Out of My Mind: “America Is Back” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

Weather is changing again despite threats of climate change. It’s the fall season all over above the equator. We won’t have to face hurricanes, forest fires, tornados, and floods for at least the next seven to eight months. I am not sure about the earthquakes. I’ll have to ask John Kerry if that is seasonal or a result of global warming. Meanwhile, Mr. Biden said the other day, “We can’t wait any longer to address the climate crisis. We see with our own eyes. We know it in our bones. It is time to act.”The president is right. The weather gets hot in summer, cold in winter. Then there are tornados and hurricane seasons. It was never like this before. There are rumors that the president is planning for the U.S. to switch to Celsius from Fahrenheit during the summer season to fight high temperatures.Mr. Biden is being unjustly criticized for a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. He made it very clear in an ABC interview that there was no better way to pull out from Afghanistan. “No, I don’t think it could have been handled in a way that, we’re gonna go back in hindsight and look — but the idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens. (Joe Biden).”He was so right although he kinda plagiarized a famous line from the U.S. Commissioner of Patents Charles H. Duell who said in 1899, “everything that could be invented had been invented.”I think that Mr. Biden is not able to concentrate on his job because he is being criticized too much. For example, take the border crisis. Millions of undocumented folks are pouring into the U.S. It’s not Mr. Biden’s fault. They are coming because Mr. Biden is a nice guy and Mr. Biden knows that. He said to the PBS correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor, “I guess I should be flattered because people are coming because I’m a nice guy, that’s why this is happening.” What’s wrong with being a nice guy?The Republicans are mad because folks pouring into the U.S. are unvaccinated against COVID. We got to understand that it’s not Mr. Biden’s fault if the government in their countries of origin failed to provide them COVID shots. Moreover, they also make a part of his future voter bank. How else is he going to be reelected?Some folks are ostracizing president Biden for inflation and microchip shortages. People don’t understand that the way to “be back” is simply undoing what Trump did. Contrary to Trump, Mr. Biden is discouraging energy production at home and is asking OPEC to make us dependent on them again. Why is he not taking lead in asking U.S. manufacturers to produce microchips? Simple, that will be Trump-like. Remember, how Trump asked auto manufacturers to start making ventilators and PEPs immediately and flooded the market Within months? We can’t repeat Trump-era policies. We don’t want another incursion like January 6.Don’t have cars available to buy? Can’t find rental cars? Are you paying double the price for UBER rides? Think about how you are saving the environment to live another day. It’s better to live in austerity than dying from CO2 emissions.According to the data obtained by the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ), crimes in the U.S. so, far, are down in 2021. Robbery declined by 6%, residential burglary, and nonresidential burglary by 9%, larceny by 6%, and drug offense by12% compared to the same period in 2020. But people are after Mr. Biden and cite the other statistics such as the number of homicides increased by 16%. The aggravated assault rate was 9% higher in the first half of 2021 than during the same period in 2020, and the gun assault rate was 5% higher in the first half of 2021 than the year before. Motor vehicle theft rates were 21% higher in the first half of 2021 than the year before. My question to those folks is why do you look only for bad news? We should learn from Mr. Biden. See, how he walks away showing his back to the media instead of spreading pessimism. We already have enough of that going around. Look at the glass half full instead.Some people are so unreasonable that they are asking Mr. Biden to live up to his campaign promise of ending Coronavirus. This is what he said during his election campaign in 2020, “There are 220 thousand people dead. Anyone who says, I am not responsible should not remain the president of America. I have a plan to end this.”Yes, he will end this eventually. He never promised when. He is trying his best. Don’t ask if this is the best he could do? Be reasonable guys.Lastly, “Et tu, Brute (Thou too, Brutus)?” The Associated Press (AP) reported this on February 20, 2021, “Collective sighs of relief could be heard from many European capitals Saturday after U.S. President Joe Biden made clear in his first major foreign policy address since taking office that he rejected the “America First” and transactional approach of his predecessor and urged cooperation among Western allies.”What did France do? It unashamedly recalled its ambassador to the United States on Friday in an unprecedented show of anger that dwarfed decades of previous rifts. All Biden did was asked Australia to cancel the submarine deal with France in America’s favor. Look at France. They recalled their ambassador just for a deal worth $65 billion. Is money that important for them? Shame! Shame!! What is $65 billion for Biden? He just taxed us through rising prices and is about to dole out 3.5 trillion Chinese dollars through welfare.America, come to your senses. Just think what’s your alternative, Kamala Harris?

