Sree Iyer– Hello and welcome to PGurus channel, I’m your host Sree Iyer, Episode number 61, I’m with Sridhar ChityalaJi, December 26th SridharJi, Namaskar and welcome to PGurus channel.
Sridhar Chityala– Namaskaram and good morning to you Sir. After two days of rains, we are back to bright and sunny New York, the temperatures are still cold.
Sree Iyer – Yes sir, it’s been raining here also, but today it’s looking like it’s going to be a dry day. We had a bit of technical difficulty, that’s why we had to start a few minutes late, we apologize for that. Sir, we can jump straight into what is happening with covid around the world, now we have not just the second strain, but also a third strain that seems to have emanated from South Africa, in England. Where do things stand as far as these various strains, and would the current vaccine be able to cover them, what are your thoughts, sir?
Sridhar Chityala – The world was in a little bit of panic last week or earlier this week when they noticed the second strain emanating from Britain, in south-east England, and now that the cases are being seen in Japan, in the US and the rest of the world, and now that it’s being tackled, the third variant has been detected, again in the UK, and the claim is that it has probably originated from somewhere in South Africa, which South Africa denies, the second variant seems to have come into the US and a few other countries as well. The general theory is that the WHO and other organizations are not making any fatalistic conclusions, while the mutation is far more rapid than the first one, the theory is that they believe they can handle it with the current vaccination, but it needs to be tested, and we discussed it a couple of days ago, whether it can penetrate through this clonal plasma transplantation mechanism plus all the current people who are vaccinated can have immunity. But that, we don’t have data as yet to establish one way or the other way, the stain itself is being studied. In the meanwhile, the general principle is the vaccination programs all around the world will commence or organized to commence depending on whether you are in Europe or the United States. The US has already done one million out of the targeted 0 million people in December, that looks like it’s going to be delayed, but they seem to be fairly comfortable that they will be able to, by March to April, meet the goals of trying to get this hundred million people vaccinated. I think that’s a general disposition. India seems to have, you know people who have interest in India seem to be comfortable that they don’t seem to have recognized these new strains, and I think, Indian programs four trials kickoff in, across four states with the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine I think. India has a fairly good domestic capability.
Sree Iyer – Sir this whole a new instantiation of different variants, WHO appears to be again slow on the take, isn’t it? Their stand, their statements appear to be again some sort of reactive mode on part of WHO rather than being at the forefront of this. What are your thoughts on WHO?
Sridhar Chityala – Well I think that I am an avid critic of WHO, I just want to be upfront about it, you know, the variant one of the first one version itself, there’s a lot of contradicting reports. The fact that it slipped under their sun, or slipped under their eyes, dates that are being indicated is going back to the middle of last year, and also around the last quarter, so Ii feel that, not to be overly judgmental but personally I feel that WHO is far less organized it seems relative to many countries. The countries and independent research organizations have taken far more active steps. For example, in the United States, when Trump launched the project Warp-Speed program, he pre-funded four- five- six of these institutions to come up with a vaccine program, so therefore research has to be done by looking at the stains and the virus-cell structure. India seems to have taken the lead and is doing things in India. Germany seems to have taken lead and doing. Israel, if you recall, was coming up with swabs and different types of personal protection PPEs, and personal protective respiratory machines. Therefore you have each of these countries with their respective facilities are leading when you expect WHO to be far ahead of the game in these types of understanding the pandemic type of diseases emanating in the world.
Sree Iyer – Sir let’s take a look at the United States, there was this massive explosion in Nashville and information that we are now getting is that it was a Recreational Vehicle also called an RV. For those viewers who are not familiar with what an RV looks like, an RV is something that you can sleep and drive at the same time meaning, you can sleep at night on the same vehicle, and this has been used as a Recreational Vehicle by many Americans to go around the country. Looks like this was parked in Nashville and there was some sort of indication that it was going to blow because they were having announcements coming out 15-14-13. The countdown happened and then the blast happened, and luckily the human damage is not that much but they’re having questions whether there was a human remains found around the vehicle. Where do things stand now? Is this a case of someone deliberately setting it off or is there more that one should look into it, Sir? What are your thoughts?
