Earth Day celebration!

Once again we celebrate Earth Day and I am reminded of the time when his first five disciples questioned Buddha, on how they could confirm that he had indeed attained Nirvana, he touched the earth and said that this earth is my witness. Since then our world has not been the same as his teachings improved the lives of millions and showed us how we can live peacefully with nature.  I am happy to read that even today Earth Day draws on astronomical phenomena in a most ancient way – by using the vernal Equinox, the time when the Sun crosses the equator making the length of night and day equal in all parts of the Earth. Earth day is devoted to the preservation of the harmony in nature and yet draws upon the triumphs of technology, the measurement of time, and instantaneous communication through space. We celebrate Earth Day with the following anthem and ringing the Japanese Peace Bell at the UN. We pledge to live in equality and harmony with everything around us on our Earth..

 “Earth Anthem” by Abhay K

Our cosmic oasis, cosmic blue pearl
the most beautiful planet in the universe
all the continents and the oceans of the world
united we stand as flora and fauna
united we stand as species of one earth
black, brown, white, different colours
we are humans, the earth is our home.

Our cosmic oasis, cosmic blue pearl
the most beautiful planet in the universe
all the people and the nations of the world
all for one and one for all
united we unfurl the blue marble flag
black, brown, white, different colours
we are humans, the earth is our home.

The beauty of Earth Day is that we are no longer bound by man-made National boundaries or regions, we live on one warm blue planet, clinging on to precarious life, in a frigid universe. It is a celebration of life’s diversity, which nature allows in such abundance. We take time to understand what a miracle creation of life is and what we must do now, to preserve it for the future. The profundity of creation is reflected all around us on Earth and on this day, we cherish its diversity and its value. Some also play the following Anthem to the tune of Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’.

Earth Day Anthem:

Joyful joyful we adore our Earth in all its wonderment

Simple gifts of nature that all join into a paradise
Now we must resolve to protect her
Show her our love throughout all time
With our gentle hand and touch
We make our home a newborn world

As we all join in this celebration we can walk around and join other likeminded folks who treasure their time on this Earth. We may find some kindred spirits, who will be happy, to walk along with us today. We can develop a camaraderie to protect our environment and our way of life, and leave it unharmed, to our progeny. All Flora and Fauna must be allowed to bloom, and we must never destroy nature, but come together, to help it prosper. We have a responsibility to our Earth Mother who sustains us, that we provide back in ways, which will ease her burden. We cannot subsist on our own, but must live in a cohabitation life, with all other creatures. We sustain each other and grow stronger with each other. We are bound to find our rightful place on this Earth, as all its creatures live and die here. We may roam the universe, but this Earth will always be our home. We have to learn to celebrate Earth day and our biodiversity with a joy, that transcends our basic human nature of self preservation!

Modern State of our Union

Am exploring the State of our Modern Union, to celebrate human life which is fast approaching a digital world, of Big Brother episodes!

India:,

The writer of Business Sutra working towards the ultimate goal of a reasonable State, explains, “So you have the all-powerful God (the state), the commandment (the Constitution), and the prophet (the prime minister) who is supposed to lead the enslaved people to the Promised Land of development, prosperity and peace. The prophet’s power is supposed to be regulated by God’s archangels (opposition, bureaucracy, judiciary, army, and media)”. So currently we have Mr. Modi as the PM in India, who hob nobs with other Global leaders like Trump, Putin, May, Merkel on a regular basis. He still has a distance with Chairman Xi of China and his immediate State neighbor’s leaders, none of whom he truly gets along with, except tiny Bhutan. The BJP is a nationalist party and the policies of his government and a history of distrust in the sub-continent, do not make for very neighborly trade exchanges.  Unlike NAFTA between US and its neighbors which led to great prosperity, the sub-continent is carved by a colonial knife of differences in faith and opportunity. It is unable to become a global player in International Trade due to petty differences, which hold back development of open trade and borders, where it historically excelled for many millennia.

