BEING A GOOD CITIZEN: THIS IS WHAT I WROTE TO OBAMA FOUNDATION

This is what I wrote in response to the Obama Foundation mailer on what “I think about being a good citizen.” And on what the Obama Foundation should be? Well, anything that can bring smile to the majority of this planet, something that other honest organizations working in the social sector are trying to do, irrespective of societies, boundaries and countries.

MY RESPONSE

What I am going to write here is based on my experiences in the Indian context and I believe it will stand true for any other society that needs large scale social intervention. India is slated to become the world’s most populous country but its majority is still poor and forced to live a life of misery, something that the government alone cannot address.

The basic needs of life, food, i.e., shelter, health, education, are still not on their radar. And how can it be when they have to go through the grinding of feeding themselves first, day after day, month after month, year after year. Everything else comes later.

We need to accept the ground reality if we have to bring the change here. The process to change a society and undoing its wrongs and malaise can only begin once we have this realization.

And the most important thing is – the government cannot do it alone. The society must contribute. And we must contribute. We all must feel duty-bound with the sense of ‘giving it back to the society’ for our very existence here – in whatever capacity we are. For me, that is all about being a good citizen.

On a larger and more organized scale, someone once had told me that in order to bring empowerment to the needy, one needs to be an activist and not a fighter. A fighting spirit is good but many a times, the trade-off between ‘fighting the system’ and ‘fighting over your way out of the system’ becomes too costly for the people you are fighting for.

An example will be apt here. Natural calamities, if displace many, are also opportunities for the corrupt souls in a system. You know there is corruption but your priority must be rehabilitating those displaced – and you have to work in tandem with the system – even if the system is corrupt. Your integrity and tenacity lie in how you can take work from the system. There is always the time to fight the menace of corruption later.

As always, committed social work needs a committed soul more than anything else, otherwise there is always the chance to drift away, especially when in India, where everything is so political that in order to get things done, one needs to be inside the system, knowing how to take work from it, keeping in mind the fine line between manipulating a system and taking work from it.

I believe this should be the story of every not-for-profit or every individual working in the social sector – no compromise with ethics – and no compromise with patience – because I think we just do not deal with the mindset or the behavioural change here only – but more importantly, we also deal with the exterior of a person – the society he lives in – with all sorts of good and bad people and institutions.

THE OBAMA.ORG MAILER

We’re so glad you’re a part of this startup for citizenship. Working together, we’re going to build a working, living center for developing the next generation of active leaders all over the world. We have a lot of work to do, and we’re going to count on your ideas to inform our efforts.

That’s why we’re asking you to add your voice today, and that’s why we’ll continue asking you to share your ideas in the months and years ahead. Let us know what’s on your mind, what good citizenship means to you, and what you want this Foundation to be.

©SantoshChaubey

TRUMPCARE VS OBAMACARE: D-DAY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP AS NEW HEALTHCARE BILL FACES CONGRESS TEST

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

Previous US President Barack Obama had signed the Affordable Healthcare Act or Obamacare on March 23, 2010. Then it was termed as the most important healthcare legislation in the US since Medicare, the national health insurance plan of the US for senior citizens, was launched in 1965.

Down the line seven years, his predecessor, the current US President Donald Trump is trying all to get Obamacare repealed and replaced with his American Healthcare Act or Trumpcare. It was one of his major campaign promises. The house vote on Trumpcare is likely to be held on March 23, 2017.

But even many Republican senators feel Trumpcare is not comprehensive enough to meet those campaign promises and amendments are needed. Intense parleys are taking place but so far a consensus has not emerged. Estimates say Trumpcare is expected to leave 24 million Americans without insurance by 2016. Obamacare would have these Americans covered. But it may be even worse. A New York Times report says, quoting an analysis, the number of uninsured may be as high as 32 million more Americans by 2026.

The US media is replete with reports on pros and cons of Obamacare, like tax burdens, deductibles, coverage, freedom to choose insures and so on and how and if a Trumpcare can take care of it because as it is an issue that is going to define the Trump presidency as it had defined Obama’s.

Though the Republican Party, along with Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, is presenting Trumpcare as a panacea that will take care of every American’s healthcare needs and Obamacare as a vestige of law that is detrimental enough to be replaced as soon as possible, its own house is not in order.

