EP 230 | Daily Global Insights | Aug 23, 2021 | Global News | US News | India News | Markets

EP 230 | Daily Global Insights | Aug 23, 2021 | Global News | US News | India News | Markets, Afghanistan update and more with Sridhar Chityala

Sree Iyer: Namaskar and welcome to DGI with Sri and Sree. Today is the 23rd of August Monday. And this is episode number 230. Here are the main points. The latest status of people being evacuated from Afghanistan. Conflicts around the world as Gaza again launches explosive balloons. Democrats continue to try and get their 3.5 trillion infra package passed. And the Indian finance minister to launch a National Monetization Pipeline policy. Sridharji, namaskar and welcome to PGurus Channel.

Sridhar Chityala: Good morning, Namaskar and good morning to everybody around the United States and good evening to everybody. We have had a Northeastern storm, which has affected tremendous, you know, life this option to traffic’s etc., but will kick off with a storm looming in Afghanistan and in Washington DC.

Sree Iyer: Yes, indeed in Global News. The stage is set for the penultimate week for allies to vacate Afghanistan and with the Taliban takeover. President Biden still continues to defend his strategy and appears unwilling to accept the reality. There are so many things happening. I’m going to run by a few points and then Sridharji can expand on those as he sees fit.

The US update on Afghanistan is as follows:

Biden the urges Taliban to provide for the well-being of Afghans. Biden says still a long way to go and a lot could go wrong in the Afghan evacuation. Blinken contradicts his boss and says, Al-Qaeda has not gone from Afghanistan, despite Biden claim. Intelligence assessment, said, the Taliban could take over Afghanistan in a few months, Defense secretary Lloyd Austin again, contradicting his boss. 20 years after 9/11 attacks, the US intelligence documents reveal 229 rehabbed former Gitmo detainees have returned to terrorism and killing of Americans. So, this catch and release are not just for illegal immigrants. It’s also to the extreme terrorists.

Sridhar Chityala: Well I think, firstly are a catch and release is in this instance, is part of the reform program that Obama is, you know, yes, we can, you know, if you recall that major campaign in 2008 as he took over the presidency, he went around the world, human rights violation, waterboarding and all these guys should be progressively released and so you have a span of prisoners from Gitmo who got released.  This is what the intelligence report is talking about which is many of those who were released have returned to terrorism. And actually another day, we probably can talk about this which assembly how many groups formed since between 2008 and 2016 and which began to bite the United States another day.

But the key headlines, as you rightly put the context, which is namely to say, Mr Biden continues to, Infuse confidence that things are going wrong, things can still go wrong and things will be even further problematic, but he is committed to moving forward. But, he has not given an affirmative indication where they’re what he would do. If there is a challenge in the event of all of the Americans is not rescued by the August 31st deadline, which he set himself. I mean Taliban said August 31st, President Biden said, you know, September 11th And you know, it remains to be seen what happens to do this program and the major challenges that they are facing. in fact, in one instance, the Taliban has stated most of the problems can be attributed to the United States.

Now, there is breaking news this morning. I’m actually going to read that news from Washington Times, and that just is even more worrying. The news is as follows, let me read the news which is to say that, President Biden inside the Afghanistan debacle Biden, abandoned trans pull-out plan and where they go on to say that President Biden’s decision to bypass his military advisers and there a complete withdrawal has left tens of thousands of Americans and friendly Afghan stranded in Afghanistan. Congress sources told Washington time that they were kept in the dark as they asked repeatedly for a timetable to evacuate civilians, once the president announced the decision. So they don’t have a pull-out plan, he doesn’t seem to have heeded to his military advisors. So there is an interesting challenge that is brewing. This report just came out just a couple of hours ago in Washington Times doesn’t augur well for Mr Biden in terms of what he is saying and what the ground reality is.

