Covid-19 impacts billions!


The headline caught your eye didn’t it?!

This post is going to be one big rant and might raise heckles for many. It might also sound simplistic and shallow. But hey, this is my blog 🙂 you can choose not to read further.

It’s been said often enough that we tend to read anything that either matches with our thinking or a fatalistic headline that helps us form an opinion that we want to form.

The last six months, whether it’s the media or different governments that have fuelled this virus and made it infectious more than the virus itself. Whatever axe they all had to grind, it’s been done.

But what has happened in the bargain? The educated fools like us have gone totally over the top in keeping ourselves safe and have taken paranoia to a completely new levels. We, the ones with our childhood vaccination cards, our healthy diets, our obsession with fitness are behaving worse than Michael Jackson who supposedly used to live in a very sterile environment to keep himself safe.

Organisations who have been announcing WFH till end of year or next summer to show how much they care for their employees. These organisations can continue working from home. But what they don’t realise (or maybe they don’t want to since it is in their best interest) is the impact it is having on billion others.

Various sectors of the economy have shut down and may recover eventually or may never recover and people employed in these sectors are the collateral damage to the stupidity that was perpetuated. And of course it is a spiral because there would possibly be other sectors dependent on these sectors that will also collapse in a domino effect.

Everyday that we work from home, everyday that we say we love this work life balance, everyday that we calculate our supposed savings, we don’t realise that jobs are lost because of what we are doing.

How long do you think you will continue to have a job if this continues? Unless you are in a Sector which can totally work online, your job will be safe. But don’t get complacent. Eventually the domino effect will reach you too.

How does the economy roll? It rolls because people are moving, going places, doing things, buying things that keep them moving, doing stuff that involves being out of home on weekdays and the weekends too. And because people move around, the entire eco-system keeps moving in line with their movement. It generates revenue for many businesses and generates employment for many. Which in turn leads to more consumption and an ever revolving wheel keeps the economy moving. Because then the corporates spend money on marketing to these people and that spending fuels further demand and more employment…

But if this does not happen, there are job losses, pay cuts, reduced spending and the wheel stops moving.

So us educated fools who should realise the larger implication are secure in our homes and secure in the salary that we are getting so far and thinking that we will get through all of this. OUR lives are precious. Others be damned. But you know how karma is.

So we focus on the 70000 increase in cases yesterday number because it reaffirms our resolve to work from home. We focus on the number of deaths and tell each other “look how deadly the virus is!”

The other day I read an article about how people are moving out of New York. Deserted streets and shuttered shops. Rats deserting the ship. A city that perhaps gave them so much in life, is being abandoned for a sprawling villa in Florida.

In India we are not doing that yet simply because infrastructure beyond the cities will not support our lifestyle. Instead we are raising walls around us. Looking pitifully at those who have to work out there or talking very intelligently about job losses and blaming the government for not doing enough for those poor people.

Why?? Why should it be the responsibility of only the government to take financial measures?? And where will the government get the money from if we stay at home and no economic activity happens?

What’s it gonna be? Take risk now and step out with all safety measures in place? Or become unemployment statistic eventually.

Mask up and step out people. There are a billion who need you to do so. Get the wheels moving because the government needs those taxes coming in. Get out of the house for your own sake. Because if you don’t, you will wither away.

We were the ones


We followed the lockdown even though the gnawing sensation in our stomach told us how bad it will be for us.

We clapped and we lit diyas.

We donated to every one who sent us a message on mail or through an app because we believed in humanity. Even if it was a small amount, it was big for us in the larger scheme of things.

We got happy when the EMI moratorium was announced and disappointed when we found out it was a scam.

We sat in our apartments and in our houses and watched on tv how in the name of religion, in the name of politics, or mismanaged initiatives, people were still out on the street. Not just out but in huge crowds.

We watched in disbelief images of people thronging markers as if nothing has happened.

We watched the wedding on tv when there was a lockdown everywhere.

We watched the entitled getting a pass so that they can go to their farmhouse.

