We are talking Trade…

Away from politics, four key meetings took place over weekend. Success and failure of these four events hold the key for world economy.

Finally, world found time to talk about trade. For last 6 months, it was all politics; domestic (Impeachment, Parliament suspension, Kashmir etc.) or International (Iran Oil, Afghanistan etc.) while world economic was bumping around. Last week (or more specifically weekend); 4 key events happened with likelihood of some tangible closures in coming months. The showstoppers were US – China Trade talks and EU-UK negotiating on Brexit but equally important were RCEP meeting in Thailand and PM Modi and President Xi meeting in India.

US and China after aggressive posture have agreed on truce with US agreeing to not impose higher tariffs on additional import from China and in return China agreed to buy more agriculture produce from US. Though this is no-where near expectation and all the issues still remain on table to be resolved, but after so much acrimony even this will be relieve to market and as both have agreed on next round of talks there is optimism around finding a long lasting solution.

Meanwhile UK and EU negotiators are working overtime in Brussels during last weekend to agree to a new deal. There seems to be slim chance of any agreement happening, but as in case of US China trade; at-least stalemate is broken. Both parties genuinely trying their best to find a deal as 31st Oct deadline approaches. With so low expectation on deal, any positive news will be lapped up by markets.

10 members of ASEAN and 6 FTA partners with combined GDP being approx. 40% of the world has their 2 day Intercessional Ministerial Meeting in Thailand to negotiate 16 countries mega trade deal, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement. Again no deal agreed yet but Trade negotiating committee is meeting on 17th and 18th Oct with more substantial progress expected, probably finding agreeable draft by their leaders meeting on 4th November.

Not faraway from RCEP Meet, PM Modi and President Xi, leaders of 2 Asian superpower with combined PPP GDP of $37trillion had a informal meeting at seaside historic town of South India. This was second informal meeting but unlike Wuhan, which was more political to diffuse post Dokhlam crisis, issues of investment and trade were discussed. They have agreed to setup a special panel to address concerns mainly around huge trade deficit in favour of China (role reversal when compared with US).

These four events if concluded positively in next 3 months will determine if year 2020 will be happy one or not. WTO which helped in opening up international trade is one of the key reason for the progress made by emerging countries to speed up their growth. In last 5 years, there is consistent threat to this roadmap and therefore these talks are important for the world economy future.

Lets hope better sense prevailed, keeping economic out of politics, to whatever extent possible.



Prime-time is dead!

Sad demise of Indian electronic media.

9 PM, Prime time at news channels was my window to India and World. After a day’s work, since 1984, when television first came to my home (Delhi Doordarshan) and 1991, when private cable networks invaded, the newsreader was a friend, philosopher, teacher and guide who will not only let me know what happened during the day but also an honest and unbiased opinion on its impact; which was debated with family, friends and relative the day after.

Something changed once Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi decided to contest for the post of Prime Minister of India. Suddenly we realised that majority of these news channels, their news anchors, owners and guests belongs to one fraternity, so called liberal, secular, centrist / leftist. Every channel was reeling out stuff after stuff with doomsday scenario, if this man is elected. First, we all believed. Than we started doubting when every action of this man was denounced even when our common sense was saying he is right on this. We wanted to know other side, which these channels were refusing to share; and then there came channels who started showing only other side of the story.

So, we did have 2 side of the story. But on different channels.

An action from government will have positive reviews / opinion on one set of channels having a set of guest panels and negative on another. We all started to know the affiliations of these channels and their anchors. I no longer trust any channel, any news anchor, and any guest; there is nothing called honest opinion.

9 PM is dead, long live Prime time.

I no longer watch 9 PM news. Check news apps to read relevant news (no opinion). It seems lot of my friends are doing the same; there is no debate in offices on topics discussed during last night prime time. It seems, people have not only lost interest in political debate but also non-political ones pertaining to economics, social and cultural. Why? because these channels end up giving political colours to all such debates. A rape victim is no longer a rape victim; but she is a religion, a caste, a state, a party, an ideology. So, if you happen to be on another side of caste, religion, state, part and ideology; victim no longer mater. And therefore no anger on the street; Media just lost the credibility to raise any issue.

It’s sad. Media did a wonderful job to mainstream issues which otherwise politicians and the government of the day would loved to put under the carpet. There will be no candle light march to show solidarity for Jessica Lal, which one news channel managed to get it into the conscious of so many people that it became an overnight people’s movement for justice. And she got the justice. Alas there will be no other Anna Hazare anti-corruption movement, which got the mileage only because media was trusted till then. There will no more Nirbhaya. We have already seen that; no uprising for Vemulla or Nazib. Media tried and failed to even get the justice for their own journalist friend from Bangalore.

We lost one pillar of the democracy.

USA has seen the repercussion.

India has to get back its vibrant and free media. Old generation has to go. They have sold their soul and trust, both left & right. New generation has to join, who can freely and honestly present both side of coin.

We badly want our 9PM back.