MEET THE INDIAN-AMERICAN AT CENTRE OF US MOVE TO REPEAL NET NEUTRALITY RULES

The article originally appeared on India Today on 15 December.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the telecom regulator of the United States of America, has repealed a landmark law the country passed in 2015 to ensure net neutrality in the US and Ajit Pai, a son of immigrant Indians, is at the centre of the debate. He heads the US FCC.

Pai is a Republican, the same party as American President Donald J Trump, and was made the FCC chief in January 2017, the same month the Trump administration took over the White House.

The FCC, the US equivalent of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), has voted in favour of repealing a 2015 law enacted by itself under the Barack Obama government. The FCC is overseen by the US Congressional chairs and currently, like the US Congress (the American equivalent of Parliament), the Republicans are in majority in the FCC, a fact that helped the proposal moved by Pai score a 3-2 victory. Incidentally, Ajit Pai was appointed a commissioner in the FCC in 2012 by then president Barack Obama.

The move by Pai, whose FCC bio states that “consumers benefit most from competition, not pre-emptive regulation and regulators should be skeptical (sic) of pleas to regulate rivals”, has sharply divided America with critics saying repealing the net neutrality law will kill the spirit of free internet.

Critics argue that the repeal plan will benefit only few big telecom players who wield immense power over the flow of internet and telecommunication channels. Opponents of the repeal bill, named Restoring Internet Freedom Order, say it will effectively shut down or marginalise small players and will start a rush of predatory discriminating practices where one telecom company will try all to disadvantage a rival company’s data flowing through its cables.

And above all, internet users will be the ultimate losers with their freedom to get unrestrained access to all content and data gone, the critics add. Net neutrality, they say, ensures that no service provider will speed up or throttle a particular service because of its business interests.

IN INDIA

India has also been through this important debate. The country saw a major controversy over services such as Facebook’s Free Basics and Airtel Zero plans. These differential pricing plans were alleged to be discriminatory in nature as they would have given preferential treatment to content and data of a particiular telecom company or internet service provider (ISP).

Citizens here were up in arms over this and a public outcry forced the government and the TRAI to initiate consultations on building a framework to ensure net neutrality in the Indian market. And, its outcome has been positive so far with TRAI vouching to uphold the principles of net neutrality in recommendations it released last month.

Ajit Pai’s move is threatening to undo that in America, the world’s largest free market for the internet. Pai’s move has also unnerved the internet’s founding fathers Tim Berners-Lee and Vinton Cerf and many other internet pioneers including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker.

They wrote an open letter to US Congress calling on it to cancel the proposed vote yesterday. They called the repeal plan flawed and an imminent threat to the internet.

But Pai was unnerved. He tweeted this morning to let the world know that there would be no change in his plans, “U.S. @SenateMajLdr supports @FCC plan to restore Internet freedom, saying our Internet economy is the “direct result of a bipartisan desire to create an environment of advancement-one that utilized a light regulatory touch.”

Ajit Pai’s parents were doctors. His mother was from Karnataka and father from Andhra Pradesh. They migrated to America where Pai was born in 1973 in Buffalo, New York.

A graduate from Harvard and University of Chicago Law School, Pai’s law career includes assignments mostly with the US judicial services and the US Congress in difference capacities as well as stints with private corporations like Verizon Jenner & Block.

©SantoshChaubey

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‘SEVERE HEALTH IMPACTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE’: UN STUDY ON E-WASTE CRISIS IN INDIA

A new United Nations study has painted a grim picture for India on e-waste management. The study, Global E-Waste Monitor 2017, by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN University (UNU) and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), says as India’s e-waste recycling operations are mostly in the informal sector, it is beset with severe health impacts and causes widespread environmental damage.

India’s formal e-waste recycling industry is still non-existent and the country is dotted with manual recycling operations in the informal sector. Over a million employed here are basically poor people with either no or very low literacy levels. They are either unaware of the hazardous consequences of the work they do or are forced to do their job because they have no other option, the study says.

India’s electronics industry is among the fastest growing in the world and is expected to become a $400 Billion industry by 2020 with a CAGR of 41 per cent during 2017-2020 says a study by ASSOCHAM and NEC Technologies.

