Tag Archive for 'WSJ'

Chinese Premier Xi Jinping – A Party of One !

Andrew Browne in his column – China World in the Wall Street Journal today describes the Chinese Premier ‘s election victory last month as ‘ A Party of One ” . Xi Jinping was re-elected unanimously for another term – for life ? – as for the first time in several decades ,the succession question is open as the 19th Party Congress did not name a successor to Xi . Also after Mao’s legacy , this is probably the first time that a leader’s thoughts got included in the policy framework of the Nation.

The world has seen ‘cult ‘ figures in national leadership roles like Joseph Stalin , Mao Zedong , Charles de Gaulle and Lee Kuan Yew who wielded great power with almost no opposition politically. Will Xi Jinping reach this level as the third generation leader in China after Mao and Deng ?  – Vladimir Putin is a close contender to Xi Jinping in this aspect in Russia.

I took interest in Chinese history first time after reading the books – The Good Earth and Dragon Seed by Pearl S Buck. The first Chinese Revolution of 1911 which overthrew the Imperial Dynasty and the second Chinese Revolution of 1949 when Mao Zedong created the Peoples Republic Of China attracted a lot of attention of the world. The Sleeping Dragon of the Peasant and Cycle days of China went through a great Cultural Revolution through the ” Great Leap Forward “.  China remained closed and isolated from the world for some more time until the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 – the first and probably the last efforts for democratic rights and pluralism with a multi party framework ! .

The Annexation of Tibet by China in 1960 and the US – China Rapprochement of the 70’s through the good offices of Henry Kissinger were strategically important developments of the century and altered the power balance post World War Two . But the new ‘ Avtar ‘ of China really came about thanks to the adoption of market economy by Den Xiaoping during 1978-89. While Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao who followed Deng kept the new momentum , it was Xi Jiping in a short period  of five years after taking over ,  kicked off many initiatives during his term towards bringing up China as the second most world economic power after the US . His new ambitious Infrastructure Initiative – The One Belt -One Road [ OBOR] towards Globalization of Investments in a multi nation road map for 30 plus years is the talk of the global strategists today.  This $5 Trillion project integrates the old silk routes through the land with a new maritime silk road covering Asia, the Middle East ,Europe and Africa. The project involves Roads,bridges ,gas pipelines,ports,railways and power plants . China always believes in dreaming BIG as is clear from their many large infrastructure projects within China in the recent past as seen in Shanghai, Dalian and in Chengdu.  The US,Japan and India have expressed reservations on this project for strategic reasons – India because the OBOR passes through POK – a disputed territory between India and Pakistan and the US and japan because of its objections on the maritime routes . Recently, Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan has mooted an alternative to OBOR with Australia,India and the US participating in it.

While China stands poised for greater laurels in the World Economic Scene, many analysts predict the bursting of the Bubble in the near term. While Mao and Deng were cult figures loved and revered by the Chinese Public, Xi Jiping is yet to acquire this status. Another issue of global impact is the defiant nuclear posture of North Korea which will test the leadership of Xi Jinping to a very critical level ! Only time will tell if this ” Party of One ” will vindicate the trust placed on him by the Chinese Polity.

i Gen and Beyond – Profound Social Changes with Great Impact on Our Lives

Today, I was reading through a review of a recent book titled  ” i Gen ” authored by Jean.M .Twenge , in today’s Wall Street Journal [WSJ] . The author categorizes ” i Gen ” as people born between 1995 and 2012 , labeling this birth cohort [ generally known as Gen Z] as a group that doesn’t know a world without the internet and smartphones and is now 24% of the US population. The population of this group in India will be much more , I guess , with equally tech savvy especially on the smart phones  . India has more than 900 million mobile phones and counting with at least a third of it smart phones  . Recently , on the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of India’s Independence , Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Group announced a package with a free smart phone and unlimited free calls and data for as low as Rs 159 [ less than $ 3 ] per month in his Jio Network for the first 20,000,000 subscribers ! I believe the pre -booking is almost done !

On the behavior side, iGen , according to the author , is neither cynical as Gen X , nor as over confident as Gen Y , with a radical departure when it comes to their views on religion , free speech  and relationships . Technology  and social media is central to understanding this generation’s experience , with their social lives shifted decisively from in – person interaction to the virtual world .   . Worse , they are not happy with their ” on line ” life!. A major cause of worry, according to the author is the stunted development of adult skills which creates a generation that prefers the ’emotional safety ‘ of virtual relationships to the messy entanglements of real ones .