It feels like ‘Big Brother’ is coming to the Indian State, as it is pushed into modernity against its own free will, crying and bemoaning past freedoms. Adhaar card issuance is a tremendous feat, as it allows the government to track a majority of its households, into one system digitally. Artificial intelligence can now be used to do analytics on this huge database. Modi plans to use its power “to regulate human behavior, make people good through policies and taxation that would ensure there is fair distribution of wealth and power and a fair access to opportunities”. In this diabolic plot the leading Agency is planning to collect and pool data from central ministries and state governments into a central Big Data pool. This most intrusive gathering of its citizens data is aimed to aid more informed policy making (Real Big Brother is yet to come). “NITI Aayog is working on a plan to develop the National Data & Analytics Platform” which is going to look and feel a lot like Big Brother is watching you all the time.

Demonetization brought majority of the nation’s currency into its nationalized banks, effectively digitizing it and bringing it into the open economy. The E-Bills and GST has digitized the logistics and movements of goods and trade, across the nation and has augmented, existing digital tax collection. There are numerous employment and housing schemes under Mahatma Gandhi’s name and State and Central schemes which track rural workers and their income digitally. The ability of God to command the Hindu people, and to allow Modi to lead them to the Promised Land, seems just another digital election away.

CHINA:

With the anointing of the next Chairman Xi, the Chinese Politburo have declared him their prophet for the coming decades. This is the same Politburo which has led China on the path to be the greatest nation state, by building out magnificent National projects. Their central and state planning efforts have created one of the greatest growths in GDP, seen in modern times. They have risen from a regional sleepy economy, into one that will lead the world by the 2050’s, if its plans go well. The Chinese are getting richer and will continue to do so, in an autocratic communist State. The Mandarins in Beijing still track output, trade, population and social metrics in a very thorough and digitized manner. The great counting and enumeration that the Chinese have always been so great at, is now taking on a new meaning for its citizens. The State knows them better now, than what they know about their own State. A hegemonic China is now reaching across Asia, Africa and the world, to bring its public corporations and digital systems to the rest of the world.

Japan:

The Land of the Rising sun has discovered Abe as its prophet, and Abenomics is practised, across this digitally connected land.

USA:

President Trump has an 86% favorability rating amongst Republicans, in a recent poll on TV. The unleashing of Trade Wars by his administration, is like watching Disney roll out Star Wars Prequels or Sequels, as one is never sure which one is better. China (Trump vs Xi)  is going toe to toe in the global ring, in a tit for tat, by announcing more tariffs on more goods, as either side issues more retaliations. Nobody knows where it is going and even Wall Street is volatile and disturbed. For that matter most of the citizens do not know where their nation is going, due to the steady volatility in the turnover in Administrative leaders like Cohn, who advocated against this madness. The world is cheering the bold moves, but hoping cooler heads will prevail and it will all fizzle out, to become status quo in the end.

Russia:

The Russian elections have similarly extended the rule of their current prophet Putin. He rules with an iron fist over his domains, and occasionally aids in neighboring Crimea and Syria. His rule is despised by the West, but he plods on with the Great Russian proletariat on his back. He will carry them on his wide naked shoulders, to their promised land, and none may oppose him or else. Expulsion of Diplomats or more sanctions will not stop him from reaching out and doing his will, as this Bear can hibernate for long periods, and still come back stronger.

In conclusion I declare that the State of our union is strong. We have great leaders amongst our people, and I could go on and on extolling their virtues, to the high heavens. It is only the plight of the poorest of our poor, which stops me from bemoaning the sorry state, we are in. It is my reverent belief, that a time will come in our future, when we will all be alive and equal in faith, opportunity, happiness and humanity. Blessed are those who are in sorrow, as they will once again be happy. We have just started this journey and many more milestones are ahead of us. The reign of Man has just started and our blue planet is our only home, in the vast surrounding space. The universe awaits us and may we journey gloriously, and with us bring the greatest qualities, of compassion and peace. Our Cosmos still remains our final frontier, as the Promised Land. It is up to us to become free and live unto our potential. Let us seek out our glorious destiny, from this grim present.