That makes India one of the largest producers of e-waste. A 2016 study by ASSOCHAM-KPMG says India’s is the world’s fifth largest e-waste producer generating 18.5 lakh tonnes of discarded electronic waste annually. In Asia, India is third behind China and Japan. According to the UN study, China is Asia’s and the world’s top e-waste generating country producing 7.2 million metric tonnes (MMT) in 2016. Japan was second in Asia producing 2.1 MMT of e-waste while India came a close third with 2 MMT e-waste generated in 2016, an assessment that is in sync with the ASSOCHAM-KPMG study.

And it is mostly driven by advances made in telecommunication as around 54 per cent households globally have internet access now. Couple this with the 7.7 billion mobile wireless subscriptions as tallied by Statista, an online research and business intelligence firm and the problem looks critical. The figure tells there are more mobile phones today than the overall global population of 7.44 Billion at the moment. Another assessment by eMarketer says the smartphone penetration globally is to reach to 2.39 Billion this year. All this is going to produce heaps of e-waste as we move to a more digitally connected world.

Due toeEver declining technology and hardware prices, mainly in the telecommunication sector like the mobile phones, computers, computer peripherals and other IT equipment, coupled with decrease in price of services, in voice and internet, the e-waste is expected to increase manifold in India and the world in years ahead. This is in addition to other e-waste from discarded products like televisions, refrigerators, air-conditioners and electronic toys. Such electronic waste, with a battery or plug, is a major health hazard and environment threat the UN warns. They have high levels of poisonous elements like lead, cadmium and mercury.

Reflecting India’s position as the world second largest telecom market which is also the fastest growing one, almost 70 per cent of the country’s electronic waste comes from discarded computer equipment whereas the telecom equipment constitutes 12 per cent of our annual electronic waste. But mobile phones and smartphones are a fast growing category here as almost 25 crore of mobile handsets, or 25 per cent of over 100 crore user base, end up in e-waste each year. Overall, India’s electronic waste is growing 30 per cent annually.

Though India had enacted law to regulate e-waste management in the country in 2011 and made further amendments in it in 2015 to cover producers, it is still a long way to go before a well-laid out mechanism can be put in place given the fact that almost 95 per cent of e-waste collection and handling in the country is done by the informal sector. For the record, the amended e-waste management rule requires producers to collect 30 per cent e-waste generated initially and it will subsequently go up to the level of 70 per cent by the seventh year.

In addition to this, India also imports e-waste from other countries and it makes the crisis even more serious. According to another ASSOCHAM report, India has become a dumping ground for e-waste from developed countries and what should be eye-opening is the fact that 85 per cent of this hazardous waste ends up in the country’s capital and its adjoining areas, Delhi-NCR. The study projected Delhi’s annual e-waste to increase by a whopping 40,000 MT in a year, from 68,000 MT in 2016 to 1,07,000 MT in 2017.

Globally, e-waste generated increased by 8 per cent or 3.3 MMT to 44.7 MMT from its 2014 level and with a more digitally connected and ICT dependent world, the UN study projects it to increase by 17 per cent to reach to the level of 52.2 MMT by 2021.

And only 20 per cent of it or 8.9 MMT of it could be recycled in 2016. But the situation is horrible in India where, according to an ASSOCHAM-cKinetics study released on the World Environment Day last year, just 1.5 per cent of e-waste generated could be recycled. The study cited poor infrastructure and inefficient regulatory framework as the main reasons behind this poor state of affairs that is fast emerging as an health and environmental crisis in the country.

©SantoshChaubey

SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY MAY WANT INDIA TO MOVE ITS EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM BUT MAHATMA GANDHI WAS EVEN AGAINST FORCED SETTLEMENT OF ISRAELIS IN PALESTINE

Subramamian Swamy may demand India to follow the United States and move its embassy to Jerusalem but it is against India’s principled stand of solidarity with the Palestinian cause that was against the forced settlement of Israelis in the Palestinian territory. Like the whole issue of Israeli settlement in Palestine, the issue of sovereign claims over Jerusalem, too, has been a contentious issue as the city is the ancient seat of Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

The origin behind this principled stand can be traced back to Mahatma Gandhi, our Father of the Nation, who believed that Israelis could settle in Palestine only with the permission from Arabs and it was wrong for them to enter with the might of the British gun.

Writing in Harijan on November 26, 1938, Mahatma Gandhi says that his sympathies are with the Jews some of whom have been his friends since his days in South Africa. Thus, he knows about the age-long persecution of the Jews. He refers to the Jews as the untouchables of Christianity, like the untouchables of Hinduism and that religion is used in their persecution, as was happening then with the Jews in Germany.

But, he draws a line here saying his sympathy for the Jews cannot blind him to the requirements of justice.

