Saturday, November 19, 2016

An appeal to fellow Indians

I am appalled at the negativity that is doing the rounds - in the social media, the mainstream media, the polity, and yes, even in the judiciary.

A few educated souls are complaining about the long queues outside the banks and ATMs. About how they really care of human life, and how people have died because of this " draconian demonetization" move. A few "more" educated people have promptly pronounced this as a stupid move, while giving no solutions on better ways to handle the menace of countefeiting, terrorism and conversion funding,  and of course, black money.

This polemic of "long queues" , is empty space. Nothing more. These are painful times, for the common man. Make no mistake about it. Unfortunate, unavoidable. But collateral damage caused by years of condoning and, I dare say, abetting black money and corruption.

Almost all of us, including yours truly,  are guilty. Guilty of either looking the other way, when dishonest things were happening to us or around us. Or, sometimes even hide behind the excuse " but I am helpless, as an individual, to stop it, so I am going with it". Put your hand on your heart, and say openly that not once in your life have you come across a situation where bribery and black money have impacted your transactions, directly or indirectly, or whenever they did, you DID something about, other than meekly voicing your protest.

Let us admit it. People were, willy nilly, party to black money, corruption, and in some rare cases, involving directly or indirectly, in activities that may have harmed the nation in some way. You, me, and everyone who stands in those long queues today, and bemoans the " ordeals" of today's long queues.

Our conscience did not prick us then. But our legs hurt now, do they?

If we managed to duck our inner calling then, it is only fair that we put up with this pain now, however hard it may feel.

Time for us to make amends, folks. This government has decisively moved against the malaises affecting the economy. Until we get any indication to the contrary, we need to stand by the government's efforts to weed out these ills, however hard they may be. Think of today's pains as the Karma of condoning improper activities, now coming back to haunt us. Bear with it. Until the pain subsides.

And subside, it will. In the meantime, rather than resorting to empty rhetorics like " I knew this would fail", " look at the misery of the common man", " I declare this as a stupid move", " I declare this as a solemn failure", or throw empty statistics that carry no real meaning, you can do the following, if you have the wherewithal.

1. Volunteer work in the bank queues, to help people. To fill in forms. I inform people who are groping for information. To help bank staff in mundane work, wherever the management allows. I know some of my friends are already doing that.

2. Avoid hoarding of cash, more than what ie really necessary. The govt has clarified that there is no cash crunch or any run on the banks.

3. Stop spreading negative messages and jokes that are supposedly inteneded to lighten things up, but end up spreading negativity, and sow seeds of doubt, in the mind of the unsuspecting common man.

4. Progressively go plastic. And help others do that too, by sharing your views, and suggestions , on the benefits. To your vegetable vendor, your watchman, your driver... or whoever you think may need it.

If you think you cannot do any of that and maybe more, then the best you can do, is to stop whining. You did not dare to do anything about the wrongdoings going around you, then. You preferred to keep shut. Please continue with it now, as well. Let the government do it's job of cleansing.

Monday, November 14, 2016

My brand of Patriotism

Full throat, at the cricket stadium
Cheering my team India for a win
I wave the Tricolour in full fervour
Want India to triumph, through or thin.

Full throat, I shout at the Bank employee
Demanding that I get serviced instantly
I curse the government, in full fury
Can't status quo be restored, I ask insolently.

All pumped up, I stand in scorching sun
Waiting patiently for my turn at the box office
For Kabali, anything goes, anything can wait
Trudge in the serpentine queue, too, is sheer gait.

All charged up, I stand in the scorching sun
Waiting impatiently for my turn at the ATM
In TV, my show is starting now, nothing can wait
To hell with demonetization, get this straight.

Atop the Al Burj and Empire State Building
The tricolour beams in all glory, on Independence Day
My forty inches chest expands in no time, to fifty six
My patriotism hunger just got an instant fix.

The hapless bank employee toils away tirelessly
For him, the working day meanders endlessly
The man behind all this ordeal, has a chest of fifty six
Patriotism be damned, can no one make him a nix?

nix= a quantity of no importance

Friday, November 11, 2016

RaGa at an ATM

I join the serpentine queue
In Parliament House, for true
The lone ATM beckoned me there
Photo-opp was on offer, fair and square.

Two hours of artificial smile, and"clean Delhi Air"
Flashing cameras, waving hands, here and there
The day seemed way too long, to end
I need a Thai massage full, to make amend

As I guffawed in frustration, the end was nigh
I neared the ATM, with a deep relieving sigh
Inserted my card, keyed in my PIN
Hoping to end the day, with a win

But, pronto! Out came my ATM card
Suddenly something seemed seriously flawed
On the ATM , flashed a message, impromptu
"That PIN was your Swiss Bank Account, Buddhu!"

