China’s foot soldiers are hard at work

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Nobody can underestimate China’s place as a global power. It’s not shy, coy or diminutive about its ability to lead. It’s a veritable leader in statesmanship. And don’t let anyone tell you anything else. Because if you do, you may, or may not remain. Where’s that doctor from Wuhan who blew the whistle on Coronavirus? Where would WHO’s Tedros (no, he’s not a real doctor) be without China. The man leads the World Health Organisation and hasn’t ever taken the Hippocratic oath. On a sidebar, he’s accused of hiding epidemics in Ethiopia. To Soldier #1, a hearty salute. To Tedros we owe the complete lack of accountability on the Chinese regime to shut down Wuhan without letting 7 million people leave the land to infect others around the world. Any doctor worth his name in mud would react with fear when confronted with a highly contagious new virus and alert the health authorities and the government. This doctor told nations to keep their borders open and mouths shut. He castigated nations for drawing “China” by name into all this. Like, virus are all around us and pandemics happen all the time, why blame China. Point taken, Ted. Sowie. Down the army’s ranks, I’ve come across professor Shang Jin Wei, whose column appeared in Business Standard this week: https://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/beating-covid-19-and-the-economic-pandemic-120032700080_1.html . Soldier #… Titled: Beating Covid-19 and the economic pandemic, it could well be China’s notes to itself. Here it masquerades as advice to the world from a former chief economist as the Asian Development Bank. Just like any description of Coronavirus was restricted to likening it to a ‘flu’ while actually it is more like pneumonia. Same difference? Professor Shang is also a professor of Finance and Economics at Columbia Business School and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Drumroll. Prof Shang starts with establishing his credentials as to being a master analyst. He says he’d predicted way back in January that the spread of the virus would reach a turning point by mid-Feb. And lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened. He then stresses on the fact that since then, however, there are no new cases in China except those spread by international travellers coming into the country. See? China ended it. Successfully. He then offers an empathic “unfortunately” to describe the wide spread of the virus i.e. pandemic. Putting the global political community softly but firmly into the crosshairs for not managing / containing it as well as China did. Please note, he does not acknowledge WHO’s (failure) role as a watchdog. He certainly says that the US and the EU did not use their six weeks lead time well. Yeah, maybe they were busy listening to Ted? Now comes the money-maker. He says that if domestic supplies of things like masks, alcohol wipes, etc. are limited, these countries should ‘consider’ importing from China, Japan and elsewhere. But of course. When the whole world’s supply chains are in China, people should go elsewhere. Nice try, prof. He offers consolation: After all, these products are not high-tech and can be manufactured anywhere. “Surely you guys, you big, developed, dodos got this?” But, he panders to our common sense, with: China in particular is eager to resume production, and factories there have the competence, and can respond speedily to a surge in global demand. He also lays out the roadmap for contracting “foreign” – read Chinese – companies to help build emergency hospitals. Being the economist he is, he must do his bit to advise us about the economic aspects of this pandemic. He calls upon policymakers to provide rapid assistance to workers impacted. He warns us of the economic shock travelling downstream and mayhem upstream as demand contracts. He is urging countries to make better use of digital technologies. You see, he lives in the US of A and is talking to all of the developed ones in the world, because that’s where numbers are rising exponentially. He’s telling them: BE MORE DIGITAL. He says robust online shopping can offset some of the economic difficulties facing retailors and factories. BUT there is a BUT. He says, BUT this requires broad internet availability, widespread acceptance of digital payment by firms and households, and an efficient and inexpensive delivery system. So he adds, “While China is fortunate to have possess all three, many developing countries