He says in his write-up, The Jews, in Harijan, “The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me.” He says that “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French and it is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs.”

Mahatma Gandhi says the settlement of the Jews in the Palestinian territory is akin to a religious act that rules out use of force, “The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs.”

In this article written in 1938, before the organized massacre of the Jews in the German concentration camps began, Mahatma Gandhi argues that the Jewish people are the citizens of the world and they should be treated as such, a Jew born in France as French, a Jew born in Germany as German. He advises the German Jews to use the civil movement through non-violence to take on the German persecution.

Though, we can see a change in approach in the later writings of Mahatma Gandhi on German persecution of the Jews after the German concentration camps massacred millions of Jews, his stand on Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land remains the same.

In another Harijan article titled “Jews and Palestine”, written on July 21, 1946, after the Second World War and the German massacre of the Jews were over, he says, “I do believe that the Jews have been cruelly wronged by the world. “Ghetto” is, so far as I am aware, the name given to Jewish locations in many parts of Europe. But for their heartless persecution, probably no question of return to Palestine would ever have arisen. The world should have been their home, if only for the sake of their distinguished contribution to it.”

But in the next paragraph, he reiterates his long held stand on the forced Jewish occupation of the Palestinian land, “But, in my opinion, they have erred grievously in seeking to impose themselves on Palestine with the aid of America and Britain and now with the aid of naked terrorism.”

And he held this view on the Palestine-Israel problem till his death, blaming Christianity for singling out and wronging the Jews, “Their citizenship of the world should have and would have made them honoured guests of any country. Their thrift, their varied talent, their great industry should have made them welcome anywhere. It is a blot on the Christian world that they have been singled out, owing to a wrong reading of the New Testament, for prejudice against them. If an individual Jew does a wrong, the whole Jewish world is to blame for it. If an individual Jew like Einstein makes a great discovery or another composes unsurpassable music, the merit goes to the authors and not to the community to which they belong.”

JERUSALEM CLAIMS

Swamy, the senior BJP leader, tweeted last night, hours after US President Donald Trump made his formal announcement to move US embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, “Israel has international recognition of a part of Jerusalem as its territory; hence India should shift its Embassy to this part of the city.”

But the contention is about East Jerusalem that houses Islam’s third holiest shrine Al Aqsa mosque and Palestine and the whole Muslim world see Jerusalem as Palestine capital. While West Jerusalem has been Israel’s seat of government, it occupied East Jerusalem in 1967’s Six Day War.

Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has created outrage in the Muslim world amid the global concern that it will disturb status-quo in one of the most dangerous conflict theatres of the world where escalating tension may easily give way to a larger war involving many countries.

The issue has been so sensitive that almost no country so far had recognized Israel’s sovereign claim over Jerusalem and the global consensus has been that the issue must be resolved through negotiation between Israel and Palestine. Even the previous US presidents recognized it and that is why none of them thought to cross the line even if the US Congress had enacted a law in 1995, Jerusalem Embassy Act, to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and had decided to move its Embassy there. The UN has also condemned the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem through the UN Security Council Resolution 478.

INDIA’S STAND

India’s has reacted cautiously on the development, “India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country.”

In fact, if it took 45 years after the independence for India to allow Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, as it always tried to maintain balance between its principled stand on Palestine and its geopolitical concerns that Israel could have addressed. India and Israel established full diplomatic ties on January 29, 1992 but it took another 25 years for India’s first ever prime ministerial visit to the nation in July this year. In these 25 years, Israel has emerged as India’s most reliable defence partner and India as Israel’s largest defence market, accounting for 41 per cent of its arms export.

©SantoshChaubey

ECONOMICS NOBEL PRIZE WINNER RICHARD THALER PRAISED PM NARENDRA MODI’S NOTE BAN LAST YEAR

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi told his stunned compatriots last November that two high denomination bills would no longer be legal tender, Richard Thaler, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics today, said it was “a good start on reducing corruption.”

Thaler’s Twitter account isn’t verified. But it does have a link to his page on the website of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

And when the official announcement of the 2017 Prize in Economic Sciences was made on Twitter, the account @R_Thaler was tagged.

Now, while Richard Thaler appeared to favour the idea of demonetisation, his two-word response to being told that Rs 2,000 notes were being introduced was far less enthusiastic:

“Really? Damn.”

One of Richard Thaler’s colleagues at the Booth School of Business is none other than former RBI chief Raghuram Rajan, who recently indicated that he would have resigned had the demonetisation been thrust upon him.

