Sree Iyer: Hello and welcome to episode number 100. Today is the 17th of February 2021. And welcome Sridharji my co-panellists, namaskar sir, and it’s a great day in California today.
Sridhar Chityala: It’s a wonderful day in Manhattan as well. We can see the sun trying to break out of the clouds very happy to be here on this hundredth session and hard to believe that you know, we will be crossing a hundred session today. It’s been a good journey thus far and thanks to all the people who have been part of the journey as well.
Sree Iyer: Absolutely this would have not been possible if it was not for your unstinting support. There are many of you that we recognize from the comment section that you have been regulars right from the first episode and we will strive to make this thing as much objective as possible, as much factual as possible. To start with we have to give one disclaimer, which is that a statement attributed to a Japanese Nobel Prize winner. He has since said that he did not make that statement and I think we refer to it yesterday about the coronavirus, so, we will have to just quote him and say that looks like he did not make that statement after all. So, let’s move on to the US new. Sir, the Democrats are trying to pass their own version of the stimulus bill, the first question for you, sir, is it 1.9 trillion or is there a different number higher or lower? And why are the Democrats trying to do this? Because I thought the Republicans also wanted to pass the Bill.
Sridhar Chityala: Well, I think the 1.9 trillion, it could turn out be somewhere between you know 2 and 2.1, there may be some additional stuff that the Democrats may add on. What could be the extending this to some illegal immigrants, the pro-rata allocation to those who are about a 150,000 or 75,000 individual i.e., those who are in 100,00 dollars or 200,000 dollars combined income, elements such as that could be added, maybe little more to the covid relief etc. And the House and the Senate are in recess this week, but, the house budget committee is working very feverishly to get this done. So that when they get back, they will be in a position to draft it into your law and get it passed.
The houses have a razor-thin majority as a number of only five seats and they want to make sure that they can pass this bill without the Republican support. The last two bills they were able to pass when they had you know, I think if I’m correct 12 to 15 seat majority in the House that has dwindled right now. I think 11 seats they have lost in the House elections, in the most recent elections last year. So, I think that there is a working feverishly towards that. The resolutions that Republicans added in the Senate as it relates to illegal aliens, as it relates to $15, as it relates to some overseas funding, as it relates to extending this to everybody all those things now have taken a backseat. So, therefore they’re passing their bill as was the case. So they just need to work. They also have this March 14th deadline when the unemployment insurance expires, so they want to get this done before, that lapses because that affects again close to 9 million people.
Sree Iyer: Now, President Donald Trump could be facing criminal probes in the states of Georgia, New York and Washington DC. We will keep you posted as these cases start playing out and Senator Johnson has said that Senator Mitch McConnell’s outburst against President Donald Trump is not reflective of the entire party. And we also saw yesterday President Trump lashing out at Senator Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell to me has become a bit of enigma, can you please unravel what goes on in this man’s mind? He votes not to impeach at the same time he also dresses down his ex-president. And even in the four-year term, I was not very sure how comfortable he was working with Donald Trump as the president, sir.
Sridhar Chityala: Well, Mitch McConnell has various constituencies that he needs to support especially, you know, for example, Mitt Romney’s constituency that he needs to support. Then, he has those who are extreme right, he needs to support. Then, you have Trump followers whom he needs to support. Then, he has to assert his own leadership to say that he’s the boss that he needs to satisfy. There are the unconfirmed rumours that you know, he has business tie-ups with China, but there’s nothing confirmed but, more allegations whether he has to meet any kind of riders that go with it. So, he is balancing all of these aspects. Now what he has seen is he literally begged Donald Trump to help him to win his re-election from Kentucky. Recall between Kentucky and South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, there was close to somewhere between 75 to 100 million dollars of money spent to house them right and Trump stood by him and got him re-elected. Then, suddenly you realize that Trump is lost the election, it is the time for him to assert. But, what he did not understand is two factors one, there is a tremendous mood swing in the Republican Senate and the house towards President Trump, that makes America, Great again if you have to use that phrase and there is also growing and continued momentum of support for President Trump over 75% of the Republicans grass-root level support, President Trump. So, he has taken an opposite position which is to say, whether he can kind of sustained. Also, he is a deal maker. He has historically worked with Biden, Schumer and so on. And he has a long history of working. He is not very comfortable with running the agenda on his own on a leadership basis as per the dictum. This is where the house is after this is where the Democrats are far more united notwithstanding the fact that you have this progressive agenda that has crept into the party. In my view, the House Democrats and Senate Democrats are far more united and cohesive relative to some factions that you see within the Republican Party.
