Sree Iyer: Namaskar, hello and welcome to Episode Number 84. Today is the January 27th 2021. We have a lot of news to cover for you. So, we are going to quickly zip through everything. To start with let’s welcome our guests Sridhar Chityalaji, Sridharji, namaskar and welcome to PGurus Channel.
Sridhar Chityala: Namaskar and good morning to everybody.
Sree Iyer: Sir, let us start off with what has been happening in the impeachment trial. Now, today we have an update on the number of GOP Senators that Republican party Senators who are saying that they are going to vote against impeachment that number that we had quoted yesterday was 29, today it has gone up to 45. With 45, there is no way they can get an impeachment verdict out of Senate. Therefore, whatever time that the Senate is going to spend talking about this, mulling over it is essentially a waste of taxpayer money. What are your thoughts, sir?
Sridhar Chityala: Well, I think that I completed the endorsed the sentiments that you have expressed. Remember, we talked about this yesterday and it’s almost like, straight out of the book, our words were pulled out by Rand Paul who presented what he called as the point of order arguing that the President’s impeachment process is unconstitutional. The words that we expressed the very fact, that chief justice Roberts is not presiding over is a reflection that this is an unconstitutional process. The Chief Justice presides typically of a sitting president, there’s no precedence of the non-sitting president or a president who is not in office being impeached. But, this is the Democratic whip Chuck Schumer made a very strong statement countering that stating, well, the conduct was during his presidency, therefore, we must be a bow to the constitution in terms of what is specified in some of the articles that anything that is waged against the state is considered incitement and should be the only place that you can be tested is the Senate. Well, this was his kind of position. But, on the point of order that was presented on the Senate floor, 45 Senators voted against the impeachment and San. Rand Paul made the statement that this is, I rest my case. We have enough votes effectively to State why we are going through the shaft.
Sree Iyer: Furthermore, Biden has also weighed in on this and he has said that the Democrats will not have the votes to impeach. So, he is already messaging to this party drop this thing and we also have news that Patrick Leahy who was supposed to be the one presiding over this was taken to Washington Hospital because he was not feeling well. I don’t know what the latest status on his health. But, essentially it puts him ahead of vice-president Kamala Devi Harris for succession to be the next president, isn’t it?
Sridhar Chityala: I think that it gives him the right as the number three and you know definitely he is filling the role of a vice president, how exactly this constitutional process will work remains to be seen. And potentially what it does is? It does put him in that kind of a position and again, we are in a constitutional kind of a quagmire in this. Chuck Grassley was doing this specific role as the what you call as the Pro-tempore and now, it is going to be done by Patrick Leahy is very interesting as to why it was supposed to be Harris, who was supposed to preside over but anyway, they have sworn in just to make sure that he can conduct the proceedings. Again, this is an unusual kind of a path, there’s a whole constitutional process where the House leader can also be potentially succeeding. There is a process that the Secretary of State could also succeed, besides the vice president and pro-tempore. So these are uncharted waters in terms, but there is within constitutional provisions for succession to occur. Yes, sir.
Sree Iyer: The body of the administration is attempting to get 200 million doses because it is their goal to have every American citizen vaccinated by the end of this summer. Achievable, where do you think they’re going to get those 200 million doses?
Sridhar Chityala: 100 million is being ordered from Moderna and 100 million is being ordered from the Pfizer. So, they are ordering 200 million doses from those two. Remember, it was President Trump who initiated this program and he had prepaid somewhere close to 1.95 billion dollars and for kicking off the manufacturing and for the identification of these vaccines. So, I am sure that there is a little bit of supply that has been orchestrated in the United States.
Sree Iyer: Let’s move on to lawmakers from Democratic side who are reintroducing the legislation on Tuesday to raise the federal wages to $15 per hour by 2025 and they said that they are going to use a powerful procedural tool to pass the Bill using their slimmest possible Senate majority. I think what they are hinting is even if it is going to go down party lines, they will have a casting vote because it would be the vice president Kamala Devi Harris, who would be able to provide that vote. Is that what you’re saying, sir?
Sridhar Chityala: That’s it, You got it. You got it. I think it’s a called the reconciliation process which is effective to say Hey, you know, this is a very important decision, there is no filibuster rule, which is 60/40. And so I think that we are representing it. It’s approved by the House. We will bring in the vice president, this is one of those exceptional situations and we’ll pass. We got to be very clear, this is the $15 bill that is being passed as a minimum wage within federal employment structure. They are already mandating minimum wages to the states in the private sector.
