Friday, 30 March 2018

US debt spiral

By the year 2020, the United States is expected to have a total national debt load of approximately $20 trillion dollars. The cost to service the public portion of that debt is expected to be nearly $800 billion per year, and that's assuming that we don't encounter significantly higher interest rates.


  • The combination of high debt, mounting spending pressures from population aging, and moderate growth pose the risk of fiscal/financial crisis – a low probability event but one with potentially enormous costs for the U.S. and global economies. 
  • To reduce that risk, the US Administration and Congress should restore the health of the country's public finances through gradual but sustained further reductions in the deficit.
  • Economic growth is vital for a nation's ability to sustain its public debt. Many debt crises in emerging economies have been caused by declines in growth. In advanced economies, the largest increases in debt ratios occurred when policymakers mistook a prolonged decline in growth for a temporary recession, and failed to cut spending or increase taxes. 
  • Economic growth is key because when growth declines, revenues decline commensurately, and governments are reluctant to cut spending in response, so that more debt accumulates.
  • Living with high debt is living dangerously. As larger deficits are financed, the debt also swells.
  • An interest-debt spiral is inconceivable for the United States, long considered a safe haven and benefiting from the "exorbitant privilege" stemming from the dollar's role as a reserve currency. A country's status as a safe haven is ultimately based on investors' perceptions, which can change abruptly. With privilege comes responsibility, and preserving the credibility of the U.S. public finances is vital not only for its citizens but also for the stability of the international financial system.
  • If it were possible to sustain high inflation and low interest rates, investors would take their funds abroad. That rules out the "financial repression" strategy. Alternative approaches such as outright default would be even more disruptive. To avoid spooking investors, candidates should not suggest inflation or default as potential means of slashing the debt. That leaves old-fashioned fiscal adjustment through spending cuts – which are increasingly difficult as population aging adds pressures on entitlement programs – and revenue increases. The pace of adjustment should be gradual, in order not to disrupt the global recovery. The U.S. debt ratio may thus be expected, at best, to decline slowly. 
  • Imposing statutory caps on domestic and military spending will definitely temper the deficit but will get swamped by healthcare and social security spending that will rise with aging population. Also Trump wants to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure in 10 years, surge in military spending and large tax cuts for individuals and corporations which will only increase overall debt.
  • Deficits are helpful when economies are in recession. But when they are in near full employment , as US economy is now, deficits should be kept below 3% to avoid drag on investment or worse a financial crisis.
  • The share of public debt is expected to reach 89% of GDP by 2027, increasing the risk of financial crisis and raise possibility that investors will become skittish about financing government's borrowing, although many countries have far higher debt levels.
  • Besides deficit, tepid economic growth is also a concern. Over next 10 years real economic growth may not exceed 1.9% per annum. The steadily growing economy appears to be giving policy makers more time.
  • Prepare to live dangerously for several more years.
Any person or corporation or state or nation, which can't repay smaller debt today will certainly can't repay bigger debt in future. So it is in the interest of lenders to stop restructuring of loans, that has very poor track record (1 in 100 success rate or even less), and stop dealing with such over spending entities after few warnings. Eventually, such debts will get written off in some form or other. But lenders are also helpless about parking their earnings or trade surpluses safely. Balance is the key! Every one must learn to balance income & expenditure, imports & exports so on on real time basis. Not doing so is recklessness or irresponsibility or both. Stay away from such people.

Telangana bungles budget & accounts 2016-17

The CAG has been very critical of the TS government's financial management and financial indiscipline. Against the TS government’s claim of surplus budget in the financial year 2016-17, the CAG report commented that the revenue surplus was overstated by Rs 6,778 crore on account of irregular accounting. Thus the state had a revenue deficit of Rs 5,392 crore in 2016-17. 



  • The fiscal deficit of Rs 35,281 crore stood at 5.46% of GSDP was understated by Rs 2,500 crore due to crediting of borrowed funds as revenue receipts.
  • The ratio of fiscal deficit to GSDP, excluding the amount transferred under UDAY scheme (Rs 7,500 crore), was 4.3% exceeding the ceiling of 3.5% stipulated for 2016-17 by the 14th FC  under FRBM legislation. 
  • Under UDAY scheme, against Rs 8,931.51 crore borrowed through UDAY bonds during the year, the state government released Rs 7,500 crore only to Discoms at the end of the yearand has been booked under capital expenditure as equity. 
  • The government utilised 34.74% of borrowed funds in 2016-17 for repaying its existing debt which increased by 18%. The CAG warned the state government that it will have to borrow further to repay its loans. 
  • CAG said that the interest payments was 10.4% of revenue receipts against the normative rate of 8.22% prescribed by the 14th FC.
  • The total debt in 2016-17 was Rs 1.21 lakh crore, which is 31% more than Rs 91,985 crore in the previous year. The state used 7.12% of its tax revenue to repay the debt in 2015-16, it had to allocate 32.16% of tax revenue for the same during 2016-17.
  • The aim of Mission Kakatiya is to restore all 46,531 tanks in the state in five years. The restoration of 21,670 tanks by August 2017 was proposed; however, only 28% of them, 7901 tanks, were restored. The removal of silt is an important component of the restoration works. The state government said that farmers were not interested in taking the silt because it was not useful for agriculture. The CAG said that this was not acceptable as guidelines prescribed priority to be given to tanks where farmers agreed to transport silt. The restoration works are supposed to irrigate 10 lakh acres of gap ayacut. The CAG observed that there was no mention of the gap ayacut in the estimates for the individual works.

KCR of TRS has successfully converted Telangana, a revenue surplus state in 2014 (Rich state) into a revenue deficit state (Poor state) with his mindless borrowing and senseless spending and bring the state to the brink of debt trap (borrowing to pay old debts). In the process KCR and TS had violated all accounting norms, bypassed rules, bungled the books, FC rules ignored, FRBM limits violated. In these matters, KCR is neither the first nor the last. Most states and Centre violates norms and rules, at will, and doesn't really care for CAG reports. Corruption is the key element.

With most of its spending on non revenue generating projects, Telangana will sink into deep debt trap very soon. With most of its revenues going for debt servicing - education, health care and welfare will take severe hit. The debt will be shifted for as long as possible… but eventually, someone will have to come to terms with it. The black hole totals up to huge sums of money; no one can pay; and the system gets bankrupted, or services rendered become inadequate and farcical. The future is austere if this equation isn’t balanced out.

Notwithstanding tall development and financial management claims of the Gujarat state, the CAG's five audit reports on the last leg of Narendra Modi's rule as the Gujarat Chief Minister after a 12-year stint has fished out in all disputed transactions worth Rs 25,000 crore that points to fiscal profligacy and rising debt burden.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Pablo Escobar - Wealthiest criminal

No one disputes that Pablo Escobar was a murderer, a torturer, and a kidnapper. But he was loved by many in Medellín, Colombia. and he is an object of fascination abroad. At his zenith, he was the most notorious outlaw on the planet, with control of some 80% of the cocaine entering the U.S. and of a fortune estimated at $30 billion. In many respects, he remains Colombia’s most famous citizen, a charismatic entrepreneur of boundless ambition who delighted in his Robin Hood image, even as he killed thousands of people to subvert the government. 

Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria (1949-1993)
  • Pablo Escobar was a Colombian drug lord and narcoterrorist. His cartel supplied an estimated 80% of the cocaine smuggled into the United States at the height of his career, turning over US $21.9 billion a year in personal income. 
  • He was called "The King of Cocaine" and was the wealthiest criminal in history, with an estimated known net worth of US $30 billion by the early 1990s (equivalent to about $56 billion as of 2017), making him one of the richest men in the world in his prime.
  • It was estimated that 70 to 80 tons of cocaine were being shipped from Colombia to the U.S. monthly. His drug network competed with rival cartels domestically and abroad, resulting in murders of police officers, judges, locals, and prominent politicians.
  • On December 2, 1993, police traced a phone call between Escobar and his son. Colombian special forces swooped in. Escobar was killed at the house, felled by three bullets as he stood on its roof. 
  • His two brothers believe that he shot himself through the ear. The duo stated that Pablo "had committed suicide, he did not get killed. During all the years he would say that if he was really cornered without a way out, he would 'shoot himself through the ear'.
  • Escobar made it to Congress in 1982, and began working to build a political constituency in and around Medellín. His electoral ambitions did not go very far. He was denounced as a gangster by Colombia’s justice minister. Escobar fought back, falsely accusing the minister of being in the pocket of narcos. But a newspaper editor dug up an old news story showing that Escobar had been arrested, seven years before, for the possession of thirty-nine pounds of cocaine. Escobar was ejected from Congress, and the FBI began investigating him. He went underground, and a long hunt began. Escobar spent seven years as a fugitive.
  • He had killed innocent people, and cut victims into pieces, but had done so because his enemies had done that to his people, too. In those days he had been fighting what he thought was a war against a corrupt state and its extradition treaty with the United States.
  • Escobar was held directly responsible by various media publications for the 1985 storming of the Colombian Supreme Court by left-wing guerrillas, known as M-19. The siege, which was in retaliation for the Supreme Court studying the constitutionality of Colombia's extradition treaty with the U.S., resulted in the murders of half the judges on the court M-19 and burn all papers and files on of cocaine smugglers who were under threat of being extradited to the U.S. by the Colombian government. Escobar was listed as a part of Los Extraditables. 
  • Escobar was a hero to many in Medellín (especially the poor people). He was a natural at public relations, and he worked to create goodwill among the poor of Colombia. Escobar was also responsible for the construction of houses and football fields in western Colombia, which gained him popularity among the poor. He worked hard to cultivate his Robin Hood image, and frequently distributed money through housing projects and other civic activities, which gained him notable popularity among the locals of the towns that he frequented. Some people from Medellín often helped Escobar avoid police capture by serving as lookouts, hiding information from authorities, or doing whatever else they could to protect him. 
  • At the height of his power, drug traffickers from Medellín and other areas were handing over between 20% and 35% of their Colombian cocaine-related profits to Escobar, as he was the one who shipped cocaine successfully to the United States.
  • 13 Unbelievable Facts About Pablo Escobar.
  • Pablo Escobar - Biography - Drug Dealer (1949–1993)
  • At the height of Escobar’s power, he built himself a paradise: La Hacienda Nápoles, a 7,000 acre estate three hours from Medellín. Escobar spent years converting the property from an isolated wilderness to a refuge, with paved roads, artificial lakes, and a private zoo stocked with zebras, hippopotamuses, and giraffes, as well as a series of life-size dinosaur sculptures. Guests had the use of swimming pools, a party house, stables, a bullring, a vintage-car collection, and a fleet of speedboats. After Escobar’s death, the compound was abandoned, its structures ransacked by memento seekers and by treasure hunters. After being repossessed by the state, Hacienda Nápoles was reopened in 2007, as a theme park with a zoo, a water park, and several family-friendly hotels.
  • A journalist Alonso Salazar suggested that he had merely been a conduit for the country’s bigotry and violent impulses. He said that Pablo Escobar’s legacy had profoundly altered political and social life. Narcotrafficking came along and just overwhelmed everything. Escobar débuted the instruments of terror, and afterward everyone used them.
  • Psychopaths are loving with their kids and murderers. A woman insisted that she had not wanted to make Escobar a hero since he had kidnapped her mother and killed her uncle. But a  person that was able to do what Escobar did, has also a normal face. And people have to learn that that’s the way people are, they have two sides.
  • Narconovelas set up an alternative moral political structure in which the state, government, politicians, law enforcement, bureaucrats, and soldiers are seldom portrayed as the good guys. The heroes are always either lone rangers or misunderstood drug dealers.
  • Álvaro Uribe, former President of Colombia. bemoaned the appeal of antiheroes: “People love bandits, no matter what we do.” In a profoundly unequal country, Escobar represented a form of economic mobility. “When there are no regular paths to get out of where you are, the bandit is the one who makes it -- the one who can jump ahead.”  
  • Escobar also appealed to a perverse sense of patriotism. The oath of Los Extraditables “Better a tomb in Colombia than a cell in the United States” resonated with Latin Americans sensitive about Yankee intervention.
  • In 2009, Escobar’s son, Juan Pablo, appeared in a documentary called “Sins of My Father,” in which he contacted victims of his father and apologized on behalf of his family. 
  • Juan Escobar, his mother, and his sister Manuella, at first fled to Mozambique. Juan Pablo chose the name "Sebastián Marroquín" from the telephone book and adopted it as his new name since he needed a new identity as he believed his original name was cursed. Manuella now lives in Central North Carolina under an alias. 
  • “I know about everything my father did, and I will go to each and every one of the families of his victims to ask forgiveness. But I’m not legally culpable. My personal slogan is ‘I inherited a mountain of shit. So what am I supposed to do with it?’ ”
  • A professor wrote, “We live the culture of drug trafficking, inaesthetic, values, and references. We are a nation that took on the narco idea that anything goes if it will get you out of poverty: some tits, a weapon, corruption, trafficking coca, being a guerrilla or a paramilitary fighter, or being in government.” He was careful to note that the narco aesthetic was not merely bad taste. It was a way of life among the dispossessed communities that look to modernity and have found in money the only way to exist in the world.
  • Escobar left behind a model of success: build support among the disenfranchised by providing them with money and power they would not otherwise have; in return, they will be your loyalists, your spies, and your gunmen. For the middle class, use your wealth to corrupt policemen, generals, judges, and politicians.
He showed us the path we must never take as a society because it's the path to self-destruction, the loss of values and a place where life ceases to have importance ...  Pablo Escobar's son Sebastián Marroquín
A novelist described Escobar as a monstrous Pied Piper: “At the height of his splendor, people put up altars with his picture and lit candles to him in the slums of Medellín. It was believed he could perform miracles. No Colombian in history ever possessed or exercised a talent like his for shaping public opinion. And none had a greater power to corrupt. The most unsettling and dangerous aspect of his personality was his total inability to distinguish between good and evil.”
After Escobar, the idea of rebellion based on ideology was largely supplanted by the remorseless pursuit of profit and power. In places along his supply chain, including Mexico and in Central America, the remnants of his operation have grown into insurgent gangs, and states have succumbed to corruption and internal conflict. Today’s youth still see narcotrafficking as a way to make quick money. Society doesn’t change, really. And those with the greatest responsibility for this are those in the media, with their television series and their books.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

I want India to be a happy country ... JRD Tata

JRD Tata (1904 - 1993)

JRD wished India to be a happy country before it becomes a great country and had conveyed his view to his friend and the country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

JRD always believed that before one could excel in his chosen sphere, that person should be a good man. And a good man must have great credibility. He was always very sympathetic towards the needy, and there are umpteen anecdotes on how he helped families, particularly children. - JJ Irani

JRD's always aimed for excellence or even perfection. That drive was clearly reflected in his leadership of Air India. When JRD was its chairman, the carrier was recognized as one of the top three airlines in the world.

