Impact of COVID19 Pandemic; Biden vs Trump; Modi's Blunders

What is the global impact of COVID19 pandemic? How has it affected the United States? How is Prime Minister Imran Khan handling the coronavirus crisis in Pakistan? Are complete lockdowns absolutely necessary to contain the spread of coronavirus?

Impact of COVID19 Global Pandemic

Has President Trump's handling of the COVID pandemic and its devastating economic impact hurt his re-election chances?  Who is better for Pakistan? Biden or Trump? Was President Obama's hostility toward Pakistan shared by Joe Biden who served as his vice president from 2009 to 2017? Why did Biden say "Pakistan is 50 times more important to US than Afghanistan"?

Have Prime Minister Modi's policies backfired? Why has Modi not succeeded in isolating Pakistan? Why do almost all of India's neighbors from China to Nepal to Pakistan have problems with India? Why is Modi under India so isolated? Why has President Trump not strongly backed India in Ladakh?

Despardes with Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com).


https://youtu.be/4REeQjTDHvw






Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Can India Afford to Boycott China?

Has Modi Succeeded in Isolating Pakistan?

Did GOP's Dogwhistle Politics Produce Trump?

Coronavirus, Lives and Livelihoods in Pakistan

Vast Majority of Pakistanis Support Imran Khan's Handling of Covid19 Crisis

Pakistani-American Woman Featured in Netflix Documentary "Pandemic"

Coronavirus Antibodies Testing in Pakistan

Can Pakistan Effectively Respond to Coronavirus Outbreak? 

How Grim is Pakistan's Social Sector Progress?

Pakistan Fares Marginally Better Than India On Disease Burdens

Modi's Kashmir Blunder

Democracy vs Dictatorship in Pakistan

Pakistan Child Health Indicators

Pakistan's Balance of Payments Crisis

Panama Leaks in Pakistan

Conspiracy Theories About Pakistan Elections"

PTI Triumphs Over Corrupt Dynastic Political Parties

Strikingly Similar Narratives of Donald Trump and Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif's Report Card

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Is #COVID19 pandemic peaking in #Pakistan? #Positive Test Rates, Weekly Cases and Weekly Deaths Suggest It is! #CoronavirusPandemic #CoronaVirusPakistan https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus/country/pakistan?country=PAK~IND


https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1276368202109349888?s=20
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan central bank governor says #coronavirus lockdowns are a ‘luxury of the rich’. #COVID19 #pandemic is a public #health crisis and until it’s addressed, there will most likely be #economic hardships ahead, State Bank Governor Reza Baqir told CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/02/pakistan-central-bank-governor-on-economic-challenges-during-coronavirus-pandemic.html?__source=sharebar|twitter&par=sharebar

The coronavirus pandemic is a public health crisis and until that’s addressed, difficulties on the economic front should be expected, Pakistan’s central bank governor Reza Baqir said.
Pakistan has reported more than 213,000 cases of infection and more than 4,300 people have died.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government lifted a two-month-long lockdown in early May, few weeks before an important festival, and as millions struggled in light of drastically reduced economic activity.

“We are very concerned. First and foremost, this is a public health crisis — we have to remind ourselves of that,” Reza Baqir said on CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Wednesday.

“And, only on a secondary basis, then it becomes an economic crisis. Until the public health crisis is addressed, we should continue to expect challenges on the economic front,” he added.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government lifted a two-month-long lockdown in early May, a few weeks before an important festival.

As millions were struggling with starvation during that time of drastically reduced economic activity, the country’s Covid-19 cases surged once the lockdown was eased, Reuters reported.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan Foreign exchange: SBP reserves rise $1.27 billion to $11.2 billion, despite external #debt payments of $809 million. Increase attributed to official inflows from #WorldBank, #ADB, #AIIB and #China.
| The Express Tribune https://tribune.com.pk/story/2252987/foreign-exchange-sbp-reserves-rise-127b-to-112b


The foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank increased 12.75% on a weekly basis, according to data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Thursday.
On June 26, the foreign currency reserves held by the SBP were recorded at $11,231 million, up $1,270 million compared with $9,961.2 million in the previous week.

The SBP received around $2,046 million in official inflows, including $737 million from the World Bank, $503 million from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), $500 million from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and $300 million as government of Pakistan loan disbursement from China, said a press release issued by the central bank.

“After incorporating government’s external debt payments of $809 million, SBP’s reserves increased by $1,270 million to $11,231 million,” it said.

