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Trumpism

With the ascent of President Elect Biden’s victorious speech, it seems Trump has conclusively lost the 2020 Presidential election. Trump has lost but the fervor of Trumpism stays alive. While some may be ridiculing and enjoying the loss of Trump, truly speaking, Trump lost but Trumpism has emerged.

It is a narrative that cascades from a heady mix of capitalism and democracy. Trumpism is obvious only in so called Democratic countries. Definitely missing in the despotic, dictatorial, totalitarian regimes, military state and those dominated by radical religious ideology.

Rather than a matter of ridicule, I would like to insist that Trumpism needs a closer look. If you are in politics, governance, policy, strategy or social sciences, understanding Trumpism offers an insight into a largely divisive phenomenon. So, finally, what is Trumpism? (Word count 1100 words, reading time 4-5 minutes).

With the ascent of President Elect Biden’s victorious speech, it seems Trump has conclusively lost the 2020 Presidential election. Many are relieved, several cities are into rapturous happiness. Condemnation, ridicule and disparaging remarks against Trump are now a mainstream for those who supported his loss. However, we have to recognize, Trump has lost but the fervor of Trumpism stays alive, very much bubbling since he has secured over 47.5% votes. While some may be ridiculing and enjoying the loss of Trump, truly speaking, Trump lost but Trumpism has emerged and persisted.

Nick Bryant of BBC wrote, “Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016 partly because he was a norm-busting political outsider who was prepared to say what had previously been unsayable. But Donald Trump also lost the presidency in 2020 partly because he was a norm-busting political outsider who was prepared to say what had previously been unsayable”.

Tweetest! President, Mr. Donald Trump

What is Trumpism?

A phenomenon in politics, an expression of anger, resentment and disenchantment, against the mainstream political ideologies by a large swath of population.

Advancing industrialization and technologies, a large swaths of population and their generations were neglected, and left behind, for various reasons. Trumpism is an articulation of the will of these ‘have not’s’, of those lacking education, of advanced skills, opportunities for vertical mobility and a place in this modern evolved society. The after effect of Trumpism are visible – huge and sometimes cataclysmic policy shifts from the ongoing, sensational nationalism, decoupling with globalization and global integration. It is an after effect of boardroom politics, or simply speaking disconnect with the grassroots.

Is Trumpism only in the US?

It would be wrong to construe that Trumpism is a US phenomenon. A similar expression of the common man happened in the UK, Philippines, Turkey, Brazil, etc. In fact, these are very challenging and innovative times, if we see politics and the underlying dynamics with the same old lens; we will be conjured exactly like Nesrine Malik from the Guardian, who see the only rotten part of the US political system. However, as explained earlier, Trumpism as a phenomenon is deep, invigorating, and its encompassing pervasiveness.

We all know, almost a similar phenomenon usurped by Nigel Farage in the UK. He tapped the sentiments of those labor falling behind with the advancement of integration, immigration and the emergence of technology. In a capitalist market, those are the drivers, and unfortunately this system of capitalist leaning democracy is unlikely to provide a succor for the under privileged. However, it is an irony that the capitalist dominated country needs democratic crutches to walk. It is actually, this weird combination that creates an imbalance. Finally, states craft is an art and a science, and keeping all the stakeholders satisfied is a challenging though not difficult task.

Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson (UK), Donald Trump, Bolsonaro (Brazil), Duterte (Phillippines), are the shades of the same chameleon, Trumpism.

https://ips-dc.org/trump-brexit-wheres-the-backlash/ (Credit, Institute of Policy Studies).

Name calling is fine but that does not resolve the problem. What needs to be done is identifying an innovative solution. Any improvement or innovation comes through an understanding, not through ridicule and disgust. If a problem exists, there is an ill understanding of the problem. A root cause analysis will reveal the potential areas for building the architecture and solution for the issues and the processes can be thereafter used to achieve standardization. It demands changing the lens through which we see the situation. Let us change or lens. If we call democracy as our foundation, let us make best efforts in not leaving anyone behind, let us not indulge in board room politics, if only we want to avoid any future Trumps.

What’s the root cause?

Trumpism is a phenomenon occurring in democratic countries, not in autocratic, totalitarian, despotic or dictatorial countries. A few fundamental erroneous things have caused an emergence of Trumpism. A disconnect with the large swathes of masses, left behind as the world advanced in the last 30-50 years, and  a revulsion to the boardroom politics, an ideology, of any political dispensation, that runs from corporate  political offices to people and not vice versa from the grassroots to strategies. The symptoms encompasses a wide spectrum – from illiteracy, lack of skills, lack of opportunities, lack of adoption to scientific fervor, poverty, crude ways of expression and inability to cope up with the rising disparities due to economics, industry (enterprise), or education.

Do we really stop and understand Trumpism or simple scoff it off as a joke and a political aberration? I think, it is a phenomenon that needs a deeper thought, reflection and change in the mainstream engagement model from the political ideologies that dominate the horizon.