Sree Iyer: You know, it’s very interesting that not long ago one used to say the same thing about the Republicans and now it appears that the Democrats have learned their lesson and they are more united. Now, one thing that I want all our viewers to, you know, take away from this is how is it that across the country the Republicans were able to pick up so many seats in the House and yet their president lost. We have several constituencies at the Congressional level where Biden poured more votes than Trump and yet the GOP Congressman/woman won. So, this is something that, I hope that Nancy Pelosi when she had constituted the 6-1 commission also enquires into this or I hope that they say the Republicans in both the Congress and Senate demand that there be an election result Commission of inquiry also. For sure the United States as the country needs to have a uniform system of election. What is happened now is a joke. I’m ashamed to say that I’m an American and however, having said that it is my utmost responsibility to make sure that it’s a one-man, one person, one vote this needs to come across as long as that doesn’t happen America will continue to be the laughing stock of the world every time elections come. Let’s move on sir, I’m done with my rant on this.
Sridhar Chityala: Could I pick up one specific strand following on because we don’t lose track because you made some very telling Point there’s one other important facet, which is namely why is it Senator Harris or now Vice President Kamala Harris is being targeted for potential impeachment? Because Senator Lindsay Graham has stated they have opened up the Pandora’s Box and she could be the target. And apparently, this is something that there is this one that has been formed called the Minnesota Freedom fund, many of the alleged rioters who have committed violent crimes and you know who has been arrested one, two, three times as many as three times have been released on bail using this fund which Senator Harris has touted so, effectively the criminals have been let go on the basis of a fund, where somehow there seems to be the Democratic hand as well as Senator Harris’s statement. So, when they do this insurrection or the violence investigations, they must also do the violence investigation of the Antifa and BLM movement right around the country. I just wanted to add that point to the suggestion that you have made.
Sree Iyer: I’ll also add one more point to what you just said sir, that you should look up who is representing one of the districts of Minnesota in the Congress and how this particular individual has been rewarded with Plum posts, which we think is not deserving and we leave it at that. You can give us comments on who I’m alluding to here. But, let’s move on to the decision by the Biden administration to shut down the Keystone Pipeline. Now, the South Dakota Senator is up in arms because the job losses are very palpable. And so this Keystone decision seems to have come like a bolt from the blue because I don’t remember reading this as a statement or a strategy in the presidential run-up before the election, sir?
Sridhar Chityala: No, no, I think that Keystone pipe has been very controversial if you remember under Obama they did not allow this bill to be passed notwithstanding the many Southern States touted for it. And also the Canadians were shouting from the top of the hill to get the US endorsement because it also creates an opportunity for them to further expand the trade. So, the story here is that it is it was very natural. It was very much in the election which is banned fracking, ban this, ban that, ban all those Stuff that is happening in the natural habitat as well as the Heritage lands and so on. So, this was very much on the agenda. So, therefore what is not on the agenda was South Dakota gets affected here, where it is the leases that were granted as well as the new offshore drilling that needed to happen both in the water as well as the land around the South Dakota coast that has also been now kind of stalled, so, it has significant impact to the economy in that region, that is why it has become such a contentious issue. Now, worse is that we have now power bridge shutdowns and we have rising energy prices. So there is an investigation that has been requested even on both these fronts to find out how exactly remedial actions can be taken. So, I think what you’re beginning to see is just by coincidence unravelling of these two activities.
Sree Iyer: Thank you for that. And let’s move on to the global news. Actually, I should add one more thing the Utah Republican Party has refused to censure Mitt Romney. So, now you are seeing a direct cleavage inside the Republican party. You have the Romneyits and also there is Liz Cheney who also happens to be from Wyoming which is a state very close to you Utah and you have those who want to follow Trump and Mitch McConnell is probably somewhere one foot here one foot there. We don’t know unless he makes his stance clear. So, this is also a very interesting development. Some other states also are considering not doing anything with the bloat of their Republican senators in the impeachment proceedings, isn’t it?
Sridhar Chityala: Yeah. Exactly. Well, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Ben Sassy, nothing is going to happen to them. They’re very strong and entrance positions. Whereas Raymond Burr in North Carolina, Portman and then you also had Bill Cassidy, all of them have been essential.