The house vote on Trumpcare is expected on Thursday, but going by a latest CNN report, the Republicans still have no clear numbers to get Obamacare repealed and Trumpcare passed even if less than 24 hours are left for Trumpcare to go to vote. If Trumpcare fails to pass through a Republican majority house, it will be serious setback for Trump and will further complicate his days ahead. He is already facing serious charges on his Russia connections and the probe has reached to the White House. Then there are other controversial issues like his wiretap claims without evidence or his controversial travel ban, issues for which he is being slammed everywhere.

Trumpcare which the expert have been doubting about from the beginning may end up like another Trump rhetoric which does nothing except stirring up society and market with his uncontrolled flow of tweets. Once the dust settles down, it only gives more energy to anti-Trump voices or in this case to the US pharmaceutical and insurance companies that, after going down because of a hostile Trump tweet, bounce back and even rally on stock exchanges, a CNN Money report says.

Trump, during the campaign phase of the US presidential polls, and even after his election, had raised hopes of a healthcare act to replace Obamacare that would guarantee ‘universal healthcare’. In an interview before his government’s inaugural on January 20, 2017, he said ‘we are going to have insurance for everybody’, a Washington Post copy says.

Going by that scale, anything less would be like betraying those hopes. But a universal healthcare was always an impossible concept because it would be so unwieldy, so expansive and so therefore so expensive, that it was not never in the Republican Party’s plans for a healthcare act to replace Obamacare. The Washington Post op-ed, headlined ‘Donald Trump may have just destroyed the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare’ wrote, “Donald Trump emphatically promised universal health coverage. That’s an absolutely gigantic promise, and it’s one that Republicans have no intention of keeping”.

©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

TRUMP IS FURIOUS AT OBAMA, AGAIN!

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

US President Elect Donald Trump has a trademark style of hitting back on his opponents. And when he does so, he minces no words. He lays bare his thoughts in clear words, be it his Twitter handle or his statements.

The latest in his series of Twitter onslaughts is targeted at his bête noire, the present US President Barack Obama. Donald Trump is fuming and he has tweeted to express his anger, “Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks. Thought it was going to be a smooth transition – NOT!”

‏@realDonaldTrump
Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks.Thought it was going to be a smooth transition – NOT!
7:37 PM – 28 Dec 2016

‘NOT’ in caps summing his tweet is self-explanatory to tell us the scale of his anger over a person who was one of his two main adversaries during the US Presidential election campaign even if he was pitted directly against the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton who was addressed as ‘crooked Hillary’ in his Twitter blasts.

This one follows his other anti Obama tweets in recent days focusing on reminding Obama that Trump is superior to him and his victory is no fluke. Rather, it was a vote on account of Obama’s inefficiency.

‏@realDonaldTrump
President Obama campaigned hard (and personally) in the very important swing states, and lost.The voters wanted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
3:22 AM – 28 Dec 2016

‏@realDonaldTrump
President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that but I say NO WAY! – jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etc.
3:06 AM – 27 Dec 2016

The latest spat began after Obama recently said that he was fully confident that if it would be a presidential race between him and Donald Trump, he would have beaten him. It came along with other Obama’s statements that Trump found ‘inflammatory’ as this news report in The Hill says, “It is here that we remember that even when hatred burns hottest, even when the tug of tribalism is at its most primal, we must resist the urge to turn inward, we must resist the urge to demonize those who are different.”

Ever since the unexpected Trump victory, there has been a prevailing atmosphere of fear in the US that now immigrants, Black Americans and racial minorities including Muslims will be targeted more. Trump had based his campaign on these lines.

Though Trump is a known Obama critic and has used every opportunity to target the present US President, even going to the extent to question Obama’s US birth credentials, after his first meeting with Obama in the White House, he had found Obama ‘a very good man’.

Barack Obama had joyfully welcomed his successor to the White House and they both had sounded agreeable and optimistic on the smooth transition of the government from the Barack Obama administration to the Donald Trump Administration by the time the latter’s government is inaugurated on January 20, 2017.

And Trump had tweeted about his meeting with Obama with words like ‘fantastic day, good meeting, and great chemistry’.

‏@realDonaldTrump
A fantastic day in D.C. Met with President Obama for first time. Really good meeting, great chemistry. Melania liked Mrs. O a lot!
7:40 AM – 11 Nov 2016

The thaw that had looked to set in that day was seen taking some shape when, after some days, Reuters had published a story titled ‘Obama’s not-so-secret admirer: Donald Trump’ quoting Trump’s interview to the New York Times. Trump had said here, “I didn’t know if I’d like him. I probably thought that maybe I wouldn’t, but I did. I really enjoyed him a lot. I had a great meeting with President Obama. I really liked him a lot.”