We watched the government announce schemes for various strata of society. We watched RBI governor talking about interest rates and stuff. And we realised none of it is for us.

We lay on our beds in the dark with no sleep in sight, wondering whether we will get a pay cut, whether we will get laid off or will we get furloughed and how will we manage our lives.

Because we are the ones – the middle class, the consuming class or the salaried class. The ones who pay taxes and watch our money get wasted. We are the ones who buy everything that keeps the corporate India running and the bottom half getting wages.

We are the ones nobody has talked about or thought about during this entire locked down. All everyone asked was that we should only give, give and keep giving. Because we are not corporate honchos or celebrities or the political leaders who can sit in the comfort of their mansions and talk about social good, knowing fully well that they were well insulated.

This too shall pass. We will survive somehow. The so called new normal for us will be a life cut down to the basics. Our new normal will be about adjustment and compromising on our dreams. Because we are the middle class. Neither here nor there.

Utterly random thoughts


Just some thoughts that have been swirling in my head.

1. Reel is not real – how ironic that during this lockdown, a lot of OTT is full of movies and programs that show how US of A is at the forefront to fight any crisis, calamity, epidemic, or aliens invasion. Contagion, Outbreak, all Marvel movies… for last few decades, Hollywood has driven the narrative of US being the superpower in every respect. Playing the world police and what not. But right here and right now, they surely don’t look the superpower… do they? While what is happening in US or anywhere in the world is very unfortunate, successive governments are to be blamed for the near invincible feeling amongst the US population. The power shift had started after the financial meltdown of 2008. Now it is complete. US, Europe are definitely not the centres of power. Read the other day (can’t believe everything I read anymore though) that lot of Chinese firms are getting ready to buy out cash strapped and almost bankrupt companies in Europe. Rock bottom prices will prevail.

2. Optics? So three months moratorium on EMI AND CREDIT AND STUFF. The government had to be seen doing something for the middle class too after the big SOPS for the low income people. Wasn’t thought through. Tell me how does a 3-months moratorium starting from 1st March makes sense? People got salary for March, might get for April too. The shitstorm starts after that! Salary deductions, job losses etc. That’s when most people would want relief from paying EMIs. Oh but wait. They can’t get any relief. The moratorium will be over by then. Muddled thinking I say. The best would have been that there is an option of 3 months. People can choose the period when.

3. WFH images and stories and gyan – I want to throw up. Yeah you gotta work from home. So suck it up and do your work. Spare us the philosophy!

4. Petroleum companies will rake it in. Some utterly random calculation tells me that petrol and diesel prices should about 40% less than what they are right now, given the crash globally. Imagine the money these companies and government will make once the lockdown is over!

5. Continuing point 4, imagine what will happen when the lockdown is completely gone! Having lived in the north most of my life, I have been witness to the scenes at various restaurant serving non veg right after the navratras are over. My feeling is that post lockdown will be quite similar 🙂

More random thoughts in coming days.

The Bubble


Everything is absolutely fine with the world.

iPhone 7 has been launched and people are figuring out how to upgrade quickly.

Amazon, flipkart, snapdeal… all are claiming huge turnout for buys… they are sending out message to tier I cities that its the tier II and tier III cities are buying stuff like crazy. More importantly, telling the world that people are spending money!

Navratras are on.

Festive season is round the corner. The malls will go on sale.

Automobiles had a great September.

Monsoon has been fairly decent.

The social chatter all of last week had been about how we are proud to be Indians.

The pubs are full (even on weekdays) and beer is flowing (oktoberfest you know).

This weekend all flights are packed, so are the trains. Hotel rates have skyrocketed.

America will get a new President and the world awaits… after all America rules the world and whoever leads America, we need to bow down to our new leader.

Joy, happiness and excitement all around…

So why am I restless. Why do I feel that the pressure is building and the bubble is becoming bigger… It is not ready to burst yet.

