Pre-COVID Fiction: India Wins US-China War Imagined For 2034

In a recently published fiction imagined for 2034 by former top US Admiral James Stavridis and Elliot Ackerman, China and the United States go to war that ends in India's victory. The authors portray Indians as heroes whose statesmen-ship de-escalates World War III, negotiates peace and helps India emerge as the new global superpower. Patel, the Indian uncle of the Indian-American deputy national security advisor Sandeep Chowdhury tells him, "America’s hubris has finally gotten the better of its greatness." The authors imagine the United Nations headquarters moves from New York to Mumbai after the war. Had this book been written after watching thousands of Indian victims of COVID19 gasping for breath and dying daily on the streets of New Delhi, I think Ackerman and Stavridis would have conceived  and developed a completely different plot line for their novel.  

2034 Book Cover

Elliot Ackerman and James Stavridis, authors of "2034: A Novel of the Next World War", imagine a series of incidents in South China Sea and the Persian Gulf. These incidents trigger cyber warfare, global internet outages and the use of tactical nuclear weapons fired from warplanes and warships. The military conflict results in millions of deaths in the cities of San Diego and Shanghai. India intervenes at this point by attacking and destroying Chinese and American fighter planes and ships to stop the war. 

The end of active fighting is followed by New Delhi Peace Accords arranged by the Indian government. The United Nations headquarters is moved from New York to Mumbai. At one point in the conflict, the authors have Patel lecture his nephew Sandeep Chowdhury, the US deputy national security advisor: 

"America’s hubris has finally gotten the better of its greatness. You’ve squandered your blood and treasure to what end? For freedom of navigation in the South China Sea? For the sovereignty of Taiwan? Isn’t the world large enough for your government and Beijing’s? Perhaps you’ll win this war. But for what? To be like the British after the Second World War, your empire dismantled, your society in retreat? And millions of dead on both sides?"

Rising Positivity Rates of COVID19 Tests in South Asia. Source: Our World in Data

Some reviewers of the book have speculated that China may want to take Taiwan by force for one particular technology company, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) which is currently the world's most advanced semiconductor technology company. Semiconductor components underlie all cutting edge applications from artificial intelligence (AI) and smartphones to self-driving cars and advanced military equipment. 

The possibility of war between China and the United States can not be dismissed. However, the book's portrayal of India's emergence as a global superpower is pure fantasy.  Had this book been written after watching thousands of Indian victims of COVID19 gasping for breath and dying daily on the streets of New Delhi, Ackerman and Stavridis would have conceived  and developed a completely different plot line for their novel.  

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Riaz Haq said…
#India's Scientists Beg #Modi to Stop Hiding #COVID Data amid fear that info on variants, tests carried out, recovered patients & #vaccine efficacy secret suggests that the 18.7 million cases reported and 208,330 deaths might be a radical understatement

More than 350 scientists in India have signed a petition begging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release crucial COVID-19 data in a desperate attempt to mitigate the spread and predict the next surge.

Some fear that Modi’s desire to keep such vital information on variants, tests carried out, recovered patients and vaccine efficacy secret suggests that the 18.7 million cases reported and 208,330 deaths might be a radical understatement of the scale of the problem.

India logged an astonishing 386,452 new cases Friday as new appeals for more space and firewood for cremations compounded the lack of hospital beds and oxygen.

The petition asks Modi to release “granular” data, the Associated Press reports. That data could be used to help mitigate future surges to better prepare with hospital beds, oxygen and even intensive care units. Without sufficient data, scientists are unable to do anything but stand by and watch the situation get worse.

The appeal also blames Modi’s drive to make India self reliant by importing medical raw materials rather than full vaccines and supplies, calling his government’s actions an obstacle. “Such restrictions, at this time, only serve to impede our ability to deal with COVID-19,” the appeal says, according to the AP.

India’s army chief M.M. Naravane has also offered the use of military hospitals to help take pressure off public facilities, telling desperate families to go to nearby bases to ask for help in a move that Modi originally resisted.

Starting Saturday, all Indian citizens over 18 will eligible for a vaccine where they are available. Health Minister Harash Vardhan said aid sent by 40 countries has started to take some pressure off the collapsed health system. On Friday, the first of the the $100 million worth of supplies from the U.S. arrived, including a first shipment of the pledged 1,000 oxygen cylinders, 15 million N95 masks and 1 million rapid antigen tests.
Riaz Haq said…
#COVID Test Positivity Rate in Double Digits in #SouthAsia: #India 21.2%, #Pakistan 10.2%
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s #Modi’s rise and failures as seen through Time Magazine Covers 2014-2021. #BJP #Hindutva #India #COVID
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi’s #BJP party loses #WestBengalElections2021 by a wide margin amid #COVID19 #pandemic; #India sees 3,689 deaths , a new record in 24 hours. There were 390,000 new infections in 24 hour period. #CoronavirusPandemic #ModiResign #MamataBanerjee

The holding of elections over the past month even as the number of new cases mushroomed has drawn scrutiny in India. The Madras High Court even went as far as to slam the country’s Election Commission for not stopping political rallies that were flouting coronavirus protocols. Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee called the organization “singularly responsible” for the new surge in cases.

During the past month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held several massive campaign rallies attended by tens of thousands of people in the eastern state of West Bengal where his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or the BJP, was in a close race with an opposition party led by a woman. Modi and his powerful deputy, Amit Shah, addressed more than 50 rallies in Bengal, according to NDTV.

By evening, it was clear Modi’s party had lost the bitterly fought election battle. The BJP was on track to lose in two other south Indian states where they weren’t in the reckoning. The party is set to retain power in the state of Assam.

Modi has been panned by critics for sending the wrong message by holding rallies at a time when India was on its way to becoming the worst-affected country in the world by the pandemic, but losses in these elections may signify only a limited test of the impact of the unfolding crisis on his support.

Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of Bengal, known for her streetfighter reputation, asked her supporters to remain at home. “Covid is my first priority,” Bannerjee said in her victory speech. The state capital, Kolkata, has in recent days seen a climbing positivity rate with every second person being tested for the coronavirus turning out to be positive.
Riaz Haq said…
Indian Billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries, considered a bellwether for the broader #Indian #economy, warns of more pain unless the surge in #coronavirus cases is quickly curbed. #India #Modi #BJP #COVID19 #Hindutva #Islamophobia via @markets

Reliance Industries Ltd., India’s largest company by market value and one that’s considered a bellwether for the broader economy, said it hasn’t escaped a devastating new wave of the coronavirus and warned of more pain unless the surge is quickly curbed.

“The outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic globally and in India is causing significant disturbance and slowdown of economic activity. The Group’s operations and revenue during the period were impacted due to COVID-19,” the company, led by Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest person, said in a footnote in its earnings statement Friday. It added that the group has accounted for the possible impact of the outbreak in preparing its financial results.

The disclosure underscores the impact India’s deep humanitarian and health care crisis is having on its citizens -- billionaires or not -- either through desperate pleas on social media for oxygen or via the earnings of large conglomerates. India has reported more than 300,000 new infections for the last nine days, making it the world’s fastest surging outbreak that can potentially derail the nation’s economy.

‘It’s Like a War’: Inside an India Hospital Desperate for Oxygen

Reliance, whose earnings missed analysts estimates for the March quarter, has signaled more pain in the days ahead unless the virus wave peaks out soon.

“Fresh lockdowns will impact demand growth for fuels,” V. Srikanth, the company’s joint chief financial officer said in the post-earnings call Friday, adding that the resurgence of infections in end of March had hurt the business.

Footfalls in Reliance’s retail stores dropped to 40% of pre-Covid levels in April compared to 88% in the March quarter, according to Dinesh Thapar, who heads Reliance’s retail unit. “We have reshaped our priorities for this quarter to address new Covid wave challenge,” Anshuman Thakur, head of strategy at Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. told reporters.
Riaz Haq said…
Is There a War Coming Between China and the U.S.?

by Tom Friedman

.....just a few miles away from China sits the largest and most sophisticated contract chip maker in the world: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. According to the Congressional Research Service, TSMC is one of only three manufacturers in the world that fabricate the most advanced semiconductor chips — and by far the biggest. The second and third are Samsung and Intel

Most chip designers, like IBM, Qualcomm, Nvidia, AMD (and even Intel to some extent) now use TSMC and Samsung to make the microprocessors they design.

But, just as important, three of the five companies that make the super-sophisticated lithography machines, tools and software used by TSMC and others to actually make the microchips — Applied Materials, Lam Research Corporation and KLA Corporation — are based in the United States. (The other two are Dutch and Japanese.) China largely lacks this expertise.

As such, the American government has the leverage to restrict TSMC from making advanced chips for Chinese companies. Indeed, just two weeks ago, the U.S. made TSMC suspend new orders from seven Chinese supercomputing centers suspected of assisting in the country’s weapons development.

The South China Morning Post quoted Francis Lau, a University of Hong Kong computer scientist, as saying: “The sanctions would definitely affect China’s ability to keep to its leading position in supercomputing,” because all of its current supercomputers mostly use processors from Intel or designed by AMD and IBM and manufactured by TSMC. Although there are Korean and Japanese alternatives, Lau added, they are not as powerful.

China, though, is doubling down on research in the physics, nanotechnology and material sciences that will drive the next generation of chips and chip-making equipment. But it could take China a decade or more to reach the cutting edge.

That’s why — today — as much as China wants Taiwan for reasons of ideology, it wants TSMC in the pocket of Chinese military industries for reasons of strategy. And as much as U.S. strategists are committed to preserving Taiwan’s democracy, they are even more committed to ensuring that TSMC doesn’t fall into China’s hands for reasons of strategy. (TSMC is now building a new semiconductor factory in Phoenix.) Because, in a digitizing world, he who controls the best chip maker will control … a lot.

Just read “2034.” In the novel, China gains the technological edge with superior A.I.-driven cybercloaking, satellite spoofing and stealth materials. It’s then able to launch a successful surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

And the first thing China does is seize Taiwan.

Let’s make sure that stays the stuff of fiction.

Riaz Haq said…
Chip shortage highlights U.S. dependence on fragile supply chain - 60 Minutes - CBS News

Lesley Stahl: Should Americans be concerned that most chips are being manufactured in Asia today?

Mark Liu: I understand their concern, first of all. But this is not about Asia or not Asia I mean, the shortage will happen no matter where the production is located because it's due to the COVID.

Lesley Stahl: But Pat Gelsinger at Intel talks about a need to rebalance the supply chain issue because so much, so many of the chips in the world now are made in Asia.

Mark Liu: I think U.S. ought to pursue to run faster, to invest in R&D, to produce more Ph.D., master, bachelor students to get into this manufacturing field instead of trying to move the supply chain, which is very costly and really non productive. That will slow down the innovation because-- people trying to hold on their technology to their own and forsake the global collaboration.

Within the world of global collaboration there's intense competition. Days after Intel announced spending $20 billion on two new fabs, TSMC announced it would spend $100 billion over three years on R&D, upgrades, and a new fab in Phoenix, Arizona, Intel's backyard, where the Taiwanese company will produce the chips Apple needs but the Americans can't make.

Mark Liu: That was a big investment.

But there's a looming shadow over TSMC, which supplies chips for our cars, iPhones, and the supercomputer managing our nuclear stockpile: China's President Xi Jinping, who has intensified his long-time threat to seize Taiwan.

China's attempts to develop its own advanced chip industry have failed and so it's been forced to import chips. But last year, Washington imposed restrictions on chipmakers from exporting certain semiconductors to china. Both Liu and Gelsinger fear the escalating trade war with China may backfire, and in Intel's case: could hurt business.

Lesley Stahl: Are they your biggest customer?

Pat Gelsinger: China is one of our largest markets today. You know, over 25% of our revenue is to Chinese customers. We expect that this will remain an area of tension, and one that needs to be navigated carefully. Because if there's any points that people can't keep running their countries or running their businesses because of supply of one critical component like semiconductors, boy, that leads them to take very extreme postures on things because they have to.

The most extreme would be China invading Taiwan and in the process gaining control of TSMC. That could force the U.S. to defend Taiwan as we did Kuwait from the Iraqis 30 years ago. Then it was oil. Now it's chips.

Lesley Stahl: The chip industry in Taiwan has been called the Silicon Shield.

Mark Liu: Yes.

Lesley Stahl: What does that mean?

Mark Liu: That means the world all needs Taiwan's high-tech industry support. So they will not let the war happen in this region because it goes against interest of every country in the world.

Lesley Stahl: Do you think that in any way your industry is keeping Taiwan safe?

Mark Liu: I cannot comment on the safety. I mean, this is a changing world. Nobody want these things to happen. And I hope-- I hope not too-- either.

Riaz Haq said…
Shortage of #semiconductors, dubbed the 'new oil,' could dent #GDP growth, boost #inflation. "While semiconductors account for only 0.3% of US output, they are an important production input to 12% of GDP” #technology #SiliconValley #Intel #TSMC #Samsung

A variety of factors have converged to make coveted semiconductors scarce.
Goldman Sachs says the GDP hit from the shortage could be 0.5% this year while price increases could hit 3% for affected goods.
TS Lombard economist Rory Green calls semis the “new oil” for the global impact that disruptions can cause.

Economic growth could slow and inflation is likely to see at least a momentary bump higher as the semiconductor shortage worsens, economists say.

A variety of factors have converged to make the coveted computer chips scarce. Soaring demand coupled with supply bottlenecks have led to a situation in which orders for everything from cars to televisions to touch-screen computers and more are on backup for six months or more.

With semis at the core of so much U.S. economic activity, the ongoing supply problems are likely to have ripples.

Goldman Sachs economists say that for the bulk of 2021, the shortage will translate into an inflationary tax that could result in prices rising as much as 3% for affected goods. That would boost inflation as much as 0.4 percentage points through the rest of the year, the firm said.

“Taken together, while we see relatively modest implications of the semiconductor shortage for GDP growth and the industrial sector, it represents another reason to expect core goods inflation to remain firm this year,” Goldman economist Spencer Hill said in a note.

Even though the hit won’t cause a dramatic slowdown to an economy expected to roar in 2021, the impact could still be noticeable. Goldman said the impact could reach as high as a 1% subtraction from activity, but likely will be closer to 0.5%.

Disruptions to the ‘new oil’
“While semiconductors account for only 0.3% of US output, they are an important production input to 12% of GDP,” Hill said, nothing that the shortage could cut auto production by 2% to 6% this year.

Indeed, multiple automakers have curtailed production due to lack of chips vital to their vehicles.

Stellantis NV said it will be temporarily laying off workers at its Detroit Jeep plant, while Volvo also has said the chip issues will cause it to shut some plants until the situation is resolved.

The knock-on impacts of any disruptions in the semiconductor industry are becoming increasingly apparent.

“As the world becomes more interconnected, more automated and greener, each unit of GDP growth will contain a higher content of semiconductors. Integrated circuits are becoming the key commodity input for economic activity,” wrote TS Lombard economist Rory Green.

Green calls semis the “new oil” for the global impact that disruptions can cause.

“The current severe shortage of semiconductors, which is halting automotive production worldwide, underscores the speed and scale of the changes under way,” he said. “Chips have always been an important part for manufacturing and consumer electronics, but their use will broaden to transport and digital services.”

Still, Goldman’s Hill said the inflationary impact likely won’t last far as supply increases later this year and into 2022. But the shortage now “represents another reason to expect core goods inflation to remain firm this year,” he said.
Riaz Haq said…
#India #Covid Crisis: The End of #Modi’s Global Dreams. The mishandling of the #pandemic has dealt #NewDelhi a weaker hand in ongoing talks with #Islamabad and border negotiations with #Beijing. #BJP #Coronavirus #Hindutva #Islamophobia #China #Pakistan

Indians are currently dealing with a humanitarian catastrophe of Modi’s making. New Delhi’s ambitions to be a global power have been dealt a blow. Under Modi, Jaishankar once boasted, diplomacy “is having many balls up in the air at the same time and displaying the confidence and dexterity to drop none.” Now that all the balls are lying on the floor, the country will need humility, honesty, and extraordinary effort to pick them up and start again.

Modi, who has consistently campaigned on virulent nationalism captured by the slogan “Atmanirbhar Bharat” (or self-reliant India), has been forced to abruptly change policy. Last week, with images of people dying on roads without oxygen and crematoriums for pet dogs being used for humans’ last rites as the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmed the country, his government accepted offers of help from nearly 40 other nations. Its diplomats have lobbied with foreign governments for oxygen plants and tankers, the arrival of medicines, and other supplies hailed on social media. “We have given assistance; we are getting assistance,” said Harsh Vardhan Shringla, the country’s top diplomat, to justify the embarrassing U-turn. “It shows an interdependent world. It shows a world that is working with each other.”

The world may be working with each other, but it is not working for Modi in the realm of foreign policy. Rather, this is a moment of reckoning, triggered by the rampaging coronavirus. After seven years as prime minister, Modi’s hyper-nationalistic domestic agenda—including his ambition of making the country a “Vishwaguru” (or master to the world)—now lies in tatters.

India, which has been envisaged since former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration became the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’s lynchpin and focused other efforts in the Indo-Pacific strategy to counter China, will have to work harder to justify that role. Meanwhile, China has redoubled its efforts in India’s neighborhood since the second wave began, strengthening its existing ties with South Asian countries and contrasting its strength and reliability with India’s limitations.


