“China’s Grand Plan” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

These are the dark days of summer despite hours of long daylight. The world, especially the USA and countries belonging to BRICS are grappling with an invisible, deadly enemy trying to destroy our economy and our way of life. China, who created this virus to destroy the US and countries belonging to BRICS is at 29th position in terms of people affected by this deadly virus. Their GDP grew by 3.2% in the second quarter of 2020 while USA’s contracted by more than 30%; India’s and Europe’s declined by double digits in the same period.Here are the top five countries worst affected by CVIOD-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) as of August 2, 2020: USA, Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa. Other than USA, all those countries belong to BRICS. We all know that the USA and India are impediments to China’s ambition in dominating the world both militarily and economically. The rest of the countries belonging to BRICS namely, Russia, Brazil and South Africa along with India are the emerging economies capable of threatening China’s geo-political and economic ambitions. So, doesn’t the spread of the coronavirus seem like a sinister design by China to dominate the world? You be the judge.

To understand this further, let us examine China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). BRI hopes to deliver trillions of dollars in infrastructure financing to Asia, Europe, and Africa. If the initiative follows Chinese practices to date for infrastructure financing, which often entails lending to sovereign borrowers, the third-world will be subservient to China sooner than later. BRI raises the risk of debt distress in borrower countries. On top of that, China’s lending is not recorded by institutions like International Monetary Fund and World Bank. How smart?

China is acting like a loan shark. Countries that fail to service their loans are pressured to support China’s geostrategic interests. Not only that, China has been accused of requiring to own facilities such as seaports and mineral mines in countries that default on China’s loan. In 2012 Sri Lanka turned to China for loans and assistance with an ambitious port project. Since Sri Lank defaulted on Chinese loan, it had to hand over the port and 15,000 acres of land around it for 99 years to China in December 2015. The transfer gave China control of territory just a few hundred miles off the shores of its rival, India. This also provided China a strategic foothold along a critical commercial and military waterway.

The same story is being repeated with Pakistan’s Gwadar port, the deepest seaport on earth. Gwadar Port is in Baluchistan province of Pakistan which is operated and controlled by China Overseas Port Holding Company.

China developed Coronavirus, a biological weapon and planned to use that to destroy its rivals. The virus leaked either intentionally or inadvertently from its lab in Wuhan. China quickly controlled the spread of the virus from affecting big cities like Shanghai and Beijing. During that time, it also stopped all the flights coming into China, but kept the outgoing flights open intentionally to spread the virus in Europe, the USA and the countries belonging to BRICS.

Work in Progress

While countries of the world are struggling to find a cure for Covid-19, China is creating new viruses (biological weapons) to follow the present one. The scientists have identified a new strain of flu soon to come from China that will become another pandemic. It’s called “G4 EA H1N1.” If this trend continues (and will continue, most probably), China will soon be the master of the world, if not of the whole universe.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, there are two factors working against the free world. First, they do not have seasoned diplomats who can match the skill and experience that the Chinese leaders possess. The politicians in the free world are preoccupied with power grab and demagogy rather than caring for the interest of their country. Reminds me of, “Nero fiddled while Rome burnt.” In the United State the opposition has spent last four years trying to remove its president. The Congress has not passed any bill to advance infrastructure, education, immigration reform and healthcare. As a matter of fact, they want the economy to deteriorate even further to help them win the presidency in 2020.

Secondly, the US companies and the European politicians (and companies) both have easy virtues. They can sell their soul and their country for gaining a penny in profit. Big businesses are already itching to start manufacturing in China where labor is cheap and without regulation and has a great supply-chain-network to conduct the business. Sorry for the gloom and doom, but that’s the way it appears to me. Please feel free to submit your point of view on this matter. Thank you for your attention.

Out of My Mind: “It Was A Nice Day” by ‘Musafir’

I was asked again, “How do you spend time during self-quarantine.”

