Category Archives: General

The Congress Humpty Dumpty Duo

As the BJP-led thanksgiving dinner is now under way, I am wondering why Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, the Humpty Dumpty duo (plus Robert Vadra), have not been invited to the thanksgiving dinner. Without them, the NDA will not be sitting pretty today.

Their goof-ups started in December with their poor choice of CMs in MP/Rajasthan and then came the Congress masterstroke to compete against those who should have been its allies – AAP, SP, BSP, etc.

Scrambling to cobble together a post-poll alliance and looking for excuses to trot out on May 23 make its election strategy laughable. Isn’t the Congress the real B Team of the BJP?

Humpty Dumpty Congress

G Joslin Vethakumar Continue reading

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Blacklisting: No Huawei 5G Self-Reliance a Surprise!

personal jottings

Privacy, data protection, national security and intellectual property rights (IPR) violations do not stir emotions in Asia as much as they do in the developed West.

Huawei has effectively been able to get a good hold on the market in the region, partly because it offered comparable technology at costs that are lower than its major global competitors and partly because it did not have to battle such concerns here.

  • The blacklisting of Huawei by the U.S. over the weekend may challenge status quo in the region even as initiatives are afoot in Singapore for the rollout of 5G networks. Huawei’s networking gear is at the centre of Singapore’s 4G / Next-Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (NGNBN).

5G Rollout and Call for Proposal

With Singapore announcing a Call for Proposal for the rollout of 5G networks earlier this month and with Huawei’s blacklisting, the competitive scenario appears to have reached a state of flux. While it was earlier projected that Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia would be in the reckoning for it, the American ban on the Chinese giant has cast a shadow on its prospects.

  • The U.S. curbs apply to 68 non-U.S. entities of Huawei, including the one in Singapore. It remains to be seen how Singapore deals with this development.
  • Suffice it to say that U.S. embargoes, sanctions and trade restrictions are to be taken seriously and any breach may result in penalties and affect bilateral ties.
  • Incidentally, Huawei’s troubles with the U.S. reached a flashpoint with the arrest of its CFO Meng Wanzhou (daughter of Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei) last December over alleged use of “the global banking system to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran.”

Singapore has set its 5G sights on vendor diversity even as Ericsson and Nokia are believed to be manufacturing components for next-generation mobile infrastructure in China.

Singapore is targeting a standalone network to reap the full benefits of a 5G network. As a result, suppliers do not have the leeway to piggyback on the current 4G infrastructure.

So, more complications may begin to unravel from the U.S. ban.

What surprises me is that there are still network / server components for 5G technology that are not made in China or by Huawei, frequently blamed for patent thefts.

Still, the IPR of American components does not appear to have been compromised and China is unable to boast 5G self-sufficiency, at least for those components it has to rely on American companies.

Huawei blacklisting

Business Continuity

It is believed Huawei is able to meet one-third of its requirements as it had been working on manufacturing components and technology needed for the 5G infrastructure that it is selling globally as a frontrunner.

As part of its Business Continuity Plan, Huawei is reported to have initiated plans to make its own chipsets (so it can stop buying them from the likes of Intel, Qualcomm and Broadcom). Over the course of the last year, it may also have been accumulating stockpiles from American companies of network/server components for its 5G technology.

  • Huawei has been buying goods and services from U.S. companies valued at more than $11 billion each year.

No U.S. Company in 5G Space – Not Even Cisco, HP or IBM

However, Huawei is the global leader in the supply of 5G network equipment, trailed by Nokia and Ericsson. What is also clear is that there are no American companies in this space. Not even networking leader Cisco, or IBM or HP.

  • Cisco had fought legal battles with Huawei over IPR infringements in the past. Once, a settlement between the two companies was reached after Cisco code was discovered in a Huawei product.
  • During my employment with Cisco (2005-2010), I had worked on building competitive intelligence against Huawei – along with a few SMEs
  • Huawei had faced IPR challenges with other American equipment manufacturers as well.
  • Interestingly, Lucent (another former employer for me) had the technology ahead of the rest along with Motorola. But Lucent’s arm and of Motorola are now with Nokia, stripping the U.S. of any wireless infrastructure presence.
  • Current dynamics are different with Huawei spending around US$15 billion on R&D.