“Reflecting on 9/11 Twenty Years Later” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

Man Jumping from the World Trade Center on 9/11

It was a beautiful Fall morning in Michigan. Life was normal and peaceful. I entered the lobby of my office building in Pontiac around 8:45 am EST. Lo and behold! I saw a plane approaching the North Tower of the World Trade Center on the TV screen. OMG! What’s happening? The pilot must be on drugs I thought. Then there was a big smoke. Yes, the plane had hit the tower right on. The security guard (a woman) screamed at the top of her voice,” What the f*%#$!!”

While we were frozen in shock, I saw another plane approaching the South Tower. I knew exactly then that it was a terrorist attack. No kidding! Both the towers fell creating a pile of dust and debris one after another. 3,000 folks perished in that disaster. Hundreds of firefighters knowing that they won’t come back alive rushed inside the collapsing towers to rescue people. The most heart-wrenching moment for me was watching a person jump in desperation from the 100th floor of the tower to his death.

The twenty-first century had just begun nine months ago. What a disastrous way to start the new century. Things have never been the same since then. To take revenge on the enemy USA went into Afghanistan to cut off the head of the snake. The War on Terror was started by President George W. Bush and ended by Joe Biden twenty years later.
On the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, I feel shaken again. I will never understand why someone will kill 3000 innocent people. I know people have lost their lives before also. 9/11 was not the first time that it happened. 450,000 died in the American Civil War. Approximately 85,000,000 died over the course of WWII, including the single-day death tolls of 1,177 at Pearl Harbor, 145,000 in Dresden, and 60,000 at Hiroshima. But I was not a witness to those mayhems nor were those scenes played on live TV for me to watch. That was then. We are in a new century now.

The Al Qaeda hijackers were not paid soldiers. They did not use any of their own weapons to attack us. The whole plot and action were at our cost. They used our planes as missiles, they consumed our fuel and destroyed our landmarks along with killing thousands of us. They left permanent scars in our hearts and souls. That was quite remarkable. They did to us what we could not do to them after spending trillions of dollars, losing thousands of lives, and deploying the most sophisticated weapons mankind has ever known. They hurt us. We couldn’t hurt them because they have no conscience. They are devoid of emotions. Above all, they don’t have much to lose, anyway. They stone their women to death in front of a cheering crowd; they marry their daughters as young as ten years old to terrorists; they massacre and behead their own people mercilessly in the name of religion.

Mr. Bush, who threatened and came through on his promise of ‘bombing Afghanistan into the stone age didn’t realize that millions of Afghans were already living in stone ages on 9/11 and they still are. Folks ask me, “Where were you on the day of 9/11?” I was in fear then and I am in fear now. Ruthless people and clans emerge in all ages. We all know about the Huns, the Barbarians, the Mongols and the Nazis. They will not cease to crop up in the future either. 9/11 just happened during our time on terra firma.

Anil Shrivastava
Partner and Managing Editor
Think Club Publication

“Reality about the Chip Shortage” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

The artificial life that we have created for ourselves today is mainly dependent on two major man-made inventions, communication satellites and electronic chips (chips). Practically everything that we use today is operated with the help of those tiny chips, such as cars, computers, phones, washing machines, electric toothbrushes, and refrigerators to name a few. There are microchips in nearly everything we own.

Right now, we have a shortage of chips that has forced car companies to halt production, has caused prices of products to go up, and may already have endangered America’s national security. This is concerning. The worst part is that the U.S.A. is almost entirely dependent on one Taiwanese company, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) for procuring these chips. Although the microchips were invented in the United States, there is only one chip manufacturing company left here today named Intel.

