Learning by Proxy | COVID Returns

If 2020 was a bad movie, 2021 is shaping up to be a sequel where we might be too tired to save ourselves

If things keep going the way they are, fag end of March and April will become synonymous with supply chain disruption. Last year, half the world was locked up at home due to a COVID surge. Even today, parts of Europe are under lockdown and so are certain districts in India. Hopefully, we are not required to go down the roads we went down last year.

COVID Returns

Traditionally, influenza viruses turn up the heat during the winter months. Americans are usually administered the flu shot just after fall. A season the rest of the world calls autumn. COVID-19 is amongst the worst of the flu viruses, only this one seems to like the heat.

Last year, COVID numbers climbed in the spring and peaked during the summer. America - the world leader in COVID deaths - saw the first steep rise in cases during the summer.

Source: Worldmeters

You can choose a title of your liking:

COVID Returns

The Rise of the COVID - Part II

The COVID Comeback

COVID Resurrection

(You can send me some of your suggestions as well!)

The point is, it seems like this is a movie that we have seen before. Globally, about 125 million people have been infected by COVID (what has been reported).

This obviously does not include about the same number who might have been infected in China. According to the numbers that they have reported, China has had 100 more cases than Montenegro. The population of Montenegro as of the last census in 2011 was 620,000 people. China has had 90,183 cases, of which they had over 80,000 last January.

Either the numbers that have been reported are wrong OR they had a vaccine and unleashed this by mistake.

The point of stating the 125 Million was to emphasise that - as a good capitalist would put it - there is ample room for growth.

Although cases of Covid-19 had been trending downward in the United States, experts are warning that we are now in a precarious place after cases nationwide ticked up this past week by 12 percent as 30 states plus D.C. reported a rise in infections.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, explained on Face the Nation, that often when cases decline and reach a plateau — like they have in the U.S. over the past month — there is a surge.

Source: Yahoo

India is taking a turn for the worse. Particularly, there is a degree of fatigue that has set in and people are just taking things a lot easier. This coupled with the fact that several spring festivals are coming makes it even worse.

Source: Worldmeters

Maharashtra tightened travel restrictions and imposed night curfews as it reported 40,414 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, almost two-thirds of the national total, many of them in the densely-populated financial capital Mumbai.

“In (Sunday’s) meeting of the (COVID-19) task force, it was suggested that very strict restrictions like lockdown should be imposed immediately,” the office of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said in a statement.

Source: Reuters

Brazil is one of the worst-hit countries thanks to some incredible leadership. One thing is for certain, there won’t be too many people left to vote Jair Bolsonaro in or out by the next elections.

Health officials in Brazil’s most populous state, Sao Paulo, have called on the new health minister to consider imposing a national lockdown as coronavirus deaths continue to rise.

On Tuesday Brazil recorded 2,841 Covid-related deaths - its highest ever daily total.

Sao Paulo registered 679 deaths, also a record for the state.

Brazil has the second highest number of infections and deaths in the world, behind the US.

Source: MSN

The rest of the world is not faring any better.

Source: Worldmeters

So we have a vaccine. We have 100s of Millions who have been administered the vaccine. But... We still have Billions who have not been administered the vaccine. Not to mention, the virus itself is mutating and several variants have been found.

The only difference is that this time around, we have the production capabilities to meet the needs, if only for gloves and face masks. We are more than capable of ensuring that we can protect people to that extent. We need to be more careful if we do not want to watch the movie called 2020 again!

The stupidest country in the world - America - has lost close to 560,000 people to COVID-19. Globally 2.8 Million have died.

Just some food for thought -

According to the WHO

Over 10 Million people die of cancer each year

17.9 million people died of cardiovascular diseases each year

Tobacco alone kills 8 million people each year, about 500,000 in America alone.

The plastic packaging of food, the food processing techniques and chemical used to contribute to most forms of Cancer. Most cardiovascular problems are lifestyle issues and a result of increased stress, usually in the pursuit of money. And Tobacco, need I say anything.

To put it more succinctly, Capitalism kills more people around the world year than COVID could ever hope to.

Are we fighting the wrong fight?

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Cape

When the first voyagers set out to find the new world, they left Portugal and followed the African coast southwards. It was not until Bartolomeu Dias in 1488 that the extent of Africa was understood by Europeans. Bartolomeu himself named the southernmost tip of Africa “The Cape of Storms”.

Subsequent expeditions found the route to India and a new spice route through the seas opened up. Seeing the wealth that could find its way to Portugal through the cape, King John II of Portugal decided to name it the Cape of Good Hope.

As the British continued to rob India, going around Africa was both dangerous (because of humans) and difficult (because of the weather). The French had lost India completely by the mid-19th Century but their lust for Indian wealth was not completely gone. A French diplomat by the name of Ferdinand de Lesseps cut a deal with the Ottoman Empire to begin the construction of a canal from the Gulf of Suez to the Mediterranean Sea. The company that was incorporated to undertake this effort was called the Suez Canal Company. It is today known more simply as the Suez Group. They no longer own the Canal, it was nationalised by the Egyptian Government in the mid-20th century.

While the Canal had its own set of challenges when opened in November 1869, it soon became a very important channel for world trade. It reduced travel time by half. The first railway line in India was inaugurated in 1832. But after the opening of the Suez Canal, the British really doubled down on building railways lines to make their robbery much more efficient.

Source: Sea Distances

Today, nearly 50 ships pass through the Canal each day. They carry goods and most importantly petroleum worth 10s of Billions of dollars each day.

So this happened

Last year supply chains were constrained because of the lockdown and decreased factory output in China. This year, it seems like the crew of Ever given has given many policymakers headaches about supply chain disruptions.