“Well. I wake up late, very late. That kills the morning – completely so. Then I get on social media. Social media is a big town. I meet nearly everyone walking there on a daily basis for a lot of things, such as status updates, photo sharing, preaching, providing corona remedies and general chatting. That would have irritated me in pre-corona days. Now, that’s my only social contact that I can look forward to. Beggars can’t be choosers. Can they?”

Half the year is already gone and I am still self-quarantined and, finally, I am lovin it. This has definitely changed me for better as I have learned to appreciate people more. I am patient with them and respect their views no matter how stupid they can be. I don’t argue with them anymore. What else is there to do, anyway? I don’t want them to block or delete me.

One of my nagging friends called me to settle an old score and shouted over the phone, “You have to put two and two together. Remember, 2 plus 2 will always be 4 no matter what your opinion is.”

 Usually I would have tried one-upmanship on him but this time I replied, “Wow my friend I totally agree with you. I like how you added 2 and 2 together and got 4. Very insightful!”

Another friend of mine always gives me inspirational lectures because I look uninspired most of the time. Today his sermon was on hope. “Look at the brighter side. Look up, the sky is blue.”

Though it was pouring where I was, I replied, “I totally agree with what you said. I like how you used the color blue as a form of imagery to describe the sky that was such a powerful statement you made.”

Another friend of mine who is frustrated with Corona situation wrote on Facebook, “Life sucks.”

“I completely agree with you one hundred percent. Thank you so much for opening my eyes to a brighter and more enlightening future! Have a glorious day,” I replied.

There are some questions that are impossible to answer. Someone posted on twitter: “Does anyone know how people in 1918 did their pandemic without the internet?”

Someone wanted to know, “How to propose to a girl during quarantine?”

That took care of most of my day. I realize that I have become very observant during these Corona confinement days. I observed a spider and realized that it was the best web designer.

Who said that sports were dead? I watched the birds fight over a worm from my window. The Cardinals led the Blue Jays 3–1. 

I also found out that the best way to avoid touching my face was holding wine glasses in both my hands.

Oh! Tomorrow is Monday. I love Mondays. That’s our garbage day. I get so excited; I can’t decide what to wear. After all, I’ll be seeing some of my neighbors and will say Hi to them! 

Well friends, that was quite a nice and productive day. Finally, it’s 11 pm, I got to remove my day pajamas and put on my night pajamas now. Good night!

Current Affairs: “Aggression on Top of the World” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

The India-China border measures 2,100 linear miles running through a high altitude snowy, rugged and almost impassable terrain in the Himalayas. I had just graduated from high school when India and China fought a brief border war in 1962. China claimed and encroached land inside the Indian territory in that war which included a part of now Ladakh, an Indian territory. The Chinese occupied a big chunk of Ladakh called Akasi-Chin which is situated at an elevation of 16,000 ft above the sea level. At the end of the war India and China created a line of control (LOC) along the Indo-China border and decided to solve the problem through negotiations in the future. LOC is not demarcated, and China and India have differing ideas of where it should be located, leading to regular border transgressions.

In May of 2020, a brawl broke out between Indian and Chinese soldiers stationed at camps near LOC in Ladakh. The Indian soldiers confronted the Chinese troops and lost 20 men in the skirmish. The Chinese are ambiguous about their losses, but it could be between 40 and 100 according to some estimates. As the world has been distracted by the coronavirus pandemic, China has taken a series of aggressive actions in recent months to flex its economic, diplomatic and military muscle.

The spark for the recent tensions seems to be ignited because of a road that Indian Army is building to get to a remote air force base through mountain passes in the Galwan Valley, which is fully within Indian territory. The Chinese don’t like it as this may give India a strategic advantage over China in that region.

China is also unhappy with India’s actions in August 2019 that ended Jammu and Kashmir state’s traditional autonomy and created the Union Territory of Ladakh. China didn’t like the change in the status quo as this action projected India as a formidable power in that region. India’s superiority in the region also poses a challenge to China’s Belt and Road Initiative with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor passing through Pakistan occupied Kashmir bordering Ladakh.

Unfortunately, India’s military options are limited beyond border skirmishes. China is on the cusp of matching the United States militarily and has a far superior war machine in comparison to India.

