Matching the Flags

Just as Indian Flag is interesting (at least to an Indian) so are the Indian political party flags. Most of the northern parties have a common theme – saffron, white and green. Only the difference is “emblematic,” – typical to the party, like broom, leaf, hand, spinning wheel. The south has struck a difference – choosing darker hues – and shunning the two of the three national colors – saffron and green.

Probably saffron and green matters more in the north of India, where the two colors are representative. Saffron is claimed by the Hindus and Green by the Muslims. One can gauge the balancing act of the parties of the north by the choice of colours.

The ‘BJP’ has added one more complexity in the mix. To identify their party flag with the National Flag. But no party has as much legacy claims on the National Flag as the Congress. This 75th year of India’s independence, and also the day, could have been the Congress’s. Even out of power, they could have made this year, or at least, this day, as a day to assert some visibility.

It is amazing that they let this opportunity go to waste. On the eve of India’s Diamond Jubilee, we find Rahul Gandhi making inane comments which show that he has no sense of his own legacy. Congress had been in the forefront of the Independence struggle and even after Independence, their contribution has been immense. In 75 years, Congress can lay claim to at least 60. This is not a bad achievement.

The BJP has skillfully launched a narrative trap. If you are the supporter of the National Flag, which every Indian should be, then you are the supporter of the BJP. And (this will be interesting) if you are not the supporter of the BJP, then you are not the supporter of the National flag.

Indians should be worried, not about the BJP, and not about their narratives, but who will counter their game. It’s pretty obvious the Rahul Gandhi is a tyro. But this centrist pull by the BJP will have a fallout.

For nature may abhor a vacuum, but politics abhors no space. This centripetal will give rise to centrifugal. Flags also portray history and sentiments. See the flags of political parties of the south – the remnants of the centrifugal.

So, how long will ‘Saffron, white and green,’ represent the National and also the political. Because if one party identifies in toto with the national colours, the survival of the remaining political party will depend on moving the other way – not breaking of India, but in the choosing of the colors of their political flags. Here, colour is a proxy for space, a differentiation, an essential ingredient of politics.

BJP may not survive this narrowness in political space for long. Political parties aside, even the people of India will feel the constraint. It is not without reason that India has diversity, for people love to have their own personal space, including their politics. For when people feel they are being hemmed in – even Rahul Gandhi will do.

When a political leader puts a face on the flag, the flag then belongs to the face. Let us not do the same to our National Flag.


On China

From the viewpoint of India, the US-China ‘boxing’ will cause an Indian broad smile. We, as Indians, are so glad to look at “our rival” to be “adequately taken care of.” I have not still come upon any addressing where – just for the heck of it – someone had contemplated an identical plot with India in the notoriety instead of China.

Pearl S. Buck’s book on China – the Good Earth – set in the 1930s, characterizes the Chinese and their state as abysmal.

Around the same time (1927), another American author, Katherine Mayo, wrote a book on India – Mother India, for which Gandhi had concluded as “Drain Inspector’s Report.” Readers (and nearly all non-readers) trashed the “fiction.” The book possesses many valid estimates of India and Indians. (Here)

The aim here is to draw out parallels between China and India. Both countries had launched with a nearly low base. It’s not that India squandered its opportunity, unlike China. It’s that, wherever China is now, India will be there in the future.

The point is not why India is slow vis-à-vis China’s accomplishment. Or what India should look at to get where China is now. The point is – what transpires when we become like China? How will the world counter India, next? What will India require gaining as it inches up the world prosperity ladder?

Recognizing the nasty-China narrative these days shows – power will counter. China, to the world these days, are rogue upstart that the powerful portion of the world has taken up the cudgels to control. It is a playbook. It is the power’s methods and strategies to counter, contain and thwart the claimants. Had India been in China’s place today, the reactions would have been similar. And when India will reach the top one day, the powers will repeat the same playbook.

China has arrived in power with most of the essential sectors achieved. It includes its military industrials, tech, hi-tech (read 5 nm chips) and pharma. The picture of China is not of rows and rows of workers sitting with sewing machines and spewing sweatshirts. It is a picture of a healthy population involved with future technologies.

There may have been a time when the world needed China for its cheap manufacturing. It is the demonstration of Chinese acumen and planning that they did not waste time turning into a “fulfilling centre.” It is quite noticeable that they used the money which they got from the world to create their modernization.

The attention of India should not be towards the West, but the North. That is where great things are happening. Indians are too pro-west, pro-English. We also adopt pro-west (thus anti-east) quotes and epithets for China. Indians mimic the west and mirror the envy and angst which they have towards the Chinese.

