The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Friday, 9 December 2016

ARAB SPRING 2.0: ANOTHER ARAB AWAKENING COMING?

Here it is a bit modified and extended.

“The prospects of young people in the region are, now more than ever, jeopardized by poverty, economic stagnation, governance failure and exclusion, all compounded by the violence and fragility of the body politic.”

That, we can say is the central theme of the latest Arab Development Report (ADR 2016) released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recently.

UNDP, so far, has released six ADRs and the themes of the reports say how the condition has worsened in region from 2002 to 2016. The first ADR, in 2002, was themed on opportunities, while the latest one, in 2016, raises tough questions on the very real possibility of yet another round of the Arab revolution or awakening, five years after the Arab Spring of 2011.

WILL IT BE ARAB SPRING 2.0?

It seems so if we go by the findings of the latest ADR – “Arab Human Development Report 2016: Youth and the Prospects for Human Development in a Changing Reality”.

The 2011 Arab Spring was largely youth driven who were well connected through social media. They were staring at a blank when it came to future security. Five years later, the Arab unemployment rate remains abysmally low. At 30%, it is double the global average. Moreover, today’s youth are more educated and more connected but less employable. The discontent is brewing.

The ADR says, “Events in the region since 2011 have demonstrated the ability of young people to initiate action and catalyse change. They demonstrated young people’s awareness of the serious challenges to development posed by current conditions, and their ability to express the dissatisfaction of society as a whole with those conditions and its demands for change. These events also revealed the depth of the marginalisation that young people suffer and their inability to master the instruments of organised political action that could guarantee the peacefulness and sustainability of such change.”

The youth in the region are cursed to live in a region of despotic leaders that, with a population base of just 5% of the world, has seen 14% of the world’s terror. The corresponding data set is even worse. The Arab region has 57.5% of the world’s refugees and 47% of the world’s internally displaced. The region saw the world’s 68.5%% of battle related deaths from 1989 to 2014. The global average is 27.7%. Average military expenditure per capita of the region is over 65% of the global average. The report indicates rapidly increasing conflict zones in the region and says by 2050, 3 of 4 Arabs would be living in the high conflict zones.

IT LOOKS SCARY

Such abysmal figures tell of a bleak future, especially for its youth who have even fewer opportunities than 2011 and are now compartmentalized in different conflict zones and are therefore unable to move, the report says. And they are the largest chunk of the Arab population – two-thirds of them are below 30 years.

And they have nowhere to go. The report writes, “Young people’s awareness of their capabilities and rights collides with a reality that marginalises them and blocks their pathways to express their opinions, actively participate or earn a living. As a result, instead of being a massive potential for building the future, youth can become an overwhelming power for destruction.”

The report paints a worrying scenario, “Youth in the Arab region suffer to varying degrees as a result of the state of human development. Young people feel deeply anxious about their future and are gripped by an inherent sense of discrimination and exclusion. Many of them do not receive good education, find suitable employment, or have appropriate health care. Moreover, youth in Arab countries are insufficiently represented in public life, and have no meaningful say in shaping policies that influence their lives.”

THEY ARE NOT VOTING..BUT THEY ARE PROTESTING..

When we see the youth voting rate, at 68.3%, it is lowest in the world. The global average is 87.4%. But it doesn’t mean that they are not participating in the sociopolitical processes. They are voting less but are protesting more. It means they don’t have faith in the existing governments. According to the report, over 18% of the Arab youths participated in protests in 2013, almost double of the global average of 10.8%.

What other options do they have? A region run by ruthless military rulers or monarchs that believes in spending more on arms and terrorism than human development, as the figures above say, was waiting for this to happen. All was well till easy oil money was there, as the state could co-opt the dissenting voices, while building palaces and businesses of those who roamed in the power corridors. It is well known that most outfits and jobs in the Arab countries are in the government sector. But now, as the oil prices are historically low and future looks grim on price revisions despites the oil producing block OPEC’s repeated attempts, that easy option is gone.

The report says, “The gains in human development rarely translated into gains in productivity and growth because the model trapped human capital in unproductive public sector jobs, while building up a pyramid of privilege that gave economic advantages to companies and individuals closely linked to decision makers and reinforcing structural alliances among political and economic elites so they could protect their own interests. Ultimately, the model supported individuals from cradle to grave, but bequeathed a negative legacy.”

