China vs The World, the Flute and the Sudarshan Chakra

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Deng Xiao Peng, the architect of modern China, speaking at the special session of the United Nations on 10th April 1974, said:

“China is a socialist country, and a developing country as well. China belongs to the Third World. Consistently following Chairman Mao’s teachings, the Chinese Government and people firmly support all oppressed peoples and oppressed nations in their struggle to win or defend national independence, develop the national economy and oppose colonialism, imperialism and hegemonism. This is our bounden internationalist duty. China is not a superpower, nor will she ever seek to be one. What is a superpower? A superpower is an imperialist country which everywhere subjects other countries to its aggression, interference, control, subversion or plunder and strives for world hegemony. If capitalism is restored in a big socialist country, it will inevitably become a superpower. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which has been carried out in China in recent years, and the campaign of criticizing Lin Piao and Confucius now under way throughout China, are both aimed at preventing capitalist restoration and ensuring that socialist China will never change her colour and will always stand by the oppressed peoples and oppressed nations. If one day China should change her colour and turn into a superpower, if she too should play the tyrant in the world, and everywhere subject others to her bullying, aggression and exploitation, the people of the world should identify her as social-imperialism, expose it, oppose it and work together with the Chinese people to overthrow it”. (https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/deng-xiaoping/1974/04/10.htm)

Important words to think about given the positioning China in the World today.

President Xi Jin Ping, who has positioned himself in the same exalted status as Chairman Mao and Deng Xiao Peng, should be a worried leader and under serious pressure.

His traditional play book strategies are not working. The World leaders are not bowing down to his pressure tactics. The World citizens are willing to shun the Chinese products like never before. The carefully crafted image of the man and his machines is beginning to tarnish rapidly. China is left with their all-weather ally Pakistan and North Korea, both of whom will do as their master instructs.

Over the past year, there have been a series of challenges faced by the Chinese economy.

  1. Wuhan Virus (Kung Flu as per President Trump), that has created devastation in the World. No one knows how many people have died in China.
  2. The Chinese economy is in trouble partly because of the shut down and partly because of the anti-China sentiment among buyers around the World.
  3. Challenges within the CCP, specially after Xi’s “President for Life” amendment of their “constitution.”

The other significant piece of the equation is Xi’s dream project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which is the cornerstone of his policy of economic colonisation using debt as a major tool. Almost every country that signed up with China for the BRI has now found out that there is nothing in it for them. China’s cheque book diplomacy is facing serious resistance.

One major section of the BRI goes through Baluchistan (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), which is in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Therefore, rebels in Baluchistan and India will do whatever it takes to ensure that this CPEC project will not be allowed to be completed. This will hurt both China and Pakistan.

The most well accepted form of diverting attention, from time immemorial, is to start a war / create trouble with neighbours to draw attention away from internal problems, in the hope the nationalistic feelings will divert the attention of the citizens. This is what we are seeing happening with all 14 countries that have borders with China or with those that share international waters with China. From Bhutan (for an animal reserve) to Russia (for the entire Vladivostok region), from Mongolia to Japan, from Australia to Myanmar. China has reopened old issues everywhere.

All countries, affected by China, are now speaking up. South East Asian countries too, who have traditionally kept quiet, have now spoken up against China for the South China Seas.

India has had a long-standing dispute with China on our 3488 kms long border. The British had defined a border between India and Tibet in 1914 called the “McMahon Line” which is called the Line of Actual Control (LAC). After annexing Tibet, China refused to recognise this agreement. Therefore, China keeps claiming various parts of India including the entire North East of India (7 states of India) as their own.

In the past, Indian politicians supported by their able bureaucrats, for various reasons, did not challenge China but preferred to “let things lie” in the hope that somehow, good sense would prevail. They knew that China was incorrigible, but it is always easier to sweep uncomfortable situations under the carpet. This led to large land areas of India being taken over by China and now claimed as their own. India has supported Hong Kong and Taiwan at the UN and is asking for an investigation into the cause of the virus. It should be a matter of time before India raises the matter of the autonomy of Tibet.

With the recent clash on 15th June 2020 in the Galwan Valley, the Chinese had thought that they would keep “creeping” towards India like they had done in the past. Under Mr Modi, this was not only stopped but rebuffed as well. While 20 Indian soldiers were killed, I have heard senior officials that over 75 Chinese soldiers were killed by an enraged India Army who sought retribution after they saw their Commanding Officer killed. Stories of one Sikh soldier killing 12 people with his “kirpan” before being martyred are doing the rounds. This is how myths are born, and rightly so.

The Chinese are not used to being pushed back.

They have survived with their self-created myth of being the World’s largest and most powerful Army. Can an Army, which is probably being run by the power of the gun and Communist ideology battle against the World’s best trained Indian Army who treat their land as their mother and are willing to happily sacrifice their lives to defend it?

In the past, our politicians had tied the hands of the Indian Army behind their backs. Prime Minister Modi has given freedom to the Army to respond as they deem fit. Mr Modi’s comment in Ladakh, that India knows how to play Lord Krishna’s flute and knows how to use His Sudarshan Chakra clearly indicates the complete change in India’s foreign policy vis-à-vis China. Not only do we know how to make an aggressor dance to our tune, we also know how to use the deadliest weapons to protect ourselves.