 

IoT the new frontier

Some recent development shows that we can expect major advances in the Internet of Things (IoT), as major investments are being made in the field right now. SpaceX is deploying the Next set of satellites ordered by Iridium a communication player in IoT space and who wants to be a leader in the new technology. Using multiple polar orbit satellites, it hopes to cover the whole world and provide the next generation of services. By the time NEXT is fully deployed, at the end of 2018, it will include 75 satellites — 66 that are operational satellites and nine as on-orbit spares.

“All 10 new satellites have successfully communicated with the Iridium Satellite Network Operation Center and are preparing to begin testing,” the Iridium Corporation wrote in an update after the latest launch. Iridium promises better tracking than before, using L-band broadband service. L-band service is faster than the current service from satellite ground terminals. As NEXT becomes more powerful, this will generate all sorts of tracking information to benefit customers. For example, tracking shipping containers will increase delivery accuracy and security. Monitoring remote power lines from afar will reduce the time needed to check them in person, Matt Desch chief executive of Iridium said.

The reason why this is really important for the next stage of human development to take place, we will need this and even more infrastructure to track humanity and its activities. When IoT  development is augmented with sensors and actuators, the technology becomes an instance of the more general class of cyber-physical systems, which also encompasses technologies such as smart gridsvirtual power plantssmart homesintelligent transportation and smart cities. This will be a game changer as it will allow us to track and optimize major systems in logistics, energy and communications, on a scale not even imagined today. There is revolution about to happen in how we will live, work, communicate and travel in the future.

Looking in amazement at the launch of the Falcon 9 Rocket, as it took the latest 10 satellites into space I thought to myself “This a wonder and the awe of Space flight is now going to become a common sight, as nations across the globe start competing for this new race. Our Grandchildren will wonder why this is such a big deal to our generation. Their cyber-physical world will be very different from what we have today.”

My only wish is that the next generation’s times be filled with more compassion and happiness, than the world we live in today.  Hopefully as communication increases we can overcome our differences, and strive for the common good of humanity. As productivity and logistics improve, we should also expect to see a growing need, for everyone to come together. The world is going to be far better connected in the future and many things will become much easier to know. Humans will be able to live more closely with each other, by being constantly connected with the IoT. We have to learn to enjoy this new world and be happy,  as it is coming whether we like it or not.

Mass unemployment in developing nations

It is well known that in our 21st century there is currently huge mass unemployment in the less developed and developing economies. The more developed economies on the other hand have severe human capital shortage looming in their future, in Japan, Europe, China and the US. Due to this demographic divide between the have and the have nots, the future of a nation’s economy and civilization, may be thrown into peril. Currently there has been a huge urbanization in the developed economies, with mass movement of labor from the agricultural interior, to the large urban centers. World civilization lives and works in these new Mega urban clusters, formed by modern cities. Shanghai, Tokyo, Mumbai, New Delhi, London, Paris, Frankfurt, New York, Toronto, Mexico City, Brazil to name a few, have continued to grow bigger.

India has the greatest potential for mass unemployment, or mass growth on a scale, which can drive the world economy. The consensus from even Nobel Prize economists is, that India has to grow its Industrial base and urban centers, to provide employment to the million young people, who will join its workforce every month. This trend is likely to continue for a decade or more, as the young population enters its work force.  The new arrivals are just the tip of the iceberg, as there is a mass underemployment in its half a million villages. Most statistics indirectly say that almost 80% of the rural population, is engaged in “agriculture”.  This disguised unemployment leaves a vast labor force, available for taking up the new services, which the world will need.

Indian history does not show a goods exporting nation, but one of ideas and aspirations. The new Digital revolution suits India well, as a first mover, in the computer services industry. The Independent nation of 60 years, is finally throwing off its colonial past, and getting into its stride. There is resurgence of public works which will truly benefit its hinterland. More people are getting Highways, connecting their remote regions to the rest of the world, in this decade, than has happened in the history of the sub-continent. Similarly more people are getting electricity, sanitation, education, health services in the coming decade, than in the many decades since Independence. There is a remarkable will to overcome the past and leapfrog into a green future, and to provide services to its citizens,especially in its undeveloped areas.