Am not an economist or a financial wiz. Nor am I a social scientist who is a keen follower of trends… but something is amiss…

Anyone knows what? Or am I going to be branded as a cynic who is never happy because the world is happy…

Arrogance or Head in the Sand Syndrome?


All relevant economic indicators are screwed. What should be up is down… what should be down is up. Standard & Poor downgrades India and what’s the reaction of this government?? Standard & Poor is not transparent! Seriously? I mean SERIOUSLY?

Who are we kidding? How come in the past no one ever commented on this transparency shit? How come when the rating was decent for India, nobody said that “hang on… this rating can’t be right.. they don’t understand our economic structure!”? Mr. T C A Anant.. why didn’t you say that earlier?  I bet somebody else will now say it is a conspiracy against India. Wonder who will it be? Vylar Ravi said it day before, so  some other minister now.

Is it absolute arrogance of UPA that makes them refuse to believe the reality? or is it the Ostrich syndrome?

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Standard-Poor-method-not-transparent-Government/articleshow/14076194.cms

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/sp-has-always-been-very-pessimisticindia-t-canant/477162/

http://zeenews.india.com/news/nation/sandp-rating-bjp-says-wake-up-call-cong-says-not-gospel-truth_781410.html

Inventors vs Innovators vs Consumers – Why India can never be an economic super power


Might be a controversial post but it is the truth.

We have the population… so does China… lot more than us actually… But numbers do not convert into turning the nation into super power.

I have started reading “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires” by Tim Wu (part of must read by Seth Godin). The first 50 pages into the book and I arrived at this conclusion.

US became the economic power house because majority of the inventions in the 20th century happened over there. it was a country which realized what technology can do. And this awareness, coupled with the freedom, individuals and groups invested time and effort in doing new things… discovering… experimenting… developing…  The results are all there for us to see.  Any new technology that emerges and becomes a rage, the origin is in US. Of course with freedom and the power to dictate terms to the entire world, comes arrogance. And this arrogance has led to the state of affairs that exist in US . But this post is not about that.

The point is that countries that invent… are the ones which take leadership position and make the other countries gravitate towards them

Then there is the next level… which also takes the super power status. These are the countries where they innovate… take the basic invention and take it through a series of innovations to make them better… thereby appropriating to themselves economic leadership. Germany for automobiles, Japan & Korea in consumer electronics and of course China which takes all of it and produces it at half the cost and seeks domination.

So where does that leave India? or where has it left in India after 64 years of Independence and warped political policies and the brain drain from 1960’s till perhaps 2000. NOWHERE is the answer.

We are the consumers for now. This rise of the middle class in last couple of decades and the urbanization, we are hungry to consume all that the world of technology has to offer. Whether it is the iPhone from US, LCD TV from Japan or Korea, Cars from Japan or Germany… we will take them all. We have the numbers and the world realizes that. So the markets are full of these innovative products. We can get everything we want and we can pay for. Our consumerism has for the moment numbed our innovative thinking and of course these countries would not want us to innovate so they keep giving us object of desires and do not want us to bother about inventing. If we start with that process, who will buy their technology?

Another way of keeping us busy is the whole BPO and KPO and various kinds of business processing that we are involved in. Infosys is huge and admired but eh.. what is it they do? Sabeer Bhatia made hotmail famous… what did it do for India? The various nobel laureates from India… did their invention or innovation make this country big? We gave the world zero and got nothing in return because nobody did anything after that. Now we only talk about it.

Unless we become inventors or innovators (and on a technological breakthrough scale), we can never become the power that everyone keeps saying we have the potential for… specially the politicians and commentators who can’t look beyond the population numbers and the prestige of our tech education institutions.

And it is a collective effort that is needed… politicians, corporates, people, media, policies, mindset and a willingness to invest.

Is the tide turning?


I don’t know how many of you have read about the Occupy Wall Street campaign that has been going on in US. Or for that matter even know about it… But it is happening… And what makes it very surprising is that it is happening in one of the so-called free economies of the world – The United States of America.