India – Rise of BJP/ Shiv Sena/ BSP /  Bahujan Samaj Parties

In India too, Trumpism is prominently seen. Several social sentiments were not sensed by the erstwhile dispensation, specifically the Congress. It was typical boardroom politics ran by the coterie on behalf of the first family and siblings. The earliest signs were the formation of several local outfits. Andhra, Telangana, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Kashmir, are typical examples. Congress or the ruling elite, degenerated in these states and populism and sensationalism replaced mainstream centrists ideologies. India typically has seen this phenomenon long back since the Congress broke into local clusters, NCP, Rao in Telangana, YSR in Andhra, Mamata in West Bengal, etc. are typical examples. I am sure, digging deeper, we will see a similar pattern emerging in other countries. Thailand is right now, in that spotlight and transition.

These are the different shades of Trumpism in India. The US and India are very different countries. While the US is monolithic, India is very diverse, by ethnicity, culture, language, race and caste (the have not’s). The last is a complex topic that demands a dedicated attention. However, to continue in the T phenomenon, sentiments of common masses were ignored, whereas the resentment grew palpable. Vote bank politics and an independent rise of the identity of the mainstream Hindus self assertion, grew significantly.

Corruption added to the already existing chasm and widened the gap between the Have and Have-Not’s, coupled with the democratization of aspirations, it created a mass sufficient for explosion, like a volcano that spewed magma, to change the political landscape. The tectonic shifts and the intrinsic pressure builds over the years, but it takes a Modi, a Duterte, a Bolsonaro, a Johnson or a Trump to ignite the fire.

Recent political upheavals have also unraveled a distinct sub phenomenon, that the personal idiosyncrasies do not matter, Modi’s 2002 Gujarat riots, Mamata’s tantrums, Mayawati’s dodginess, Pawar’s corruption, Trump’s revulsive personal character, Johnson’s stupidities are examples. People are ready to ignore these fallacies, as long as these leaders are articulating their shrill pent up expression into concrete action. Remember, I emphasized on ‘Shrill’, and these ‘Have-Not’s’ truly cry for shrill expression.

Of note, the leaders of Trumpism have certain characteristics and these leaders, despite their handicaps, yearn and achieve their objectives. With intent, they ignore certain objectives and keep the populist sensationalism; they cater and fire this obnoxious frustration. I will also provide an insight on how Trumpism pervades business and spells downfall. Business is not alone, it pervades nonprofit initiatives as well as most aspects of our social order.

Please visit my next blog to read these pervasive impacts of Trumpism in various aspects, from politics, to business, to nonprofit initiatives to social order.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/08/american-politics-trump-broken-system

https://carnegieendowment.org/2020/10/28/three-new-ways-civil-society-is-protecting-u.s.-election-pub-83063

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Boosting the State of Indian Economy

GDP trend indicates the health of any economy. The economic slowdown is often cyclic and a fact of life. However, the economic woes are all-pervasive and understanding the root causes help in providing insight on how best to fix. Individual countries have different problems, comprising different patterns. Thus the root causes can be broadly categorized into a pattern and individual factors specific for the country and its economy. Often, there is a shared thread between the integrated global market place. Identifying the patterns and the specific individual factors will help in putting up a strategy for revival.

This article articulates the need for a solution within broader problem space for India, which has fluctuated economically from ‘at risk’ (2013), ‘expansion’ (2016) and now again ‘at risk’ (2019). This blog is not exhaustive and does not go into a detailed root cause analysis or detailed solution building exercise. In this article, the author has provided a select set of solutions that would boost the economy, provide opportunities across multiple sectors and ameliorate the problem of the continuing slowdown.

Word Count 2294; reading time 8 – 11 min.

Economic slow down is often cyclic and a fact of life. Slowing down or crash landing of the Indian Economy is an increasing chatter on the internet. However, a closer look will reveal that the recessionary phenomenon encompasses most major economies including the US, China, Japan, Germany, the UK, France, Russia, South East Asia (the so-called ‘Tiger Economies’ of the 2000s), Brazil, Turkey, and oil-rich Gulf Nations. Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina are acutely going through this recessionary distress with revolts and change of ruling Governments. Venezuela is undergoing severe inflation called stagflation that is spreading the contagion across the borders. Poland and Canada are amongst the only few countries that are showing flying colors despite the adverse global economic headwind.

Nations such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and many African countries, especially those who have subscribed to the String of Pearls (SOP), Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI), Regional Comprehensive Economic Partner (RCEP) and the 54 nations of the Africa Continent Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will face a massive financial challenge while servicing the burgeoning Chinese loans. Countries such as Pakistan, are on the precipice of falling into bankruptcy. No wonder India quit the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) regional trade consortium. 

The economic woes are all-pervasive and the root cause commonly follows select patterns. Individual countries have different problems. However, there is a common shared thread and select individual factors. Identifying the patterns for a specific country will help in putting up a strategy for revival. I have focused on articulating the need for a solution within broad problem areas. This blog is not exhaustive and does not go into a detailed root cause analysis or detailed solution building exercise.

Ignored Global Comparison:

In India, private debt in 2017 was 54.5 percent of the GDP and the general government debt was 70.4 percent of the GDP, total debt of about 125 of the GDP, according to the latest IMF figures. In comparison, the debt of China was 247 percent of the GDP. As of October 2018, it stands at approximately CN¥ 36 trillion (US$ 5.2 trillion), equivalent to about 47.6% of GDP. A key gauge of China’s debt has topped 300% of gross domestic product, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF), as Beijing steps up support for the cooling economy while trying to contain financial risks. China’s total corporate, household and government debt rose to 303% of GDP in the first quarter of 2019, from 297% in the same period a year earlier, the IIF said in a report this week which highlighted rising debt levels worldwide.