However, India can take actions to hurt China economically. New Delhi will likely assess other nonmilitary policy options through boycotting Chinese products, businesses and ventures in India.The Indian government recently banned 59 apps developed by Chinese companies over concerns that these apps were engaging in activities that threatened national security and defense of India. “ByteDance’s TikTok, which counts India as its biggest overseas market; video call apps from Xiaomi, which is the top smartphone vendor in India; two of Alibaba Group’s apps (UC Browser and UC News) and many more are the significant names targeted by India.” (Source: TechChurch June 20, 2020). India is also contemplating putting restrictions on Chinese equipment in its large and growing telecom sector banning China’s involvement in building India’s 5G infrastructure.

There too, it’s not going to be a smooth sail for India. Targeting Chinese-backed apps would mean a heavy blow to the Indian start-up companies. “Many of those companies depend on Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Tencent.” (Source: Global Times, June 30, 2020). Companies backed by Chinese capital have made inroad in Indian businesses. Moreover, India’s policies have always been unstable in this regard. As I am writing this article, TikTok just said it has been invited to meet with concerned Indian government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications. Such gestures project India’s indecisiveness and weakness.

There is no doubt that India is too dependent on Chinese and American technologies. India needs to be a pioneer in developing its own system and not depend on China or the US for innovation. For example, the leader in India’s smartphone market is the Chinese company Xiaomi. The number two player is South Korea’s Samsung. Chinese companies Vivo, Oppo and Realme are at number three, four and five respectively. There is no Indian firm with any meaningful product in India’s market.

The founder of Infosys, Narayana Murthy, was quoted as saying: “There is not a single invention from India in the last 60 years that became a household name globally.” He added that India had not produced “any idea that led to the earth-shaking invention to delight global citizens.”

Indian universities need to do more research and produce entrepreneurs who can produce platforms like Microsoft, Google, Apple, Alibaba and Baidu. Until India does that, it will remain a second-class power in comparison to China and will have to live with their bullying.India hopes that the current standoff would be resolved through dialogue.

PM Netanyahu of Israel once rightly stated, “The weak don’t survive, the strong survive. You make peace, alliances with the strong. You are able to maintain peace by being strong.”

Entitlement or Empowerment? Choice Is OursBy Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir

Entitlement or Empowerment? Choice Is OursBy Anil Shrivastava ‘MusafirLately, we have been hearing a lot about entitlement and empowerment. This has a special significance in view of the recent disturbances happening in America’s major cities. It seems that the line between entitlement and empowerment is blurred due to the noise coming from various partisan groups who love fishing in troubled waters.“

Entitlement is the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). The problem with entitlement is that it can be an impediment to one’s own potential. It can also mean surrendering one’s control over to destiny at the cost of self-achievement and self-esteem.

Many of our readers who came to this country in the 1960s and 1970s had only eight dollars in their pocket and an education to go with. The education was mostly provided by their parents which, in turn, empowered them to go out and earn a living. They still had to go through the struggle of finding jobs and surviving through frequent layoffs. Many of them painted houses and bused tables in the interim. Even when employed, the insecurity of losing jobs and worrying about the next economic cycle were their constant companions.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “Empowerment is the granting of the power, right or authority to perform various acts or duties.” Empowerment enables one to get stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s own life and claiming one’s rights.In a society of equals, no one inherently deserves anything. Everything has to be earned without any special treatment. No one gets anything above and beyond what he or she should receive. Problem is that we don’t live in a utopian society with equal playing fields. Yes, there are some who are born with a silver spoon in their mouth and others who live in a world void of any hope. This is nothing new. This has been there since the beginning of the civilization in every corner of the world. The good news is that the gap between haves and have-nots has shrunk. According to World Bank, “over the last 25 years, more than a billion people have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty, and the global poverty rate is now lower than it has ever been in recorded history.”

However, according to the same sources, “More than 700 million people live in poverty around the world, living on less than $1.90 a day. Every day, 15,000 children die of preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia. More than 260 million children are out of school, limiting their chances of breaking the cycle of poverty.” This makes us think, do they need entitlement or empowerment?