It is interesting to see how most countries have come out in support of India. France has also offered to send their ground troops to support India! Russia is expediting the delivery of 21 MIG 29 and 12 Sukhoi aircraft as well as the World’s most advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile systems. USA has positioned 3 aircraft carriers in the waters around India to Japan and is expediting the despatch of helicopters on priority.

Opening up so many flanks at the same time is either a well-crafted strategy of President Xi or this could be regional satraps within China starting to flex their muscles independently. If the latter, then the World needs to worry. Whether this lead to the balkanisation of China, similar to USSR is anybody’s guess?

Are the days of President Xi numbered? Will he be given a face saving exit? Is there another group of ambitious and aggressive young leaders within the party who are plotting to claim the “Dragon Throne”, to give a different direction to the country?

Is it time for the leadership of China to go back to the prophetic words of Deng Xiao Peng and learn to live with the World instead of trying to control it?

Only time will tell.

*******************

The author is a CEO Coach, a Storyteller and an Angel Investor. He hosts the highly successful podcast titled The Brand Called You. A keen political observer and commentator, he is also the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies. He is the author of 6 best-selling books and writes for several online newspapers.

Watch and listen to our podcasts at www.tbcy.in | www.equationcoaching.com

Twitter: @gargashutosh

Instagram: ashutoshgarg56

Blog: ashutoshgargin.wordpress.com | ashutoshgarg56.blogspot.com

The “Paper” Dragon Dance

An old Chinese story titled “The Wolf of Zhongshan,” talks about a wolf which had been shot by a hunter. As it was running away injured, it met a kind-hearted person who saved the wolf from the hunter. After the hunter left, the wolf said to the kind-hearted person, “You have saved me. Now I am hungry. Since you have come this far helping me, let me eat you.”

Why has China, the second largest economy of the World, suddenly starting flex its muscles? Why are they opening so many flanks with so many countries simultaneously? There is an economic, political or territorial issue that has been raised with several countries, almost simultaneously. What does China hope to accomplish when its own economy has been ravaged by the Wuhan Virus?

From time immemorial, world leaders, under pressure because of a weak economy or a weak political position, have waved the flag of National Security and done sabre rattling to divert attention from their internal challenges. Are we seeing the same in China today?

Let us look at the challenges China is facing:

Credibility Challenge: China has a serious credibility issue with the rest of the World, reeling with the impact of the Corona pandemic. Political leaders around the World have started blaming China for not being transparent about the origin of this virus. What should worry China is that the average individual in each country is angry with China and the first reaction will come against “Made in China” goods. This is an emotional and a sentimental reaction and once deep-rooted, will be difficult to change in a short time. Calls to stop buying Chinese products and even to uninstall Chinese apps should be a cause for serious concern in China.

Diplomatic Challenge: When there is when there is pressure diplomacy normally comes to the rescue.

Chinese officials have been reacting with threats as can be seen in their stopping imports from Australia.

They have been threatening Taiwan and there is cause for worry in Taiwan in case China decides to unilaterally take military action.

The recent amendment of the National Security law to govern Hong Kong is another case in point.

Racist comments against African people in parts of China has resulted in a reaction from Africa.

Finally, the Chinese government officials are aware that US elections are round the corner and therefore understandably rhetoric will be high and loud. This is the time when they need to keep quiet and wait for the elections to be over. Instead Chinese officials are you issuing threats of retaliation to America when they comment or support Hong Kong or Taiwan.

Geographical and Territorial Challenge: China has always wanted to expand its boundaries by attempting to take over lands of other countries that it claims.

Gathering a number of military personnel on the border of India and raising territorial and boundary issues at this point of time is one more flank that China could have avoided opening. After encroaching into Indian territory, the Chinese found that unlike in the past, Indian political resolve was strong, and the Indian army pushed back. This resulted in some fisticuffs though no damage was done other than to the Chinese ego. Soon thereafter, the Chinese leadership started to wave the peace flag.

The Spratly Islands is a contentious issue in the South China Sea.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor that goes through Indian territory will be the first casualty.

The One Band One Road (OBOR) project has also become a question mark in most countries. Citizens of these countries were expecting large investments into their country, but they can see they will get nothing. China is sending its own equipment, its own people and its own material for these roads. Even the food their workers eat comes from China!

Economic Challenge: China has powered its way into every nation given its financial might and during this pandemic its companies, supported by State Institutions, are looking for cheap acquisition of lucrative companies around the World. This has been picked up my most countries and restrictions are being imposed to ensure that good companies are not sold because of the pandemic.

The financial cost of the virus to the World economy varies between US$ 5 trillion to US$ 9 trillion. Some countries are threatening to recover this from China. While it is unlikely that any compensation will ever be paid, the sentiment behind these claims is more important.

Most international companies in China are starting to evaluate how they will re-engineer their supply chains so that they are less dependent on manufacture of their products In China. This will have serious impact on China which relies on mass production.

China has launched a trial of digital yuan in Shenzhen, Suzhou and Chengdu, and the Xiong’an New Area. It will be interesting to see the reaction of the US Government as it will see this move as a threat to the US Dollar, the only global currency. The only other person who had challenged the US Dollar when he started trading oil in Euros was Saddam Hussain.

No one likes a bully, and no one likes to be threatened. Trade and commerce are always a two-way street. There could be trade imbalances between countries and these can be corrected. No country can stop buying from another and assume that there will not be a reaction from the other country.