In the United States, total non-financial private debt is $27 trillion and public debt is $19 trillion. More telling, since 1950, U.S. private debt has almost tripled from 55 percent of GDP to 150 percent of GDP, and most other major economies have shown a similar trend. Cumulative debt stands at 40 trillion dollars. Comparative figures from the US reveal that India is not badly hit, considering the numbers released by the Indian Government are trustworthy and credible.

Let us review select Key Performance Indices (KPI’s) of India’s financial health. Here are a few interesting figures from the State Of Indian Economy –

  • GDP growth is at a 15-year low
  • Unemployment is at a 45-year high
  • Household consumption is at a four-decade low
  • Bad loans in banks are at an all-time high
  • Growth in electricity generation is at a 15-year low

The list of highs and lows is long and distressing. But the state of the economy is worrying not because of these disturbing statistics. These are mere manifestations of a deeper underlying malaise that plagues the nation’s economy today. These figures were published in the Hindu, a very reputed and respected daily. When I share independent data from foreign outlets, those are immediately ridiculed as being ‘biased to damage the growing stature of India’.

I was talking with a building contractor friend of mine who has a meaningful business.  When prodded on his state of business, he said, everything is so dry and no new constructions are taking place. This is not my isolated discussion. Every now and then, I do probe these questions to people across the globe and India happens to be on the top. Below is a list of industry verticals that are not just sluggish but in recession (more than 2 quarters of slow down beyond certain percent points).

 

India Economic Slow Down

Industries Impacted: 

  • Manufacturing
  • Farming
  • Auto
  • Construction
  • Airlines
  • Service industry

Impact Equivalence: 

If you factor in the total percent affected, you will notice a major chunk of the population that forms the base of the pyramid, is affected because of the slowdown.

What happens now?

Well, families and business entities are at least losing 34-57% of their revenue. That’s a significant number. Spending goes down and tax collection goes down, tax at the POS (point of sales), tax from earning and tax from the business.

    1. Quantitative Easing
    2. Bad Loans or Risk prone leveraged industry
    3. Global slowdown
    4. China – A special mention
  • Quantitative Easing:

Well, let us borrow now at a cheaper rate from the Govt, or blow up what is saved in RBI (exit RBI Governors), a loan or from outside or print currency.

  • Bad Loans or Risk prone leveraged industry:

We can’t let this to catapult to a state of anarchy. We have to loan where the potential for defaults are high. Banking, Airlines, Telecom ate common examples. These were bankrupt overnight? The most common folks (shareholders) lost the most. Millions of crores of national treasure disappeared in just a fraction of time.

I disagree with “the Hindu” here. Let us understand, corruption was not just prevalent but endemic and all-pervasive. Nothing wrong, if Modi tightened the levers. At least he had guts to do that. No one including the system had shown responsible behavior and if Modi has tightened the noose, nothing wrong about it.

I will elaborate on the reasons where we are going wrong, needless and pointless to blame Modi for all the ills. Devaluation and GST came at a wrong time that confluence along with a Global slowdown, on which Modi had little control.

  • Global slowdown:

India is not alone. China, UK, Germany, Japan, the US, France, Gulf, Russia, Brazil, and many Tiger economies (remember the term for ASEAN economies used in 2000) are significantly slowed down.

  • China deserves a special mention:

China is the worst affected with 100s of ‘Ghost Cities’, flailing international trade pacts (CPEC, ASEAN and The revival of the Silk Road) and the flight of money compounded by the increasing cost of labor. It is gaining a notorious reputation of creating and exploiting poor nation’s solvency, squashing neighbors and selling obsolescence across the globe (recollect how your electrical and other goods specifically made is China have become durable and short-lasting).

India WEF

What should be done?

First and foremost, Modi has to move beyond strongman to strategist. A nation survives on vision and not just statesmanship. I have identified a few areas that will help boost productivity at the individual level, jump start the GDP and improve the health of the economy.

    1. Foundational Infrastructure
    2. Roads and Railways
    3. Satellite Cities and Telecom
    4. Innovation in Farming
    5. Revamp Agricultural Supply Chain
    6. Environment and Pollution
    7. Sewage and Containment
    8. Social Re-Engineering

India Vision and Strategy Continue reading “Boosting the State of Indian Economy”

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Community Cameras Vs Home (Perimeter) Cameras

For Emerald Valley Only. Please forward to residents of Emerald Valley Only.

In general, holiday season in itself is a sufficient reason to see a spike in security related issues. Recently, we saw few security related incidences such as the cone placement or specific homes being targeted. Community cameras are definitely a great option. Several complex issues make the decision making difficult.

I talked about the top ten things that need to be considered while choosing community cameras. As against community cameras, Home (Perimeter) cameras offer an easy cost effective decision. In addition, it is available anywhere (where connectivity is available) on your smart phone. In addition to having cameras, we can supplement those with Neighborhood Watch Sign with Smart Alert. All these will act as deterrence.

Understand, this is deterrence, crime will not stop or be reduced to zero with any of the above efforts. Please visit the link to share your opinion. http://wp.me/p7XEWW-pj

Community cameras are definitely a great option. Choosing a right technology, placing the cameras at vantage points, monitoring those (in real time and historical), archiving, retrieval the saved information and policies on retrieval (viewing data) bear down the decision on proceeding with the cameras. All these activities need resources and we can either explore mobilizing our own home owners doing that or hire outside resources ($125, 000 for five years, a costly option). Thus funding also becomes a critical issue for the success of this initiative.