In March, when the second wave of the pandemic started unfolding in India, Jaishankar’s ministry was busy issuing official statements and organizing social media storms against popstar Rihanna and climate change activist Greta Thunberg. On Thursday, at the peak of the health crisis, Jaishankar’s focus in a meeting with all the Indian ambassadors to various global capitals was on countering the so-called “one-sided” narrative in international media, which said Modi’s government had failed the country by its “incompetent” handling of the second pandemic wave.

Until recently, Jaishankar was also the most enthusiastic promoter of the government’s Vaccine Maitri (or “Vaccine Friendship”) program, under which New Delhi supplied around 66.4 million doses of the India-made AstraZeneca vaccine to 95 countries in packing boxes marked prominently with large pictures of Modi. These vaccines were either commercially contracted, given as bilateral grants, or transferred under the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) scheme for poorer countries. Meanwhile, India’s own vaccination rollout has been dismal. Around 2 percent of Indians have been fully vaccinated, despite the country being the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer—a misstep that has emerged as one of the key culprits for India’s uncontrolled second wave.

Riaz Haq said…
#Indian #Americans Don’t Know What to Feel Right Now. Sheer govt negligence is compounding the feelings of déjà vu. Anger toward #Trump administration, which downplayed the threat of the #virus, has been replaced by rage over #Modi’s response. #COVID19

Although no Indian is spared from this virus, marginalized communities such as Dalits—the low-caste workers who are keeping the country’s crematoria and other essential services running day and night—are facing the brunt of the disaster in India. By contrast, many Indian Americans come from middle-to-upper-class and privileged upper-caste communities. Sruti Suryanarayanan, the communications and research associate at the nonprofit South Asian Americans Leading Together, hopes that the crisis will become an inflection point for Indian Americans to confront difficult questions about privilege, home, and belonging.


As family members in India face the catastrophe, relatives who have lived through waves of the devastating pandemic in America are trying to offer emotional and psychological support for what lies ahead. Shindé, who was based in New York last spring, has been remembering the weeks when the city became the world’s epicenter. Days before her aunt Vijaya’s death, Shindé texted her: “You’re going to get better and dance at our wedding party 💃🏾💃🏾💃🏾!!” On the same day, she texted her mom in India that Vijaya might not pull through. “We saw this in NYC,” she wrote. “There were signs of improvement, and they just slipped.”


In some instances, sheer government negligence is compounding the feelings of déjà vu. Shindé’s anger toward the Trump administration, which downplayed the threat of the virus, has been replaced by rage over Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s response, which she calls “a mirror image of what we went through last year.” In February, India’s ruling party claimed that the country had defeated the virus before Modi plowed forward with massive preelection rallies.

Out of the guilt and confusion of this moment, many in the diaspora are searching for ways to help. Indian Americans make up the wealthiest immigrant community in the country, and have been using their clout in tech and politics to push the U.S. government to act. The Biden administration, which was initially slow to respond to the growing crisis in India, this week promised to immediately begin delivering AstraZeneca vaccine doses, ventilators, coronavirus tests, personal protective equipment, and other materials to India. The outcry from the Indian American community has had “an enormous” impact on the government’s response, says Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, who has been among those pressuring the Biden administration.


Like everyone I interviewed for this story, I too am oscillating between waves of emotions—anger, helplessness, and guilt—as reports come in from my family in India. In recent weeks, at least two relatives have tested positive for the virus. Although I can look forward to picnics in the park this summer, India’s parks are becoming grave sites. All the justified optimism around me now feels unjust and even irresponsible. For many of us with friends and family around the world, the trauma feels like a never-ending loop: When your immediate situation improves, another loved one enters a crisis.

Shindé is mourning the loss of her relatives, but she is also mourning her homeland. As an immigrant, “you’re always living half in nostalgia,” she said. “In a state of having lost your home, you carry a sadness with you. And I think there’s these moments that just heighten that in a way that is powerless. Everything that has shaped you as a child is there. You feel just lost; your family is lost.”
Riaz Haq said…

#India #COVID19 Crisis: #Coronavirus is killing 120 people an hour in India, and it could stay "really grim" for months. Hospital beds, doctors and nurses, ventilators, oxygen and medicines are all in short supply despite massive foreign aid pouring in.

A month after the second wave of coronavirus infections started sweeping over India, the country is mired in grief, and it could be weeks, even months before the situation improves. On Tuesday, yet another grim milestone was crossed: 20 million cases of COVID-19 registered since the start of the pandemic. About seven million of those were confirmed over the last month alone.

Of the total 222,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths in the country, more than 57,000 have been recorded over the last month. That's about 80 deaths per hour, and as the government's toll only includes COVID deaths registered in hospitals, many believe the real toll is far higher. Even the official death rate has continued to climb. Over the last two weeks, the virus has claimed about 120 lives every hour, on average.

"I have lost all hope," Lily Priyamvada Pant, told CBS News at a crematorium in Delhi on Sunday. She had just watched her 40-year-old son's funeral pyre burn. Her whole family caught the virus, and her husband was still in an intensive care unit, unaware that his eldest son had succumbed to the disease.

"Doctors told me if you tell him, he will not survive," she said. "He is the CEO of a company and director of many companies… but he could help with nothing."

The feeling of helplessness is familiar in India's cities now, and there's no sign yet that the dizzying infection rate is about start falling quickly. The sheer number of people suffering with the disease has crippled the country's health care system, even in its wealthiest mega-cities.

There were reports on Tuesday that dozens of U.S. Embassy staff in Delhi were among the latest confirmed infections, but an embassy spokesperson told CBS News that while the health and safety of staff and their families was "among the [State] Department's highest priorities," and that it would "take all necessary measures to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our employees, including offering vaccines," they could not confirm details due to privacy concerns.

Hospital beds, doctors and nurses, ventilators, oxygen and medicines have all been in short supply. Almost a month after CBS News first reported on those shortages — and despite government claims that there is no oxygen shortage, and the fact that tons of foreign medical aid has started to arrive — there has been no meaningful improvement in the supply of these necessities.

But while people continue to die daily for a simple lack of oxygen, experts are increasingly worried about another shortage: vaccines.

Riaz Haq said…
#India's #G7 Delegation Led by its Top Diplomat #Jaishankar Forced To Self-Isolate in #London After Testing Positive to #COVID19. Jaishankar has met #Blinken and other FMs since arriving in #UK. #coronavirus #pandemic #Modi #BJP

"We deeply regret that Foreign Minister Jaishankar will be unable to attend the meeting today in person but will now attend virtually, but this is exactly why we have put in place strict COVID protocols and daily testing," a senior British diplomat was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Jaishankar's meeting Monday with Blinken was their first in-person meeting since the Biden administration assumed office. U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel also met Tuesday with Jaishankar, tweeting a photo of them wearing masks.

The news of Jaishankar's trip to London, as well as the positive coronavirus tests among his staff, sparked criticism back home in India. Some Indians questioned the wisdom of his travel at an all-hands-on-deck moment in the pandemic.

The country has confirmed more than 300,000 coronavirus cases daily for the past two weeks, and its health care system is collapsing. On Wednesday, India confirmed more than 382,000 new cases and 3,780 deaths — its highest single-day death toll since the pandemic began.

"Man travelled to London just to hold virtual meeting with G-7 leaders. Why wasted so much money and time?" one Indian wrote on Twitter. "You should have stayed in India and held meeting virtually."


India's top diplomat and his entourage have been forced to self-isolate, participating in a G-7 foreign ministers meeting only virtually — from hotel rooms near the venue in London — after at least two members of the Indian delegation tested positive for the coronavirus.

India is currently battling the world's biggest COVID-19 wave, and is thus on the United Kingdom's Red List, meaning travel from India into the U.K. is restricted. The rules stipulate that while regular Indians are barred from entering the U.K., diplomats may do so, but are required to self-isolate.

It appears that India's minister of external affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, was granted an exception to that rule, because he has held several in-person meetings, including with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, since arriving in London on Monday.

British media reported that two members of Jaishankar's delegation had since tested positive.

In a tweet, Jaishankar said he had been made aware of the exposure Tuesday evening. "As a measure of abundant caution and also out of consideration for others, I decided to conduct my engagements in the virtual mode," he wrote. "That will be the case with the G7 Meeting today as well."

Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's Hand-Picked #UP CM #YogiAdityanath Sets Up 700 Help Desks across the state for #cows & cow shelters with 51 oximeters, 341 thermal scanners to treat cows suffering #COVID19. #India #Hindutva #BJP #coronavirus #pandemic via @NewIndianXpress

Amid the prevailing pandemic, the Yogi Adityanath government is taking forward its cow protection agenda and has issued directives to set up help desks for protection of cows in every district.

The state government has also issued instructions that all the cow shelters (gaushalas) must strictly follow the Covid-19 protocols, and has made the usage of masks and frequent thermal screening mandatory.

The cow shelters will also be equipped with all the medical equipment's such as oximeters and thermal scanners for cows and other animals as well.

In view of the current Covid situation, a total of 700 help desks for the welfare of cows have been set up across the districts of Uttar Pradesh. With this, 51 oximeters and 341 thermal scanners have also been provided to ensure better animal care and testing.

According to the government spokesman, destitute cows, in large numbers, are being provided shelter in the gaushalas. The government is also rapidly increasing the number of the existing cowsheds and cow shelters to deal with stray cattle menace.

According to the official data, there are over 5,268 cow protection centres which have, till now, ensured the well-being of as many as 5,73,417 cattle in the state.

About 4,64,311 cows in both, villages and cities, have been kept at 4,529 temporary cow shelters.

Of these, 40,640 cows are in 161 Kanha Gaushalas and 10,827 cows in 407 Kanji houses.

Apart from this, 171 large cow-conservation centres / cow sanctuaries have been constructed in the state, which have provided shelter to as many as 57,639 cows.

The fodder bank model, developed by the state government, is ensuring timely fodder through 3452 Fodder Banks which are feeding lakhs of stray cattle in Uttar Pradesh amid the covid crisis.

Under the Mukhya Mantri Besahara Gau-Vansh Sahbhagita Yojana, the UP government also made a provision of giving a financial assistance of Rs 900 per month to every farmer taking care of stray cattle. So far, a total of 85,869 cows have been provided to 44, 651 beneficiaries.

In addition, the well-being of over 1,05,380 cows has been ensured by 533 registered cowsheds and 377 functional cow shelters, whereas, a total of 47, 040 cows have been preserved in about 304 unregistered cowsheds.
Riaz Haq said…
#India breaks its own #COVID19 records again with 412,000 new cases & nearly 4,000 deaths in 24 hours. Epidemiologists believe that India’s surge could hit 500,000 cases a day. That would be a ruinous burden for a #healthcare system already reeling

India’s devastating coronavirus crisis deepened Thursday, as the country reported 412,000 infections and nearly 4,000 deaths in the previous 24 hours.

Epidemiologists believe that India’s surge could hit 500,000 cases a day in the coming weeks before retreating. That would represent a ruinous burden for a health-care system reeling from too many patients and a shortage of crucial supplies such as oxygen.

Last month, the United States advised its citizens to leave India, and the State Department on Thursday authorized the voluntary departure of non-emergency personnel.

Here are some significant developments:
The Biden administration said it will support waiving intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines, arguing that the global health crisis calls for extraordinary measures — a move sought by developing nations. In a tweet following the U.S. announcement, Britain’s international trade secretary Liz Truss did not back patent waiver, saying the U.K. is “in discussions with the US and others to facilitate the increased production and supply of Covid-19 vaccines.”
Coronavirus infections could be driven to low levels and the pandemic at least temporarily throttled in the United States by July if the vast majority of people get vaccinated and continue with precautions, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Free drinks, plants and a chance to win a car: Local leaders have turned to audacious incentives to push people — especially younger populations — to get vaccinated.
The Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine provides strong protection against two concerning variants of the virus, including the one that has most worried scientists because it can evade parts of the immune response, according to new data from Qatar.
Canada became the first country in the world to authorize use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children between 12 and 15 on Wednesday. The United States is expected to follow shortly.
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s worsening #Covid crisis could spiral into a big problem for the world. #Indian variants are already spilling into #Nepal & #SriLanka. Both reported increases in infections, while other regional economies #HongKong & #Singapore have imported it too

India has reported more than 300,000 new cases daily in the last two weeks, and overtook Brazil in April to become the second-worst infected country in the world. Cumulatively, coronavirus infections in India reached around 20.67 million with more than 226,000 deaths, according to health ministry data on Wednesday. Several studies of India’s data, however, found that cases were likely severely underreported.

There are already signs that India’s outbreak is spilling over to other countries. Its neighbors Nepal and Sri Lanka have also reported increases in infections, while other regional economies including Hong Kong and Singapore have seen imported Covid cases from India.

Here’s how India’s coronavirus crisis could spiral into a wider global problem.

Potential new Covid variants
Prolonged large outbreaks in any country could increase the possibility of new variants of Covid-19, health experts warned. Some of the variants could evade immune responses trigged by vaccines and previous infections, they said.

“Here’s the bottom line: We know when there are large outbreaks, that variants arise. And so far our vaccines are holding up okay, we’re seeing a few breakthrough infections but not much,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, told CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith.”

“But India is a big country and if there are large outbreaks there, of course we’re gonna all worry about more variants which will be bad for Indians and of course, it will spread around the world,” he added.

India first detected the B.1.617 variant — also dubbed the “double mutant” — in October last year. The variant has since been reported in at least 17 countries including the U.S., the U.K. and Singapore.

Dr. Ashish Jha: We don’t have to get into herd immunity to get our lives back
WHO has classified the B.1.617 as a variant of interest, which suggests the mutated strain could be more contagious, more deadly, as well as more resistant to current vaccines and treatments. The organization said more studies are needed to understand the significance of the variant.

Global vaccine supply at risk
India is a major vaccine manufacturer, but the health crisis at home has led authorities to halt exports of Covid-19 vaccines as the country prioritizes its domestic needs.

The Serum Institute of India (SII) — the country’s main producer — has the rights to produce the Covid vaccine co-developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. Some of its production is slated for Covax, the global initiative to supply poor countries with Covid vaccines.

India accounts for 1 in 3 new Covid cases being recorded. Here is its second wave in 5 charts

India’s worsening Covid crisis could spiral into a problem for the world

India is the home of the world’s biggest producer of Covid vaccines. But it’s facing a major internal shortage

India’s economy will likely contract this quarter as Covid cases soar, economists warn

Developing countries are lagging advanced nations in securing vaccine supplies in what the WHO has described as a “shocking imbalance” in distribution.

A delay in vaccine exports by India could therefore leave lower-income countries vulnerable to fresh outbreaks of the coronavirus.

Some economists have downgraded their growth forecasts for India. But they remained optimistic about the economy’s outlook for the year given that restrictions to curb the virus spread have been more targeted compared to the strict nationwide lockdown last year.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has warned that the health crisis in India could drag down the U.S. economy, reported Reuters. That’s because many U.S. companies hire millions of Indian workers to run their back-office operations, according to the report.
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s national government looks increasingly hapless. Confronted with catastrophe, the state has melted away. A sense of utter abandonment, especially among the politically noisy middle class, is driving the anger. #Modi #BJP #COVID #COVIDSecondWave

Two short months ago Narendra Modi’s government was one of the most popular and confident in India’s history. Now, judging by fresh election results, by the eruption of criticism even in the largely docile mainstream media, by sharp reprimands issued by top courts, by thumbs-down judgments by seasoned analysts and by a level of rage on social media unusual even for India’s hothouse online forums, the prime minister and his government are in trouble.

It is not simply that evidence has mounted of repeated failures to heed warnings of an impending second wave of covid-19, including from the government’s own health experts. Nor is it just that Mr Modi and his team have struggled to respond to a calamity greater than India has experienced in generations. Indians are accustomed to ineptitude and meagre support. Rather it is a sense of utter abandonment, especially among the politically noisy middle class, that is driving the anger.

Riaz Haq said…
Vir Sanghvi @htTweets: "The dream of a modern India is dying... Such is the despondency over our politicians that many people are now actively considering emigrating to other countries" #India #Modi #COVIDEmergency2021 #ModiResign

It is a conversation I have had with so many people over the last fortnight that I know how it will go as soon as they started speaking. Usually, the conversation is with young people or with those in what we might call early middle age (35 to 45).

They all say the same thing: there is no hope for India. Things will never get better.

They cannot see themselves as having a future in this country. If they are young, they talk about wanting to raise a family outside this environment. If they are older they talk about pulling their children out of school and trying to make new lives in Dubai, Australia, Singapore or wherever.

I will be honest. Even before the current spate of conversations began, I had heard similar things before.

But there was a difference. Most of the people who told me that they were ready to leave were Muslims.

They no longer felt wanted in this country, they said. On Twitter and other social media, there was so much abuse and prejudice that they felt physically assaulted by the bigots. At every election campaign, Hindus would be asked, either in coded phrases or more directly, to hate Muslims and to unite under a communal cause.

Eventually, for worried Muslims, it boiled down to one thing: did they really want to condemn their children to life in a country where politicians won power by demonising their community?

I would tell my Muslim friends to be patient. This was a phase, I would say. The majority of Hindus did not think of Muslims as fanatics and closet Pakistanis. There is a circle to everything. The bigotry will fade. The mood will change.