©SantoshChaubey

WHAT DEFINES INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: COMMERCIAL INTERESTS OR STRATEGIC CONCERNS?

What matters more in international relations? What shapes the contours of bilateral ties in contemporary times? Certainly trade is an important factor but it is not the most important factor.

It is always about the engagement on strategic levels that defines bilateral relations between countries or the international alliances of groupings of countries, be it US-Israel or US-UK or NATO and other similar ties and alliances. They have been rock solid ties weathering varying seasons with equal fervour because the cornerstone of these relations have been strategic concerns. Historical linkages are an added advantage.

Though NATO has seen some trouble recently with US President Donald Trump raising objections over skewed funding contribution in the world’s most formidable military alliance between countries where the US is the largest contributor, NATO is still sailing smoothly with regular high level US visits to the NATO headquarters at Brussels.

In contrast, trading blocs like WTO, NAFTA, ASEAN, APEC, SCO and so on are basically about commercial engagements and though have increasingly become important in a world globalized by economy, cannot replace the ties built on strategic interests, especially in the times of crisis, like prolonged border standoffs or any aggression inimical to bilateral ties.

Also, when countries are globally important and are slated to become poles in a multi-polar world of future, like India and China are, what is going to define their diplomacy and international politics is how they cultivate their strategic ties.

Because loss of commercial interests can be met with forging other ties and alliances but there is no replacement for a strategic tie that gives a country sense of security or tools to secure its borders and skies.

That is why China doesn’t matter for India in case the ongoing border tension in the Sikkim Sector between two countries escalate to severe levels resulting in localized, limited scale military hostilities (because the two nuclear powered nations cannot afford a full-scale war).

China is basically a country engaged in trade relations with India. Relations have failed to go beyond that. There are no cultural ties and people to people contact. Defence and other strategic elements are non-existent from the table. Coupled it with the non-existent India-China bilateral trade in services. All these factors make India to easily look beyond China when it comes to suspending ties.

The bilateral trade between India and China was around $71 Billion in 2016 with a trade deficit highly skewed in Chinese favour – $47.8 Billion. India basically exports diamonds, cotton, yarn, organic chemicals, iron ore and copper worth $12 Billion (2016). Chinese export to India includes fertilizers, antibiotics, electrical machinery, equipments and organic chemicals and the 2016 worth was $59 Billion.

When we see the items of import and export, especially in the context of the stagnating Chinese economy, it is quite clear that India can easily do away with its miniscule Chinese export. But it will be difficult for China to ignore India, the world’s fastest growing large economy now for many quarters. Add to it India’s projected middle class base of around 450 million people and the country becomes a promising market for any manufacturing hub like China.

The trade deficit with China doesn’t hurt us (and won’t hurt us), at least in the near future, till the country reaches to a stage where unemployment becomes chronic and threatening for the country’s weaving; till the time we have ramped up our infrastructure to be able to make for any future contingency on our manufacturing needs. Till then, it’s like we have outsourced our manufacturing needs to countries like China (and with manufacturing bases in many other countries, we can easily find alternatives).

But China has not this advantage. It is already the manufacturing engine of the world with its majority of population engaged in those small or large factories supplying to the world. They are as dependent on the domestic Chinese consumption as the international demand.

With a slowing down economy, the domestic consumption in China is going to ease and its manufacturing hubs are going to be ever more dependent on big overseas markets and India is a big imperative there. It is important to maintain China’s social fabric with flow of jobs and gains of economy in the society and is going to be must for its behemoth economy that needs global markets to lubricate its tentacles. Just a corollary would suffice to prove the point here. Four Chinese manufactures, Xiaomi, Lenovo, Oppo and Vivo, are in top five of the Indian smartphone market. India can easily find alternative smartphone manufacturers with a strong domestic industry to fill the gaps. But these Chinese manufactures cannot find a market like India that has emerged as the world’s fastest growing smartphone market.

To continue….

©SantoshChaubey

WHY HAMBURG G20 SUMMIT IS GOING TO BE STORMY

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit extended.

Apart from the routine anti-capitalist protests that events like World Economic Forum, G20 and G7 Summits see, the G20 Summit at Hamburg is also going to be stormy because of two factors – North Korea and US President Donald Trump.

North Korea’s first ICBM test that was surprising successful, giving it the capacity to launch nuclear powered missile on the American mainland, has left the major world powers divided. A Russia-China joint statement was soft when it put the onus of North Korea’s missile launch on annual US-South Korea military drills in the region and deployment of the US anti-ballistic missile defence system THAAD in South Korea.

