral System.

          As was expected, the People’s Action Party (PAP) secured its 15th consecutive term in the Government since 1959 but with a distinct difference. The party that won in the past with little opposition  and with huge mandates (PAP) will now face a reasonably strong opposition party in WP , the Worker’s Party. This is the important lesson that is learned from this election. Voting was mandatory for all Singaporeans who were aged 21 or above as of March 1, 2020.  192 candidates from 11 parties contested in this election, the most ever in the history of Singapore. There were 73 new faces including an independent candidate.

          PAP led by PM, Lee Hsien Loong, won 83 seats out of the 93 for which Elections were held. The opposition, Worker’s Party, contesting its first General Election, captured 10 seats. This is viewed as a “turning point” in this election. This is the first time since 1966 that any opposition has secured so many seats.

          Ruling PAP secured 61.24℅ of votes, the lowest since the 2011 Elections ( 1524781 votes ). PAP’s  victory is widely regarded as the victory for its effective  handling of COVID-19 crisis ;  a stable employment record ;  and a stable wage performance. Nevertheless, the increase in the vote share of the opposition, WP, ( 11.22 ℅  and  279245 votes ) was an unexpected setback. Ruling Party will certainly be embarrassed by the performance of WP which secured more votes than the opposition SDP in 1991. 

          A sign that people begin to embrace the new Party with open arms.

          PM, Lee Hsien Loong’s positive approach to this growth of opposition is a sign of his political and democratic maturity.  He said :  ” People’s desire and the need for diverse voices and  push for solving problems by the Parliament is well understood. At the same time the mandate given to PAP is their likeness for political continuity. It also appears that youth segment specially favors opposition. We respect the decision of the people “. 

          It is a sincere reflection of the PM’s responsible words and political clarity filled response. True to his words, he has also promised to accord the status of the “opposition leader” to Pritam Singh, Leader of the Worker’s Party. This is the first time that a recognised Opposition Leader will take his responsibility in Singapore Parliament.

          Decrease in voter percentage and increase in opposition seats are not just the causes for the Ruling Party’s worries. Reasons go beyond this. Deputy PM and Finance Minister, Hang Swee Keat, has been declared as the Political successor in a bid to dispel rumours of any surprises in leadership succession. Also, in 2004, PM, Lee Hsien Loong, had announced that he will retire from Politics in February 2022 when he will attain the age of 70.

          That Hang Swee Keat could manage to win by only a small difference also represented a temporary setback in the election process. It has always been the tradition for the prime leader to secure more votes in terms of the national average ( more than that of the national average ) in their election victories – be it the present PM ( Lee Hsien Loong, from 12 August 2004 to present, 5762 days ), or the previous ones, Goh Chok Tong ( retired on 12 August 2004,  5006 days term ) ; the first PM, Lee Kuan Yew ( June 5, 1959 to 28 November 1990,  11499 days ). They never fell below 70℅ .

          Significant to note is the fact that women make up 29℅ of the elected 93 seats. Out of the 40 women contested 27 won, the highest ever. In 2005 there were 21 women parliamentarians.

          2020  Election outcome possibly spells the beginning of a wave of Change. Youth all over the World want change and the same had possibly made its power felt (although in a small measure ) in Singapore Elections also.

          Enthusiastic youth will probably be eager to look beyond Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and India and set their eyes on the entire world in future.

          Results of 2020 Elections are seen as a representation of this impact.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Saturday, July 18, 2020 – 11.49 a.m. (IST)

   Tidbit : ” Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change “.  –  Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

” 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 “.

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