In fact, the west has a similar stance towards India too when they push their agenda that the Indian press is not free and our democracy is imperfect. And Indians have no Human-Rights. But, do we Indian really believe that?

But Indians believe the same for the Chinese – that their media is not free and their people don’t have human rights. This cannot be workable – that a country with 2nd largest economy is tyrannical. It’s got to have what it takes to be up there, isn’t it?

It’s time for India (and for the East) to do away with anti-China tilt. That does not mean becoming pro-China. It means becoming ‘with-China.’ A “with-China” stance will help Indian gain indigenous attitudes and not look towards the west for developing technologies. Modi’s “Make is India” is not that a success because the prevailing attitude induces Indians to look towards the West, either for new things and also for their certification.

To every App, China has an App. With every technology, China has an answer – better and cheaper. The West has made everyone believe that the Chinese have stolen substandard technology. We devote Indians love this narrative. It’s time we should call out these lies – for our own sake.

Tinder Swindler, Netflix

The Tinder Swindler is the most suave con-artist. But every dog sniffs a bitch.

A handsome swindlers rips his beautiful women, in tandem. He makes the first women pay while he has a good time with the second, and then makes the second women pay while he has good time with the third. And so on.

The Swindler is not solo. He has an entourage. And his target women need not be rich. Basically, the minimum requirement is; he has a story, and his pray, a credit card. The rest is heist.

Unending swindle may make news but not a story. This has a story. The swindler finally meets his match – a swindleress. Or is it? The ending is bit unsatisfactory, not because the documentary is bad, but the justice left the sufferers high and dry.

“The Tinderswindler” just under 2 hours and fast paced, yet covers all the important aspects. Besides, the melodrama is kept at the very minimum. Only one women is allowed a measured weep. The director is to the point.

Swindlers make great friend, till supplies last.

Economics of Hindi ‘Languaged’ Movies

KGF Chapter 2 is a Kannada movie dubbed in Hindi and all south Indian languages. Speaking about the success of this movie, another Kannada actor unconnected with this movie, said – Hindi is “no longer” a national language. This is ignorant talk, coming from someone associated with the movie industry. They should know better.

The debate then got erroneously enmeshed in the constitutional status of Hindi. The debate should be – what happens if any regional language movies are dubbed in Hindi?

Movies are a function of revenue. And revenue is a function of distribution – the larger the spread the more the collection. The data on the movie has been extracted from (here)

KGF 2 was released on 14th April 2022, Thursday, in Kannada (ka), Hindi (Hi), Malayalam (Mal), Tamil (Ta) and Telugu (Te).

The chart below shows the percentage of daily earnings for one week – Hindi vis-à-vis Kannada. Out of the total money earned, Hindi earns 50% of the revenue daily.

% earnings in Hindi vis-à-vis Kannada

The chart below shows – Percentage of daily earnings from the Rest of India and Kannada. Also, after three days, collections from the south show precipitous drop.

Rest of India does not mean only Hindi, still one can consider “Hindi followers” as major.

“Hindi followers” means – people whose mother tongue is not Hindi, yet given two theatres, one running Hindi and another running “south language” movie, they will choose Hindi. For example, Bengali and Marathi speakers may choose Hindi.

One can equally extrapolate these earnings to overseas markets also. “Hindi followers” dominate the Indian Diaspora. So, if the movie is purported to earn over Rs. 1000 crores worldwide, one can estimate the earnings to be from Hindi dubbing.

KGF 2 took Rs. 100 crores to make. No movie financier will budget this amount on a regional language movie with no prospect of it being released in Hindi also.

A dubbing controversy happened in 2016, with the movie -Dhoni. Some “sena” objected to the movie’s dubbing in Hindi, fearing that this could become a trend and might affect the Marathi movie economy. (here)

With the sort of provocations coming from the south movie industry and deliberate denigration of Hindi, the day is not far when some “sena” will arise in the north and stop the south dubbing in Hindi.

Better sense should prevail and money should be put where it’s due. Hindi might not be our National Language but it’s a language of money, Indian movie-wise, whether acknowledged or unacknowledged.

The travesty is; that south actors who speak with one eye on regional politics and make fractious statements, will one day might become Chief Minister of that State.

Social Media

There is a saying;

Great minds discuss ideas
Average minds discuss events
Small minds discuss people.

There is another saying;
Curiosity is ill manners in another’s house.