On the other hand we have the economic sceptics, who question every move, and state that the implementation of truly global and far reaching reform, is beyond the capabilities of India’s people. They will plod on at their usual uneducated, undeveloped, unhealthy pace and the promise of a bright future will come, but not now, they claim. They question the competence of its democracy and the will of its public and private sector’s ability, to provide the productivity and investment needed, to provide employment at scale. They fear that a state of mass unemployment is coming, where lack of Industrial growth will hold back employment, and bring untold misery to its farmers and urban poor.

To all these naySayers I can only advise that it is time to read Indian history again. For most of human history till the 18th century, India had the highest GDP in the world. Whenever its people had a stable just and fair society, its people have prospered beyond expectations. The producer of Buddha,Ram, Krishna and the Vedas is a land steeped in time and evolution, of humans themselves. It has reinvented itself many times and still kept its culture and belief system intact. There is a secular society that has prospered in its diversity, from the time of the Greeks at tIndus. Chandragupta who was Alexander’s contemporary and ruled a huge empire left his throne, to seek salvation. His grandson Ashoka the Great renounced his prosperous empire, and started to serve humanity. His edicts and efforts spread Buddhism across the world.  The most dangerous ideas that promote all life, like non-violence, vegetarianism, salvation arose in these lands. These ideas and aspirations come only, after the basic human needs are met.

The service industries will be India’s savior, as our world moves into a new era of prosperity for all. The basic hypotheses is changing as the solution is no longer in Industry, but in the new world of communication and service. Industry is required and China, Germany and the US have mastered it, and other nations will also catch up; based on their investments, and needs. It is in the new world order of ideas, compassion, health and love that change will come. Once the basic needs are filled for the developing world, it is then that India will play its part. Whether it is in providing basic services or in art, music, philosophy and the striving for a higher life, India will have a role to play.  Its demographic dividend will become the world’s greatest asset, as the developed world will welcome Indian’s help, to become better. Currently only about 53% of India’s young people are employed, and the rest are a lotus bearing gift, which will open, when the light shines and the world opens its arms to welcome them. I say the Phillips curve shown above, is going to be severely tested in the future for the good or bad of humanity, based on what steps we take today. India is the diamond in the rough, getting ready to shine (at least it has the diamond cutters, to do so for the world)..

It is in the very nature of the capitalist mode of production to overwork some workers while keeping the rest as a reserve army of unemployed paupers.

Marx, Theory of Surplus Value

The Tolling bell

The Health Protection initiative announced in the latest Indian budget is planned to benefit nearly 10 crore families and 50 crore people (500 million), would be the world’s largest government-funded health protection programs when rolled out. Providing health to the poorest of the poor could dramatically reduce sickness and death, in a positive direction for its citizens. The increased build out of the Medical Facilities required for them, has been acknowledged for the first time, and a rudimentary plan to increase Hospitals, Medical Colleges and Private services for the people has been put in motion.

The new Indian budget also advocates a rise in allocation for infrastructure by 21% accompanied by broadening of corporate tax relaxation for Micro SMEs, a unique focus on generating livelihood creation in agriculture and rural sectors via new Operation Green is important. New incentives to enhance employment in labor intensive sectors of textile, leather and footwear, will ensure a stronger consumption and investment impetus in FY19. This could finally kick start the entrepreneurial spirit of millions and create jobs for the next decade. Improving agricultural income would create a rising spiral for consumption and production,

These measures help to ensure that the citizens of India at the lowest levels of society may finally rise out of dire poverty and helplessness. Each of them will now have a reason to seek a better life as health and happiness has been brought closer to them. Too long was caste and religious stratifications ruled the land. Now the measures are changing and becoming human. No longer is economic incentive based on religion, caste, and backward class distinction but on economic need and basic human dignity. When you are one of a billion then it is important for everyone to help take care of you with no divisions. Each citizen is prized and can be a productive member of society if given basic human inputs.