do not.” So friends, he started with, import this and that from China, Japan and others. Then compares others to shit and says well, import from China. Now here’s something the Netherlands did: 600,000 masks delivered by China to the Netherlands do not work, offer no protection. Many already in usehttps://t.co/xwoGkrXAST— Bruno Maçães (@MacaesBruno) March 28, 2020 Then, here’s something Spain went through: it discovered that the Chinese test kits they’d just imported had only 30% accurate detection rate. Read here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/27/coronavirus-test-kits-withdrawn-spain-poor-accuracy-rate. Most portentous, however, are his words on an economic stimulus: “As for economic stimulus, an internationally coordinated programme will be more effective in tackling a global recession than isolated action by individual countries. This is especially true in the case of fiscal stimulus. When a government cuts taxes or provides temporary financial assistance to needy households, the increase in domestic demand may “leak” to foreign producers via increased imports. This leakage is especially significant for small and medium-size economies that have a relatively high ratio of imports to gross domestic product (GDP), and may discourage them from pursuing enough stimulus.” Prof. Shang is China is, for wants an internationally coordinated controlled fiscal stimulus. Reason? To prevent demand from “leaking” to foreign producers via increased imports. I don’t understand. How big would the demand from such ‘needy’ households really be? And if it leaked, wouldn’t it benefit China? After all, China is the giant supply chain for the world, isn’t it? What is this subterfuge? He wants international coordination to pre-empt this problem. He wants governments to work together (with China at the centre because it holds your supply) to ensure that while we boost demand without changing the exchange rates too much, aided by reducing tariff and non-tariff trade barriers so Chinese companies can move fast and slick. The good professor wants us to particularly go back with the lesson that raising trade barriers is not a good idea even though governments might be tempted to do so in such times. He explains that’s because it raises both production costs (for China) and reduces domestic households’ real income (hurting their ability to buy more from China) Prof Shang calls for “coordinated trade liberalisation” or in other words, ‘let China win because, what choices you got’. He also decorates it with the cherry on top being: “each country’s concessions to foreign firms will be met with improved access for their own companies to foreign markets”. It;s like this, you buy from China so you can sell in China (efforts to do which, of course, our cheaper products will render unviable). He ends his advice with a rah-rah to the G20 to show some leadership and initiatives: Come on, boys, here’s the brief, now make it happen. The last two paragraphs of this are a good look into the psyche of the Chinese machine, so what if it lives, breathes and earns in America. The COVID-19 pandemic threatens the world with disaster. But the crisis also offers governments a rare chance to undertake policy changes that not only address the short-term public-health challenge, but also boost the global economy’s long-term growth potential. 600,000 infected (as on date March 29, 2020) is a short term public health challenge and boosting global economy is a “but also” point for this academic death-eater. While the Chinese did not actually invent all the interesting sayings attributed to them, it is true that the Chinese phrase for “crisis” consists of a character signifying “danger” and another for “opportunity.” Governments around the world should seize the moment and not waste the COVID-19 crisis. Finally, about the above, you’re not telling us anything new, except betraying the Chinese strategy, which will become clearer as the dust settles. Almost as if the Coronavirus is a blueprint for strategy to dominate. Is it any coincidence that parasite was the most acclaimed film this year in Hollow-wood? My last point, I promise. I’m surprised a salesman for China is allowed to call himself an American. The way I see it, America’s clutching at the very last threads of propriety and integrity. With the big four of socialism running amok and communists taking over, this is stage IV of world domination. You read it here first. Must go look for a non-Chinese made mask and get used to dealing with failure.

