The Tsunami (Wave) of Covid – What can we do?

The Tsunami Wave of Covid – What can we do?

I am in touch with all the different corners of the country. The unsurmountable fire of Covid has engulfed every nook and corner. The stories of death and desperation are so common that not a single call is devoid of the deep realization of the country’s anguish and pathos.

I realize two distinct sets of institutions, and I see a distinct dynamic response from both these institutions. First, the Government as an institution and second and foremost, ‘WE the People’.

Let us talk about the Government since we so much believe in our sense of entitlement. I am taking a neutral position and not siding or opposing with intent by design.

There was a sense of complacency and pragmatism in diverting the vaccines as well as the medications such as Remdesivir or Favipiravir to other countries that were suffering. In today’s integrated and dynamic world, national interests are subserved by commending global leadership. After Indira, we have an astute leader in Modi who understands this and has the knack and panache to drive that.

The age of vaccine diplomacy

During this age of vaccine nationalism, when most western powers huddled into vaccine nationalism, Modi took a moral stand of supporting the global cause. We have to understand, I did not see a sense of abandonment but a vision to expand and extend the national cause.

Corona – A global Slayer

SARS CoV2 has the enigma for a surprise attack and ambush. It’s different, and it has caught all by surprise the advanced nations and the advancing nations with the same level of temerity. Estimation models, intelligence, and expert instincts have all failed across the spectrum – from advanced, advancing, to those making attempts at advancing their nation.

India’s story is very distinct and different, and a significant onus lies with us as ‘We the People.’ First, it’s a massive country with a population of over 1.3 billion people. Next, it’s a free democratic country, where an extra sense of entitlement prevails. To add to this, it’s highly diverse, geographically, culturally, ethnically, ideologically, and politically and economically. With such a melting cauldron of diversity, it becomes incredibly challenging to provide a standardization of care across all strata.

We the People

Why are we hoarding? Why are we preemptively reserving resources when those are not indicated? Why are we black marketing resources despite knowing the crisis hours? Where is our faith in equitable and fair distribution when we break the queue and create pandemonium to grab necessities? Barring a few, have we ever shown trust, and confidence in the processes rather than bypassing those?

In a country where the rights belong to us and where I have bequeathed morals as someone else responsibilities, how can we expect our Government to function orderly and deliver?

These are pandemic times, and these are times of pandemonium, but definitely not armageddon. Hope and faith are the foremost things during a tempest. Let’s ride through this in an orderly way. Let’s trust and activate our inner moral compass that follows that will guide us with our responsibilities and our rights. Let’s follow an equitable process and trust fair practices, and most importantly, let’s pray and practice patience and activate our inner endurance to bear this calamity with courage and patience. Let us focus on us as the prime object of change, and a change in the system will follow.

I wish an early recovery through these tormenting and tortuous times.

Shashank Heda, MD
Dallas, Texas

https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1712710

Trusting the Dragon Buddha

First, let us understand why not to believe the recent spurge in Pakistan’s peace initiative to India. Next, let us understand the Chinese conditional regression from Ladhak, and then, we know the Salami slicing in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

Pakistan Initiated India Peace Process

After bitterly fighting with India from 1948 until 2020, Pakistan has a ‘sudden realization’ of having peace with India. Imagine a country (Pakistan) that divested all its resources to make its citizens impoverished and deprived of any moral or intellectual standing in the global polity of ideology and leadership. It is an established fact that Pakistan is the global cauldron and mother of all radical extremism and home for terrorism. Hegemony is within the moral code of Pakistan, to the point that it did not let the elected rulers from East Pakistan rule the country, thus dismembering its sovereign part. It is no secret that Pakistan acts as a vassal state embracing economic imperialism from China and economic dependency on other robust nations. Of course, it has fought a long war of 70 plus years with India, bringing the entire country to bankruptcy, chaos, and total failure. Can you imagine for what? Well, some amongst you may be thinking it is Muslim brotherhood, others may be thinking Kashmir. Well, you may be correct, but I will be tempted to think of ‘hegemony over India’ and what India stands for. Such is perfidy that builds their moral compass. In cell biology, apoptosis is defined as programmed cell death, where a cell kills itself as it gets old or becomes sick. In the case of Pakistan, it is auto-nemesis, or killing oneself with absolute (and obsolete) jealous ideology.

For India, peace is the definite objective, but do you believe a nation like Pakistan has a sudden change of heart for no reason? At least, I won’t? However, the vagaries of politics are different. I can understand the dilemma of Modi, especially when the global thought leadership insists on negotiating peace (not war). It is difficult to reject instead then embrace such a peace offer, thus the white feather from both sides.

Ladhak – Chinese Conditional Withdrawal

What is in a withdrawal when you are an aggressor? And imagine you put conditions on retreat. Imagine the audacity in such graceful withdrawal and now imagine India’s declaration of ignominious success and boasting of success by the Modi government, especially after the sudden attack on the power grid in Mumbai? Yes, we can count success as requesting intruders to vacate our land, or you can claim you drove them out by ignoring the conditional aspect. Why not?

The above are all Salami Slicing that you all are aware of. Salami Slicing is cutting slices or loaves from a piece of meat (to those naive readers). Does it sound familiar? You can be innocent and believe Pakistan and China, sing eons in praise of peace negotiators, or be prudent and plan your strategy.