Trump who had said earlier he would not allow North Korea to have an ICBM, has reacted strongly saying US is drawing plans for its “pretty severe” response. The US, with South Korea, held military drill in response to North Korea’s ICBM and the US allies held an emergency UN Security Council meeting where US’ UN Ambassador Nikki Haley asserted that the US could use “considerable military forces” if situation demanded.

The G20 Summit leaders are meeting in Hamburg against this backdrop where Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, all primary stakeholders in the North Korean crisis, will see face to face each other and the issue will certainly dominate the talks.

The other big issue is climate change that is expected further eclipse the traditional G20 agenda, which is essentially financial and economic in nature and aims to bring social change through implementation of economic policies, i.e., achieving balanced economic growth for a resilient global financial system to take on issues like social empowerment, healthcare, corruption, employment, climate, infrastructure, along with the recent addition of combating terror financing and spread of digital technology.

The 43rd G7 Summit held in Italy on May 26-27 had seen fireworks when the group of the world’s most industrialize nations, i.e., US, UK, Germany, Canada, Japan, France and Italy, had become a virtual 6+1 with Donald Trump pitted against its other six members on his non-committal stand on climate change and the global Paris Climate Accord of 2015 that aims to cut down carbon emission levels to handle global warming.

The final G7 Communiqué after the Summit put the blame squarely on Trump with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying bluntly that Trump had already made up his mind to withdraw from the Paris Accord. And within a week, Trump, a harsh critic of the Paris Accord who used to term global warming a hoax during the campaign days, pulled the US out of global deal on June 1 for which he got global condemnation with countries rallying in favour of and reiterating their commitment to the Paris Accord.

The Presidency of G20, the group of the world’s 19 largest economies and the European Union, keeps on rotating and is currently with Germany which is hosting the 12th G20 Summit of the heads of states and governments in Hamburg. The G20 convention says the agenda of any G20 Summit is laid by the host country and discussions follow the theme accordingly.

And since Angela Merkel has made it clear that climate change discussions will be central to the Hamburg G20 Summit, it will be interesting to see how Trump and the American delegation manage the appearance of their isolationist instance here.

©SantoshChaubey

WHY DONALD TRUMP IS TAKING ON US JUDICIARY

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified and extended.

US President is disgusted and he letting the world known the root-cause of his anger, the US Judiciary, that has stayed the Trump administration’s controversial travel ban order on people from seven Muslim countries, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan for 90 days. His order also suspended the US refugee programme for 120 days and put an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.

Trump said he was doing so to prevent entry of terrorists in the US but it seems no one is buying that.

First, the New York District Judge on January 28 had partially stayed Trump’s executive order barring deportations already arrived on the US soil with a valid visa. Then on January 3, the Seattle District Judge, though temporary, put a complete, nationwide stay on the executive order.

How desperate is the Trump administration about its travel ban plans becomes evident from the fact that the US Justice Department approached the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals late in the night, after midnight, against the Seattle District Judge order. But even that court refused to grant Trump administration any immediate respite till the next hearing that is scheduled for today.

Meanwhile, protests again Trump’s executive order spreading nationwide and in many other countries and the number of protesters is swelling, including the corporate America, information-technology companies and some Republican senators like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and more importantly Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader of the US Senate, who said that in case of an adverse court ruling, the Congress would not help Trump with his travel ban plans.

It has left Trump fuming and he has chosen his favourite platform Twitter to let the world know his anger and he began his onslaught with a ‘MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!’ tweet on February 4 that followed five more tweets on the issue on February 5 and two on February 6. He has continued with his agenda and today tweeted to say that ‘courts must act fast’ on his travel ban order and the day is not over yet. Also, Trump added today that he was ready to go to the Supreme Court to get his travel ban order implemented.

THE HIDDEN AGENDA?

According to a Washington Post report, the Trump administration has inherited 103 judicial vacancies in the federal and district courts from the Obama administration. It is almost double to what Barack Obama had got, 54 vacancies to fill judges of his choice.

What Barack Obama had inherited from his predecessor George Bush was a Republic legacy with majority of Republican nominated judges in 10 of 13 circuit courts as per a USA Today report. It took Barack Obama eight years to replace the Republican choices with Democratic nominees but his progress was halted midway in 2015 when the Republicans took the US Senate control. The Obama administration blamed the Senate Republicans for deliberately obstructing the process.