The parent company Meta – home of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp – have exploited, “curiosities of small minds” to pry into people’s lives. They are worth half-trillion dollars.

Curiosity is a good thing, an essential human tool to “kill” mysteries and get solutions for humanity. But, unfortunately, there are few people who get opportunity to use “curiosity” purposefully. Many are left curiously watching other’s lives.

The human tool – curiosity – needs a medium to operate. Like, if you are curious about heavenly bodies, you need telescope. Germs – microscope. When paper was invented it gave rise to knowledge thru books.

Curiosity->stars->telescope, curiosity->germs->microscope, curiosity->knowledge->books.

The last one, books, needs contents to be created for it. Books as medium fulfills many curious interests. Experts create contents for books and with time, this evolves and becomes varied and complex.

Again, with the coming of radio, cinema, TV, the medium gave birth to content creators who fulfill the needs of the listeners/viewers. Societies evolved to ever more complex technologies and contents.

Come computers and evolution was fast-tracked. Mr. Moore said in 1965 – computers gonna speed-up double and its cost halved, every two years. Similarly, contents for computers, the experts and the users, all evolved into a new species – in a way, from what humans were half a century back.

So, we can say, down the history, curiosities in the mediums helped the medium to evolve.

Now we are at a stage, where we apply our curiosities to feed the social media. Can we imagine what is the next step in this evolution?

Taking only one instance; over the years, curiosities in space have led to improvements in telescopes. Recently a powerful telescope of enormous size was sent to space. It’s a commentary on evolution – not only on the makers but also of its users.

There is also value in reading, movies, music, art, architecture, design, or writing – expressing plain simple thoughts and trying to analyse things in more pages than a paragraph. Evolution of the human mind, so to say.

What is the next step for users on Facebook?
Why are the users forwarding, liking, sharing, trash?
What will they hope to achieve after a few years of trash-pushing?
How many pictures will anyone put on Instagram before realising that a picture is an art form and should have some taste and aesthetics?

Social media has dumbed down individuals to a “No Evolution State.”

In gaming, perhaps, one can foresee evolutions, that tomorrow’s computer and online gaming will be better than todays – more complex strategies and scenarios. Besides these, what else can one expect from any social media? Will rehashing contents bring evolution or a dumb breed? Who do we think we will grow up to?

Will spewing venom on the time-line cause all the venom to dry up?

Or have we reached a stasis, social-media-wise?

Over time, the instruments we hold will get ever more powerful. But can we claim the same for our minds, when all it does is scroll?

Prashant Kishor should go for the kill

A success story begins in 1997. Mamata Banerjee quits congress and forms TMC – Trinamool Congress. For the next 10 years, she plays on single digits, 7 or 8 seats. Then in 2006, the then ruling communists jilted their vote base thru aggressive privatisation. The entire communists rank and file moved over to the TMC. The assembly elections in 2011 favoured TMC. It’s 10 years and they are still going strong. 

The lesson learnt is – if the rank and file gets disgruntled, it’s like the edifice of a party getting weakened. Mamata took risks, and got lucky as her party was in the right place and the right time to capitalise on the communist implosion between 2006 to 2011. Mind you, congress was there and they did nothing to exploit the situation.

Quite similar is the situation now, that is presented to Prashant Kishor. The strategist has got a good strategy of taking over the beleaguered congress party or replacing it. And this can be done both from the inside and outside the congress. The moot point is, political cadres are like any individuals – they will always look out for better prospects. 

The talks of getting the party from inside has failed and that was ought to be. After passing a certain great old age, people like to die in their own house. The congress oldies have naturally chosen to go down with the ship. But the ship of congress will not sink. It will only overturn. The old guys will wither away and the rank and file, the youth in the system, will always choose fresh pastures.

After passing a certain great old age, people like to die in their own house.

Prashant Kishor’s proposition should be exciting to the congress’s lower rungs. Now it depends how Prashant Kishor moves hereon. He is unable to cut a deal with the veterans, but the rest of the pack won’t shy away. They will come forward and Prashant Kishor should have a good deal for them. The road ahead will test his deal making skills.

What Parshant Kishor intends is doable. And he has got the timing right. In two years from now there will be a general elections and there is at least a year from now for him to get the formation going. Prashant should remember that the Prime Ministerial face of the new party should be him, and this will make a difference.

Prashant Kishor is known and credible face in both north and south of India. He has got the right visibility and the right successes. Also the right allies. He has the energy, intelligence and the most important concoction in politics – Charisma.