While we resolve the complex decisions around community cameras, I had suggested earlier using “Dummy Cameras”. The design of those dummy cameras can be made to retrofit, if we decide to proceed with permanent community cameras, once we choose a permanent option. Dummy cameras backed up with signs such as “Neighborhood Watch with Smart Phone Alert” can dissuade or discourage many. Thus, reactivating Neighborhood watch and repainting those signs indicating Neighborhood Watch with Smart Phone Alert will provide an interim workable option.

Below, I have reactivated the polls to collect the community opinion.  Please forward this to anyone within the community. These polls will end on Dec 26, 2016. Please visit the link on http://wp.me/p7XEWW-pj. I have called out the Top Ten Things to consider while placing the community cameras.

Several factors are important while choosing and placing the cameras. Eg. Fixed focal length lenses are available in various fields of views: wide, medium, and narrow. A lens that provides a “normal” focal length creates a picture that approximates the field of view of the human eye. A wide-angle lens has a short focal length, and a telephoto lens has a long focal length.

Top Ten Things to Consider while Placing Community Cameras

  1. Location of the cameras – unobstructed view, redundancy (if one fails or obstructed by a vehicle, alternate place for capturing). Away from Vandalism. Mounting Electric poles or homes where cameras can be
  2. Types of cameras (depth of field) – narrow angle, wide angle regular, pan tilt zoom (PTZ) etc. Wide angle is required at the entrance and exit, where as a narrow angle will be required while focusing on the alley or narrow street. Zooming will help if there is active monitoring. Tilt and pan will serve a similar purpose.
  3. Frame per second – remember, intruders will be very fast and agile in completing their tasks. Higher number of frames per second helps in gathering precise information
  4. Night vision enabled cameras are a must obviously since thefts are like to occur while it is dark.
  5. Cloud storage and safety of the data is critical. While dealing with a cloud solution, you may want to explore if that is from the manufacturer or service provider.
  6. Power option – solar powered are best preferred.
  7. Integrating all the cameras into single dashboard is not a difficulty thing but you need folks with sound knowledge in networking.
  8. Monitoring (do we want real time monitoring?). Who will be responsible for retrieving older information, how long do we save that information etc.)
  9. Policies and Access to Saved data needs an adequate understanding from the users. This is one key aspect that will cause a lot less heartburn if resolved early on.
  10. CCTV and cabling

Don’t forget to account for – 

  1. Installation cost (not the purchase cost)
  2. Maintenance (include services, repair or replacement)

Overall, you need Governance on all these aspects. A group of dedicated folks with experience and or understanding on the different aspects need to handle all issues related with cameras. I know, you might have just thought that I made it so difficult. However, it is easy to install and very difficult to maintain unless you have given an adequate thought to all these aspects.

How about Residential Cameras?

Home perimeter cameras are still a good option. Cheaper, no hassle decision, and monitoring under home owners control (on the Smart Phone). In addition, they provide granular information right until where the incidence is happening (in this case your home). My personal experience has been exceedingly good since the time of placing (Perimeter) Home Cameras. Dummy Cameras on my farm have provided me a lot of safety too.

Use the same 10 principles mentioned above while installing home perimeter cameras.

To conclude  

Multiple layers of security are required to secure our community. Each has its place, advantages and disadvantages. Also, just in case one fails, we have other layers of security. While a decision of installing community cameras is not an easy one, community should explore interim options, such as dummy camera, that are easy to deploy.

Not sure why we wait in closing decisions on issues that matter us universally? Do you think you don’t need this because you will never be affected? Are we waiting for someone to take an initiative? Are we opposed to installing cameras? Simply voice your opinion. It stays anonymous.

Please share your opinion –

To see additional opinion from community members on security related issues or for additional links on below topics, visit documents or links on –

http://wp.me/p7XEWW-8E

The blog mentioned above offers hyperlinks to topics or documents addressing concerns on – 

  1. GUIDELINES FOR PUBLIC VIDEO SURVEILLANCE: A guide to protecting communities and preserving civil liberties
  2. An example of Camera Policies from University of Wisconsin at Green Bay
  3. Code of practice: A guide to the 12 principles (This does not apply to US scenario but it offers good understanding of issues to consider)
  4. Camera Types from Brick House Security (Offers an understanding of different types of cameras)
  5. Principles of Design for Operational Risk Reduction

 

 

In Search of a Haplotype

The new variant of the virus has already spread out to over 45 countries. While scientists are understanding the impact of the mutant variants, what should we do as individuals and societies to counter the potential threat from the virus?

In this article, I have provided an insight on personal and administrative/social preparation that needs attention.

(Word Count 942, reading time 4 -5 minutes).

By now, we all know the virus is mutating, and mutating every few weeks. For those who are not aware of what a mutation is, it is a change in the genetic program embedded within the virus. However, only a few mutations have possible implications on the infectivity, ability to induce severity, response to the drug, and the response to vaccines. All of these are critical for individuals, families, and society in general. Of course, everything is intertwined and ultimately has an impact on the socioeconomic structure. We have seen the devastation of several families. When the virus went on the rampage, we saw how the economies faltered and GDP’s collapse.

