Pulwama attack 2019

Yet another ghastly attack on the Indian Armed Forces. The perpetrators the usual JEM. Our response… well thats the tricky part.

URI2??? Or another measured silence??? or some other Out-Of-Box response that will catch all of us by surprise.

The timing of this attack puts Modi in a very uncomfortable situation. The recent hit movie URI, seen by a majority of Indians has brought in focus the perils of serving in the Indian Armed Forces specifically those deployed in the conflict zone. It, also for the first time, brought into the focus the aftermath of such attacks especially for the family and the loved ones of the martyrs. Earlier we used to focus only on the soldiers. I am hundred percent sure that today, for the first time, all the thoughts of the people of India are with the family of the soldiers who were martyred. Every one of us is picturing a wife, a daughter, a son, a mother of each of the these soldiers. Yes, it’s a difficult day today.

Emotions are running high… everyone wants revenge. But you must also realise that the Pakistani Army, who surely is responsible for this in some capacity, will be on high alert. The JEM will also be on high alert. So that leaves URI2 as a high risk option. Modi will also need to take into consideration the LokSabha elections which are due in a couple of months. Any miscalculation can be disastrous. But at the same time, if his actions bear fruits, it will guarantee a second term.
Pulling out of the Indus water treaty is a more diplomatic options, plus, we could also stop all trades with Pakistan. But will it really be crippling?

Also, since the attack is fresh, all media outlets will be harping ‘Revenge’ but this narrative will change over the coming days to a more moderate tone as the usual Pakistani sympathisers who are hiding today, will start appearing in the news studios and social media sphere and blabber about how an unproportionate response could diminish the support for this Fight-Againt-Terror.

I personally think, that if the Indian Govt can, they should take out Masood Azhar soon. And may be a few others just as a cherry on the cake. Some sort to armed escalation would also help. But this will require elaborate planning and could be expensive also. This has an added risk that if it spirals out of control so close to the national elections, it could undo all the work done in the last 5 years by this govt. Plus this would undoubtedly invite pressure from the international community, primarily US & China. But it’s an options none the less.

Either which way he choses, Modi’s political acumen will be tested this time. He himself has come out and said that the sacrifice of the jawans will not be in vain. His senior ministers have also echoed the same. So this has to manifest in tangible actions else the opposition will make this a poll issue. If there is no response, then the Congress President will not stop screaming about it in all his rallies leading upto the polls. All the other members of the Thugbandhan will also be critical of how the issue was be handled by the PMO.

So as it stands, this is a difficult time for the nation and it’s leadership. All eyes will be on the PMO. I hope that the action Modi choses, surprises us. Honestly, I don’t think the end to this conflict is near. It’s a vicious cycle. But in this day & age, no retaliation is a sign of cowardice rather than upholding of Gandhian principles.

Jai Hind!

Crazy Flagship Prices

Apple launched the iPhone X at a thousand bucks. The top end costs $1200. This was in 2017. In 2018, iPhone XS Max tops at a staggering $1449. Every other flagship device that launched since has tested the $1000 dollar mark. These are crazy prices. Really crazy. Pause for a moment… Are mobile devices, which inherently have a lifespan of 24-30 months worth $1000+ ?

The answer I predict will be revealed in 2019 refresh cycles. Thats when the first generation of these flagship typically come up for replacement. The flagships of today are without a doubt the most fantastic piece of devices. State-of-the-Art! But will people be tempted to upgrade these devices with every launch? I believe, that most people will hold on to these devices a while longer. This would mean lower sales of the flagship phones released post 2019. Apple, Samsung made their billions selling us millions of phones in the mid 2010s. To make these billions, the companies required that their products see mass adoption. Not be seen as exclusive devices, but be the daily drivers. That was exactly what these two companies managed to achieve. The flagships where priced such that people could afford them, most of the time subsidised by the carriers. I remember the first time I got my self a flagship. It was the Samsung S3. It was a perfect phone… fast, great camera… but for exactly 2 years. Then it started to slow. The battery began to die quickly. The next flagship I picked was the iPhone 6s. This was even better than the S3. It lasted for more than 2 years before the battery-gate kicked in. Luckily, I replaced the battery under the Apple Battery Replacement program. My current flagship is, well not exactly a ‘flagship’, but rather the ‘Flagship Killer’ OnePlus 6. Most of my phones are less than $650 thanks to buy-in / trade-in schemes. When I was looking to upgrade my iPhone 6s, the iPhone X was not even in the shortlist. It’s price even with the offers didn’t really justify. Plus, the user reviews of OnePlus 6 were great. Good build, good camera, fast OS, good battery with dash charge at less than half the price.