The economy can only grow when it is an inclusive economy of all classes. The Rich may have to pay a disproportionate share to raise standards for all, but it is an exercise worth doing. The final arbitrator will be the ability of this government to bring true reforms in labor, property, disinvestment and Banking and Insurance. To turn the State’s Public Sector behemoths into dividend declaring contributors to the economic growth will provide much needed relief. At the end of the day can this government truly implement the reforms and programs that it has announced or proposed will determine the common man’s vote. The next toll rests on how they perform for their constituents..

No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. -John Donne, poet (22 Jan 1573-1631)

FOMO and other phobias we suffer from

Fear has been the greatest force that evolution has unleashed, amongst all living beings and is wired deep into our brains. Despite all the advancements in humans the instant reaction to our environment, is automatically triggered in our reptilian brain, where the decision is made to fight or flee. It is only after that initial knee jerk reaction, that our logical brain takes over and analyses the situation, based on personal past experience and actual knowledge. The adrenaline surge and preparation of the body to fight or take evasive action, happens in milliseconds, and only then do the force of civilization and culture kick in. Unfortunately the truth is that we remain animals first, and only with a great effort rise to becoming humans.

FOMA or fear of missing out was just called by Bloomberg to be the driving force, behind the current and future S & P index rise to greater heights in 2018. It best describes the irrational exuberance which led to the Tulip craze, or Dot com rise, in the past, and the Bit Currency mania sweeping some up today. It is a fundamental force that takes hold of large areas of our populace, and creates an unnatural state of economic and financial bubbles, unsustainable by fundamental economics. Property and commodity booms and busts are similar in nature where by the time the ordinary investor gets in, he/she is just joining the others in the late cycle of a giant Ponzi scheme, which is bound to crash. I am not advocating we stay away from markets, but trying to make the case that they can be a potent tool, for long term human development if used correctly.

Our greatest inventions and achievements were driven by our survival instincts. Humans are inherently weak creatures and there are far hardier living species, who have survived successfully for millennia, even before the arrival of the great apes. Prometheus stealing the fire from the Gods is a great example of human fear, capturing and taming a destructive force, to aid its own survival. The evolution of tools though not unique to humans, has also been driven by fear, to overcome the adverse conditions that seem to overwhelm us, in nature. Modern cities are just an example of how fear pushed us to come together, for our common benefit. Religion and cultural norms are all a result of the paranoia and fear, which we all face when faced with complex phenomena which we cannot explain. Out of fear comes resolution and mental makeup, which helps us to not only survive but prosper in a new reality.

The Hindu sages debated for centuries on what is existence, what is reality, what is our state of knowing, what is life, what is death, what is our purpose, what is the creator, what is the culmination of desire, what is truth and finally what is reality? They distilled this wisdom in Sanskrit in the Vedic and Vedanta strutis memorized and passed down generation after generation.  While the names of the sages may be often lost, the wisdom still remains. A philosophy rose not based on the fear of the unknown, but on the myriad paths to overcome the unknowns. “Agni Miley Purohitam..” starts the first verse of the Rig Veda the oldest of the surviving strutis and talks about the taming of fire by the householder for greater good. In another example “Isa Vasayamidam Sarvam… “ The creator envelops everything and all our individual moments, are only part of the universal movement. By renouncing (the unreal) we can enjoy (the real), do not lust after another man’s possessions. In only 18 verses it lays out the relationship of the soul to our universe, and forces our eyes and mind to what is truth (eternal), and goads us to not stray into the world of untruth (transitory), which leads to fear, wrong karma (thoughts\actions)and braking of our dharma (rightful duty).