On the fire accident of March 3, 1989 that broke out during the Founder's Day programme inside Tata Steel plant, JRD was with Ratan Tata in Geneva but when he was informed about the unfortunate incident, he rushed back on March 5 (1989) and personally visited the victims undergoing medical treatment in TMH. JRD viewed the fire mishap as a personal loss and insisted on quality medical care to the victims regardless of the cost of the treatment.

On one occasion a senior executive of a Tata company tried to save on taxes. Before putting up that case, the chairman of the company took him to JRD. Mr. Vyas explained to JRD: "But sir, it is not illegal." JRD asked, softly: "Not illegal, yes. But is it right?" Mr. Vyas says that during his decades of professional work no one had ever asked him that question. Mr. Vyas later wrote in an article: "JRD would have been the most ardent supporter of the view expressed by Lord Denning: ``The avoidance of tax may be lawful, but it is not yet a virtue.'"

When JRD rang us in the office he would first ask: "Can you speak?" or "Do you have someone with you?" Except when he was agitated, he would never ask you: "Can you come up?" He was always polite.

Towards the end of his life he often said: "We don't smile enough." 

JRD said about his dealings with his colleagues: "With each man I have my own way. I am one who will make full allowance for a man's character and idiosyncrasies. You have to adapt yourself to their ways and deal accordingly and draw out the best in each man. At times it involves suppressing yourself. It is painful but necessary... To be a leader you have got to lead human beings with affection.''

In a speech in Madras in 1969 he called on the managements of industries located in rural or semi-urban areas to think of their less fortunate neighbours in the surrounding regions. "Let industry established in the countryside `adopt' the villages in its neighbourhood; let some of the time of its managers, its engineers, doctors and skilled specialists be spared to help and advise the people of the villages and to supervise new developments undertaken by cooperative effort between them and the company."

He never bent the system for his benefit. LK Jha recalled in 1986 that whenever JRD came to him when he was a Government Secretary, he came not on behalf of a company but the whole industry. He wanted no favours, only fairness.

He wrote in his Foreword in 1992: "I believe that the social responsibilities of our industrial enterprises should now extend, even beyond serving people, to the environment.''

When he was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1992, Tata employees arranged a function on the lawns of the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai. A gentle breeze was blowing from the Arabian Sea. When JRD rose to speak, he said: "An American economist has predicted that in the next century India will be an economic superpower. I don't want India to be an economic superpower. I want India to be a happy country.''

If I were to attribute any single reason to such success as I have achieved, 
I would say that success would not have been possible without a 
sustained belief that what I did or attempted to do would serve the needs and interests 
of our country and our people and that I was a trustee of such interests ... JRD Tata

The economy, which is a network of material relations, can always be revived, but the society, which is a network of human relations based on trust, may not be repaired so easily once damaged. The events of the past year can leave us without the slightest doubt that the sections who feel most threatened in India today are our Muslim and Christian compatriots. Historically, there have been other groups that have long felt marginalised.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Modi's speeches - style without substance UNLIMITED

Modi’s penchant for talking big and doing nothing has a chilling similarity with Mussolini’s Fascist Italy is that in the Mussolini regime, politics starts to be less concerned with the act of governing people in an efficient way, for instance, in solving their economic problems. Instead, it is focused more on the spectacle of power, on the visual and impressive display of symbols, myths and rituals and impressive speeches. In terms of everyday life this takes the shape of a domination of form of visual appearance, effects over the content. It also means that politics ceases to be measured by political criteria. Politics itself assumes the form of an artistic act; to govern means to Mussolini to create a new Nation and a new Empire and Mussolini views himself as the creative soul of the nation, the propeller of new ways of living.

What Modi has talked about is not understandable to me despite being highly educated. What ever he has talked for somebody else should do it but not himself. He has done different things and none of the anything he spoke - during his past 4 years as PM and 14 years as Gujarat CM. Modi thinks something, speaks something else and does altogether differently being a hypocrite by default. India has no future with this type of emotionless hypocrites at the top. Writing about him goes on and on for several pages and endless and not worth it. 

Telangana: TDP - Kingmaker 2019

  • TDP vote bank still remains at 7% in Telangana, as assessed by TRS and Congress but it could be much more at 10-12%. In Hyderabad city it could be as much as 20%. 
  • If TDP fights elections alone, its gains will be far less in multi cornered contests.
  • 2019 General elections will be bitterly fought between TRS and Congress. While BJP will be happy to align with TRS. That leaves TDP option-less to support 35 year rival Congress.
  • TRS gestures towards TDP are always hot and cold. It is never trustworthy for anyone.
For 2019 elections TDP might have to get aligned with TRS or Congress only for the purpose of seat sharing to gain maximum seats. For that, it must focus on party organisational structure and rejuvenate it, right now. AP's diaspora in Telangana is very large at 20% of population and their well being is always be a concern of TDP.