About 12% of global trade passes through the Suez canal, carrying well over $1tn worth of goods a year. About 50 ships a day, carrying a total of $3bn to $9bn worth of cargo, will make the journey north or south between Suez port and Port Said.

The beached Ever Given alone is carrying up to 20,000 containers; and in the queue behind it sit more than 16 fuel tankers.

Container ships now form the bulk of the traffic in Suez, whose fees paid to the Suez Canal Authority amounted to $5.6bn in revenue for Egypt last year. A lengthy delay while the ship is salvaged will hit supply chains and the mounting costs could inflate everything from oil prices to basic goods, some suggest.

Source: Guardian

On Monday morning at 4 AM local time, the ship was re-floated, partially. The GPS data showing it.

Making space for other ships to be able to pass through. Oil prices dropped immediately, and Putin was seen sobbing silently by the corner of the Kremlin.

The impact of this will be felt for days to come, as it may take weeks to clear the backlog of ships that have been waiting at the canal.

The Egyptian Authorities are suing for a Billion dollars in losses because of the beached up ship and the resultant inability to collect levies.

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Delhi

First, what the government thinks of itself -

First, Freedom House, an American non-profit advocacy for democratic rights, changed India’s status from “free” to “partially free” on March 3. This status change, according to the report, came “due to a multiyear pattern in which the Hindu nationalist government and its allies have presided over rising violence and discriminatory policies affecting the Muslim population and pursued a crackdown on expressions of dissent by the media, academics, civil society groups, and protesters.”

[…]

Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar dismissed these data as nothing but the developed world’s “hypocrisy” while speaking at the India Today Conclave on March 15. Jaishankar may have called these reports “homilies,” but they point to a worrying trend of India’s declining status across key indices.

Source: Quartz

Exhibit 1

There was a social media law that was introduced this month that involved setting up an ombudsman for posts that were inflammatory. I did not know this applied to publications as well!

A relatively new generation of scrappy, online-focused news outlets. With names like The Wire, The Print, The Scroll, and NewsLaundry, these publications lack big corporate owners that Mr. Modi’s party can court. They also don’t depend on government advertising money that officials can threaten to withhold.

Now, the platforms say, Mr. Modi is working to rein them in, too.

India’s media outlets had until Saturday to comply with new government rules that they say will force them to change or take down content if online trolls mount a concerted campaign of complaints against their coverage. It would also give the government sweeping new powers to quickly take down articles or other material.

Source: New York Times

This is objectively wrong. This takes away the freedom of speech, it takes away the freedom of the press.

Exhibit 2

The seat of power for the federal government (central government) in any country is the capital of that country. The trouble is that; they don’t rule the capital. This often turns into a source of friction between the centre and the state. Particularly so, when the centre is engaging in politics that the state does not agree with and will allow the protestor to show dissent.

In that way, the status of Washington D.C. is quite similar to New Delhi. Neither of them has been provided statehood in the traditional sense of the word. They have a government of their own, but it does not have the same powers as a state would.

Every state has a governor in India. The governor is to a state; what the president is to the country. Mostly useless but can inflict great harm if they have the guts to.

When the constitution came into force in 1950; there were 4 types of states - Parts A, B, C and D. Of these, the last two are centrally governed through the Chief Commissioner or the Lieutenant Governor.

Now - a lot of the central government functions and the central government assets reside in Delhi. Giving Delhi full statehood would result in potential friction between the state government and the central government. To avoid this, Delhi was initially classified as a Part C state.

In 1956, an amendment was made that reorganised the states as states and Union Territories. Delhi was declared a Union Territory. With that went the Legislative Assembly and Delhi’s control over its own affairs.

It was not until the Government of National Capital of Delhi Act in 1991 that the city has its own Legislative Assembly. This reverted things to the way it was in 1952 as a Part C state. Delhi has a Chief Minister, a Council of Minister and a Legislative Assembly.

Since I remember, Delhi was under Congress rule. In 2015, AAP won decisively in Delhi and with it began a bristling affair with the centre.

In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that “the Constitution has mandated that a federal balance wherein Independence of a certain required degree is assured to the State Governments.”

While the case is still to be heard, the central government went ahead and passed the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The bill effectively makes the Lieutenant Governor a Viceroy with plenipotentiary powers.

The farmer protests, and the overflow into Delhi has given the central government a tough time. Further, they could not cull it completely without access to the entire governing machinery such as Police and other services.

The Centre’s Bill seeking to amend the law relating to the running of the National Capital Territory of Delhi claims that it is aimed at giving effect to the interpretation given by the Supreme Court judgments on Delhi’s governance structure. The proposed changes are the very antithesis of what the Court has said. The Bill, if it becomes law, will wholly undermine the Court’s efforts to strengthen the elected government vis-à-vis the appointed Lieutenant Governor. The Constitution Bench verdict of July 4, 2018, said: “The Lieutenant Governor has not been entrusted with any independent decision-making power. He has to either act on the ‘aid and advice’ of the Council of Ministers, or he is bound to implement the decision taken by the President on a reference being made by him.” The ‘aid and advice’ clause pertains only to matters on which the elected Assembly has powers under the State and Concurrent Lists, but with the exception of public order, police and land, and, wherever there are differences between the L-G and the elected government, the former should refer the question to the President. The Court was at pains to clarify that the power to refer “any matter” to the President did not mean that “every matter” should be referred thus. The guiding principle was that the elected government should not be undermined by the unelected administrator. The Bill introduced in the Lok Sabha does violence to this interpretation.

Source: The Hindu

So yes, the developed world’s “hypocrisy” it is.

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Also

It is one thing when a company has a data leak. It is another thing when you find your own card details in that leak!

What do you think when you think Jaisalmer?

Snow?


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