Vivek Ramaswamy

Vivek Ramaswamy Speaks On Universal Values Of Hinduism

Indian-origin and Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy on Thursday responded to a question about wether the US will accept a president of different faith at the CNN town hall.

Starting by saying he respectfully disagrees, Vivek went on to say he is not a ‘fake convert’ and won’t lie to ramp up his political career, “I am a Hindu”. Going on to add, Vivek asserted that Hinduism and Christianity “share the same value set in common”

“If I wanted to map out my political career and really solve for know, I could fake convert. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to tell you about my faith,” he said.

“My upbringing was quite conventional. My parents taught me that marriages are sacred, families are the cornerstone of society, abstinence before marriage is a viable option when things don’t work out, and adultery is wrong. that enjoying life’s pleasures requires giving something up. Are those values not from elsewhere?” the US presidential candidate added.

Ramaswamy emphasised that there is only one true god and highlighted the values of the Hindu religion.

He said, “There’s one true God. Don’t take his name in vain. Observe the Sabbath. Respect your parents. Don’t kill. Don’t lie. Don’t cheat, don’t steal. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t covet. That’s when it hit me. We share the same value set in common. There’s another core teaching in my faith, which is that we don’t get to choose who God works through. God chooses who God works through.”

He added, “Based on my religious beliefs, I understand that every person is here for a reason and it is our moral obligation to fulfill that reason because God lives within each of us, even though God works through us in various ways, we are all equal.”

Ramaswamy once again reiterated his call to ban birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants and asserted saying, “we shouldn’t reward those who violate the law.”

He said, “I say this as the kid of legal immigrants: I favor ending birthright citizenship for those whose parents entered the country illegally because we shouldn’t reward those who violate the law with the intent of exploiting the citizenship rules. The best border policy is to end incentives for illegal migrants to be here. Democrats created them but Republicans aren’t blameless either.”

Earlier this year, Ramaswamy announced his 2024 US presidential election bid.

Ramaswamy is a native of southwest Ohio. His mother was a geriatric psychiatrist and his father worked as an engineer at General Electric. Ramaswamy was born on August 9, 1985, and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio.

His parents migrated to the US from Kerala.He is the second Indian-American to enter the 2024 Republican presidential primary after Nikki Haley. He is the fourth Indian-American ever to run for the White House –Bobby Jindal ran in 2016 and Vice President Kamala Harris in 2020. (ANI)

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Corner Shop Zaildars

Corner Shop Zaildars

Some South Asians are quite enterprising, particularly in understanding local needs and catering to them. When South Asians first arrived in big numbers in Britain and USA. Most took up menial jobs. Some saved and started small businesses. Then some went into politics and now some have taken over the politics. Quite smart.

The Asians who succeeded in small Businesses realised that indigenous people (White British) were frustrated with shop opening times. Shops essentially opened 8 am to 6 pm. People had to rush back from work to get any shopping done. There was no Sunday opening since it had been outlawed by the Church a few centuries in the past. It’s Christian Sabbath, or Church Day.

Come the Patels and the Khans. They started opening from 7 am to 9 pm. There was an exponential increase in corner shops owned by Indians and Pakistanis. They exploited local needs. They started competing with each other, eventually opening up to midnight. The Supermarkets lobbied the Government. If Patels and Khans can open shops till late, why not supermarkets. There are now even 24-hour Supermarkets and open on Sundays. No longer going to Church when one can go to Supermarket and have tea and cake in their shop as well.

Taxis was another enterprise South Asians quickly got into. The legendry Black Can in Britain and the Yellow Cab in USA were expensive. Come in the South Asians with ‘private cabs’ driving in the locality. Soon many indigenous Brits and Americans started getting into these cheap taxis which were really private cabs. Now Uber and others have got into the act and taken over.

Then came professions, such as doctors, dentists, accountants etc. They worked harder and longer hours in junior posts resigned not to get senior posts. The British NHS and American hospital systems became dependent on the junior Indian or Pakistani doctor. Eventually they took over and even the heads of Doctors bodies are Indians now.

Then came politics. First they began to represent the migrant population in small posts such as local councillor (equivalent of Municipal Councillor). Slowly they became Members of Parliament and now even ministers, Prime Ministers, Vice Presidents (USA) and Presidential hopefuls. How have they done it? Just as the corner shopkeeper did it.

They realised that the indigenous White politicians had gagged themselves with a mountain of Politically Correct language and no-go areas. White politicians could not be seen to be racist, cruel, exploiting etc. Any White politician speaking against immigration is termed ‘racist’. Any White politician promoting cuts in social welfare for disabled is termed cruel right wing with morals of Victorian elite.