Nominating judges in the US courts has always been the prerogative of the US President and his party and so being majority of Democrat nominees or Republican nominees is a natural things and we should not look beyond that.

But the perception about Donald Trump changes that normal. The Washington Post report writes that ‘Trump has vowed to choose ideologues in the mold of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon — a prospect that has activists on the right giddy’. Antonin Scalia, a Ronald Reagan appointee to the US Supreme Court, was seen as a legal luminary but with a conservative mindset who vocally opposed gay rights and abortion.

Scalia’s death last year had given Obama an opportunity to tilt the 5-4 conservative majority in the US Supreme Court in favour of a 5-4 liberal majority but the Senate Republicans didn’t allow Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland.

And it seems Trump has started giving shape to his plans to reshape the US judiciary. On January 31, Trump nominated appellate judge Neil Gorsuch to fill Scalia’s vacancy. If confirmed, Gorsuch will again tilt the 5-4 majority in favour of the conservatives.

TRAVEL BAN A CHANCE?

The way Trump is criticising the US Judiciary on putting a stay on his travel ban executive order, it seems it can be the beginning of the process to rapidly fill the US Judiciary with more conservative judges who are likely to have a favourable view of Trump’s administration conservative policies like travel ban or stopping funds to the NGOs working for abortion.

Trump thinks the present US Judicial System is like ‘that of a third-world country’ and rigged, a CNN report says, “Folks, we’re living in a third-world country. This has never happened before. This is the lowest point in terms of our judicial system. This is the lowest point in the history of our country. Remember that. And when I talk about a rigged system, let’s see what happens. Let’s see what happens.”

His tweets say it all, his disdain for the US Judiciary. He finds the judges’ decision to put a stay on his executive order ridiculous. He is blaming them to make the US unsafe by allowing terrorists and dangerous people to pour in. It is as if denouncing all the systems that existed in the US before Trump who want to change it all. Probably, this is his way to initiate ‘making America great again’!

And a more ‘likeminded and amenable judiciary’ can be a great help here, especially when the US under Trump is going to see a flurry of lawsuits against Trump’s decisions that his rivals see as controversial. That is bound to happen as Trump’s victory has bitterly divided America and he took oath with historically low approval ratings amid nationwide protests.

Barring few, Republicans who control both Houses of the US Congress, have backed Trump’s travel ban and judges’ adverse views on it may propel them to have more likeminded, conservative judges in the judicial circuits. True that will take some time but then Trump is ready to move to the Supreme Court and he may expect a respite there with a 5-4 conservative majority once Neil Gorsuch is approved.

©SantoshChaubey

TRUMP VS JUDICIARY

US President is disgusted and he letting the world known the root-cause of his anger, the US Judiciary, that has stayed the Trump administration’s controversial travel ban order on people from seven Muslim countries, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan for 90 days. His order also suspended the US refugee programme for 120 days and put an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.

Trump said he was doing so to prevent entry of terrorists in the US but it seems no one is buying that.

First, the New York District Judge on January 28 had partially stayed Trump’s executive order barring deportations already arrived on the US soil with a valid visa. Then on January 3, the Seattle District Judge, though temporary, put a complete, nationwide stay on the executive order.

How desperate is the Trump administration about its travel ban plans becomes evident from the fact that the US Justice Department approached the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals late in the night, after midnight, against the Seattle District Judge order. But even that court refused to grant Trump administration any immediate respite.

So, now the law will take its own course. Both sides will be asked to present their sides and then the court will arrive at a decision, a decision, that again, can be challenged in higher courts. Meanwhile, protests again Trump’s executive order spreading nationwide and in many other countries and the number of protesters is swelling, including the corporate America and the Republican senators like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and more importantly Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader of the US Senate, who said that in case of an adverse court ruling, the Congress would not help Trump with his travel ban plans.

It has left Trump fuming and he has chosen his favourite platform Twitter to let the world know his anger and he began his onslaught with a ‘MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!’ tweet on February 4 that followed five more tweets on the issue the next day and two more today and the day is not over yet.