But now, it is not just the Muslims who are eager to leave. It is middle class Hindus; usually Hindus with impressive educational qualifications and good jobs. They have bought houses here; they have advanced in their careers.

And still, they are prepared to walk away from it all and start all over again.

Many people of my generation faced this kind of choice when we were young. Several of us chose to work abroad. And the generation after us found that they were even more attracted by the West. They left India, found good jobs, and made new lives. (And many of them now run I-Support-Modi groups from the safe distance of New Jersey or wherever.)

But enough of us stayed. When I finished university in 1979, India was not yet the economic success story it would become after the 1991 reforms. We would all have made much more money if we had stayed on abroad.

We came back anyway. Partly because we believed in India. And partly because this was home. This is where we felt the most comfortable.


Perhaps this will happen. Perhaps it won’t.

But either way, what is happening today is a betrayal of hope and a slap in the face of the dream that was a modern progressive India.

We will beat Covid eventually. But by then thousands more will have lost their lives. Thousands of others, our best and brightest, will have left the country.

And the dream is dying.
Riaz Haq said…
Callous #Modi presses ahead with $1.8 billion #Indian parliament renovation even as #COVID19 ravages #India and hospitals plead for life-saving oxygen while Covid-19 patients die in their thousands gasping for breath. #BJP #Hindutva

While hospitals plead for life-saving oxygen and Covid-19 patients die in their thousands, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pushing ahead with a $1.8 billion parliamentary revamp -- including a new home for the country's leader.

The decision to continue with the project in the capital, New Delhi, has infuriated the public and opposition politicians, who have pointed to the apparent disconnect in pouring millions into a construction project when the country is struggling with its worst-ever public health crisis.
The pricey renovation, known as the Central Vista Redevelopment Project, has been categorized as an "essential service," meaning construction is allowed to continue even when most other building projects have been halted.

Construction work underway on the Central Vista redevelopment project at Rajpath on April 17, 2021 in New Delhi, India.
Two citizens -- including one with Covid-19 whose mother also has the virus -- lodged a case with the Delhi High Court on Wednesday to try to halt construction, which has continued even while the capital is in lockdown.
The petitioners argue the parliament buildings don't constitute an essential service and construction work could even become a Covid super-spreader event, according to special leave petition filed by lawyer Nitin Saluja. Workers are continuing to be ferried from their labor camp to the construction site, according to the document.
The High Court offered to hear the case later this month, but petitioners took the matter to the Supreme Court, arguing the lower court had "failed to appreciate the gravity" of the situation.
"Since there is a public health emergency in the matter, any delay could be detrimental to the larger public interest," Saluja wrote to the Supreme Court. Saluja said the case will most likely be heard Friday.
India has reported more than 3,000 Covid-19 deaths in each of the past few days. The country accounted for a quarter of global coronavirus fatalities over the past week, according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) weekly Covid-19 report.

Even before the second wave, Central Vista had attracted controversy, with critics saying the redevelopment would come at the cost of history and heritage. But opposition has become more heated recently, with politicians slamming the plan as a vanity project.
Proponents of the 86-acre (35-hectare) revamp say it is necessary as the current 100-year-old buildings are not fit for purpose.
"The launch of the construction of the Parliament House of India, with the idea of Indianness by Indians, is one of the most important milestones of our democratic traditions," Modi said in December at the laying of the building's foundation stone. "We the people of India will construct this new Parliament building together."
Riaz Haq said…
India’s Covid crisis exposes its great power delusions | TRT World

India’s arrival as a global power is prematurely pronounced and is emblematic of a pattern replayed in recent years.
The scenes out of India these days are harrowing. Human beings lying on the pavement, begging for a bed in a hospital, or at the very least, some supply of oxygen. Space has run out not just for the dying, but also for the dead, as cremation and burial sites struggle to deal with the surge.

Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared India as the “pharmacy to the world.” And it was only a month or two ago that some in the international commentariat proclaimed India as an early victor in the vaccine diplomacy race. But India’s vaccine exports have since come to a halt. As its death toll soars, India is now seeking vaccine supplies from countries like the United States.

The Imagined India meets the Real India

India’s Covid-19 crisis is not just a nightmare of mass human suffering. It is also a massive systemic failure. Indeed, it is emblematic of a pattern replayed in recent years: India’s arrival as a global power is prematurely pronounced — often by Western voices eager to see New Delhi’s aspirations realised — and then this Imagined India is shown to be hollow when struck by the Real India.

When India conducted airstrikes in Pakistan in February 2019, it claimed that it hit “terror camps” and killed hundreds of terrorists. India’s assertions were readily accepted by South Asia watchers in the West, some of whom hailed it as establishing a new normal in the region with India supposedly developing the capability to conduct Israeli-style strikes in Pakistan at will.

But then India’s claims were rubbished by the international media, which made clear that the only casualties were “some pine trees” and “a crow.” And, later that month, Pakistan’s air force knocked down at least one Indian air force jet. Prominent US media outlets disproved claims by New Delhi — parroted by the Indian media — that it took down a Pakistani F-16.

Many within India and its boosters abroad continued to see its global rise as inevitable. But India’s great power delusions were dealt yet another blow last year when it was blindsided and hit hard in clashes with China in the Galwan Valley. India has not only faced setbacks in clashes with adversaries, but it has also lost influence to China in more friendly countries in the region: Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

Indiscipline and punishment

The ongoing crisis in India has brought to fore its governance challenges and the extent to which it lags behind China on this critical element of national power.

To be clear, India is a vast country with significant regional disparities. States like Kerala have witnessed admirable gains in human development and public service delivery in the past generation. But, in contrast, places like Uttar Pradesh — India’s most populous state — remain stuck in another era, with characteristics of a failing state: crumbling public health and education systems, rampant corruption, and frequent mob violence. Continued Hindu nationalist rule at the center risks the Uttar Pradeshisation of India.

Modi’s disapproval rating shot up by eight points over April, but he remains a popular figure despite the suffering he’s brought to his people with his poor handling of the deadly second wave and his sudden announcements of demonetisation in 2016 and the first Covid lockdown in 2020.

Until recently, Modi’s charisma as a champion of a muscular Hindu identity made his reputation impervious to his government’s many policy failures. There now appear to be real dents in his armour. But there is little competition to Modi and the BJP at the centre. They will continue to rule India for the foreseeable future, but the country’s aspirations to serve as vishwaguru or “teacher to the world” will remain a fantasy.

Amit S. said…
An Open Letter to Modi Bhakts in America: Your God has Feet of Clay and Blood on His Hands
Vineetha Mokkil
MAY 5, 2021

Stop leaving offerings on his bloodied altar. Stop funding his campaigns of hate. Stop enabling the annihilation of secular India’s soul.

It’s time to face facts. Your God does not have a 56-inch chest. Your God is all bluster, no action. All swagger, no substance. Your God has failed the people of India on every count as the worst crisis in modern times ravages the country. Your God has no interest in protecting the citizenry he is expected to serve. While India gasps for breath, while patients die in hospital after hospital for lack of oxygen, while the sick collapse on the streets and beg for medicines and beds at overcrowded hospital gates, your God is lavishing ₹22,000 crore on building himself a glitzy new palace in the heart of Delhi. Consumed by his vanity project, he forgot to instruct his government to procure adequate vaccines supplies — the one thing that could save countless Indian lives as the second wave explodes in the country.

Your God is deaf to the cries of millions of Indians in distress. He is blind to the living, the sick and the dying. His hearing is faulty — neither the dying nor the living can get through to him. He only hears the sound of his own voice.

Wake up, dear Bhakts! All those odes to India’s ancient glory, the shiny promises of turning India into a Vishwa Guru who dazzles the world, all the bombastic words he uses to cast a spell on you at his Madison Square Garden rallies are a means to an end. Your god mouths the words to make sure you donate your dollars to his political campaigns and rallies. Keep the dollars coming, and he’ll keep telling you what you want to hear.

Instead of glory, he has heaped misery on Bharat Mata’s head. Under his stewardship, India has been dragged into the dirt. His demonitization drive broke the backbone of small businesses across the country. Much like the hare-brained Mughal emperor, Tughlak, your God’s ill-conceived move sowed chaos and hardship in the life of the common man.

As we speak, India is desperately seeking foreign aid to tackle a health emergency that your God’s lack of foresight caused. After a gap of 17 years, ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ has had to solicit foreign aid to bail itself out of a crisis.

Under your God’s watch, India had been brought to her knees. It is a pariah nation now. The Covid hotspot every nation dreads. The country every person across the world is watching in horror. Indian travellers are banned from flying out to almost every spot on the planet. Your God has no ‘masterstroke’ at this moment to flaunt.

Please understand. Your God is no God. He is a conman, a scamster, a talking head who trades exclusively in hate and vitriol. Inside his Photoshopped 56-inch chest there is no beating heart. He has not consoled the families of the dead or met with them. No condolences. No hospital visits. No regrets. Your God does not feel the pain of others or acknowledge his role in inflicting the worst on them.

He has not consoled the families of the dead or met with them. No condolences. No hospital visits. No regrets. Your God does not feel the pain of others or acknowledge his role in inflicting the worst on them.
Think about it. What kind of God stays unmoved as Indians continue to die of lack of oxygen, hospital beds, and access to medical care? What God retreats into silence as 120 Indians die — every hour, every day — from a second wave that could have been averted if he had acted on time? Who holds road shows and campaign rallies and chases after votes with zero regard for human life as death stalks the land?

Riaz Haq said…
#COVID19India: Desperation Is Spreading Across #India, hitting states and rural areas with many fewer resources. Positivity rates are soaring across rural India where #healthcare is scarce. #COVID19 #Modi #BJP #Hindutva #FailedState #CoronavirusPandemic

Some of the worst affected states are now in the south, especially Karnataka, home to India’s tech hub, Bangalore. An oxygen express train, part of the Modi government’s effort to rush liquid oxygen to Covid-19 hot spots, chugged into Bangalore on Tuesday morning.


Infections, deaths and breakdowns that began in big cities a few weeks ago are rapidly advancing into rural areas, unleashing deep fear in places with little medical safety net.

Dozens of bodies washed up on the banks of the Ganges this week, most likely the remains of people who perished from Covid-19.

States in southern India have threatened to stop sharing medical oxygen with each other, fiercely protective about holding on to whatever they have as their hospitals swell with the sick and infections skyrocket.

And at one hospital in Andhra Pradesh, a rural state in southeastern India, furious relatives went on a rampage in the intensive care unit after lifesaving oxygen suddenly ran out — the latest example of the same tragedy repeating itself, of patients dying while gasping for air.

The desperation that engulfed New Delhi, India’s capital, over the past few weeks is now spreading across the entire country, hitting states and rural areas with many fewer resources. Positivity rates are soaring in those states, and public health experts say that the rising numbers most likely fall far short of giving the true picture in places where sickness and deaths caused by Covid-19 are harder to track.

It seems the crisis is reaching a new phase. Cases in New Delhi and Mumbai may be leveling off. But many other places are getting bowled over by runaway outbreaks. The World Health Organization now says that a new variant of the virus detected in India, B.1.167, may be especially transmissible, which is just adding to the sense of alarm.

Every day the Indian media delivers a heavy dose of turmoil and grief. On Tuesday, it was televised images of distraught relatives furiously beating the chests of loved ones who had died after the oxygen ran out, and headlines including “Bodies of Suspected Covid-19 Victims Found Floating” and “As Deaths Go Up 10 Fold, Worrying Signs from Smaller States.”

This was always the burning question: If New Delhi, home to the country’s elite and scores of hospitals, couldn’t handle the surge of coronavirus cases from a devastating new wave, what would happen in poorer rural areas?

The answer is now coming in.

On Monday night, the Sri Venkateswara Ramnarain Ruia Government General Hospital, in Andhra Pradesh, was running low on medical oxygen. More than 60 patients were in critical condition, oxygen masks strapped to their faces. Doctors frantically called suppliers for help.

But the oxygen ran out, killing 11 people. Distraught family members became so enraged, hospital officials said, that they rushed into the intensive care unit, flipped over tables and smashed equipment. Televised images showed women clutching their heads, overwhelmed by grief. Doctors and nurses fled until police officers arrived.

India is suffering from a worrying shortage of medical oxygen, and at least 20 other hospitals have run out. Nearly 200 patients have died because of this, according to an Indian news site that has been tracking the string of deadly incidents.
Riaz Haq said…
How #India Can Survive the #COVID #Virus. Decision-making based on data is a casualty, as the pandemic in India has spun out of control. The human cost we are enduring will leave a permanent scar. #Modi #BJP #OxygenEmergency #VaccineShortage #Variant

by Dr. Shahid Jameel

The estimates vary widely. The Supermodel Group, preferred by the Indian government, estimated cases to have peaked at about 380,000 cases per day in the first week of May. The simulation model by the Indian Scientists Response to COVID-19, a voluntary group of scientists, predicts that daily cases will reach a peak sometime in mid-May, but it forecasts a much higher peak, about 500,000 to 600,000 daily cases. The COV-IND-19 Study Group at the University of Michigan predicts a peak by mid-May with about 800,000 to one million daily cases.

All models predict India’s second wave to last until July or August, ending with about 35 million confirmed cases and possibly 500 million estimated infections. That would still leave millions of susceptible people in India. The timing and scale of the third wave would depend on the proportion of vaccinated people, whether newer variants emerge and whether India can avoid additional superspreader events, like large weddings and religious festivals.


As of Tuesday, India had over 23 million reported cases of Covid-19 and more than 254,000 deaths. The real numbers may be much higher, as the country reported an average of more than 380,000 new cases per day in the past week.

As a virologist, I have closely followed the outbreak and vaccine development over the past year. I also chair the Scientific Advisory Group for the Indian SARS-CoV2 Consortium on Genomics, set up by the Indian government in January as a grouping of national laboratories that use genetic sequencing to track the emergence and circulation of viral variants. My observations are that more infectious variants have been spreading, and to mitigate future waves, India should vaccinate with far more than the two million daily doses now.

In India the virus was mutating around the new year to become more infectious, more transmissible and better able to evade pre-existing immunity. Sequencing data now tells us that two variants that fueled the second wave are B.1.617, first found in India in December, which spread through mass events; and B.1.1.7, first identified in Britain, which arrived in India with international travelers starting in January. The B.1.617 variant has now become the most widespread in India.

On Monday the World Health Organization designated B.1.617 a variant of concern. When tested in hamsters, which are reasonable models for human infection and disease, B.1.617 produced higher amounts of virus and more lung lesions compared with the parent B.1 virus. Global data shows the B.1.617 variant to be diversifying into three sub-lineages. In a preliminary report posted on Sunday, British and Indian scientists found the B.1.617.2 variant in vaccine breakthrough infections in a Delhi hospital.

On Monday, American researchers reported the B.1.617.1 variant to be neutralized with reduced efficiency by serums from recovered Covid-19 patients and those vaccinated with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Indian researchers reported similar findings in a preliminary report on April 23.

With these variants circulating through India’s still mostly unvaccinated population, public health officials here are trying to determine when the second wave might peak, how big it will be and when it will end.

Riaz Haq said…
As #India Hunkers Down to Fight #COVID19, Its Wounded #Economy Braces for More Pain. Poor #migrants were hit last year but the middle class is also reeling now amid #lockdown. Many Indians have no savings to fall back on. #Modi #BJP #coronavirus #Hindutva

the second wave is pummeling small and medium-size businesses, which were already wounded after last year’s shutdown, economists said. Any further curbs on spending could permanently wipe many of them out, said Vishrut Rana, an economist at S&P Global Ratings.

“There could be a number of closures,” he said.

Delhi salon owner Nima, who goes by one name, said she decided to shut down her business for good after the city went into lockdown in late April. The salon barely managed to survive last year, she said, but life was slowly getting back to normal. Now, Ms. Nima said she can no longer afford to keep paying her staff.

“How long can we keep investing with no returns?” she said.

The biggest unknown is how long the current surge will last. The long-term economic impact will depend on when it ends—and whether another wave of infections can be kept at bay.

Some epidemiological models, including one prepared by advisers to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have predicted the surge will peak around mid-May. In that case, the pain could be limited to the April-to-June quarter, economists said, with the economy rebounding soon after.

GDP growth for the fiscal year ending March 2022 would take a modest hit, down to 9.8% from an original estimate of 11%, Mr. Rana said. But if the peak comes a month later, in June, the outlook is more grim. In that scenario, GDP growth would fall to 8.2%, he said.

“That’s a longer period of time where people are indoors and not spending,” he said.

India has avoided imposing the kind of sweeping national lockdown that brought the country to a virtual standstill for months last year. That has blunted some of the pain by allowing heavy industries such as agriculture and manufacturing to keep operating.

Data firm IHS Markit’s purchasing managers index for manufacturing in India—a measure of activity in the private sector—rose to 55.5 in April, up slightly from 55.4 in March. A reading above 50 indicates that activity is increasing, while a reading below points to a decline in activity.

“Power consumption, railway, freight—all these things have held up fairly well,” Mr. Rana said. “It’s a positive sign for at least the heavy side of the economy.”

Even after the current crisis ends, a slow vaccination campaign will continue to hamper India’s ability to safely open up, said Kunal Kundu, an India economist at Société Générale Corporate and Investment Banking. Only 2.8% of the country’s more than 1.3 billion people are fully vaccinated, according to the health ministry.