So step in the South Asians. Indians seem to have done better at the game. They realised that the majority White population is still racist to some extent, has had enough of immigration and many want welfare cuts to save tax.

Indian politicians had no qualm to ‘champion’ these popular but suppressed opinions. An Indian can oppose immigration without being accused of being racist. An Indian can go around slashing welfare cuts and still be thought as coming from a community that suffered economic deprivation, so can’t be Victorian in nature!

Rishi and Suella in Britain and Ramaswamy in USA all realised they can say things and champion the prejudices, the desire to keep more migrants out and to cut welfare to the bone without being called racist or Victorian. They even became Brexiters without having any sense of English history in their ancestry except that read in the classroom. What cultural friction borne of history does a Rishi and a Suella have in their cultural constructions against Europeans?  But they used it to appeal to British nationalism, becoming more English than the English.

The results are phenomenal. Rishi became the Prime Minister. Suella became Home minister. And Ramaswamy is hoping to become America’s next President. However, Ramaswamy has an unashamed white competitor who seems to have no qualms about shouting racist innuendoes, sexist statements or a tirade against the poor.

Unfortunately, the Indians started competing against each other in who can appeal to the most right wing extreme sections of white society. A bit like the corner shops stretching the opening times further and further to compete with each other until they were open almost all hours with a fatigued family roped in.

So far Rishi has knocked off Suella. She is fighting back with ever more extreme statements and getting the red necks of Britain cheering her on. It is a comic.

Yet it may end soon. Like the big supermarkets that decided they can do what the corner shop was doing and do it better, the White politician is also beginning to lose inhibitions. The Indians have opened back the road and the great White will now take over. It will soon be ok to be racist and yet not be accused of being racist.

It’s a bit like the story of the Indian Zaildars. The corner shop Zaildars have changed Britain and USA and continue to do so in politics and other fields of life.

India Achieves Net Zero

At the upcoming COP 28 in Dubai, China is going to boast that it is ahead of its promise to achieve net zero by 2050. India says it will be there by 2060. Some predict that India will reach it next century if the world survives. Yet India has already reached net zero and its ever creative statisticians seemed to have missed it. So I decided to give them a helping hand.

Modiji started a fad for daily yoga among people. It is said that yoga increases life span by 10 years, if done routinely. It appears that millions of Indians regularly perform yoga. Whatever doomsday armchair social pundits say, Indians will add another 10 years to their lifespans.

Now, that will be ahead of net zero and too fast for India. So to balance the extra years of life, Modi Government has allowed pollution on a supersonic scale. In fact it is 500 times more that permitted level. Stubble burning, industrial fumes, cars and you name it, have taken over the air in India.

The amount of pollution is thought to decrease average age by 10 years. Environment alarmists say Indians will die younger than they are expected to.

But here is the maths for statisticians. Yoga adds 10 years and pollution takes away 10 years. End result is net zero. Lick your wounds China!

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Hardliner ‘Indians’ in UK and US Politics

Why Are There So Many Hardliner ‘Indians’ in UK and US Politics?

For a brief while in 2015-16, a swathe of the Indian media went nearly hysterical in its fervour to cover Bobby Jindal’s campaign to run for US President as a Republican candidate. That campaign didn’t last long because Jindal soon dropped out of the race but the pronounced enthusiasm with which the Indian media tracked his campaign was noteworthy. Jindal was the son of Indian immigrants and that Indian connection seemed to mean that what he did was newsworthy to the Indian media and their target audiences. To Jindal, it didn’t mean a thing. In fact, he didn’t give a fig for being of Indian origin. Born to immigrant Hindu parents (his Indian name is Piyush), he had not only changed his name to a western sounding one but also converted to Christianity, and, at least during his campaign, assiduously distanced himself from his Indian roots.

Much of the Indian diaspora that could vote in the US usually does so for the Democrats and not the Republicans so they were neither his vote bank nor did he target them. His target was the right-leaning Middle American voters. Yet, in India, we adopted him as one of us despite the fact that he himself all but shunned his roots. Famously, a newspaper quoted him then as saying that he did not believe in hyphenated identities such as Indian-American and that his parents came to the US from India four decades ago “to become Americans and not Indian-Americans”. 

There are not very many people of Indian origin high up in American politics but the numbers are growing. Kamala Devi Harris, the incumbent US vice-president and a Democrat, is the daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican-American father. Nikki Haley (whose birth name, which she has ditched, is Nimarata Randhawa) was born to Sikh parents, and is a former governor of South Carolina, and is now running for President as a Republican. She too became a Christian and shuns her Sikh origins. In 2001 she reportedly listed her race as “white” on her voter registration card.