Gordon Gecko would have been lynched by the mob on the streets for even uttering the G of  “Greed is good“.

After the crash of 2008, while many would have made statements about recovery, the US economy probably had not recovered. Well economy might have on papers but the man on the street… when the entire life’s saving has disappeared… to recover, would need another lifetime.

The 1% that the protesters are talking about… they are the insulated lot. Insulated, because they have amassed wealth which would last for a few of their generations. But the common man… the common man who let these people get all this wealth by buying their products, spending money on conspicuous consumption because corporates and banks made it easy.

But finally I think there is an awakening. And people have taken to the streets. They are done with a very few making all the money while they suffer day in and day out. Of course, there would be many in the US who would term these protests as meaningless because they have not felt the pinch… yet. But they surely will.

I think this is a protest that needs to go global. The global economy is in doldrums and yet the Governments peddle out statistics (creativity at it’s best). The collapse of Greece would not have happened if everyone was aware of where the economy is truly headed.

And while I am not sure.. the protest in US is a mass movement. They do not have a politician or a person with an ax to grind heading it. It is akin to a flash mob… but flash mob with a purpose.

I think many of you would bring Anna Hazare into discussion. The perception being that he has also started the movement in India. But I think that movement has lost sight. The way they are going about in the current election in the constituency of Hissar… it seems like they are anti-congress. Whereas the movement has to be against the entire political elite. I am sure that none of the candidates in that election are corruption free.

People who had supposedly taken to the street (as I had said in one of the earlier posts too) were there because it was hip… not because they strongly believed in the cause of anti-corruption and would do anything to stop it.

More importantly… the Anna Hazare movement is barking up the wrong tree. Instead of chasing the bucket that gets filled up with the corrupt money.. shut off the taps from where the money flows. Protest in front of the corporates that have been involved in various scams. Stop that car guy who is paying money to the traffic cop. Put up protest tents in front of the the various govt agencies where all the wheeling and dealing is done by the power brokers. Make a website which lists such people.

True awakening will happen when every where you turn.. you see a sign that says “SAY NO TO CORRUPTION“. A sign that says “Is this all your life is worth? Is this only about money and all the stuff that it can buy?”

I am not a socialist… nor a communist… nor are the protesters of the Occupy Wall Street campaign. We are the “common man”

I think the time has come for people to break out of the Matrix that has been constructed by the 1% that actually rules the world and control the governments.

Sign Language from socially_awkwrd on Vimeo.

 

 

 

The Circus is Over…


Quite a few of my blog readers had asked me as to how come I was not writing about  Lokpal controversy and the fast by Anna Hazare. My answer to that was – It’s a waste of time… there is nothing to write about.

So why am I writing now? Because  circus is over. A circus where everyone was a clown… including the thousands who were holding protests across the country… on the streets, in their neighbourhood, at the Ramlila ground and everywhere else. I bet most didn’t know what they were protesting for.

They were there because it was cool to be associated with a movement. It was  cool to be seen there. It made for a whole lot of status updates on facebook and tweets by the twits.

And we are living in a delusion that something will come out of this whole fight against corruption. A bill that has waited to get passed for so many decades… we expect that it will get passed and Lokpal will come into existence?? Dream on people… The 500 hundred odd people who control the destiny of this country are steeped in corruption and they are surely not going to let anything happen to all the scams they run.. day in and day out. Political parties win elections on the basis of corruption… not by people’s will.

We are a country or scamsters… hustlers… everyone is out to make a quick buck or get things done to their satisfaction. Ever wondered how someone builds a billion dollar monstrosity for his residence and there is not one question raised about where did the money come from? The cream of Corporate India would soon be operating from the confines of Tihar Jail.. Not because suddenly we as a nation developed a conscience but because they did not either grease enough palms or did not use enough grease.