Sree Iyer: Let’s take a look at the ground situation in Afghanistan. Abdul Ghani Baradar returns to Afghanistan and announces the formation of a government and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Anti-Taliban forces say they have taken over three districts in the north led by a former Defense Minister. Taliban says, hundreds of Fighters are being sent to the resistance area. Taliban asks, Hamid Karzai and Dr Abdullah to negotiate with Ahmad Massoud, who has set his terms and conditions. Americans are having tough encounters with the Taliban. Seven Afghans were killed at the Kabul Airport. The Taliban blames the US for chaos at the airport and says peace in the rest of Afghanistan is fine. Sridharji, you’ve already touched upon one point which is the last one. So Ahmad Massoud is part of the Northern Alliance. Do you think that the alliance will settle down for some sort of power-sharing agreement with the Taliban? See it was supposed to be the main government with the Taliban being a partner; looks like the roles have been reversed?

Sridhar Chityala: See Ahmad Massoud is one of these Rebel commanders, you know out of that area and he basically fought the Taliban even at that point of time. A few hours ago, I think he had a discussion, it looks like he is still reliant on being part of the anti-Taliban alliance. And I think as they say somebody said, you know, see relying on the French hopes. We will cover more of this thing tomorrow as more news breaks out, but it is very clear that there is groups of anti-Taliban fighting and the  Taliban has recognized. And if you remember the vice president declared himself to be the president the defence minister is part of that. So they are saying, they have captured few provinces, which provinces or which districts, we are not aware of, but they have. So there is a resistance that is growing even within Afghanistan, however, modest it may be. In the meanwhile, Mr Baradar has landed and he is announcing, you know, the establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, shortly. If he has not already announced, but you know, that’s again, we’ll cover that tomorrow. And then, there are people having difficulty in Afghanistan to cross 15-17 checkpoints where they are getting constantly harassed by the Taliban. Notwithstanding, the fact Taliban, making a contrarian claim.

Sree Iyer: And what are the global leader saying about this whole debacle? Britain calls for a virtual G7 meeting on Tuesday, to discuss the Afghan crisis. The United Kingdom says that Russia and China are needed for moderating influence over the Taliban. China and Taliban move to a marriage of convenience, say, experts. Viewers, you may have seen my hang out with Elmer Yuen who said basically that China is moving the pieces in Afghanistan, you have made the decision for yourself, where the Truth lies. Basically,  Elmar was trying to connect dots and so are we in some cases, but here we are just reading the news. Australia evacuates more than 300, including Britain’s and Americans overnight from Afghanistan. The UAE is to host 5,000 Afghans temporarily at the US’s request. Biden’s Taliban abandonment is tragic, dangerous and unnecessary says Tony Blair the former United Kingdom prime minister. Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state says, Biden Administration has walked off the stage abdicating leadership and suggest a course correction. Trump has spared no moment to lambast Biden and his incompetence. And many US leaders and media are now questioning the competence of Biden and his ability to lead. This is a very important point, now, even the left-leaning media are now very, very uncomfortable with the play of events, especially since many of their near and dear are stuck in Afghanistan and they are not being allowed to get into the airport. Sridharji, you have touched upon some of these things. Perhaps you can add a little bit more and then we can move onto the next item. We have a lot to cover.

Sridhar Chityala: It is a simple truth. The meeting on Tuesday by G7 is an important first step to say what is going on? What’s the plan to go forward? There’s also a growing chorus here, which is to say some kind of Combat operations, needs to be conducted to establish the right and to ensure the transitional plan is executed and one of the conditions of this agreement of handing over and forming a transition, government in Afghanistan is the safe passage and protection of all foreign, personal troops, contractors Etc. Thus far, there is no evidence that the Taliban is following through. Mr Tony Blair spared no words, he uses the word in his tweet called imbecilic, that’s the word that he has used. Apparently, there is also that there is now, the United States is trying to can access a number of bases, where they can temporarily put the Afghan refugees who were being evacuated so that they can be progressively processed and brought in. So this is the story, there is a condemnation around the world for the lack of plan and Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump has also stepped in. The G7 meeting is critical. This is the first time, the G7 is coming together after this crisis to see whether it is a coordinated plan to move things forward.