Entitlement has been used by the rulers and politicians to keep the masses dependent, loyal and pacified. The use of entitlement (present day welfare) caused the fall of the Roman Empire. The soldiers were given exorbitant retirement packages in the form of free tracts of farmland or large bonuses of gold equal to more than a decade’s worth of their salary. They were also given enormous and periodic bonuses in order to prevent uprisings.

Today, entitlement is used by many dictators in the Arab world to keep their subjects from revolting against them. The locals lead a cushy life working one hour a day mostly in public sectors. The real work is done by temporary migrant laborers. As a result, we don’t hear any innovation or erudite coming from those countries. They are kept vegetating and satiated to avoid any trouble for the rulers.

In big democracies like the USA and India, entitlement is used by the politicians to maintain their vote banks. The politicians want to keep certain sections of people impoverished so that they would depend on freebies and would vote for them. This can’t be more self-evident than Mr. Biden’s recent statement, “If you are still deciding…, you ain’t black.” These politicians are demagogues with personal history of hypocrisy who’d always place their own political agenda above the needs of the disadvantaged.

Empowerment perpetrates the feeling that we will only get what we will earn and not necessarily what we may feel we deserve. A good example of empowerment was set by Miss Rosa Parks. Miss Parks refused to offer her bus seat to a white person on December 5, 1955 which started the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott and ignited the civil rights movement. Her message was about rights of blacks not entitlement.

Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Rev. King’s civil rights campaign played a pivotal role in ending racial segregation and the denial of voting rights to African Americans in the southern states. It also created a cultural shift in attitudes on race issues.

In the 1960s, America was marred by racial riots. Berry Gordy took a different approach. He started Motown label that brought unknown black artists (and whites also) on the world stage including Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and dozens of others. He empowered the black musicians to make waves in the world of music. We can feel their contribution in the air all the time.

The world is full of stories of liberations through empowerment in every aspect of human life including women’s rights, freedom of nations from imperialists, elimination of certain social stigmas and inclusiveness. They all happened through empowerment not entitlement. Entitlement is like opium which creates addiction in us, whereas entitlement is like a medicine that can cure us. The choice is ours.

BOOK REVIEW: “India: A History” Author: John Keay

Despite all the controversies and mysteries surrounding Indian history, its chronology begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization and the coming of the Aryans. These two phases are usually described as the pre-Vedic and Vedic ages. Hinduism arose in the Vedic period. The earliest literary source that sheds light on India’s past is the Rig Veda. It is difficult to date this work with any accuracy on the basis of tradition and ambiguous astronomical information contained in the hymns. Indus valley civilization, which flourished between 2800 BC and 1800 BC, had an advanced and flourishing economic system. The Indus valley people practiced agriculture, domesticated animals, made tools and weapons from copper, bronze, and tin and even traded with some Middle East countries. What happened before that is anyone’s guess and a topic full of myths.

The dates of Indus Valley Civilization, the advent of the Aryans and their entity and the Vedic period are based on estimates and conjectures derived from the excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro (now in Pakistan) in the 1920s.

The recorded history of India started around 320 B.C with Alexander’s conquest of Punjab. Around the same time the Mauryan Empire (322 BCE – 185 BC) assumed power in eastern and northern India. At its height, the empire stretched over parts of modern Iran and almost the entire Indian subcontinent, except the southern tip. Kautilya, also known as Chanakya aka Machiavelli of India and the author of “Arthshastra” helped Chandragupta to form the Mauryan Empire. Pataliputra (now called Patna in Bihar), the capital of the Magadh Empire became the largest city in the world at that time.

Ashoka the Great, grandson of Chandragupta expanded the Maurya Empire even further capturing Kalinga. The death of 100,000 people in the war changed Ashoka’s heart who accepted the teaching of Buddha and spread his message to China and the Far East. The successors of Ashoka were not strong enough to hold the empire together. It started disintegrating in 185 BC, almost 150 years after Chandragupta had overthrown the Nanda dynasty.