TSMC’s technology is so advanced that it now makes along with UMC (another Taiwanese company) around 42% of the world’s most sophisticated chips. Intel’s global market share is just 15.6% and its chips’ capability is inferior to TSMC’s. TSMC plans to invest another 100 billion dollars to expand its research and production facilities in the next three years. Compared to that, Intel’s plan is to spend another 20 billion dollars in Arizona.

Before I go any further into the topic, let me mention that the present shortages of chips happened due to interruption in the supply chain caused by the Covid pandemic and because of an unprecedented increase in demand for these electronic chips. According to some estimates, normalcy in industry will not be achieved until the year 2023.

This is the result of America’s short-sightedness in planning ahead in combination of savage corporate greed. Unfortunately, the tech giant’s’ only motive is to make money at any cost. They are the true rulers of America and they decide American policies at home and abroad. We, the people merely go to the polling booths to elect so-called representatives who are paid agents of big corporations. Our politicians and corporations have made us vulnerable for saving a few pennies.

Apple decided to buy chips overseas to add to its profit. Think about this, Apple will get nearly 53% of all the chips produced by TSMC in 2021. TSMC always prioritizes Apple and Apple always gets cutting-edge technology from them. In fact, even our own American chip manufacturing company Intel plans to get chips from TSMC starting next year.

“Apple has money and the quantity that could match TSMC’s ability. Apple sells more than 200 million iPhones and nearly 50 million iPads per year. With the introduction of M1 Macs, the quantity of Apple devices with TSMC chips will definitely grow. Apple definitely needs at least 200 million chips per year and they have the money to procure it. Prioritizing Apple definitely makes sense for TSMC when you see it in this regard. (Dhanush, July 5, 2021, Medium.com).”

Apple is not alone in making us depend on TSMC. Other U.S. corporations including AMD, ARM, Broadcom, Marvell, MediaTek, Nvidia, and many more have also followed the lead of Apple. The irony is that the American consumers would buy anything from anyone just to save a penny. We all ought to be blamed for this.

Mr. Biden wants to include $37 billion in his infrastructure package to help America find a solution for the microchip shortage. For Mr. Biden everything is symbolic. He stated on February 23, 2021, “I’m directing senior officials in my administration to work with industry leaders to identify solutions to the semiconductor shortfall,” “Congress has authorized a bill but they need … $37 billion to make sure that we have this capacity. I’ll push for that as well.”

What is $37 billion going to achieve? As I mentioned earlier TSMC alone is planning to spend $100 billion to expand its operation in Taiwan. In my opinion, the U.S. government should start a program of its own on NASA’s scale to develop and manufacture microchips. Although I am an ardent supporter of free enterprise, the technology giants have failed us and have endangered our national security. NASA was created in response to the Soviet Union’s October 4, 1957 launch of its first satellite, Sputnik I. The United States prided itself on being at the forefront of technology, and, embarrassed, immediately began developing a response, signaling the start of the U.S.-Soviet space race. John F Kennedy said the following on September 12, 1962:

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. (John F Kennedy, America’s 35th president)”

We have no choice but to bring our manufacturing and innovation skills back where they belong, here in the U.S.A.

“Mr. Biden’s Neighborhood” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

Enough has been said and written about America’s chaotic retreat from Afghanistan. I didn’t want to add another voice to the undeniable noisy choir. All I know is that “this too shall pass.” The next presidential election is more than three years away. All will be forgotten and forgiven by that time. What will remain is a divided nation fighting over party allegiance, abortion, LGBTQ rights, guns, and maybe the economy. That’s what happens in America.

Most Americans can’t differentiate between Afghanistan and Lebanon, maybe, rightly so. They wake up in the morning (most of them), earn a living, come home, have a beer, watch TV, pay bills and go to bed. They elect career politicians to worry about the rest.

“You would need an electron microscope to detect the effect of Afghanistan on any congressional race in the last decade,” Biddle said, referring to the American political picture. “It’s been invisible.” Russonello, Giovanni (NY Times, August 15, 2021)

Who cares what Mr. Biden promised and what is he delivering? Mr. Biden said, “America is back, multilateralism is back, diplomacy is back.” Back to where? If you don’t have an answer, don’t worry. The core Democrats will vote for him no matter what just like the core Republicans will vote for Trump, no matter what. It’s the Independents like me who will be caught in the middle rationalize our choices.