Variants and their implications

We all know that the UK, EU, and the US are badly reeling under the virus. Hospital beds and ICU bed availability in many regions are critically stretched, and so are the human resources like HCW. London Mayor Sadik has already implemented a lockdown with punitive citations for overriding the lockdown. Rightly so, despite our freedom mongering and yearning for personal freedom, we ultimately land up with the hospitals.

At least three variants are known with possible implications on the infectivity, severity of the disease, resistance to drugs, and efficacy of the vaccines. N501, B1.1.1.7, D614G and A222 are mainly prevalent in the UK, South Africa, and the EU. All these variants are known to be more contagious than the wild type, that is universally prevalent. Also, a collaborative study between Duke University, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sheffield University has revealed that D614G variant is associated with higher viral loads in the upper respiratory tract. As of now, we are not yet sure if there is a variant that exists in LA and other parts of the US that are reeling under the virus. At least 45 countries have so far reported the presence of these new variants as of Jan 10, 2021. The National Laboratories from individual countries are searching for the virus’s existence within their societies and implications if any.

Japanese National Institute of Infectious Disease has similarly identified a new strain after the Japanese Government realized passengers’ arrival with the variant viruses. Naturally, the imposition of a ban on incoming flights from infected countries is the first knee jerk response. Many countries have reimposed the ban on travel from those countries with the presence of this virus. While the respective Governments are working to identify the new virus variants, individuals and the administration should gear up to deal with the increased threat level.

Credits: News Medical Lifesciences, Dr. Liji Thomas, MD. D614G mutation now the dominant variant in the global COVID-19 pandemic
  1. Individually, we all should follow the precautions stringently. Masks, social distancing, and containment strategies such as quarantine are basic. However, never presume that asymptomatic individuals are non-infectious. Research has proven without a doubt that asymptomatics are the ones who are spreading the virus. It goes beyond saying that kids harbor more viruses and remain asymptomatic. Kindergarten and schools can be the potential source of spread. While many schools have opted to go into virtual schooling, it is challenging for the daycare centers to do so. It is best to huddle into your bubble and only interact when it is essential or critical, understanding that those interactions should follow the strictest precautions mentioned above.

Vaccines
Vaccines are derived based on a certain genotype of the virus. If the virus changes its structure, the vaccines may have a potential dent in its efficacy. Second, vaccines, even if they are efficacious, may protect only the ones who are vaccinated. Vaccinated individuals may still harbor the virus. Thus, protection has to continue despite vaccines.

  1. City and Corporation Planning – Many cities, especially in South East Asia, are basking and boasting their success with COVID-19. COVID-19, as well all know, can strike back anytime. Complacency is not alone a defunct but also a counterproductive strategy. Europe and other countries undergoing a severe COVID-19 pandemic spike have realized how the spike overstretches the HCW. Doctors are overburdened, and so are the supporting staff.

Realistic modeling of the unfolding second spike is critical. R Naught, which was widely used at the pandemic initiation, has been revealed to have several flaws. It only threw our economy into shambles and society into unrequired chaos. Newer modeling that is closer to realism is the need of the time.

Second, the infrastructure that was propped up during the pandemic’s initial phase helped but was not necessarily sufficient. We need to identify a more long term viable solution to our healthcare services to deal with the virus. Using the same knee jerk response is unlikely to provide an adequate safeguard. Mere lockdowns are too insufficient and, at best knee jerk; we need more than a rational response, now that we know the pandemic better from our recent experience.

  1. Society – Herd Immunity
    Sweden, the UK, and the US are great examples that serve as potent examples that herd immunity is not enough. It does not offer protection without collateral. The collateral is the death and devastation of an individual with a permanent compromise with residual sequelae on health. Those who survived COVID-19 are physically either compromised in functioning or occasionally rendered dependent on supplemental oxygen.

The only and ultimate panacea would be a natural selection of a haplotype (a genotype) that would be less infective, cause inconsequential disease, and still respond to drugs and vaccines. The emergence of such strains is a natural selection process. The virus will possibly realize that if it has to cohabitate like several other bugs, in a symbiotic relationship with human beings.

Shashank Heda, MD.
Dallas, Texas
(For COVIDRxExchange, a global nonprofit initiative for disseminating insight and expertise in the care of COVID)

https://www.lanl.gov/discover/news-release-archive/2020/July/0702-newer-variant-covid-dominates-infections.php

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200925/D614G-mutation-now-the-dominant-variant-in-the-global-COVID-19-pandemic.aspx

What’s So Gilded About the US democracy?

Why not? What’s so gilded about US democracy?

The epithet is resounding; it happened in America. Well, as though the US was fire-walled from such happening. The effigy of what happened on Jan 6, 2021, was written on the walls. It was brewing, and the tinder just required a fire. Trump represented a perfect example of that fire exploiting the raw sentiments.

I wrote this earlier, and I will rephrase it again. What happened on 1/6/21 is an expression of severe discontent, propelled the capitalist leaning philosophy. Readers may be wondering why a capitalist philosophy is responsible for the mayhem. Well, let delve deeper –

Let us look closely at the pictures of the mayhem at the Capitol and then reflect on the ultra-right roaring sensationalism; the root cause of all these lies in the loss of opportunities. This loss of opportunities created a huge swath of “Have Not’s” that ultimately led to the fusion of an ocean comprising of the rust belt, farmers, small businesses, farmers, and several legacy businesses that relied on an older model of businesses that made America Great! Those models were dismantled, not deliberately but with an imperative, to accommodate change, and change is imperative.