The next significant kingdom was the Guptas (4-6 AD), also referred to as the Golden Age of Indian history. Chandragupta I received Pataliputra in dowry when he married the daughter of the chief of the ‘Licchavis’. His empire extended from the river Ganges or the Ganga to the city of Allahabad. His son, Samudra Gupta and his grandson, Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya) were equally skilled and powerful. They extended the empire in the south up to Narmada River.

The last of the ancient kingdoms in India was ruled by King Harshavardhana, who ascended the throne at Thanneshwar and Kannauj after his brother died. He eventually got defeated by the Chalukya Kingdom of Deccan India. Harshavardhana was well-known for establishing relations with the Chinese, and also for having high religious tolerance and strong administrative capabilities.

While the historians have concentrated their attention mainly to Northern India, the Southern India saw the rise of multiple imperial powers from the middle of the fifth century, most notably the Chalukya, Chola, Pallava, Chera, Pandyan, and Western Chalukya Empires. The Chola dynasty conquered southern India They also invaded parts of Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Bengal.

Another aspect of Indian history that is not well covered by historians is the foreign invasions prior to the advent of Islam. Kalidas and Patanjali (two of the greatest scholars) have made mention of the Yavanas (185 BC) who came from the West (Greece) and established their kingdom along with Sindhu, Madra, Kekeya, Gandhara and Kamboja as per the descriptions in the epic Mahabharata. This brings up another question, did Mahabharata take place after 185 BC?

The Parthians from Iran known as the Pallavs ruled from A.D. 19 to AD 45. They were followed by the Kushanas (also from Iran) for a short period. Following that the Sakas from Central Asia entered India and ruled sporadically around 4th century AD. Then came the Kushanas from South of China. Their most famous king, Kanishka ruled the present day Afghanistan, Punjab, Kashmir and Ganga-Jamuna Doaab (two rivers) from 78- 101 AD.

The Muslims started invading and plundering India around 11th century. Northern India at that time was ruled by the Rajputs. Their kingdoms were fragmented and they lacked unity. Mahmud Ghazni, the Muslim plunderer invaded India seventeen times around 1001 AD. He looted all the gold from temples, massacred people mercilessly and took tens of thousands of Indians with him as slaves.

In the 14th century, the Khalji dynasty, under Alauddin Khalji, extended Muslim rule to Gujarat, Rajasthan and the Deccan, while the Tughlaq dynasty temporarily expanded its territorial reach till Tamil Nadu.In 1398, Timur invaded northern India, attacking the Delhi Sultanate ruled by Sultan Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud Shah Tughluq of the Tughlaq dynasty. After crossing the Indus River in 1398, he sacked Tulamba and massacred its inhabitants. Then he advanced and captured Multan. His invasion was unopposed as most of the Indian nobility surrendered without a fight.

The Moghuls finally consolidated their rule to entire India starting with Babar in 1526 and ending with Aurangazeb in 1720. The kings after Aurangazeb were too weak to mention. The Moghuls were not plunderers as they considered themselves as Indians. Akbar the Great was the most famous Moghul who tried to integrate both Hindus and Muslims in his administration. The Moghuls constructed hundreds of famous architectural marvels. The Taj Mahal constructed by Shahjahan is the most famous of them all.

The Moghul rule ended in India with the British rule between 1858 to 1947. The British plundered and enslaved India, the crown jewel of the British Empire. The British were ruthless. They disrespected Indians and killed hundreds of thousands of them. The most infamous of those killings was at the Jalianawala Bag. At Jallianawala Bagh, General Dyer fired 1,650 rounds on innocent men, women and children killing 670 people and injuring another 1,200.

India finally became independent in 1947 at the cost of losing two major Muslim majority areas, Pakistan and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) where the Muslims established their own nations. Finally, India became a sovereign democratic republic (officially known as Bharat) in 1950.

In short, India: A History is a very informative book that reveals many key facts about India I chose this book after months of research and I recommend this to anyone interested in Indian history.