China is powerful because the World started to buy its products putting money in the hands of the Chinese citizens thus powering their own economy. If the factory of the World stops selling its goods, the impact on the country is clear and obvious.

President Xi Jinping has asked his country “to make mental and material preparations for changes in the external environment that will last a relatively long period of time.” This could mean that China will be more aggressive and confront their challenges with retaliation rather than conciliation and cooperation.

Has China got caught up with its own hype of having a large economy (which is slowing down), of having a large well-fed and satisfied army (which could be reluctant to get into a fight) and an invincible leader (who could be facing serious challenges from within)?

Only time will tell.

*******************

The author is a CEO Coach, a Storyteller and an Angel Investor. He hosts the highly successful podcast titled The Brand Called You. A keen political observer and commentator, he is also the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies. He is the author of 6 best-selling books and writes for several online newspapers.

Watch and listen to our podcasts at www.tbcy.in | www.equationcoaching.com

Twitter: @gargashutosh

Instagram: ashutoshgarg56

Blog: ashutoshgargin.wordpress.com | ashutoshgarg56.blogspot.com

Corona Virus – The New Normal – Necessary, Essential, Desirable

200421 Corona Virus

Corona Virus or Covid 19 has become a part of our lives since the beginning of the new decade.

We have now reached day 28 of the nationwide lockdown and as most of us go through incredible amount of adjustments during the lock down, I am sure that most of us are also thinking about how our lives will need to change once the lock down has been lifted.

Every product or service in our lives will now need to be categorised into Necessary, Essential or Desirable.

  • Necessary will include food items and household items needed to sustain and maintain our lives.
  • Essential will be good to have services and products which could improve our lives.
  • Desirable will be products that are nice to have but those we can do without. Those that do not have any impact on improving our lives.

Everyone’s definition of necessary, essential and desirable will be different. These will be based on our unique perspectives of the needs of our families.

All of us will have our own prescriptions and our own ways of coping with the challenges that we have already faced but more importantly, are likely to face in the coming few months and years.

Much as people would like to believe that a cure or a vaccine is imminent, it is important to understand that the process of getting a new vaccine is very long. Once the first set of tests have been successful on animals, they need to be tested on human beings. Getting Government approvals on human beings is expedited but if this does not work, most Governments will stop the approvals and wait for “someone else” to take risks with their citizens. Even if the trials on human beings is successful, the time to commercialise a vaccine and make sufficient doses available for the World population is another challenge.

Most of us would have done a lot of introspection. We most certainly, would have appreciated the dramatic reduction in air pollution, clear skies, the last “blood moon”, dolphin sightings near Mumbai and the pristine waters of the river Ganga.

Given all the time we have been spending with our family and more importantly with ourselves, we have all had a chance to do a reality check of what is important in our lives. It is unlikely that most of us would have spent so much uninterrupted time with our families for such a long period of time.

We would have learned to give sufficient space to our family members in our homes. We would also have started to appreciate how easy it is for most of us spend time with ourselves.

Most of us would have also learned to do most of our work at home. While it is true that women have had to face the brunt of this lockdown in terms of the work to be done, all of us must have certainly understood what needs to be done at home and in our own ways, we must have started to help.

It is only when the lockdown is removed, will we begin to understand and evaluate the huge impact this would have had on our nation’s economy. Many people will lose their jobs, and many will see salary cuts. Almost everyone will not get an increment or a bonus. Our EMI’s, which have been deferred for a period of 3 months will need to be paid and there are likely to be serious defaults and repossessions.

What are the areas that will see an impact?

  1. Social distancing, a term we had not thought of a few months back is now a reality. We have all become conscious and will be very careful before going into large crowds. In our own ways, we would have started to establish communication boundaries with our neighbours and friends, and these will stay well into the foreseeable future. What social distancing will do to malls, theatres, sports and to melas is anybody’s guess.
  2. Focus on working from home will become much more viable. This will have an impact on office space, transportation and eating out. We have seen the ease of video conferencing. I have done my yoga classes and taken my flute lesson online and see no reason why this cannot be continued in the future.
  3. Home entertainment will increase as we have already seen. However advertising of products will reduce since people will not buy easily raising a question on economic viability of the programming.
  4. Most of us will start looking for deals in everything we shop for giving an opportunity to retailers to launch their “white label” products.
  5. Most people will start cutting back on non-essential items. Purchase decisions for non-essential items will be deferred for as long as possible.
  6. Travel will change completely. People will be careful about getting into aircrafts and cruise ships will struggle to find passengers. This will have a serious impact on tourism, and everyone associated with this sector.
  7. Luxury items will see very serious demand curtailment.

While I do hope that we will be able to get back to the pre-Corona days, it is increasingly looking more and more difficult.

Over a period of time Corona will become another kind of annual ailment. Not very different from cough, cold or influenza. Till all of us build the required immunity, we need to practice social distancing and stay safe.

We have to adjust to the new normal and we have to accept the new reality fast. The time to indulge in wishful thinking is over.

The most common question we will ask ourselves before taking any decision, be it necessary, essential or desirable, will probably be,

“Do I really need this?”

*******************

The author is a CEO Coach, a Storyteller and an Angel Investor. He hosts the highly successful podcast titled The Brand Called You. A keen political observer and commentator, he is also the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies. He is the author of 6 best-selling books and writes for several online newspapers.

