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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What A Wonderful World In USA!

An old friend of mine is a typical Tea Party follower. He shouts out from house top when he has bad news to share, the news that no one is sure if true or false. He tries to cut short the conversation if I want to give him some good news. When unable to get sleep at night, he starts counting scams, real or imaginary, instead of the proverbial sheep crossing the fence. You may also be having someone in your circle like him- quite a common trait amongst true followers of the Tea Party. All their statistics are Satanic, all prophecies pronounce arrival of Doomsday, whatever the business of the House for the day, they would insist on the Speaker to first let them have their say on the depressing news, dished out in the morning by Fox, their most favorite cable channel. And if Members from the ruling party are ready with some really good news to share, they are sure to manipulate a misunderstanding of the real meaning of that news. If they could, they would just jam all those channels that carry cheering news and would rather request media Moguls to come up with 24-hour TV newscast that can hide all the inspiring happenings behind the bad news splashed prominently under bold headlines. Their listeners, fed up of false propaganda and earnestly looking for real news, are left with no option except to google for good news.

For my friend and alike in the Tea Party, nothing works in this country, not even the marriages, which they would like to be solemnized with a slightly amended vow, "...till divorce do us apart!" All their love stories end with-"and they lived miserably thereafter". It is beyond them to believe that the national pride is still a first priority, and Change is the mantra most people believe in, especially the youth and the ordinary American. Indeed, so much has already been achieved in health care, education reform, economic stability and so many other areas for all to see and benefit from, but for those who choose to be blind to their cheering existence:

Banking and Financial Reform: Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the biggest financial reform law since the Great Depression.

Economy: Economy grew 5.9% in 4th quarter. Manufacturing grew by most since 2004. GDP up 3.2% in first quarter. Consumer spending showed biggest rise in 3 years. US auto industry rescued. Federal deficit shrank 8% year-on-year. Financial reform has ‘strongest consumer financial protections in history.’ Wall St reform designed to end taxpayer bailouts.

Education: Enacted largest reform of student aid in 40 years. Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010. Established President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability to assist in financial education for all Americans. Created the Race to the Top Fund ($4.35 billion) to reward States that create comprehensive education reform plans. Children’s Health Insurance Program .

Employment: Jobs for Main Street Act (2010). American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010. 3.7 Million jobs created by stimulus (May 2010). 682,370 jobs created under the Recovery Act Between January 1 — March 31,2010. New jobless claims tumble. March payrolls surge by 162,000. March jobs data showed biggest growth in three years . U.S. economy added 90000 jobs in April . Jobless rates dropped in 34 states and DC .

Foreign Affairs and International Relations: Re-established the United States standing in the world. World’s opinion of U.S. has “improved sharply”. 47 nations rise to Obama’s challenge at US nuke summit and agree to four years of non-proliferation efforts. Visited more countries and world leaders than any first year president. G-20 Summit produced a $1.1 trillion deal to combat the global financial crisis.

Health Care Reform: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act // Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (March 2010). Required large employers to contribute to a national health plan. Required insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. Prevented children from being refused health insurance coverage. Cut prescription drug costs for Medicare recipients by 50% and began eliminating the plan’s gap (“donut hole”) in coverage.

Housing: Unveiled $275 billion dollar housing plan. Established “Opening Doors” – a federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. Provided $2 billion for Neighborhood Stabilization Program . Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, helping millions avoid foreclosure . Established the Making Home Affordable Plan, which will provide for the refinance or loan modification for 9 Million homeowners.

Scientific and Medical Research: Removed restrictions and provided support for embryonic stem-cell research and new biomedical research.

Taxes: Small business tax credits for the cost of health insurance for employees. Income floor for medical expense deductions for individuals age 65 and older (and their spouses) remains at 7.5% through 2016. Health insurance premium tax credits and subsidies available for those with income up to 4x the federal poverty level . Tax bills hit lowest level since 1950. Tax refunds up 10 percent due to stimulus.

In democracy we have learnt to live in the House with an Opposition, ever depressed as my old friend is. I wish and pray that he and all his friends from the Tea Party, presently blinded by politics, will one day open their eyes to perceive the true picture of our rapidly changing country – economically less privileged provided health care of the quality that the affluent afford, inner street students availing as much opportunity to college admission as the kids from the most expensive areas, the neighborhood grocery store feeling as good as the great Walmart, relatively recent happenings in IT, especially cloud computing, Carpathia Hosting and Yunteq, no less upbeat than the big time players, Microsoft and Apple, in short everyone from the lowest ring to the highest, ready to reap the fruits of Change that President Obama has sowed so far in less than two years of his presidency. I ask my friend is it not the time to exclaim with one voice - “What A Wonderful World In USA!”


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