During the current week, the SBP has received an additional $1,000 million as government of Pakistan loan disbursement from China. These funds will be part of SBP’s weekly reserves data as of July 3, 2020 to be released on July 9, 2020.

Overall, liquid foreign currency reserves held by the country, including net reserves held by banks other than the SBP, stood at $17,971 million. Net reserves held by banks amounted to $6,740 million.

Pakistan received the first loan tranche of $991.4 million from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on July 9 last year, which helped bolster the reserves. In late December, the IMF released the second loan tranche of around $454 million.

Previously, the reserves jumped on account of $2.5 billion in inflows from China.

A few months ago, the SBP successfully made foreign debt repayment of over $1 billion on the maturity of Sukuk.

In December 2019, the foreign exchange reserves surpassed the $10-billion mark owing to inflows from multilateral lenders including $1.3 billion from the Asian Development Bank.

Foreign investment of over $3 billion in the debt market in the previous fiscal year also played an important role in the growing foreign currency reserves.

Earlier, the reserves had spiralled downwards, falling below the $7-billion mark, which raised concern over Pakistan’s ability to meet its financing requirements. However, financial assistance from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and other friendly nations helped shore up the foreign exchange reserves.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #FBR collects Rs50bn more than FY20 revenue target. Revenue board collects Rs3.95tr in FY20, as against the revised target of Rs3.90tr #COVID19 #lockdown #economy - Profit by Pakistan Today



https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/06/30/fbr-collects-rs50bn-more-than-fy20-revenue-target/

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) collected Rs3,957 billion during the fiscal year 2019-20, which was Rs50 billion more than the revised target of Rs3,907 billion.

According to the FBR spokesperson, the department collected Rs411 billion in June 2020, as against the target Rs398 billion. “The FBR managed to collect Rs4 trillion gross revenue for the first time in the country’s history, which is commendable,” he added.

It is pertinent to mention that the government had originally set the FY20 revenue target at Rs5.55 trillion. However, it was revised downward after the first review of Pakistan’s economy by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).     

Meanwhile, following the second review by the IMF in February this year, the collection target was further revised downwards to Rs4.80 trillion. 

As coronavirus had crippled the country’s economy post March 2020, the revenue target was again revised to Rs3,907billion. 

It may be noted that during the last year, former FBR chairman Shabbar Ziadi had gone on indefinite leave due to bad health and did not return to the office. The government had then appointed Nausheen Javed Amjad, a grade-22 officer of Inland Revenue Service, as FBR chairperson in May this year. 

Riaz Haq said…
ICRA Sees #India's Real #GDP Shrink By Almost Double Digits In FY21. Rating agency now expects FY21 GDP to contract by 9.5%, a sharp downward revision from earlier forecast of 5% decline. Why: Rising #Covid19 and local lockdowns. #Modi https://www.bloombergquint.com/business/icra-sees-india-real-gdp-contract-by-almost-double-digits-in-fy21 Via @Bloombergquint

ICRA Ltd. has sharply cut its forecast for the Indian economy in FY21, citing localised lockdowns and rising Covid-19 cases. Its forecast is now the most pessimistic among major institutional forecasters.

The rating agency now expects FY21 real GDP to contract by 9.5%, a sharp downward revision of its earlier forecast of a 5% contraction. The climbing Covid-19 infections have resulted in a spate of localised lockdowns in some states and cities, arresting the nascent recovery that had set in during May-June 2020, it said in a statement on Thursday.

“The Indian economy had started to recover from the troughs experienced in April 2020, when the lockdown was at its severest, and many sectors seemed to be adjusting to a new normal. However, the unabated rise in Covid-19 infections in the unlock phase and re-imposition of localised lockdowns in several states, appear to have interrupted this recovery,” said Aditi Nayar, principal economist at ICRA.

Given the severity of the pandemic and the duration of the safety measures that need to be employed, we now expect a deeper pace of GDP contraction in Q2 FY21 relative to our earlier forecast, ICRA said. The agency said the economic impact would also be more uneven, as different regions move in and out of lockdowns and persisting labour supply mismatches affect supply chains and consumption patterns.

India recorded nearly 32,000 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday with the total number of cases rising to 9.6 lakh.

As a result of the spreading infections, economists, who were earlier anticipating the economic recovery to begin in the second quarter and strengthen in the third quarter, are now revisiting that assumption.