Watch and listen to our podcasts at www.tbcy.in | www.equationcoaching.com

  • Twitter: @gargashutosh
  • Instagram: ashutoshgarg56
  • Blog: ashutoshgargin.wordpress.com | ashutoshgarg56.blogspot.com

Delhi Elections 2020 - A time for introspection for BJP

200211 Delhi Elections

One more loss in Delhi and it is certainly time for the BJP leadership to do some serious introspection on why, after such a sweeping win in the Lok Sabha elections in mid-2019, they have not received the same support at State elections.

It is worth thinking about why the electorate has changed its mind in less than a year. The BJP leadership at the State level in Delhi should do some serious introspection and compare the results of 2015 and 2020 elections. After an incredible Lok Sabha victory in 2014, they lost badly in 2015. The story is no different between 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the 2020 Delhi State elections.

Clearly, the electorate knows their mind and they know what they want from their politicians at the National level and at the State level. Yes, the people have huge expectations from the Prime Minister and his team for the country. They have similar expectations from their local leaders but in matters that affect their daily lives.

They want the infrastructure in their community and town to be as they expect. They want their local politician to address and resolve these challenges. Mr Kejriwal and his party did a lot of work for Delhi in the past 5 years and this did not go unnoticed. Running down or challenging achievements in education and healthcare was a poor strategy of the BJP. The electorate did not believe the BJP leaders.

Let us look at some reasons why the BJP is consistently losing elections in most States.

National Issues are different from State Issue. National Security is critical, and every step taken by the Prime Minister has been supported and applauded by the people. At the state elections, the people do not want to hear about Pakistan bashing or the achievements of the country in the international arena.

Matters like Section 370, Section 35A are important for the Nation. However, these are not for discussion at the state level.

State Politicians need to deliver. The central government needs the support of the states. Politicians at the state need to deliver to their constituents. The BJP leadership at the state level must learn to win elections on its own and stop relying only on the senior most leaders. State politicians are fighting for the assembly elections and not for the Lok Sabha. Therefore, they need to depend on their work and not that of the Central Government. They state leaders must work to strengthen the hands of the Prime Minister and not constantly look for a free ride. They should bring in the big guns for support and not to win the election.

If they want good health and good education, is this unreasonable? If they want a pollution free Delhi, they expect work to be done. If the electorate wants free electricity and free water so be it.

The electorate understands the capabilities of the Prime Minister and his team. However, when they hear their local leaders wax eloquent on national issues without bothering to talk of local issues, they know these politicians are simply not delivering what is expected of them.

Alliance Partners of the NDA must be taken into confidence in every election even if it means that the BJP has to lose a battle to win the war. The alliance partners know that the BJP is a strong party and yet they also know that they play a vital role in BJP’s plans at the State level. Alienating alliance partner just before State Elections can never be a wise strategy and this normally starts with the bravado of the local State level leaders of the BJP.

Unless the BJP can carry its partners, they will continue to bite the dust as is evident from Maharashtra.

Loudmouths of the BJP need to be told to shut up before every election. The people are tired of the unnecessary rhetoric from some BJP leaders. They need to be told to stay quiet if they do not have anything constructive to say. Negative statements are not supported by anyone (though the politician who makes such statements may get some applause from the community they are addressing).

Abusive language is not respected by anyone in India. Why do junior BJP politicians not see and learn from the dignity of their senior leaders? Such loud mouths do more harm than good to BJP’s campaign.

BJP’s Communication must improve. Traditionally, the communication of the BJP has been very poor. The spokespersons are the same for national issues and state issues who keep pushing the national agenda in all debates without understanding the challenges. If the discussion is about the State elections, the BJP spokespersons will try and manoeuvre the debate to a national issue. BJP needs a separate set of leaders who will address National issues and State issues. The BJP cannot have the same set of spokespersons on every channel on every issue.

Citizens Amendment Act has been cleverly morphed into the National Population Register and the National Register of Citizens and the BJP has not been able to communicate the difference clearly. Varying comments from Central Leadership is also being used very effectively by the opposition leaders who have very successfully managed to confuse the masses.

For the moment, the BJP can take some comfort from the fact that their vote share has increased in the Delhi elections but unless they change fast, the next round of State elections will have a similar sad story for the BJP.

The Prime Minister spoke of the report card of his Government during the Lok Sabha elections and he was given a resounding mandate. What applies at the Centre applies equally at the State.

The BJP State leaders must show their report card and not that of the Prime Minister and that of the BJP Government at the Centre.

Unless the BJP is in power in States, they will find it increasingly difficult to implement their plans and policies.

The harsh truth is that no one remembers who came second.

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The author is a CEO Coach, a Storyteller and an Angel Investor. He hosts the highly successful podcast titled The Brand Called You. A keen political observer and commentator, he is also the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies. He is the author of 6 best-selling books and writes for several online newspapers.

Watch and listen to our podcasts at www.tbcy.in | www.equationcoaching.com

  • Twitter: @gargashutosh
  • Instagram: ashutoshgarg56
  • Blog: ashutoshgargin.wordpress.com | ashutoshgarg56.blogspot.com

11 New Year Resolutions for Senior Citizens!

161117 12 Point Plan for Retirement – Compressed

The New Year is around the corner and it is time for thinking of those resolutions again! Whether you resolve to be fitter and healthier, connect more socially or to tick off some points on your bucket list, this is a time to take stock of the year gone by and to think of the year ahead.