2011 ARAB SPRING

The 2011 Arab Spring had swept the Arab world in the Middle East and North Africa but it remained far from achieving its desired end. It resulted in removal of four despotic rulers – in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen – ongoing civil wars in Syria, Yemen and Libya – and series of large scale protests in Bahrain, Algeria, Somalia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Morocco and many other Arab countries. Saudi Arabia, the largest oil producer which is ruled by a strict monarchy, also saw protests and its echoes are still felt with its continued purge of dissenting voices. In January this year, the country executed 47 people including Nimr al-Nimr, a Shiite Arab Spring voice.

Except Tunisia, nowhere we have seen a successful power transition towards a democratic process. Egypt had a democratically elected government of the Muslim Brotherhood but its fundamentalism pushed people again to protest and now the army is back in the controlling role. Libya and Yemen are dark patches of civil and faction wars. Syria has become the scourge of the modern times pushing the largest contingent of refugees across the world.

The revolution that had begun in 2011 is still half done – and the factors that led to the massive protests then – have become more painful now.

©SantoshChaubey

Thursday, 8 December 2016

TIME PERSON OF THE YEAR: FROM A MERE JOKE, IT IS NOW A 'GREAT HONOUR' FOR DONALD TRUMP

Here it is a bit modified and extended.

US President Elect Donald Trump is an elated soul. Success and fame is coming rapidly his way. After winning the US Presidency last month in a stunning upheaval, he has been elected as the 2016 TIME Person of the Year (POY), a recognition that is considered a global benchmark. 

And Trump has expressed his happiness calling his POY title as a 'great honour' which means a 'lot to him'. According to NBC New York, Trump said, "It's a great honour, it means a lot. Especially me growing up, reading TIME magazine, it's a very important magazine. I've been lucky enough to be on the cover many times this year and last year."

Though he is yet to tweet or issue an statement or react in detail, how excited he was by this proposition becomes clear from his tweet that announced that he would be interviewed on the NBC's Today show where the TIME POY 2016 was to be announced, especially when the rumour mills said that he was the choice. In TIME 2016 POY Shortlist announced on NBC's Today show broadcast on December 7, Donald Trump was among the 11 candidates including India's prime minister Narendra Modi who has won the TIME POY Popular Vote second year in a row. 

But when we look at Donald Trump's vitriolic views on the TIME magazine in past, this sudden change of heart looks as shocking as his victory in the presidential polls. If we see those comments, Trump's reaction today sounds like a plain lie. 

In past, he has been critical of the TIME magazine using words like it 'looks flimsy, like a free handout at a parking lot' or callings its list of 100 Most Influential People a joke and stunt. 

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
6:20am • 2 May 2013


Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump
9:24 AM - 27 Apr 2013


Or criticising the magazine for ignoring him like the last year when TIME chose German Chancellor Angela Merkel over him. He had then tweeted to let the world know that though he was a 'big favourite', the magazine instead chose a person who was ruining Germany. 

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
7:23 PM - 9 Dec 2015


©SantoshChaubey

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

WHY DONALD TRUMP DOES NOT WANT NEW AIR FORCE ONE?


Donald Trump has tweeted to express his strong disapproval of the new Boeing 747 jumbo jet to replace the existing one being used by the US President. And he has sighted ‘out of control’ cost for it.

He tweeted, “Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!”

Trump, according to a report in the Washington Post, later explained his tweet, “The plane is totally out of control. It’s going to be over $4 billion for Air Force One program, and I think it’s ridiculous. I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number. We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money.”


Though the new jet is for future presidents as Trump’s tweet says and as it will come into service in 2024 and therefore Donald Trump would not be able to use it even if he gets another term in 2020, the cost quoted by Trump here will go from his administrations coffers only.

Trump, the billionaire US President Elect, who has promised to lower taxes, create jobs and prevent them from going out of the US, free the US of ‘illegal immigrants’, regulate the presence of immigrants, erect a border wall along Mexico, to shut down Obamacare, the healthcare programme launched by Barack Obama and many other populist policies, it seems, is on a spree to establish his populist credentials before his Presidency’s inaugural on January 20.

Before this, he had announced that he would take just $1 as salary. The US presidential pay package is $400,000 a year. He said he would not take any vacation as well. Soon after winning the presidency, he announced his plans to erect a wall along the US-Mexico border to prevent the Mexican immigrants. He has claimed to broker a deal and save 1000 jobs from going to Mexico and has threatened to make life financially difficult for the companies who take businesses or jobs out of the US by imposing an import tariff of 35 per cent.

Forbes estimates US President Elect Donald Trump’s net worth at $4.5 billion that makes him the richest US President so far. He is a real estate mogul and his organization runs various businesses in different countries. He owns four personal planes including a Boeing 757 jet that has gold-plated seat-belts and bathroom fittings.