The election of 2024 will be as important as the election of 2014. In 2014, every voter in India went out and voted for Modi. In 2019, those same voters voted Modi again, because they didn’t want their first choice of 2014 to be proved wrong. In 2024, those same voters are going to come out and give Modi a viable opposition.

There is Modi-Fatigue in the air. It is like, he is not playing the big boys, which he should.

Heroes should be adequately challenged. For this to happen, an important thing should happen between now and say, by fall of 2023 – A formation of viable opposition with a credible Prime Ministerial face. Once this is sorted out, the voters of India will make Modi sweat for the third term. 

Prashant Kishor will find this surprising that the same voters who voted for ten years of Modi, are the same who are looking for a new face to launch a challenge back to Modi. This feeling has come about among people because they sense a challenging prospect in him to take on Modi.

If it was congress with Prashant Kishor, it would have been easier and better. Because congress has a structure. But if it’s not congress, it’s still good, because the congress rank and file might join. A decade out of power is not easy to live by. Also, congress’s own bleak future extending into the dark will be unnerving to the youths of congress.

But, structural problems will arise when an old party will break, and hierarchies will be disturbed. Individuals and groups who had earlier followed a party line and obeyed the dicta of “through proper channels,” and “not to speak out of turn” or “not to speak at all” etc., will find themselves rudderless and footloose, besides getting loose-mouthed.

Even when a party has become termite ridden, still, the High-Command does have some heft. It can enforce party discipline. As the great ship of congress overturns, there will be enormous frictional reverberation.

The churn of the “disintegrating rotor of congress” will be centrifugal. How will a new party assimilate and control this force? We will have to see.

Hence, Prashant Kishor will not have the luxury of an organised party going to the polls in unison. And any disruption in the newly formed cadre will be amply and aptly exploited by Modi. So, the poll strategist who analyses numbers for a living, will now have to do the unthinkable – control those numbers to survive.

How will we know whether Prashant Kishor is getting successful in his endeavor? If Modi calls for an early elections. This is one way to stymie a nascent adversary.

Anyhow, Prashant Kishore should bite this bullet and make an exciting next two years, culminating in a hit or a miss. Modi may not have imagined this can happen in 2024, that a force will arise, helped by his own people, to test him. That’s an unusual Opposition.

Politics, as rightly said, is the art of the possible. For Prashant Kishor, possibility has arrived. But does he have the art? 


If politics reacts with bulldozer on illegals, this means, politics also created those illegals. Politics knows who, where, and what are these illegals. The action of bulldozing a vulnerable community smacks of arrogance – I made you, so I can also break you. They already had them marked out.

The question to ponder is – do you think you can be marked out too?

Few think in long terms. “Short-termism” is dominant human nature. People who vie for public offices will need to collect votes. To get votes is their short-term goal. To provide votes is in the illegal’s short term interest. And why not this deal? Livelihood is essential to life, and what better, if it also comes with valid papers.

This is common in India. Legal citizens disappear from the voting list. And illegals get full fledged status to decide on India’s democracy. That is why resistance on NRC – National Register of Citizens. The opposition and the Ruling both feed on the same illegally created electoral base. 

The opposition and the Ruling will both feed on any “created” electoral base. So, dear citizens – Do not expect a solution. Brace for a crash.

When politics are enmeshed in the same mess, what happens when “your settlers turn against you.” The age-old Indian solution is a riot. Breaking some shanty town or even a house (just like, Kangana Ranaut) is seen as sincere heroism in India.

In India, there are religious minorities. And also, linguistic minorities.

Muslims form the major religious minorities in India. Hindus are major linguistic minorities in India. When these two minorities are stacked face to face, it will be found that India has more issues with language than religion. What you see on TV and read on social media about harangue against one particular religion – it is actually to reduce their power and get them sidelined. Once that is achieved – Politics will settle down for real business – Language.

In India, strife and rioting on Language is just round the corner. Politics just have to wrap up the Muslim business first and fast. That is the next level of polarisation. Every polarisation, namely religious, has its limits, and politics will explore other avenues to optimise their returns.

Muslim get highlighted first because they have pan-India identity. They are more grouped. Act in unison. Politics love communities who move in lock-steps. The Hindus of India are bamboozled and hoodwinked into thinking that Islam and Muslims are their enemies. But in-fact, wherever Hindus are linguistic minorities – Muslims in those regions are their greatest allies.