Given below are some thoughts and you could consider adding some or all to your list of New Year resolutions.

Eat better for your Health

Take your health into your hands. Change your eating pattern. Take baby steps toward eating right. After all, if you have been careless with your food habits, you cannot change these overnight.

Less fats, more fibre with a healthier mix of fruits, vegetables and nuts is always advisable for most people. As seniors, it becomes even more important and relevant for us to regulate our diet. Eat smaller meals more often. Most experts recommend eating 5 times a day but with reduced quantities. As some wise people say “stop eating just before you are full!” Others say that at least half of your plate should be fruits and vegetable.

Add a mix of vitamins and supplements to your diet to balance what you are not receiving through your normal diet.

Remember that eating better is the only answer to reducing your weight.

Find a New, Healthy Activity

As we get older, whether or not we have been active earlier, now it is much more important to be active. Build exercise or yoga into your daily routine. A round of tennis or golf, a brisk walk for at least 30 minutes every day (150 minutes per week of walking is the minimum recommended), yogic breathing exercises, swimming or cycling would be great to get into your daily schedule.

I have met several seniors who have started running and competing with people of their own age. In the process of staying fit, they have also found a whole new community of like-minded and passionate friends. It is best to experiment and find the right activity for your personality and activity level.

Complete some points in your Bucket List

Give yourself a break. You have earned this. Over the years, all of us have been adding to our bucket list. This list has kept getting longer since we were not able to find the time during our work life.

Resolve to tick off at least two significant items on your bucket list in the coming year.

Connect More with Friends and Family

Re-establish old connections that you lost while you were busy at work. Don’t wait for someone else to take the first step. Once start to reach out to your family and friends, you will be surprised at how much warmth you will receive.

Weekly lunches or coffee mornings with a group of friends, WhatsApp or Skype calls with your family members spread across the World are great ways of re-connecting. Time spent talking and laughing with those that mean the most is time well spent.

Reduce your belongings

Resolve to clean out your closets and your home. Think of the difference between “want” and “need” before you start this exercise. Keep things you need and give away those you want. This may sound philosophical but try and give away whatever you have not used for the past one year. Your challenge will always be “what if” you suddenly need the item again. If you decide to give it away, keep this as an active resolution till the next year and then assess whether you felt the need for the item(s) you gave away. Chances are that you will never miss these items.

In addition, this will start a process of de-cluttering your belongings and clearing up your home over a period of time.

Brush Up on New Technology

Technology, as you are well aware, is changing our World. If you have not already understood the many forms of communication and connection through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and so many others it is time to do so now. Get familiar with the operating systems of your phones and other devices. Learn and understand these platforms since more and more of our lives will revolve around applications being developed on such platforms and around such communication medium.

To brush-up your own knowledge and skills, there are on-line tutorials for every possible question that you may have. You can also request a younger person at home or in your neighbourhood to tutor you.

Tell Your Story

You have had a wonderful and fulfilling life and now is the time to tell your story. Write your blog and publish it on a daily or weekly basis. Think of all the anecdotes in your life and write about these. Think of the milestones in your career and the time you spent as a child and record these. Think of your parents and your extended family and store these memories carefully in writing.

If you are not comfortable with writing out your blogs, dictate these into your mobile phone. Most phones now have the feature of “voice to text” which should quickly convert your voice recording. If this too does not work, send the recording to anyone who will transcribe it for a very small fees. A dictated blog will also preserve your voice for posterity.

Not only will this record your own memories and thoughts, this could also become a record of your family history for the future generations.

Give your brain a workout

The more you exercise your brain, like your body, the stronger it will be. Remember that diseases of the brain like Dementia and Alzheimer’s are increasing.

Read more and beyond your daily newspaper. Join or start discussion groups on subjects that interest you. Try Sudoko, Chess, QuizUp or Scrabble. All these games are available free on your smart phone. Play online with people you do not know and compete with the best. Nothing prevents you from becoming the best in the region or for that matter in the World, using your brain and not brawn power.

Once you take the lead you will find lots of followers who want to play with you but were hesitant to take the lead.

Remove negativity and anxiety from your life

Life is too short and at our stage in life, we are already on the “back nine” of a round of golf! Now is the time to remove all the negativity we have carried inside us about family, friends and the World in general. All this negativity is only hurting ourselves.

If you are feeling anxious about someone or something, speak about it to your family and friends. Bottling this up inside you will only make it more challenging to deal with.

Resolve to celebrate the little joys that you will have and don’t hold back.

Get enough sleep

Most people seem to believe in a myth that as you get older you need lesser sleep. Nothing is farther away from the truth. If you are sleeping late or getting up very early, stay in bed longer than you normally would have and soon you will be sleeping longer and waking up much more rested. Avoid your daytime nap in the early days till your night time sleeping pattern becomes normal. Then you can easily go back to your power siesta as well!

Get regular medical check-ups

Monitor, manage and record your blood pressure, your blood sugar and your weight in a regular systematic manner. If you don’t have any of these challenges, consider yourself blessed. It is necessary for you to get annual medical check-ups done and if you did not get a checkup this year, resolve to undergo a comprehensive check up in the New Year.

Finally, as you celebrate during this festive season with your loved ones, raise a toast to the coming year, but with a smaller glass!