India is unlikely to achieve herd immunity from vaccinations before the first half of 2022, Mr. Kundu wrote in a research note. Opening up the economy too quickly, he said, could bring about another surge, which would hamper the economy in the long term.

“There is now an increased possibility that localized lockdown will continue until June or maybe even beyond,” he said. “India still needs to maintain all of its Covid protocols to prevent a further deterioration until mass vaccination can be achieved.”

Mr. Kundu revised the forecast for GDP growth down to 8.5% from 9.5% for the fiscal year ending March 2022. There is a likelihood for further downward revision, he wrote.

Riaz Haq said…
Cyclone #Tauktae moves towards #India to make landfall in #Modi's home state of #Gujarat, bringing wind speeds of around 150-16 kilometers per hour. It will skirt #Pakistan altogether. The #cyclone will not make a landfall along Pakistan's coastal belt.

Cyclone Tauktae – which has intensified into a “very severe cyclonic storm” – drifted further northwestward on Sunday and will reach India’s Gujarat state on May 18, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) said in its sixth cyclone alert.

According to AFP, the cyclone is expected to make landfall in coastal Gujarat as early as Monday night, bringing wind speeds of around 150-16 kilometres per hour. Four people lost their lives on Saturday as torrential rain and winds battered Karnataka state, authorities said on Sunday.

Several Indian towns and villages were flooded and properties damaged, officials added. Two others were reported dead and 23 fishermen were feared missing in the state of Kerala.

Up to 75,000 people are set to be evacuated from coastal districts in Gujarat, where the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination rollout will be suspended on Monday and Tuesday, officials told AFP.

The cyclone is, however, not likely to make a landfall along Pakistan's coastal belt.

“The cyclone will pass without any impact on the country’s coastal belt. It will not make a landfall in Pakistan,” said PMD Director Sardar Sarfraz while talking to Radio Pakistan on Sunday.

A landfall is the event of a storm moving over land after being over water. “However, the cyclone will cause moderate rains along with strong winds in Thatta, Tharparkar, Badin, Mirpurkhas and Umerkot districts of Sindh,” he added.

According to the PMD official, dusty winds currently blowing in Karachi may intensify, bringing up the city’s temperature, mainly due to the cyclone's activity in the Arabian Sea.

The PDM on Sunday released cyclone alert-6, stating that Tauktae, intensifying into a “very severe cyclonic storm”, is moving further northwestward during the last 12 hours.

Located at a distance of 1,210km from Karachi, the cyclone on Sunday had the maximum sustained winds of 100-120 kilometres per hour around its centre, gusting to 140kmph. “The system is likely to move further northwestward and reach Indian Gujarat by 18th May morning,” it said.

The PDM said due to shift in the cyclone’s course, “dust/thunderstorm-rain with few moderate to heavy falls with gusty winds of 60-80kmph are likely to occur in Thatta, Sujawal, Badin, Tharparkar, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot and Sanghar districts form May 17-19”.

“Karachi, Hyderabad, and Shaeed- Banzirabad, districts [are] likely to experience hot/very hot weather with gusty winds and blowing dust during the next two days. Sea conditions will remain rough to very rough and fishermen are advised not to venture in the sea till May 19,” it added.

On Saturday, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, while presiding over a meeting regarding Cyclone Tauktae, declared emergency in all the districts located along the coastline as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward situation.

The provincial government also announced setting up a central control cell in Karachi to deal with all emergencies that may arise from the tropical cyclone. The cell will work round the clock to resolve issues related to rain emergencies throughout the province.
Riaz Haq said…
#COVIDEmergency : The poor, the rich: In a sick #India, all are on their own. Well-connected bureaucrats, and the people who clean the sewers. Wealthy businessmen fight for hospital beds, & powerful govt officials send tweets begging for oxygen. #Modi #BJP

For the family of the retired diplomat, the terror struck as they tried desperately to get him past the entrance doors of a private hospital. For the New Delhi family, it came when they had to create a hospital room in their ground-floor apartment. For the son of an illiterate woman who raised her three children by scavenging human hair, it came as his mother waited days for an ICU bed, insisting she’d be fine.

Three families in a nation of 1.3 billion. Seven cases of COVID-19 in a country facing an unparalleled surge, with more than 300,000 people testing positive every day.

When the pandemic exploded here in early April, each of these families found themselves struggling to keep relatives alive as the medical system neared collapse and the government was left unprepared.

Across India, families scour cities for coronavirus tests, medicine, ambulances, oxygen and hospital beds. When none of that works, some have to deal with loved ones zippered into body bags.

The desperation comes in waves. New Delhi was hit at the start of April, with the the worst coming near the end of the month. The southern city of Bengaluru was hit about two weeks later. The surge is at its peak now in many small towns and villages, and just reaching others.

But when a pandemic wave hits, everyone is on their own. The poor. The rich. The well-connected bureaucrats who hold immense sway here, and the people who clean the sewers. Wealthy businessmen fight for hospital beds, and powerful government officials send tweets begging for oxygen. Middle-class families scrounge wood for funeral pyres, and in places where there’s no wood to be found, hundreds of families have been forced to dump their relatives’ bodies into the Ganges River.

The rich and well-connected, of course, still have money and contacts to smooth the search for ICU beds and oxygen tanks. But rich and poor alike have been left gasping for breath outside overflowing hospitals.

“This has now become normal,” said Abhimanyu Chakravorty, 34, whose extended New Delhi family frantically tried to arrange his father’s medical care at home. “Everyone is running helter-skelter, doing whatever they can to save their loved ones.”

But every day, thousands more people die.
Riaz Haq said…
As #covid19 devastates rural #India, #Modi focuses on covering govt incompetence. #Media focus is on lack of oxygen in cities but the real carnage is unfolding in #Indian villages, where access to basic #healthcare is virtually nonexistent. #BJP #Hindutva

Rana Ayub

The disturbing video went viral across India in a matter of hours: Scores of bodies, feared to be of covid-19 victims, washed up on the shores of the holy Ganges River in the northeastern state of Bihar. The villagers were surprised and suspected the bodies had floated from far away, according to a reporter on the ground.

Investigators are still trying to understand what happened, but it appears to be another grim reminder of the raging death toll in the country — a death toll that is going largely undercounted, especially in rural areas, even as the official figures break records: On May 19 there were more than 4,500 deaths reported in a single day.


India’s leading Hindi newspaper, the Dainik Bhaskar, has dispatched brave reporters to several towns in Uttar Pradesh, which neighbors Bihar and is governed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, and their dispatches should shame the collective conscience of the nation. The journalists counted more than 2,000 bodies that had either been dumped or hurriedly buried by local officials in a clear effort to underplay the coronavirus casualties in the region.

Village after village is being wiped out in Uttar Pradesh, and it’s impossible not to draw a link to local elections that were not postponed. People traveled to the state from cities like Mumbai and Delhi to cast their votes, and they brought the virus with them, infecting an already vulnerable population.

Vikas Singh, a villager from Lalganj in Uttar Pradesh, developed a cough and fever a few days after casting his vote. Six of his relatives developed similar symptoms. The local doctor, who had no coronavirus tests, suggested it was a flu and treated the entire family with what he said was medicine that would help cure them of their breathlessness. Within four days, Singh succumbed to covid-19 as the virus ravaged his lungs. His daughter, Mirsha, 22, who was to be married in two months, died from the virus, too. When the time came to cremate Singh, none of the villagers were willing to help. His wife had to pay $300 from the only savings in the house to get locals and priests to help her perform the last rites. Singh was fortunate: He got dignity in death, a privilege that is not being accorded to thousands of Indians who are dying in villages, and whose bodies end up on river banks and sometimes even dragged by stray dogs.

In a village in Darbhanga in Bihar, Madan Mohan Jha’s family pleaded for an ambulance as he struggled to breathe. The village had no local hospital, and by the time his son and uncle found an ambulance, Jha had already exhaled is last breath. His son Ramu, 20, devastated by the fact that he was unable to get medical help for his father, reportedly went to a neighbor’s field and took his own life.

Similar stories are emerging from across rural India. In Ghazipur, in Uttar Pradesh, villages are reportedly experiencing deaths in “almost every second” house. A district magistrate from a town in Uttar Pradesh, who has been very active on social media attending to requests for medical help, tells me that he feels as complicit in the death of the people he needed to take care of as the elected representatives who were last seen during the local elections. The magistrate told me that his office has received orders to not make a “spectacle” of the covid-19 deaths.

But as hard as officials try to hide the truth, people are suffering and showing their discontent. Yogi Adityanath, the radical monk who is the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and is seen by many as a possible successor to Modi in the next general elections, is now facing the wrath of the villages — his party suffered a defeat in the local elections.
Riaz Haq said…
Top #Pakistan #health official doesn't foresee #India scenario. Says Pakistan avoided a similar scenario to India because thousands of beds were added to hospitals and the production of #oxygen was increased as part of a contingency plan. via @YahooNews

Pakistan recently offered medical aid to India to help handle the COVID-19 crisis there, but the Foreign Ministry says New Delhi did not respond. Pakistan and India have a history of bitter relations and they have fought two of their wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

Sultan said Pakistan avoided a similar scenario to India because thousands of beds were added to hospitals and the production of oxygen was increased as part of a contingency plan.

However, Sultan said that “we are not out of the woods yet" and people should get vaccinated if they want to return to a normal life.

His comments came hours after Pakistan reported one of the lowest single-day death tolls from COVID-19 in recent months, with 57 fatalities

Pakistan has repeatedly expressed grief over the COVID-19 situation in India, where authorities reported 4,454 new deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing India’s total fatalities from the virus to 303,720 out of 27 million cases.

Pakistan has registered about 903,600 cases and 20,308 confirmed deaths since the pandemic began in early 2020.

Sultan said Pakistan would try to vaccinate a third of the country's population by the end of this year. “Pakistan is offering free vaccinations to all, there is no discrimination between rich and poor," Sultan said.

The government offers Pakistanis the Chinese-made Sinovac, Sinopharm and CanSino vaccines as well as AstraZeneca doses.

Sultan said the Pakistani government has so far vaccinated more than 5 million people, compared to only 35,000 who were vaccinated with doses imported commercially.

He said Pakistan after months of wait received its first supply of COVID-19 vaccines through the U.N.-backed COVAX initiative, over 1.2 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, earlier this month. However, he said Pakistan is relying on vaccines purchased from China and enough funds were available for such purchases.
Riaz Haq said…
Modi's Hindu Nationalism (Islamophobia) Hurts Everyone, Including Hindus

Chain reactions sparked by Hindutva ideologies have claimed the lives of innocent people—a Muslim lynched on the suspicion that he eats beef, a Hindu woman who suffered a miscarriage while imprisoned for marrying a Muslim man, an 8-year-old Muslim girl raped and killed in a Hindu temple, and countless others. The lie has transformed nearly every aspect of Indian society beyond recognition.

Now, as India is ravaged by COVID-19, it faces the latest casualty of this lie: the official and likely undercount of 4,000 lives lost every day to a deadly second wave that was precipitated and exacerbated at every turn by Hindu nationalism.

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hindu nationalists jumped on the opportunity to link the virus to Muslims, inventing the conspiracy theory of “coronajihad.” That had real consequences: Muslims were beaten and denied hospital beds, and Muslim health care workers were ostracized.


The Modi government and right-wing media particularly seized upon a conference hosted in Delhi in March 2020, by a Muslim organization, the Tablighi Jamaat. This conference with just 9,000 attendees took place before any government COVID-19 restrictions were in place, at the same time as India’s largest Hindu temples were welcoming tens of thousands of devotees. The Tirupati temple, the world’s richest and most visited Hindu temple, limited its visitors to 4,000 people per hour on March 17, and it did not fully close until March 20.

Yet, unlike Hindu temple officials, organizers and attendees of the Tablighi Jamaat’s conference were met with widespread hate and criminal charges for hosting a superspreader event. Many were arrested, and some are still awaiting trial. All of this was done in the name of public health.

One year later, the BJP is directly responsible for putting millions of Hindu lives at risk—and it doesn’t have a convenient Muslim scapegoat to pin the blame on. In the name of upholding Hindu traditions and beliefs, the BJP government decided to hold the Kumbh Mela, the world’s largest religious gathering, in the middle of a pandemic. The Kumbh was scheduled for 2022, but the BJP government of India’s Uttarakhand state moved it forward to 2021 based on the recommendations of astrologers. Many, including some ministers in the BJP itself, argue that the true reasons were political and economic. In advancing the Kumbh by a year, the BJP allowed 9 million Hindus to gather without masks and social distancing, ushering in the deadliest phase of the pandemic.

Thanks to the BJP’s claim of protecting Hindu interests, India has been plunged into its biggest crisis since the bloodbath of the 1947 Partition, which took the lives of as many as 2 million people. Just as the violence of 1947 targeted Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs alike, today’s coronavirus is wreaking equal-opportunity havoc on all faith communities, with the poorest being the hardest hit.

Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's yoga guru Ramdev in crosshairs with #India’s doctors over #COVID19 remarks: "Allopathy is a stupid and bankrupt science. First Chloroquine failed, then Remdesivir failed, then their antibiotics failed, then steroids..." #coronavirus via @AJEnglish

Doctors fighting a ferocious second wave of the coronavirus in India are furious over “insulting and insensitive” remarks made by a yoga guru and businessman, with their union serving a defamation notice and demanding an “apology within 15 days”.

“Allopathy is a stupid and bankrupt science. First Chloroquine failed, then Remdesivir failed, then their antibiotics failed, then steroids, now a ban has been imposed on plasma therapy. Now they are prescribing Fabiflu which too has failed,” Ram Kisan Yadav, aka Baba Ramdev, told his followers last week.

“More people died of allopathic treatment than those who died of oxygen shortage or because of COVID-19,” the 55-year-old saffron-robed guru said, triggering a huge backlash by India’s medical fraternity, which has demanded action against him.

As the video featuring Ramdev’s statements went viral on social media platforms, the Indian Medical Association (IMA), a body that represents the country’s doctors, hit out at the guru.

“He (Ramdev) has belittled the sacrifice of more than 1200 doctors who have laid down their lives in the line of duty serving mankind during the pandemic,” said a statement released by the IMA on Saturday.

On Wednesday, the IMA served a defamation notice on the guru for his “disparaging remarks” against allopathy and allopathic doctors and demanded an apology within 15 days or a $137m compensation, Press Trust of India reported.

The Resident Doctors Association at the government-run All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in the capital New Delhi also condemned Ramdev’s remarks, demanding “strictest steps be taken” against him.

Back-handed apology
Ramdev’s company, Patanjali Yogpeeth, released a statement on Saturday, saying, he has “no ill-will against modern science and good practitioners of modern science”.

“What is being attributed against him is false and nugatory,” it said.

The next day, federal Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan wrote a two-page letter to Ramdev, urging him to withdraw his “objectionable statement completely”.
Riaz Haq said…
#SiliconValley is in a high-stakes standoff with #India. #Modi's government insists that the new regulations are reasonable and will help protect national security, maintain public order and reduce crime. #media #democracy #BJP #Hindutva #COVID19

The biggest names in tech are locked in an increasingly tense stand-off with India over strict new social media rules they fear will erode privacy, usher in mass surveillance and harm business in the world's fastest growing market.

This week's events underscore the challenges facing Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and Google (GOOGL) as they try to navigate an increasingly tricky Indian political landscape and deal with the new regulations, which were due to take effect on Wednesday.
On Monday, Indian police visited Twitter's offices after it labeled a tweet from a prominent official of the governing party as "manipulated media." On Tuesday, WhatsApp sued the Indian government over the new rules. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration rebuked the Facebook-owned platform for its "clear act of defiance" when it comes to following the "law of the land." And on Thursday, Twitter said it was "concerned" about the safety its employees in the country.
Modi's government insists that the new regulations are reasonable and will help protect national security, maintain public order and reduce crime by making it easier to identify the sources of viral misinformation. The tech companies say the rules are inconsistent with democratic principles.

This is just the latest tussle in an increasing contentious relationship between American tech companies and one of their largest markets. India's ruling party has intensified its crackdown on social media and messaging apps this year, particularly since a second Covid-19 wave engulfed the country.

Twitter's decision to label the tweet from a spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party earned it a visit from the Delhi police. The police said the visit was a "part of a routine process" to get Twitter to cooperate with its investigation. The social media giant called it "intimidation tactics."

"We, alongside many in civil society in India and around the world, have concerns with regards to the use of intimidation tactics by the police in response to enforcement of our global terms of service, as well as with core elements of the new IT Rules," the company said in a statement Thursday.
"We plan to advocate for changes to elements of these regulations that inhibit free, open public conversation," it added.

The new rules, which were issued in February, include demands that companies create special compliance officers in India. There are also requirements that services remove some content, including posts that feature "full or partial nudity."
Additionally, tech platforms would have to trace the "first originator" of messages if asked by authorities — a requirement that compelled WhatsApp to file its legal complaint against the government. The company said this demand would break the platform's "end-to-end encryption and fundamentally undermines people's right to privacy."
A government "that chooses to mandate traceability is effectively mandating a new form of mass surveillance," WhatsApp has written in a blog post about why it opposes the practice.
Riaz Haq said…
#COVID19 overwhelmed #India’s hospitals, & some doctors there are convinced it has gotten more virulent. They described seeing faster-spreading lung damage and faster-dropping #oxygen levels among relatively young patients, and longer recovery times.