Having provided a background to the Dragon Buddha, let me share additional strategies from CCP.

First Island Chain

Well, those deeply immersed in their own problems have little insight on what the first Island Chain means or the implications of losing those until it hits your kitchen and daily life.

There is a significant existential threat to your kitchen getting costly or your daily life getting disrupted with China gaining supremacy in the South China Sea and strangulating the shipping lanes to its own benefits. I will talk more about those implications in a later blog. However, let us turn towards the First Island Chain. Immediately beyond the Chinese international waters lies a chain of islands that belong to several independent nation-states from Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea.

Diaoyu Islands and the East China Sea

Senkaku island belongs to Japan. China calls it part of their own territory and is referred to as the Diaoyu islands. The name is apt, “Do I Owe You?” ( 😀 I just coined it). I still have to research what they call in Mandarin, “Mine is mine, but yours is negotiable”. Fun apart, but that can be the mandarine name for almost all the disputed land, water, and sea territories presumed to belong to China.

Fun apart, let us see what else is at stake. Territorial aggression occurred when China stationed its Naval Carrier between Okinawa and Miyakojima, cutting off Japanese sovereign islands from the mother island. According to Toshiyuki Ito, professor at Kanazawa Institute of Technology and a retired vice admiral at Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, “the area was temporarily subject to a situation where it was placed under the influence of a Chinese carrier.”

However, this indeed played well in upping the Aegis Air Defense Missile System between Japan and the US Aegis Air Defense would have died a natural death had it not been for the transient territorial aggression. It only proved proof of concept (POC) and why Air Defense is essential and critical.

Spratley and Paracel Islands

Picture Credit – Voice of Djibouti.com

It is no secret that China has developed complete control over these islands. You may be wondering, are these the only islands that these entire war regimes are likely to be fought? Let us add a few more like the Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef, and Mischief Reef are naval harbors with full Chinese Military encampment with fighter jets, bombers, and missiles.

War, not War Games
Traditional wars were fought with large drives of armies and big air or naval attacks. The last one was the theatres in the second Gulf War when Saddam was caught hiding in a drain pipe. Gone are those days if you are presuming wars would be theatres.

Current wars are Salami.

Besides, China has adopted the anti-access/area-denial strategy to keep out US aircraft carriers if conflict breaks out in Taiwan or the South China Sea.

Initially, current wars are small wins, followed by large sudden disseminating forces. These small wins are the so-called Salami Slicing, a type of guerrilla war. Temporary aggression and Anti access and area denial are just the probe games. Similarly, cyberwars and crimes, election interferences are transient strategies. The real war strategy and the actual war will be different. You may awaken a fine morning to see a significant truce that has turned the world upside down, do not be surprised.

The Xi within Me!

What would I do if I were President Xi Jinping? I would never fight a multi-border, multi-country war concurrently. I will identify my top priority, gain significant wins, and then charge lesser states. What is wrong if I make small wins against smaller states and keep the significant war at the end?

The End Game

Why not win with a thud rather than start with a boom? A right question, However, imagine if I am pushed back in Doklam, Bhutan, or Ladhak – I lose grace and edge over moral leadership supremacy. Of course, the Chinese army is hollow, but how do you win a war with a hollowed-out (gun) barrel? Never fight a real battle but use war strategies. Intimidation is a crucial pawn that, if knocked down, takes away many strategies.

So, what matters most to Xi at this moment is intimidation and domination, not over a small region like Doklam or Ladhak but the South China Sea.

Gaining control over the international waters responsible for 60% of global transit provides a choke point; not even a big container ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal would do.

Just imagine, China wins the war and imposes an extra 1% tariff on all the goods passing through these waters as one of the preconditions to a truce? If you bump up those numbers to 5, it would be a downstream avalanche. Now, imagine the impact on your kitchen, your daily dinner plate, and your daily living. Imagine, the most affected are the lower strata, which would catapult a revolt. How would any country contain an internal revolution? Well, keep them happy by sharing largesse.

Where is the largesse?

Rich will always get richer; that’s the history of good times as well as the pandemic and downtimes. Imposing any additional tax or burden will not cause any impact on life or living. It is the middle class who would bear the burden of this crisis.

Now, let us turn towards Ladhak and Doklam. Let us activate a two-front war with India. Isn’t it easy to win?

Do you trust Pakistan or China again?

Shashank Heda
Dallas, Texas

https://www.stimson.org/

Capitalist Democracy caves into State Controlled Capitalism

So, now every plebeian knows that China is destined against global values. It is not coronavirus; it is not the greed of acquiring land. It is not the theft of intellectual property. It is not the ambitious expansion of the BRI and make ‘the middle kingdom’ great again. It is not even the debt or vaccine diplomacy neither money-spinning planned obsolescence.

A. Tibet – a repeat of the West’s playbook

It started long back. Chinese forces moved into Tibet, a sovereign nation with hardly any military. The year was 1949. The Tibetan police and administration fought for almost ten years. Finally, in 1959, the young Dalai Lama (see of knowledge, which Dalai Lama means) fled to India. Almost thousands of Tibetans died in their struggle to keep their independence. Tibet lost its sovereignty. Han Chinese were transplanted to Tibet, and Tibetans became a minority in their own land. An alternate way of gerrymandering, i.e., changing the pattern of voting. So, if you initiate voting in Tibet, the outcome will favor China, not in Tibet’s interest.