BJP in AP - dilemma is suicidal

  1. During the course of AP Reorganization Bill, BJP cooperated with Congress totally, ignoring the assurance given by LK Advani that unjust act will not be allowed to go through.
  2. Subsequently it was BJP's Venkaiah Naidu and Arun Jaitley who coined "Special Category Status" for AP for a period of 10 years which Congress had reduced to 5 years as promise outside the bill & Act.
  3. BJP admitted TDP into its NDA fold during 2014 elections (keeping aside the  personal animosity of Modi against Chandrababu Naidu during the period of Gujarat Riots 2002 etc.) with the sole objective of grabbing power and absolute majority for BJP was highly uncertain.
  4. Modi during election campaign has made umpteen promises to residual AP many more beyond the AP Reorganization Act which are still reverberating in the ears of AP people.
  5. BJP's Hari Babu could win Visakhapatnam LS seat with Vizag Railway Zone as his top most item during campaign.
  6. Modi as PM has completely ignored not only his promises but also center's obligations to assist AP for its development, Polavaram project, new capital construction and so on and released minuscule amounts during the past 4 years. At this rate fulfilling promises and obligations would take 50-100 years.
  7. So many things were said during the past 4 years, but people of AP feel totally let down by BJP, much worse than by Congress during 2014. Modi came out in his true colors and people of AP has lost faith in him and BJP whatsoever and if polls were held today BJP may not get even 1% votes, worse than Congress would get. Having cooperated with BJP for Jagan to come out of his CBI & ED corruption cases, YSRCP's vote base has deteriorated significantly. Pawan Kalyan with his confusing stances since an year and suddenly taking U-turn and started cooperating with BJP for undisclosed reasons too has lost his charm & credibility.
  8. Today's opinion poll results in social media, even though not very authentic, but does reflect reality. TDP's popular support, with NOTA excluded, is about 60% with its only rival YSRCP at less than 20%, Pawan Kalyan's Janasena at 15% and Congress, BJP & others at 5%.
  9. In real polls next year with large rural population included, popular support to TDP may very well exceed 65%. 
BJP committed suicide in AP with Modi's arrogance at its peak. With North & West uncertain, South and East in the hands of popular regional parties, BJP/NDA's 2019 tally may not exceed 100/150, with most allies already exited NDA. Modi saddled with negatives like economic destruction, agrarian distress, unemployment and so on, has no achievements to present to people and blaming Congress etc even after 5 years of being in power will not yield any benefit to him. Most BJP-Modi fans are openly talking that Congress was better with all its corruption and scams. While Central Government has never ever revealed complete truths to nation in the past, but it has also refrained from blatant lies. But Modi's administration has crossed all limits of decency and hurls at blatant lies at the fall of hat bringing down its own credibility. Today, Modi has more enemies inside BJP than outside. BJP leaders in AP are scared of meeting public and are confining themselves to press meets now and then. Their briefings are limited to reproduction of what BJP says in Delhi. Even a BJP MP and an Ex BJP Minister who are reluctant to carry the burden of BJP and being friends of Chandrababu Naidu are likely to join TDP before 2019 elections. 

Ever since 1977, non-congress parties has been proving time and again that they are worthy to sit in opposition benches only and squandered away every opportunity given to them with their shortsightedness, strongheadedness, insufficient vision to rule a diverse nation like India.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Economic insanity

Theoretically, we should be able to provide for everyone's needs and reasonable wants with in a static economy. The only reason why endless growth is necessary in the capitalist system is simply that it is the mechanism by which the system works. Without growth, capitalism deteriorates. But growth imperative causes serious side effects, one of which is the tendency to confuse both money and debt with wealth.
  • If we don't consume or use up real wealth, it perishes on its own. We can't store enough of it to satisfy our lifelong needs. The only way we can make today's wealth fulfill tomorrow's needs is to lend it to others, put them in our debt, and persuade them to pay us back over time, with interest. While debt tends to expand regularly and indefinitely, the wealth it symbolizes cannot.  
  • The ruling passion of individuals in a modern economy is to convert wealth into debt in order to derive permanent future income from it. That is the heart of the capitalism. But the idea that all people can live off the interest of their mutual indebtedness is a vulgar delusion on a grand scale.
  • In reality, only the minority earns significant interest and the majority pays it. But the difference between what the majority owes and what it is able to pay steadily widens. Debt grows exponentially, but new real wealth which common laborers must repeatedly create new real wealth to pay the interest on their borrowings does not. We can never produce enough actual growth in wealth to keep up the exponential growth of our debts. We just roll them over and end up borrowing to pay up interest on them which is nothing more than a giant, legalized Ponzi scheme.
  • The solution to debt crisis is a further dose of growth. The way to grow is to invest, and the way to invest is to borrow. The solution to debt is to increase the debt! How it is believed that new debt will be used productively than the older debt is never explained.
  • The resultant explosion of debt will lead to defensive actions by borrowers include inflation, bankruptcy, confiscatory taxation, fraud, or outright theft. These are socially and economically destructive actions and yet they are also the inevitable fruit of compound interest which we deem normal and acceptable.
  • Growth in the money supply is the “leading edge” fueling productivity and economic expansion through debt. The logical solution to this dilemma is simple. Since exponential growth of real wealth is impossible, we must tie the money supply more closely to wealth to keep it from expanding needlessly. 
  • Exponential growth of money and debt creates unrealistic expectations for similar growth in real wealth which in turn puts immense pressure on short term profits and return on investment. Thus to attract capital, businesses must offer competitive return which often means they search the world over lowest-cost production opportunity. Thus manufacturing gets relocated to countries with lowest labour wages and returns greater.
  • Free trade between nations brings only unrestricted capital. But labour stays put which results not in mutual benefit to both the nations but significantly lower wages to the nation that loses capital.
  • Balance of trade and capital mobility is the way country borrows in real terms is to import more than it exports. In the last few decades, US has run up staggering trade debt means that immense amount of capital has moved out to other countries. No economist would maintain that this large trade imbalance can continue to expand forever. At some point capital will have to start flowing in opposite direction to bring the account back into balance. For this to happen wages and benefits of US workers have to fall to globally competitive levels. The living standards of US workers will drop significantly. Americans must somehow change course to a limited growth economy—and even accept a no-growth paradigm—or the whole system will explode.
  • An economical economy is inherently conservative (not wasteful) in both its production and consumption. In the restorative economy products will require more labour, use less energy and produce less waste. Productivity will go down but employment and profits will go up. This runs contrary to conventional economic logic. Taxation and fees must discourage frivolous, dangerous and dirty products and encourage useful, safe and clean products.
  • Such a system will remove incentives for unlimited growth, discourage or deterr formation of enormous, impersonal and capital driven corporations and encourage small, employee-owned, service oriented and environment-sensitive businesses.

There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need 
but not for man's greed ... Mahatma Gandhi

We have far more oil, coal and gas than we can safely burn without global warming. Coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuels produces least amount of energy and the greatest amount of pollution and threatens clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, and a safe climate. In the name of globalization human consumption & wastage has crossed ecologically sustainable limits and piles of waste has proven disastrous to environment. Pollution haunts every city in the world. Enormous burning of oil & gas adds to the woes. While over population is the fundamental cause, other aspects of over consumption and wastage and elimination of unnecessary and dangerous items is in our hands.

Defense unpreparedness - Who is responsible?

Indian Express | New Delhi | March 23, 2018 | Page 15

India’s defense budget for FY 2018-19 is a meager Rs 2.95 lakh crore, an increase by 7.81% over last year but  just about 1.58% of the GDP, the lowest figure since the 1962 war with China wherein it was 1.65%. 
  • In the light of military threats from both Pakistan and China, the defence outlay is unlikely to completely meet the requirements defense forces. Even though several defense procurement projects were approved, large amounts of funds continue to be surrendered unspent from the capital budget in the past few years.
  • China's defense budget is $175 billion i.e. nearly Rs.12 lakh crores. And their massive spending on modernizing armed forces, started 5 years ago, is nearing completion. In terms of capabilities & preparedness, India stands no where near China.
  • India’s military equipment is ageing rapidly and replacements are not keeping pace. The budget will not even meet the army’s operational requirements and meeting the threats against China and Pakistan. 
  • Deficiencies in ammunition have an adverse impact on the ability to sustain prolonged military operations. The ammunition and weapons stocks available last for less than ten days of fighting against the norm of maintaining 30 days stock. 
  • The navy and air force services are no better off. The obsolescent weapons and equipment also affects the country’s defence preparedness as fighter and bomber aircraft are extremely difficult to maintain towards the end of the life cycle. Air force units are also equipped with obsolete equipment and depleting fleet. 
  • While the Indian navy is far from acquiring the capabilities of a blue water navy, the People’s Liberation Army navy is getting ready to sail into the Indian Ocean.
  • Modern wars are fought mostly during the hours of darkness, but a large number of the army’s armoured fighting vehicles, tanks and infantry combat vehicles are still ‘night blind’. 
The government sanctioned some funds to acquire the wherewithal necessary for combat readiness. Unless the remaining deficiencies in weapons, ammunition and equipment are also made up quickly, the management of the defence budget improves by an order of magnitude and the defence procurement process is streamlined further, thoughts of critical hollowness in defence preparedness will continue to haunt India’s defence planners.