NEW DELHI—Covid-19 cases during India’s recent surge have been more severe, with people younger than 50 getting sicker, compared with a previous wave last fall, according to doctors in hard-hit areas.

While a number of factors might have contributed, including treatment delays and inadequate access to hospital beds or oxygen, physicians interviewed by The Wall Street Journal in India said they have seen so many patients suffer serious symptoms so quickly that they believe the disease there is becoming more virulent.

“The dreaded cytokine storm, which would appear after a week in the last wave, is striking within the initial three to five days,” said Kunal Sarkar at Medica Superspecialty Hospital in Kolkata, referring to the immune-system overreaction that can be fatal.

A number of Indian doctors said those hospitalized in the surge have required more oxygen than Covid-19 patients previously needed. They described seeing faster-spreading lung damage and faster-dropping oxygen levels among relatively young patients, and longer recovery times. Covid-19 patients at all age levels have had increased oxygen needs, doctors said, but they were especially surprised to see this in younger patients.

Epidemiologists cautioned that what Indian doctors are describing is anecdotal evidence, and that more study is needed to determine whether mutations in the virus in India have led to more-severe disease. Other factors could explain what the doctors are seeing, particularly longer waits for hospital care, they said. The recent Covid-19 surge overwhelmed India’s healthcare system, leading to shortages of beds, oxygen and medication at hospitals.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan reports first confirmed case of #Indian #coronavirus variant. Health ministry: "The (genome) sequencing results confirmed [the] detection of seven cases of B.1.351 (#SouthAfrican variant) and one case of B.1.617.2 (Indian variant)" #COVID19

Pakistan has reported its first confirmed case of a coronavirus variant first identified in India, the federal health ministry said on Friday.

The Indian variant case was detected by the National Institute of Health which conducted whole-genome sequencing of SARS CoV-2 samples collected during the first three weeks of May 2021, health ministry spokesperson Sajid Shah said in a statement.

"The sequencing results confirmed [the] detection of seven cases of B.1.351 (South African variant) and one case of B.1.617.2 (Indian variant)," the statement said, adding that this was the first in-country detection of the Indian strain.

Shah said in accordance with protocols, the contact tracing of all the cases was in progress by the Field Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Division and the Islamabad district health officer.

Explainer: What we know about the Indian variant as coronavirus sweeps South Asia

"Continued detection of global strains highlights the ongoing need for observation of guidelines, usage of masks and [the] need for vaccination," he added.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had earlier this month classified the B.1.617 strain as a variant of global concern.

The variant, along with the government decision to allow most activity to return to normal including mass religious and political gatherings, was considered to be responsible for a devastating spike in infections and deaths in India last month.

Coronavirus patients died in droves outside hospitals or at home because of a lack of beds, medical oxygen and drugs, prompting a flood of desperate pleas on social media.

Although infections are now falling in major Indian cities after weeks of restrictions, the rural areas of the country are seeing the brunt of a surge that has overwhelmed the health care system and killed at least 160,000 people since the start of March.

Earlier this month, health authorities in Thailand had reported the country's first cases of the Indian Covid-19 variant in a Thai woman and her four-year-old son who had arrived from Pakistan.

Head of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) and federal minister Asad Umar had said at the time that it was "out of the question" that the two Thai nationals had contracted the Indian variant from Pakistan as it was not present in the country.

In late April, the health ministry had said that Pakistan had so far not reported any case of the Indian strain.

To prevent the spread of the B.1.617 variant in Pakistan, the NCOC had last month placed India in the category C list, banning entry of passengers from the country through air and land routes.

Authorities in Pakistan have urged the public to adhere to Covid standard operating procedures and get vaccinated, citing the havoc wreaked by the virus in India.

The B.1.617 variant contains two key mutations to the outer "spike" portion of the virus that attaches to human cells, according to senior Indian virologist Shahid Jameel.

The WHO has said the predominant lineage of B.1.617 was first identified in India last December, although an earlier version was spotted in October 2020.

The variant has already spread to other countries, and many nations have moved to cut or restrict movements from India.

Riaz Haq said…
Around 23 crore people (in INdia) have slipped below the poverty line, constituting a 15 to 20% increase in poverty since Covid-19 struck the country a little more than a year ago. An estimated 1.5 crore people have been left jobless; those with a job have found their income levels reduced — for an average household of four members, the monthly per capita income stood at Rs 4,979 in October, which is 16.8% lower compared to Rs 5,989 in January 2020. India’s middle class shrank by 3.2 crore people, while a further 7.5 crore people were pushed below the poverty line in 2020 says a report by US-based Pew Research Centre. 

Read more at:
Riaz Haq said…
Covid batters India’s aspiring middle classes | Financial Times

Economists warned that the latest outbreak could have long-term ramifications for middle-class Indians, whose rising consumption was expected to be the country’s growth engine for many years. “India, at the end of the day, is a consumption story,” said Tanvee Gupta Jain, UBS chief India economist. “If you never recovered from the 2020 wave and then you go into the 2021 wave, then it’s a concern.” India reported more than 320,000 Covid-19 infections and 3,800 deaths on Monday. Experts maintain that both figures are vastly undercounted. The disease has heaped suffering on Indians irrespective of background. Yet this time, it has also hit hard an aspirational middle class whose newfound privilege previously helped shield them.
Riaz Haq said…
Covid has exposed the great fiction of middle-class life in India

if you are well-off in Kolkata it’s easy not to see things. As a child, I used to love watching the sun set over the city’s glinting horizon from the windows of the 13th-floor apartment where I grew up. I didn’t look at the slums below. And until the coronavirus pandemic, many of us gave little thought to the fact that our own homes contained a stratum of impoverished workers: servants and maids, cooks and drivers, breathing the same air, now dying the same deaths.
I can’t imagine my own life without Saraswati and Nageshwar. Saraswati was hired 42 years ago to help my mother change my sister’s nappies, to hush her tantrums and make the household its tea. She was spiritedly maternal, scolding us when we didn’t eat properly. Nageshwar’s affection was quieter. No one, not even he, remembers when my mother employed him, but “more than 20 years” is something we have all been saying for over a decade. It has been years since anyone called Saraswati an ayah (maid) or Nageshwar a naukar (servant). When asked, my parents and I are fond of saying “They are both like family to us.”

I never interrogated this claim until 2019 when I moved back to the family home after a few years living in Mumbai. At the start I revelled in the comfort of never having to lift a finger. In Mumbai I had employed a cleaner part-time, but we hardly ever met. In my parents’ flat, Saraswati and Nageshwar were always there, diligent and attentive. Saraswati spread an extra layer of butter on my toast each morning. When making my bed, Nageshwar made sure he smoothed every last crease. They treated me like a king.

Before long, our domestic arrangements started to strike me as odd. I had always thought of our flat as one unified place. Now I realised that it was divided into two zones. My parents and I occupied the bedrooms, reception and dining area. The balcony was where Saraswati dried our clothes and Nageshwar ironed them. In the kitchen, which I rarely entered, he and Saraswati sat on the floor and ate rice that was cheaper and coarser than ours. Saraswati rolled out her mattress in the living room every night, and Nageshwar slept outside in a tiny room, one that the building plan labels the “servant’s quarter”. He came into our bedrooms only when it was time to clean them.

When the pandemic hit, the status of Saraswati and Nageshwar came into even sharper focus. After Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, announced a harsh nationwide lockdown in March last year, Nageshwar approached me looking desperate. He was used to travelling to the neighbouring state of Bihar every month to give his daughters his salary. How would he get it to them now?

Two weeks later, when covid killed the owner of a flat above ours, Nageshwar asked me if “covid” was just another word for death: if the coronavirus scare was some sort of conspiracy to panic people. He seemed to be unnerved, and wanted to be with his family. It finally dawned on me that our flat was Nageshwar’s workplace, not his home.
Riaz Haq said…
Covid has exposed the great fiction of middle-class life in India

The reality, I realised with shame, was that in all the years they had worked for us we had never offered Saraswati and Nageshwar any medical insurance. Our family doctors had seen them for minor ailments over the years, but we had never planned what to do if either of them needed a modern, well-equipped hospital. It was too late to get insurance now. We agreed that the appallingly underfunded public health-care sector wasn’t an option if their conditions worsened – we would pay the bill for private treatment.

I invited Saraswati and Nageshwar to stay in the flat’s spare bedroom while they recovered. They both said they preferred the floor to the bed. They wouldn’t even accept food brought to them on our plates: they wanted to use their own. Nageshwar’s phone buzzed all the time with concerned calls from his daughters. For the first time in my life, I saw him not as efficient but as beloved.

Earlier this year, Modi began boasting that India had beaten the pandemic. Shortly afterwards a second, more destructive wave raged through the country. On April 21st my mother came to tell me that every other resident on our floor had tested positive for coronavirus. Both my parents woke up with a fever three days later. I heard Saraswati cough in the kitchen. Nageshwar said his body hurt.

We got tested: everyone except me had the virus. By the time we received the results, my father’s oxygen levels were so low that he needed to go to hospital. Even the private facilities were running out of beds, but through our network of family and friends we eventually found him a spot. Then I thought about the rest of the household. What would happen if Saraswati and Nageshwar became seriously ill?

It finally dawned on me that our flat was Nageshwar’s workplace, not his home

The reality, I realised with shame, was that in all the years they had worked for us we had never offered Saraswati and Nageshwar any medical insurance. Our family doctors had seen them for minor ailments over the years, but we had never planned what to do if either of them needed a modern, well-equipped hospital. It was too late to get insurance now. We agreed that the appallingly underfunded public health-care sector wasn’t an option if their conditions worsened – we would pay the bill for private treatment.

Riaz Haq said…
Why is Modi getting such bad international press?
He has, by all accounts, earned it.
By Tanishka Sodhi 11 May, 2021

Almost invariably, they (international media) bring up Modi’s address to the World Economic Forum early this year where he declared a victory against the virus. India, he said, had “saved humanity from a big disaster by containing corona effectively”. They also point out that Modi held massive election rallies in April even as infections spiked, and hold him responsible for not just allowing but encouraging people to attend the Kumbh Mela, which would become a superspreader event.

The BJP’s claim from around two months ago that India, under the “sensible” leadership of Modi, had contained pandemic effectively, and health minister Harsh Vardhan’s boast in March that India was in the “end game” of the pandemic are also frequently mentioned as a key context to the current situation. The country recorded 3,66,161 new Covid cases on Monday and the total death toll rose to 2,46,116, although these figures are widely suspected to be undercounts.

Instead of addressing the shortcomings pointed out by the foreign media, the Modi government is trying to “manage” coverage, in the process drawing more attention to it. S Jaishankar, the external affairs minister, last week told Indian diplomats to "counter the 'one-sided' narrative on international media" which said that the Modi government had "failed the country by their 'incompetent' handling of the second Covid wave”.

Riaz Haq said…
Coronavirus: How Covid-19 is ravaging India's newsrooms

Soutik Biswas
India correspondent

Last fortnight, a camera operator working in the studio of a news network in the western city of Mumbai joined some of his colleagues to test for the novel coronavirus which was sweeping the city.

Days after, the 35-year-old man tested positive. He had developed no symptoms at all.

"It came as a shock to all of us. He hadn't even stepped outside for work," Prasad Kathe, the editor of Jai Maharashtra, told me.

Since then, 15 people working at the seven-year-old Marathi news network have tested positive for the virus. Most of them are reporters and camerapersons. Three weeks ago, the network stopped deploying journalists for field assignments. Most of them are quarantined at home.

The contagion has effectively shut down the network's 12,000 sq ft two-studio newsroom in an eight-storey building in the busy neighbourhood of Andheri. Only two people - an electrician and a production control room technician - remain there.

A majority of the 120 employees - from the journalists to technicians to company drivers - have been tested. The results are arriving slowly from the overwhelmed labs. The infections could rise further.

"Hit by the virus, running a live news channel became a challenge," Mr Kathe told me. "So we had to redesign our format to keep it running."

For the last three weeks, the direct-to-home network has been broadcasting six 28-minute live bulletins a day instead of the usual 18. The rest of the time is filled with recorded news and current affairs programmes.

And the station is far from the only one to be affected: almost 100 journalists have tested positive for the virus - a considerable amount in a country where just more than 42,000 cases have been officially reported.


But many journalists - especially working for networks - have been going out regularly to report and getting infected.

Some 35 are infected in southern Chennai city. A sports photographer in the eastern city of Kolkata has died in what doctors believe was a suspected case of Covid-19. There are reports of 19 employees of the influential Punjab Kesari media group in the city of Jalandhar in Punjab state testing positive. Earlier this month, the group asked its employees to work from home.

But most of the infections have been reported from Mumbai, which has emerged as a raging hotspot - more than 11,000 infections and 340 deaths have been reported in India's financial and entertainment capital so far.

Fifty-three of the 167 journalists tested for the infection in the city so far have turned in positive results. Three dozen of them have returned home; the others are recovering in hospitals. Many more are quarantined at homes and hotels. Some 170 more journalists are waiting to be tested.

Most of the infected are TV reporters and camerapersons and have shown no symptoms. The majority of the infected in India could be asymptomatic or show mild symptoms, reckons the Indian Council of Medical Research.
Riaz Haq said…
Some #Modi Bhakts are trolling his critics. The tragedy unfolding for #Indian-#Americans is nothing to "lol" about as some #Hindutva trolls are doing on #socialmedia while attacking critics of #BJP. Many have lost multiple family members. Read "The Quint"

A tech entrepreneur and community activist based in San Francisco Bay Area, Bhushan has lost seven family members in India to COVID-19. While he remains thankful for those recovering, the loss of loved ones has hit him hard.

Bhushan’s aunt passed away, followed by his uncle a few days later. Their California-based daughter and Bhushan’s cousin, Ruchika Kumar wrote in a Facebook post, “Mummy was right in calling papa a copycat. He copied her even in death…”

Indian Americans are an educated and high-income migrant community. Even though most of them have moved to the US willingly for professional opportunities, they always carry a bit of yearning for their motherland in their hearts. Watching India surrender to the virus, have left them bereaved and exasperated.

“The difference is access to life-saving health care. Here (Santa Clara county, California) the guidance was reasonably clear. Data was published, and you could trust the data. Numbers were not being underreported. In India the official figures have no bearing of reality. How do you have faith in what’s going on?” says Sanjiv Sahay.

Desis are constantly swaying between optimism in America and gloom in India. Happy and boisterous social media groups, connecting them with their loved ones in India, have turned into a harbinger of death. Laughter has been replaced by much-needed prayers.

A resident of Foster City in California, Sonia Bhanot was to be in Delhi this spring, to meet her mother and sisters. She felt confident to make the long journey after getting fully vaccinated. She has had to put her travel plans on hold given the public health situation in India.

“I haven’t met my sister after her husband passed away last year. I was hoping to visit. There are family members and close friends in Delhi who have COVID-19. Some are recovering. Hamare liye to COVID khatam hi nahi ho raha. Pehle yahan, ab wahan. I am not removing my mask, even if others do,” says Sonia.
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi wants #UNSC permanent seat for #India; Offers to make #Covid #vaccine for the world!

The Prime Minister emphasised that the inter-governmental body needs equilibrium and empowerment and that India was committed to be a force multiplier to the global economy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday made a strong case for a permanent seat for India in the United Nations Security Council, emphasising that the inter-governmental body needs equilibrium and empowerment and that India was committed to be a force multiplier to the global economy.

PM Modi assured world leaders in his virtual address at the 75th annual UN General Assembly session that India stands for the world’s prosperity and that its people are eagerly waiting for reforms in the UN.

“In the UN, equilibrium and empowerment is essential for the world’s well being," Modi said.

'Reform is the need of the hour'

Modi also assured that when India extends the hand of friendship to one nation, it is by no means, aimed at weakening a third country. India, he said, supplied the essential drugs that more than 150 nations needed during the pandemic and was committed to do more.

“Today, I wish to give one more assurance. Our vaccine production and vaccine delivery capability will be useful in helping humanity out of the current pandemic. We are now proceeding towards phase three clinical trials," the Prime Minister said. He said India will also help other nations in developing cold chains.

At least five Indian vaccine manufacturers are at present working on indigenous vaccines -- Serum Institute of India, Pune; Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad; Zydus Cadila, Ahmedabad; Gennova Biopharmaceuticals, Pune; and Biological E, Hyderabad.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Russia’s sovereign wealth fund recently announced a deal with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd for conducting clinical trials and distribution of Russia’s covid-19 vaccine --Sputnik V in India. Upon regulatory approval in India, RDIF will supply 100 million doses of the vaccine to Dr. Reddy’s. Serum Institute of India is conducting the phase 3 clinical trials for the adenovirus-based covid vaccine jointly developed by AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford.

Riaz Haq said…
Can #India's #Bollywood Survive #Modi? #Muslims have always had a disproportionate influence in Bollywood. Actors such as Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, and Aamir Khan have towered over the landscape of #Indian #cinema for the past 30 years. #BJP hates it.

“Everybody is just shit-scared and wanting to lie low,” a woman who is closely involved with the industry told me recently. “This is such a vindictive government.” The day before we spoke, tax authorities had raided the home and offices of one of the country’s finest directors, along with those of an actor he worked with. Both are outspoken government critics, and the raid was widely seen as politically motivated.