From a Social Science perspective , Veterans [ Silent Generation – Seniors ] to which I belong adhered to rules , are  conformists , had a hard time growing up , believes in family values and became prosperous by hard work . The Baby Boomers who came after World War 2 , believed in equal rights and opportunities , were optimists and team oriented . The developed and developing world flourished because of their commitment and dedication . Gen X [ 1960-80 ] grew up in diversity of culture , are independent , entrepreneurial , informal , pragmatic , techno literate and  think globally . The Millennials [ Gen Y ] of 1980-2000 are more confident , achievers , fun loving , sociable , street smart , tech savvy – a  global community .

Each such generation brought along certain distinct  behavior and social dimension , generally towards the progress of mankind.  Today , in my own nuclear family , I can say that both me and my wife have adapted to technology  , spending about 3 to 4 hours a day on our smart phone ,  i pad or laptop , buying things and paying bills on line and able to understand GPS . A far cry from the days of coal gas buses , 78 rpm discs , analog radios , box cameras ,  and  35 mm movies in a theater . My children are very tech savvy , achievers with a great goal orientation and cannot live without net connectivity. My grand children spend more than half of their waking hours with electronic devices , especially when they are on a vacation ! . One really has to pull them away from a device to which they are glued in – with Netflix , Facebook , Whats App etc.

Where do we go from here ? . Technology is already leap frogging as a leading indicator of future possibilities . Cloud platforms , I o T , Automation , Robotics , AI and Machine Learning are making manual work redundant in almost all areas of repetitive and predictive work . Do the new Generation following i Gen soon compete with Robots and the like? . Does the sci-fi Star Wars become a reality in our lifetime ?  Will human habitats transcend the earth and move to the galaxies up there ?  What will happen to physical relations ? How about human cloning ? .  It is both scary and appealing  paradoxically at the same time !  I think it is time we need another Alvin Toffler to write a book on  ” Future Shock Revisited ”  .

Internet’s Next Users – A New Paradigm

The Wall Street Journal [WSJ] of 8th August 2017 features Megh Singh , a smart phone user from Delhi , India. Megh Singh, 36, is a coolie porter in New Delhi Railway station. He does not read English and is not comfortable to use a keyboard. That does not stop him from checking train schedules, messaging family and downloading movies on his smart phone. He sits either in the Railway station’s stairwell or at times on the door steps of a stationary train ,whispers into his phone using speech recognition on the station’s free Wi Fi using a Sony Smartphone with 4 GB storage .On his phone are some of the popular apps -Google Search ,Facebook,WhatsApp and in addition the Chinese UC Browser and MX Player.

India has one of the largest population of mobile phones- more than 900 million and counting [ much more than toilets, some statistics state] and more than 30 percent are Smart phones like the one with Megh Singh , mostly with Android operating system. One need not be Internet Savvy in the conventional sense to use such phones.   This new paradigm is transcending the traditional package needed to attract the “second billion ” users of the Internet as per a spokesperson from Google. The beauty of this new trend is that it is independent of any language and relies heavily on the visual and auditory sensation in human beings .  Tim Cook ,Please Note !

[ See the feature ‘ Internet’s Next Users:More Video,Less Typing contributed by Karan Deep Singh in WSJ dated 8th Aug 2017]


A Time Span for Loyalty ?

I read a feature in the Wall Street Journal [ WSJ ] today about the health benefits of Loyalty . The study states that it is a healthy habit to stay on relationships , jobs or your own home town and there are real benefits for people who commit for the long haul .

The Japanese work culture used to advocate life time employment . In India , the Tata Group had a policy of employing dependents of a bread winner for successive generations . But in the globally networked economy of the 21st century , there is no life time job or long term loyalty to match it . Instead , you have a portfolio of careers transcending four  to five jobs in a 25 to 30 year work life span . Besides , no single employer can meet all of your career aspirations adequately during your work life span .

Therefore , notwithstanding the health benefits indicated in the article referred , when it comes to work , we could reasonably expect only a loyalty to one’s profession rather than the job in hand . Loyalty to the job will have to have necessarily a time span qualifying it !

The Novel Mongolian Experiment

It is reported [ WSJ dated 2nd June]  that the entire population of Mongolia will become share holders of Erdenes-Tavan Tolgoi Ltd , popularly known as T T by a bold move by their government through an allotment of 538 shares each , thereby enlisting the support for coal and copper mining operations in that country . China is obviously the ultimate beneficiary – a reverse plunder avenging the humiliating defeat 800 years ago by the legendary Genghis Khan . While economy of Mongolia may improve substantially , the attended ecological disaster if unchecked may trigger a new wave of climate change issues in the mountain region .

Keeping the immediate trigger for this action aside , it looks a very off beat strategy by any government to jump start an economy . Impacting the life style of  a  very traditional and nomadic population with 50 % living in the capital city of Ulan Bator , this action will be keenly watched by economists all over the world  for its outcome both in the short term and long term .

Will China replicate this move through the local governments in some of the Sub- Saharan African Countries  where they have an economic interest through oil or mining exploration underway ?