Betraying allies and fighting wars without a cause is nothing new for America. We have done that in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and most recently in Afghanistan. Just recently Donald Trump abandoned the Kurds of Syria, leaving them vulnerable to attack by Turkey. President George W Bush promised Qaddafi of Libya that the United States would not attempt to overthrow his regime if he destroyed weapons of mass destruction. Later, President Barack Obama’s administration ignored that earlier pledge and collaborated in Qaddafi’s overthrow. The lessons of Libya have not been lost on other countries. North Koreans have repeatedly invoked this example to justify the country’s nuclear weapons program and to warn against ever trusting assurances from the United States.

Under these conditions, why would any sensible government take America’s word for anything? Why would any halfway smart adversary make substantial concessions to the United States in exchange for U.S. promises, assurances, or pledges?

No one trusts America anymore. The British Member of Parliament, Gavin Barbell made this statement about America, “The lesson for Europeans is clear. Whoever is president, the US is unlikely to offer the same support that it used to in parts of the world where its vital interests are not involved. Europeans are going to have to develop the capability to intervene without US support.”

“We lived a little bit the great illusion,” said French Parliamentarian Nathalie Loiseau. “We thought America was back, while in fact, America withdraws.”

According to U.S. News and World Report, America’s trustworthiness is at 34 on a scale of 1 to 100 ranking at number 20 among the world’s most trusted nations.

Mr. Biden’s approval rating among Democrats is still above 90% and Mr. Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is still above 70% (Source Washington Post).

And no matter how disappointed one maybe, I don’t see any scenario where the Americans would care about Mr. Biden’s faux pas and miscalculations. So, don’t worry, be happy; we are in America.

Book Review: “A Piece of Peace” Author: Sweta Vikram

To be published by: Loving Healing Press, Ann Arbor, MI (160 p.)

“A Piece of Peace is a chronicle of events related to Vikram’s illness and her triumphant return to life. She shares lessons learned on her way to recovery and imparts valuable advice to her readers that can both be life-changing and life-saving. Her story demonstrates the victory of valiance over despair. This is a timely read, especially, because many of us are in low spirits due to the Coronavirus.” -TheThinkClub

In her new book, “A Piece of Peace” Sweta Vikram opens up about her chronic illness and her determination to triumph over it. She writes in the Introduction section of the book, “According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, chronic diseases are among the most prevalent and costly health conditions in the United States.”

Withstanding her illness, the entire book (written in the first-person narrative) is full of poignant personal experiences, cogent advice, and nuances of spirituality.

In August 2018 Vikram fell ill. She had just celebrated the success of her first novel, “Louisiana Catch,” got invited to attend “The Biggest Conference for Women” in Europe, went to attend a board meeting in Chicago to do an event at Mango Pickle.

Vikram chronicles phases of her illness till August 2019 when she recovered and was able to lead a normal life again.“A Piece of Peace” is full of Vikram’s observations about life and living. She is a practitioner of yoga, observes silence twelve hours a week, and believes in Ayurvedic medicines. At one point she writes,“Surviving is a beautiful thing because it teaches you who and what matters.

”The rest of the book is about lessons learned which I found very valuable. It covers an array of topics including relationship, gratitude, forgiveness, writer’s block, hygiene, self-care, and women’s place in society.

Vikram writes,“Here is my friendly advice to anyone who identifies as a woman: stop relying on people to build you up. Stop giving away your power. Instead of seeking outside validation and approval, focus on staying authentic and building your own path.”

I was inspired by “A Piece of Peace” and learned valuable lessons in perseverance, courage, and survival. I recommend this book to everyone regardless of their situation in life.-Reviewed by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

Sweta Vikram’s book, *A Piece of Peac*e can be pre-ordered by clicking below.https://www.lhpress.com/store/A-Piece-Of-Peace-p374791356

My First Hero by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir”

Tenzing Norgay

(October 2021 is the Silver Anniversary month of TheThinkClub. We’ll be publishing the best of TheThinkClub throughout this quarter.)