As we talked, a director friend sent me a vanishing message on Signal, the encrypted-communications platform, about a case before India’s Supreme Court. A senior Amazon executive in India was facing arrest, along with others, for a nine-part political drama called Tandav, which includes a portrayal of the Hindu god Shiva that some found objectionable. The director of the series had apologized, and removed the offending scene. And according to the message I received, the court had declined to offer protection (a decision it later revised). “The problem,” one senior executive for a major streaming service told me later, “is that the director is Muslim and the actor is Muslim.”


Bollywood has been central to the creation of India’s national myth. Its movies are full of dance and song, but their genius lies in the ability to weave serious issues—social justice, women’s rights, gay rights, interreligious marriage—into entertainment. Bollywood films are at once commercial and political. They epitomize the pluralism of India.

And in today’s political climate, that makes them a target. In ways reminiscent of the old Hollywood blacklist, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is using powerful tools to curtail the creative freedom of Bollywood—in particular the influence of Muslims, who have an outsize presence in the industry. The measures pushed by the Modi government include indiscriminate tax investigations, trumped-up accusations against actors and directors, intimidation and harassment in response to certain movies and TV shows, and the chilling rap of law enforcement at the door. Fearing worse to come, Bollywood has remained mostly silent in the face of the government’s catastrophic response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Riaz Haq said…
Dangerous #India variant, also known as #DeltaVariant, is spreading rapidly in #US. The virus accounts for nearly 10% of #coronavirus cases in the US, according to the #CDC. The good news is that #vaccines appear to be effective against it. #COVID

As states lift more coronavirus restrictions, experts are worried people who aren't fully vaccinated could contribute to further spread of the virus.

The Delta variant, first reported in India, accounts for nearly 10% of coronavirus cases in the US, according to the CDC.
With concerns it could become the dominant strain soon, medical experts are underscoring the importance of vaccination.
"I'm worried about those who are unvaccinated," Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CNN on Tuesday, noting the Delta variant "is rapidly increasing here in the United States."

The CDC has determined the Delta variant is a "variant of concern," a designation given to strains of the virus that scientists believe are more transmissible or can cause more severe disease.
The Delta variant "appears to be significantly more transmissible than even the Alpha variant or the UK variant, which is now dominant in the United States," Murthy told CNN.
"The second reason it's concerning is that there is some data to indicate that it may in fact also be more dangerous, may cause more severe illness. That still needs to be understood more clearly, but these are two important concerns and they explain in part ... why this is become the dominant variant in the UK, where over 90% of cases are the Delta variant," Murthy said.
The good news is that vaccines appear to be effective against the Delta variant.
A new study by Public Health England found that two doses of a coronavirus vaccine is "highly effective against hospitalization" caused by the variant. The study found the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 96% effective against hospitalization after two doses.
Murthy said there isn't enough data to indicate the effectiveness of Johnson & Johnson's one-dose vaccine in regard to the Delta variant, but the vaccine has shown it can help prevent hospitalizations and deaths when people are infected with other strains.
"The key is get vaccinated, get both doses," Murthy said.
As of Wednesday, 44.1% of the total US population was fully vaccinated while 52.7% has received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the CDC.
This comes on the heels of the US surpassing 600,000 deaths since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That means about one in every 550 people in the US has died from the virus.
States continue to reopen
So far, 14 states have reached Biden's goal of vaccinating 70% of adults with at least one dose by July 4, according to CDC data.
New York is among the states that reached that milestone, pushing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to lift most state-mandated Covid-19 restrictions.
Restrictions were lifted across all commercial and social settings, including the requirements on social gatherings, capacity restrictions, social distancing, health screenings, cleaning and disinfection protocols, and contact tracing. Mask requirements will continue in pre-K settings, on public transit and in health care settings, Cuomo said.
Fireworks displays were put on at various locations across the state Tuesday night to celebrate essential workers and the lifting of restrictions.

"This is a momentous day, and we deserve it because it has been a long, long road," Cuomo said. "We can now return to life as we know it."
California lifted most of its Covid-19 restrictions Tuesday, ending capacity limits, physical distancing and mask requirements for the vaccinated.
Businesses in the state are already adjusting.

Riaz Haq said…
#China appoints Harvard-educated chip czar to accelerate domestic #semiconductor #manufacturing #technology. Vice Premier Liu will be in charge of industrial policy to catch up with #US, #Taiwan and #SouthKorea in advanced #semiconductors.

The Harvard-educated career bureaucrat is not an engineer, but more of an expert in economics and industrial policy.

That means the 69-year old Liu will have to rely on experts when it comes to decisions in his remit: semiconductor materials, equipment and processes.

But rather than merely catch-up, Liu’s chip strategy will likely be to explore areas rivals have yet to master in the hope that China can colonize these technologies.

It’s the kind of moonshot approach that the People’s Republic already practices. China last week released the first images taken on Mars as part of its Tianwen-1 interplanetary mission.

That success, according to Beijing-based consultancy Trivium, “validates the focus on pursuing leapfrog development,” focusing on next-generation technologies where no country has a clear advantage.


“Failure is not an option” is an epic phrase associated with Gene Kranz and the Apollo 13 Moon landing mission, which went terribly wrong, but ended happily thanks to some Mission Control heroics.

Likewise, with a newly-appointed vice premier at the microchip helm, China is leaving itself no more excuses to fail.

The nation’s decision to anoint a “chip czar” is the latest step to advance its semiconductor industry in the face of harsh US sanctions.

While China still has a ways to go in catching up to the US, Taiwan and South Korea, Vice Premier Liu He is a worthy choice to spearhead the development of future semiconductor technologies, Business Standard reported.

He’s headed China’s technology reform since at least 2018, acted as chief negotiator in US-China trade talks and his position within leader Xi Jinping’s inner circle ensures his recommendations get heard.


Beijing is right to trumpet this success in space, and the results ought to boost morale within its struggling chip sector.

According to the South China Morning Post, China’s output of integrated circuits (IC) in May reached an all-time, single month high, as the country pulled out all stops to produce chips, according to central government data.

China’s chip output in May surged 37.6% from a year ago, to 29.9 billion units, the National Bureau of Statistics date showed.

While China’s chip makers are not able to produce high volumes of advanced 14-nm node chips — the type needed to power the latest iPhones — the country’s chip designers and manufacturers can produce mature technology ICs for home appliances and automobiles, SCMP reported.

In the first five months of this year, China produced 139.9 billion IC units, a 48.3% surge compared to the same period last year, data showed.

The latest data confirms that China is sparing no effort in its pursuit of self-sufficiency in semiconductors, SCMP reported.

In March, Beijing moved to waive levies on imported semiconductor parts and materials until 2030, SCMP reported. The Chinese government has declared its ambition to cultivate a US$237 billion domestic component market by 2023.

Meanwhile, Huawei Technologies is adamant in its pursuit of developing world-beating semiconductors, despite toughened US sanctions, according to Catherine Chen, a Huawei director and senior vice-president, Nikkei Asia reported.

Chen said the company has no intention of restructuring chip design subsidiary HiSilicon, despite the fact it has more than 7,000 workers on its payroll and is expected to go years without contributing to earnings.

But Huawei is privately held and unaffected by external forces, and its management has clearly shown it intends to retain HiSilicon, Chen said.
Riaz Haq said…
IISS: Cyber Capabilities and National Power: A Net Assessment


India has frequently been the victim of cyber attacks, including on its critical infrastructure, and has attributed a significant proportion of them to China or Pakistan. CERT-In reported, for example, that there were more than 394,499 incidents in 2019,44 and 2020 saw an upsurge in attacks from China.45 Of particular concern to the Indian government are cyber attacks by North Korea that use Chinese digital infrastructure.46 The vast major- ity of the cyber incidents flagged by CERT-In appear to have been attempts at espionage,47 but they could also have resulted in serious damage to the integrity of
Indian networks and platforms. In 2020, India had the second-highest incidence of ransomware attacks in the world48 and the government banned 117 Chinese mobile applications because of security concerns.49

Public statements by Indian officials and other open- source material indicate that India has developed rela- tively advanced offensive cyber capabilities focused on Pakistan. It is now in the process of expanding these capabilities for wider effect.
India reportedly considered a cyber response against Pakistan in the aftermath of the November 2008 terror- ist attacks in Mumbai, with the NTRO apparently at the forefront of deliberations.67 A former national security advisor has since indicated publicly that India pos- sesses considerable capacity to conduct cyber-sabotage operations against Pakistan,68 which appears credible

Overall, India’s focus on Pakistan will have given it useful operational experience and some viable regional offensive cyber capabilities. It will need to expand its cyber-intelligence reach to be able to deliver sophisti- cated offensive effect further afield, but its close collab- oration with international partners, especially the US, will help it in that regard.

Raj Chengappa and Sandeep Unnithan, ‘How to Punish Pakistan’, India Today, 22 September 2016, https://www. attack-narendra-modi-pakistan-terror-kashmir-nawaz-sharif- india-vajpayee-829603-2016-09-22.
Riaz Haq said…
#China wants to buy advanced #chip machine from #Netherlands. #US says NO. It's an ASML machine called an extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography system that is essential to making advanced #semiconductor #microprocessors. #silicon #technology via @WSJ

Beijing has been pressuring the Dutch government to allow its companies to buy ASML Holding ASML -2.35% NV’s marquee product: a machine called an extreme ultraviolet lithography system that is essential to making advanced microprocessors.

The one-of-a-kind, 180-ton machines are used by companies including Intel Corp. INTC -1.51% , South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. and leading Apple Inc. supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. TSM -1.52% to make the chips in everything from cutting-edge smartphones and 5G cellular equipment to computers used for artificial intelligence.

China wants the $150-million machines for domestic chip makers, so smartphone giant Huawei Technologies Co. and other Chinese tech companies can be less reliant on foreign suppliers. But ASML hasn’t sent a single one because the Netherlands—under pressure from the U.S.—is withholding an export license to China.

The Biden administration has asked the government to restrict sales because of national-security concerns, according to U.S. officials. The stance is a holdover from the Trump White House, which first identified the strategic value of the machine and reached out to Dutch officials.

Washington has taken direct aim at Chinese companies like Huawei and has also tried to convince foreign allies to restrict the use of Huawei gear, over spying concerns that Huawei says are unfounded. The pressure aimed at ASML and the Netherlands is different, representing a form of collateral damage in a broader U.S.-China tech Cold War.

ASML Chief Executive Peter Wennink has said that export restrictions could backfire.

“When it comes to targeted, specific, national security issues, export controls are a valid tool,” he said in a statement. “However, as part of a broader national strategy on semiconductor leadership, governments need to think through how these tools, if overused, could slow down innovation in the medium term by reducing R&D.” He said in the short to medium term, it is possible that widespread use of export controls “could reduce the amount of global chip manufacturing capacity, exacerbating supply chain issues.”


That currently isn’t on the table inside the Biden White House, people familiar with the matter say. The U.S. is trying to put together alliances of Western countries to work jointly on export controls, people familiar with the matter said. The move could also have ramifications beyond ASML, further roiling semiconductor supply lines already under strain around the world.

ASML spun out of Dutch conglomerate Royal Philips NV in the 1990s. It is based in bucolic Veldhoven, near the Belgian border. It specializes in photolithography, the process of using light to print on photosensitive surfaces.

Photolithography is key to chip makers, which use light to draw a checkerboard of lines on a silicon wafer. Then they etch away those lines, like a knife carving into wood, but with chemicals. The remaining silicon squares become transistors.

The more transistors on a piece of silicon, the more powerful the chip. One of the best ways to pack more transistors into silicon is to draw thinner lines. That is ASML’s specialty: Its machines print the world’s thinnest lines.

The machines, which require three Boeing 747s to ship, use a laser and mirrors to draw lines five nanometers wide. Within a few years, that is expected to shrink to less than a nanometer wide. By comparison, a strand of human hair is 75,000 nanometers wide.

Riaz Haq said…
Deepglint, a chinese facial-recognition firm, was one of 14 companies slapped with American sanctions on July 9th for alleged links to human-rights abuses in China’s far-western region of Xinjiang. It is also a globally recognised leader in its field and has raised money from Sequoia Capital and other big American investment firms. DeepGlint’s founders, who graduated from Stanford and Brown universities in America, must now discuss with their foreign backers the prospect of decoupling from the Western commercial sphere. Many Chinese companies have been forced to hold similar talks.

China Inc appears to be on the back foot. In America President Joe Biden has picked up where Donald Trump left off, placing restrictions on Chinese companies. Last year Congress passed a bill that may eventually force Chinese firms to delist from American stock exchanges, which would affect nearly $2trn in market value. Huawei, banned from America, has struggled to sell its 5g telecoms kit elsewhere in the West. ByteDance was nearly forced to divest from its prized short-video app, TikTok, over American fears that the Chinese regime could access global users’ personal data. Tencent, another internet giant, is said to be haggling with American regulators worried about its 40% stake in Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite.
Riaz Haq said…
#India Is Hiding a #Nightmare #Snakebite #Massacre. 58,000 #Indian citizens die each year due to snakebite via @YahooNews

An onslaught of fatal snakebite attacks is sweeping India and killing tens of thousands each year—and so far, the government’s response has been to ignore, trivialize, and cover up the crisis altogether.

A 2020 study, which was based on verbal autopsies, suggests that on average, close to 58,000 Indian citizens die each year due to snakebites. In contrast, the country’s government reports ridiculously low numbers: In 2018, the Health and Family Welfare minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey declared that only 689 snake-related deaths had occurred in India that year—a fraction of the figure referenced in the study, and one that any expert would quickly balk at.

Shashikant Dubey, 28, was working in his rice fields last month in Niwari, a small rural district in central India’s Madhya Pradesh state, when he suddenly felt a burning sensation in his hand. “The pain was such that I felt like someone had skinned my hand,” Dubey told The Daily Beast.

At first, he thought a scorpion had stung him, but as his hand started turning black he realized that he had been bitten by a venomous snake. Growing up, Dubey had often seen people in his village dying after getting bitten by snakes. Instead of a hospital, villagers would often be taken to a local quack who would bathe them in milk and water, hoping that it would please their deity (in Hindu culture, milk is considered to have purifying qualities) and their lives would be saved.

But last year, when a vegetable seller in the village died after the quack refused to let her family take her to the hospital, a sense of repulsion against the tradition began to grow in Dubey’s community.

“That death was subconsciously stuck in my mind. So I immediately planned to go to the hospital rather than to the village quack, " Dubey said. But the nearest hospital with access to the anti-venom is more than 10 km away from his village, and Dubey was advised by other villagers to deep cut his hand and let the 'dirty' blood out until he managed to rush to a doctor.

By the time he was taken to the hospital, his blood oxygen saturation levels had dropped significantly and his condition had worsened. Over the next few days, he was injected with 40 doses of anti-venom vials.

Still, Dubey was lucky. He survived. But Salman Qamar’s 24-year-old friend, Akhilesh Thapa, wasn't.

“Akhilesh was sleeping in his home when a snake bit him. It was nighttime and we couldn't immediately arrange transport to carry him to the hospital. And ultimately when we did, it was too late and he died on the way [to the hospital],” Qamar, a resident of Bettiah area near the Indo-Nepal border, told The Daily Beast.

Qamar says such incidents are all too common in his village.

“Last year, a lady who was living near my house went to the toilet during the night and a snake bit her. It was during monsoon and it was dark so when the snake bit her she thought it was some insect,” he said. “Due to the darkness, she couldn’t realize that it was a snake and then she slept. During the night the venom spread throughout her body and she eventually died,” Qamar explained.

There are many reasons for India’s snakebite crisis, including a lack of first aid facilities, dependence on ‘spiritual healers’ or quacks, and an overwhelming population living near agricultural fields where snakes come to hunt rodents. Another factor is India’s reverence for snakes: Hindus consider Shiva, one of the principal deities of Hinduism, as being ‘the lord of the snakes.’ During a festival last month, a 25-year-old man in India’s eastern state of Bihar died while handling snakes at a religious festival.

Riaz Haq said…
Indian fantasizes having a major semiconductor manufacturer on its shores. It wants to lure a #Taiwanese name to burnish its #semiconductor #tech credentials but #Taiwan doesn't see much point in the exercise given #India's lack of expertise in the field

For more than two decades, India has maintained the fantasy that a major semiconductor manufacturer will set up shop on its shores, kicking off the nation’s journey along an inevitable path toward chip glory. It never happened, but there’s now a very clear script for how it might be done, if only government and industry leaders would take a more pragmatic approach.

In the latest incarnation of the dream, officials in India and Taiwan are apparently in talks to lure a new factory worth up to $7.5 billion. The local government is likely to foot half the bill to build and kit out such a project, Bloomberg News reported. While Taipei is eager to build closer ties with New Delhi, facilitating the construction of a chip fab in South Asia is not high on its priority list. That’s not due to Taiwan being particularly protectionist, but because it can’t see much point in the exercise given India's lack of expertise in the field.
Riaz Haq said…
The U.S. Military 'Failed Miserably' in a Fake Battle Over Taiwan

The U.S. military reportedly "failed miserably" in a series of wargame scenarios designed to test the Pentagon's might. The flunked exercises, which took place last October, are a red flag that the way the military has operated for years isn't going to fly against today's enemies.

Specifically, a simulated adversary that has studied the American way of war for decades managed to run rings around U.S. forces, defeating them decisively. "They knew exactly what we're going to do before we did it," Gen. John Hyten, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, revealed at an industry event.