Sridhar Chityala – Great, I think it happened around 6.30 in Nashville CBD, the sequence of events is about an hour, or an hour and a half prior they had some gunshots, the police were responding to the call for the gunshots when they landed, they had this message blowing out from this RV vehicle, which is to say if you are listening to this message and if you are in the nearby vicinity, get out because there’s going to be a blast in 15minutes. Long behold there, they believe that this message may have been coming out from this parked vehicle, which we are alluding to, the blast did occur. The initial investigations, the way they say it, the way the police, or the press reports indicate, it is meant to be intentional, it is meant to cause less damage but to deliver some kind of a message, so therefore it seems to have met all those kinds of conditions. Three people were injured in the massive blast, but the communication centre, I think it’s the AT&T or Verizon, one of those buildings blew out or had massive damage. There was a lot of communication issues around the CBD of the downtown area of Nashville, plus also I think the flights got cancelled. So to answer your question, it seems they’re very clearly indicating it’s intentional. It seems that it was meant to be not to create massive damage, otherwise, they could have unleashed, it was on a Christmas day morning, and now they have found traces of some human remains. So therefore whether it is connected, one doesn’t know, but it’s very unfortunate that it has now. This type of stuff has come into downtown United States, so I think it’s worrisome. So we will have more details as the investigations move on.
Sree Iyer – Sir, Donald Trump from Mar-a-Lago has made a statement about the behaviour of the big tech companies and he said `America, these are early signs of communism from the way they have been monitoring and filtering news’. What prompted him to say this thing, Sir? What is the background around this, do you have any idea, can you shed some light for us?
Sridhar Chityala -Well I think that the background is that, there have been two or three things that he has been making noise on, right. The first thing that he is making noise on that, he blocked the budget, sorry he blocked the defence budget bill that was sent by the Republicans. Republicans can manage the Senate to him. And the condition that he has said, that the fundamental thing that is at the centrepiece of the national security is the tech platforms and their behaviour. Some of their actions are causing national security issues, so this liability, immunity protection which comes from article 230 has not been negated, has not been taken out, so, therefore, I’m not signing, so he has vetoed that bill. So he’s now following up on that and he is stating that look you know these guys are coming up with our own arbitrary set of rules and effectively have become what they call independent fact-checkers. And basically either asterisking or deleting these messages which they are not supposed to be. Because if you remember Ted Cruz was asking the question, are you a Content, are you a Platform or are you a Media company? If you’re a media company, are you a regulator, because if you’re a regulator you can impose conditions, what goes in and what doesn’t go in. But if you’re a media aggregator, you can determine what you want to send and what you don’t want to send. They can keep on insisting they’re a platform, that they are not either of these two things. Should that be the case, then he is getting the message that if this is going to be, with the Senate races looming large, contentious and very critical, he is saying are you guys, therefore, going to take an active subjective kind of a position, and blocking all the messages which are prejudicial to one side of the party. I think this is the kind of message that he’s trying to get out. That if you guys don’t understand this, this is how socialism comes in. Because if you don’t have the message from the master, the message is blocked.
Sree Iyer – And combined this with Biden’s statement that he is going to provide free community college education and some conditional public education also is going to be provided free. It’s a good thing in my opinion but it’s also another sign of socialism. When he says conditional public universities, that is free education for university, did you get some details into that. Is he trying to say that public colleges such as the University of California, Berkeley and all that, some people are going to get free education? Do you get a chance there?
Sridhar Chityala – That’s the progressive agenda, he seems to be moving towards that. Which is to say that certain sections of the society have been left, are neglected, and have been deprived of the opportunity, basically because of their economic welfare. So, therefore, they remain where they are. The economic applicant has not happened, the academic upliftment has not happened, so therefore why we are discriminatory to them; so we should be offering all the kinds of support, not just food stamps, unemployment insurance and other benefits. It should start very early which is education. Very similar to the public schooling system here which is everybody in a public school gets a free education. Technically it’s not a free education but people don’t get it. You pay taxes, it’s called a village and school taxes, wherever you live that basically funds the school system. I think that California already has some form of a state-based educational system which not only fixes a quota for within state but also has some differentiation in the fee structure between those who belong to the state and those who don’t belong to the state. So he may use some variances of that ilk in terms of including the neglected sections of the society, that’s my guess based on the extension of the program. It’s a policy statement rather than more details that have been flushed out as to what exactly is the program.