Sherpa Tenzing Norgay was the first person to climb Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary on May 29, 1953. He went up the mountain as a common man, but he returned as a hero – the first hero I ever knew.

I was seven years old then. Unlike today’s manufactured heroes, he was not imposed upon me as a role model. He didn’t make statements by wearing ribbons nor was he promoted by any special interest group. He was a mortal figure of supreme significance to me.

At the age of seven, I had just started shedding my innocence and started to think on my own. I came to know for the first time that my real mother had died when I was only six months old and the only loving parents I knew until then were, actually, my uncle and aunt. Growing up with my aunt and uncle was the happiest time of my life. I lived in a village about 100 miles from Mount Everest. On a clear day, one could see the cap of Everest from there.

Ours was a crowded place. We had lots of visitors as both my uncle and aunt were extremely gregarious people. They used to accommodate and feed everyone. I was a happy child. Everyone in the village loved and protected me. Whenever I needed shoes, I just ran to the village cobbler and got a pair made for myself. My uncle and aunt used to give them grain in return. Watching the jugglers come to the village or listening to the movie songs on the deafening amplifiers of a passing procession was the only entertainment. My friends and I would sneak out of home and jump streams and climb trees. We ran for miles or went to the graveyard in the hope of catching ghosts and then return home to a warm meal. The grains and vegetables came from our farm and the fresh catch from our own pond.

Tenzing came from a large family in a village in Nepal. He was considered a lucky baby as the family crossed many hurdles after his birth. His childhood house was small and crowded. They ate the simplest food, but there was always enough. His family made clothing from yak wool and hides to keep warm during the winter. He had a very happy childhood until he came to know that his parents wanted him to become a lama (a Buddhist priest).He believed in Chomolungma (a Tibetan expression meaning to climb Everest or a mountain so high that no bird could fly over it) and that’s what he did his whole life. Tenzing knew the dangers of climbing Everest. Thousands of Sherpas had perished in helping the mountaineers climb Everest. Tenzing later took Indian citizenship. When asked about his nationality, he said, “I was born in the womb of Nepal and brought up in the lap of India. I am both a Nepali and an Indian.

I never met Tenzing in person, but I remember his confident smile and his rugged but kind face. His personality had a unique combination of western squint and eastern immaculateness. After leaving my village, I always felt like a caged bird that had lost its freedom. I thought of Tenzing when yearning for freedom. We had a similar childhood, happy and full of innocence.

I left my childhood home and lived in many places because my father had a transferable job. Now I live in the U.S. Although I am an Indian by birth, I am also an American. Climbing Everest those days was much more dangerous than space travel. Unlike space travel, the climbers were on their own without any guidance. They had to face deadly avalanches and blinding blizzards. They spent nights on sheets of ice in sub-zero temperatures. Every step taken could mean death. If they slipped on the sharp-pointed icy slopes, they could slide hundreds of feet before regaining a foothold. At times they would be in a free fall, flying headfirst down the mountain. But Tenzing didn’t care. He only dreamed of Chomolungma.

Tenzing had three lives. The first was as a child in Nepal in the village of Solo Khumbu. The second, lasting twenty years, was as a porter and mountain man. The third began on the day he came back from the top of Everest.Like Tenzing, I also have lived three lives. My childhood was as described above. The next twenty years were terrible. I was removed from the loving home of my uncle and aunt. Although I was provided a better material comfort in my father’s home, emotional comfort was lacking.

Tenzing had to lead a tough life in Darjeeling, India as he had to compete against many famous Sherpas, who had already made their names in the world of mountaineering. Tenzing saw trains and automobiles for the first time in his life.

I too was like a new Sherpa in my father’s home. I saw many modern amenities for the first time and was often compared to more sophisticated relatives and children of the friends of the family. I had to prove my worth. Tenzing’s life and struggle inspired me and gave me the needed jolt. As for the third phase of my life, I still have to climb my brand of Everest. My Chomolungma is to be a good writer.

Tenzing had no formal training in mountaineering. I am an engineer by profession. English is my second language. I have to face the avalanche in the form of rejections, a blizzard in the form of competition, and falling rocks in the form of meager resources. But my first hero taught me that I should pursue my passion for the love of Chomolungma. I have to keep climbing and not worry about coming down to mortal glory.