Today, the mobile market is a mature market. The differences between the high end phones has never been this close. So when experts rate a phone, there almost never is an unanimous winner anymore. And with phones that cost less than $500, replacing them in 2 years is always a possibility. Replacing a $1000+ phone in two years is also a possibility, but what will be interesting is the number of people who ACTUALLY go for replacement. The early reports suggest that the sales of iPhone XS are lower than expected. Samsung too is being given a tough fight by Huawei.

Another factor that will matter is that in the last 3-4 years none of the manufacturers have leap-frogged in terms of innovation. The hardware of this devices today are easily future proof for at least 2-3 years. Personally, I find their pursuit for the bezel less display laughable. I would instead prioritise a bigger battery or an indestructible display any day. Keep the bezels and put in as many sensors as possible if you ask me. Phones have moved on from being just a device for communication. They are a device that have an untapped potential as utility devices, health monitors, navigation devices, digital wallets.

Smartphones, especially the flagships, will need to realise, that $1000+ prices is not sustainable. They will still sell, but the sweet spot lies well below this price point. Apple just announced their quarterly results and the sales are way below. They sugar coated it by saying that the battery replacement program caused a hit. Also the phones of today are so good that people are happy to keep them for more than 2 years, which in plain english is saying that our new phones are just too expensive for people of upgrade, so they rather squeeze out every penny of the earlier $1000 device till they pick up the next $1000+ device. And god forbid if they get their hands on a device like OnePlus. Cause if they use if for a few days, they will realise what a daylight robbery the $1000+ devices are.

Manufacturers have to revisit the pricing of the earlier days when they were killing it in terms of sales. They have to cut down on their fancy bezel less, 4K targets. But rather put in better speakers, bigger batteries, unbreakable screens. If they don’t, then the next OnePlus like story is just waiting to happen.

Modi and Yogi – Mid Term Update

Modi has changed gears! His government is now halfway through the term and he is still going strong. And just when you thought that he would relax and bask in the glory of the UP victory, validating his most ambitious move, DeMonetization, take a break from the relentless media scrutiny, he and Amit Shah announce Yogi Adityanath, the saffron clad, temple head of GorakhNath temple from the UP heartland as the head of their government in UP, the most tricky and historically important state of India. Lutyens Media Mafia was in a meltdown. They had got a rude shock of a BJP sweep just a few days, and now this bomb.

They were clueless. So clueless that they started asking opinions for taxi drivers and imaginary entrepreneurs on why Yogi? Next they took to twitter and asking for insiders on why BJP chose Yogi?

I am no expert on UP ground politics, just like I was not on US, but then you could see it coming. Hindus voted for a change and it was not just for development. The stories coming out of UP under the SP government were of Hindus living a nightmare – women not safe, cops indifferent. I rememberer talking to my friend in Goa and discussing the contrast of political climate between a state like Goa and UP. In Goa, who ever wins Congress or BJP, it not like matter of life and death unlike in UP.

So why Yogi?

Modi campaigns any election on 3 mains points.

1. Development
2. Pro Poor
3. Hindutva

He has been very vociferous on the first 2 and kinda let the 3 one be off the radar since he took over prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign.

In his first two years, he has gone all in with the first two. Make in India, NHAI is doing good. Railway Ministry has been given a new life, Power ministries if lighting the dark parts of India that didn’t see electricity for 75 years since Independence. Foreign Ministry is doing a great. So great that, you can get in touch with the Foreign Minister using a tweet. Diesel subsidy was removed. On the Pro Poor front, he rolled out life and accident insurance for all. LPG gas connection for poor women. Funny thing is the we are a poor country and yet in 70 years of our history no one thought of getting these basics right. Swachh Bharat is pro poor initiative. DeMonetisation is a fight on corruption. He gave a relief to the middle class by halving the income tax rate from 10% to 5%. He is trying to push housing in tier 2 cities with lesser interest rates. He has been relentless with the message that his govt is a clean govt, working for poor and hardworking class and building a developed India.