One of Haley’s rivals in the race for getting the Republican nomination is Vivek Ramaswamy. A 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur who appears to have surfed the waves of the Great American Dream with perfection, Ramaswamy is a millionaire, a vegetarian, and a Hindu, but whose right-leaning views veer more towards Donald Trump’s than most of the others who are vying to be nominated as the Republican candidate. Ramaswamy distances himself from being an Indian-American and has hardline views that call for reducing US’s involvement in international conflicts such as the one in Ukraine or in the Middle East and for tightening the policies on immigration. 

There are similar examples of Indian origin politicians in the UK, whose Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, himself is of Indian origin. Sunak’s government was recently rocked by a controversy when his (recently sacked) home secretary, Suella Braverman, also of Indian origin, faced criticism for her controversial comments on asylum seekers, homeless people, and pro-Palestinian protests. She also accused the Metropolitan Police in London of bias in their action against protestors. Another former Indian-origin UK home secretary, Priti Patel, also of the Conservative Party, had to resign in 2022 after a series of controversies. Patel had taken a very hard stance against immigrants and asylum seekers, including a now-aborted plan to deport them to a third country.

Both in the US and the UK there is a rise of second generation Indian-origin politicians who are born in those countries. This is akin to what is happening in other fields: business and industry, professional disciplines, and so on.

Many ascribe this to what is described as the “model minority myth”. It is a sociological phenomenon that refers to the stereotype of some minority groups, particularly in the US, and pertaining usually to Asian Americans including those of Indian origin. These are successful, well-adjusted, self-reliant, and well-assimilated groups that do not need a helping hand in terms of economic aid or social assistance.

The concept of “model minority myth” originated in the US in the 1960s and 70s when a different kind of immigrant emerged. For instance, the formally educated Indians such as graduate engineers and doctors who migrated to the US for higher studies, completed those, and then stayed on to build successful professional careers. The phrase was used to compare and contrast them with other minority groups such as African-Americans and Latinos.  

The model minority myth has been used as a simplistic way of discriminating and neglecting marginalised minority communities. A crude explanation of how it is used is this: by propping up instances of, say, successful Indian-origin or Chinese-origin minorities as a model and questioning why other immigrant communities are not able to emulate them. This sort of thing oversimplifies the issues of race, circumstances of immigration, socioeconomic class privileges, and many other differences.

However, the emerging breed of Indian-origin politicians in the US and UK with pronounced right-wing views and often pandering, as Republican presidential aspirant Ramaswamy does, to middle America’s voters, or as Braverman or Patel do to the more hardline conservative sections of the British electorate, could be described as examples of model minorities. 

Consider this: what would the backlash against a white British native-origin politician be if he or she said the same things that Braverman did? Would it not be more severe? Or, if the consistently “anti-woke” statements that Ramaswamy makes were made by, say, one of his white rivals in the Republican Party aspiring for nomination as presidential candidate? A friend in London joked the other day that Braverman or before her, Patel, were doing or saying things that their party leaders probably wanted to do but couldn’t because of the backlash that they would face. In other words, the Ramaswamys, Bravermans, and Patels, were willing to be convenient pawns, albeit of the “model minority” variety.

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Trump Vivek Ramaswamy

Trump Calls Vivek Ramaswamy ‘Very Good’

In an interesting turn of events in the presidential poll campaign, former US President Donald Trump heaped praises on  entrepreneur and rival Vivek Ramaswamy, signalling that would be open to having him as his running mate, New York Post reported on Wednesday.

Trump, 77, lavished praise on his 38-year-old Indian-American rival on Tuesday, hailing his renegade politics and willingness to commend the 45th president’s administration.

“Well, I think he’s great. Look, anybody that said I’m the best president in a generation…I have to like a guy like that,” the New York Post quoted Trump as saying to Blaze TV’s Glenn Beck.

Notably, Ramaswamy dubbed Trump “the best president of the 21st century” during last week’s Republican primary debate and has characterized his candidacy as a bid to take the former president’s policies “to the next level.”

Throughout his campaign, Ramaswamy has been one of Trump’s staunchest defenders against the four indictments levelled against him — even vowing to pardon the former president on his first day in office if elected, New York Post reported.

“He’s a smart guy. He’s a young guy. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s a very, very, very intelligent person,” Trump added.

“He’s got good energy, and he could be in some form of something. I tell you, I think he’d be very good. I think he’s really distinguished himself,” New York Post quoted Trump as saying.