It is strange that India thinks of military when compelled to plan for augmenting their protection against the adversaries. The fact of the matter is India is not war ready. We don't have ability and ammunition stocks for a two front war. At best we can defend from aggressors. The military modernization which was conceived in 2004 after exposure of weaknesses during Kargil war has not taken shape till now. Both UPA and present NDA governments are responsible for India's today's utter defense unpreparedness.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

The insanity of endless growth

Almost all governments, business, media and both the political ‘left’ and ‘right’ are busy extolling endless growth on a planet which is finite. Clearly endless economic growth is impossible, and its pursuit unsustainable and unethical and such destructive pursuit of the impossible is insane. Humanity is totally dependent on the biosphere and it is degrading. Hence society needs to realize that we are way past sustainable ecological limits. 
  • The most drastic effects of the rise of economic growth are the impoverishing of democracy, the loss of liberty, and the abandonment of equality. We must subject the economy to the ideals of democracy, liberty, equality, and unity. The drivers of free-market system are causing interrelated problems and if we are to turn our nation from this path of folly, we must first abandon the faulty assumptions that drive our thinking. The four pillars of capitalism - endless economic growth, ever-increasing productivity, accelerating technological advances, and self-interest must be abandoned. Economic insanity challenges people to stop looking for answers within the system and look instead to changing the system.
  • The reality is that endless economic growth on a finite planet is unsustainable, especially if society has exceeded ecological limits. There are ‘limits of growth’; and the ‘endless growth mantra’ within society is unsustainable. The three main drivers of ‘unsustainability’ are overpopulation, over consumption and the growth economy. 
  • The ‘decoupling’ strategy by switching over to renewable sources of energy etc has its merits and limits, and at best a partial solution to the problem. The key social problem is denial of our predicament along with the contribution of anthropocentric modernism as a worldview that aids and abets that denial. At best attempts at decoupling slow down the rate at which things get worse. Talk of 100% decoupling is likely to be merely a wishful thinking.
  • Human population growth and the concomitant increase in the consumption of resources would exceed planetary limits around the middle of the 21st century, causing societal collapse. The Global Ecological Footprint now stands at 1.6 Earths. The Living Planet Index has declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012.  The species extinction rate is at least 1000 times normal. At least 60% of ecosystem services are degrading or being used unsustainably. We are bankrupting nature and consuming the past, present and future of our biosphere.
  • Economic growth is seen as the panacea for almost all societal ills. Commitment to growth is being promoted in the guise of free trade, competitiveness, productivity – or even as sustainable development which is an oxymoron. Sustainable development requires a GDP growth rate of 5%, doubling output every 14 years. Economic growth can't be the cure for poverty, unemployment, debt repayment, inflation, population explosion, and so on.
  • The idea of benefits of growth would trickle down and alleviate global poverty has failed. The verb ‘to grow’ has become twisted; its original meaning is to spring up and develop to maturity, a steady state. To grow beyond a certain point is disastrous. It is possible to develop scenario where full employment prevails, poverty eliminated, people have more leisure, and greenhouse gases drastically reduced, with low or no economic growth. It is a mistake to assume that economic growth is a necessity for full employment.
  • Once we have exceeded ecological limits, growth will make us worse off with uneconomic growth. Products scarcity leads to advocacy of even more growth. This becomes a death spiral. Healing our world requires accepting the reality that the economy cannot grow forever. 
  • A dismissal of ecological limits and the rapidly worsening environmental crisis indicates many are still in denial of the insanity and unsustainability of endless economic growth. Many things change and solutions become easier if we change our worldview and ethics. Society needs to return to ecocentrism and adopt an Earth ethic and undertake the work of repairing the Earth and changing to a worldview of ecocentrism to step on the path to a sustainable future.
We have been locked into an insane growth fantasy for two centuries, but the past does not mandate the future. It is time now to grow up. We need to acknowledge the scale of the problem, abandon denial, and move towards a major shift in worldview. This is a big task, but also an exciting, positive challenge – one nobody should deny.

Four Earths would be needed if everyone lived like Americans.

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem 
brings us face to face with another problem ... Martin Luther King, Jr.

Growth mantra has simply made rich much richer while poor remained poor. The disparity between rich and poor has widened like never before. This trend can't go on forever. In order to retain our humanity in the face of ecological limits, we would have to confront inequality head on. If wealth were divided equally among the all the people in the world, the per capita material affluence would drop significantly. Global society has already entered the phase where the capacity to grow, to generate real new wealth, is declining. When growth stops, tensions mount. Only the tyrannical state, with its monopoly on violence, its enormous bureaucracies, its tentacles reaching into every facet of life, will have the power to save us from the stupidity called the freedom to grow forever. 

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Daripalli Ramaiah: The man who planted ten million trees!

Daripalli Ramaiah, recently awarded the Padmashri, has dedicated his life to increasing the country’s green cover and in the process has been credited with planting one crore saplings. The fight of Ramaiah to plant trees was not alone, as his wife Janamma has also made significant contribution to tree planting.
  • Daripalli Ramaiah is a man on mission to plant trees and bring back the green cover. Wherever he sees a barren spot, he takes out seeds from his pocket and plants them. People say he has planted over a crore trees.
“Of all the species that consider the earth as their home, the most exalted is the human being. He supposedly has intellect, can think, can do and can get things done. Nature has bestowed her choicest blessings on this form of life. Therefore, we have a duty towards Nature. Protect the nature; protect everything created by God, for the posterity,” says Daripalli Ramaiah, native of Khammam district presently in Telangana State.
  • Ramaiah is passionate about his work. He recollects that as a child he saw his mother saving the seeds of ribbed gourd for the next planting season. He learnt his first lesson from her. 
He says, “seed is the secret of evolution. God has given life to it and it proves to the world its existence by giving birth to a plant when wedded to soil, during monsoon.”
  • The people in Khammam know him as a person who carries plants on his cycle and seeds in his pocket and pedals miles together, planting trees and strewing seeds with a fond hope that the entire area will be green in the coming years. People say that he has planted more than a crore plants and made them survive.
  • Ramaiah proved to this world that you need not be rich to start philanthropic activity. What you need is passion and the path starts appearing before you, paving the way for the road ahead. Peddling a cycle, holding the handle with one hand and sprinkling the choicest seeds on the sides of the pathways is how he started his long and audacious journey of greening.
“There is no proxy when it comes to praying to a God or planting a tree. 
You should do it all by yourself to get the benefit,” he adds