The west willfully ignored Tibet.

It seemed like a repeat of their own playbook. Of whites displacing the Mezo American native Indians from their ancestral land – be it the Great American Highlands, the Mayan, the Olmec and Aztec in Mexico, or the Incas in Peru. It was a different land with its own cultural identity, far advanced, regal, and with its own rationale. Now, vanquished and destroyed completely. It is a story full of pathos.

The Spanish conquistador used the same playbook while destroying the Olmec, the Aztec, and the Mayan culture in Mexico and established a bastard generation. No, I am not using language. Actually, the native men were lined up and killed, and the native ladies were used as concubines. A hybrid progeny was born, and matriarchy established itself, replacing the native patriarchal culture. Portuguese repeated the same playbook in Brazil. Where the Europeans could not butcher, they plundered, and where they could not plunder, as in India, they established imperial order. Where that was not sufficient, they drugged. That is the China of 1820-1860.

Territorialism is not wrong

No one can blame Tibetans or the native Indians. It is their solemn right to protect their ancestral land. It is the equivalent of freedom or self-determination. Not that Mesoamerican natives were dumb, or the Tibetans were nubile. It is the barbaric marauding of locals using a little overpowering military technology. Gun and gun powder that was not seen or known to these cultures lost their destiny. In Tibet’s case, just a spiritual elevation of the culture that lost their ‘home and culture’ to eternity (remember, Bhutan is in a similar precipice).

The West, too, ignore Tibet. After all, China was reenacting the pages from the West’s own playbook. How could they take an objection against a (permanent) Veto power? You scratch my back, and I scratch yours. It was that simple.

B. Rise of a Demon (dragon)

Covid is just a simile; it represents several mutations that accumulate to evolve to form a variant and a deadly strain. By itself, Coronaviruses are not dreaded. We often get coronavirus infections. Covid is different; it is the survival advantage accrued through selective retainment of several mutations. Dragon, by itself, is not dangerous; it is the accumulation of dreaded mutations that make it a demon. China is not the concern; it is the perpetual accumulation of communist onslaught on its national identity that has resulted in a demon called China.

C. Wars live lopsided losers

If you are presuming that second world war and the loss of the axis forces, you are possibly close. However, I am alluding to the order and hegemony established by the winners that wrote the blueprint for global exploitation. The UN and its security council are a facade of exploitation. That veto structure itself is a grim reminder of the failure of the world order. China turned out to be a beneficiary of the Veto system.

D. Planned obsolescence

As though the west and the business never knew planned obsolescence. It was a willful ignorance towards such malpractices of building obsolescence into the design. Obsolescence is natural. However, planned obsolescence is the intentional insertion of weakness in products’ lifecycle to shorten their life. We, as customers, keep cycling our hard-earned money for buying products that dissipate faster.

Trade and businesses flourish while the commoner is depleted of the value for her/his earning. Cities, States, and Nations too run based on these taxes. Barack Obama instituted “Cash for Clunkers” after realizing the Gas Guzzlers were draining the dollar from the country. I am not sure if Biden or any President would initiate such ‘Cash for Clunkers’. Unlike the Gulf countries, which benefitted from Petro Dollars, China is the beneficiary of the “Obsolescence Dollar,” where the capitalist democracy willfully ignored the Chinese sly.

E. Free Trade and WTO

Free trades are a complex animal, and WTO is primarily the nemesis of the global order. Under the garb of expanding and widening their customer base, the West introduced and institutionalized WTO. As though a global institution was not enough, it institutionalized Free Trade Associations between select regions and countries. FTA’s wrote the storybook for the demise of local businesses. As a responsible nation, the US and other capitalist nations could have used retooling of the labor after the FTA vanquished their businesses. However, a nation dominated by capitalism left the small businesses to fend for themselves. Small businesses, farms, and back offices all vanished under the garb of the global village. The West again ignored. China turned out to be the major beneficiary.

F. Lip service

Europe, the US, and all advanced nations paid lip service to the African continent. The west and industrialized nations nurtured China to build a bulwark against (erstwhile USSR) Russia. While Africa, its people, its flora, and its fauna were celebrated in pictures and stories and as audiovisual gimmickry of altruistic passion. The capitalist West found it very hard to bring technology to this continent. They may now realize it was a mistake to house a global manufacturing center in one locale in hindsight. Multi centrism is just a realization from the Chinese debacle. It is an afterthought, not a humane yearning of the capitalist democracy.

As we see, it is the willful ignorance of the West and the Industrialized nations that resulted in a demon’s rise (dragon). By itself, China did little, the West nurtured it from the outset, and like Covid, it is dealing with the adverse outcome in every sphere.

Shashank Heda
Dallas, Texas

How the US military is preparing for a war with China
https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/How-the-US-military-is-preparing-for-a-war-with-China

Manage COVID After A Recess

While the US, EU, UK, Brazil and South Africa were smoldering with the newer variants of COVID, many in India thought COVID was done and dusted. Life was back to normalcy, hardly realizing that India was in the same stage of ignorance as it was exactly an year ago. COVID is back, and this time it will be with a vengeance. What do we do now? I have discussed the relevant principles so that you can make changes to your lifestyle in accordance with the emerging threat from the newer variants.