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The author is a Business and Executive Coach, a Storyteller and an Angel Investor. He hosts the highly successful podcast titled The Brand Called You. A keen political observer and commentator, he is also the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies. He is the author of 6 best-selling books and writes for several online newspapers.

Watch our podcasts at www.tbcy.in | www.equationcoaching.com

  • Twitter: @gargashutosh
  • Instagram: ashutoshgarg56
  • Blog: ashutoshgargin.wordpress.com | ashutoshgarg56.blogspot.com

10 Reasons why we must not vote for a Coalition Government

190401 Mahagathbandhan

Given the surge in popularity of the BJP in the run up to the elections, it is understandable that there would be concern amongst opposition leaders who are battling to save their dynasties and their relevance. What is more surprising are articles that have started to glorify coalitions where authors have started to hope for a coalition Government at the centre.

A coalition is defined as an act of union between a group of individuals who share a common set of values or a common vision. Political coalitions have adapted the meaning of coalition to mean a temporary alliance for combined action but still with a common set of goals for the larger good of their constituents.

In the forthcoming elections, the now defunct mahagathbandhan has a single point agenda of removing the BJP at the centre. That is it. Unlike earlier coalitions, this time that constituents of the mahagathbandhan have not even been able to come together with a common minimum programme. No one can agree on who will lead the coalition. They blatantly fight in the states and collaborate at the centre.

Coalition Governments around the World are always weaker and less decisive. Compromise and tolerance are the general dharma of most coalition Governments where adjustment and acceptance of parochial needs takes priority over national needs.

Let us examine the flaws of a coalition Government as is evident not just in India but around the World and then make our own assessment as we step out to vote.

  1. Federal Structure is compromised: Coalition Governments by their very definition is a group of small parties that come together because no single party can form the Government. This leads to the major challenge of who will lead. We have seen chief ministers by rotation so that personal agendas can be met. We must ensure that we do not allow personal regional party agendas to determine the path of our nation.
  1. Strong vs Lame Duck Prime Minister: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had famously remarked when asked about the telecom scams that he headed a coalition Government and was therefore unable to do anything. The leader has no option but to compromise when faced with a challenge that suits a single party but not the nation. Areas like GST, Bankruptcy Code, Social welfare schemes like Aadhar, Jan Dhan Yojana, Swachh Bharat, National Health scheme and others have been on the agenda of Government for the past 2 decades but could not be implemented because of coalition Governments.
  1. Constitution of India: The Constitution has stipulated that 100 areas can only be decided by Parliament and not by States; These include Defence, Foreign Policy, Common currency, judiciary, federal taxes, airlines and several others. Coalition Governments have vested interests on most of these matters. They need to make a change for their constituencies and they always figure out ways to bypass these areas.
  1. Fiscal prudence is compromised: In order to meet the vastly varying financial demands from its coalition partners, governments have been known to compromise of fiscal prudence. Regional and state requirements take precedence. It is common to see high rates of inflation and high fiscal deficits which lead to serious structural flaws in the national economy.
  1. Promises are made with no intention of meeting them: Voters need clear accountability so that they can ask their leaders to deliver on their poll promises. Coalition partners always have a credible excuse for not delivering on their promises. Corruption is also seen as an acceptable practice to meet the needs of various political parties who demand their pound of flesh. No one is accountable.
  1. Health and Education: State controlled subjects like Health and Education are a case in point. Everyone unanimously accepts that Health and Education need everyone’s focus. We can see the huge disparities that exist in states. Why do our politicians believe that all people are not equal, and some states have better health and education and others do not? The same applies to most other areas that have been handed over for governance at the State level.
  1. Personal agendas drive decision making: Given the 5-year duration of parliament and even shorter duration of coalition understandings, the political parties know that they have a short window to maximise financial gains for their respective groups. This is what we have seen in the UPA Government from 2004 to 2014 and nothing gives me confidence that the thinking will change if they come to power in 2019.
  1. Foreign policy: World politics is changing from a borderless world to a world that is beginning to draw borders again. Only strong countries with strong leaders will be able to carve out a place in this new World that will increasingly respect strong economies and strong defence capabilities. We have seen the criticism of Uri and Balakote. We can already hear rumblings of breaking away in Kashmir if any action is taken on article 370. A coalition government, by its very definition will always be weak and therefore will compromise the country’s interests in the national arena.
  1. Decision making slows down: Understandably, when there are dozens of individuals who believe that they can lead the nation better than others in the coalition, they have their own set of divergent views on every subject. Therefore, decision making on even the simplest of matters needs the support of everyone thus slowing down decision making.
  1. Any party can pull the plug: Coalition Governments are frail and always walking on thin ice, not knowing when cracks may appear. They are supported by a group of individuals who have no common ideology. The first step is to start making statements against the coalition, next is to sulk and the final step is to withdraw support thus ensuring that the house of cards will collapse. Several instances of Governments hanging in their or compromising their values have been seen and continue to be seen.

Can India afford to have a weak, unstable and selfish set of coalition leaders with their own personal and private agendas run this nation and fritter away all the significant gains we have seen in the past 5 years?

Remember the old line “Too many cooks spoil the broth?” Do we want to see musical chairs for the chair of the Prime Minister? Are we willing to see a new Prime Minister every 6 months?

Most Governments are elected with less than 40% votes. However, simple mathematics does not work. If two warring parties add up their votes in the previous elections, they will automatically assume that they will sweep the next polls. They also assume that their voter is gullible enough to vote for a combined party and forget all that has been said by their fearless leaders against one another in the past.