I admit it is a long way from obscure Sanskrit texts to the happenings on modern day Wall Street and the state of the human mind today. We have Fire and Fury and God on our side in multiple conflicts, and potential for far greater Fire and Fury if we stay on the current path. The Jewish, Christian, Muslim divide of the Judeo-Christian world, and the destructive Shia-Sunni divide, will not be resolved in our lifetimes. The Middle East burns and each new atrocity, fans the execution of another, more severe retaliation. The Buddhist are committing genocide against the Rohingyas in Myanmar, and the recent Hindu/Buddhist war in the Pearl in the Indian Ocean, is still healing. These are all the outcome of the stroking of fundamental fear amongst communities, bring out the worst in humans. Defenseless woman and children suffer the most, while men announce new victories every day.

My fear is that in the stock market or in society, if we are driven by the basest of emotions then our humanity will be lost. We have to go beyond the boom and bust of our stock markets, or the fear of an imminent nuclear Armageddon. The stock market and our society should be used to bring progress and peace to improve our health, happiness and living standards. We should harness the forces of progress to be funded and unleashed for the collective greater good, and release ourselves from our fears and phobias. We have been given a whole universe by the creator, and our petty squabbles and fears will keep us rooted to this earth, when we have a far greater future to look up to. We all have only one life to live and our end is certain. It is how we live this life that matters, and it will determine the fate of our progeny for eons to come.

When all’s said and done, all roads lead to the same end. So it’s not so much which road you take, as how you take it. -Charles de Lint, writer (b. 22 Dec 1951)

Solitude’s lifer

Marlboro Man and I were sitting next to the fire pit at the hotel in Moosic, PA. He was drinking Bud and I had Yuengling light as we sat there smoking our cigarettes, and I thought of him by his brand. I introduced myself and we got to talking. I asked him finally what he did, he looked at me with his blue eyes and denim jacket, and said he was laying a pipe. My interest peaked as we were sitting on a huge stretch of shale rock from recent geological research, where gas was just waiting to be tapped. I had read recently in Bloomberg that the new gas pipelines being built across this land, are a modern marvel. American ingenuity is at work as miles of terrain is cleared, for these new pipelines. John told me that he was indeed working on one of those pipe lines and I sat there amazed at this modern Marlboro man. He was no longer herding cattle but gas. This is the turning of the tide for these regions, as gas instead of coal is the future. Cheap shale gas will feed these giant pipelines. This in turn will make large modern cities possible, and make it possible for us humans, to enjoy a new energy boom.

We stayed over for a few weeks at the hotel and I would see him now and then, along with the rest of the crew; loading into two pickup trucks, early in the morning. They would assemble daily at the crack of dawn and would load all their gear and head out, in their work boots. They were a hard working crew and some of them would have a friendly beer at the fire pit, where the smokers and drinkers gathered in the evenings. They were carving a huge path through these mountains, blasting their way through granite rocks and other natural obstacles. The team was building the veins, of a future greening of America. Will the fracking crowd of drillers rise to be able to fill these huge demand of gas? “Hell yea, sure as the Pope is catholic,” reported Bloomberg. Modern Marlboro Man had seen the bounty of gas from the fracking boom, in his home district, and had gladly joined this band of red necks after high school.

The Petrochemical and energy field is changing fast, as the US emerges as the next generation producer. The rise of shale oil and gas is no longer considered a phenomena, but is now an accepted fact. There is boundless energy for another revolution, just waiting to be piped for human use. Three large new Petrochemical plants are being built in Huston, by foreign investors, who believe in the US and its world trade. They are counting on the supply of long term contracts for the gas they need, from the American hinterland. These pipelines being built now, will last for the next generation. The work of these teams of men would lead to a mature market, with predictable pricing, for this natural commodity. From a net importer the US is going to become, the largest exporter of oil gas and Petro Chemicals, once the new plants become operational. This is of course near the new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export terminals, from where the outflow of commodities and bulk petrochemicals made in the USA, will flood the world.