A few weeks back, when I talked with several Commissioners and Administrative officers from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and at the Center (Delhi), the palpable feeling was that Covid is “done and dusted”. Life was back to normalcy, and all cautions were out of the window.

A few weeks back, when I talked with several Commissioners and Administrative officers from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and at the Center (Delhi), the palpable feeling was that Covid is “done and dusted”. Life was back to normalcy, and all cautions were out of the window.

I cautioned that it is not yet out, and I shared a blog called a tale of two worlds (link shared below) along with a few reports on the raging pandemic in the US, EU, UK, Brazil, and South America. The ignorance was high, and most felt that they had achieved herd immunity. ICMR reports indicated 24-26% national seroprevalence; Chennai’s reports indicated 40% seroprevalence, which again meant inadequate herd immunity. However, facts are generally relegated, and sentiments take precedence. Once again, I wrote another blog on Herd Immunity (link cited below). Always remember TWO MOST principles of herd immunity –

  1. The entire population should be 60-80%
  2. The epitope (in this case, the viral protein) should be constant, not changing

It is in the nature of this virus that the structure is changing every few weeks. Another blog that was written a long time back on this nature of virus was shared with the medical community. To summarize, the covid virus has a defect with RDRP, an enzyme that helps in multiplication. It creates typos, like the one we unintentionally do while typing. However, with covid, those typos change the structure (changes to S or Spike protein is an example) that renders the immunity from previous infection less effective.

Thus previous infections or vaccines are likely not to provide the anticipated immunity. Besides, this virus’s immunity lasts for 3-6 months, as against the smallpox vaccine, which lasts life long.

So, what do we do next?

  1. Should we stop all our social activities?
  2. Should we stop interacting with our professional friends, coworkers, staff, and others?
  3. Should we quarantine and put ourselves in lockdown?

None of these are practical and pragmatic. Before I tell you what is appropriate, let me share what is inappropriate. Yesterday, I talked with a prominent businessman from Nagpur. He said he uses the alcohol-based hand cleaning solution, cloth-based face masks, and takes a shower after returning home, and puts the laundry clothes.

All except face masks are not required. This is an airborne virus, not a virus spreading through fomites (bugs on your clothes or body via touch).

What is airborne and aerosol? When an infected person sneezes, he/she blows almost over 50 million copies of the virus in one bout of coughing/sneezing. These are invisible and disperse in the air around you. An aerosol is similar to airborne, except that you can see those droplets.

Either way, noninfected people end up inhaling those viruses and ultimately increase their risk of getting infected. There are several factors involved between the sneeze/cough bout and infection by normal people. Closed space versus open space influences the outcome. Similarly, centralized air conditioning circulates the virus via the duct system, thus exposing people in other contiguous areas.

Using n95 or similar masks is THUS CRITICAL. I generally add another layer of the surgical mask when i presume exposures are likely to increase.

Social distancing helps, but it is not a panacea. Just imagine, I am not on the same floor as the infected person but connected via centralized air ducts. Will it help? No. I am logically in the same environment though I am in a different place physically. That also means you have to focus on the principles and not just the practices. Understand the principles and act accordingly.

Lockdown or Quarantine?
The most considerable toll this pandemic has taken is from lockdown. Even during the first lockdown implemented in March/April 2020, I was firmly against global lockdown. The answer is never global lockdown; it is always micro lockdown.

What is Micro Lockdown?
Only lockdown that part of the city or segment where the incidence is likely to be high. However, even micro lockdowns are easier said than done. It is difficult to identify a community of infected (but asymptomatic) people and quarantine them against a traveler arriving outside (by flight, vehicle, or train). Remember, once lockdowns are implemented, they ideally last 3-5 weeks, unlikely to be gone in one week. However, it is best to contain and segregated those suspicious of carrying the virus, be it communities, individuals, or activities.

Curtail all Social Activities
Certain activities are unavoidable, critical business, social activities (marriages, deaths, illnesses, and adverse events). However, remodeling our way of interaction is always possible. Certain principles are absolute and non-compromising (wearing a good quality mask); yet, remodeling can be done for the day’s activity, the place, the interaction, etc.

Let us understand those and tailor our activities.

Dr. Shashank Heda, MD
Founder and Chief Executive
CovidRXExchange
(A US global non-profit initiative for disseminating medical expertise and insight; working for Covid since March 2020)

Links to the blogs below –

If only we proactively spread the message within our network, engage in an active dialog, resolve the misgivings around the vaccine, start Fastrack the process to curtail the virus. Our ability to bounce back, as a nation and as a community, depends upon how we counter the virus. https://mymilieu.org/2021/02/01/evangelizing-vaccination/

The variants with the infectivity, implications on testing, therapy, and vaccines. https://mymilieu.org/2020/12/26/emergent-variants-and-infectivity/

That provides a simple explanation of how vaccination will halt the spread of the virus. https://mymilieu.org/2021/01/28/a-triple-whammy-variant-vaccination-and-complacency/,

It is an ultimate hope that the vaccine provides herd immunity or the virus comes to a state of symbiosis with humanity. Luck is never the best strategy, but it had to happen. We wish to stumble across a variant that is as good as Common Cold, leaves minimal health impacts, and possibly with minimal mutations to stabilize. In the search for this haplotype, I shared this perspective https://mymilieu.org/2021/01/10/in-search-of-a-haplotype/

https://mymilieu.org/2021/02/06/covid-a-tale-of-two-worlds/

https://mymilieu.org/2021/01/28/a-triple-whammy-variant-vaccination-and-complacency/

https://mymilieu.org/2021/02/01/evangelizing-vaccination/

COVID- A tale of two worlds

Breaking the transmission cycle by interrupting these traversals of the virus is critical. Travel restrictions, strict screening and surveillance, and mass vaccination and precautions are all CRITICAL to the successful CONTROL of COVID. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and follow all the right protection.