The timeline for a firmer recovery out of the contractionary phase is now being pushed ahead to at least Q4 FY21 from Q3 FY21. This presumes that a vaccine will be widely available by then, which now appears necessary for discretionary consumption to recover in certain sectors such as travel, hospitality and recreation.
Aditi Nayar, Principal Economist, ICRA
Also Read: Covid-19: Shape Of India’s Economic Recovery Goes From V To W-ish

ICRA expects the Indian economy to have contracted by 25% in Q1 FY2021. It now expects a shallower recovery in subsequent quarters than estimated earlier.

GDP is estimated to contract by 12.4% in Q2 FY21 as compared to a contraction of 2.1% estimated earlier.
GDP is estimated to contract by 2.3% in Q3 FY21, compared to an earlier estimate of GDP growth at 2.1%.
GDP forecast for Q4 FY21 too has been revised to a growth rate of 1.3% from 5% as per ICRA’s previous estimates.
The agency, however, does expect the rural economy to remain a bright spot. High frequency indicators in the rural economy such as kharif acreage and tractor sales continue to strengthen. “ICRA, thus, continues to expect agricultural gross value added to rise by 3.5-4.0% in FY21, supporting rural sentiment,” it said.

Despite the revised GDP forecasts, ICRA said it doesn’t see significant fiscal support due to the revenue pressures being faced by various levels of government.
Riaz Haq said…
#Biden Could Be Bad News for #India’s #Modi.
Modi’s opponents in India may suddenly gain leverage. #KamalaHarris' heritage is #TamilNadu which remains a bastion of opposition. #Harris has been critical of the Modi's policies in #Indian Occupied #Kashmir https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/11/06/biden-harris-india-modi-election/

Indian Americans love Kamala Harris. The daughter of an Indian biologist who moved to the United States and became one of the country’s most respected cancer researchers, Harris embodies the values of hard work, intellectual accomplishment, and political engagement. As a U.S. senator, she pushed for immigration policies favored by the Indian American community, including a lifting of country caps on H1-B temporary employment visas and the retention of employment rights for spouses of H1-B visa holders. And Indian Americans are understandably proud to see one of their own rising to the top of the U.S. political system.

But good for Indian Americans does not necessarily mean good for the current government of India. On the contrary: The Biden team’s priorities (from what we know so far) are likely to drive a wedge between the United States and continental Asia’s oldest democracy at a time when Washington is looking for new allies in its strategic rivalry with China.

Harris may be a part of that wedge herself. As senator, Harris has been diplomatically circumspect in her few public comments about India’s government but has shown no love for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Last year, she even publicly criticized Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar while he was on an official visit to the United States. Jaishankar had refused to share a platform with U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the Indian American sponsor of a House of Representatives resolution calling out the Indian government for its policies in Kashmir.

Harris’s own family connection to India may color her attitude. Her mother hailed from Tamil Nadu in southern India, a state in which Modi’s BJP did not win a single seat in last year’s national parliamentary elections. The BJP is often described as a Hindu nationalist party, but it can also be seen as a regional movement centered on the Hindi heartland of northern India. That regional base has expanded in recent years, but Tamil Nadu—which is almost 90 percent Hindu but not Hindi-speaking—remains a bastion of opposition.

Harris herself has been critical of the Indian government’s policies in Kashmir and strongly suggested (without explicitly saying) that she would put human rights at the center of her approach to India—and the rest of the world. That sounds like political boilerplate until you realize that in India, “human rights” often translates as “anti-BJP.” Unable to beat Modi at the polls, his domestic critics have focused on what they say are policies and incitement directed against minorities, such as India’s 172 million Muslims. With Harris in the West Wing, Modi’s opponents in India may suddenly have much more leverage at their disposal.

Riaz Haq said…
Giving a blow-by-blow account of the Abbottabad raid by American commandos that killed the world’s most wanted terrorist on May 2, 2011 in his latest book “A Promised Land”, the former U.S. president said that the top secret operation was opposed by the then Defence Secretary Robert Gates and his former Vice President Joe Biden, who is now the President-elect.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/certain-elements-inside-pakistan-military-had-links-to-al-qaeda-obama-on-raid-that-killed-osama/article33114312.ece


“Based on what I’d heard, I decided we had enough information to begin developing options for an attack on the compound. While the CIA team continued to work on identifying the Pacer, I asked Tom Donilon and John Brennan to explore what a raid would look like,” Mr. Obama writes in his memoir.

“The need for secrecy added to the challenge; if even the slightest hint of our lead on bin Laden leaked, we knew our opportunity would be lost. As a result, only a handful of people across the entire federal government were read into the planning phase of the operation,” he said.