The ingenuity and planning of these teams is extremely good, as they were able to constantly overcome obstacles in their execution, of the construction design. They have an inane comradery and readiness, to try new methods, but not compromise safety, or environment standards. These pipeline will be laid and monitored and just get forgotten, not long after they are built. They will just become a part of the nation’s infrastructure like power lines or railroads, as gas becomes the energy of choice. In Lackawanna County the new power plant being built is all gas fired, and will help the county reduce its carbon footprint. They have also put up wind power but it is miniscule, when compared to the coal rich power plants. The new gas plant is designed for the future and is racing towards the pipeline completion timeline, I think. Two major projects showing a stubborn, “never say die” attitude amongst the Americans, in the forgotten interior of the America. It feels good to be back in Pennsylvania, and our Nittany Lions are headed back to the Fiesta Bowl, in this annual rites of Fall Football celebrations. .

It is strange to be in the land where oil was discovered, and witness the next shale revolution becoming mainstream. Nothing like this was even imagined just three decades ago, when I was last here. Since then Carter and the oil embargo and its disruption, changed American thinking on energy. My life has taken many turns and it is amazing that, I am back again in this land. The people here live hard lives and a brutal winter, is sure to arrive soon and Deja Vu about Mill towns dying a slow death is all around me in Scranton. They cheer on their State Team and Beaver Stadium is filled to capacity of over 106,000 for major games. The white and blue crowd bring alive the seats, as the cheerleaders goad the fans to frenzy and the lion rumbles on. There is an elemental joy in these college events, and such harmony and beauty thrilling for the beholder and a very strong community spirit here. The athletes come from such poor white Communities, throughout the state. The program makes them into great young men, who can go out and conquer the world.. The Alumni of Penn State are great givers and have kept many programs alive, for the needy around them. Will the renaissance in energy ever peter down to these people struggling in their everyday life? I am highly skeptical as the trickle down economics is going to flow sweetly through these pipes, and head right on out of here; into the giant multinational corporations, and disappear into their annual profits

John (modern marlboro man) and I saw some amazing sunsets and finished a few cases of beer, over our stay. We were alone in our thoughts most evenings, as others took the stage around the fire pit. As I have remarked some of them were great individuals, bring a color to drab evenings, with yarns of their past. This individual spirit is still alive and well in America and each one had his own tale to spin, around the gas flames in the pit. Sometimes the talk would turn to the loneliness of this existence, away from friends and family.  Then a wise crack would turn the talk to lighter moments, or spin tales of old ball games and summer joys with the family and friends. Then it was back to the lonely night in the hotel room, and the realization that I am all alone.

A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life. -R.K. Narayan, novelist (10 Oct 1906-2001)

The Great Game

“The Great Game is afoot,” Sherlock would have told Dr. Watson, being a master on world power, and the ways of men. The one who controls the “Stans” controls the world, is an old saying from my childhood. The British and Russian empires fought over them in their heyday, and now Russia and the US have fought for power in Afghanistan and the other states in these regions. India’s time has come and now it is seeking its rightful place, in its own backyard and with countries it has long cultural ties. Too long did its soldiers fight for the British empire and lose its economic might, to a foreign ruler. Now it’s time to redeem itself, in economic history, has finally arrived. For the best part of the last two millennia it had the largest GDP, and was a relatively rich nation, with wealthy citizens. Now it is a poor cousin, and till recently almost broke, with few foreign reserves.

“The International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) connecting Mumbai with St Petersburg and beyond – which has been 17 years in the making – is set to be operationalised from the middle of next month with the first consignment from India to Russia. India, Iran and Russia had in September 2000 signed the INSTC agreement to build a corridor to provide the shortest multi-model transportation route linking the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran and St Petersburg. INSTC has been expanded to include 11 new members – Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, Oman, Syria and Bulgaria (as observer),” as reported in the Economic Times.

This is not a small step and its timing is strategically significant in modern history. America and Europe have traditionally controlled political and economic world trade and China has emerged as an economic power now. Russia and Iran have lost their luster and India is still shaking off its half-naked fakir image. Indian democracy is finally maturing into a nation building, efficient government. The ease of business is slowly improving, and its credit rating has also inched up. Slowly it is emerging as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and has a long runway ahead of it. Its young population is aspiring to join the world citizenship, on an equal footing. This new road to prosperity is linked to its billion people, rising out of poverty, to make a new world order. The answer is open international trade, as was learnt from the success of NAFTA in the Americas, and the EU zone’s amazing growth over the years.