COVID- A tale of two worlds

(Words – 678; reading time 3-4 minutes, Why should you read? The pandemic is not over and out, do not drop the guards)

While the western world is dealing with one of its worst phases of Covid – 19, the so-called Covid-2, several nations, including India, are almost calling the game is over. Let’s revisit and understand the pandemic’s delicate dynamics and the evolving mutant variants of the virus.

As of late January 2021, hospitals in London and its suburbs were out of any beds for admitting the patients infected with Covid. The modeling predicted one of the worst shutdowns in the history of the great kingdom. Boris Johnson, a nationalist and a populist by inkling (a Trump category leader) too, caved into the worst pandemic. My doctor colleagues from Kent are working almost continuous long hour shifts (18 hours at a stretch). Elsewhere in the UK, the scenario was no different.

Brazil has just surpassed India as the second-worst country after the US to be affected by the virus. Europe, with its defining economies, is jettisoned with the virus. France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and all the Scandinavian countries are on the highest alert, with restricted and severely clamped down inbound and internal traffic, almost reducing the countries to secluded pockets.

Here in the US, of course, statistics are grim, the economy has bounced back a little, but guards are not down, like in India and its peninsula. A quick view of the hospital bed availability for most regions, states, and cities are still red, not to mention LA and its suburbs, which is chronically deprived of beds for almost a few months.

Let us unfold the mysterious virus.

While the simmering stories in the western world are true, it is equally true and a reality that life in India (and the peninsular countries) has bounced back to normalcy.

What can be the reason?
Yes, its is an existential dilemma, that has created a completely divided world with distinct response and behavior to the virus.

Continuous mutation and evolution of the virus
While we know all the mutations such as B 1.1.7, D614G, N501, and its variants, and several subspecies of the evolving new generation-of the virus, what is least understood is that avowed variant that is circulating in those countries where life has bounced back to normalcy. Let’s call this hypothetical mystic variant “Benign Covid-21” (I just coined this word, so no Google search will yield any additional documents). This haplotype, if widely circulating in these populations, maybe an answer to the nature mitigation of the virus. Ultimately, as my friend and a noted prominent vaccine expert Dr. Anand Kawade said, the virus has to live amicably with its hosts. It, too, has to find a symbiotic relationship to survive. This metaphysical aspect cannot be discounted though it needs scientific validation.

Should we drop our guards?
It is too early to say if those in India (and countries with a similar pattern of Benign Covid -21, should drop their guards. One thing is clear, global lockdowns (and lock-jams) are definitely not an answer. At the outset of the pandemic, i had called out the hypothesis if the degree of separation concept, retrospectively, in hindsight, it seems obvious to lean and review that model. Summarily, the degree of separation talks about the interaction amongst the population and not the distance that influences the outcome of the disease dynamics during the covid pandemic. Thus, putting entire cities, regions, and states in mass lockdown is not a pragmatic idea.

Breaking the transmission cycle by interrupting these traversals of the virus is critical. Travel restrictions, strict screening and surveillance, and mass vaccination and precautions are all CRITICAL to the successful CONTROL of COVID. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and follow all the right protection.

Shashank Heda, MD
Dallas, Texas
Founder and Chief Executive,
COVIDRxExchange, a global nonprofit initiative for disseminating the expertise and insight for doctors in the care of COVID)

To Visit our repository of over 1000 best practice documents, please visit – http://www.covidrxexchange.org

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State Supported Anti-Competition

Below excerpts from Nikkei Asia Review, “The lower prices from Chinese rivals forced Japanese manufacturing out of production. Panasonic’s solar cell and panel business has been in the red.”

As I see, this is a generic “anti-competition” model adopted in China. Ideally, under the WTO, state subsidies to produce a product below the market price and pushing it into virgin markets is strongly discouraged. Anti-dumping, however, is tied to the promotion of subsidized products. However, here lies (lie, no pun intended) the caveat. Only if “subsidy is proven”, thus transparency and audits are key to this. Both of which are lacking with China.

“Solar Cells” are not the only industry that is under threat. Almost all manufacturing, irrespective of the country of origin or the customer base, are under this threat. Over the years, they lose to Chinese competition. The mantra is clear, mass-produced under low (state-supported) cost, building obsolescence into the design and selling irrespective of the profits while booking the losses from the CPC Govt.

Buy Locally, Sell Globally
China is a nemesis to global manufacturing. It will not be surprising if we all lose the ability to do so. Individually, we lack the spirit to see this when we choose to buy cost-optimized products, and collectively, we do not have enough policy safeguards because we (most) are signatories to the WTO Open Market policies.