Sree Iyer: What is happening to the US Citizens Stranded in Afghanistan? Pentagon orders US airlines to help in the Afghan evaluation. The order is for 18, aircraft three from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Airlines and Omni air are due from Hawaiian airlines and four from United Airlines. Biden Top Aide Jake Sullivan Says he doesn’t know still how many Americans are in Afghanistan. The US reaches out to a number of countries including European allies to temporarily hold Afghan refugees. Afghan refugees arrived in Texas for processing at Fort Bliss, while a fearful wait awaits for those at the Kabul Airport for the US to fulfil its vow. However, I believe relief is on its way, sir your thoughts.

Sridhar Chityala:  My thoughts are very simple Jack Sullivan Just as confirmed, which is effectively said, they don’t know how many Americans are still left number one. Number two, they have now summoned a law to use a lot of to use the civil aviation, which is namely, the commercial planes to Ferry people, not from Kabul, but from various points, for example, from UAE, for example from Germany. So, these commercial airlines will go there and ferry in the process, relieving the military aircraft to move people from Kabul, into these locations. So, the story is that they have no plan and they don’t know whether how many people are left behind. And there is a fear growing even within the Embassy in the United States, which is now being operated by a number of Afghans who are supporters of the United States, whether they will be evacuated or left to the mercy of the Taliban.

Sree Iyer: And in other Global News, explosive balloons launched from Gaza, while Israel, launches airstrikes. Egypt closes its border at Rafah border crossing to Gaza after the Israel Hamas escalation. Syrian Air Defense shoots wildly at Israel Airstrikes, the United States, shoot down, Iranian grown in Syria. And around the world, Covid and Afghan evacuation and worsening security crisis dominate the global agenda. Many ASEAN countries who were heroes in waves one and two are now being pummeled with the Delta variant. Vice President Kamala Harris Arrives in China Amid Afghan Crisis, COVID and Regional Threats from China. Sir. What is the significance of this visit of the vice president and perhaps you can touch upon the tension in the 3 “I” region?

Sridhar Chityala:  Firstly on Madam Harris, the vice president,  is there to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to ASEAN, basically, to say that they are not ditching. The United States is still a global leader and protects the rights and aspirations as they have done before. So, one is a reassurance tip. So she is currently camp in Singapore. She’s going to spend three days. I’m told that she’s also monitoring the evacuation situation and directly in touch with the National Security Council here. She is expected to go to Vietnam from Singapore and assured the Vietnamese that, you know, the United States would provide the cover. She also wants to go to the Philippines, we covered this in the Daily Global Insights three countries were in the target Philippines was one, Vietnam was the other and Singapore was the third. Singapore is economic and strategic. Singapore has actually offered planes if required to move people, from Kabul to Singapore as a Transit and then back to the United States. So I think that’s the Strategic agenda of Madam Harris, the vice president of the United States. It looks like she’s not going to the Philippines because of the crisis prevailing here.

As with regard to that 3 “I” region, the famous incendiary balloon seems never to cease they’re coming across from the Gaza, and clearly, the Israelis took out some of them. There’s also the drones that have to come from Syria, as you all know, in northern Syria, there are the US forces between the Kirkuk region and the Syrian, it is just at the triple point they seem to have shot down and there is also, you know, the Hamas, which is prevalent in that part of the Hamas and Hezbollah prevalent in that region. And they are firing drones at Israel and Israel has responded back with as they always do, the idea of response. So there are three “I” that continues to simmer as the evacuation as well as the Afghan crisis simultaneously continue. I think Covid is very significant. We don’t have the time.  We will probably do it in course of the week. If you take a look at the top 15 countries by active cases, you don’t see the data, but we’ll do it in the in course of this week. You will see that six countries including Japan have now moved into the top 15 list in terms of Active cases. When you have the Active cases relative to the population, India is way ahead and these numbers are not auguring very well at the repartee with which it is spreading in places like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan.

Sree Iyer: Sir, with your permission, I’m just putting up the covid global numbers for our viewers. Viewers, you can take a quick look. It may be too small to read but I will read it out for you. These are the cumulative cases reported. The United States is at number 1 with 37.294 million. India is number 2 at 32,358. This is the total number of cases. Then, followed by Brazil at 20.494 and then France and so on and so forth. But if you look at the rates per hundred thousand, which is a truer reflection of how widespread it is you can see that the worst affected are the Maldives, then Seychelles, then Montenegro, and so on. The United States is not very far behind. It is around 15th position at 11,000. So from that point of view, India is doing extremely well in containing the covid virus because it’s only 2000 or 2% of the population being affected by covid. Just 2%. Whereas in the United States it is much higher. It is close to 11% of the population that has been affected by the covid virus.

