Sunday, January 10, 2021



Why am I pausing my blog. And that too after 11 long years.

Here's some context. Last week one of the persons (only person?) who reads my blog, offered a suggestion.

She said, "You do realize you don't need to write a blog every week. Especially since its obvious that you're doing it as a chore, and not something you enjoy".

Initially it felt like being kicked in the gut. Especially since it was True. It quickly followed with the realization that I really need not try and do this weekly.

How about I write only when I have something meaningful to say. Which could be never or once a year or once a quarter or ...

I do hope to write. And regularly. Just don't know when or how often. At least for 2021.

Au Revoir Mes Amis.

Sunday, January 3, 2021


The Vaccine is here. And COVID is still here

Adoption of COVID protocols has been poor. In most places, I think. I'm extrapolating from the 2 places I spent 2020 in. US and India. The only place a majority of people wear masks is when their only other option is to not visit those places. Such as in grocery stores, airports, airplanes, ... And even there, when they think they might get away with it, they remove their masks.

In December 2020, the Captain of my BOM-EWR flight had to make an announcement to the effect that several passengers were not wearing their masks and were refusing to comply even after the cabin crew requested them to. "Its a serious offense and if you'll don't comply immediately, we will be forced to take strict action." And this was within less than an hour of the flight taking off on a 15 hour journey.

Ivona, my wife is a Respiratory Physician and a front-line worker. And all of us are worried for her. And the millions of essential workers who put their life at risk. And so when I see people behaving in a manner that is detrimental not only to them, but to the people around them, it causes me angst and I'm baffled. I just don't get it.

The arguments that people offer for not wearing a mask range from ridiculous to ingenuous to silly to ridiculous.

Let me give a few examples that I've had the misfortune of listening to, in person, from people I consider my family and friends.

1. The government can't tell us what to do. It's my choice to do what I think makes the most sense.

This is incorrect in a zillion ways. The government and as an extension society tells us every single living moment what we can and cannot do. What speed we can drive at, what side of the road, what we can and cannot carry when we fly, what we can and cannot carry when we drive, what kind of clothing we can wear to public places, or a restaurant, or a store, or a concert, or to school, or to work, or to ... And yet somehow, wearing a small piece of cloth to protect yourself and more importantly others is taking away your freedom ?

2. Masks do not work

And this based on Dr. Fauci saying in February that masks are not required or Dr. ... said that there is no evidence to show masks work or the efficacy of masks is minimal or ... And that the data is spurious or falsified or ...

This argument has several holes. In fact calling it an argument is giving it more merit than it deserves.

For starters how come you listened to what Dr. Fauci said in February but are unwilling to listen to what he's said thereafter, a zillion times? Are you suggesting that he should be held to a standard that his first analysis is correct and everything else thereafter false. Then how come you don't hold your political leaders who make a zillion bloopers and change their minds not only on a daily basis, but sometimes in the same sentence to that standard. And how come you don't not hold yourself to the same standard, but attribute changing your mind to how open-minded you are and use the latest information you have to make your choices and decisions.

How come the data that the CDC in the US and 100's of other countries have published is unreliable and yet you quote the same sources for virtually everything else, including your healthcare, your economy, your political beliefs, ...

3. I'm safe. And so are the people I interact with

Really? If this were true we would not be having as of today, 85 million global cases and over 1.84 million global deaths. A large percentage of it in the US and India. And it also begs the question that even if you assume you're safe, why can't you do it for the people you interact with. 

You dress appropriately for them, you speak appropriately to them, you interact appropriately with them. How will a little face covering affect you and even if you're right, don't you think that doing something selflessly, just in case you're not right is appropriate behavior. That you yourself have practiced in every single facet of your life thus far.

Unfortunately this list is long. And boring. And most of them revolve around the 3 central themes I've outlined.

And even more unfortunately, this dangerous behavior is going to worsen, now that there's a vaccine available. What many of us fail to appreciate that it's likely to be June 2021 until a significant number of people are vaccinated and the end of the year before it reaches the level that's likely to result in herd immunity.

Here's a MYTH V. FACT from



Most people who will read this, probably already agree with most if not all of what I've outlined. And those who don't will probably never see this or anything that mildly advocates this.

I can but only BEG you to:

It isn't about politics.
It isn't about freedom.
It isn't about choice.
It is to protect YOU.
It is to protect YOURS.

Here's wishing each and every one of you a SAFE and HAPPY 2021.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Goodbye 2020. Hello 2021.

2020 has been a different year. And that's the kindest version to describe the year. And misquoting the popular phrase, When you're at the bottom, there's no where else to go but up. So 2021 is looking really good right now.


And in keeping with 2020 being different, my resolutions this year are also different. And my communication of them is also different.