Buy Locally, Sell Globally
Mantras are good but let me ask you, how often have we gone to the Produce Market to buy vegetables without selecting the produce/vegetables? I know my behavior; when I select Okra (ladies fingers) or Egg Plant (Brinjal), I have been a nasty picker. I like unblemished fruits, absolutely fresh and lustrous, and yes, picturesque. When I buy a product, I see the price to value ratio, never realizing obsolescence or the country of origin. Price matters to me. I bring it home, and after using it, it breaks down. Later, I compare that with some of the equipment that my father bought – the Usha ceiling fan, which lasted 45 years, or the Allwyn fridge, that lasted until rust took over. I was born in that generation where obsolescence was there but not progeria, a fast-aging design element. I feel defeated, but despite, I start my purchase journey almost similarly, frustratingly repeating exactly what I did.

Why blame China?
Let me say it is fruitless to blame China since there is an entire supply chain that benefits from exchanging hands. From those wholesalers, logistics, and finally the outlets. Yes, let’s include the taxes (local, state, and federal). Who would want their coffers empty? No one complained because they all are benefitted. At least I expect someone to take a bird’s eye view and realize the revenue drain that ultimately empties the countries coffers.

Cess for Local Manufacturing
Before we understand the local cess model, let’s visit “Cash for Clunkers” under the Obama administration. When Barack Obama took office, the US was a major importer of fossil fuel. A lot of dollars were landing in the OPEC countries ultimately as Petro-dollars. Apart from under production, a major root cause was bad cars, called Gas Guzzlers, with dismal mileage. I witnessed several such cars in the countryside, where the owners could not get rid of their Gas Guzzlers because the cost for a better car was not affordable compared to the daily difference of costly gasoline. Remember at one point. Gas was four dollars a gallon. This swath of massive countryside drivers collectively contributed to this enormous dollar outflow to OPEC. President Obama gave incentive for buying a better car in lieu of the Clunkers. The Clunkers were scrapped, thus removing a massive source of outflow. Of course, horizontal drilling and fracking provided additional opportunities to tap untouched reserves. Within a few years, the US became a major Oil exporter.

Cess is not a tax, Cess is promoting and remodeling behavior. Cash for Clunkers is an ideal example of understanding to build Cess, and not tax indiscriminately creatively. To a gullible administration, imposing a tax is a simple noncreative solution. To a creative mind, root cause analysis and fixing the causative contributory factors is solving the problem. Executive Orders or Trade Wars are not a solution. Neither Trump nor Biden, with his 43 executive actions, are on the path of real problem-solving. One was a populist-nationalist, whereas Biden sounds to be fixing ut with cosmetic surgeries.

Let’s explore Cess with Creativity to Counter Chinese Cannibalism.

Shashank Heda
Dallas, Texas

Disclaimer: These are my original thoughts without affiliation or alignment to any ideology. Your comments are welcome. If you forward, kindly forward with my name as the author. Thanks!

Eclipsed by Chinese rivals, Panasonic quits solar cells and panels
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Electronics/Eclipsed-by-Chinese-rivals-Panasonic-quits-solar-cells-and-panels

Do We Need QUAD?

First, as most of you all know, Quad is a military alliance that started as an exercise between the US & India and later expanded to include Japan and, in recent times, Australia.

Brazen and Mortar Military
The root of the alliance is in countering China. It was an existential threat (that’s partially demystified now, keep reading) for India, and a bulwark was essential to counter that threat. The US, too, required a strategic partner to counter the growing assertiveness of China. Thus was born the first Malabar exercise in the Indian ocean, for both the fleets to coordinate, in case of an imminent war. China’s belligerence towards the southeast nation is well known, but these countries were more worried about converting a covert threat to join the overt alliance. However, as the decade moved on, Senkaku island’s threats and the Chinese hegemony around the Japanese peninsula only expanded. Australia, a neutral trade partner too, was brashly maneuvered into an antithesis by Chinese bullying. Thus the formation of the Quad, once an alliance exclusively between India and the US.

If you take an inventory of the stock, you may realize, India is possibly 4-8 times smaller is the armada but several times motivated than the red brigade.

Motivation doesn’t help.
Well, in bras track, motivation is not enough. We have to have a strategy backed with firepower and, of course, minimal odds of inclement. Thus Quad was essential and critical. If it was critical for India, it was essential for the South China neighbors too.

Galway and Doklam
These two recent skirmishes have demystified the strength of the red army. China was sufficiently pushed back with the strategic and brute force of India. What was once a formidable army today has turned out to be a weakling, after all that happened in Ladakh. At least, my own internal awe for Chinese superiority has diminished significantly. However, having said that, China is still a threat to India, and it will be callous of India to let its guards down if I say Quad may not be required. China needs a pimp (like Pakistan) to support it masochism, so do the SE Asian nations need the Quad.

Is Quad enough?
My personal understanding is that China is a bigger cyber threat than mortar and bras-track (a physical army). Their capacities for espionage and cyber interventions are more lethal than their capability to attack and conquer physically. Thus, in a future war scenario, the initial salvo will be a cyberwar followed by incursion and control by the red army.

What’s the solution?
Five Eyes, Seven Eyes, and Nine Eyes intelligence sharing, backed up with Quad, is a pragmatic option. If we counter the cyberattacks and cyber incidences, that would be a starter alone. However, the defense is not the best strategy. Identifying and simulating attack strategies and building readiness thus forms a robust defense grid and provides a solid backbone.