Hazare and his supporters think that they have won some kind of battle. What they don’t realise is that they have been outmaneuvered. The political class has pretended to give in and killed all the drama that was happening. And it will be business as usual very soon. The media will move on to newer stories… we will move on with our lives and money will keep getting transferred into the Swiss Bank accounts

Unlike the revolts, rebellions and uprisings in the Middle East and Africa, our country is different. We are not an oppressed lot or being ruled by a dictator. Under the constant opium spread into our blood stream by all the good things that are happening around us… Per Capita Income is rising… economy is growing faster than most economies in the world and blah blah blah.. we really have no strong reason to revolt. If there is corruption… it is there because we have encouraged it. We want our driving licences, we want to cut corners, we want our deal to go through, we want to sell our property by doing half cash half cheque deal…. I could go on… but we are responsible for the monster called corruption.. So we will not do anything to stop it because we still want all the aforesaid things.

Past couple of weeks… people on the streets and all the celebrities jumping up and down… it was all about few mins of fame for being associated with a cause. Most didn’t really know what the cause was…

Nothing is ever gonna happen…

So no paying less tax


How could we have been thinking that the proposals for tax reforms would go through in their entirety?? The same set of people who voted for themselves to get hikes… even went through the charade of going on strike are the people who ensured that the common man does not get any significant tax benefits. After all the common man has to give money which would pay their salaries! Approx  Rs. 37 lakhs per Member of Parliament into 500+ MPs… about 180 crores+. That’s a lot of money to be accounted for considering that only single digit population of this country actually pays the income tax. So they had to make modifications in the proposal and let the man on the street suffer rather than curtail all the freebies of the elected representatives…And not to forget that every state assembly would also want to increase salary and perks for their MLAs!

But seriously… what’s wrong with News Media???


The prices of all essential commodities are through the roof. Common man is suffering big time.

The current government is going to complete the so called 100 days (or has it already?) and what have they got to show?

The economic situation is bleak. People are still losing jobs or living in a state of disguised unemployment (working but not getting salary on time)

Corruption reigns everywhere

AND YET THIS IS SOMETHING THAT IS NOT GETTING COVERED OR BEING ANALYSED.

How can anyone be interested in a politicial party which is on death bed and waiting for the plug to be pulled?

Do the news channels seriously think that a billion plus population which is trying very hard to make a living is interested in what Brajesh Mishra said… or the book by Jaswant Singh… or the fact that he has been sacked from the party… or what Advani said or did during the Kandahar hijacking… or What Sardar Patel did or did not do in 1945????

Seriously… who cares. If anything, the only people who would really care is the current government. They must be happy that the spotlight is not on their failures to govern and deliver on the 100 days promise.

Let me give you an example of how news media has become completely blind to what is happening to the people. This example is apart from the tripe that we get to watch on TV or read in the paper.

Few days back on BBC (one of the most respected news channels), towards the end of news, a guy joins the two who were reading the news and discussing the current events. This guy gives the latest unemployment figures in England.. which by the way have gone up. A min of that… and while he is still talking about the figures… the woman anchor asks him… “So what is your favorite cocktail?”. The guy wants to complete what he is saying about the unemployment and he is again interrupted by the male anchor asking about the cocktails.. because they want to move to this competition that is happening in England somewhere about the best bar tender!!!! Wow… talk about dumbing down and being callous.

Somewhere in an effort for increased eyeballs, viewers and readers, news people have forgotten what their profession is all about… WAGs are not stories… Salman Khan interested in buying an IPL team is not a story… Harbhajan Singh in his humvee is not the story.

Get real… get accountable… make the government accountable… Terrorism is here to stay and we would never be able to combat it or control it because when dealing with fanatics is not easy… So get rid of those stories about who gets Interpol red flag or how the government was right about Hafeez or whoever… Tell me why are the prices rising and what government is doing to bring down the prices.. Tell me why my money is not enough today for even the basic essentials… question.. interrogate… grill the government.

Stop wasting your time on the inconsequentials.

Unless the news media is also part of the larger political strategy to keep the common man away from asking these pertinent questions and bombard him with trivia and make his mind numb!