Footnote:Colonel Sir George Everest (July 4, 1790 — December 1, 1866) was a Welsh surveyor and geographer, and the Surveyor-General of India from 1830 through 1843. Everest was largely responsible for completing the section of the Great Trigonometric Survey of India along the meridian arc from Southern India extending north to Nepal, a distance of about 2,400 kilometers (1,500 mi). This survey was started by William Lambton in 1806 and it lasted for several decades. In 1865, Mount Everest was named in his honor in the English language despite his objections by the Royal Geographical Society. This enormous peak was surveyed by Everest’s successor, Andrew Scott Waugh, in his role as the Surveyor-General of India. Everest was born in Gwernvale Manor, just west of Crickhowell in Powys, Wales, in 1790, and he was baptized in Greenwich. Commissioned into the Royal Artillery, in 1818, Lt. Everest was appointed as assistant to Colonel William Lambton, who had started the Great Trigonometrical Survey of the subcontinent in 1806. On Lambton’s death in 1823, Everest succeeded to the post of superintendent of the survey, and in 1830 he was appointed as the Surveyor-General of India. Everest retired in 1843 and he returned to live in the United Kingdom, where he became a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was dubbed a knight in 1861, and in 1862 he was elected as the vice-president of the Royal Geographical Society. Everest died in London in 1866[2] and is buried in St Andrew’s Church, Hove, near Brighton.

“Afghanistan: America Loses Yet Another War”by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

American Soldiers sneaking out of Afghanistan
Americans fleeing from Vietnam after losing
American soldiers sneaking out of Afghanistan

America just lost another war, the Afghanistan War upholding the belief of many around the world that the United States of America is a paper tiger. In my opinion, this is a prologue of China’s eventual annexation of Taiwan. Of course, the U.S.A. will make a lot of noise consequently and will come up with face-saving statements. The world will sympathize with the U.S. for a month or two and then will rally around China, the new lone superpower.

Talking of face-saving, the U.S. President had this to say about Afghanistan:

“The United States had achieved its initial objective — routing Al Qaeda from the country and hunting down Osama bin Laden — and that Afghanistan’s government and forces must be responsible for their own future. (Joe Biden)”

To save his own embarrassment, Mr. Biden said this in early July to a reporter. “I want to talk about happy things, man!”

Mr. Biden also stated this about the Taliban’s eventual control of Afghanistan, “I trust the capacity of the Afghan military, who is better trained, better equipped and more competent in terms of conducting war.”

The fact remains that the Taliban have complete control of borders on all four sides of Afghanistan and they are closing in on Kabul from all sides. The Afghani soldiers are fleeing.

The U.S.A. abandoned Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield after nearly 20 years by shutting off the electricity and slipping away in the night without notifying the base’s new Afghan commander, who discovered the Americans’ departure more than two hours after they left. Winners don’t pull out in the dead of night.

Other than losing the war, America didn’t meet any of its objectives.

1. They didn’t demolish the Taliban and Al Qaeda. They are getting stronger

2. They couldn’t stop terrorism.

3. They didn’t leave Afghanistan in strong hands.

4. The Taliban are inviting China to rebuild their war-trodden country. Obviously, the U.S.A. can’t contain China

Of course, Mr. Biden didn’t create this mess. He inherited this and is left with holding the bag. It was the short-sightedness of George W Bush (43rd) and his cronies who started the war in Afghanistan on October 9, 2001, without thinking of any exit strategy. They had created the same mess in Iraq on the false pretense of Saddam Hussein possessing the weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

For the terrorists, surviving is winning. They won and the Unites States lost. The world’s most powerful military was kept from achieving its aims by tribal forces. Alas! The United States could learn from its defeat in Vietnam in the 1970s. It was the Ho Chi Minh trail then. It was a forbidding, mountainous frontier this time. It was the Viet Cong then; it was the Pashtun tribe this time.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. (George Santayana)”

“Little Things I Learned from the Pandemic of 2020” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

Now that the great pandemic of 2020 is over in the U.S. (at least this is what we are asked to believe), scholars and historians will document the human misery brought upon us by COVID-19. Once again, we will reflect on the fragility of life and its meaning and worth after so much death. It’s not the first time we’ll go through this drill. This has been replicated many times before in modern times.