Sree Iyer: And let’s move on to Global News. Burma, what is happening there, or Myanmar we should say, What has happened for those of you who have not been following it is Aung San Suu Kyi has come back with a majority and the military Junta which gave perhaps a sliver of power to her to run the last five years or so, has again clamped its authority and against that the West especially the United Kingdom and the United States have come down very hard on the military Junta. And yesterday the Junta has said that they are going to conduct elections one more time.
This reeks of something that I cannot really explain because in the previous election nobody said anything about rigging or anything like that. So why should the military Junta conduct another election and more importantly India has not spelt out its stand on Myanmar. All they have said is they can work with whoever is in power in Myanmar. Should India be playing a more active role being the big brother in the area. What are your thoughts, sir?
Sridhar Chityala: With regards to India, I think Modi has spelt out his policy which is called strategic flexibility. So in other words Myanmar is an important strategic border for India. I think both the Junta as well as Aung Suu Kyi government they have worked very proactively. Many of these rebels and Rohingyas, who have been a big problem, especially the rebels who come from that side and then cause problems in the North-East. So I think he is basically taking a neutral stance. But at the same time, rather than uttering something which could prove to be controversial. India has the most instances of not making any provocative statements, especially under the Modi foreign policy. They have just remained benign and saying that they will follow whatever is the world view. So I think that’s been the scenario with, except in the case of China, which has consistently made incursions in the last six years, but even there they have worked with the Chinese and whereas in the case of the other nation with whom they have had problems from time immemorial is Pakistan, where they’ve been much more provocative or much more explicit in their positions. So you will not see much with India. As far as the conflict between Junta and the Aung Suu Kyi government is concerned, they personally feel that there’s only the election controversy. Then, there is also a human rights. UN Human Rights Commission asking them to take back the Rohingyas, whether there is a tussle between her and the Junta on that facet, plus there are also some issues around the reform taking place within Myanmar. Remember Myanmar has been under the control of the Junta for long. So, therefore, they probably have their you know hands in pie in all aspects of the economy and Myanmar is one of the up-and-coming economies in the ASEAN region.
Sree Iyer: Thank you for that clarification and the Chinese troops have moved almost out of the Pangong Tso area and this is considered something like a moral victory for India because they have at least forced them to evacuate these regions. Some of the places, I don’t know how many of you will remember, there was one area that they had occupied and they had actually painted the map of PRC, the People’s Republic of China there to make it look as if it is their Zone. Now that has been completely vacated. So there is a certain movement and a lot of stories have been going in MSM about how India also has been forced to give up what is called as a strategic Kailash Heights and why is India doing that and so on and so forth. We came across an excellent interview, the link for which we will post on our website, on this YouTube video. You are welcome to take a look at that because that has a much more factual, accurate, in my opinion, take on what is happening there and I think people look at all these information, not just rely on one source to come to your own conclusions.
The next one is on the recent Greta Gate, that’s how I like to term it, what has happened and Delhi police has written to zoom asking for details of a zoom meeting that took place between the Disha Ravi Matthews and Nikita Jacob and Greta Thunberg. This was supposedly a zoom meeting and all these were participating in that when they were drafting what is now called the toolkit which got accidentally spilt by Greta Thunberg. That led to the revelation that this was a pan world action that was taken. Let us wait and see how things play out. We will keep you posted on the developments. Is there anything you would like to add to this, sir?
Sridhar Chityala: There is only one point sir. It’s quite amazing to observe that when, by accident, the truth has come out how there is benign indifference by the Left Publications. One can only imagine all the things that are happening where the truth has not come out in some form of the other, where there’s only a lot of assumptions unless you do your discovery and investigations. It’s really stunning to see that they don’t just go back, they keep coming up wave after wave, wave after wave, unconcerned that they will not be punished.
Sree Iyer: Yes, and this needs to stop and some of the people in the Democratic Party in the United States are also jumping on this bandwagon. We are also seeing now a resolution that has been drafted by some cities. This is not the anti-CAA. This is now beginning to talk about the Farmer’s Bill and we have to wait and see how this plays out.
By the way, Indian covid diplomacy continues. They have shipped vaccines now to the Dominican Republic. There are many countries in the world that I have no vaccine, and India is stepping in to fill some of the Void. It is saying, ‘okay, we may have a bit of a shortage but we will try and do what we can.’ I think that is a very very strong diplomatic move by India to try and capture the minds and hearts of people and this is something that I cannot stress enough. It’s a very very good initiative. Let’s move on, Sir. Now, let’s go to market because we’re already 20 minutes into our segment. Can you do a quick wrap-up for us on what is happening in the markets today?