Sree Iyer: Now, very interesting one Squad member. I hope you know the name of this person has co-sponsored a bill decriminalizing illegal border crossings. So, all those of us who use the proper visa process showed up waited for hours in front of the United States consulate building, got in said all our stories and then came in as a legal Visa. It looks like all that doesn’t matter. All you need to do is to figure out a way to take get on a boat and then come in via Mexico.
Sridhar Chityala: Well, I think that this is one of these controversial bills, rest of the stuff is a policy issue whether you have $15, $7.5, $10 dollars, one can kind of deal with it. But, this is a bill which could impact the ecosystem that we live in or the community system that we live in. Now, Democrats would argue a number of children either have been left on this side of the Border or number of parents have been left on one side of the border with children on the other side, so on the Mexican side. So, if you kind of makes these people at zero per cent tolerance, then, therefore, there is no way by which families can be reunited. This is the position that the squad, as well as the Democratic Party, has taken. But, to decriminalize and basically look at each one of them, I believe it opens the floodgates. Yesterday, there was an interview with Sheriff Mark Dannels of the Cochise County in Arizona, and he was saying that this is a very big problem for the southern states, especially, Arizona and even, extending all the way up. And his point is it is closed 141 countries, they see people from another in 141 countries attempting to cross the border and we have to look at these cases quite very carefully because he says right from child labour, drug lords, criminals, the other types of criminal people coming across the country, using the specific process which is why the zero tolerance and decriminalization law exists. So, trafficking is the word that you used, from sex trafficking to child trafficking to all these types, of course, you know are illegal drugs are crossing the border, all these have been used and once your decriminalizing it just makes it very very complicated process in terms. Remember we are also stopping the wall because the wall has been stopped with effect through an executive order because that’s another philosophical difference between the two Parties.
Sree Iyer: Well, some interesting information coming out of Federal court, a federal judge has put a two-week hold on President Joe Biden’s effort to pass deportations from the United States for the first 100 days. Now, what that means? If I understand it correctly is that the deportations are going to continue and that the president does not have a way to stop that. They’ll have to amend the law to do that. So, again the chances of that passing would you think that they use the same process of using the vice president to get the cast the deciding vote. Wouldn’t that become more like, you know for everything they are coming down with the hammer?
Sridhar Chityala: Well, this is a law, this law was contested by Attorney General.. The contestation is coming or the contesting of this law is coming either from Arizona and Texas. This is Texas Attorney General Paxton, you know who has been filing a number of cases against some of the rules that are coming through executive orders. So, he has filed a case which is to say this law adversely affects, Texas and its border. So, hence, he has been able to get a stay. So, he has to now, when it gets taken up, they will be contesting both by the government as well the state in terms of what exactly will be the dilution or what exactly the amendment that must occur so that the law can be normalized. Remember, when a law is passed at the federal level, the implementation is not at the federal the implementation occurs at the state level. Because you have the federal officers but the implementation occurs at the state level. So this is the contest is an about, right now, the procedure protects the citizens of Texas and this particular law only aggravates and creates potential risk. So, therefore, there has to be a stay.
Sree Iyer: In global News, we going to touch upon this, the Republic Day Celebrations were marred by riots, the farmers at least a section of them. The farmers are saying these are not belonging to us, but whatever it is when you have a riot somebody takes over these kinds of stirs and these are actually planted a couple of flags on the Red Fort to make it as if they have captured the whole of India with a laughable thing except that we are going to see in fact, today already Wall Street journal has put a story “the real story is embedded in an article that, I wrote yesterday, please do read that thing and you will know what happened. There’s also a link in that to a Tribune story read that one too because that kind of gives you the real perspective and I think that is enough coverage there.
So, we’re going to move on President Biden has made his first call to Putin and he is pressing him on Navalny opposition leader, who they allegedly tried to poison and now he’s back in Russia. It will be carefully observed. The world will be watching Russia as to what the Russians were going to do. Also, they are talking about strategic arms reduction treaty talks because that is coming up for Renewal. Do you think that will be renewed?
Sridhar Chityala: Yes, it will be renewed and I think that will be one of the first priorities items. Both Russia and the US have agreed that they will move forward with the process. There is also discussions to renew and agree. There’s a nuclear treaty that exists between the two countries in terms of reduction of the stockpiles. I think both those decisions will move forward.