“We had one other constraint: Whatever option we chose could not involve the Pakistanis,” he wrote.

“Although Pakistan’s government cooperated with us on a host of counterterrorism operations and provided a vital supply path for our forces in Afghanistan, it was an open secret that certain elements inside the country’s military, and especially its intelligence services, maintained links to the Taliban and perhaps even al-Qaeda, sometimes using them as strategic assets to ensure that the Afghan government remained weak and unable to align itself with Pakistan’s number one rival, India, Obama revealed,” added Mr. Obama

“The fact that the Abbottabad compound was just a few miles from the Pakistan military’s equivalent of West Point only heightened the possibility that anything we told the Pakistanis could end up tipping off our target.”

“Whatever we chose to do in Abbottabad, then, would involve violating the territory of a putative ally in the most egregious way possible, short of war — raising both the diplomatic stakes and the operational complexities,” he wrote.

In the final stages they were discussing two options. The first was to demolish it with an air strike. The second option was to authorise a special ops mission, in which a select team would covertly fly into Pakistan via helicopter, raid the compound, and get out before the Pakistani police or military had time to react.

Despite all the risks involved, Mr. Obama and his national security team opted for the second option, but not before multiple rounds of discussions and intensive planning.

The day before he gave the final approval for the raid, at a Situation Room meeting, Hillary Clinton, the then Secretary of State, said that it was a 51-49 call. Gates recommended against a raid, although he was open to considering the strike option, he said.

Joe (Biden) also weighed in against the raid, arguing that given the enormous consequences of failure, I should defer any decision until the intelligence community was more certain that bin Laden was in the compound.

“As had been true in every major decision I’d made as President, I appreciated Joe’s willingness to buck the prevailing mood and ask tough questions, often in the interest of giving me the space I needed for my own internal deliberations,” Mr. Obama wrote.

After the successful Abbottabad raid, Mr. Obama made a number of calls domestically and internationally, the toughest of which he expected to be that with the then Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, he wrote.

I expected my most difficult call to be with Pakistan’s beleaguered president, Asif Ali Zardari, who would surely face a backlash at home over our violation of Pakistani sovereignty. When I reached him, however, he expressed congratulations and support. ‘Whatever the fallout,’ he said, ‘it’s very good news. He showed genuine emotion, recalling how his wife, Benazir Bhutto, had been killed by extremists with reported ties to al-Qaeda, Mr. Obama wrote.

Riaz Haq said…
#India's #economy is shrinking, and tens of millions of Indians have lost jobs or sunk into poverty. But #Modi's friend Gautam Adani’s personal wealth has more than doubled to $32b. Mukesh Ambani’s fortune has grown 25% to $75b. #Inequality #COVID19 #BJP https://www.economist.com/asia/2020/12/05/indias-super-rich-are-getting-much-richer

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1335247896480923648?s=20

Some of India’s tycoons have prospered because they have learned not just to weather unpredictability, but to game the system. That system, alas, is failing India’s poor. Measures of malnutrition and stunting reveal an alarming backward slide over the past year. The unemployment rate shows some recovery from the worst of the covid shock, but that fails to capture the astonishing bleakness of India’s labour market. Before covid hit, barely 40% of adults were in paid work, according to the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy, a research firm. Now only 36% are. The rest, including legions of housewives, see no point in even looking for a job.

--------------

Some people have almost all the luck. Over the past year, as India’s economy has shrunk by around a tenth and tens of millions of Indians have lost jobs or sunk into poverty, the fortunes of the country’s two richest people have swollen. Gautam Adani, whose conglomerate sprawls from ports to coal mines to food, has seen his personal wealth more than double, to some $32bn. Mukesh Ambani’s riches, which derive from oil refining, telecoms and retail, among other things, have grown by just 25%, albeit to an intimidating $75bn or so.

The share of wealth and income going to the top 1% has been rising rapidly in recent years in India, as it has been in many countries. Last year they hoovered up 21.4% of earnings, just ahead of their counterparts in Russia, according to the World Inequality Database. Credit Suisse, a bank, puts their share of India’s wealth at 39%, well ahead of the richest 1% of Americans or Chinese. Most alarmingly, in India some of the rich have become super-rich by using their heft to crush smaller competitors and thus corner multiple chunks of the economy. The tilt in fortunes has rewarded not so much technical innovation or productivity growth or the opening of new markets as the wielding of political influence and privileged access to capital to capture and protect existing markets.