©SantoshChaubey

VARANASI VIBES - IN GOD'S OWN CITY

INDIA'S OLDEST LIVING CITY - INDIA'S HERITAGE AND CULTURAL CAPITAL - AND THE WORLD'S SPIRITUAL CAPITAL THROUGH RANDOM CLICKS 



VARANASI VIBES
IN GOD'S OWN CITY 

©SantoshChaubey   

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

JAYALALITHAA'S FINAL JOURNEY: SHADES OF MOURNING

Jayalalithaa's life and final journey - when everything comes to connote some symbolism - for them who really mourn - for them who try to mourn - and for them who do no not even try to mourn!

Mourning – this is one human emotion that is free of any cultural context.

When your inner self asks you to cry, you cry. You don’t have to put efforts there.

Yes, it may be loud or you may simply travel so deep inside that you get disconnected from the world.

Your face speaks. Your eyes have tales. Your body responds.

And that is a symbol of true love, committed feelings, genuine care - something that is rare to come by in these times – be it J. Jayalalithaa, the massively popular but lonley Tamil Nadu’s chief minister who died yesterday and was laid to rest today..

Or a commoner like you and me.

What goes in favour of us that we have a family to speak for us when we are no more there but people like Jayalalithaa, though they matter for millions because they care for them and try to reach out to them materially, have no one to really care about after they have departed..

Love/care/commitment – such emotions suck at times like this.

It was on display, at a massive level during Jayalalithaa’s funeral today. Without taking the risk of sounding cynical, we can say that most who present in there during her final rites and burial had this or that social/political equation in mind.

Yes, there were aggrieved masses but who cares for them after her. They were crying and it was real because she tried to reach out to them in a country where the poverty line still hovers around Rs. 1000 a month and where the world’s maximum count of poor people reside.

Otherwise she lived a materialistically comfortable life with ruthless political finesse and didn’t bother to go her own way away from even her political mentor (remember the 1984 episode of her widening rift with MGR). But love is a strange thing - and sometimes, rift in relations is a part of it. She was buried besides her that mentor only as per her last wish.

It is said in death we are all alone. It is metaphorical but with Jayalalithaa’s last rites today, it was evident why this statement gets practical at times – the shades of mourning during her 75 day in the hospital and the last 24 hours are more than enough to tell us that.

©SantoshChaubey

VARANASI VIBES - IN GOD'S OWN CITY

INDIA'S OLDEST LIVING CITY - INDIA'S HERITAGE AND CULTURAL CAPITAL - AND THE WORLD'S SPIRITUAL CAPITAL THROUGH RANDOM CLICKS 


VARANASI VIBES
IN GOD'S OWN CITY

©SantoshChaubey

Monday, 5 December 2016

TRUMP THREATENS ON MOVING BUSINESSES AND JOBS OUT OF THE US, PROPOSES TO TAX THEM

Here it is a bit modified and extended.

Reiterating his pre-poll promise once again, US President Elect Donald Trump has issued a direct threat to the US companies outsourcing jobs or moving their business to other countries or firing employees.

Trump has warned that is unfair for the companies to move their production units outside while selling their products in the US market.

Trump who sums his series of tweets on the issue with ‘THE UNITED STATES IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS’ in capital letters says it cannot be the business as usual and warns the outifts before making ‘a very expensive step’ to venture out of US for their business interests.

Though he has been repeating it that there will soon be a tax on such companies that will make them leaving the US financially difficult, it is the first time that he has said so in clear words.

During the campaigning phase, he continuously threatened to slap an import tariff of 35% on the US companies taking their businesses out. His tweets indicate he wants to make the US borders strong by such coercive measures, including his grand plans of electing a wall on the US-Mexico border to check illegal immigrants from Mexico whom he despises as rapists and criminals.

Here is what Donald Trump has just tweeted.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

The U.S. is going to substantially reduce taxes and regulations on businesses, but any business that leaves our country for another country, fires its employees, builds a new factory or plant in the other country, and then thinks it will sell its product back into the U.S. without retribution or consequence, is WRONG!

There will be a tax on our soon to be strong border of 35% for these companies wanting to sell their product, cars, A.C. units etc., back across the border.

This tax will make leaving financially difficult. These companies are able to move between all 50 states and negotiate a tax free deal! Our country cannot keep losing these jobs, & won’t these companies are able to move between all 50 states, with no tax or tariff being charged.

Please be forewarned prior to making a very expensive mistake! THE UNITED STATES IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Stop outsourcing and preventing businesses moving out from the US has been at the core of the Trump politics that promises to ‘make America great again’. His US is going to both, ‘OPEN and CLOSE’, the Donald Trump way it seems.