Sree Iyer – Taking a look at US elections, can you please just bring us up-to-date on what has been happening in the last few days. There has been some activity in Wisconsin, then something about Sydney Powell. Could you please run down the details on where things stand as far as the United States election is going?
Sridhar Chityala – Yeah, United States elections is I think the greatest comedy show that is going on. I think we’ve just made ourselves pretty much a laughing stock. Case after case that gets filed gets declined for one reason or the other. The other hilarious case is that the Senate runoff elections, when people said the drop-boxes which has had an extensive set of fraud, should be open for limited hours; so you have a liberal or a Democratic-leaning Judge passing a regulation, no it should be for all the time so it should be open all the time. So, therefore, you know you have a judgment of that kind. Then you have the secretary or the governor saying, well we should look at whether we should offer postal ballots as a genuine absentee or anyone should be offered a postal ballot at whim. So today the question that comes up is, those who are entitled, are capable to come to the polling station and vote are sitting in the back and saying give me an absentee ballot. Nobody knows whether it is harvested or whether it is genuine, so you have that particular case going on. As far as Wisconsin goes, Wisconsin lawmakers have tried to block the certification of presidential electors that got declined. So you’re finding more and more of these cases being declined, basically because it becomes procedural, or it’s probably late. I think the objective of these cases is not around the decline rate, the objective of these cases is to demonstrate, that if tomorrow if there is a reversal in the election when people go back to the courts, the courts have created precedence of dismissing all these cases. It’s going to be very interesting, let’s say, President Trump, if there is a reversal of President Trump by the January 6th process in the House, and the Senate is nominated to be the President overruling; What happens on those circumstances? Can the states or can anybody go to either the SCOTUS or to any of the respective courts. You have all these declines that have happened so they’ve created precedence in terms of the structure which basically is going towards a converging point around what happens on the January 6th. So that’s how one has to read these cases otherwise they won’t be going after relentlessly. Just on the same point, President Trump has again indicated he is not giving up so therefore he’s still in the game and he’s going to fight and is going to make that happen. With regard to Sidney Powell, I gather that she has issued a statement which is that she wants to be nominated as the Special Counsel for investigating the election fraud. She is saying the White House staff are blocking her efforts to aid Trump. So she’s gone kind of public with that statement.
Sree Iyer – So there are some internal dissensions in the White House itself if that’s what it’s coming out to the fore and we’ll wait and see how it plays out. Viewers, this is unconfirmed news, a senior Democrat Congressman has been taken into custody in Los Angeles, we are still awaiting details, maybe by Monday we’ll have more data on this one. It’s a very very fast-moving situation, this happened on the 24th of December, we don’t have all the details yet but if that should happen, that would be a huge blow for the Democrats because this individual involved was front and centre when the impeachment happened with Trump, so this is huge, it could be a huge embarrassment for the incoming Democratic Administration if this turns out to be true. So we will keep you posted, stay tuned. Sir, let’s take a look at India. Many economists are expecting or predicting a V-shaped recovery, what are your thoughts Sir you’re a banker too.
Sridhar Chityala – Many are expecting a growth somewhere between eight to ten per cent in the 2021-22 Financial Year, both as a result of the prior stimulus, the pent-up demand, as well as the investment, flows that have come in. It’s a question of opening up the markets, and they’re also picking up a fair amount of export orders in at least three segments; one is the pharma, the second is in the auto and it seems like even in the other manufacturing areas they seem to be picking up the orders. Also prior to this agricultural agitation, the agro-sector was expected to grow at 18% in the next Financial Year on the back of a bumper crop as well as the general demand in the markets. Rice which had not been exported to China for a long time, there’s a huge order, that’s one of the few items where the trade is happening between the two countries China and India. In most of the other areas, Manufacturing and other areas, they’re progressively kind of slashing or putting a blockade in terms of the orders. China is not going to stop the rice because they need to feed people, and China is not self-sufficient in the food sector so that it is reliant on imports from around the world. So I think the general disposition of the Indian economy seems to be, and that’s confirmed by close to about 30percent of the Chief Marketing Officers of various product companies, they see the spark in the demand.