Meanwhile, Ramaswamy drew widespread attention and became one of the most-searched 2024 Republican contenders after the debate at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum.

What makes Trump’s comments significant is the fact that the former President is famous for “rhetorically carpet-bombing” his rivals, particularly those gaining momentum or encroaching on his time in the limelight, as per New York Post.

However, Trump also posed a word of caution for Ramaswamy, who has stumbled into controversy over his policy prescriptions for Israel, Taiwan, and Ukraine.

“He’s starting to get out there a little bit. He’s getting a little bit controversial,” Trump said. “I got to tell him: ‘Be a little bit careful. Some things you have to hold in just a little bit, right?’” Trump stated, according to New York Post.

Meanwhile, Ramaswamy had shot up sharply in GOP primary polls, standing tied with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at the second position. However, both candidates lag hugely behind former President Donald Trump who leads with 56 per cent, as per The Hill.

In another poll by RealClearPolitics, Trump is far out in front of the 2024 GOP race with 53.6 per cent support, followed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at 13.5 per cent, and Ramaswamy at 7.3 per cent.

The next US presidential election is scheduled to be held on November 5, 2024. (ANI)

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Future in BRICS

Does India Have a Meaningful Future in BRICS?

Three things made the news at the recently concluded summit in South Africa of the BRICS, a grouping of Brazil, Russia, China, India, and South Africa. The first of these is the group’s expansion. Six new countries–Saudi Arabia. Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates–have been invited to join BRICS. The queue to join BRICS is actually longer with at least two-dozen countries showing interest in signing up to what is projected as an alternative to the US-led western bloc. BRICS’ dominant leader, though, is clearly China with which Russia, the other big member of the group, is firmly in alliance.

The second thing during the three-day conference was that China’s President Xi Jinping missed a highly-anticipated speech at the conference. Instead he sent his commerce minister to deliver his speech, which mainly consisted of hostile comments directed at the West (read: the US). 

The third thing that happened is a bit of trivia but we mention it here because readers will be hard-pressed in their efforts to find it in the reportage by the mainstream media. It concerns India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. According to a South African news portal, The Daily Maverick, when Modi landed in Pretoria he apparently refused to disembark because the South African president Cyril Ramaphosa had not come to receive him and that he finally emerged from the aircraft after deputy president Paul Mashatile was despatched to receive Modi. 

Officially neither South Africa nor India has commented on this but the portal alleged that after it had reported on the “incident” its website was subjected to cyberattacks that it claims originated in India.

Cut to BRICS and its significance today. The reasons why countries want to join BRICS vary but many want to seek more economic opportunities and cooperation with other developing countries. Many of them also want to diversify their foreign policy and reduce their dependence on the West. In a sense, BRICS is seen as challenging the existing global order and international systems that are dominated by the US and its allies and many nations buy into the rationale for that challenge. BRICS, for many aspirant members, offers a platform where they can gain more recognition and influence.

Does BRICS have the potential to challenge the West, though? This year the world’s interest in the BRICS summit has peaked and it is easy to see why. Russia, a BRICS member, whose powerful ally is China, the most powerful BRICS member, is at war in Ukraine; and Chinese-American relations are probably at its lowest in several decades. All eyes clearly are on what happens at a group such as BRICS that is also expanding rapidly.

The significance of BRICS in geopolitics is that it represents a potential alternative to the Western-led system of global governance. BRICS aims to promote the interests and values of the Global South, which often feel unfairly treated by the current international rules and norms. BRICS also seeks to enhance its collective voice and bargaining power in global issues such as trade, climate change, security, development and human rights. 

By expanding its membership, BRICS hopes to increase its legitimacy and representation on the world stage. However, BRICS also faces many challenges and limitations. The interests of BRICS members vary as does the sort of political systems that operate in each of them: there are democracies such as India’s, authoritarian dictatorships such as Russia’s; and China’s Communist system. BRICS in its current form lacks a clear vision or agenda. 

For instance, for China, which was the main focus of interest in Pretoria, BRICS is seen as a way of garnering as much of the global south’s support as it can in its quest to change the world order and shift its axis in its favour. Compare that with India, which, as it continues its long-standing trade and defence ties with Russia, has been cosying up to the US, and has disputes with China over the countries’ border. For India. The relevance and importance of being in BRICS seems more ambiguous than, say, it is for China or, for that matter, Russia. 

Now, with BRICS all set to expand vastly, especially with the inclusion of oil-rich Saudi Arabia, how the grouping’s agenda and vision change will be interesting to watch.