So why Yogi. My best guess is that, it was time to reassure the core of BJP voters that they have not abandoned the Hindutva plank. And nothing says Hindutva than a saffron clad Yogi. And its not that Yogi is nobody. He is the most popular leader in UP. Infact, he was next only to Modi in the campaign plan. He has been 5 time MP from Gorakhpur. And he has hit the ground running. Banning illegal slaughterhouses, starting anti-romeo squads, banning the red beacon on govt cars. But you may ask – what about the moderates supporters of BJP living in cities across India? I think they will not be too alarmed with this choice. They care too much about first 2 points.

I think Modi and Amit Shah have identified Yogi as someone with potential. I believe that BJP is the only party that starts to groom next generation of leaders. Classic example is the TN where after Amma, it was a free for all. The next roster of BJP leaders will include Fadnavis, Smriti and now Yogi. I thought Parrikar was close, but he just didn’t want to go beyond Goa. The other leaders like Gadkari, Piyush, Suresh Prabhu are implementors who can get things done rather than generate mass public support. Who knows what kind of India will emerge in the next decade. But know matter how India evolves, BJP will have the horse no matter what the course India charts – the very likable Devendra Fadnavis, the feisty Smriti with a bit more of experience and the pure Hindu Hero Yogi Adityanath. Modi could have played safe by picking the BJP head Keshav Maurya but he chose not to. He wants to remind India that this is BJP. And if ever there was a verdict to push for Yogi than this was it. In this one move he and Amit Shah have squashed any narrative that BJP was becoming soft on Hindutva. And there is no other place to do this than India’s heartland, UP.

Yes, Modi has changed gears. But India, nothing is guaranteed. We remember the fall of BJP in 2004 all too well. BJP must not be complacent. 2019 will be BJP against all the rest. And the fight will only get dirtier.

Barack Obama

I have always maintained, two of the biggest underachieving politicians of the past decade are our Ex PM Manmohan Singh and the US President Barack Obama.

The following picture with Anthony Bourdain is an apt reminder of the Obama Presidency, plenty of Photo Ops, very little substance.

obamabourdain
obamabourdain

The history will always remember Obama as America’s first black president. Period! Nothing more. And that is the real disappointment. The high point of his presidency was the day he took the oath in 2009. Despite being the most powerful person in the world for 8 years, he never did anything substantial.

George W Bush Sr stood against Saddam, Bill Clinton tried to bring peace to the middle east- the historic occasion when U.S. President Bill Clinton stood in the background when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (L) and Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat shook hands don’t happen everyday.

oslo accords
oslo accords
.

George W Bush Jr will be remembered for standing on a mountain of rubble at ground zero with a bull horn comforting America in crisis.

George Bush Jr
GeorgeBush

Obama will be remembered for … ??? well, his colour of skin.

He had eight years to make a mark. But nothing! In a way, he has now paved way for Donald Trump – the anti-politician. American people have given up on politicians, and decided to throw their weight behind a businessman, who speaks his mind regardless of it being politically incorrect. They have taken liking to a person who has never held any public office, nor served in the army.

Not that I am against Donald Trump. Infact, I think, even I am fed up of the typical politician who value being politically correct over being just plain correct.

It’s time to throw caution to the wind and just give brashness an chance. What is the worst that could happen – Status Quo?!?

past posts
Obama Presidency
2008: King in waiting

English is a very funny language!

We have all heard this line, made famous by a certain Bollywood star 🙂 And he gave a series of brilliant example as to why is it…

Getting to the point of this blog, most of us must have seen and had a hearty laugh at the signages with wrongly spelled english. I too have had many laughs. Child Beer! But a recent one really got me thinking. Are these ‘misspelt’ words funny or actually brilliant. Think about it. Phonetically they are perfect. And mind you, ‘English’ is not our native language. It was thrust upon us by the British. It’s a different matter all together that today, we Indians, probably have the largest population speaking the Queen’s english.

But getting back to these signages. Think about those for a while. Most of them are done by small businesses, mostly in rural india, trying to target the people who might not know the local script. The guy writing the signages, probably has limited knowledge of english which is not his native language. Should we not admire the ingenuity of the guy who, armed with just 26 alphabets, spelling the words purely on how they sound, not knowing the intricacies of the language. Isn’t that amazing. Isn’t that how a language should be. Most Indian languages are! We write it as it sounds. Why did English as a language introduce so many exceptions! Shouldn’t we ridicule these exceptions rather than the person who makes an attempt to guess spellings on pure phonetics…

I wonder what the Spelling Bees make of this issue