  • To this end, he collected various native seeds and many more and chose the canal banks from Khammam, Palleguda Bridge and started greening the four kilometre stretch on both sides of the path. He raised plants in every small piece of barren land, which have now become huge trees saluting him with all their humility.
  • He recollects with satisfaction how he requested the then local MLA to plant a tree and shows it to people with pride. He makes it a point to request any big dignitary visiting his area to plant a tree.
  • His main slogan is “Vrikshio Rakshati Rakshitah”, which means if you save the trees, they will save you. 
  • He is the uncrowned king of nature. He equates plants with children and professes that both require initial care so that they grow strong to take care of you.
  • It is not just that he plants trees, he also knows their uses. His profound knowledge acquired by reading old books purchased from the second hand book shops along the road side by means of his very limited resources makes him a walking encyclopaedia on plants.
  • Once, an elderly person who liked his work gave him Rs. 5,000/- on the occasion of his son’s marriage. He used the currency notes to propagate his mission. Money, or lack of it, does not deter him from pursuing his passion.
  • A relative who knows only the commercial value of trees advised him to cut and sell the red sanders trees in his court yard which had attained sizable girth. Ramaiah did not give this a thought even for a moment. He said that he is developing a seed bank for posterity and all his trees will only help in producing more trees.
“I do not believe in people who cut trees but prostrate before a stone. 
For me, Nature is God and God is Nature.”
  • He collects the seeds every season and raises a nursery of red sanders and distributes the plants for free. He takes whatever anyone gives as price for his plants and uses the money for raising more plants. He is not just an environmentalist but also an economist, sociologist, scientist, mathematician and, above all, a Metaphysicist.
“Every sapling that I plant should survive, come what may. That is my motto.”
  • In his journey, his wife also played a very important role. She stood by his side through thick and thin and helped him in fulfilling his passion. He has developed his own green philosophy.
He says, “Instead of giving a fruit to a child, give them a plant. Let them nurture the plant into a tree and enjoy its fruits forever. This way, they learn to love nature. Today children are tomorrow’s citizens. Similarly, today’s plants are tomorrow’s trees.”
  • He is a highly honoured man in his area. He adorns himself with crowns and scarfs with slogans written on them and parades his area on his cycle like an emperor. All those who heckled him once, adore him now. He has spent his entire life time in greening the land like a soldier who spends his life time protecting his mother land.
There could be many people who have done their jobs with passion, but Ramaiah chose his passion as his unpaid job. There cannot be another Ramaiah when it comes to raising trees. He is a great model of humility and devotion to work. He is an inspiration to many, and at least at this late age, he deserves recognition.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Modi runs away from 'No confidence motion'

TDP's and YSRCP's individual no-confidence moves failed to take off on March 19, 2018, for the second time due to disorderly house created by AIADMK and TRS MP's rushing into well and shouting for their unimportant pending demands and creating feeble ruckus. The house was adjourned within minutes strangely for next day, giving rise to the suspicion that AIADMK & TRS protest in Lok Sabha was "stage-managed" by BJP. Despite sweeping powers, the Speaker has not made any attempt to restore order in the House for taking up the important motion of no-confidence and just adjourned the house for the day saying, "I'm duty-bound to bring the no-confidence motion. But I cannot do so that unless the House is in order". Orderly running of the house is the responsibility of Speaker, PM and Parliamentary affairs minister. 

Ever since Modi became PM, discussion on important matters was always thwarted by BJP and questions were never answered straight forward. The recent passage of Finance Bill with 28 amendments in less than 30 minutes amidst pandemonium is a glaring example.

Why BJP is hiding from a no-confidence motion despite having sufficient numbers?
  • There is considerable disillusion in BJP arising out of recent LS bye poll defeats in Rajasthan, MP, WB, Bihar and UP with huge margins. It is surprising to note that BJP leaders are the most happiest persons for BJP's debacle in bye polls in North.
  • BJP is scared of its own MP may not be present in LS at the time of voting. 
  • The entire opposition became united, on AP issues, for the first time in the past 4 years.
  • Debates during 'no confidence motion' are unconstrained and will provide great opportunity for all opposition parties to ventilate their grievances on any matter and charge that ruling BJP has nos not done much for many other states. Also all his failures during past 4 years will getting highlighted during the debate.
  • Any discussion that allows for scathing criticism in an election year is something the government wants to avoid. This negative publicity is likely to impact BJP's chances, if any, in the forth coming Karnataka elections. The bank frauds can no longer be dismissed as a creation of the UPA as these fraudsters left the country under the Modi dispensation. Above all, Modi doesn't like or he hates criticism and has no attitude to answer questions straight forward.
  • The exit of TDP from NDA has already dented BJP's credibility in accommodating its allies. The TDP's no-confidence motion has put an end to the "myth" that the BJP-led Modi government has an unshakable mandate for the next 25 years, as said by Shiv Sena. Shiv Sena's allegation that The TDP's no-confidence motion is for its political reasons and not for any 'nationalist' reason holds no water since TDP is a regional party only. 
  • But TDP has no choice since BJP has not fulfilled its 19+ obligations in implementing AP Reorganization Act 2014 even in its last year of the 5 year mandate, which is unpardonable. Needless to say 5 crore AP people are unanimously angry over BJP's attitude of highhandedness and TDP exiting NDA and tabling no confidence motion made Naidu a hero. Public perception can't be ignored in a democracy especially when they are not demanding the sky.
  • Even though YSRCP announced no confidence motion a month ago, none took it seriously with their integrity and corrupt background with YS Jagan as A1 in a dozen cases and his properties worth several thousand crores attached by ED so far. The talk in AP is that YSRCP is cooperating with BJP secretly to get out of cases and silently getting its properties out of ED's attachment. With these its mass base is fast shrinking.
  • The manner in which BJP has formed governments recently in Goa, Meghalaya and Nagaland without explicit majority or even highest seats denying Congress with highest seats opportunity to form coalition government indicates their utter disrespect for democratic norms and constitution.
  • BJP will certainly defend itself even attack opposition invoking irrelevant historical pasts etc. but opposition will have more ammunition to fire at BJP.
BJP must be regretting now that it could have done something on its own (of about 20% as per AP Reorganization Act 2014) for funds starving AP in this last Budget 2018 so that this embarrassment would have been avoided. Modi is paying very big price for his highhandedness and headstrong attitude. Modi successfully added another negative item to BJP's already 'worst performer' account.

With what ever is happening during the past 10 days, Modi & Jaitley with their arrogance belittled themselves as reflected by unity among almost all opposition parties, Chandrababu Naidu became hero of Telugu Pride and BJP got buried underground worse than that of Congress party in 2014. With BJP and Congress seen as AP cheaters and Jagan (YSRCP) seen in collusion with BJP & Modi, TDP is assured landslide victory in 2019 general elections in AP.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Manmohan Singh is the biggest success in PM's office!