‏@realDonaldTrump
I have instructed Homeland Security to check people coming into our country VERY CAREFULLY. The courts are making the job very difficult!
2:12 AM – 6 Feb 2017

‏@realDonaldTrump
Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!
2:09 AM – 6 Feb 2017

‏@realDonaldTrump
The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at heart. Bad people are very happy!
6:18 AM – 5 Feb 2017

‏@realDonaldTrump
What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?
2:14 AM – 5 Feb 2017

‏@realDonaldTrump
Why aren’t the lawyers looking at and using the Federal Court decision in Boston, which is at conflict with ridiculous lift ban decision?
5:07 AM – 5 Feb 2017

‏@realDonaldTrump
Because the ban was lifted by a judge, many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country. A terrible decision
3:14 AM – 5 Feb 2017

‏@realDonaldTrump
What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?
2:14 AM – 5 Feb 2017

‏@realDonaldTrump
MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
7:56 PM – 4 Feb 2017

His tweets say it all, his disdain for the US Judiciary. He finds the judges’ decision to put a stay on his executive order ridiculous. He is blaming them to make the US unsafe by allowing terrorists and dangerous people to pour in. It is as if denouncing all the systems that existed in the US before Trump who want to change it all.  Probably, this is his way to initiate ‘making America great again’!

©SantoshChaubey

#THETRUMPDUMP FEB 4, 2017: TRAVEL BAN BOOMERANGS

THE TRUMP DUMP

45th US President Donald Trump has begun on a wrong note now we can safely say that. And it seems his days ahead in the White House are going to be quite tumultuous for the US policymaking apparatus.

His predecessor Barack Obama had his fare share of controversies but he was widely loved and appreciated and now he looks a taller figure than he was before January 20, the day Donald Trump officially took over the US Presidency.

Much before the campaigning for this round of US Presidential Polls began, Donald Trump had established himself as some sort of ‘sworn enemy’ of Barack Obama with many controversies to his credit including the ‘birthir’ row that questioned Barack Obama’s US birth credentials.

Hillary Clinton was his rival candidate but his campaign also themed around Barack Obama with a high pitched anti-Obama rhetoric being an integral part of it.

In his typical Trump manners, Trump never felt shy in expressing his mind how he intended to undo most of the policies and initiatives taken by Barack Obama – be it Obamacare (US public healthcare policy under Obama) or Obama’s diplomatic initiatives or Obama tax policies or Obama’s refugee preferences or Obama’s stand on immigrants.

And on January 20, he began with a loud thud. So, all of Obama’s initiatives are going to see tough times, and with that, the systems in the US – with their checks and balances. Going by the US Presidential history, it’s been a long time since the last time when these checks and balances had a chance to prove their mettle.

And they proved their mettle. We all know what happened with Richard Nixon. Hope history will repeat itself. And signs look encouraging.

Like what is happening with the so-called travel ban imposed by Donald Trump that has been suspended by US courts!

Trump administration has issued a travel ban on citizens of seven Muslim nations – Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen – on the pretext of making the US homeland safer – when these countries form the maximum count of refugees in urgent need of humanitarian help – when there is no evidence that people from these countries have carried out any terror activity on the US soil.

So it is an outrageous decision. And people are rightly outraged at it, holding protests, marches, demonstrations, filing lawsuits. And the system is also responding to it. A judge had earlier barred deportation of people under this order and today another judge put a nationwide temporary stay on Trump’s bizarre diktat forcing the US State Department to revoke its cancellation of visas or restraining the Homeland Security Department to inflict harassing measures on innocent people.

And it seems just the beginning and ‘The Trump Dump’ is expected to swell in the days to come.

©SantoshChaubey

NEW ‘RUBRIC’ OF GEOPOLITICS IN A DONALD TRUMP WORLD

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified.

Geopolitics has always been shaped by few global powers, especially the US so far, even if it has been an increasingly multi-polar world.

But with the recent developments that have revolved around inward looking protectionist and autocratic powers taking central position not just back homes but in the overall flow of geopolitics, the world order is increasingly going to be shaped by four countries and an event, Russia, the US, Britain leaving the European Union (EU) or Brexit and China, the new RUBRIC that will shape the flow of geopolitics in the days to come. RUBRIC with changed evaluations and definitions that would try to outsmart the existing ethos in order to impose their own.

And the rules of this new RUBRIC will be written by their leaders, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the US’ Donald Trump, Britain’s Theresa May and China’s Xi Jinping, with new equations emerging after Donald Trump has taken over the world’s most prosperous and powerful nation.

WHY THEY MATTER

The US still wields enormous military power and if we say it remains unchallenged, especially after the demise of the Soviet Union or the USSR, it will not be exaggerating it. The US is also the world’s largest single nation economy and will remain so with its clout to greatly affect the trade blocks and negotiations.