Sridhar Chityala: The good news is, the markets were showing some positive buoyancy yesterday then tapered down on the news that Estelle variance making its footprint, especially in countries like Holland and so on. There is also news coming out from Asia, which is around, what they call the trickle-down effect. The velocity of vaccine-flow is disproportionate to the velocity by which the disease is being contracted by people plus the cure that is urgently needed. So some countries have more, some countries have less, some countries have just started. For example, Indonesia is going to Phase 2, Japan has just started, South Korea is just picking up the acceleration in terms of the vaccines. So I think what you’re beginning to see is the markets are very much driven by the factor of how exactly the world is going to deal with treating covid. That’s the only way it can open up. Most of the uptick that has happened has happened on account of two factors, almost near certainty of the stimulus. Obviously the second is there’s a natural flow-on effect on the earnings side because one can call it there is cheap cash that’s available in the market which doesn’t impair the balance sheets for those who borrow to run their businesses. So that’s the market update. Bitcoin continues to mount, cross the $51,000 mark by way of the price point. So, it’s slowly inching its way as one of the H currencies. There is also a report which says that is blockchain, bit currency mechanism could be used in the state of Nevada to create a dedicated City. One of the guys, I forget his name, the CEO and he is gone one level more where he wants to establish his own local government in that kind of self-managed City. So this is how sometimes we go to the extremes in the United States. All this is causing an uptick in the movement of the Bitcoin. So that is the news from the markets, the Bitcoin, the covid, of course, we covered yesterday the energy prices. So those are the kind of things that are making their presence.
Sree Iyer: Lastly, I forgot to ask about what is happening in the state of Texas. When you said that somebody wants to have their own independent local government, it struck me that they have been calls one more time for the independence of Texas and overall Sridharji, what happened during the Deep Freeze in Texas? What is really the challenge now, because Texas for the large part, it has snowed-in. There is the basic problem of getting electricity, power is down and even other basic things like propane tanks and other things are also in short supply. How did things come to this?
Sridhar Chityala: All things have been brimming and Texas has major challenges that impact Texas. One is the Border problem. The Customs and Border Police have said that they will be a five-fold increase in illegal immigrants and causing security issues. That’s number one. The second that is also problematic for Texas is this whole energy situation, as far as the oil is concerned. Houston is the energy headquarters of the world. So it has implications. The third, the power grids in the United States is probably as backward as any other country because they haven’t done anything across the country. They’re not only susceptible to cyberattacks, but the infrastructure has not been developed which is the reason why you have this ding dong effect. When everything is normal, it works for the moment. You have a snowstorm and a freeze you have power shutdowns. Texas usually does not get snow. The fourth is that there is a growing belief that the federal fine agreement that exists between federal and state in terms of a number of things including Obama care, including $15 minimum wage, including Right to Work, many of these facets contravenes with the Texan law. So they are saying that the Federal National overreach is not something that they accept. Then you have this issue around the elections where you saw many of these borderline states changing rules, while Texas is saying you are holding us to one aspect of the Constitution’s while you are holding the others to different. This was contested by attorney general Paxton himself. So you have that. Then, to put the nail in the coffin, they care for the flag, Mark Cuban saying that ‘hey, you know, we will not be playing national anthem anymore in the basketball games, making that statement from Dallas is not helping the case either.
So when you put all these things together, Texas is saying ‘hey why the hell do I need to because I can’t enforce anything. So, therefore, I’m better off to be on my own and maybe you mount a Texan flag and basically say everybody follows the rules.’ I think that’s what is driving Texas and Texas has always been at the forefront of these kinds of pro-conservative agenda.
Sree Iyer: And Mark Cuban is the owner of the NBA team, Dallas Mavericks. And as always thank you very much Sridharji and we’ll be back tomorrow bright and early with tomorrow’s news today and we hope to see you all and we hope to see your continued support. We have recently started ‘Join Membership’ option and I highly encourage each and every one of you to consider joining us. That way, you don’t have to make an extra effort to make a donation. You can pick whatever price range is comfortable for you, and we thank you for that. And as always, thank you very much, and we will see you again tomorrow.
Sridhar Chityala: Namaskar and thank you again for your continued support.