-Reviewed by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

“Lessons from Stay-at-home” By Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

Stay-at-home order has been lifted in Michigan. I am certainly going to miss the experience of confinement to some extent. I avoided the tension of attending lavish marriages, buying new clothes, attending parties with condescending folks and going on inconvenient vacations. We were planning to buy another car but now we have learned to live with one. One thing for sure, I saved at least tens of thousands of dollars badly needed to stay afloat in retirement. Thanks Governor!

Yes, spending the initial days of the lockdown was difficult for most of us as our movements were restricted. However, the days passed by spending time with family, watching movies on TV, reading books, writing poems, taking long walks, appreciating nature and learning to play piano. I didn’t have to hustle to enjoy the next day and the next and the next. I was free from the perpetual cycle of stress and strain to some extent.

I reconnected with long lost friends and relatives through phone conversations and video chats. We exchanged photos of gone by days and remembered our roots and the way we were. We indulged in heart-to-heart talks with loved ones. We wholly soaked ourselves in the warmth of love and affection we had never experienced before. I didn’t know that one of my cousins was really older than me. Now, I had to give her the proper respect. We laughed our hearts out at this switch of propriety. We have also learned how to use apps to connect with anybody anytime without being there.

The habit of ‘wanting’ everything is set to undergo a sea change in the coming days as we have caught up with the thought of distinguishing our ‘wants’ from ‘needs’. The orientation towards needs rather than wants, is now uppermost in our minds. This lockdown has established one major truth that life and its conveniences cannot be taken for granted and it is time the human race accepted this truth. It’s not worth getting caught up with the triviality of this material world anymore.

It was heartening to know that pollution level and production of CO2 diminished significantly during the shutdown. The buildings were visible from a distance in Delhi and Mt. Everest was visible once again from the villages of Bihar and West Bengal in India. Water was flowing again in many dried up rivers across the globe.

I also realized that despite the achievements in many fields, be it science, technology, medicine or engineering, the fact remains that differences between nations and races persist in our midst. This lockdown has made us realize that countries and races across the world have to work together forgetting the differences and setting aside prejudices so as to achieve peace and live together as one human race.

The thought of being together has blossomed in our minds and it is up to us to adapt to positive and lateral thinking.

“The one who loves all intensely

begins perceiving in all living beings

a part of himself.

He becomes a lover of all,

a part and parcel of the Universal Joy.

He flows with the stream of happiness,

and is enriched by each soul.”

(Yajur Veda)

Police Brutality and Black AmericaBy Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

When I first watched police officer, Derek Chauvin pressing his knee against George Floyd’s neck on national TV, I thought the officer was mentally deranged. It happened in Minneapolis, MN on May 25, 2020 in front of onlookers in broad daylight. When this went on for 8 minutes and 46 seconds despite Mr. Floyd’s repeated appeal that he wasn’t able to breathe, I knew that it was a case of gruesome murder. I am not familiar with the police protocol, so I can’t say what the other three police officers standing there could have done, but they could have certainly asked Derek Chauvin to release his knee from Mr. Floyd’s neck. That certainly makes then accomplices in Mr. Floyd’s homicide. The incident has etched a disturbing and horrifying image in my mind which, probably, will stay there for as long as I live. As much as I tried to separate myself from outrightly branding this as a race issue, I couldn’t deny the fact that it was a white police officer who mercilessly killed an unarmed black man. This didn’t have to happen again but it did.

Such incidents have been happening for a long time in our nation. In recent years, the blacks have been protesting police brutality against them that includes ‘Black Life Matters’ movement, dismounting of statues of confederate heroes and kneeling by black football players during the National Anthem at NFL games. 

I decided to talk to a few people of color to obtain a first-hand knowledge about this systematic malaise in our society that has become a routine now. The folks I talked to are well-to-do men of color living in rich suburbs. To my surprise, all of them were stopped and frisked by police several times for no obvious reasons. One of them drives an expensive car. He was stopped on the suspicion of stealing that car. One was taken into custody for going 10 miles over. Another guy told me that he was stopped and questioned by police at least on three different occasions while walking in his own neighborhood and on nearby streets. The police officer demanded that he show his driver’s license and used ‘f’ word for not carrying his ID with him at all times. These gentlemen also told me that their friends and relatives also had gone through similar experiences many times in the past. Had they violated the law, at least one of them might have met the same fate as Mr. Floyd did in Minneapolis.