Intimidating Taiwan
Recently, China flew several sorties of its flying squad over Taiwan, asserting its might over a breakaway province. Of course, understanding those as war simulations, the US moved its fleet and armada closer to the Taiwan waters, only to frustrate China.

After the Galway (Ladhak) shame and the Doklam incident, I have realized the hollowness of the CPEC rhetoric. Thus, even if China said “it will be an act of war to support Taiwan’s separation,” I don’t think China has the might (definitely a hollowed right) to stake that claim.

Rhetorics and showcasing are a strategy, not an intent. The Quad and other South Asian neighbors are bored of these howling of the dragon.

Shashank Heda
Dallas, Texas

Disclaimer: The above are my thoughts with allegiance or alliance of any writers guild or author/s.

Biden aide Jake Sullivan calls for ‘chorus of voices’ to counter China
https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Biden-s-Asia-policy/Biden-aide-Jake-Sullivan-calls-for-chorus-of-voices-to-counter-China

A Triple Whammy – Variant, Vaccination, and Complacency

(600+ words, 3-4 minutes; Why read this? How to mitigate the impact of variants, leverage vaccines, and keep battle readiness for next surge and achieve business/social objectives with minimal disruptions).

To the unsuspecting mind, COVID-19 is done and dusted. However, scientists and the medical community are well aware that this is not the case. To those who believe COVID-19 is over, I am sharing my perspective on why COVID-19 is not yet done.

  1. Variants: Mutant variants such as B 1.1.1.7, D614G, and N501V gradually dominating the global landscape. Over more than 45 countries are currently subdued with the new variants. Understand, the new mutations are like new viruses, and the human immune system needs to build the immune response once again. For this same reason, we vaccinate yearly for Influenza because the virus changes its structure due to a phenomenon called ‘antigenic shift and antigenic drift.’ Such changes are more frequent with Coronavirus (SARS CoV2).
  2. Herd Immunity: When a sufficient percent of the population has developed immunity to a stable variant (not changing genome) of the virus. This threshold is determined by several factors, including transmissibility of the disease. The latest strain, which supposedly originated in South Africa, is considered 50-70% more transmissible than the original SARS CoV2, which originated from Wuhan. Increase transmissibility does not translate to increased mortality and case fatality ratio. However, it impacts the binding of the endogenous antibodies. Thus increase transmissibility is a double edge sword. It has the potential for faster spread amongst the population, ultimately expanding the herd immunity for that strain; however, it comes with a negative side that the immune response developed to earlier exposure is not adequate. Thus the herd immunity acquired may not necessarily be sufficient to protect the population.
  3. Vaccines: In Dec 2020, I wrote a blog on the variants and their potential implications on the virus. Recent reports indicate that the vaccine developed by Moderna may not be affected due to these variants. Novavax, an integral initiative of Operation Warp, has reported that its vaccine may not have the same efficacy level against the variant from South Africa. It is too early to confirm a similar effect of the variant viruses on the leading vaccines. Vaccine rollout is hampered by manufacturing capacity, logistics, and the complex rollout to diverse population segments. However, the biggest challenge is the slow pace of adoption and the misconception about vaccines. Anti-science has taken center stage, and those with rationale science are facing an upstream battle.

Thus a Tripple whammy of variants, vaccines, and lack of herd immunity will potentially have a significant toll in containing and mitigating the virus.

How can speedy vaccine rollout help? Let us understand that vaccines and natural infections both work in tandem to counter the virus and build a sufficient threshold of immunity. However, that threshold is brought down due to changes to the virus (variants), thus requiring a better adoption of the virus to achieve a similar threshold for the population. In a hypothetical scenario, imagine a threshold of, say, 60 (60-80) is required for meaningful protection of the population. We can achieve this number by either – a) natural immunity plus b) the immunity acquired from the vaccine. Presume the equation is 25+35=60. If those inoculated with vaccines increase, naturally, we will reach the threshold early.

Conversely, if the variants keep changing, the total exposure in the population will reduce. Thus, the herd immunity is lowered (due to a newer variant). Naturally, the vaccine rolls out, and adoption has to compensate to achieve that threshold. A myriad of factors will influence vaccine rollout or adoption that needs a closer review by the policymakers and administrators. There is no place for complacency. COVID-19 is not over, and leaning on luck is not a robust strategy. “If we give the virus a chance to do its worst, it will.” – Dr. Michel Nussenzweig, an immunologist at Rockefeller University in New York.

“Right now, the immediate future is not the time to relax.” Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security in Washington, D.C.

“We’re at war with this virus,” he says. Abraar Karan, an internal medicine physician at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts.

Shashank Heda, MD
Dallas, Texas
(For COVIDRxExchange, a global nonprofit initiative working since April 2020 for disseminating expertise and insight on management of COVID).

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The “State of Wartime”

The “State of Wartime” preparations in China (as reported by The Nikkei Asia Review). It offers a glimpse of reality behind the Iron Curtain of grand censorship. This is the reason i do not read Xinhua or Caixin or any other Chinese Media Controlled News.

As a Child, we received a lot of Russian literature, newspapers books, magazines etc. All glorified USSR’s Communist lifestyle. With a stroke of Perestroika, that entire pack of cards was dismantled.