Let’s go onto US News. Biden and the Democrats agenda continues with the house returning to business on Monday to advance the party’s takeover of America’s safety net with a 3.5 trillion budget. Nancy Pelosi parties in Napa Valley with Democratic donors and moderates to get them across the line flouting all norms. Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy offers support Sunday for mask mandate and vaccine requirements at schools as a Biden Administration fused with the Red States opposed to the novel coronavirus directives. President Trump gets booed when he Advocates vaccination in an Alabama rally. The New York restaurant and hotel owners will not implement the vaccine checking mandates. Around the country, house owners protest against the eviction moratorium. So I’m assuming that the eviction moratorium is going forward and now people will be thrown out of their houses. Mark my word, this is going to lead to a huge correction in the stock market. Sridharji, I don’t know how you see this thing, please go ahead, sir.

Sridhar Chityala: First and foremost, to respond to your question. Well, there is a resistance going on, people are engaged. They have accepted and tolerated it. I think Samuel Alito if I’m correct, has issued a stay and he wants a full hearing to happen on this one. Biden administration has asked for two months extension, till October 1st which the rental owners have declined and they have filed a counter case in the Supreme Court of the United States or the SCOTUS to say that please block this ban and we need to get back to normal.

As far as the mandates by the hotels and restaurant owners are concerned, they feel that they have no capacity to do this. They are basically trying to get people back in and survive. So, therefore, it has to be on a self-declared basis.

As far as Dr Vivek Murthy’s position is concerned supporting, I think at the end of the day… Again, this will be a detailed discussion for another day. So basically what you’re finding is that there are so many inconsistent messages coming which is going to make it very difficult from a credibility point of view to get an agenda across. For example, WHO says there is no urgency and need for booster doses. On the contrary, what we are saying here is that booster doses have been mandated and they going to start flowing through from September 20th. It is incidents and these types of inconsistent news that is making this whole vaccine mandate noncoherent, and less and less credible in the United States.

Sree Iyer: And that also casts questions on the efficacy of the various vaccines. Interestingly, the Indian produced vaccine Covaxin appears to be doing quite well across all these variants in a  more consistent manner than the others such as Pfizer and Moderna. Again, there may be a booster shot. That might be made mandatory. Those of us who have an immune deficiency and as always give you the updates.

Let’s take a look at Indian News. An IAF – Indian Air Force aircraft with 162 people on board including Afghan Hindu and Sikh leaders land at Ghaziabad Hindon Air Base. ‘Everything built in the past. 20 years is now undone’ says the Afghan’s Sikh MP on arrival in India. Indians on an evacuation flight from Afghanistan shout ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. Indians are arriving from several destinations including Tajikistan, Doha etc. Sir, please give your comment and I have something to add after that.

Sridhar Chityala: My observations are India is very carefully avoiding Pakistani airspace. They have worked with, if you recall, there were a number of visits made by Dr Jaishakar preceding this. I’m sure that he was negotiating probably a contingency plan. So they have avoided the Pakistani airspace. Many countries have collaborated and so, therefore, these passengers are coming from these specific venues. Right now, as we speak all the embassy staff have been evacuated. Close to 500 people or 600 people have been evacuated. We give you the number. The number is somewhere between 1000 to 1500 and many of them include private contractors. I think they are all being progressively tracked and either being sent to Doha or Tajikistan or even Uzbekistan and being brought from there.