Forms of police brutality towards men of color range from assault and battery to mayhem, torture, and murder. Some broader definitions of police brutality also encompass harassment, including false arrest, intimidation, and verbal abuse, among other forms of mistreatment. We cannot overlook the fact that sometimes stop and frisk and even the use of deadly force is required by police. Sometimes they have to make split second decisions. But those actions were not required in the cases mentioned above including the murder of George Floyd.

Police brutality against blacks is deep-rooted in the psyche of many police officers (not all). We need to look back and understand the reasons. During the days of slavery (1700s), the southern states used to have ‘Slave Patrols’ to prevent escapes and uprising by enslaved people on plantations. Slave Patrols was formally dissolved after the end of the Civil War in 1865.

Unfortunately, the end of Slave Patrols was replaced by ‘Black Codes’ for the purpose of determining the place of work and wages earned by black Americans. Black Codes also restricted black voting rights and controlled travel and residential choices of black Americans. Again, the police were responsible for upholding those codes. ‘Black Codes’ was made illegal with the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868.

But within two decades, Jim Crow laws aimed at subjugating African Americans and denying their civil rights were enacted across Southern and some Northern states replacing the Black Codes. This mandated separate public spaces for blacks and whites, such as schools, libraries, water fountains and restaurants. Again police were responsible for enforcing the laws. Blacks who broke laws or violated social norms were subject to police brutality. In addition to that, lynching of African Americans by white mobs were totally ignored by police at that time. 

Six decades after, the brutality is still going on. Seems like it got embedded in police DNA or is it the old habit that’s hard to die?

I believe that things can change and will change, if we take action. This needs a better screening and training of our future police forces. I like the following steps suggested by Oakland County (Michigan) Sheriff Michael Bouchard. Sheriff Bouchard suggests the following:

 “Look deeply into their social media. If they’re spouting racist things, that’s a ticking time bomb.

 Go into the applicant’s neighborhood and ask around to find out what kind of person they are.

 During a polygraph test, asked the applicants their intentions for becoming a police officer.

 Make accountability and discipline primary focus during training.”

Let me admit that although I have great respect for almost every black American I have come in touch with, I have not cared much to know about their history, plight and circumstances. I am not proud of it, but I never pretended that I did.

Finally, I disdain liberal elites who post condescending stories about blacks on social media. Most of them do this because it makes them look good in their followers’ eyes. I am also wary of politicians who take them for granted and exploit them. My suggestion to everyone including myself is to get real; make friends with African Americans and love everybody equally.

“May All be Happy,

May All be Free from Illness.

May All See what is Auspicious,

May no one Suffer.

Om Peace, Peace, Peace.”

“Current Affairs” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

This morning I woke up again. I pinched myself. Yes, it was for real. I checked up WhatsApp. My cousin had posted a new cure for Covid-19; something like grinding ten pieces of resins with turmeric and cumin seeds then mixing those in five ounces of rum. I deleted her message without reading any further.

Next I checked my Instagram account. I am one of those people who has an account but posts nothing. An acquaintance of mine had posted her picture vacationing in front of the Eiffel Tower. She has never been outside India, so it was, probably, most definitely fake.

I had a new follower on Twitter. I was excited because I don’t have many followers there. She was @Shabana. Unfortunately, she turned out to be a cyber hooker. I blocked her.

I don’t watch cable TV (neither Fox nor CNN), so I turned to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. They had the same headlines. The Times reported that the economy was sinking as 1.2 million folks had claimed for new unemployment benefits in the last week. The Journal reported that the economy was improving because only 1.2 million people claimed unemployment benefits last week compared to the week before.