While Hyten did not disclose the name of the wargame (it's classifed), he did say that one of the exercises focused exclusively on a brawl between U.S. and Chinese forces fighting over Taiwan—a scenario that seems increasingly likely.

He says there are two main takeaways for the U.S. military. The first involves the concentration of combat power—the American military, like many armed forces, tends to concentrate ships, planes, and ground forces for maximum efficiency and effect. Concentrating forces allows the military to mass firepower, operate more efficiently, and more easily resupply while in the field. In other words, it's easier for everyone on the good guys' side.

But the problem with concentration of mass is that it makes it easier for the enemy to find and kill you. If an enemy knows that American carriers always operate together, for instance, and an enemy discovers one carrier, it then knows a second carrier is close by. By the same token, an Air Force wing of 72 fighter jets operating from a huge, sprawling air base makes it easier to efficiently arm, fuel, and service the fighters, but destroying the base will take out the entire wing. And an Army infantry battalion concentrated in two one-kilometer grid squares is easy to control, but will suffer heavy casualties to artillery barrages.

Another takeaway is that the U.S. military's information dominance is no longer guaranteed, and would probably be in doubt in a future conflict. Since 1991, most of America's enemies have been relatively low-tech armies without the aid of satellites, long-range weapons, cyber forces, or electronic warfare capabilities. As a result, the U.S. military's access to communications, data, and other information has been very secure during wartime, giving friendly forces a huge advantage.

That won't happen in the next war. Potential adversaries Russia and China both have a strong motivation—and more importantly, capability—to attack the Pentagon's information infrastructure. Both countries are aware that U.S. forces are heavily reliant on streams of data, and in a future conflict will attack, jam, and disable the nodes that distribute that information (such as satellites and aircraft-based node) whenever possible.

What does that mean for U.S. forces? Hyten says that the Pentagon is pushing a new concept known as "expanded maneuver," and wants the entire military to adopt it by 2030.

Expanded maneuver is likely exactly what it sounds like—a greater use of mobility to keep U.S. forces out of the enemy's gunsights. Two aircraft carriers, for example, might sail a thousand miles apart while still working together. A wing of fighter jets might be spread out among half a dozen smaller airfields so the destruction of one won't mean the loss of all 72 warplanes. An infantry battalion's subunits might operate farther apart from one another and stay on the move to avoid destruction by enemy artillery.
Riaz Haq said…
A 'Broken Arrow' raises serious questionsThe recent missile misfire has jeopardised India's long-standing reputation in nuclear safety

Read more at:

By Sushant Singh, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi


Pakistan has claimed that the DGMO-level hotline wasn’t activated to inform it of the accidental firing of the missile and its trajectory. This has been neither disputed nor explained by the Indian side.

India's 'accidental firing' of Brahmos has raised serious questions which can't be dealt in the same manner, by obstruction and obfuscation of facts, as has been done with Balakot airstrike and Ladakh border crisis. The consequences are unimaginable.

India and Pakistan, as subcontinental neighbours, do not have the luxury of time for considered decision-making when missiles are flying in either direction. Consider that the entire flight time of this accidently fired missile was about six minutes. That is about the time available for the decision-makers in either country to take a call. Essentially, 360 seconds are all that are available to Islamabad and New Delhi between doing nothing or going to war, accidental and unintended.

India, as the bigger country, has the cushion of geography, while Pakistan, driven by the insecurity of a small territory, has a nuclear security doctrine of ‘first use’. To avoid the destruction of its arsenal and delivery systems by a pre-emptive Indian strike, it deems it necessary to strike India first in the event of hostilities threatening to break out. This makes the situation more dangerous in the subcontinent.
An environment of relative calm between India and Pakistan, with a ceasefire on the LoC in Kashmir, definitely helped the Pakistani military keep its cool in the face of an Indian missile. Would it have reacted so maturely in the midst of military or political tensions? Or can Pakistan be blamed if they assume that certain rogue elements had taken control of the missile system in India and fired on it? Crucially, if the missile had a self-destruct feature, why wasn’t it activated? Should we expect every junior Pakistani military officer to display the same sagacity and courage as the Soviet naval officer Vasili Arkhipov, the Brigade Chief of Staff on submarine B-59, who refused to fire a nuclear missile and prevented a nuclear disaster in 1962? Or of the Soviet military duty officer Stanislav Petrov who, on seeing an early-warning system showing an incoming US strike, with about half-a-dozen missiles, in the early hours of September 26, 1983, made the call – in the face of incomplete information and doubt -- that it was a system malfunction, instead of reporting it to his superiors as enemy missile launches?

The lives of 1.6 billion people of India and Pakistan cannot be dependent on such lucky breaks. It is for these reasons – the destructive capacity of nuclear weapons, the minimal time available to take a decision, and Pakistan’s strategic mindset – accidents are unacceptable. Questions raised in western capitals about the safety and security of our nuclear weapon systems and processes were regularly dismissed by New Delhi by citing its impeccable track-record and supposedly fool-proof systems. It allowed India, despite the concerted efforts of certain American experts, to de-hyphenate itself from Pakistan’s poor track record of proliferation, its weak security systems always seen to be at risk of being infiltrated by religious religious extremists in uniform. On issues of nuclear safety, Pakistan has always attempted to bracket India with itself, but has often failed. But now, we have come out looking like either bumbling idiots or out of control, while the Pakistanis have come out as being both capable and mature. India can dismiss all Pakistani allegations but there will be renewed questions from the US non-proliferation lobby that are going to be tougher for New Delhi to respond to.
Riaz Haq said…
German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck put the matter well: “The Americans are truly a lucky people. They are bordered to the north and south by weak neighbors and to the east and west by fish.” The Founding Fathers agreed.

Americans had the geographic luck of distance from Europe and its conflicts. Out of this ability to avoid unnecessary wars that jeopardized life and liberty, came the Founders’ caution. Before Jefferson’s aforementioned quip, George Washington stated the matter bluntly in his Farewell Address. “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.”

Such counsel contained a powerful strain of realism. Strict neutrality was the infant nation’s best hope for survival amid international turmoil. The global nature of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars threatened to ensnare and destroy the republic with one misstep or ill-fated alliance. President James Madison nearly did just that in the War of 1812 when British forces burned Washington D.C.

In the republic’s harrowing early years, one should note the impossibility of isolation or having no foreign contact. The world war meant the U.S. needed diplomatic relations and readiness for conflict. Sometimes the two overlapped, such as when hostilities began in 1812 over the repeated impressment of American sailors into the Royal Navy. But, the key for the Founders was to comprehend foreign threats and respond appropriately.

Prescribed aloofness from European power politics never concerned diplomacy or trade. The Founders encouraged the latter, while the former became easier after Napoleon’s fall in 1815. Indeed, diplomacy was critical to bolstering U.S. security.

The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 did more than add land. It reduced the presence of France, and then Spain, in North America and secured American control of the Mississippi River. The Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819 built off of Jefferson’s work. It exchanged vague boundary claims in present-day Texas for Spanish Florida, and consolidated American control of land east of the Mississippi River. Moreover, New Spain (Mexico and Central America) became independent soon thereafter.

In 1823, President James Monroe warned European nations against re-colonizing Latin America. Such efforts would constitute a serious threat to U.S. security. Despite America’s inability to enforce the Monroe Doctrine, and whether by design or accident, Britain tacitly approved. Spanish re-conquest likely meant a reestablished mercantilist system. If the Royal Navy kept prospective colonizers out, those new markets would likely stay open. This overlap of British economic interests and American geopolitical interests benefited the United States immensely.

As Europe settled into peace, foreign crises abated and the market revolution began. Over the succeeding years, U.S. economic growth exploded, the restraints of weakness fell away, and politicians’ desire to exercise power grew. From 1815 to the Civil War, Americans made plenty of mischief abroad. The U.S. declared one war (against Mexico 1846-1848), threatened another with Britain over border disputes regarding Canada out west (1845-1847), and issued ultimatums to Spain about freeing Cuba (the 1854 Ostend Manifesto).

The justification for this belligerency may sound familiar, freedom. In July 1845, a young writer named John L. O’Sullivan published an editorial entitled “Annexation” in The United States Democratic Review. This piece mixed freedom with foreign policy, and turned a famous phrase. O’Sullivan opined about America’s “manifest destiny” to “overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.”

Riaz Haq said…
Should India insist on large warships after sinking of Russia’s Moskva?

Moskva rests at the bottom of the Black Sea and its loss could animate India’s maritime debate involving large naval ships. But the warning sign that must hang over it, is that its relevance to the Indian context can be different.

The loss of a key surface naval asset to cruise missiles provides fodder to buttress some arguments in an ongoing global debate within maritime powers. The debate is an offshoot of a larger debate on the survivability of large platforms like aircraft carriers due to their vulnerability to precision-guided munitions like cruise missiles. It is a debate that is particularly relevant to India and one that continues to animate the Indian Navy’s insistence on the continued relevance of the aircraft carrier.

Technological advancements in surveillance capabilities that are networked with missiles based on air, land, and sea platforms have certainly increased the vulnerability of surface naval assets. Accuracy is significantly improved by using a combination of Global Positioning Signals (GPS), laser guidance and inertial navigation systems. Simultaneously, the development of countermeasures also reduces the vulnerability factor. It is a cat-and-mouse game in technology development that mostly tends to favour the attacker over the defender. The obvious route for the attacker is to overwhelm the defender’s ability by firing a large number of missiles simultaneously on the same target. Also, the pace of development and cost of missiles that can penetrate the defender’s missile shield is quicker and cheaper than developing and fielding missile defences.
Riaz Haq said…
Air Force and independent think tank simulations show giant drone swarms are key to defeating China’s invasion of Taiwan.
MAY 19, 2022 3:52 PM

Wargames that the U.S. Air Force has conducted itself and in conjunction with independent organizations continue to show the immense value offered by swarms of relatively low-cost networked drones with high degrees of autonomy. In particular, simulations have shown them to be decisive factors in the scenarios regarding the defense of the island of Taiwan against a Chinese invasion.

Last week, David Ochmanek, a senior international affairs and defense researcher at the RAND Corporation and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Development during President Barack Obama's administration, discussed the importance of unmanned platforms in Taiwan Strait crisis-related wargaming that the think tank has done in recent years. Ochmanek offered his insight during an online chat, which you can watch in full below, hosted by the Air & Space Forces Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

At least some of RAND's work in this regard has been done in cooperation with the Air Force's Warfighting Integration Capability office, or AFWIC. Last year, the service disclosed details about a Taiwan-related wargame that AFWIC had run in 2020, which included the employment of a notional swarm of small drones, along with other unmanned platforms.

"I’m sure most everybody on this line has thought extensively about what conflict with China might look like. We think that, as force planners, we think that an invasion of Taiwan is the most appropriate scenario to use because of China’s repeatedly expressed desire to forcibly reincorporate Taiwan into the mainland if necessary and because of the severe time crunch that would be associated with defeating an invasion of Taiwan," Ochmanek offered as an introduction to RAND's modeling. "U.S. and allied forces may have as few as a week to 10 days to either defeat this invasion or accept the fait accompli. And the Chinese understand that if they’re to succeed in this, they either have to deter the United States from intervening or radically suppress our combat operations in the theater."

Ochmanek explained that the Chinese military has amassed a wide array of capable anti-access and area denial capabilities in the past two decades or so that would be brought to bear either to deter or engage any American forces, and their allies and partners, that might seek to respond to an invasion of Taiwan. This includes a diverse arsenal of ballistic and cruise missiles that could be used to neutralize U.S. bases across the Pacific region, anti-satellite weapons to destroy or degrade various American space-based assets, and dense integrated air defense networks bolstered by capable combat aircraft, among other things.
Riaz Haq said…
Air Force and independent think tank simulations show giant drone swarms are key to defeating China’s invasion of Taiwan.

"With all of this, our forces are going to be confronted with the need to not just gain air superiority, which is always a priority for the commander, but to actually reach into this contested battlespace, ...and find the enemy and engage the enemy’s operational center of gravity – those hundreds of ships carrying the amphibious forces across Strait, the airborne air assault aircraft carrying light infantry across the Strait," he continued. There will be a need to "do that even in the absence of air superiority, which is a very different concept of operations from what our forces have operated with in the post-Cold War era."

Those operational realities present immense challenges for the U.S. military in responding to a potential future Chinese invasion of Taiwan. U.S. military wargames exploring potential cross-strait crisis scenarios in recent years has more often than not, to put mildly, produced less than encouraging results when it comes to the performance of the American side.

Ochmanek says that modeling that RAND has done, including simulations conducted in cooperation with the Air Force, shows that large numbers of unmanned aircraft, especially relatively small and inexpensive designs capable of operating as fully-autonomous swarms using a distributed "mesh" data-sharing network, have shown themselves to be absolutely essential for coming out on top in these wargames.
Riaz Haq said…
Air Force and independent think tank simulations show giant drone swarms are key to defeating China’s invasion of Taiwan.

The former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense outlined one broad, but still detailed scenario for how such a swarm of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) would be employed in the defense of Taiwan:

"We're doing some simulations that capture scenarios in which we’re trying to rapidly sink that invasion fleet in the Strait. We’re also trying to clear the skies of PLA [People's Liberation Army, the Chinese military] fighters, transports, and attack helos, [and] transport helos. So, think of this. Imagine 1,000 unmanned UAVs over Taiwan and over the Taiwan Strait. They are not large aircraft, but they are flying at high subsonic speed. You can imagine making their radar cross section indistinguishable from that of an F-35. And the UAVs are basically out in front. They’re doing the sensing mission. Manned aircraft are kind of hanging back. Imagine now being an SA-21 [S-400 surface to air missile system] operator on the mainland of China or on one of the surface action groups trying to project [power], your scopes are flooded with things that you gotta kill. If you don’t kill those sensors, we’re gonna find you. And if we find you, we’re gonna kill you. So, A, we’re creating defilade if you will, camouflage, for the manned aircraft to hide behind.

B, we’re potentially exhausting the enemy’s magazines of expensive SAMs, and on the right side of the cost-exchange ratio. C, you could put some jammers on a few of these UAVs, as well, to further suppress the effectiveness of the SAMs. And then, the key is, these UAVs create a sensing grid that tells you where the targets are on the surface, where the targets are in the air, so that the F-35s, F-22s can conduct their engagements passively. You never have to turn on your radar. You know what that means for survivability. So, we call these UAVs the pilot’s friend.

Now, I know there’s culturally there may be some sense of competition between manned and unmanned and so forth … from an operational perspective we do not see a downside in terms of the synergy between manned and unmanned in this model."
Riaz Haq said…
Air Force and independent think tank simulations show giant drone swarms are key to defeating China’s invasion of Taiwan.

"We looked at eight different classes of radios in different frequency bands, we looked at different jamming threats in terms of their proximity and intensity, and so forth in the Strait, and we concluded that in the 5G band and the high 5G band, even very intensive comm jamming can’t prevent the UAVs in the mesh from communicating, from linking with one another," Ochmanek continued. "And we’re talking about a density in which there’s never more than 10 kilometers [just over 6 miles] between UAVs in that mesh. So that 10-kilometer link distance was our threshold value and we’re quite confident that, even with fair low power off-the-shelf radios, you can sustain that level of connectivity even in the presence of highly powerful jammers."

The former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense further pointed out that doing initial data processing right "at the edge" of wherever the drone swarm is operating will help reduce the amount of information that needs to be transmitted to any additional node. That, in turn, reduces the total amount of bandwidth necessary – "we’re thinking one-tenth of a megabyte per second is more than sufficient" – for the network to operate effectively, further improving its resiliency.

It's not clear exactly how much the Air Force's own internal modeling of cross-Strait conflict might reflect the work at RAND that Ochmanek described during the recent online chat. However, as already noted, RAND has worked closely with AFWIC on wargaming out these scenarios.

The autonomous drone swarm in AFWIC's 2020 Taiwan crisis wargame, which was linked together using a distributed mesh network, was cited as a key contributor to the defeat of Chinese forces in that particular scenario. "Although they were mostly used as a sensing grid, some were outfitted with weapons capable of — for instance — hitting small ships moving from the Chinese mainland across the strait," according to a report on this simulation from Defense News last year.

“An unmanned vehicle that is taking off from Taiwan and doesn’t need to fly that far can actually be pretty small. And because it’s pretty small, and you’ve got one or two sensors on it, plus a communications node, then those are not expensive.,” Lt. Gen. Clint Hinote, the Air Force's Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Integration, and Requirements, told Defense News in a related interview. "You could buy hundreds of them."

At the same time, the victory over the Chinese side in that Air Force simulation two years ago was described in subsequent reporting as "pyrrhic," pointing to still-heavy losses in personnel and materiel. During the Mitchell Institute discussion, Ochmanek specifically highlighted how the U.S. military is aware of the significant existing and emerging threats to established air bases and other facilities in any future high-end conflict, especially one against China in the Pacific, potentially over Taiwan, but has not yet mitigated those risks.

Riaz Haq said…
Air Force and independent think tank simulations show giant drone swarms are key to defeating China’s invasion of Taiwan.

"We have not solved the problem of the missile threat to airbases. Our active defenses are expensive. They’re not impermeable. They can be overwhelmed by modest sized salvos," he said. "And yet we need to operate from inside the threat ring in order to generate the kind of combat power that is called for by these intensive operations."