Sree Iyer: In one of the pictures that I saw upon landing in Delhi, 3 Sikh gentlemen were bringing their Guru Granth books on their heads. If this is not an example of ethnic cleansing. I don’t know what else is. All those city councils in the United States, who without understanding have passed these anti-CAA resolutions, can all hang your head in shame. You don’t deserve a single vote in the next election. I am telling each and every one of the city council members, you are all a mess, you don’t have any brains, you just take the money and do whatever you want. Now, you can see that your government because it is Biden and Kamala Harris who are both your party members have done a spectacular mess of the evacuation from Afghanistan. In my opinion that the US will try to get the Bagram Air Force back because they cannot manage this thing and they have to be able to control the Kabul Airport. I don’t see them moving away from there. I think they will be in Kabul Airport and they will be running their Embassy from there for some time. These, again, are my comments. But this is a moment where all the Democratic City Council members, politicians who are hoping to get brownie points can see this thing spectacularly blow upon your faces. Believe me. We are going to keep needling you with the stuff. It will hurt. It hurt a lot of people because this was a good move by the Modi government to try and implement CAA. If those things had not happened, the Indian government would have fast-tracked this thing. But because they were concerned about the opinion of the world, they slow-walked it. Unfortunately, India shouldn’t be doing that, but they did that. So now we are seeing all these problems. Please understand. If you don’t know something, ask the Indian Americans. There are about 4 million of us. We can tell you what is right and what is wrong. We are as patriotic as any American for the cause of the United States. And we also wish to have the best for our country of birth.

Sir, moving on. Now, let’s take a look at what Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said. She is going to be launching the National Monetization Pipeline. What does this mean, sir?

Sridhar Chityala: It simply implies that the assets which are held under the government, these major public sector corporations, are progressively diluting those assets to create cash in the balance sheet of the government to fund the national infrastructure plan. What’s a national infrastructure plan? To build logistics, transportation facilities, all around the country and continue to make it a world-class nation. Now, why is this national infrastructure critical? Much of the infrastructure is neglected in the rural, and to some extent in tier 2 or tier 3 cities. So the money flowing into those rural or tier 3 or tier 2 cities will help to create not only jobs but help to improve the accessibility and reach of these people to conduct their business. So you need to create a fund and rather than borrowing, they are selling their assets. This is typically the way most fiscally conservative governments run the business. We are doing exactly the opposite in the United States where we are borrowing like nobody’s business to enhance the infrastructure. We have done many times and we haven’t been successful and now we are going to pummel ourselves with not 3.5 but close to 6 trillion dollars in the balance sheet. At least, India is probably doing it the right way. Many countries have done this before. Australia has done it. Britain has done it. Europe has done it. Asia is doing it. All these countries are privatizing and leveraging the capital to build the infrastructure of the country. India is following the same pattern.

Sir, I just want to take 30 seconds to talk a little bit about the CAA. Turkey is one of the countries which opposed the CAA. Mr Edrogan stated that India is discriminating against Islamists and Islam. This was his statement today. He is building a wall to prevent Afghan refugees from coming into Turkey. So so much for news, so much for the CAA, and so much for discrimination. None of the Islamic Nations has acceded and accepted welcoming Afghan refugees. This just tells you the hypocrisy of the left and the so-called Jihadi media, which is very collaborative in propagating what I call an incorrect version of the news to suit their own agenda.

Sree Iyer: Absolutely sir. I couldn’t agree with you more. Viewers, here is the picture that I was talking about. The three Sikh gentlemen carrying the Guru Granth on their heads. This is essentially like moving the complete base because they are taking the sacred text that is placed in the Gurudwaras in Kabul. I don’t know how many gurudwara there are. I am not going to make a guess on that. But this is basically their way of saying we are done with the country that we lived in for hundreds of years. Now, India is their home. Of course, India is welcoming them with open arms. But I find a problem here with is this stupidity on part of the city councils who kept passing this anti-CAA resolution. Is there a way in which you can take back all the vomit, I wonder?

So let’s go back to India news. RBI Governor Advocates accommodative interest rate policy after the MPC meeting. Sir, a little bit of elaboration. What is the MPC meeting, sir?