Inadequate Retooling
In their haste to remodel, the capitalist chose an easy path, a grotesquely unjust path of not retooling the skills. I will cite a few examples of those. When NAFTA was formed, the US and Canada wanted access to Mexico’s wider customer base for their industrial products. As collateral, the agricultural sector was compromised. The produce and crop that was hugely productive in the US moved beyond the borders and deprived the ordinary farmers of their livelihood – thus creating a bubble of discontent. Ideally, these farmers should have been retrained to do value-added agribusiness or alternative profession.

Another wave followed – to counter Russia’s threat, the US and the West propped up China. China, a ragged country with a dismal per capita income, became a cheap fuel source for manufacturing industrial and commercial products. Again, another bubble of discontent created what we call the rust belt. The discontent kept growing and simmering, ignored by the elite and the by-lanes of power.

Another bolt came from the emergence of Automation of Information Technology and Knowledge Workers. Educated and trained white-collar landed is swaths from India, South East Asia, and other countries. That workforce bolstered not just the IT and Knowledge Industry; it also propelled the GDP of the nation.

Not that the US had a dearth of Knowledge and Technologist, however the white-collar, who flew in droves, disrupted the entire work-life balance and created an alluring competition amongst the workforce, enticing the capitalist for cheaper and sometimes optimal labor. It was easy to invite immigrants to work here. After all, it takes years of investment to make a knowledge worker, rather than invite one to work. The capitalist chose a shortcut by again not retraining their folks and falling to the allure of draining the white collar from the poor, ramshackle economies.

Such bubbles kept growing, simmering, and sizzling. Discontent kept coalescing, widening the chasm between the vast ocean of “Have-Not’s” versus the “Have’s.” If I may venture, the republicans kept stoking that fire and exploiting it further.

Emergence of Trumpism
Trump is an expression of this discontent. As a smart businessman, he perfectly exploited the opportunity and got ensconced as the fountainhead and a leader of these marginalized blue-white-agri collar workers. The problem of making “America Great Again” lies in addressing these root causes. It will take years to heal the infractions and propel the nation forward on the path towards progress.

This challenge needs to be addressed by Joe Biden if he has to represent and stitch the nation as a whole.

Shashank Heda,
Dallas, Texas

I’m reading It Happened in America via the ForeignAffairs app
https://reader.foreignaffairs.com/2021/01/07/it-happened-in-america/content.html

The hooligans of billionaire

While the ceremonial proceedings of accepting the newly elected Presidents were being conducted in the pulpit of democratic temple, an absolutely brazen act was unleashed by Donald Trump on the Capitol. The moment of truth has come, Joe Biden is now the President of the US.

Though such act throws us into revulsion, and it is easy to castigate the poor and the wrongly guided mob that burst out on the Capitol. However, it is yet another reflection of two things – of the widening chasm between the have’s and the Have Not’s and those who are ready to exploit the chasm.

President Trump has to provide an explanation. It is a must that he be removed even though only 13 days are remaining for his presidency to end. We never know what harm he will inflict further.

Excerpts from New York Times below –

Deplatforming: After the mayhem on Wednesday, the president was suspended from Twitter for 12 hours and from Facebook for at least the next two weeks, but Greg Bensinger argues in The Times that the bans should be permanent. “Jan. 6, 2021, ought to be social media’s day of reckoning,” he writes. “There is a greater calling than profits, and Zuckerberg and Twitter’s C.E.O., Jack Dorsey, must play a fundamental role in restoring truth and decency to our democracy and democracies around the world.”

Unleashing hooliganism on Capitol

By all means, the hooliganism at the Capitol is equivalent to treason. It is an act of sabotage and it should be treated appropriately. Those nay Sayers, let me ask you – If I were to provoke such act any legislative premise, threaten the lawmakers, ransack the house, and injure policeman, do you think I should be pardoned?

By no means, everyone should have a similar treatment in the eyes of law.

Shashank Heda,

Dallas, Texas

Pro-Trump mob storms Capitol, disrupting electoral count
https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/US-elections-2020/Pro-Trump-mob-storms-Capitol-disrupting-electoral-count

Clemency, Exoneration, or Pardon

Stretching the maximum limits

I am not a student of law, so my concerns are at best gullible. Not that I haven’t heard clemency, exoneration, acquiescence or pardon for the first time. However, reading this news from NY Times, made me reflect on few issues on pardon –

  1. Pardon is essentially a post facto dispensation of a crime that has happened earlier in the temporal scale. That means, a crime is committed earlier and eventually, in rare circumstances, a pardon is considered and occasionally granted.
  2. Pardon, thus has an implicit submission of the occurrence of crime. It needs a bonafide evidence from jury to have established a crime, not just a suspicion of crime.
  3. As i understand, laws are universal and applicable to each and everyone, no one is above the law. At least that’s the prevailing understanding.
  4. Conflict of interest is strongly likely to create a bias and thus, to avoid a bias, building a neutral design to review the facts is critical to provide validity and moral standing to the disposition and outcome.
  5. Preemptive Pardons are this a criminal offense if one enjoys the status before intending to enjoy the privilege of indulging in a crime.