Statistics can often be stranger than fiction.
  • How shall we define ‘political success’? By the fact of ‘re-election to the office’.
  • The ‘biggest’ political success can be defined as re-election to office by the ‘largest increase in mandate’.
If a politician gets re-elected with the largest increase in his mandate, that should, incontrovertibly, allow him to claim the mantle of 'being the most successful'.

Who can claim to be India’s most successful prime minister?
  1. Jawaharlal Nehru - Although he got re-elected more than once, he did not appreciably increase his (already awesome) mandate over his respective previous tenures.
  2. Indira Gandhi - She got re-elected after she cut short her tenure in 1971, but added only 36% (from 259 in 1967 to 352 seats) to her previous mandate.
  3. Atal Bihari Vajpayee - He got re-elected in 1999, but the BJP’s numbers in parliament hardly budged.
  4. Manmohan Singh - He got re-elected in 2009 by increasing his previous mandate of 2004 by a gravity-defying 45% (from 141 to 206 seats).
Manmohan Singh, widely described as India’s weakest prime minister, but who, on cold quantitative statistics, can justifiably claim to be the biggest success in that office! 

The spectacular Lok Sabha polls of 2009
  • Congress swept urban areas. (7 out of 7 in Delhi and 5 out the 5 it contested in Mumbai)
  • With 21 seats, Congress was the second-largest party in Uttar Pradesh after SP(23) and ahead of BSP(20) and more than double of BJP’s tally of 10. 
  • Both the contending alliances, UPA and BJP, had declared prime ministerial candidates – Manmohan Singh and LK Advani .
  • The communists collapsed from 59 seats to 24.
  • Obvious analyses for the Congress’ amazing re-election in 2009 was (i) the three continuous years of 9% -plus GDP growth, (ii) farm loan waiver just before the voting and (iii) people simply loved Manmohan Singh’s act of political defiance over the Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal. They saw in him a status quo defying politician who could herald change on a massive scale.
  • Very few understood, or cared, about the nuclear nuance. What they latched on to was Singh’s ability to stand up to blackmail in the pursuit of modernity and change.
  • In July 2008 left coalition partners saw red over the Indo-U.S. Nuclear Agreement, and withdrew support in parliament, pushing the government into a minority. He sought a vote of confidence in parliament for his minority government. Some deft political management saw the Congress get new allies on board supported the government. When the vote was counted Singh had won 275-256. His beaming face and exultant V wave became Singh’s political signature for the 2009 polls; across the country, he was feted as ‘Singh is King’.
  • Congress misread its mandate and harked back to the stasis of garibi hatao (poverty) politics, handing a neat walk-over to Narendra Modi in 2014, who instinctively understood the political message of 2009 better than the victors themselves.
We will vote you in, provided you can deliver real and discontinuous change to us. We were promised this in 2009, and again in 2014. But we were let down by both Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi. So for 2019, please go to your drawing boards and figure it out!

Reticent Urjit Patel turn eloquent

RBI Governor Urjit Patel's silence on demonetization made him an easy target for critics. Almost all public statements on demonetization were made by economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das giving rise to the impression that government had sidelined RBI and usurped its policy role, confining it to mere execution. But the Nirav Modi-PNB scam has forced Patel to shun reticence and speak out on several contentious issues without mincing words. 
  • Patel rejected accusations that the regulator’s laxity was to blame for the Rs.13,000-crore fraud at state-owned Punjab National Bank, suggesting that laws need to be changed to ensure punitive action can be taken in time and effectively putting the onus on the government. 
  • He made a pitch for withdrawal of legal immunity from RBI regulations that PSB's enjoy, saying it had led to considerable emaciation of RBI powers over corporate governance. 
  • Patel made an indirect case for privatisation or reducing the role of state-owned lenders. He said the government should decide what to do with public sector banks if it wanted to optimise the use of taxpayer money.
  • He asserted that Banking Regulatory Powers in India are NOT Ownership Neutral. He then went on to read out chapter and verse, the list of clauses and sub-clauses from the legal landscape to underline the helplessness of RBI when it came to regulating public sector banks, which account for nearly 70% of Indian banking.
  • Making this worse is the persistence of delays, of criminal investigation and judicial process. The Governor points out that “RBI data on banking frauds suggests that only a handful of cases over the past five years have had closure, and cases of substantive economic significance remain open. As a result, the overall enforcement mechanism is not perceived to be a major deterrent to frauds relative to economic gains from fraud.”
  • Nearly nine months later – after two rounds of selection meetings – the Deputy Governor’s post is yet vacant.
  • RBI is faced with constraints. It cannot act to remove directors or the management of public sector banks. But does it need the ultimate power to prevent malfeasance? The RBI is empowered to give directions where it is in the public interest. How often has that been deployed? Has the power of inspection been utilised? A call for more power is not a credible demand when existing provisions have not been leveraged.
  • RBI said: “The risks arising from the potential malicious use of the SWIFT infrastructure” has been a risk factor and it had “confidentially cautioned and alerted banks” on three occasions since August 2016 and added, “Banks have, however, been at varying levels in implementation of such measures.” But RBI never cautioned savers about these risks in the banking systems.
  • He said, “If we need to face the brickbats and be the Neelakantha consuming this poison, we will do so as our duty. We will persist with our endeavours and get better with each trial and tribulation along the way." He went on to saying that promoters and banks should seek to be on the side of the devas (the gods) rather than asuras (the demons) in this amrit manthan. 
Despite his image of a reticent, submissive man, Patel withstood pressures from various sides after demonetisation, stuck to a low-inflation regime, didn't lap up the proposal to create a bad bank and opposed farm debt waivers, calling them moral hazards posing inflation risk and undermining an honest credit culture. With his robust defence of the central bank and castigation of public sector banks, Patel has buried the image of a central banker of few words. And with his mythological references, he has shown he can find eloquence when required. 

Responsibility shared by two persons is not 50% each. It is 10% each.

While Bank's proper management rests with the owners (MoF in case PSB's), Urjit Patel, RBI Governor can't resort to offensive in the blame game initiated by Arun Jaitley by invoking mythological comparisons and absolve of its regulatory failures.