Sridhar Chityala: They have established a Monetary Policy Committee which comprises external experts who can opine and provide a framework for interest rates depending on how they see the economy moving. The MPC made a recommendation to continue with the low rate policy because of the rate hikes notwithstanding the fact there could be some inflationary pressures. The Finance Minister, the RBI Governor and the central CEA – Chief Economic Advisor have stated that they don’t see a headwind in August or September on the inflation side. In fact, the recommendation of the MPC is to hold the reins and which, I think, the RBI governor is following is consistent with the policy that is being followed here even in the United States and around the world. So this is one of the things that we cannot have an asymmetric economic or monetary policy when the rates are low. I think the rates are low around the world so that people are able to trade and conduct business. So I think that’s the essence of this.

Sree Iyer: While the mainstream media suffers from optics on covid, India’s active rate drops to 353,398. New cases are at 30,948 and the discharged are at 38,487. So clearly the number of people getting discharged is about 10% more than or well, 12% more than what is being created. So now you will see a gradual lowering of the number of covid affected patients in India. Bravo India, you’ve done a good job.

India vaccinates 581 million doses with single doses at 451 million and 7.83 million vaccinated in a day. This number, as you can see is progressively going up. We started out at around 4.5, I think. Sridharji, now we are close to 8.

Sridhar Chityala: I think that India has really ramped up. This is consistent with more production plus opening up more centres and there is a very, very active program. There is a fear and apprehension of the Delta variant which will mean more trouble for many of the states. So they’re saying we’re going to ramp up and ramp up and get to that 70% number. 70% of the Indian population, being at least vaccinated with one dose which gives adequacy in terms of immunity. You can calculate whichever way, whether it is 1.08 billion or 1.1 billion relative 1.3. So if you talk about 70%, you’re looking at a number of somewhere between 700 – 800 million people to have been vaccinated with one dose. So if you take an average of 5 million you are talking about having 150 million people getting vaccinated in a month. So in 3 months, if you take September, October, and November India should be within achieving a target of that 70% – 75% of the population being vaccinated with a single dose.

Sree Iyer: In markets data, the Fed’s Jackson Hole meeting ahead of this week and 5 indications from bankers and economists. Sridharji, what do you think is going to be decided here. This is more like showing the card on part of the Federal Reserve as to what they are thinking in terms of monetary policy. Isn’t it?

Sridhar Chityala: Yeah, I think the Jackson Hole is a traditional, historic type of meeting where the global economists meet together, assemble, present papers, observations etc. But primarily it’s the US show. What they’re going to indicate is that they are seeing green shoots of the rising economy but the rise in Delta variant in the United States and rise in Delta variants even in parts of Europe and Asia means that they cannot take the foot off the pedal. They may reduce the asset purchase program because there is liquidity flowing through the stimulus programs and they may say that they will take a look and adjust the policy accordingly. But I don’t see a change to the rates and I think that Jerome Powell, the FED chairman has indicated that it looks like mostly 2022 or 2023 before they do the interest rate hikes. But the first cab off the rank is the asset purchase program which they are lowering.

Sree Iyer: Viewers, that brings us to an end of today’s hangout. Thank you for your support and I’m noticing that one in four of you liked the program perhaps as soon as you came into the program. I would like more of you to like this program. You know the quality of this. We are now 230 episodes strong. You know what you are going to get. You’re getting a very, very condensed form of what is happening around the world or what is about to happen. We are always the tip of the spear. However, in order to reach more viewers, we need you to like the program as soon as you start following it. Please heed this request of ours. Also, subscribe to our channel and share the link on your Facebook if you are watching it on Facebook. We are also on LinkedIn and Kwch. Do help us on those platforms. Thank you, Sridharji. We will be back tomorrow. Namaskar.

And before I go, one last thing, we’re going to have a hangout in about 2 hours time with Abhijit Iyer Mitra as we cover more specifics about the Afghan pull-out and then question and answer session. Tomorrow, there is a special with Dr Subramanian Swamy at 8 p.m. IST on Afghanistan. We will keep you posted on that. Sridharji, if you have anything to say, please feel free to do so and then we can wrap up.

Sridhar Chityala: No, I think. Thank you so much, and we look forward to continuing our sessions tomorrow and giving you more updates as to what’s happening around the world most notably in Afghanistan.

Sree Iyer: Thank you very much, sir. Namaskar.

Sridhar Chityala: Namaskar. Have a good day and we’ll see you tomorrow.



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