In 2009, Cisco made a foray into the server sector where HP and IBM, its partners, were .holding sway. It did not go well with particularly HP and they became rivals both in the server and networking equipment (routers and switches) markets.

While Cisco’s (or that of a competitor) equipment are key to a telecommunication service provider’s network, it has no play in the wireless infrastructure market that Huawei dominates. It has clearly chosen to stick to its core business as is evidenced by its decision to sell in 2015 TV set-top box leader Scientific Atlanta, which was a costly acquisition for Cisco in 2006.

  • Although there was talk of Cisco acquiring Nokia around the same period it remained a rumour. If it had made that acquisition it will have given it entry into the radio access segment of the telecom equipment market.

Huawei Phones Lose Access to Google

The consequences of the blacklisting have started to unfold with Google suspending ties with Huawei. This will mean that new Huawei phones will have no access to Google apps and existing users may lose updates to the Android operating system.

Huawei, though, is believed to be in the process of launching its own OS and have its own apps. It may still not be the same as having access to Google apps, unless the blacklisting is overturned by the U.S. That may happen, but until then the hiccups will stay.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Modi Needs No Divine Intervention, With Video Publicity Even on Poll Day!

Media to Blame – What Prevents Them from Not Airing the Foul Campaign

Modi at Kedarnath5

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Mode is in an enviable position – he does not have to seek divine intervention for anything even when he visits temples. His silent poll campaign will get him everything he wants, thanks to the video entourage with him, the red carpet and the sartorial religious finery for a man who tirelessly professes to lead a life of austerity as opposed to the “luxury-centric Lutyens gang he despises”.

  • I will not blame him for this unethical practice. He is free to visit temples and take videos. The blame lies squarely with the media too obsessively happy to air them and give Modi and his party strong campaign mileage even on election day!

What Modi Can Pray For!

That aside, now that he is in a divine refuge, I do suggest he pray for a few things that will serve him well as he prepares to begin his second innings as Prime Minister, including the ability to:

  1. Shun politics of religious hate,
  2. Focus on governance and development, not on spinning imaginary tales to run down leaders who built the country with their intellect and sacrifice
  3. Shed any inferiority complex as lack of meaningful education gets compounded by the lies it spawns. Education is immaterial for graceful leadership.
  4. Realise secularism is not “sickularism”
  5. Stop imagining that India belongs to only Hindus – India is not an immigrant country like the U.S. or Singapore. Without question, 99.99% of Indians are native to the country, so it belongs as much to Christians and Muslims as it does to Hindus.

They, therefore, do not have to pander to majoritarian whims as long as their loyalty to the country is intact. Modi and his fanatical following must get this right!

G Joslin Vethakumar

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New World Order – Huawei-Centric China and Divisive India!

World’s Most Populous Countries in Toxic Game of Oneupmanship!

Beijing appears to be keen on seeing a Huawei-centric China while Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants a divisive Hindu India.

In essence, the world’s top two most populated countries, China and India, are redefining a new world order with oneupmanship as the nucleus. They want to be calling the shots because they have the world’s largest consumer markets, including untapped sectors, even as the advanced West is reaching saturation point.

American businesses, as well as those from the developed First World, do have a lot at stake in the China–U.S. trade saga which appears to have gathered a new dimension with the blacklisting of Huawei by President Donald Trump yesterday.

U.S. tariffs and tit-for-tat measures from China may mean Americans will have to spend more on their purchases. They ought not to be carping given that they have enjoyed bargain prices for most goods in the U.S. so far.

  • For instance, the price of oil/gas is cheaper in the U.S. than even in countries with stark poverty, including China and India.

With an earning power that is much higher than in most of the rest of the world they can afford to pay more and must come out of their protective cocoons and help stop the continuing rise of a hegemonic China with big territorial ambitions, trampling on all smaller neighbours.