We need a single party that has the required 272 seats in Parliament. This will ensure that the leaders will not have to compromise on decision making that suits small regions and not necessarily the nation.

We need to vote with our heads and make sure that we vote for a single party with a strong leader that can help the millions of young people achieve their dreams.

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The author is an Executive Coach and an Angel Investor. A keen political observer and commentator, he is also the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies. He is the author of 6 best-selling books, The Brand Called You; Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye; The Buck Stops Here – Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur and The Buck Stops Here – My Journey from a Manager to an Entrepreneur. 

Watch our podcasts at https://www.equationcoaching.com/podcast 

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Chikungunya, Dengue – Are we prepared?

The inept handling of Encephalitis in Bihar is there for everyone to see. It is sad and appalling to see the apathy in our health care system.

The monsoons are around the corner.

Malaria, which was supposed to have almost disappeared from Delhi is back with a vengeance. Chikungunya is an emerging, mosquito-borne disease caused by an alphavirus, Chikungunya virus. The disease is transmitted predominantly by Aedes aegypti and Ae. Albopictus mosquitoes, the same species involved in the transmission of dengue.

Over the years, we have learned that Chikungunya results in high fever accompanied with severe debilitating pain, especially in joints.  Rashes can also be seen in severe cases. Weakness, dizziness, continuous vomiting leading to dehydration, very poor oral intake and bleeding are dangerous signs. We have been told that we must not let water collect anywhere and many people have been challaned because of their errant ways in managing water!

When confronted with an epidemic, politicians will blame bureaucrats who will blame the Municipal Corporation of Delhi who in turn will blame the politicians. Ministers will justify and find reasons on how this happens every year and happened under other Governments. TV anchors will scream at the top of their voices about accountability and newspapers will give these stories headlines, gradually relegating them to inside pages.

The poor patients will be left running from one hospital to another, crying for their loved ones.

The wonderful cycle of life will continue. Monsoons will retreat, water logging will dry up, hospitals will see lesser patients, the subject of ill patients will disappear from the news channels and hopefully, mosquito borne diseases will disappear for one more year. Everyone will heave a collective sigh of relief and as always happens in our country after every epidemic or emergency, the problem of this year would have been “managed” and given the short public memory, this year’s challenges would soon be forgotten.

Knee jerk reactions to a health scare seems to be the norm rather than the exception with us.

The monsoons, the mosquitos and the diseases come every year. We know that this problem recurs every year and will continue to recur in the years ahead till we are able to eradicate the disease. So why is it that we are not able to plan earlier and reduce the severity of the impact of these mosquito borne disease? Why don’t our Governments have a task force that will focus on planning for the coming year?

It would be fairly simple for the Government to take the following steps before the monsoons (though this may already be too late for this year):

  1. Identify and map the areas – Hopefully, after last years’ experience, the authorities would have mapped all the areas in our cities which they have identified as prone to collection of water. With proper planning, we can ensure that steps are taken to rectify all such areas well before the onset of the monsoons.
  1. Epidemiological evidence – Based on the records for the current year our health researchers would be aware of the strain of the virus and medication needed to handle this.
  1. Quick reporting of the outbreak is essential – this would mean setting up situation rooms / monitoring and evaluation centres in areas where we have seen the problem. These need to be manned and monitored with clear accountability and responsibility documents and communicated.
  1. Laboratories – These become a huge bottleneck every year. We should ensure that laboratories are identified and communication sent to the citizens. And of course, we need the tariffs for tests agreed and announced in advance.
  1. Feedback from laboratories needs to be collected on an hourly basis and analysed for course correction. Delays can prove to be fatal for some patients. The teams that should collect feedback should be ready now rather than hurriedly put together before the mosquitos strike.
  1. Funding for the epidemic needs to be set aside for all the actions that need to be taken now. Scrambling for budgets and ad hoc approvals is time consuming and unacceptable when the time lost can save lives of human beings.
  1. Hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and doctors should be identified and numbers and prices need to be widely advertised well before the outbreak.
  1. Education of the citizens is an ongoing matter and should become a part of the curriculum of schools rather than delay action till the problem strikes. Education should be in the areas of what to watch out for and where to report the disease. In addition, people need to be educated on making homes mosquito free; spraying all rooms with safe aerosols; using mosquito nets; covering water containers; drying water tanks, pets’ bowls and potted plant plates; not letting water stagnate and other such preventive steps.

Once a clearly documented plan is agreed and in place, getting it activated will be quick.

If Sri Lanka, one of the worst victims of malaria, can become malaria free, as certified by the World Health Organisation in September 2016, is it too difficult to hope that India too can reach levels of cleanliness where malaria and other mosquito borne diseases will no longer plague our citizens?

Finally, no mass health programme can work unless there is clear accountability established. No politician, bureaucrat or health worker can be permitted to throw up their hands and shrug their shoulders.

Health is a state subject, but citizenship of India is not.

Collaboration between the centre and the state is essential if epidemics need to be handled.

The blame game needs to stop immediately.

*******************

The author is an Executive Coach, a Storyteller and an Angel Investor. He hosts the highly successful podcast titled The Brand Called You. A keen political observer and commentator, he is also the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies. He is the author of 6 best-selling books and writes for several online newspapers. 