Why the name change to Disha and other thoughts

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Yesterday, I woke up to a new social media trend #DishaCase. The prospect of another rape similar to that of Dr. Priyanka Reddy horrified me all over again. Until I discovered that this was the same case. Same MO. I refer to the MO of police / people changing the name of the victim to protect the dignity of her family. Wait. What? How and at what point did her family lose dignity? Are you, as a society, trying to say that when a man rapes a woman, it is she who loses her dignity? Do you see anything wrong with that logic? The four assholes who raped her, they and their families have lost dignity. The media is yet to drag its spine and brains from medieval era of thinking into the true Indic era of thinking. And time is running out for that. Dear media and their connivers, please, since it’s unfair to expect you to evolve at a rate faster than rapists themselves, let me introduce you to this new thought. It might seem difficult to digest at first, but allow this thought to settle: When a man rapes a woman, he AND HIS FAMILY lose dignity. Not the woman AND HER FAMILY. I can’t believe that the edict to call her Disha and not her real name came also from Mr. Sajjanar, the same hero being lauded for the encounter. Sir, if you have any respect for the lady and her family, you’ll let her memory be. Stop rubbishing the real identities of these brave women AND THEIR FAMILIES, who do so much even in this world to bring up strong, determined women who contribute positively to the society.

12 Rules of Life by Jordan Peterson

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Jordan B. Peterson (JBP) is an acclaimed clinical psychologist who has reshaped the modern understanding of personality, says the book starting with the question: ‘What are the most valuable things that everyone should know?’ JBP has the answer. He has worked out 12 such things, described as profound and practical principles, to help us all lead a meaningful life. Should he be seen as modern-day messiah with a message of his own? Is he inspired by someone who is neither clinical nor a psychologist? The book calls JBP as one of the world’s most influential public thinkers, with lectures on topics from the Bible to romantic relationships to mythology… Now the connection is starting to make sense. 12 principles for you and me, whether you’re in the USA or in Ethiopia, whether or not you want the same things he wants. The foreword, by Dr. Norman Dodge (DND), thankfully, resonates with the same question that I turned the page with. But, like a boomerang, comes back to me after taking that beautiful flight towards logic. We shall see: The foreword begins with the irony that a clinical psychologist – whom one might see as a servant of science and a friend of humanity – is issuing 12 rules, very much like the 10 commandments, or its like in some other book. So DND starts with calling this out, of course, in good humour. He makes it almost through the point right up to the logical rainbow but alas, doesn’t stay there. Instead, he swiftly makes a turn back into the realm of darkness. How? He begins by asking: Isn’t life complicated enough, restrictive enough, without abstract rules that don’t take our unique, individual situations into account? In my wonderment for this question of his, I only have one response: These lines by D.H.Lawrence (https://hellopoetry.com/poem/73460/self-pity/ ) – It’s called Self-Pity and this is what it says: I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a boughwithout ever having felt sorry for itself. I think people who, when they think of life, can only think of how complicated, restrictive it is, will always see misery everywhere around them and then go ahead to make 10 rules and 25 commandments, and 555 laws… and more… It makes them feel safer from all the uncertainties, some of which may include such pleasant moments of joy, fun, and even self-actualisation. Thereby, shutting out some of life’s grandest, most joyous potentialities. Such people, aren’t they lower than the wild thing in DHL’s poem? At least no one will say the small bird didn’t live up to its full potential. The opposite can be said about most of us human beings, and thanks to what? Some pithy 12 rules? Commandments? Truths? How does DND explain his view? Through a Biblical story involving Moses. He, who has come down from the mountain with 10 commandments, only to see the Children of Israel in