Sree Iyer: Now, Israel has said, Israel’s military chief for the matter of fact, that if the situation goes back and You know rejoins the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, then that could be a bit of a problem for Israelis understating it of course, because Israel is such a close partner of the United States. Now, as far as I can remember we talked about this during the time when the elections had concluded and Biden had not been confirmed that a President Trump has put enough checks in place that would sort of making this even if the Biden Administration had will go back and reopen the Iran deal that it would make it useless because of all the other things they have done such as normalizing the relations between Israel and UAE, Bahrain and a host of other West Asian countries. Do you think that still holds Good?
Sridhar Chityala: The peace deal still holds good, Israel has just opened an embassy in. UAE has also acquired I think close to $18 to $23 billion dollars worth of equipment. In anticipation in probably in potential threats, so they of their kind of arming up. This Israel’s attack on some of the nuclear facilities have been quite some time for two reasons, one, they have already breached the enrichment of uranium, they have also found that the Al Qaeda has been in Iran, so potentially these two streams of activities possess your significant and imminent threat to Israel and the adjacent region. So, they had indicated that there is a possibility of an imminent threat recall what happened in Lebanon and recall what happened in also in Syria. Recall also what happened to both the Republican godhead as well as to the Al Qaeda leader number two in Iran. So, all these things are there is a role of either the United States or Israel. And in one instance the United States has been very clear to say that in the take out of a specific personality. So I think that they’re warning Biden, your negotiations and deals with Iran and going back into the treaty is not a deterrent and he is not something that’s going to force Israel to be restrained because we already have checks and balances as to what we need to do.
Sree Iyer: G7 leaders are under pressure from their lawmakers to stay firm and tough on China and now China is rejecting the message that Biden gave of strategic competition and it calls on us to cooperate. Wow. The pot calling the kettle black. What do you think?
Sridhar Chityala: Well, I think we moved from strategic patience to strategic competition. So, we must exercise strategic patience in and I think it was his press secretary who used the word. No, it’s nothing but strategic kind of competition. So there’s always the issues that is floating around and I think what China is saying is negotiate with us and deal with us. Otherwise, we are moving forward with our own actions. They have never done that with the United States though, they were subtle and belligerent in their own actions. They had not stopped the South China Sea. They had not stopped the human rights and the cancellation of the democratic rights that were rested within Hong Kong. They did not stop what was going on in Uyghur province. They have not stopped anything that was going on in the Himalayan Kingdom. They keep talking on one side and they make statements. This is very typical of China, and if Biden gets it right he has to continue, this is where the G7 leaders that you alluded to have stated, ‘stay the course and stay firm and stay tough on China, which is don’t do anything which is going to give them an opportunity be it on the trade side, be it of the security side, be it on some of the dealings that happen. Now the fact that they have opened up this joint collaboration to rejoin the Paris Accord and the Green Gases to work closely with China has opened the doors. The door has opened for China to say ‘Ah now the door is open. Remember President Trump walked out of the Paris Accord and also this Green Treaty. So we have a very interesting situation. So China is taking a very assertive stand as regards to the United States and the rest of the world is concerned and that’s the message that you are hearing.
Sree Iyer: Moving on Indonesia, Iran, and China, were caught red-handed illegally transporting oil. Empty Freya which is a tanker which is managed by a Chinese company based in Shanghai, while the Empty Horse is another tanker owned by Iranian tanker company. So these things have come to light. They know that this is happening. So, if China wants to get this oil, they could do it in many other ways, but yet they’re doing it in plain sight. Is there anything that we should be reading between the lines here?
Sridhar Chityala: It simply means that they are always with and by the side of what they call the strategic partner. The strategic partners, as you know, are Iran, Pakistan, Turkey; this is a new alliance that is coming up. The Sino New Pacts. We reported a couple of days ago based on the news item that we saw is a Panamanian tanker and the other one is, I don’t remember which one is now confirmed the second tanker. The first tanker is Shanghai. There is no Panamanian tanker, it is actually Iranian tanker and that is the Empty Horse that you are referring to. So out of these two it is very clear, we again reported potentially in Indonesian water, one is the filling of the tanker, second, there was the spilling that was going on during this particular process causing a hazard because Indonesian marine is a very significant part of their economic activity. So they are all now being pulled to the Bintan Island to be a to be further investigated, but it has now come to light as we forecast that this is nothing but the Iranian stuff that is going on.
We had also reported about South Korean seas, a merchant vessel being seized as well, off the shores of Oman. What it means is, as you correctly guessed they are trying to help the Iranians who are starved of cash and saying this is the way we will do it and we will do it in a manner we don’t get caught. They’ve been caught.