Just two days ago, Trump visited an Indianapolis plant of AC maker Carrier claiming that he had brokered a deal that saved 1000 jobs at the plant from being outsourced to Mexico. And in a typical Donald Trump fashion, publicised it enough to have its echo felt across.

©SantoshChaubey

Sunday, 4 December 2016

EXECUTED MAN PROVEN INNOCENT AFTER 21 YEARS: JUDICIARY’S TRIUMPH OR CHINESE PROPAGANDA?

Here it is a bit modified.

In China’s Hebei province, a man convicted and executed for rape and murder of a woman in 1995 has been found innocent 21 years after his sentence was upheld.

China’s Supreme People’s Court has found that evidence in the case was never sufficient and gross miscarriage of justice was done in sending the man, Nie Shubin, to the gallows. The verdict by the apex court of China is being seen as historical in China as its state run media is vigorously reporting about it.

IRONICAL OR HISTORICAL?

A man was arrested in 2005 in rape and murder cases of some women and during the interrogation, he revealed that the crime for which Nie Shubin was executed was in fact committed by him. That man was also executed in 2007.

That means Nie Shubin’s innocence was proven way back in 2005 and as China’s apex court decided to review the Nie Shubin’s verdict in the light of the 2005 revelation only, who will account for the unacceptable delay of 11 years since 2005? Nie’s mother Zhang Huanzhi and his family has been campaigning hard since then.

What about closure for the family after it lost its son at the young age of 21? What about that mother who broke in China’s Supreme People’s Court when the verdict was read out?

judicial independence in China

Global Times, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) writes, “It is an implementation of rule of law and a demonstration of social progress and judicial justice, showing that China attaches great importance to human rights.”

‘China attaches great importance to human rights’ - but incarcerates the voices of dissent. Its most notable contemporary example is Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Peace Nobel Laureate who is still in jail as he has called for political reforms and an end to single party rule in China.   

When we see the world view about independence and transparency of the judicial system in China, this verdict that is being much touted by the Chinese state machinery, looks ironical.

The report on judicial independence in China from the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China says, “China's judiciary continues to be subject to a variety of internal and external controls that significantly limit its ability to engage in independent decisionmaking.”

Another report in Huffington Post analyzing judicial independence in China says, “In China, law is a mechanism for the exercise and safeguard of the Party’s power and legitimacy.”

China will dismiss them as the US propaganda but what should we say when voices from China's judiciary oppose any reform measure based on the universal norms of human rights.

According to a report in The Guardian last year “China’s top court urged officials from the ruling Communist party to shun western-style judicial independence and reject “erroneous western thought”. Bizarre!

The Huffington Post report says that former President of the Supreme People’s Court, Xiao Yang, had said in 2007 that “the power of the courts to adjudicate independently doesn’t mean at all independence from the Party (CPC). It is the opposite, the embodiment of a high degree of responsibility vis-à-vis Party undertakings.”

China’s judiciary is not seen as independent and it wants to maintain the status quo it seems. The world view about the China’s judiciary is that it is subservient to the interests of the state and has been heavily compromised.

WHAT ABOUT THEN CASES LIKE NIE SHUBIN?

China, the world’s second largest economy and the most populous nation, is a closed country run by an autocratic party which never shares the information that can show it in some negative light, even if it is the basic need of a just society. It only highlights a matter when it serves its vast propaganda machinery.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has been declared only the third ‘core leader’ Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, has emerged as the strongest political leader in China's recent history. And he is on an image enhancement exercise with his ruthless anti-corruption purge that many say is targeted at purging voices critical of him. Allowing a judiciary that is independent enough to look pro people may be another extension of his outreach tools.

Much like Jinping’s anti-corruption crusade which has seen many high profile purges well publicized or this case as it also follows up a decision taken by the Communist Party of China during its Fourth Plenary Session in October 2014 to ‘set a new blueprint for rule of law', as another Global Times report on Nie Shubin’s case says.

Immediately after the October 2014 Plenary, the Chinese Supreme People’s Court took cognizance of Shubin’s case in December 2014 and assigned it to a provincial higher court, started its own retrial in June 2016 and came up with the verdict by December 2016.

Chinese courts boast a conviction rate of almost 100% and though China refuses to provide data, it is believed that its judicial system executes maximum number of people in the world. Corruption runs deep in China and then there is also the pressure from authorities to provide impressive data that looks clean on paper – a practice that results in forced confessions, almost non-existent defence in criminal trials and unjust verdicts like this in China’s criminal justice system.

In jurisprudence, it said that no innocent should ever suffer even if 10 guilty persons walk away. It will be interesting to know how the Chinese judicial system interprets this. 