Linguistic Politics will first smudge English Language shop-faces in some anti-English drive. Then they will come for other languages. It’s about time Hindus come to their senses and realise they are playing into some powerful hands and if today Muslims homes are bulldozed, tomorrow it will be their turn.       

Never send to know who the bulldozer razes; it razes thee.

Prashant Kishor should lead Congress

Rahul Gandhi has become a metaphor for a congress liability. But Prashant Kishor, the political entrepreneur, looks at the same congress and sees assets.

Congress is tainted now but not discredited for ever. It’s not a pariah. It still has a standing. It has loyal voters. And congress has an ideology which is middle of the road. This Brand-Equity of congress will always be a potential winner.

The bad-side of being right or left wing is that, over time, these parties have to become more of it. The floor has to keep falling, and the shrill becomes overwhelming over time. Congress bi-partisanship will be the winner in the long run, because there is a limit to polarisation, and population will course-correct to centre.

Prashant Kishor has rightly identified a party which he can take over, if possible. Firstly, he doesn’t need to build from zero. Congress is pan-India. Every “ward” of this country has a congress office. And every office is a resource. There are real estates and human resources of immense value locked inside the party. In the balance sheet of politics, congress is more asset rich. The things that need attention are the liabilities which inhabit the top and its cash flow.

A decline in congress can be identified with decline in its patronage. Political parties run on donations. The sustenance of the vast structure like congress needs capital infusion. And people who matter will pay only if their payments matter to them. Investors expect returns on investment.

2024 will be 10 years since congress lost power, from the Centre and in many states. Congress needs a strong energetic character to get the party into back into winning ways. Also, anyone leading shouldn’t bear baggage and name which disadvantages them at the starting line itself.

Unlike Arvind Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee, both successful political entrepreneurs who established their own party, Prashant Kishor has an advantage of an all-India profile. Instead of a state or two, he can go the whole country. This idea seems difficult but it’s doable. It shouldn’t be a question of courage, as he has nothing to lose. It’s the question of his insight – which, working with political parties, he should have great inklings by now.

Politics senses fast, and the congress old guards must have foreseen what Prashant Kishor intends. And they will put up a fight, not to defend the Gandhis, but to protect their turf. This is where Prashant’s deal making ability will be tested. He has to have an attractive proposition to draw attention and money into the party and score a few wins, or at least, get the vote share up.

Prashant Kishor realises it’s time to parley his new found aura and attention for a significant political office. His new-found fame has a half-life and will erode soon. Congress is steer-less, the top-dogs are without bark or bite. Once the head is replaced, the rest of the body can be restored to health. Modi can have a pan-India opposition in 2024 which he may not have foreseen.

Prashant Kishore has a plan – and his opportunity is now to take over the congress.

Russia Baiting

The western media’s propaganda is unraveling. They say – Russia is going from defeat to defeat, Ukraine from victory to victory. Strange. Is Ukraine so good and Russia so bad?

Or, its all one-sided media?

Where is the Russian side? Its blocked. The Chinese are relaying the Russian news but few have access to it. And here is a strange phenomena. We, the people of the “English-speaking non-western world” has been trained to discount the non-western news. So we don’t believe if the source is Chinese or Russian. or Indian. We will believe the BBC – the metaphor for all that is west.

But this war is not without precedence of a buildup. We came to know of Russian Buildup only late last year, Dec 2021. But before that, and since 5 years prior, the western world has been priming up the world against Putin. But the advocacy was so nuanced and suave, that the buildup of the west escaped notice.

During the elections when Trump won, 2016, the west has aggressively pushed the propaganda that – It’s the Russian – when in fact, it was the US domestic state of affairs which drove their people towards Trump. A later grand inquiry trying to link Trump and Putin came a caper.

But it does show that some game is on in the White House. There is a immense data on the net called Putin Files (link here) which forwards the agenda of Putin’s culpability for all the ills in the US and the western world, the NATO members. The bias is pushed by US state media PBS.

The plan (of the Putin Files) seems to be – to use rudimentary information about Putin and then give it a spin, in many voluminous words. In broad sense, the screed is – Putin was KGB officer who detested the loss of the Soviet Union, and now, he wants to recreate the Union back, finally, he will go any length to achieve his aims. In videos after videos, the “Experts” appear on-screen, mostly in dark suit and dark background, and reply to questions asked by an invisible interviewer.

The mood created for the shows (Putin Files) is designed to be ominous. And this has been going on since the Trump years – to broadcast tall anti-Russian tales and proliferate the social climate. There is enough history of last 100 years (or even more) to show that the US and the west can cite scriptures to sell it as a deal.