Sree Iyer: A couple of days ago we had reported that Iran was pumping its oil back to the full capacity. So now you know where it’s all being taken out. So we will wait and see what or how the Western Community is going to respond to that. The European Union urges the United States to draft a joint rule book to reign-in tech giants. Section 230 of the communications, I think what the European Union wants to do, which is I think in my opinion a good thing once you have a uniform set of the rule book. So regardless of which country Twitter or Facebook or any other social media giant is operating in they will have to abide by the same set of rules. Good initiative, isn’t it?
Sridhar Chityala: Very good initiative. I think that if they harmonize this, this would make it, I think we talked about legislation being, in fact, both the Republican and Democratic senators saying, we will not abolish article 230 amendment, but we will modify it to the extent that there is a remedy available for the affected parties. So I think if they harmonize it should make these tech companies behave in a far more restrained manner recognizing that there is imminent litigation.
Sree Iyer: Let’s take a quick look at what happened yesterday in the Republic Day Parade. You got to see Rafale. We got to see the first female fighter pilot. We got to see the Ayodhya RamTemple as it is coming up, and ten firsts. Would you like to dwell a little bit on what we saw on Republic Day Parade yesterday sir?
Sridhar Chityala: Well, I think it Republic Day Parade yesterday is a reflection, those have followed Republic parades, it is a showcase of various activities that have taken, that is taking place in India. There was a Vijayanagara block that went through and that has not been seen for quite some time. Ayodhya Temple is another one, which is coming up, which is a very big emotional as well as spiritual and heritage mark that’s coming up. I think the Char-Dham temples were also on the march from a heritage point of view. The Rafale which is the new design toy that was on display. The BrahMos missiles were on display. It’s a reflection of a modern India, which is combining its military power, its economic power, its heritage and all the developments. There was also a block on the Innovation. India is at the forefront, is one of the top four innovation destinations in the world. So it reflects the progress of India in various spheres and as a power to reckon with as it scales is way to be the third-largest economy, its already the third-largest by PPP, but to be one of the top five economies in the world.
Sree Iyer: And a quick update on covid. The global covid cases have topped 100 million. Indonesia alone has cases surpassing 1 million. Britain says it will work with the EU to avoid vaccine disruption. Now, here’s a more important one. Moderna develops a new vaccine for the South African variant of covid. Sir, would that mean that this new vaccine is a superset of all the other variants and therefore will have to be re-administered. I am a little confused when it says that it has come up with a new one. What is going to happen to the ones who’ve already taken the vaccine?
Sridhar Chityala: Give me an opportunity to exercise my discretion here. So they’re three variants, one is normal what you call the covid-19 for which there is the treatment, which is the treatment emanating from Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, BioNtech, Sinovac and the Indian vaccines that are going around and then the Russian Sputnik. Then we saw that there was a variant to that is coming from Britain and people said the Britan variant covid can be dealt with by the existing vaccines. Then came the new one, discovered from South Africa, they say it mutates faster and it is far more dangerous relative to the other two covid-19 strains. It appears that Moderna, Pfizer hasn’t made any specific comment, but Moderna says it has a special program or special protocol which addresses this. I don’t believe that there is a need to change any of the existing protocols, but there is a variant available within the Moderna vaccines that helps to address this South Africa. Remember, not all of South Africa there’s only probably very few cases. We have also seen in the United States, a Brazil variant which seems to mutate faster in Minnesota that we talked about yesterday. So how many of these things are going to come up what exactly the protocols I think it’s an evolving theory. But the general news is that the vaccines are working. But it is not permanent. they may have 12 months, 14 months, 18 months effectiveness. Just as we have our regular flu vaccines in the United States. Every year there are some changes that are made to the protocol and just because you take a flu vaccine one yea it doesn’t mean you are immune by the time you come to the next winter season. So we again take the next dosage of vaccines with a slight variance to the serum.
Sree Iyer: Now one interesting study has revealed that if you are a vegetarian you have fewer chances of catching covid. I don’t know if there is a sample survey that bails that out. I know that this has been done in India because India is one place where you will get a fairly large sample of vegetarians and non-vegetarians. We have to wait and see how this plays out for the rest of the world. but there appears some empirical data that suggests that vegetarians can work this thing off better than others. Moving on, the vaccine-related impetus in various economies looks like it will assist in allowing the global economic growth to be about 5.5% in 2021.