Sree Iyer – Sir, while we are on the topic of China, there was a story in Epoch Times yesterday, that Chinese army has once again intruded into some grazing areas in India, and that when some nomadic locals went back to graze there, the Chinese were turning them away, then the locals were quickly connecting with the local administration of India, to try and set this thing right. Can you throw a little bit more light, Sir? What’s this again? Is China up to its tricks again in the border?
Sridhar Chityala – I think so. I tweeted this to both Dr Jaishankar as well as to Secretary Pompeo, that China seems to be very much inside India, in this border up in the Leh tribal area in the regions up in the hills, where the day temperatures are Minus -15 degrees centigrade. So it’s very very cold up there, so these farmers who graze are nomads, who typically don’t go into that terrain, but the food shortage in the area forced their cattle and themselves to step into the area which is their traditional thing. When they went to that specific location, we can put that video up, this guy actually sent live from that location, you have these occasional trucks, and the local tribals saying that `you can’t come here, this area belongs to us, and you need permission’, they were trying to drive them away. They seem to have occupied, so China seems to have this habit of slowly and steadily pinching land, they are always lurking, they say that it’s not more than around 15villages in that specific segment in the upper Leh regions. As I said, I have tweeted, and it’s a cause for concern, which is namely, there is no universal respect for the sovereignty of any nation by China, there is nothing, that is all their actions reflect. So this is a problem, I also tweeted to the Hon’ble Minister Mr Rajnath Singh, which is to say to him, `that this message is coming from United States media with a video link, I’m sure you guys are aware of it and you’re going to do something about it’.
Sree Iyer – Yes indeed, and viewers can get this video, it was written by Venus Upadhyaya, who has been a guest on our channel in the past, so you can get it if you go to the Epoch Times. It’s free subscription if you want to subscribe to their newspaper and media, and you can get all the news including this particular video. So let’s take a look at the farmer’s agitation, Modi has promised Rs18000 Crores to the farmers and also the Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said `why don’t you let this thing get in place, and then in one or two years we can revisit and tweak the laws’; so at least the Government appears to be trying to do something to settle this thing and move forward, given the fact that only one or two states are opposing, and the rest of the country is behind the law.
Sridhar Chityala – well, I think that, first and foremost, the Prime Minister, I only saw brief glimpses of it, had addressed at least those members of the Farmers Union and other members, as well as some of the states’ farmers in terms of all the programs. These agitating farmers seem to have vandalized, according to one report, some of the some of those regions. He also announced this Rs18000 crores of relief for the 9 crore farmers. When you actually look at the Reform itself, and which is encapsulated in the report published by PGurus, with eminent people who are subject matter experts in these, the reforms only helps. They are trying to make a demand, which even the mainstream Indian media in their vertical Financial journals are reporting, that Govt should not concede to this ubiquitous unilateral MSP, some 50-60 per cent markup relating to MSP already, which will effectively bankrupt the country. So they’re saying not to concede. So the demands they’re laying out seems to be, anything other than reforms but seems to be more political.
I myself, today we are in the venture capital private equity industry. We run a very small, what we call as the aggregator service out of California, which effectively connects growers to buyers, the growers being the farmers. I can tell you that the barring the only criteria which are regulated by the Californian state Government, which is making payments to the farmers in less than 60 days, which is a mandate for the buyers or they are punished, there are no other criteria. The demand has outgrown and the farmers and the buyers are extremely happy, they don’t know each other in this marketplace for obvious reasons; so the marketplace connects the two pieces. I don’t understand as to how a reform which connects the growers directly to the buyers through an auctioning process will be, what I call a derailer, in the development of this ecosystem; also I’m told that it is national. Here we don’t have such boundaries that California produces and that means you can’t sell it in New York! You can have food hubs around the country, you can move the food into the food hubs, and then use the food hubs as the vehicle to distribute and do the sales to a central marketplace. So the problem here is I’m not able to understand, why you can’t sell your groceries or food that you produce to some other states when there is a demand for it. Farmer is producing food to sell to the people in the country, he’s not selling it overseas!
Sree Iyer – Yes indeed. Viewers stay tuned, there would be a couple of new online websites that are going to be offering this specific feature for the farmers. I have been connected with one such effort, this is going to come and we will be talking more about it in the days and weeks to come.