Yep. No one will know what they are. Until the end of 2021. :)

Have a wonderful 2021 and my hope is that it'll be significantly better than 2020.

Happy & Prosperous 2021 !

p.s.: Its a real list. And not a Con as most of 2020 seems to have been. :))

Sunday, December 20, 2020


mRNA is unbelievably fascinating. Given that many of the COVID-19 vaccines are using this technology, its a good time to know more about this amazing technology. And how it could impact health care for several decades.

This YouTube video by a doctor explains how mRNA works as well as the vaccines and their efficacy.



Ironically this talk from 2013 becomes extremely interesting and relevant.

Biology dogma: DNA -- mRNA -- proteins. The biotech industry has made wonders for patients in the last 30 years making recombinant proteins, like EPO and insulin. What if mRNA could be a drug and the body could make its own missing proteins on demand?

Stephane Bancel is the founding CEO of moderna Therapeutics in Cambridge, MA.

What if mRNA could be a drug?
Stephane Bancel



Sunday, December 13, 2020

Indian Farmers Agitation

A few friends and family have been sending articles and videos on social media platforms regarding the farmers agitation. Most of these are NRI's (Non Resident Indians) and most of the articles paint a one sided picture of the evil government and exploitive farm laws on one side and the poor downtrodden farmer on the other.

250 million Indian workers and farmers strike, breaking world record

Unfortunately most of those who forward these articles have not bothered to read the farm laws or even articles on the subject.

For those who are interested in understanding the issue and why it's not as simple as some of the media, especially Western media is making it out to be, I've given below several links to Wikipedia and articles that provide a balanced view on the subject. The Good. The Bad. And the Ugly.

To summarize there were 3 farm laws that were passed by the Indian Parliament in September 2020.

2020 Indian farmers' protest

Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020

Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020

Essential Commodities Act

Impact of India’s New Farm Act, 2020 on Farmers and Markets
Jyoti Prakash Sahoo, Kailash Chandra Samal and Dibakar Behe

In the midst of strong protests from opposition members over their demand for a division of votes on their motion to refer the legislation to a select committee, the Rajya Sabha has passed two primary farm bills. The Upper House passed the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, by voice vote, and the Price Guarantee and Farm Services Bill Agreement for Farmers (Empowerment and Protection), 2020. The bills have already been passed by Lok Sabha and have now been informed on 27th September, 2020 as legislation. On the other hand, contract farming legislation would enable farmers to enter into a pre-agreed price contract with agribusiness companies or large retailers for their goods. This will assist small and marginal farmers as the law will move from the farmer to the sponsor the risk of market unpredictability. The 2020 Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill seeks to delete the list of essential commodities such as cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onions and potatoes. It implies that, except in exceptional circumstances such as war and natural calamities, the law would do away with the imposition of stock-holding limits on such products.


Some politicians claim the solution is government purchase of all farm produce at a high price. Global experience shows, however, that if the government- guaranteed price is above international levels, this will cause a surplus for which domestic or foreign demand is not present. High farm support prices were used by the European Union, which produced mountains of unsold meat and butter and lakes of milk, which were eventually sold to the Soviet Union at a huge loss. The EU has now shifted mainly to direct farmers’ income support. With Telangana’s Rythu Bandhu scheme (Rs. 10,000.00 per acre) and Modi’s PM- Kisan scheme (Rs. 6,000.00 per acre), India is moving in a similar direction. The best is Odisha’s KALIYA, which not only provides landowners but also tenants and shareholders with cash transfers (Rs. 10,000.00 per acre); Rs. 12,500.00 to landless households to start poultry, goat-rearing and fisheries; Rs. 25,000.00 over five years to purchase inputs for small and marginal farmers; and insurance benefits. In short, in the meantime, farmers need freedom to sell, move out of farming, and cash support rather than high prices and the new farm act will help the Indian farmers.

Protesting farmers are arguing for the perpetuation of colonial rule
Surjit S Bhalla

A minuscule minority of farmers is protesting against the farm laws. They don’t want an end to the system that has benefited them.


A little detail on these bills: The old farm produce laws (the creation of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) came into existence almost 150 years ago to feed the colonial masters raw cotton for their Manchester mills. The output of these mills was then sold to the “natives” for a hefty profit. The farmer was obligated, required, forced to sell to the masters in a regulated market whose regulation was set by, you guessed it, the colonial masters. It is very likely that the people blindly supporting the “poor” farmers (who were recently seen distributing expensive dry fruit freely to all those coming to their “protest”) are unaware of some simple facts. By supporting these very (relatively) rich farmers, the protesters are in fact arguing for the perpetuation of colonial rule.

Some steps further in this historical lesson. The corrosive monopoly power held by the APMCs has been recognised by almost all political parties and farmer unions (for example, the Bharat Kisan Union took out a protest in 2008 arguing for the right of farmers to sell produce to corporates). The Congress party had these very same laws in its 2019 election manifesto.