Merely a decade ago, according to data compiled by Marcellus, an investment-advice firm, among listed firms in India the 20 most profitable generated less than a third of profits. They now account for 70%. A study by Krishna Kant, a journalist, reveals that between 2014 and 2018 competition within ten different industries, from aviation to tyres, deteriorated markedly.

Across Indian markets, only the shares of giant firms have gained consistently over the past decade, says Rohit Chandra of iit Delhi, a university. International investors have noticed, and now bet increasingly not on promising new firms but on big old ones, which they expect to get even bigger. The government boasts that the five months from April to August saw a record $36bn in foreign investment, suggesting that its wise policies have sustained confidence during the covid-19 epidemic. What it trumpets less loudly is that more than half of that money, including hefty investments from Facebook and Google, poured into Mr Ambani’s hands alone.
Riaz Haq said…
#Biden's #Defense Secretary Nominee General Lloyd Austin: “Continuing to build relationships with Pakistan’s military will provide openings for the United States and Pakistan to cooperate on key issues". #Military #US #Pakistan #Afghanistan https://www.dawn.com/news/1602541/biden-administration-to-revive-military-to-military-ties-with-pakistan

The Biden administration sees Pakistan as an “essential partner” in any peace process in Afghanistan and believes that “continuing to build relationships with Pakistan’s military will provide openings for the United States and Pakistan to cooperate on key issues,” says its nominated defence chief Gen Lloyd J Austin.

Gen Austin made these remarks during his confirmation hearing for the post of secretary of defence before the United States Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

“Pakistan is an essential partner in any peace process in Afghanistan," Austin, a former head of the US Central Command, told the committee. "If confirmed, I will encourage a regional approach that garners support from neighbours like Pakistan, while also deterring regional actors, from serving as spoilers to the Afghanistan peace process.”

Also read: What will Biden mean for Pakistan?


When asked what changes he would recommend to US relations with Pakistan as the new defence chief, Gen Austin said: “I will focus on our shared interests which include training future Pakistan military leaders through the use of International Military Education and Training funds. Pakistan will play an important role in any political settlement in Afghanistan. We also need to work with Pakistan to defeat al Qaeda and the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) and to enhance regional stability.”

Asked if he has perceived any change in Pakistan’s cooperation with the US since the Trump administration’s decision in 2018 to withhold security assistance, Gen Austin said: “I understand Pakistan has taken constructive steps to meet US requests in support of the Afghanistan peace process. Pakistan has also taken steps against anti-Indian groups, such as Lashkar-i-Taiba and Jaish-i-Mohammad, although this progress is incomplete.”

The general, however, acknowledged that “many factors in addition to the security assistance suspension may impact Pakistan’s cooperation, including Afghanistan negotiations and the dangerous escalation following the Pulwama terrorist attack.”

“Pakistan is a sovereign country,” he said when asked what tools and options the US had to influence Pakistan.

“I will press Pakistan to prevent its territory from being used as a sanctuary for militants and violent extremist organisations. Continuing to build relationships with Pakistan’s military will provide openings for the United States and Pakistan to cooperate on key issues.”

Peace deal review
-------

“We want to end this so-called forever war," he insisted. "We want to bring our forces home. We want to retain some capacity to deal with any resurgence of terrorism, which is what brought us there in the first place," Blinken said. “We have to look carefully at what has actually been negotiated. I haven't been privy to it yet."

America's President-elect Joe Biden has stated that while he would reduce the number of combat troops in Afghanistan, he would not withdraw US military presence.

Last year, during a debate between Democratic presidential candidates, Biden had said: "We can prevent the United States from being the victim of terror coming out of Afghanistan by providing for bases — insist the Pakistanis provide bases for us to air lift from and to move against what we know."

Riaz Haq said…
Asked about a “thaw” in India-Pakistan relations and Pakistan Army Chief Javed Qamar Bajwa’s remarks that India and Pakistan should “bury the past”, (Shiv Shankar) Menon called it “a fishing expedition”. He said Islamabad is motivated to know how much pressure India is under after what happened on the border with China.

https://theprint.in/diplomacy/india-china-ties-set-for-hard-times-over-next-5-10-years-ex-nsa-shivshankar-menon-says/639754/


The India-China relationship will be marked by “hard times” over the next five to 10 years, former national security advisor (NSA) Shivshankar Menon said Tuesday as he discussed his new book during an online event hosted by Harvard Kennedy School.

India now faces a China that is “in a hurry” to seize a moment of opportunity outlined in its global ambitions, Menon said during the event. “Xi Jinping sees China as central to Asia.”