This collection of faded country names and forgotten players in the international game, may be the next economic wonders. The area has enough energy and other resources to bring prosperity for the next century. With Indian industry slowly coming into its own, massive projects can now be undertaken on a global scale, multilaterally. The plans for development in these regions, can bring great productivity and human improvement. The people have suffered enough and are now ready to become part of the community of nations. Equal rights and high aspirations driven from a rising democracy, has great power, as was witnessed, in the last two world wars. Military might can only come from economic might, and nations have often bankrupted themselves, in trying to achieve the first, without the second. The path to prosperity is only through more trade and the use of the best that any human, can bring to the market. Only legal, safe, open trade can make India great again, and this is a wonderful first step. Will the people of the “stans” now rise to the their rightful future, is a mystery, that even Sherlock will have to light his pipe and ponder!

Be Free

It is Friday night and the moon is mostly full, on this not so cold, winter night. The house is empty and quiet; once I turn off the PBS serial of Masterpiece Theater, which I am watching on the HDTV. At the end of the episode I rise and think of dessert. A ripe pear yellow and blushing red from the fridge, is ever so juicy and delicious. I follow it up with a scoop of butterscotch twirled Friendly’s extra rich and smooth Vanilla ice cream. This I top with a darkly intense chocolate, with blue berries and grapes, which adds a subtle, yet deep aroma and taste. I enjoy each bite and relish every single moment and intense flavor, as it stays on my tongue. My senses of touch, smell and taste are overwhelmed with a love for life. which only I, can experience!

I am not beholden to anyone or anything and on this night, I hold my head high and think from my life force and meditate on reality.This is the supreme existence, the sages talked about, but we ignored them, in our modern urgency. We have to slow down, to speed up, as the saying goes. Soon I am so inside myself, that I explode into eternity. This moment is stitched in the space and time continuum, and I rest in peace in a turbulent universe. What if I never existed would I have had this moment, or is this moment the cause of my existence? No one answers, as everything is only me, and I make myself to be free. There are no questions, where I have arrived..

I put away the dishes and wipe the counter clean, suddenly a very content man. My life force is still strong, yet it does not have the recklessness of youth, or the doubts, of our early attempts at life. Now I am alone in my strength and all else exists for me. I do not serve anyone and nobody serves me tonight. We have become free at last in the long history of humankind, as now we have the means to be truly independent. It is sadly an independence of decadence and extravagance of modern life, and no longer the sparse, simple garb of the ancient yogis.

The week end approaches and the choices are multiplied, if one only opens a travel site and looks for deals. We can go anywhere in days and enjoy exotic food and locations, if we so wish, at a few hours’ notice. We have become slaves of our daily habits rather than the fearless travelers and nomads, we used to be. At the end of the day I would rather live alone and not serve or be served; to enjoy the proverbial, thousand years of solitude. There is a dignity in becoming self-sufficient, but not all of us achieve this. We remain mired in our desires, fanned by our senses and memories, to enjoy the fruits of our labor.  The cycle of slavery perpetuates itself in us, as we become dependent on others, for our own happiness. This co-dependency only adds to our attachments and we can never break out, and be free.

“Here lives a free man. Nobody serves him.” -Albert Camus, writer, philosopher, Nobel laureate (7 Nov 1913-1960)

Syrian peace hopes!

Mr. Putin embraced President Assad of Syria, before talking to President Trump for an hour, to come up with a peace settlement in Syria. It will be an important step in stabilizing the overly volatile Middle East, of recent memory. The whole region and North Africa, has gone through repeated wars and coups and there has been too much destruction in major cities like Raqqa and others. Millions of refugees have been created, which are a heavy burden, on host countries. It is time to try and return normalcy and growth, which can only come from a lasting peace. Old leaders and new thoughts can lead to a long term solution, to a region’s problems. Let us work for a future which brings a sensible peace.