Let us further follow this chain of logic of the farm protest supporters. In 1991, the government freed industry from its cage and the results are there for everybody to see, and applaud (except, of course, the wilfully blind). GDP growth in India doubled to an average of 6 per cent over the next 30 years, from the previous average of less than 3 per cent.

For reasons best known to the “political” economists, agriculture was not freed in 1991, or thereafter — until now. Farmers are forced to sell their marketable produce only through a mandi regulated by the government. The new reformed law allows the farmer to sell through the APMC, and to sell outside the APMC. It is her choice. The government procures all of its food through APMCs — only about 6 per cent of the farmers in India sell through the APMCs to the government. These 6 per cent are all large farmers, primarily residing in the two states of Punjab and Haryana. These two states typically account for close to 60 per cent of wheat procurement and close to a third of rice procurement. The government procures from these farmers in order to re-distribute the food via ration shops to the bottom two-thirds of the population. But there are leakages. This leakage was first openly discussed by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 when he stated that only 15 per cent of the food procured by the government reached the poor.

There are no more than two million farmers — total — in Punjab and Haryana and less than 5 per cent have holdings above 10 hectares. A rough back of the envelope calculation suggests that the protesting farmers from Punjab and Haryana total no more than 200,000 — that is two hundred thousand so there is no confusion with numbers. The number of all farmers in India, very small, small and large is 100 million. So about 0.2 per cent of all farmers in India have “reason” to protest. And what are they protesting for? Likely the licence to remain the richest farmers in India or the world because in addition to the exclusive APMC largesse, the income of these farmers is not taxed. The non-taxation of agricultural incomes does not benefit the poor farmer because she does not have enough income to be taxed.


Be honest — how many of you know a law in any of the 195 out of 200 countries in the world that prohibit an individual from selling her wares in the market? Count the countless street vendors in the world, in both developing and developed markets. Are they prohibited from selling who they want to sell to? Then why the demand that the APMC be the sole buyer for all farmers?


And for those who would like the issue broken down in a simple manner on video, here's one from Faye D'Souza who explains the issue well.

Farmers Protest Explained
Faye D'Souza

My personal opinion based on all of the reading that's available in the public domain as well as the laws themselves is that there are several issues in the laws that need to be modified.

A major one being that the parties cannot approach the courts and that the government bureaucrats decision on issues will be final and binding.

However the laws themselves have a good intent and is a major step forward towards reforms and progress for farmers and the country and should be retained.

While several grievance of the farmers are genuine, many of them are driven by politics and to ensure that a minority of rich farmers and middle men do not lose their lucrative income which is mainly at the cost of the tax payer and the smaller farmers.

A friend of mine who is himself a farmer summarized it well:
"Most of us here feel that the 3 las should stay. Amendments keep taking place later on but scrapping the laws will be a step backwards."


Sunday, December 6, 2020

Question yourself

As we enter the final month of 2020, I like many of us have been introspecting about the year behind us and more importantly about the year ahead. And a good way is to question yourself.

And Stacey Abrams, one of the primary heroes of the 2020 presidential elections (IMO), has this brilliant talk on the subject.

3 questions to ask yourself about everything you do
Stacey Abrams

How you respond to setbacks is what defines your character, says Stacey Abrams, the first Black woman in the history of the United States to be nominated by a major party for governor. In an electrifying talk, she shares the lessons she learned from her campaign for governor of Georgia -- and some advice on how to change the world. "Be aggressive about your ambition," Abrams says.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Delivered Happiness : RIP Tony Hsieh

A few years ago, Reia recommended that I read a book, "Delivering Happiness". I did. And it was very good. It had several non-conventional approaches and philosophies, all of which were proven to work by the books author, Tony Hsieh.

On Friday, November 27, Tony Hsieh passed away at the age of 46. The last few years of his life were troubled. He died following a fire accident in a friends home in Connecticut.

His final years in no way diminishes the amazing person that he was. And the millions of people he inspired to deliver happiness, including one of his biggest fans, Reia.

From 2010: Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh
CBS Sunday Morning

Tony Hsieh, the retired head of Las Vegas-based, died Friday, November 27. In this profile that originally aired on "Sunday Morning" June 6, 2010, correspondent Erin Moriarty talked with the then-36-year-old CEO whose online shoe retailer was thriving, thanks in part to a unique company culture and its revolutionary customer service. Hsieh also discussed a business philosophy he wrote about in his book, "Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose."

And this talk by Tony captures him as Reia and all of us remember. An inspirational icon.

Zappos' Hsieh: Building a Formidable Brand
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh offers a compelling account of his transformation from callow Harvard student entrepreneur through his years as a dot-com wunderkind to the creator of a formidable brand.