However, he said India-China tensions won’t be permanent. “The fact is China is part of our neighborhood and on our periphery… it is never going to be a purely competitive adversarial relationship and it also never was a purely cooperative one. It swings between these two,” he explained.

India and China have been working to ease tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh since the Galwan border clash in June 2020. Last week, both sides held the 11th round of corp commander meeting at the Chushul-Mondo border.

Asked about a “thaw” in India-Pakistan relations and Pakistan Army Chief Javed Qamar Bajwa’s remarks that India and Pakistan should “bury the past”, Menon called it “a fishing expedition”. He said Islamabad is motivated to know how much pressure India is under after what happened on the border with China.


Asked about the formation of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, Menon observed that it has evolved beyond just a security dialogue. “As long as it was a security dialogue, it had a limited purpose. It ran the risk of when any one of the members pulled out or saw those security issues differently, the Quad itself would collapse. That’s what happened to it in 2008,” he said.

Initiated in 2007, the Quad is a strategic and security framework under the Indo-Pacific construct between the US, Japan, Australia and India. The Quad countries held their first summit-level meeting virtually on 12 March.

“Quad is not a closed shop. It can’t deal with the Indo-Pacific unless it involves other people in the Indo-Pacific,” said Menon. This does not mean the Quad must admit new members, but rather find new partners to work with, he added. The group should also be a “catalyst” for economically integrating Europe into the Southeast Asia region, he said.

On FONOP row
Commenting on the US Navy’s Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) in India’s exclusive economic zone last week, which caused a row in India, Menon remarked: “We’ve just had a reminder that we [India and US] have slightly different interpretations of freedom and navigation and the law of the sea.”


He said there are other ways to enhance maritime security, adding: “I’m not sure that FONOPs is the way to go.”

High expectations for India-US relationship
Observing that the India-US relations are at an all-time peak, Menon said expectations are now high for the two countries. They must find “new directions” in this relationship given that the world is changing considerably, he said.

India and the US can do more on the bilateral front in terms of students and education, agriculture, technology and such areas that affect the lives of ordinary people, he said.

Asked about the role of “internal cohesion” in the US and India, Menon said democracy is “still a work in progress” in India. “The social contract, the fundamental political contract itself, is in the process of being renegotiated [in India],” he said.
Riaz Haq said…
In January, #Modi poured scorn on experts & scientists who warned his country faced a "tsunami" of infection. Now the #Indian PM is facing harsh criticism for premature triumphalism amid a terrible surge that has people dying in the streets. #BJP #Hindutva https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/26/world/meanwhile-in-america-populism/index.html

Among its deadly properties, Covid-19 appears perfectly engineered to destroy the houses of sand built by populist leaders.

Back in January, Narendra Modi poured scorn on experts and scientists who warned his country faced a "tsunami" of infection. Now the Indian Prime Minister is being harshly criticized for premature triumphalism amid a terrible surge that has people dying in the streets.
Modi is only the latest populist crusader to come unstuck. Former US President Donald Trump's denialism appears to have cost tens of thousands of lives. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro fueled a disaster by rejecting Covid-19 countermeasures in favor of crank cures. UK PM Boris Johnson paid a heavy personal and political price for ignoring the threat of the pandemic early on, though he has since become more cautious.

Covid-19 doesn't have political preferences. Even some leaders praised for their scientific approach have seen their standing consumed by the virus. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's final months in power for instance are being tarnished by a wave of infections worsened by Europe's slow vaccine rollout.

But the pandemic is guaranteed to expose leaders who undermine truth, create alternative realities, ostracize experts and scientists and refuse to take precautions to keep the public safe. Earlier this month for instance, Modi boasted of huge rally crowds ahead of elections in West Bengal. His hubris in the face of the virus recalls Trump's refusal to give up rallies last year at which he boasted the virus was being driven out -- even as his crowds contributed to a building wave of lethal infections that winter.
Having their negligence exposed may not deter the truth-twisting populist leaders inspired by Trump (who is already spoiling for a comeback). Populism will find fertile soil in the economic and social detritus left in the pandemic's wake. But when leaders prioritize their political image over public health, millions of people suffer.

Popular posts from this blog

Turkish-Born Muslim Scientists Behind Pfizer's Successful COVID19 Vaccine

Karachi-born NED University Alum Leads Mercedes Entry into Electric Vehicles Market

Pakistani Women's Growing Particpation in Workforce