My brother-in-law, frequently visits China, as a businessman. During our discussion, all I realized was China is a great nation, with immense palatial infrastructures, roads and highways. When i read the stock market news, all i see is how the “Communist Controlled Capitalist China” (CCCC), is prospering under the CPC. Hardly do we realize the dearth and hollowness behind that opulence. After all, and as I reflect, only one thing strikes, that there is no difference between the glorified USSR, and the CPC’s CCCC.

Below excerpts from Nikkei Asia Review.

Shashank Heda,
Dallas, Texas

China is at war, though not with another state. One by one, local governments have declared they are in a “wartime state” against COVID-19. Now the central government has had enough.
In mid-January, the official Xinhua News Agency issued a commentary saying officials should not “cry wolf” and be too quick to declare they are entering a “wartime state.” It said the abuse of the term is not conducive to the overall situation.

Crying that the wolf is coming will paralyze the masses, the commentary said, warning that such hyperbole could sap alertness if the real wolf does come and confront the country with a more urgent coronavirus crisis.

The reason local governments and the mandarins that run them are opting to declare war is simple. it gives them cover.

So afraid they are of being rebuked by Chinese President Xi Jinping for a lack of urgency, they trumpet a wartime state, look busy but do nothing. “Don’t hit mosquitoes with heavy artillery,” the central government is telling them.

Analysis: Beijing scolds local governments for COVID ‘war’ footing
https://asia.nikkei.com/Editor-s-Picks/China-up-close/Analysis-Beijing-scolds-local-governments-for-COVID-war-footing

Four years is a lot

Now that Joe Biden is in the unassailable driver’s seat with a majority in both the houses and with an unambiguous agenda of putting the US back into the center stage of national and global priorities, I have suddenly awakened to the realism on how we lost the last four years. It’s a colossal loss – personal, social, national, and global. Many amongst you may not realize how personal or social it was when the stock market kept rising and your personal bank accounts were fattening. I believe we at least agree on national and global loss that is irreparable and irreplaceable. To those disagreeing on the prior two, I will dedicate a separate blog to help them understand.

A Wall Partially Built
Well, the Wall that was partially built, with taxpayers’ money, now will be in shambles. You may not realize that our kids, their kids, and most importantly, “We” will have to pay that. When we see our retirement funds are drying, we may trace those to too many of those decisions that were taken under the Trump Era. The Wall is an example, a magnificent representation of those four years that cannot be dismantled but will remain as a living testament to Trump’s legacy.

The Wall is not all
I always liked Trump’s anti-establishment approach to problem-solving. China and North Korea are classic examples of deep appreciation of his good work. Similarly, forging an alliance in the South China Seas, consolidating the QUAD, the five eyes, seven eyes, and the nine eyes, against an existential threat, are no mean achievements. Let’s not be too liberal to ignore how he relegated Muslim Terrorism to an inconsequential presence. Let’s understand the importance of forging that middle east alliance between Israel and the Sunni nations. It’s no mean achievement to renegotiate NAFTA, make Japan and the South Asian nations realize the cost of their security, that the US was paying from its pocket. Let’s not overlook the change to immigration policies without ignoring the trepidations and the tragedies of those separated families.

Yes, it was full of commotion.
Politics moved from theatrics. Every day was a threat, and politics dominated our family room, our social moments, and our board rooms. Low moral code bequeathed our daily life as White Nationalist, (Un)Americanism and Polarization became pervasive as much as hate. Those living in the metros might not have realized. However, I presume you saw the siege at the Capitol; that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. I suggest, for at least a few years, exercise caution when you are in the countryside. Such is the divisive phenomenon that Trump articulated across the nation that QANon, Proud Boys emerged even within the legendary troops’ rank and files. Can you ignore this?

An insecure populist demagogue
Of course, at every level, the only criteria of serving in the government was a spineless servile attitude. Right from those who surrounded him, until those smaller peripheral cities, he built a chain of servility, lacking in character and commitment, that was ready to compromise the most avowed commitment of the nation, to the nation, and to the global community. Strategies and policies suddenly became knee jerk. Twitter was the official media, and cartoon channel lost its relevance. Sometimes, America was here, and exactly at the same time, America was elsewhere, never with those partners and collaborators of national and global order. Allies and Alliances were perturbed, confused, just like a Saturday night hangover. Despite this, life kept moving forward. As you all know, time is merciless, does not wait for any, and did the same with the Trump era. Despite our constant yearning for it to be stopped, of getting frozen ignoring the warming, the global warming. That’s true. Most emissions commitments, policies, and restrain carbon footprint were thrown into the abyss – Dismal and dismissed, as those are regarded in the countryside. It’s a high cost. The global warning did not stop. That’s the timer on which humanity is sitting right now. We will realize it when some of those frosty glaciers will release another life form (like SARS CoV2) to inundate humanity while we are sparing on where it came from or sparing over (vaccine) nationalism.

What do I say? Will the good, the bad, and the ugly be thrown out through the window of time? Or Biden retain some part of my lost four years?

I, Shashank Heda, authored the above article. It’s not yet published on my blog site, mymilieu.org. I am so thankful to my mentors and teachers, who constantly encourage, and I appreciate those who silently admire with a smile but fail to compliment.

Shashank Heda
Dallas, Texas

Putting out Trump’s Asia dumpster fires starts at home
https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Putting-out-Trump-s-Asia-dumpster-fires-starts-at-home