Trump’s self-pardon is thus unprecedented, it is an abrogation of the natural system of justice. It does not matter if the above five design principles cited by me are mentioned in jurisprudence and statutes of this country. It is, irrespective of its articulation, devoid of moral.

Should we stick to statutes and laws, or review the extraordinary instance as a precedence that some one taking cover and camouflaging oneself? Should we let this person escape because there is not enough built in safeguard in the system to do the diligence and decide and outcome?

I find it vertiginous to think of a self pardon. May be, let’s see how and what the law interprets this. It is stretching the limits of morals to the maximum.

Shashank Heda,
Dallas, Texas

Coup d’etat

While a pseudo coup d’etat was being attempted at the global Capitol of democracy, the actual coup was pulled by China with the signing of the deal with Europe.

We deride Trump for whatever he did or whatever he is doing, but understand, Trump is a reaction to current challenges.

There is a certain homeostasis or a balance that works within nature and when that balance is perturbed, things go topsy turvy. No sane leader could counter China as much as Trump did. At every level – strategy, tactical or operations, he embedded right momentum to browbeat China, and right so, it is required.

It was pretty much evident, that a similar alliance, if persistent, could cordon off a sequestering philosophy of an aspiring middle kingdom to dominate the world.

Most economic coffers were after getting dried up, with the unleashing and smoldering from the pandemic. Chinese debt, was rising significantly from all its (mis)adventures – Ghost cities, BRI, Global ports and Sea Lines or the South China Sea debacle.

It was increasingly getting evident, that with the drying or the customers and the mounting debt, China would succumb under its own weight.

However, with the inking of this deal with EU, China has garnered a huge customer base to bail itself out of the current morass and get a reprieve from its crumbling weight of debt.

This coup d’etat was certainly beyond the radar and it was certain a surprise.

Shashank Heda,
Dallas, Texas

Analysis: China splits Atlantic with game-changing EU investment deal
https://asia.nikkei.com/Editor-s-Picks/China-up-close/Analysis-China-splits-Atlantic-with-game-changing-EU-investment-deal

The Stockholm Syndrome Revisited

Well, let me caution the use of language, Trump’s language from 2016 GOP primaries. During along with nine member debate, Trump said Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas, had a very small phallus. As if that was not enough, low energy and other rants were hurled at his GOP competitors. Today, after living with the Trump Captivity, Ted Cruz is ultimately a transformed man. Along with his Cabal, he is ready to disqualify a correctly conducted and court(s) validated outcome that Biden has won. Cruz and Cabal want those results thrown out and desperately want Trump to run the show at the cost of the nation.

What’s behind it?
Stockholm Syndrome is a survival mechanism. If you review the psychodynamics, you realize that a continuous opposition and despise of those keeping an individual in captivity plays deeply on the morale of the hostage. Feigning that they are ok superficially and having a deep discontent internally are likely to create cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is a deeply demoralizing phenomenon, and the avoidance mechanism kicks in. That’s the transition that brings the alignment between the captor and the captive.

Gains? Rewards?
Simple, even if it is not Stockholm Syndrome, who would not want to inherit the legacy votes that Trump garnered? That’s the ruthless politics that people indulge, for political survival, even at the cost of the nation. Or maybe they know, let me play that role, some good cop may eventually come to the rescue. But it is worth inheriting that huge chunk of votes for future elections. Why squander?

850 Million Dollars?
As the Senate seats are being contested in Georgia, almost 800 plus millions have already been spent, for an outcome that was hardly a surprise. Democrats are leading both the seats, and it will provide a sway for President-Elect Biden to pass his policies.

Let’s hope for the best!

Shashank Heda
Dallas, Texas

More than 9/11

Well, 9/11 was a defining moment in the history of the US. Today was a most prominent landmark, an assault disproportionate and incomparable in any sense with even a nascent democracy from Africa.

A Dark Day in our modern history

Despite multiple thorough due diligence, court validations, and immense pressure on officials to reject the people’s verdict, finally, we came to a nail biting event of violence being unleashed on the sanctum Sanctorum of not just the US democracy but the entire global ideology of democracy.

An assault on democracy –

While the Georgia Senate runoff is being counted, and while both the chambers were going through a debate on approving the electoral count, precisely at that moment, all we see is demonstrators loyal to President Trump, creating mayhem by entering the capital building. I have a few Concerns – it was clear since morning that a crowd had gathered to protest both the houses? How could they arrive suddenly into the capitol building? Let’s imagine they would have surrounded Pense. Were they planning to ask him to disapprove the electoral votes? If that would have been done, have we missed our spot in the history of capsizing democracy?

Below, excerpts from select lawmakers –

“Today is a sad day for our country. The destruction and violence we saw at our Capitol Today is an assault on our democracy, our Constitution and the rule of law, and must not be tolerated,”

“Thugs assaulted Capitol Police officers, breached and defaced our Capitol building, put people’s lives in danger and disregarded the values we hold dear as Americans,”

“insurrection incited by the President of the United States. Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy.”

As though SARS CoV2 was not enough

We all know SARS CoV2 binds to ACE 2 after priming by another protein called TMPRSS2. One latched on, it establishes itself inside the cell and uses host machinery to make next generation or progeny.