Sridhar Chityala: Well, I think that two specific factors are contributing to this projected growth in 2021 relative to the contraction that the world economy is experienced in 2020. One is, there is growing optimism that the vaccine will allow people to resume their normal lives, at least if not in the air travel, but people beginning to go to work and be able to do lead normal lives outdoor rather than being contained. So that’s one factor, the second factor this plenty of liquidity by way of stimulus cash that is being put into the system relative to 2020. All the stimuli came from the second half of 2020 and there is more stimulus is contemplated, Japan, EU all of them are pumping money into the system. As a result, there is a general buoyancy that you will see economic upliftment and the latent demand or pent-up demand will see a boost before things normalize in 2022. So that’s where is 5.5% number coming from.
Sree Iyer: Now international monetary fund projects an impressive 11.5% growth for India in 2021. Does this factor in the fact that India might end up being the supplier of vaccine for practically most of the world?
Sridhar Chityala: India has seen three things. India has seen a tremendous amount of inflows. It is probably the second or the largest destination of investor Capital flowing into India. That’s number one. I think the second factor is that there has been a progressive shift in some of the industries from China into India, so which has seen a spurt in the manufacturing output. This is where your vaccines, mobile, automobile all these specific sectors fall into. Then you have the third scenario, which is namely both a pent-up demand as well as they expect the government to add more stimulus as they release the Budget on February 1st if I’m correct in India for the ensuing year.
Sree Iyer: Well, with that we come to the end of today’s program and what I would like to leave you with is the time being spent by the Senate to impeach Trump better spent doing something else. I’ll give you what that something else could be, it could be that America could show leadership and try to put China on the spot here to say that look there is a big challenge here about how this coronavirus started especially from the Wuhan labs and get to the bottom of who did it? How did it get caused? What are the ramifications, if it was created in the lab, even if it was an uncontrolled experiment? I think people have a right to know the truth. That’s where I would be spending my money and time and unfortunately, I am a taxpayer. All I can say is that where the time is being spent now is not correct. But beyond that, I think it needs to come from you the viewer, those of you who are watching this thing, please write to your Senator, please write to your congressman. Grossman tells them to get off of their white bottoms and try to get to the truth of the matter of how this whole thing started. Because you are seeing continuous variations coming up and this seems unreal that there could be so many different variations coming up and it doesn’t seem to end at all. Sridhrji, if you want to add something please feel free to do so. Otherwise, we can call this a wrap.
Sridhar Chityala: No, I think you have summarized it quite well. The strategic issue, you characterized it into I would say three themes. The first and foremost theme is the time well spent when it’s a foregone conclusion on impeachment. So you’ve won the elections you have got both the house and the Senate you got the mandate and therefore you got your President. So Democratic party, and you have impeached him the second time in the house where you have the votes, you do not have the votes to convict him in the Senate, that’s very clearly established. You don’t have a Supreme Court Chief Justice presiding over. All these points out to whatever you need to do, you have done. Please don’t distract. Second, focus your time on covid and try to get the economy back on wheels. People want the economy to be back on Wheels around 4-5% growth. Goldman Sachs predicts 5%, FED predicts 4%. But either way, get that back into motion. That’s the second priority. And third, do not blink as far as China is concerned, do not blink. This is where the fear comes whether Biden is going to lift his foot off the pedal. This is purely based on historical precedence. When you look at his first hundred days you find that his first hundred days is going to be consumed with domestic, with all these executive orders that he signing away every day. Just on that note, just to wrap, Anthony Blinken has been confirmed as the Secretary of State and I think next in the line is the Commerce Secretary or your trade and commerce secretary Gina Raimondo. So I think the third point is geopolitical security and geopolitics. The world is looking to the United States to continue to lead and sustain especially as China threatens. That’s the biggest threat the world sees. China is the biggest Godzilla in the room on territorial, trade, the debt you look at any of these facets, the big gorilla in the room is China. So do not lift the pedal off China. These are the three top priorities. Clearly, convicting Trump is not your priority because there are not enough votes.
Sree Iyer: Thank you very much, sir, and viewers will be back tomorrow. Same time, the same location. Thanks for joining, please subscribe to our channel and Namaskar.
Sridhar Chityala: Namaskar and have a wonderful day.
- Who is Ilhan Omar, author of Islamophobia Bill? Sree Iyer explains the controversies around her - October 25, 2021
- Sree Iyer on why the attacks on Bangladeshi Hindus was pre-planned & the way forward - October 20, 2021
- Pt Satish K Sharma talks of “Scumbags, Acid & Assassination – British Parliament’s Mensis Horribilis” - October 18, 2021