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Delhi and Pollution

The Delhi Government, for once, has taken action on war-footing, to tackle the pollution threat, which now appears bigger than the dangers to Kejri's position from the Lt Governor.

In their press release, the Govt has listed 8 amazingly effective tools to tackle pollution. In their hurry to run and execute these actions on the ground, they may have forgotten to give the complete picture. I thought I should help them by adding these (imaginary) supplements to each action.

1. All Delhi schools will remain shut for the next 3 days.

       - It may be noted that children not going to the schools, but playing in the open for these three, will put them at lesser risk of pollution-related illnesses, as advised by the eminent research scholars of the JNU. It will also improve the children's body resistance automatically, so that they don't have to go through the Modi-imposed World Yoga Day next year.

2. For the next 5 days, no construction and demolition work will take place in Delhi.
      - The Government hereby decides that their policy of " no constructive work" , over the last one and half years, shall be extended to " no construction work". However, as for demolition work, it may be noted that terrorist groups shall be exempt, and can their regular demolition jobs with the same vigour as always, aided by the local media and liberals.

3. All diesel generator sets have been banned for the next 10 days, except at hospitals and in emergencies.

      - No gensets. And the Delhi Government is unable to provide uninterrupted power either, as always, because " Evil Modi" is the root cause. So, people should stop working ( in all forms), and instead consider breathing itself as work. This is the Delhi Government's way of "breathing life" into the Delhi economy, as advised by the eminent economist Dr. Amartya Sen. Dust up your dadi's wick lamps.

4. The Delhi government will supply power to unauthorized colonies which use diesel generators.

       - In that process, the Government shall ensure that authorized colonies will not get their quota of power. Tough luck, Lutyens' Delhi! The slums of Pahargunj and Sangam Vihar need it more.

5. The Badarpur power plant will be shut down for 10 days. There will be no fly ash transportation from the power plant.

       - All the fly ash will, instead be used to build a huge wall around the power plant and no one can see it anymore, so that later on, if someone says " the power plant is the culprit", the government can conveniently ask " where is the power plant? We don't see it. We get our power from our friendly neighbour Pakistan, since evil Modi has declined to provide power " .  " But we can see smoke billowing" ..  " well, have you not heard of there being no smoke without fire? This smoke is caused by fire, but not a power plant".

6. The Environment department will launch an app to monitor the burning of leaves.

       - The App will not cover the Jessica-Lal type burning of human bodies in restaurant chulas. 

7. Vacuum cleaning of roads will start from November 10.

       - Latest update is that the Government has decided to retain status quo, when ti comes to cleaning of roads. In other words, there will not be any cleaning, anyway.

8. Water sprinkling will start on all roads from tomorrow.
      - We will import the water from China, since evil neighbours Haryana and UP have declined to allow water to us. If that is not feasible, we will use the filthy water from the biggest gutter that is running across the city, called the Yamuna, to do the job. It does not matter if people die of asphyxiation from stench of the Yamuna. The pollution is more important than the stench and the epidemics.


Once this emergency passes, the Delhi Government will resort to Business as usual. Which is :

1. Do nothing about anything.

2. Flood Twitter with messages of how the Lt. Governor. 
3. Step 1 above

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Jokes on AG's quitting Times Now

  1. Let us sit down, and make two minutes of noise of the highest decibel levels, as a mark of respect for AG. That is the best respect we can show him.
  2. Now that AG has quit Time Now, A K Hangal can openly say it again, as he had done in "Sholay",  " Inta sannataa kyun hai bhai? "
  3. Why did AG quit?  "The nation demands to know".
  4. Don't keep jamming the TV remote, not knowing whether the TV is on mute or not. It is just that AG has moved on.
  5. Clearly, the management of Times Now told him " Go, Swami!"

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The legacy of Barrack Obama

The Amercians have chosen to zero in on two of the most consummate disasters, as presidential nominees. The arc-lights are firmly on these two. One day, it is Trump playing his xenophobic xylophone. The other day, it is the FBI on the trail of Hillary. In all this melee, one man stands in relative obscurity.

Barrack Obama is quietly leaving some indelible imprints of his legacy on American history. The jury is still out there, on whether the first ever "black" President has done more good , or more harm, to the USA, and, by deduction, to the rest of the world. Of course, when Barrack formally lays dow office, the customary bouquets and brick-bats will follow. But, I am convinced that what Obama has contributed ( or failed to), deserves a slightly deeper look, in the context of the state of the Nation, when he had taken over.