Risking Slowdown of Economy to Defend Huawei

Coming back to the rift between China and the U.S. over Huawei, an inevitable outcome will be a move to self-sufficiency for the communist power.

Since China is risking a massive slowdown in its economy by rushing to the defence of Huawei, it may not be wrong to say there is more to it than meets the eye.

As I had argued in a post here on December 7 last year, “western fears about Beijing strengthening its spy network through use of Huawei’s equipment in 5G communications networks are not unfounded.”

The fact that China reacted with anger to the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou last year in Canada as well as its reactions to the blacklisting of the networking company, only offers grist to the fears. Huawei’s founder (Ren Zhengfei) is, after all, an ex-People’s Liberation Army officer and China’s manoeuvrings in the past had only invited global suspicions, not trust.

We may not have heard the last in the ongoing tussle as aggressive posturing can be expected to end up in compromises given the pressure American businesses can exert on Mr Trump.

Huawei’s BCP

Reports indicate that Huawei had been working on manufacturing components and technology needed for the 5G infrastructure that it is selling globally as a frontrunner.

Huawei does seem to have a Business Continuity Plan, with reports about having initiated plans to make its own chipsets (so it can stop buying them from the likes of Intel, Qualcomm and Broadcom). Over the course of the last year, it may also have been accumulating stockpiles from American companies of network/server components for its 5G technology.

What amuses me, though, is Huawei’s objection to what it calls unilateral actions in the name of national security. This is not its call as every country has to take adequate steps to ensure that its security is not compromised.

Next, it asserts that any curbs on Huawei “will not make the US more secure or stronger; instead, this will only serve to limit the US to inferior yet more expensive alternatives, leaving the US lagging behind in 5G deployment, and eventually harming the interests of US companies and consumers.”

There is some truth to it, as the U.S. does not have companies manufacturing 5G gear. It will have to rely on Huawei’s competitors such as Nokia and Ericsson, and this may translate to higher costs. That is a problem for the U.S. to solve, not for Huawei to use as leverage.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Whims, Analysts and Markets

This is a funny comment that made me chuckle. Analysts and markets rarely rely on fundamentals, just some silly individual whims are enough to sway them. I will be surprised only if they stay stable.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Chowkidar Modi to “Vaigyanik” Modi!

With one more leg remaining in the Indian elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi can have a go at prefixing his name with a new honorific.

As the scientist in him has emerged in no uncertain terms, with nothing to cloud his halo, the “chowkidar” tag has ceased to be meaningful, with a fighter twist.

Chowkidar Modi” can now rightfully rebrand himself “Scientist Modi”. His devotees can then faithfully have it prefixed against their names and crash all social media platforms.

Given Mr Modi’s (as well as of all Bhakti) fanatical obsession with Hindi, “Vaigyanik Modi” will perhaps be a better fit.

Hare bhabha! No, I am not referring to Homi Bhabha, let him continue to Rest in Peace, so Mr Modi can have all scientific controls.

Scientist Modi

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Bowing to China, Balakot Represent Modi’s Foreign Policy Reinvention?

C Raja Mohan used to be pampered by N Ram and The Hindu in the past. It is now the turn of The Straits Times to do just that.

The last few years he has been harassing readers in Singapore with his rambling pro-Modi diatribe. After all, he knows NRIs have a rich appetite for Modi’s lies and divisive politics.

In this OpEd piece in The Straits Times today, Raja Mohan provides a long and boring rehash of recent developments in India, starting with the so-called muscular surgical strikes in Balakot, even recalling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel and successes with China.

This does not surprise me as he is pandering to pro-Modi prejudices in Singapore and among Indian journalists in The Straits Times. Both will, after all, want India to demonstrate bondage to China amid the pressure it is facing from the U.S.

He is teaching at the National University of Singapore and must be missing the attention he used to get as a journalist.

Raja Mohan may land a Padma Bhushan or a plum post in the Indian Government if Modi returns to power, which is a distinct possibility. He is playing his cards well, without any hint of an independent analysis.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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