Though the USSR is no longer there, it left behind a stockpile of nuclear arsenal that makes Russia a strong regional power that exercises considerable influence in Europe and Asia, even if it has had a volatile economy. Add to it the vast energy reserves Russia has that serves as Europe’s lifeline.

China is the world’s second largest economy and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world and is in a position to dictate trade terms with global power centres even if it derided for its one party autocratic system and poor human rights. In terms of purchasing power parity, China is already the world’s largest economy and is a growing military power with increasing clout in space, air, navy and on ground.

Britain, once the reigning colonial superpower of the world with economic and military might, has reduced to being just a small country with no influence to affect the geopolitical matters. Yes, but it remains a symbolic superpower of values that define the existing free democratic world order – free men, free markets and a freer world. And the country is still an economic superpower. Its GDP at 2.29 Trillion USD was at par with India’s GDP of 2.3 Trillion USD in 2016.

TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE IS SETTING THINGS IN MOTION

China has a production model back home that is antithesis of the values that the US and major economies of the free democratic world cherish and promote but nothing stops them or the big transnational corporations from engaging with China. China has absolute protectionism and labour laws heavily tilted in the favour of businesses.

With the new US President Donald Trump’s inward looking and protectionist views that aim to seclude the US economy in domestic shackles, the Asian economic giant is trying to take a global leadership position with Xi Jinping already saying that China is ready to fill the void created by the US.

The US under Donald Trump has effectively dumped the biggest global trade deal proposed, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), including 12 Pacific rim countries that already regulate the world’s 40% economic output. China would sure be happy to milk the opportunity that many including Barack Obama, the former US President, tried hard to grab and now believe that going away from it will be suicidal for America’s global dominance.

Trump’s next target is NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and no one knows what comes next. No one knows where he will stop in the name of preventing jobs and businesses from going out of the US and paying back to the countries who he believes have sucked the US wealth. Signs don’t look good. He is threatening businesses with counterproductive measures.

Military and nuclear confrontation with China already looks on the table. Trump has ratcheted up nuclear and military expansion rhetoric quoting Russia and China but while he has always been soft on Putin, hoping for ‘good deals with Russia’, he has never given such indications for Xi Jinping or China. Trump believes that ‘One China’ policy can be negotiated while China considers it blasphemous. Trump calls the Taiwanese leader breaking decades old US tradition and says it is not a big deal. The South China Sea dispute where it’s defiance is directly pitted against the whole world community is another in the series.

Russia is a big military power and big economy of its region of influence in Europe and Asia with an autocratic president in Vladimir Putin who believes in the unbridled run of power, military expansionism and has increasingly displayed a tendency to interfere in the theatres of conflicts like he is doing in Syria. And as Putin is sitting comfortably at home, crushing all the dissent, if he goes about pursuing his global designs, it will be a development that was just about to happen. The erstwhile USSR was one pole of the once bipolar world and Putin has not forgotten that.

And Trump, it looks like, is giving him a chance. He has indicated that he will lift sanctions imposed on Russia after Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. The US, so far, led in Syria peace talks but now, it is being led by Russia and Turkey with the latest round of talks between Syrian rebels and government representatives in Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital. And experts believe this may be the beginning of the process that can effectively see the US dominance, first in the Middle East and then elsewhere, diminished to a great scale, thanks to the Trump’s policies that aim to make America an island nation, away from geopolitical tumults and thus stakes, away from the values that the US has globally promoted so far, democracy, free markets and human rights.

Britain is also picking signals from Donald Trump, emboldened by his anti-EU tirade. Trump says ‘Brexit will be a great development for the UK’.

Many in Britain fought hard and championed to create the world’s largest economy as a single trading block and single, border-free zone of countries in the form of the European Union (EU) – inspiring the world to create such free zones for men or economies to flow freely. But that is not the case anymore. Britain is leaving the EU, after a bitter referendum, or Brexit, that divided the country. Brexit will make US the world’s largest economic region again. Britain’s new leader Theresa May has said that the legal process for Brexit has already begun and she is looking forward to meet the staunch EU critic and therefore her big admirer Donald Trump this Friday to negotiate trade deals, like she has done with other countries including India. Trump has also predicted, in his inimitable style, that more countries will follow Britain in leaving the EU.

So, the next few months are going to be very volatile and challenging for the existing world order and geopolitical equations. RUBRIC have set things in motion. What happens only future can tell but the flow of geopolitics is going to be dependent on the movements of these four nations and their leaders.

©SantoshChaubey