Cut back to 2008. The world was on the verge of Economic implosion. Wall Street had become Wail Street. The USA gave unsolicited lessons to the whole world , on hitherto unheard-of lexicon-  Sub-prime, Mortgage-Backed-Securities, Credit Default Swap, Collateralized Debt Obligation, Countrywide Finance, AIG, Citibank, Lehman Bros, Bear Stearns, Credit Rating Agencies, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac,  Shadow Banking System, Bail-outs et al. The spill-over of Wall Street into Main Street and on to the World Street, was vicious. Economic armageddon sounded it's evil laughter, from not far away. Obama had inherited a monster, created by a misguided US economic model and policies. And, had promised to fix them all.

He may not have quite fixed them all. After all, decades of decadence could not have been hoped to be reversed in one, or even, two terms. There have been quite a few gaps. On the Economic and social fronts. Things could have been much better. On creation of jobs,  inflation, credit control, investment climate etc. Better care for the black welfare than was promised, better trade relations with China and he rest of the world, better diplomatic effectiveness on world stage etc.

But then, things could have been much worse off, as well. For, the mess that Obama found himself in, an Economic whirlpool was threatening to suck the USA, and the world. It was not easy, by any stretch of imagination. The malignancy in the economy had regressed to stage IV.

In that backdrop,  it would not be an over-statement to say that Obama has pulled off "Mission Impossible".  The means that he and the US Fed have adopted to fix the deep rooted issues and the resultant melt-down, may be the topic of discussion in the hallowed classrooms of Harvard, the media and amongst Economists for the foreseeable future. But, the fact remains that Obama has clearly succeeded in stemming the rot. Not just that. He has managed to restore a semblance of order in the financial markets of the world. Something, that is absolutely critical for continued peace, from Fiji to Finland.

And he has not stopped there. He has managed to rein in inflation, reversed the trend of job losses to one of job creation in the US, and has ensured that the US Economy has grown at an average of 1.5% to 2% during his tenure.

This news below, is his "crowing glory". The last quarterly GDP report before he hangs up his boots. He surely goes out, on a high, in this regard.

Things may yet unravel later. For, what Obama has done may be nothing more than bravery of the valiant Dutch boy, who plugged a dike with his frail fingers, to prevent flooding of a whole town, one stormy night. Just as the Dutch government took steps to build stronger dikes and fortify the town further, subsequently, the successive US governments and Presidents have their work cut out on the Economic front, as much as on other areas like Diplomacy, Trade, and the World Order etc.

But, I am sure that Barrack will be back in Illinois with an outward sense of satisfaction of making sure that the world did not unravel at one of the most trying times in modern history.

Monday, October 17, 2016

My own Samsung Galaxy Note 7 jokes

Ajit ( The Hindi movie villain of yore): " Mere paas bandookh hai, bamb hai, rocket-launcher hai... tumhaare paas kay hai?"

Amitabh Bacchan : "Mere paas Note 7 hai".


Worker, to the supervisor, in the granite quarry: " Sir, sorry. We cannot break any more rocks. We have run out of gelatine sticks".

Supervisor : " Dont worry, I have a spare Note 7".


Two cave-men conversing:

1: " Oh man! Cant light up fire. We have run out of flint-stones."

2 : " Dont worry! I have a Note 7".


Note 7 is the only device that is capable of authentic son-et-lumière (sound-and-light) shows


Ajit : "Raabart, iska pocket mein Note 7 daalkar udha do".

Robert : "Kyun boss?"

Ajit: " Usko 7 janam mere haaton hi marna hoga. Note kar lega, taaki bhool na jaaye"


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan has succeeded in dividing the world vertically. The jury still appears to be out there, assessing on whether this honour to be bestowed on him is appropriate enough. Interesting, I do not know of any big news on when his name figured in the list of nominations for the Nobel prize in literature.

I do realize that Bob has zillions of fans across the world. I do not wish to offend their sensibilities. I am not here to pass a judgement on whether he is the right choice for this this year's award , or not. However, I wonder if the standards set by the Nobel prize committee have been altered over time, for whatever reasons. I hope I am wrong.

As a general observation, Nobel prize awards have turned increasingly farcical over the years. I find that people who should have been in the list, do not figure- as yet. And I find people whose candidature is debatable, to put it mildly, walk away with the purse.