Had Urjit Patel shown same courage in 2016, the harebrained demonetization wouldn't have happened and nation would have been spared of its consequences borne mostly by lower class people. These discussions, reasons and advises will be engaging our time and leads to nowhere. While the loot may never get recovered, what is important is elimination of recurrence of such events in future. Urjit Patel must know his responsibility as institutional head never to allow government interference beyond a point and preserve institution's independence and integrity at all costs. Government as owner of PSB's is solely responsible for their proper functioning and the regulatory rules governing PSB's and private banks must be same. RBI's regulatory role in preserving depositors & lenders interests and integrity of banking system can not be compromised.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

TDP moves no confidence motion in LS

Minutes after pulling out from NDA, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu TDP supremo changed his strategy of supporting the YSRCP’s no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government in the Lok Sabha and directed his party MPs to take the initiative and move it. Apparently the TDP wanted not to be seen allying with corrupt YSRCP and wanted to project itself taking head-on with BJP, which any way is considerably weakened as indicated by a series of bye poll reversals in northern states. 
  • While YSRCP's motion didn't attract many of the opposition parties despite its lobbying, Naidu's no confidence motion was supported instantly by 16 opposition parties - Congress, NCP, TMC, YSRCP, SP, RJD, AAP, CPM, CPI, RSP, JD(S), JMM, AIMIM, Kerala Congress, NC, IUML all with about 150 LS members. 
  • TRS adopted 'wait & watch' policy. TRS says it supports the demand for special category status for AP but will not support the no-confidence motion in the LS against the NDA government describing the move as a "political gimmick", which is untenable.
  • NDA enjoys majority in Lok Sabha and runs no risk of being toppled by this no confidence moved by TDP. The Modi-BJP led NDA government still has a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha well above the current halfway mark of 270. 
  • But the motion has the potential to embarrass BJP as the issue of granting special-category status to AP will be debated at length by various leaders. The issue will hog headlines for several days and will impact the BJP's image and it will become a traitors party as the Parliament Acts and promises are not fulfilled. 
  • It will encourage other NDA allies to raise contentious regional issues and increase disaffection within the alliance. Less than an year before the the next Lok Sabha elections, allies turning hostile will be bad optics for the NDA. It will also impact PM Modi's image of a leader that has confidence of several regional parties. 
  • Faced with embarrassing electoral reversals in the bye polls in northern states, and no better position in western & central states and strong regional parties in east and south, BJP's prospects of getting even 100 seats in 2019 general elections appears dim.
  • The Shiv Sena predicted that the BJP’s tally will come down by 100-110 seats in the 2019 general elections. The two victories by the SP in UP have created panic in the BJP at a time when they were busy celebrating the party’s victory in a small state like Tripura.
  • With all major opposition parties rallying with TDP's motion and none of the allies are comfortable with Modi's autocratic style of working, BJP is likely to have tough time overcoming this situation.
  • BJP employed cheap trick of using AIADMK & TRS stalling and adjourning LS to avoid discussion on no confidence on Fri, 16th March. Even budget was passed on 14th March without discussion and all 21 amendments adopted within 30 minutes. In the mean time, BJP approached Shiv Sena for truce, which earlier snapped ties with NDA.
  • As the passage of the Finance Bill is completed, there is a possibility that the LS will be adjourned sine die thus thwarting no confidence motion. That would be absolute timidity on the part of Modi to avoid facing issues in Parliament which any way he has done so far.
  • At present TDP has 16 LS seats and in next LS it is likely to have 20-22. In the event of BJP falling short of majority in 2019, Modi needs to depend on trusted allies and till yesterday TDP was considered a most trusted ally of BJP.

In AP Congress was buried 20 feet below ground with their highhanded and unjust bifurcation of AP in 2014. Now in 2018, BJP got buried 30 feet below the ground for their cheating the people of AP by not implementing provisions of AP Reorganization Act, not granting Special Category Status to AP and denying financial support for 19+ items and in the process insulting people of AP. BJP cadres are dumb faced and are scared of facing people of AP, despite their leadership ordering them to explain that they have done everything. So far, opposition parties were in disarray and now Modi's arrogance had provided opportunity to unite form alliance(s) to defeat BJP in the forthcoming elections. Even UP's recent bye election debacle, has not taught Modi any lesson. Instead of mending his ways and do the right thing, he preferred to kneel down before Shiv Sena for support. Modi's arrogance may end up in isolation of BJP in NDA and many trusted allies are likely to exit. Even though unlikely, if for any reason no confidence motion wins, mid term elections are a certainty paving the way for formation of non-BJP government in Delhi.

Friday, 16 March 2018

No one can harm you but yourself

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Jawaharlal Nehru and Gandhiji
The best advice I ever had came from one of the greatest souls the world has ever known -- Mahatma Gandhi -- on a sunny afternoon a decade ago.

Most people pass through a period of anguish when their belief in humanity is at a low ebb. I was in such a period. My husband had recently died. My deep sorrow over his loss was followed by the humiliating realization that in the eyes of Indian law I had no individual existence. Along with other Indian women I had participated for years with men in the national struggle for freedom, working and suffering side by side with them until it had finally been achieved-yet in law we women were still recognized only through our relationship to men. Now as a widow without a son, I was not entitled to any share of the family property, nor were my two daughters. I resented this galling position. I was bitter towards those members of my family who supported this antiquated law.

At this time I went to pay my respect to Gandhiji and say goodbye before leaving for America to take part in a conference. After our talk he asked, "Have you made your peace with your relatives?"

I was amazed that he would takes sides against me. "I have not quarrelled with anyone," I replied, "but I refuse to have anything to do with those who take advantage of an outworn law to create a difficult and humiliating situation for me."

Gandhiji looked out of the window for a moment. Then he turned to me and smiled, and said, "You will go and say goodbye because courtesy and decency demand this. In India, we still attach importance to these things."

"No," I declared, "not even to please you will I go to those who wish to harm me."

"No one can harm you except yourself," he said, still smiling. "I see enough bitterness in your heart to cause you injury unless you check it."

I remained silent, and he continued: "You are going to a new country because you are unhappy and want to escape. Can you escape from yourself? Will you find happiness outside when there is bitterness in your heart? Think it over. Be a little humble. You have lost a loved one-that is sorrow enough. Must you inflict further injury on yourself because you lack courage to cleanse your own heart?"

His words would not leave me. They gave me no peace. After some days of severe struggle with myself, I finally telephoned my brother-in-law. I would like to see him and the family, I said, before leaving.

I hadn't been with them five minutes before I sensed that my visit had brought a feeling of relief to everyone. I told them of my plans and asked for their good wishes before starting on this new stage of my life. The effect on me was miraculous. I felt as if a great burden had been lifted and I was free to be myself.

This small gesture was the beginning of a significant change in me. A year and a half later I was in New York, leader of the Indian delegation to the United Nations. Important to us was India's complaint regarding the treatment of people of Indian origin in the Union of South Africa. Harsh things were said by both sides. I resented the manner in which my opponents made personal attacks harmful to India's prestige and to mine. I struck back with the same sharp weapons. Then, after a distressing duel of words, I suddenly thought of Gandhiji. Would he approve? To him, means were as important as the end -- in the long run, perhaps more important. What if we succeeded in getting our resolution passed by questionable tactics that injured our self-respect?

Before going to bed that night I resolved that, come what may, no word of mine would be lightly used in the UN. From then on, I lifted the debate back to where it belonged, refusing to retaliate to personal attacks or to score a cheap point. Our opponents met us on the new level and from then on we argued the case on its merits.

Before leaving the committee room on the last day, I went up and spoke to the leader of the opposing delegation. "I have come to ask you to forgive me if I have hurt you by any word or action in this debate."

He shook my hand warmly and said, "I have no complaint."

It was good to feel right with him, but even better to feel right with myself. 

To retain a sense of proportion is as important as being able to keep one's heart free from hatred. For all of us, no matter what our work, the advice Gandhiji gave me is meaningful: "No one can harm you but yourself."

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Jawaharlal Nehru's sister, wrote this article in 1955 when she was the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. She passed away in 1990.
This story first appeared in January 1956