So let’s take a quick look. Sir, we should wind down as we’re already 28 minutes into the program. A couple of things, India and Vietnam, India is assisting Vietnam in helping them combat their ongoing floods, and they are also doing exercises with the Vietnamese navy. So can you spend a couple of minutes looking at India-Vietnam relationship, and it appears to be on the ascent.
Sridhar Chityala – India-Vietnam relationship is ascending across three specific dimensions; one is the security parameter, they were one of the first people to buy Brahmos missiles, you know they have surface-to-air Brahmos missiles with them, docked and parked in the Vietnamese border to mitigate any kind of Chinese incursions. They’re expanding that further on the basis of what they are seeing is the increasing incursions by the Chinese into the Taiwanese airspace. Also, the arrival of Biden and the lack of communication around the future of QUAD is sending some shivers down the spines of many people in the South China Sea. The South China Sea, I have personally stated, was a blowout during the Obama years, the development of the Spratly Islands, which is now a huge naval base for China. Plus all the different things that occurred around the South China Sea, the Nine line violations, the incursions into
Philippines, the ICU-ICJ ruling etc. So I think India is forming strategic partnerships with different
Countries, it’s forming one with Indonesia. India-Japan already has, India-Vietnam is very strong. And India-Vietnam is also now helping in the humanitarian efforts, which is namely, the Indian naval ships are helping them in their relief and rescue type of operations in the floods. You may also see India helping them in the Covid situation with their vaccinations. So we are going to see more and more closer India-Far East or East Strategy being implemented, and in the absence of a defined QUAD approach, probably Vietnam will be leading that on the eastern tip and of course Japan further in the South.
Sree Iyer – India is also opening an air pocket corridor with South Korea that would facilitate a movement between the two countries Sir.
Sridhar Chityala – Indeed indeed. I think that the South Korean one is an interesting kind of an initiative. South Korea is one of the big manufacturing partners in India. The access to South Korea gives them a two-step approach in terms of potentially defending Taiwan, in the event of issues. So you are seeing Japan pulling in Germany now, they want a German naval carrier to come in and do joint exercises with them. This is on the back of the HMS Falcon that came from Britain, so you have a number of activities that are going on in the region, and that is a reflection of, especially that of India-South Korea, is basically for the seamless movement of the business people. But it also probably has a defence deterrence in terms of the facility that they may use. South Korea is not fully equipped; by the way, there were also incursions into South Korea by the Chinese, we saw that too.
Sree Iyer – We might also add on Taiwan, that 19 aircraft from China and Russia flew into Taiwan airspace and when they were challenged they said that this is routine, so make what you want of that, but again China is back to flexing its muscles. So one must be wondering why India is supplying rice to China when China is again trying to apply their salami tactics to try and grab land, and we don’t know what is the status of the so-called meetings between Indian and their Chinese counterparts on resolving some of the borderline issues. No update yet but we hope to have it in a couple of days time. Sir, this brings us to the end of today’s program, is there’s anything that you would like to add before we sign off, please do so Sir.
Sridhar Chityala -Great, thank you so much, I think the only thing that I would say is that what you’re seeing happening around this India, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea is all a backstop measure, just in case the QUAD which was the epicentre and pillar of the security strategy in the South China Sea. If it falters is there a backup strategy, so they don’t commit the mistakes. The last thing that I would like to say on the markets, we have no resolution on the stimulus package.
Sree Iyer – Yes indeed and that’s another interesting situation. We also should tell our viewers that the Defense Bill also was rejected by Donald Trump because the clause for taking out section 230 of the
Communications Bill was not included in that bill. He wanted that included because he wanted that removed so that the Social Media companies are subjected to the normal scrutiny that all media companies are subjected to. Because once a media company starts filtering data, they need to be also judged differently so lots of stuff happening. Thank you again for joining us at this short notice. Sridharji, my apologies for the slight delay in the beginning.
Now, viewers, we’ll be back again on Monday the 28th December, tomorrow we are off, today’s session was important because there’s so much new information that happened over the last couple of days; we thought it’s important to share with you. Your support has been overwhelming. Thank you very much. Subscribe to our channel, and donate to our cause. As always Sridharji, it’s a pleasure to have you on our channel. Namaskar and see you again on Monday.
Sridhar Chityala – Namaskar, thank you, have a wonderful weekend everybody.
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