While it is well known that the selection criteria are defined, I wonder whether the committee sometimes hides behind technicalities of selection, in order to announce or denounce an individual or a group. For example, I know that a thousand explanations have been given on why a certain Mohandas Karamchand was not awarded the peace prize, but it is hard to digest any of them. For, when one applies the simple yardstick of the impact the man had had on 300 million people ( then) and the destiny of a nation, one finds it hard to ignore suspicions of ulterior motives, camouflaging as technicalities. In the same breath, Barrack Obama himself had subtly wondered why he was awarded one, in the first place, in his acceptance speech.

Coming to Bob Dylan, while his lyrics and music may be very popular with the masses, the question arises - can his lyrics stand on their own as time-tested poetry? I suspect not. My grouse is not Bob getting one per se, but others like Somerset Maugham, Leo Tolstoy, George Orwell, Robert Frost, Arthur Miller etc were decided not worthy of the prize. The big question then is - is Bob Dylan worthy of the prize, ahead of these literary greats?  Note that I have included only one non-English writer in that list. The Nobel is biased heavily in favour of English literature. Hardly a few non-English writers are awarded. I accept that as a matter of fact, instead of whining. If I were to include the plethora of non-English writers, then the list would be mind-boggling.

Also, questions have been raised on whether poetry, however brilliantly crafted, amounts to pure literature. My response to that, is that whether we like it or not, precedence has already been set, in the form of T S Eliot and our own Tagore, for Nobel prize in literature.

So, what is next? Chetan Bhagat being awarded the Grammy Awards?  ;) ;)

Saturday, October 8, 2016


Sub-prime, Mortgage-Backed-Securities, Credit Default Swap, Collateralized Debt Obligation, Countrywide Finance, AIG, Citibank, Lehman Bros, Bear Stearns, Credit Rating Agencies, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac,  Shadow Banking System, Bail-outs....


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Where is Oil headed?

I look at the prognosis for oil from two very different sources, for the long term:

1. Baltic Dry Index. When I look at the long term chart for this, , it is in a secular decline. In fact it is topping at the next level of resistance, meaning this will go down further ( purely technical view)

2. Stock Prices of OIL SERVICE PROVIDERS like Transocean (RIG) and Sclumberger (SLB). RIG' charts are languishing, long term, and the company continues to flouder in delivering OPERATIONAL profits. SLB is better positioned, chartwise, but again , has not gone anywhere.                      

Why are these important to me?

Baltic Dry is the key indicator of economic activity ( aka , a parallel for chinese production/ consumption engine) . When this starts stirring, expect an uptick in chinese oil consumption, leading to speculation in oil prices.

Oil Service companies do well operationally when rigging activity goes full steam. And that happens ahead of time. For example when oil companies feel that oil prices are headed north in 3 to 5 years' time, they start the prospecting now. The dumber amongst them do a catch up much later only to miss the bus and burn their fingers.

So, when RIG or SLB start delivering operationally , it means that demand for oil is being expected to increase.

I know these are highly counter-intuitive yardsticks, but this is what I follow.

Having said that, two factors at play, will decide oil prices, going forward.

1. There is an OPEC meeting in Nov, where it is widely expectd that they would announce production cuts. the reason for that is, with oil at close to 50 bucks now to the barrel, the OPEC members now have crossed the critical threshold, I believe, where they can afford to cut oil production and yet manage their fiscal balance with reduced receipts from oil sales. That cut in turn , will raise the oil price further, leading to better even better bargaining chips for OPEC. This is a vortex effect.

2. Any Geopolitical indicent of 9/11 magnitude.

Currently the biggest factor working AGAINST any real demand uptick for oil is the continuing slump of the Chinese economy, where it is widely expected that it would take years before the excess capacities created are absorbed and fresh capacities are added.                         Hanjin bankruptcy: Are South Korea's 'chaebols' in crisis? - BBC NewsThree of South Korea's biggest conglomerates, or chaebols, are having difficulties at the moment: Samsung, Lotte and Hanjin Shipping. Is there a connection?

The bankruptcy of Koean shipmaker Hanjin is noteworthy... blamed purely on slowdown in global trade ( read: much lesser shipments of mines and ores from Australia and other places into China).

Need more proof? Here it is. One of the largest shipbuilders in China has slumped, by the own admission of Xinhua, China's mouthpiece                      

Bottomline, I have reason to believe that it is possible to rig up the price of oil to 55 to 60 a barrel. Anything can happen. But the fundamentals in terms of demand and supply do not support any sustained oil price rise - at least not yet.

Again, the price of oil is rigged by hedge funds, and the public seldom gets know how much open positions they hold- especially on the SELL side  ;)