Chandrayaan 3 and its Impact for India

For all Indians, the recent success of the nation’s Chandrayaan-3 mission to the moon was a moment of great pride. India became the fourth country after the US, Russia, and China, to land on the moon and the first to do so near the lunar south pole, which is a region of great scientific interest and potential resources. The mission demonstrated India’s technological prowess and ability to achieve its ambition in space exploration. 

Chandrayaan also showed how India could carry out the mission at a much lower cost. India is believed to have spent around Rs. 615 crore, or about $74 million, which is much cheaper than many Hollywood movies or other space missions. The mission’s outcome means that India has joined an elite group of countries that have successfully landed on the moon, and has opened new possibilities for future lunar exploration and cooperation.

The Surprise Rise of Vivek Ramaswamy 

Vivek Ramaswamy is 38; a Tamil by ethnicity; and a Hindu by religion. He is also a member of the US Republican Party; and, most importantly, a candidate for the presidential nominee for that party’s candidate for the 2024 US presidential election. And if you have been following the Republican Party’s first debate among eight hopefuls running for the race to get nominated, then you’d have seen he was probably the most impressive among them during that debate.

Ramaswamy is no politician. In fact, he is a tech and biotech entrepreneur who is worth millions.

Now, the Yale and Harvard alum has cast his eyes on the White House. Pitted against seasoned Republican politicians such as former US vice-president Mike Pence, governors Chris Christie and Ron de Santis, and Nikki Haley, at last week’s debate it was Ramaswamy who stood out.

As a self-proclaimed “outsider” Ramaswamy seemed to get popular support for many of his views, which include raising of the voting age to 25; cutting off the US support to Ukraine and instead focusing on securing its own southern border with Mexico through which the drug mafia and illegal immigrants operate; and the abolition of the the Federal Bureau of Investigation and some other US agencies because he feels they have become irrelevant.

His rightwing views seem to have touched a chord among many Americans. Immediately after the debate, during which his more seasoned rivals called him a rookie and novice,  Ramaswamy is believed to have raised US$450,000 for his campaign. 

The road to the presidential elections is a long one. There will be many more debates and campaigning before the Republican Party chooses its candidate. And, although former president Donald Trump, embroiled in a series of indictments, did not participate in the debate (his interview with a sympathetic former TV host was aired on X, instead) still commands the highest popularity among Republican voters for the candidacy. Yet, Ramaswamy’s performance at the debate has created ripples. All eyes will now also be on him.

The Good and the Bad About India’s Young Population

India, along with China and Indonesia, is projected by the consultant firm McKinsey & Co. to have the largest working-age population in the world by 2030. This demographic dividend could be a source of strength and opportunity for India, but also pose some challenges and risks.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this. First, the pros: 

A larger labor force can produce more goods and services, and increase the GDP and per capita income of the country. India could add an estimated $1 trillion to its annual GDP by 2030 if it increases its labor force participation rate to 40%.

A larger pool of workers can also lead to more creativity and entrepreneurship, and enhance the productivity and quality of the economy. India could leverage its talent and skills to become a leader in sectors such as IT, biotechnology, renewable energy, and manufacturing.

A larger working population can also support the development of human capital and social infrastructure, such as education, health care, pensions, and housing. This can improve the living standards and well-being of the people, and reduce poverty and inequality.

Now for some cons:

A larger labour force also means more competition for jobs and wages, especially in a context of slow economic growth and structural changes. India already faces a high unemployment rate of around 7.5%, and many workers are employed in informal and low-productivity sectors.

A larger working population puts more pressure on consumption and production, which can strain the natural resources and environment of the country. India already faces challenges such as water scarcity, air pollution, climate change, and biodiversity loss.

A larger working population can also create social and political tensions, especially among different groups based on age, gender, caste, religion, region, or ethnicity. India already witnesses frequent protests and violence over issues such as jobs, land, education, reservation, citizenship, and identity.

A larger pool of workers, therefore, can be a double-edged sword.

Is Prigozhin’s Death Putin’s Revenge?

It has been barely two months since Yevgeny Prigozin, the head of Russian mercenary army Wagner, attempted a coup by marching his troops towards Moscow before aborting that attempt. Last week reports claimed that Prigozhin was aboard a private aircraft that crashed after an explosion occurred and that the one-time Vladimir Putin confidant and one of Russia’s most powerful men had been killed. 

No official version of details about what happened is available but speculation about whether Prigozhin’s death is a fallout of his show of rebellion abounds. Was the plane sabotaged? Did a missile hit it while it was on its flight path not too far away from Moscow? Was it something that the Kremlin had a hand in? These are questions that are unanswered and will, probably, remain that way. 

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