revelry in front of the Golden Calf. How dare they celebrate after having been slaves to the pharoahs! So Moses took to subjecting them to harsh desert wilderness for 40 years, to purify them from their slavishness. It’s as if being slaves was a dirty toy they had been lugging around for centuries; and so he sacrificed all compassion, fellow feeling, and inner joy of finally being free, at the altar of purity. What is this obsession with purity, I often wonder. Why is there only one view of purity. Who is he to tell others about what is pure? Now free at last, they were all dancing… so Moses said, I have some good news and some bad news. When DND calls him the lawgiver I take it on authority that he must have had a reference for saying so. I’m looking at the story in all its incredulity, hoping for some major logical breakthrough. This is what I get: Moses the lawgiver (why are so many people giving out laws to others I’ll never understand. Besides, who was Moses. Besides, why is JBP doing the same thing today centuries down the line? And now, will JBP also subject us all to harsh desert wilderness?): I’ve got some good news and bad news. The hedonists replied: The good news. I wish there had been some liberals around to have told him ‘stop with the labelling’. “I got Him from 15 commandments to 10.” Hmm, negotiating with HIM. He must be pretty desperate. I see that these are the same people who will laugh at stories from my culture where deities talk to common people. Maybe DND wouldn’t, his ancestors and his peers certainly did. And continue to do so. Besides, even DND and JBP realise the power of storytelling in driving home the point, a point that’s not valid if Hindu cultures do it but the Word of God if ‘They’ themselves do it. In the interest of moving ahead, I must set aside the rampant hypocrisy. So the gathered public moves on to the bad news and Moses replies: “Adultery is still in”. Nothing brightens my day like coming across a cheap crack used by a liberal as a point of debate. And that’s the very end of DND’s grand questioning – where he says, So Rules There Will Be. The clinical psychologist equivalent of “And it was good”. He explains away his lack of rigour with: We are ambivalent about rules, even when we know they are good for us. If we are spirited souls, if we have character, rules seem restrictive, an affront to our sense of agency and our pride in working out our own lives. Why should we be judged according to another’s rule? I see him go really close, so close to the truth, which will solve the whole case but he turns his back on it right when he sees a smoking gun. He goes on: And judged we are. As if a mere acceptance of a fact. What about all that education he must have received? He adds further: ‘After all, God didn’t give Moses “The Ten Suggestions”, he gave Commandments; and if I’m a free agent, my first reaction to a commandment might be that nobody, not even God, tells me what to do, even if it’s good for me.” – Again you see a flicker of light. And then darkness at the end of the tunnel when he says: But the story of the golden calf also reminds us that without rules we quickly become slaves to our passions – and there’s nothing freeing about that. “Slave to our passions” is nothing but highly ignorant way of talking. We are slave to our passions because we do not invest in aiming higher as people. Your 10 rules may prevent baser nature, they’re not creating enlightenment. So that’s that. In my next post, I’ll examine the story of the golden calf. But this book is beginning to look a lot like some religious text and maybe that is what it is, a modern-day religious text. In fact, the 2nd last para on page viii says exactly this: Just like Bible has weaved in its laws for mankind through stories, so does JBP. Wow, the analogy is complete. This is hardly clinical in any way! You’re basically trying to tell people that we’re not good enough, not mature enough to think for ourselves, understand our priorities, and learn from our experiences. You are, as a doctor and as a psychologist, trying to tell people that they need some pithy 12 rules to feel they’re leading a meaningful life. A meaning that you’ve made up yourself. Just like the guys that preceded you. Your basic understanding of your fellow humans is that left to their own devices, they’ll be reduced to their baser nature. Is that how much you value this magnificent opportunity called life? For a world-renowned psychologist to think this way is, at best, disappointing.