Watch our podcasts at www.tbcy.in | www.equationcoaching.com 

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Lessons from State Elections – Will the BJP Learn?

191224 BJP Political Map                                                                Courtesy: News18

One more election loss in Jharkhand after Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and barely scraping through in Haryana.

It seems that losing elections at the States has become a habit that the BJP is not being able to reverse. State leaders keep satisfying themselves by saying that they are the “largest party” in the state. Justifying performance with an increased or similar vote share is relevant only if you the victor otherwise it seems like “sour grapes”.

BJP state leaders must remember the old line “no one remembers who came second”.

Nothing is more brutal or painful than coming second in politics.

It will do well for the BJP leadership at the state level, while going through their “chintan baithaks” to analyse the reasons for consistently not making it past the winning post in the last several elections despite a resounding victory in the Lok Sabha elections.

Let us look at some of the reasons the BJP has been losing the plot in so many state elections.

Lok Sabha Elections are different from State Elections

The message that is coming through loud and clear after the various state elections is that the Indian voter has now become far more discerning than the politicians thought they were. The voters are willing to now recognise that they want leader a who addresses National issues at the Centre. However, they want a different leader who addresses their local issues, who can help to resolve their daily challenges. State chief ministers cannot keep talking about National Security issues, Pakistan, India’s international reputation or India’s large Foreign Exchange Reserves.

The Chief Ministers have to perform. Too much reliance is being placed on the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. Yes, they are leaders of the BJP, and their presence definitely boosts the party’s prospects. But their charisma can do very little with the voters if the state leadership is not performing. This evident from several sitting Chief Ministers of the BJP losing the elections.

At the end of the day we are back to who addresses the basic needs of the people which are simply – Roti, Kapda Aur Makaan. It is a pity that these 3 basic requirements have still not been met across the entire country after 72 years post-independence. This commitment to be delivered to the people no matter what it costs, irrespective of which party that maybe in power in a State.

Is Corruption Back in the States?

The voters have trusted the Prime Minister with his famous comment “na khaunga na khane dunga”. The voters trust him and know that he is absolutely clean. This is why they have reposed their trust with an unprecedented second term with a larger mandate.

While the BJP government at the centre is seen as the cleanest the country has seen for a very long time, the same story is clearly not being heard in the several States where the BJP has lost power in the last few elections. There is talk of corruption at states and the general comment is that the BJP government in the Sate is no different from earlier Congress or Regional Governments.

If corruption is back, then the election results should not be a surprise.

Anti-Incumbency

Anti-incumbency is always one of the reasons why parties lose elections. But when the loss is wiping out the significant games that the party has seen at the national level then the reason for the loss goes beyond anti-incumbency.

It would be interesting to analyse the performance of all the sitting MLA’s who have lost the elections. Have all these local leaders delivered on the promises they made to their constituencies in the previous elections? Have they remained in touch with their voters? Or did they, like most politicians, starting pontificating and blaming from their ivory towers once they were elected?

Only when their elected representatives are not performing will any voter take the decision to vote for someone else. This is the harsh reality and must be accepted by all.

The Opposition is Coming Together

Opposition parties are coming together and though their ideologies are completely different, most of them are willing to bury the hatchet, forget their diverse ideologies and come together on a single platform of defeating the BJP at all costs. They have realised that a united opposition could create the wedge they have been looking for to prise open the ranks of the BJP.

To all these parties, delivering on the promises made in the diverse manifestos of these parties is not relevant at this stage. These parties know that their differences will certainly become an issue in the next few years. However, they would have achieved their short-term objective of slowing the BJP juggernaut.

What this will do to governance in the States that are now being run by coalition Governments is yet to be seen. But that is another subject altogether.

Infighting in the BJP

Infighting in the BJP is clearly increasing.

It is a pity that State leaders, instead of working together are busy destroying their opponents. If this is happening at the top, then it is certainly percolating down the ranks.

Are these differences cropping up because the BJP has, indiscriminately admitted various opposition leaders who simply wanted to “jump ship” and join the rising star of the BJP? It would be interesting to see what happens when most of these leaders who had crossed over now look for opportunities to go back. Once they are back in their original party, they will become a thorn in the side of the BJP.

Or is it because, like the Congress and other opposition parties, BJP leaders have also become prima donnas? Are these BJP leaders also forgetting that they too are mere mortals who can be defeated if they don’t perform?

Clearly, the voter is turning away from the BJP not because they have changed loyalties to the other parties who they have rejected in the past. They are doing this because they are disappointed with the BJP leadership at the State. Unless this changes, the saffron colour from the map of India will keep reducing.

Can the BJP reinvent itself in the states as it has done at the centre fast enough for the forthcoming elections in Delhi, Bihar and West Bengal?

Will the voter see BJP as the party with a difference, with very different standards of ethics or will they see the party as just another party that can be tossed aside if they are not performing.

Only time will tell.

*******************

The author is a Business and Executive Coach, a Storyteller and an Angel Investor. He hosts the highly successful podcast titled The Brand Called You. A keen political observer and commentator, he is also the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies. He is the author of 6 best-selling books and writes for several online newspapers.

Watch our podcasts at www.tbcy.in | www.equationcoaching.com

  • Twitter: @gargashutosh
  • Instagram: ashutoshgarg56
  • Blog: ashutoshgargin.wordpress.com | ashutoshgarg56.blogspot.com