But some day – and it could be now – the world will wake up and call their bluff.

The United States, together with their European friends had a misfortune of two decades of fruitless and profitless wars. In Iraq, they tried to setup institutions, so that, those institutions would, in turn, tax its people to pay for western arms. Then again in Afghanistan – they tried their best to set up tax-capable institutions.

In Pakistan, fortunately, the west has good shops – construction and arms.

The west vouch for democracy for a reason – as a hedge against financial failures. Should any imposed Government (Iraq, Afghanistan) decide not to pay for arms with the tax so collected, the levers of the second party can be pressed and energized to take over the tax regime and continue the money flow.

None of their ploy worked in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both resisted institutions. Both remained penurious. Unfortunately for the west, the population of Iraq and Afghanistan, get bootlegged arms, or prefer Russian made Kalashnikov, or cheap but effective Chinese.

In Ukraine, the west has wholesome tax paying population, good institutions to carry forward a tax regime to pay for western arms and Democracy, if in case one party reneges. And now Ukraine has a complaint population hoodwinked into a conflict they could have done without.

It is becoming clearer that its not Putin that has erred, but Zelenskyy. His political naiveté has dropped him into the arms of people, who are out collecting money. This makes people like Trump a Truth-Teller. Trump once commented that NATO members should pay for the security which US provides, instead of “freeloading.” (Link Here)

Russia will continue to have what it has. The west, which has been harping against the Russians, has finally found center-stage. The world will do itself a favor when the west loses this time.

The already NATO members were ticketless travellers who had armed themselves with Article 5. Now, Zolenskyy’s impetuousness will make every NATO member pay for it.

Putin needs no Face-Saver to withdraw

Withdrawal of Military takes decades. And demolishing one adversary, invariably raises another.

In 1945, US and Russians finished Hitler and Nazis in toto. But thereafter, both of them stood facing against each other for the next 45 years.

US entered Vietnam in 1965 to stop the communists. Very quickly they knew they can’t win. But it took the US another 10 years, and one roof, to get out of Saigon.
See BBC documentary “Last Days of Vietnam” (Link: )

US is an experienced cut-and-run power. On the other hand, Russia has a history to provide the conquered, a functional government, albeit a stooge.

The West understands Putin’s angst of a NATO missile next door to Moscow. They have had similar experience in 1962, when Russia (then USSR) decided to place nuclear capable missiles in Cuba, next-door to US. The hue and cry and Hollywood movies still reverberate to this day. But when Russia does the same and warns Ukraine to strike neutrality – see the about-face of the same west.

But international politics (or any power politics) is not about whereaboutary. Its what is possible, and what can be successfully backed. The west has dollars, they have innovations, they have the clout. They will win even if they are not right. They can pull it off. Can Russia?

Russia has advantages. It does not have baggage of Democracy. It does not need “Face-Savers” to withdraw. The ignominy of a retreating force is not going to play in Moscow. Putin is for life.

And till now, Putin has made his point. The west will rethink NATO memberships for past Soviet satellites, particularly those bordering Russia, like Finland.

What the Russians are doing in Ukraine is not what they are cut out to do. This is not how they make wars. Russian wars are scorched earth. But in Ukraine they are intimidating. Probably they expected the government to run away or acquiesce but they found a leader in Zelenskyy who has dug himself.

Its a bizarre situation. Zelenskyy, the newbie, messed up Putin, the KGB.

Ukraine claimed joining NATO, even when NATO does not prefer this as it would offend Moscow. Putin should stop short when NATO still regards the Russian stance. Further push will give a ruse or alternative to NATO to disregard.

What should Putin do now? Should he go in all-guns-blazing? Or should he withdraw?

Firstly, should Putin decide to scorch, he will have in hand a charred territory which he cannot abandon. Otherwise, the west will enter. Either his bulwark is the compliant population of Ukraine, or his occupying troops, or his population planted from Russia. Its a devil and deep blue sea situation. His choices are numerous yet restrictive.

Secondly, should he decide to back off, he will have a disgruntled territory. More pro-west. But Putin can use a few silver lining of this cloud. For one, his sagacity to withdraw early will be taken note of. Now everyone expects at least a decade of strife. Putin can disappoint them. If Putin is intelligent he will self-preserve. He will also surprise the west, who, after few days of glee, mirth and chest thumping may well settle down for business as usual.

This has happened before. It can happen again.

As long as Russian oil and gas is important for Europe, Moscow will be important too.