The Best a Man Can Get is Still Gillette

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I wake up to this Gillette ad, which has kicked up a much bigger storm than the Kardashian Pepsi commercial did more than a year ago. I guess that ad was the start of brands taking on the role of SJWs – Social Justice Warriors. SJW is by definition a derogatory term which means a person who expresses or promotes socially progressive views. In a normal world there would be a few thumbs ups for this person but in reality, which is neither normal nor reasonable, the reasons for this are the fact that we have to hold SJWs responsible for having boundary issues. I digressed there. But that is the point. SJWs will stop at nothing. Such as pedophilia being termed as a condition rather than a pathetic scourge of the mankind. They want pedos to be included in the ‘queer’ category to be represented on the gay pride flag. Because, there is such a thing as a non-practising pedophile. So anyway, this is a small example of why SJWs don’t get a lot of respect. What happened then with the Gillette ad was a classic design problem I learnt about during a brief ‘knowledge-share’ session at my workplace – That when instructions are printed in a font that’s harder to read, the reader/user confuses that difficulty with the difficulty level of the task itself. Apparently, Ikea knows this. So thank you Ikea. My male friend had no problem assembling that beige double bed. Moving on to males. They’re exploding the dislike button on Gillette’s YouTube link. Here it is again in case you’d like to have a go at it too. They’re doing so just for suggesting that they are better than the toxic messages they receive from the likes of: Harvey Weinstein Donald Trump Charlie Harper Woody Allen Ramsay Bolton Karl Marx Don Draper Hitler Frank Underwood O J Simpson Aurangzeb John Eric Armstrong (Know more here ) Jack The Ripper List of all the men outed under the Metoo movement.  Does not include the stalwarts back in India. Top names though: Alok Nath. Rajkumar Hirani. Vinod Dua. M J Akbar. All renowned ones. Saddam Hussein Jordan Belfort Vladimir Lenin Pol Pot Genghis Khan Geobbels Che Guevara Robert Mugabe (Let me throw in THIS  link detailing the respective rules of these powerful men from Africa) Know that some of these characters are fictional but most are not. I trust you to know which is which. But I can tell you this: we haven’t even got started. The men who’ve gotten all riled up with this one ad that is the only sliver of good parenting they have / ever will receive, are the ones for whom this ad was made in the first place. It talks about not waking up to a world where bullying is justified with ‘boys will be boys’. And God knows it’s the males who are the worst sufferers of it. Instead of saying “yeah, we do have a problem; glad someone is speaking out”, they’re swearing off of all P&G products. Good going. Yes, a brand’s job is to sell. And trust me, sell they will. Gillette has moved on. It’s talking to my 25-year-old brother who knows that if his dad shouted at him, that’d be wrong. My 50-plus ‘Millennial at heart’ friend who hates boys night out where they crack sexist jokes all night long. My friend & ex-colleague whose husband is a hands-on dad who cooks like it’s his duty as much as hers. Did you know that brands were acting as SJWs when they asked you to wash your hands 4 times a day, for 30 seconds each time? That you needed to wear a deo. That you need to floss your teeth. Brush it twice a day. They you need to get your vitamins. That you need to safeguard your heart health with MUFA-PUFA loaded oils. That you need life insurance for your families.   Well, dear men, you need to give up bullying for a healthy society.  

Aiyoh – Made in China da!

Aiyoh – Made in China da!

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So, since I have glossophilia, this news is something I always look forward to: OED i.e. the Oxford English Dictionary has come out with its list of new words added this year. And every year round, a couple of Indian expressions find their rightful place and it helps us continue to look on to the Englishman with regard. This time, Aiyoh has made it to the hallowed rolls. With another discovery looming. Backstory: I’m a Gujju who finds it utterly normal to utter Aiyoh when expressing shock, awe, or surprise. And that’s not normal at all. So when my fave Aiyoh made it to OED, imagine my sense of vindication (Aiyoh in OED) ! Then imagine my sense of disappointment upon finding out that all this time I had been speaking Chinese. Kudos to my multilingual self but still! Turns out, Aiyoh is of Mandarin origin and Aiyah, Cantonese. So, quite literally the most used word in the South, almost like a punctuation mark, isn’t Indian at all. BTW – glossophile is one who loves languages. Which brings me to another observation: Almost all of our languages have some entirely versatile words that can mean an entire range of emotions, and interpretation of which depends on who employs it, how, and when. Like Achcha in Hindi. Achcha literally means ‘good’. As in, How are things? – Achcha hai! As in… Achaha, so you think you’re so smart! I’ll show you! | Achcha? Is that what happened? | Achcha, I thought so. | Achcha, okay, I’ll do it.   So, basically, it’s a reflection of a very pluralistic culture here. These are the Indian words that made it: Langra (the Mango variety), Tithi (dates in the lunar calendar) Very much like the head wobble we Indians do, which also could mean anything from okay to good, to yes, to I don’t know, my bad… and whatever else you want. Are there any such words in your language that mean a whole spectrum of things?