The virus has a defective gene called RDRP, which creates errors in proof reading and consequently coronavirus -2 keeps accumulating mutations faster. The vast majority of mutations provide no advantage to the virus and die out. But mutations that improve the virus’s fitness or transmissibility have a greater chance to increasing infectivity.

This is exactly whats happening with SARS CoV2. The 17 mutations confer another survival advantage to the virus. One such mutations confers additional affinity for the S protein to bind to the ACE2 receptor.

To recall, a sneeze of an infected person blows almost 4.5 to 10 million copies of the virus. We also know that these numbers may scale up-to 54 million in one bout of coughing. As though that is not enough, we know that a virion can produce 100000 copies in just over 24 hours.

All it means, the precautions we followed to stay safer and all the more relevant now, plus limit the exposure (despite masks and distancing) to not more than 15 minutes.

Of course, immunity and mental health plays a significant role in fighting the virus. While some may interpret immunity as gulping a few pills, the actual benefit comes from being physically active.

Another aspect that kills your immunity is depression. While there can be several factors involved in the causation of depression, it is best to teleconsult, and mitigate that. It is important to stay healthy – both physically, mentally and spiritually.

Thus, prevention comes from dual action – stringently following precautions and keeping yourself healthy.

Shashank Heda, MD
Dallas, Texas

Rubber Meets the Road.

Let’s start where I want to end this topic, and I know you won’t like me saying this. The pandemic is likely to swagger around more than anticipated. If we anticipated it to end sooner, if not early 2021, it bores disappointment. It’s just not the delay in rolling out the vaccine. Let’s see the multitude of issues why the pandemic is likely to last longer.

Vaccine Nationalism is an integrated world is unlikely to protect a nationality unless the borders are strictly closed. Well, any isolationism and walls are unlikely to stop the Humboldt of global integration. If the rich or the have (those with technology), are planning to cover their nationals, the virus is likely to linger longer in those deprived.

What are the consequences?

Most of us are aware of the new mutations in the virus that imposed an immediate lockdown in the UK. This mutant variant is secondary to the virus gaining survival by mutating and escaping. Such mutants are like to hamper our interventions right from screening to vaccination.

Is it a global vaccine rollout?

Of course nor, the vaccine rollout has started in the EU, UK, US, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Japan, China, and a select few countries. However, several countries are lagging behind either because they have no funds or no technology or logistics to deploy a complex vaccine delivery program. Add to that the regular protagonist of the ‘conspiracy theory’ school, and you compound the problem to a level of practical reality.

Surprise – Many doctors are evading vaccine

I was surprised to see practicing doctors avoiding vaccines. This is not an isolated but a pervasive phenomenon. There are still lingering doubts about the virus getting integrated into the human genome, which is unlikely to happen. Another misconception is heavy metal contamination of the vaccine. You and I are more exposed to the unknown quantity of heavy metals in our produce from Mexico or the disposable material we are exposed to. First, I may disagree if such contaminations are possible with the vaccines, and even if those were, it is unlikely that you get a significant dose to perturb your system. Another misconception that is going around – that the vaccine is made in cow or pig. I just piety these folks who work on churning the rumors mills devoid of research, reasoning, and rationale.

The cold chain and logistics

It is a formidable challenge to manage the cold chain in a diverse world like ours, even if we presume that vaccination will be adopted uniformly. Having worked as a molecular oncology fellow, I know that especially the RNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer need a distinct cold chain, and any disruption is likely to compromise the efficacy of the vaccine significantly. Now consider the vast and remote corners where the vaccines have to be carried out if we were to target complete eradication of the virus.

These are not easily surmountable challenges and devoid of a strategy and execution plan that is customized to individual locales (countries, regions, etc.), it is unlikely to achieve the desired goal of covering 60%-80% population. If the virus lingers, it will mutate and likely stay with humanity for longer than the expected period of time. It will evade our detection gold standard, such as RT PCR. It may create resistance to drugs such as Remdesevir, or worst, become more aggressive and, last, render our vaccines useless. That’s why we vaccinate ourselves annually for flu.

Let us hope for the best.

Hope is not the best strategy; instead, hope is the worst strategy. A thorough understanding of the global target population dynamics vis a vis the vaccination program is required. Strategies alone cannot help; execution of the plan will be the harbinger to success. Until then…

I wish you all a very safe 2021!

Shashank Heda,

Dallas, Texas

The Culpable Trend Continues

Of course, we saw during Covid how China suppressed the Covid investigation, manipulated the data and cleared the crime scene.

Recently, I saw news that China is targeting a GDP of 8 and above fir 2021. It is no news that China is under severe debt, industry is recuperating to gradual recovery, (and of course it will be, because its global customers are still reeling under recession), and it has quadrupled its expenses during a time depleted revenue flow and persistent pressure of aggressive spending on aggressive militarization.

Credits: John H Tuckers, The Riverfront Times

Now comes the real news

It has suspended the regulating agency which rates the progress. And why not? It has to, if it needs to pain all hunky dory, like the old style communist propaganda.

Eventually, we know, with one stroke of Perestroika, the entire communist castle came crumbling down. It’s just a matter of time, such artificial models have no sustenance, they glitter like a nighttime bugs, and lose the flare with the arrival of twilight.

Shashank Heda
Dallas, Texas

Chinese regulator suspends rating agency over Yongcheng default
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Markets/China-debt-crunch/Chinese-regulator-suspends-rating-agency-over-Yongcheng-default