But with these recent developments, it seems that it was more of a facade and the cover was blown away with slightest of the provocation from the either side. Obama has become increasingly critical of Trump again, after the Oval Office bonhomie, amid indications that Trump may continue with his divisive agenda as he pushed during the campaign phase. Trump, after finding fault in Obama’s healthcare, outsourcing, Iran deal, anti-terror and nuclear policies, has gone to grab new avenues like the US policy on Israel and Palestine under the Obama administration.

©SantoshChaubey

GITMO IS GONE NOW – AND IT IS GOOD.

The eight years of Barack Obama are coming to an end. The new US President will be in the office in January 2017. The process has begun and the US Presidential election will reach to its crescendo July onwards.

At a personal level, these eight years should have been monumental, like they are supposed to be in any US President’s life in these times of global turmoil. The US has been and still is the pivot of the global order and we must honestly accept that.

And precisely for that reason, a US President’s term is not judged only by his domestic politics excellence but also by how he manages the world. And it is increasingly ‘how he manages’ from ‘how he controls’ – that was the perception (or the reality) in the Cold War era after the second World War. Much of that has changed and is still changing.

And that has made the job of the US President even more difficult.

Anyway, if it is about Barack Obama, the first black President in the US history, we can clearly say it is nowhere near to hopes raised by the Norwegian Nobel Committee when it decided to award the 2009 Peace Nobel – based on the aspirations he raised – during his campaign – by his words – and by becoming the first black President.

The 2009 press released had said: “The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.”

We can say nothing of that sort has happened. The world is even more dangerous a place now with Arab Spring’s failure in all countries where it took place except Tunisia. ISIS, an even bigger threat than Al Qaeda has ravaged Iraq and Syria and is threatening other countries in the area. There has been no qualitative change in crisis hotbeds in many African, Asian and South American nations. In fact, the nations where the US has been directly involved, Iraq and Afghanistan, are as much volatile as they were ten years back.

So, nothing much here for Barack Obama to take back his home when he leaves the White House in January 2017.

Well, I do not intend to write a critique of his terms here. This write-up had its genesis this evening when the news broke that Barack Obama was going to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. So, it is finally here and it took Barack Obama eight years to reach at this landmark decision – to come up with a concrete plan to close the detention camp. Obama had been championing the cause, had promised it in his 2009 Peace Nobel speech and the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize had an illuminating mention about it – “Torture is forbidden; the President is doing what he can to close Guantanamo.” – to – “That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed.”

If it has taken this much time, there would be reasons and pressures – but going by the man Barack Obama is – a man whom the world loves to tune into – not only for his oratory, but also for his sincerity and substance – there is no reason to question that why he couldn’t do it earlier.

Shutting down Gitmo (or Guantanamo Bay prison) was long overdue and it is good that Obama has finally done it. It was a living monument of torture and had no place in the societies the US so vehemently proposes to pursue.

And it is another history-making decision after Obama’s last year resolve to bury the hatchet with Cuba – a peace initiative that came after over half a century – a global event that is still in making – with the US and Cuba establishing diplomatic ties. Obama is set to visit Cuba and another positive development came recently when the US and Cuba signed agreement to begin commercial flights after 53 years.

And these developments will be seen with probably the most significant development in Obama’s Presidential career – making the world free of Osama bin Laden – the biggest terrorist of his time – the mastermind of 9/11 and many other global terror attacks.

Like it happens, Obama’s terms (his two terms) have had mixed outcomes with many policy failures (or frustrations) – but he has been able to overshadow them with his history-making decisions – most notably these three.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

ARVIND KEJRIWAL VS BARACK OBAMA??

Did you say a wild comparison?

After all, one is a 49-day chief minister of Delhi, India’s National Capital Territory, who had to apologize for his ‘act of absconding’. Though he doesn’t accept it morally, the electoral and political compulsions after his ‘political martyrdom’ efforts tanked down in the Lok Sabha polls forced him to own the disaster his decision to vacate the Delhi CM’s office in order to look for greener pastures had become. He was forced to accept the ‘deserter’ tag in his own toned-down version.

And the other is the successful (though debatable on who sees what) President of the United States of America, the world’s only superpower (still). The world’s most powerful political person is in the second term of his Presidential office.

Professionally, Arvind Kejriwal began as engineer and graduated to become a finance professional working for the Government of India. Barack Obama is a Harvard educated lawyer.

So, where is the ground for comparison?

It is there, thanks to the Norwegian Nobel Committee and thanks to the Delhi electorate!

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