The pain and loss suffered due to the great plague of the 1300s have been documented quite elaborately. The plague particularly engulfed the Italian peninsula and forced young Florentines to flee their plague-ridden city to wait out the storm. Unfortunately, there were no medicines, personal protective equipment, or government assistance to mitigate the suffering of the populace in that era. Also, I was not born then.

This time it was different in the sense that we had advanced technology to communicate with doctors, friends, and families. Many of us could work from home. Vaccines were produced rapidly and government assistance saved us from being in dire straits. The pandemic also yielded some valuable lessons for me and others.

I now realize more than ever what our family and friends truly mean to us. As restrictions begin to lift, seeing those we haven’t been able to connect with face-to-face feels that much more special.

I learned the importance of personal hygiene. When it comes to our health and wellness, there is no better prevention than a simple habit of washing our hands frequently.

Acquiring new hobbies such as learning a new language, reading, and writing, or learning to play musical instruments can be healing and invigorating.

Minimalism is not that bad after all. I learned to live without binge shopping, vacationing, going to movies and concerts, and living without extravagance.

I learned to appreciate the importance of essential workers like delivery drivers, supermarket employees, healthcare professionals, and other essential workers. The sacrifices they particularly made during this pandemic haven’t gone unnoticed. Showing gratitude for these everyday heroes will go a long way toward building lasting goodwill.

The unabated spread of COVID-19 reaffirmed my lack of credence in spiritual healers, self-proclaimed experts, and herbal diets.

Now I know that viruses can be created in labs by rogue regiments. The world should unite against them and prevent such regimes from doing this again.

Most importantly, The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated to me the value of freedom – the freedom to move, to be with those we love, to live in dignity and security – for myself and for those around me, from our loved ones to the strangers and the citizens of the world at large.

“For Sale: Social Media Followers”

by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

There is a new kind of enterprise in town. It’s called “purchasing Social Media Followers.” If you are on social media such as Instagram, YouTube, or if you write a blog, you don’t have to grow a following organically. You can purchase them and their likes through companies that will bring instant followers to your site. Big celebrities, businesses, and politicians do buy followers all the time. Some famous names and brands subscribing to such businesses include Kim Kardashian, Newt Gingrich, Lady Gaga, Sean Combs, Pepsi, Mercedes-Benz, and even some U.S. presidents.

Selling and buying social media followers is a lucrative business. Buying followers and their ‘likes’ can generate a tremendous return on investment (ROI). As an example, you can buy an entire existing Twitter page on eBay for $35 and instantly have 3,700 followers. Another company, Fast Followerz can provide 100 Twitter followers for merely $4.Purchasing social media followers can be a boom for people who use their social platforms and blogs for profit. YouTube pays $5 for every 1,000 views. More traffic to one’s site can generate more income for the owner of that site. A typical advertiser pays an average of $0.18 to $0.30 per view. For the sellers of products or services online, more traffic to their sites can surely create more buyers.

With the more followers you have, it is easier to become an influencer. An influencer is someone who has built a reputation and loyal following by sharing regularly on their social accounts. Influencers are able to convince their audiences to jump onto trends and buy certain products. To get to this point, one needs to grow following as well as come up with posts that generate strong engagement from followers.

Influencers make thousands of dollars per sponsored post. Celebrities are the biggest influencers. They earn millions of dollars in product endorsements, but ordinary folks can become nano-influences and earn hundreds or thousands of dollars per post.

People who like to write have become social media influencers and are making money through writing blogs. Some people are using forums like YouTube and Facebook to teach arts and crafts, and because of the various tools present on these social networking forums, they are earning a lot of money.

Of course, you need some kind of talent to engage and keep your followers loyal to your posts. The talent can be in any field, photography, writing, makeup, or fashion. However, the first requirement is to have at least 1,000 followers. That’s where “purchasing Social Media Followers” can be of help.