©SantoshChaubey

Saturday, 3 December 2016

AFTER TRUMP’S TWEETS, CHINA REACTS CAUTIOUSLY ON HIS PHONE CONVERSATION WITH TAIWANESE PRESIDENT

Here it is a bit modified and extended.

Yesterday, the US President Elect Donald Trump spoke to the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who is ideologically opposed to the Chinese Communist Party’s ‘One China’ vision. It was a first for any US President or President Elect to speak to the Taiwanese President since 1979 when the US had closed its embassy in Taipei and severed its diplomatic ties recognizing the Mainland China as the sole Chinese voice.

Since the call was made public by the Taiwanese media and the Trump transition team, there was a growing global debate over it as China is vehemently opposed to any move that challenges its territorial sovereignty and always registers strong protests, be it the US arms sales to Taiwan or call for democratic voices in Hong Kong or the Dalai Lama’s global outreach efforts for Tibet’s sovereignty.

Initial reports did not make it clear that who called whom – whether it was Donald Trump who has promised to fundamentally shake up the political administration of the US – or the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen – until Donald Trump made it clear in a tweet that says, “the President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!”

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!
6:14 AM – 3 Dec 2016

Trump further clarified his act by saying that he didn’t see any wrong in accepting a congratulatory call from a country whom the US sells billions of dollars of military equipment.

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.
7:11 AM – 3 Dec 2016

It means Donald Trump may not have done it purposefully as was being widely speculated before his tweets and Trump speaking to the Taiwanese President may be a courtesy call only.

As expected, China’s initial reaction was a firm opposition, because international relations between the worlds’s biggest economic and military powers are always sensitive and here every act matters. People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, tweeted quoting Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that “China firmly opposes any official interaction or military contact between #US and #Taiwan.”

People’s Daily,China
‏@PDChina
China firmly opposes any official interaction or military contact between #US and #Taiwan: China MOFA, Fri
6:23 PM – 2 Dec 2016

But the latest reaction from Wang Yi, China’s Foreign Minister, indicates that China would like to treat the waters cautiously and would like to see the phone call by the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who is ideologically opposed to the Chinese Communist Party’s ‘One China’ vision, to Trump as a small trick giving Trump the benefit of doubt that he accepted the call out of courtesy.

People’s Daily,China
‏@PDChina
Taiwan’s small trick will not change one-China principle, the cornerstone of healthy #China-#US relations: Wang Yi responds to #Trump’s call
9:30 PM – 2 Dec 2016

On November 13, Chinese President Xi Jinping had called Donald Trump to congratulate on his victory pushing his point that ‘cooperation was the only correct’ way ahead for the countries. Responding to the call, a statement from the Trump transition team said that the leaders developed a ‘clear sense of mutual respect’ during the telephone conversation, “During the call, the leaders established a clear sense of mutual respect for one another, and President-elect Trump stated that he believes the two leaders will have one of the strongest relationships for both countries moving forward”.

Probably the muted Chinese response to an otherwise disturbing act from the Chinese point of view follows that ‘clear sense of mutual respect only’.

©SantoshChaubey

DONALD TRUMP DOES THE UNTHINKABLE, BREAKS FROM TRADITION, SPEAKS WITH TAIWANESE PRESIDENT

Here it is a bit modified and extended.

According to the news reports rapidly flooding the global media, the US President-elect Donald Trump has spoken with the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen over the telephone on Friday.

It is a departure of mammoth proportion from the established practice where it is believed that no US President or President-elect has ever spoken to a Taiwanese President ever since the US severed its diplomatic ties with the island nation in 1979.

China is bound to be furious over it as it considers Taiwan a part of its ‘One China’ vision and doesn’t take any move lightly that questions its right over the patches of territories it claims.

The world sees how China angrily reacts on Dalai Lama’s global outreach efforts for Tibet or when it issues stapled visa to Arunachal Pradesh residents in India as it considers Arunachal its own territory.

The Financial Times which first reported about the call wrote, “Although it is not clear if the Trump transition team intended the conversation to signal a broader change in US policy towards Taiwan, the call is likely to infuriate Beijing which regards the island as a renegade province.”

But in geopolitics, nothing is seen as by chance, as the Financial Times report further says, quoting Evan Medeiros, former Asia Director, White House National Security Council that ‘the Chinese leadership will see this as a highly provocative action, of historic proportions’.

According to a report in the New York Times, the White House was informed about the call only after it had happened. The report further says, quoting an Obama administration official that in past China had reacted bitterly on US arms sales to Taiwan.

Let us wait and see how China reacts this time.

©SantoshChaubey