In the midst of all this, I wondered what happened to the Covid-19 vaccine? Remember Remdesivir, Moderna and Sinovac 99? Even President Trump and Dr. Fauci got us excited about those. Every time they came up with a cure, the stock jumped hundreds of points. So, I decided to read about them on the Internet. Moderna is under investigation. The investigation concerns whether Moderna and certain of its officers have engaged in fraud, negligence or other unlawful business practices such as buying a big chunk of their own stocks prior to the announcement. I won’t blame them. If not in America, the land of opportunity then where else? Do we expect them to go to Gambia?

Wait a minute, something just flashed on my screen. Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, after a deli employee called 911, accusing him of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. A white police officer pressed his knee against victim’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Mr. Floyd died of asphyxia (lack of oxygen). Three more officers watched the incident as bystanders. A liberal friend of mine who watches CNN 12 hours a day called me and said that Trump had caused his death. These kinds of incidents never happened before 2017. Later a conservative friend, who watches Fox, told me that it was plotted by the Democrats to dim the prospects of the Republicans in the November election.

Several people called me to find out what I would write about these events in TheThinkClub. For a change, it’s your turn. I am all ears. What do I know? “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. (Socrates).”

“The Migrants of Bihar” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’While we were

quarantined in the comfort of our homes, a great many poor laborers in India were starving, being harassed and walking back 600 to 800 miles to their mud houses in the state of Bihar from Delhi and Mumbai, the political and financial capitals of India respectively. This is a human tragedy still happening in India.

While growing up in the state of Bihar in India, I witnessed those folks called ‘mazdoors,’ meaning laborers, living under dire poverty and slavery. They worked for ‘zamindars,’ (landlords) who made them sweat in their paddy-fields along with mazdoors’ wives and children for 12 to 13 hours a day in return for two meals a day consisting of low-quality rice (inconsumable for us), lentil, onion and salt. Many a time I witnessed them getting corporal punishment by the entire zamindar clan for suspected stealing of rice crops.

The government of Bihar mired in corruption and casteism, never created industries to employ them. Millions of those laborers left Bihar to work on per-diem wages in mega cities of India. Ironically, they are still called migrants in their own country. I’ll label them even worse. They are ‘disposables’ the way they are treated. Millions of them lost jobs, ‘jhuggi-jhopris’ (slum houses) and means to feed their families due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The Modi administration totally neglected them. As a result, those poor masses started marching back to Bihar in despair.

They’ll still be starving there as there are no jobs back home. The government of Bihar has offered to give Rs.500 (7 US Dollars) to each returning so-called migrant in the name of relief. The plight of thousands of migrant workers walking back to their native places from major cities can be felt and seen on television channels by everyone. Earlier, they walked on highways but when police at some places started harassing them, they took to walking along railway tracks. Some were run over by running trains. The government failed to provide transportation for them. As I am writing this article, the Railways of India have started special trains to take them back home.

Many of the migrants walking hundreds of miles died of heat, exhaustion, and starvation. Many were road-kills. One of the leading newspapers in Kolkata wrote, “The story of a New India would be written in the blood of those starving.” Thousands of them are still on roads, walking hundreds of miles with children and their meager belongings.

The stories of the disenfranchised working people lost in the grip of the administration’s indifference and lockdown is nothing new today. Shocking visuals remind me of Hindi-language film “Do Bigha Zamin”1953 directed by Bimal Roy, based on Rabindranath Tagore‘s famous Bengali poem “Dui Bigha Jomi“. That was in 1953. Nothing has changed for those poor masses in India which claims to be an advanced nation and a leading world-economy now.

The post COVID-19 situation does not look all that promising for them. I have witnessed the world sympathize with the plights of Central American migrants (who are fed and sheltered decently), the Syrian refugees and the Rohingyas, but no one seems to care for these Bihari migrants.

Please write to your Senators and Congressmen/women to pay attention to their plight as they did for others. Kindly send a donation to ‘COvID-19 Migrant workers Relief Fund’ by clicking here: https://www.responsenet.org/donations-for-covid-19-migrant-workers-relief-fund/. Please don’t tell me that this happens in other countries also. For now, let us do something for them.