Extensive Chinese strikes against U.S. facilities across the Pacific in the opening phases of a conflict over Taiwan is a common occurrence in wargaming this scenario. Just recently, NBC News' "Meet the Press" sponsored a series of independent Taiwan Strait wargame that was run by Washington, D.C.-based Center for a New American Security (CNAS) think tank, the outcomes of which were summarized during the show's May 15 broadcast. The 'red' team, representing the regime on mainland China, was able to seize at least some Taiwanese territory in each playthrough, despite suffering significant casualties and equipment losses. It's unclear whether a U.S. military drone swarm was factored into the CNAS-led wargaming or not.

Chinese strikes on U.S. bases, including those in Japan, as part of a Taiwan invasion operation were a key factor in these simulations. Members of the 'blue' team – representing the United States, Taiwan, and their allies and partners – were surprised by this aggressiveness and suggested that this was an unrealistic portrayal, with Chinese officials more likely to work up to an intervention after first making various feints and otherwise attempting to throw the international community off-balance.

However, Lt. Gen. Hinote subsequently told Air Force Magazine that this scenario "'rhymes' with many of the things we see in our more detailed wargaming" at "the strategic and operational levels." He added that the airspace "is likely to be contested over Taiwan in a way we have not seen in a long time."

During the Mitchell Institute talk, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Ochmanek said that swarms of unmanned aircraft, especially if they are runway independent, could be part of the solution to the problem of defending against or otherwise remaining resilient in the face of Chinese strikes in a defense of Taiwan scenario. He specifically cited Kratos' XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned aircraft, which is launched and recovered without the use of a runway, and that the Air Force is using as a testbed for various advanced warfighting experiments now, as one example. Kratos has previously presented a concept for a containerized launch system for the XQ-58A, which would further enable it to be rapidly and flexibly deployed, even to remote or austere locations.

Riaz Haq said…
Should #US lower its expectations of #India? Instead of investing in #humancapital, #nuclear & #renewable energy, or #healthcare, #Modi’s gov't focus is on “correcting” history textbooks, attacking #Muslims, extoll #Hindu "virtues"! #Hindutva #Islamophobia


India is reprising its Cold War-era strategy of walking the tightrope between Russia and the United States. During the virtual summit between President Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April, as well as the in-person Quad leaders’ summit in Tokyo in May, Biden requested India’s support on Ukraine. India has refused to stop purchasing oil from Russia, even if it has cancelled some Russian arms contracts.

India’s neutrality over Ukraine has dampened the enthusiasm even of those Americans who have projected India as the key American partner in its competition with China. Indians argue that they are only acting in their national interest and that even though their long-term interests remains tied to the U.S., they cannot forego the short-term advantage of neutrality towards Russia.

Instead of voicing frustration with India over its continued friendship with Russia, U.S. policymakers and commentators would do better to revise their expectations of India. The rhetoric about India being as important in U.S. plans for Asia as Great Britain was for standing up to the Soviet Union in Europe after World War II ignores India’s changing view of itself and the world.

Under Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, India is in the process of redefining its nationalism, away from the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. India’s rising Hindu nationalism (which has overtaken the secular nationalism of India’s early years) is centered on reviving India’s ancient Hindu glory. Ancient India was notoriously insular and not particularly interested in partnering with distant peoples.

While Modi’s India still wants to be recognized globally with respect, it hopes to earn that respect through celebration of an International Yoga Day, not through confrontation with China or Russia. That fundamentally different view of what is entailed in India becoming a global great power makes partnership with the West in accordance with Western expectations unlikely.

India’s economy is not growing at a rate that would position it to be China’s competitor. The expansion of India’s middle class has slowed down. Americans hoping to tap India as the next market of more than 1 billion consumers will have to wait to see that dream become a reality, both on account of its slower economic growth and its over-regulation.

Disappointment will be even greater for those expecting India to field its large military forces against China. Declining investment in military capabilities have made India’s military rather inefficient and inadequately modern. India might be able to face off against Pakistan, but it is still far from being in China’s league.

Around 60 percent of India’s military equipment is of Russian origin, and while India plans to purchase more equipment, it is keen on boosting indigenous capability and having a diverse basket of suppliers. That runs contrary to American expectations of being India’s supplier of choice.

Meanwhile, the U.S. expectation of an influx of orders for American-made nuclear reactors from India, which formed an important basis for the 2008 civil-nuclear deal, remains unfulfilled.

India wants to trade and acquire technology with the U.S. on its terms, which it believes are mutually beneficial. But is not about to become the western partner that successive U.S. administrations and many scholars have imagined.
Riaz Haq said…
Should #US lower its expectations of #India? Instead of investing in #humancapital, #nuclear & #renewable energy, or #healthcare, #Modi’s gov't focus is on “correcting” history textbooks, attacking #Muslims, extoll #Hindu "virtues"! #Hindutva #Islamophobia


Instead of investing in human capital, nuclear and renewable energy, or health care, the focus of Modi’s government has been on “correcting” history textbooks to change the portrayal of India’s Muslim and Western-colonial rulers while extolling the virtues of the ancient Hindu era.

Hyper-nationalism has also led to a new wave of protectionism and regulation, which impedes economic expansion. India has also lost the glow of being a success story for democracy and individual political rights. In 2021 and 2022 Freedom House downgraded India to “partly free,” citing attacks on religious minorities, suppression of media and weakening of institutions.

Comments by American officials about India’s direction inevitably attract charges from Indians of unwarranted interference in India’s internal affairs. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently released the State Department’s 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom and spoke about “rising attacks on people and places of worship” in India. He was widely criticized in the Indian mainstream and social media.

Blinken also described India as “the world’s largest democracy, and home to a great diversity of faiths,” reminding everyone that the image of India as a pluralist and open society might be its great strength in external relations. That image, and the hope that India would be a global great power once it realizes its full economic and military potential, have suffered because of the ideological obsessions of India’s current leaders.

But what is unpopular in the U.S. is popular in India. Modi and his party have been repeatedly rewarded at the ballot box for talking about their civilization’s glorious past. As India postpones building a modern future or chooses to do it at its own pace and on its own terms, western cheerleaders for India’s rise may have no choice but to modify their expectation that India will help fight alongside the world’s democracies against totalitarian China or Russia.
Riaz Haq said…
#Apple to use #TSMC’s next 3-nm #semiconductor chip #technology in iPhones, Macs next year. There is a cost increase of at least 40% for the same area of silicon when moving to 3-nm chips from the 5-nm family, which includes 4-nm chips. #computers #phones

TAIPEI -- Apple aims to be the first company to use an updated version of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.'s latest chipmaking technology next year, with plans to adopt it for some of its iPhones and Mac computers, sources briefed on the matter told Nikkei Asia.

The A17 mobile processor currently under development will be mass-produced using TSMC's N3E chipmaking tech, expected to be available in the second half of next year, according to three people familiar with the matter. The A17 will be used in the premium entry in the iPhone lineup slated for release in 2023, they said.

N3E is an upgraded version of TSMC's current 3-nanometer production tech, which is only starting to go into use this year. The next generation of Apple's M3 chip for its Mac offerings is also set to use the upgraded 3-nm tech, two sources added.

Nanometer size refers to the width between transistors on a chip. The smaller the number, the more transistors can be squeezed onto a chip, making them more powerful but also more challenging and costly to produce.

N3E will offer better performance and energy efficiency than the first version of the tech, TSMC said in a recent technology symposium in Hsinchu. Industry sources said the upgraded production tech is also designed to be more cost-effective than its predecessor.

As TSMC's largest customer and the biggest driver for new semiconductor technologies, Apple is still its most loyal partner when it comes to adopting the latest chip technology. The U.S. tech giant will be the first to use TSMC's first generation of 3-nm technology, using it for some of its upcoming iPads, Nikkei Asia reported earlier.

Previously, Intel told TSMC that it would like to secure 3-nm production by this year or early next year to be among the first wave of adopters like Apple, but it has since delayed its orders to at least 2024, three people told Nikkei Asia.

However, 2023 could mark the second year in a row that Apple uses TSMC's most advanced chipmaking technology for only a part of its iPhone lineup. In 2022, only the premium iPhone 14 Pro range has adopted the latest A16 core processor, which is produced by TSMC's 4-nm process technologies, the most advanced currently available. The standard iPhone 14 range uses the older A15, which was used in the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro models released in the second half of 2021.

Meanwhile, the race is on among chipmakers to roll out ever more advanced production tech. TSMC and Samsung each hopes to be the first to put 3-nm tech into mass production this year. This technology is suitable for all types of central and graphics processors for smartphones, computers and servers, as well as those used in artificial intelligence computing.

Apple, meanwhile, is likely to use the different levels of production tech to introduce greater differences between its premium and nonpremium models, according to Dylan Patel, chief analyst with Semianalysis. Previously the biggest differences have been in screens and cameras, but this could be expanded to include processors and memory chips, he said.

According to the analyst's estimate, there is a cost increase of at least 40% for the same area of silicon when moving to 3-nm chips from the 5-nm family, which includes 4-nm chips.

TSMC, Intel and Apple declined to comment.
Riaz Haq said…
Foxconn and Vedanta to build $19bn India chip factory

Foxconn and Vedanta have announced $19.5bn (£16.9) to build one of the first chipmaking factories in India.

The Taiwanese firm and the Indian mining giant are tying up as the government pushes to boost chip manufacturing in the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government announced a $10bn package last year to attract investors.

The facility, which will be built in Mr Modi's home state of Gujarat, has been promised incentives.

Vedanta's chairman Anil Agarwal said they were still on the lookout for a site - about 400 acres of land - close to Gujarat's capital, Ahmedabad.

But both Indian and foreign firms have struggled in the past to acquire large tracts of land for projects. And experts say that despite Mr Modi's signature 'Make in India' policy - designed to attract global manufacturers - challenges remain when it comes to navigating the country's red tape.

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendrabhai Patel, however, said the project "will be met with red carpet... instead of any red tapism".

The project is expected to create 100,000 jobs in the state, which is headed for elections in December, where the BJP is facing stiff competition from oppositions parties.

According to the Memorandum of Understanding, the facility is expected to start manufacturing chips within two years.

"India's own Silicon Valley is a step closer now," Mr Agarwal said in a tweet.

India has vowed to spend $30bn to overhaul its tech industry. The government said it will also expand incentives beyond the initial $10 billion for chipmakers in order to become less reliant on chip producers in places like Taiwan, the US and China.

"Gujarat has been recognized for its industrial development, green energy, and smart cities. The improving infrastructure and the government's active and strong support increases confidence in setting up a semiconductor factory," according to Brian Ho, a vice president of Foxconn Semiconductor Group.

Foxconn is the technical partner. Vedanta is financing the project as it looks to diversify its investments into the tech sector.

Vedanta is the third company to announce plans to build a chip plant in India. A partnership between ISMC and Singapore-based IGSS Ventures also said it had signed deals to build semiconductor plants in the country over the next five years.
Riaz Haq said…
If China Invaded Taiwan, What Would India Do?
The New Delhi government fears its expansionist neighbor but is deeply wary about getting in the middle of a brawl with Beijing.

By Hal Brands

So how might India react if China attacked Taiwan? Although India can’t project much military power east of the Malacca Strait, it could still, in theory, do a lot. US officials quietly hope that India might grant access to its Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in the eastern Bay of Bengal, to facilitate a blockade of China’s oil supplies. The Indian Navy could help keep Chinese ships out of the Indian Ocean; perhaps the Indian Army could distract China by turning up the heat in the Himalayas.


New Delhi has a real stake in the survival of a free Taiwan. China has a punishing strategic geography, in that it faces security challenges on land and at sea. If taking Taiwan gave China preeminence in maritime Asia, though, Beijing could then pivot to settle affairs with India on land.

Expect a “turn toward the South” once China’s Taiwan problem is resolved, one Indian defense official told me. And in general, a world in which China is emboldened — and the US and its democratic allies are badly bloodied — by a Taiwan conflict would be very nasty for India.

But none of this ensures that India will cast its lot, militarily or diplomatically, with a pro-Taiwan coalition. Appeals to common democratic values or norms of nonaggression won’t persuade India to aid Taiwan any more than they have induced it to help Ukraine.

Armchair strategists might dream of opening a second front in the Himalayas, but India might be paralyzed by fear that openly aiding the US anywhere would simply give China a pretext to batter overmatched, unprepared Indian forces on their shared frontier.

The Modi government has been happy to have America’s help in dealing with India’s China problem but is far more reluctant to return the favor by courting trouble in the Western Pacific.

What India would do in a Taiwan conflict is really anyone’s guess. The most nuanced assessment I heard came from a longtime Indian diplomat. A decade ago, he said, India would definitely have sat on the sidelines. Today, support for Taiwan and the democratic coalition is conceivable, but not likely. After another five years of tension with China and cooperation with the Quad, though, who knows?

Optimists in Washington might take this assessment as evidence that India is moving in the right direction. Pessimists might point out that there is still a long way to go, and not much time to get there.
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's #semiconductor #manufacturing plan flounders as firms struggle to find #tech partners. Modi has made it top priority for #India's economic strategy to "usher in new era in electronics manufacturing" by luring global companies. #MakeInIndia

NEW DELHI/OAKLAND, California, June 1 (Reuters) - Big companies including a Foxconn joint venture that bid for India's $10 billion semiconductor incentives are struggling due to the lack of a technology partner, a major setback for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's chipmaking ambitions.

A planned $3 billion semiconductor facility in India by chip consortium ISMC that counted Israeli chipmaker Tower as a tech partner has been stalled due to the company's ongoing takeover by Intel, three people with direct knowledge of the strategy said.

A second mega $19.5 billion plan to build chips locally by a joint venture between India's Vedanta and Taiwan's Foxconn is also proceeding slowly as their talks to rope in European chipmaker STMicroelectronics (STMPA.PA) as a partner are deadlocked, a fourth source with direct knowledge said.

Modi has made chipmaking a top priority for India's economic strategy as he wants to "usher in a new era in electronics manufacturing" by luring global companies.

India, which expects its semiconductor market to be worth $63 billion by 2026, last year received three applications to set up plants under the incentive scheme. They were from the Vedanta-Foxconn JV; a global consortium ISMC which counts Tower Semiconductor (TSEM.TA) as a tech partner; and from Singapore-based IGSS Ventures.

The Vedanta JV plant is to come up in Modi's home state of Gujarat, while ISMC and IGSS each committed $3 billion for plants in two separate southern states.

The three sources said ISMC's $3 billion chipmaking facility plans are currently on hold as Tower could not proceed to sign binding agreements as things remain under review after Intel acquired it for $5.4 billion last year. The deal is pending regulatory approvals.

Talking about India's semiconductor ambitions, India's deputy IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar told Reuters in a May 19 interview ISMC "could not proceed" due to Intel acquiring Tower, and IGSS "wanted to re-submit (the application)" for incentives. The "two of them had to drop out," he said, without elaborating.

Tower is likely to reevaluate taking part in the venture based on how its deal talks with Intel pan out, two of the sources said.

Riaz Haq said…
Are young Taiwanese prepared to fight mainland China?

“A lot of young people who signed up for the four-year volunteer force decided to pay a penalty and dropped out early because they say they had come for the money—not to fight and not to die,” said Alexander Huang, the Kuomintang’s director of international affairs.

Taiwan’s troubled history with its own armed forces is part of the reason. The Kuomintang-led army and government led by Chiang Kai-shek escaped to Taiwan when Mao Zedong’s Communist forces ousted them from the Chinese mainland in 1949. Chiang’s military dictatorship attempted to suppress Taiwan’s sense of identity, seen as tainted by decades of Japanese rule over the island, and engaged in decades of what has since been called a “White Terror,” during which thousands of dissidents were killed.


TAIPEI, Taiwan—People in Taiwan have been following every twist of the war in Ukraine. But, while their sympathy for the Ukrainian cause is near-universal, the conclusions for the island’s own future widely diverge.

To some, the takeaway is that even a seemingly invincible foe can be defeated if a society stands firm, an inspiration for Taiwan’s own effort to resist a feared invasion by China. Others draw the opposite lesson from the images of smoldering Ukrainian cities. Anything is better than war, they say, and Taiwan should do all it can to avoid provoking Beijing’s wrath, even if that means painful compromises.

These two competing visions will play out in Taiwan’s presidential elections, slated for January, and shape how the island democracy revamps its defenses as China’s military might expands. The soul-searching inside Taiwan, and the determination with which it will strengthen its armed forces, is also bound to affect the extent to which the U.S. will get involved militarily should Beijing try to capture the island, home to 24 million people—and most of the world’s advanced semiconductor production capacity.

While Taiwan has been living under a threat of invasion ever since China’s Communist Party took control of the mainland in 1949, the Russian thrust into Ukraine drove home to many Taiwanese that war can erupt with little notice. Chinese leaders have intensified their rhetoric around Taiwan, repeating that they won’t rule out using force to achieve what they call “national reunification.” Beijing has also ramped up naval and air probes around the island that wear out Taiwanese defenses. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency estimates that Chinese leader Xi Jinping has set 2027 as the deadline for his military to be ready to take the island.

“What Ukraine has underscored is that it’s not a remote possibility that an aggressive neighbor can unilaterally decide to take action against you. It’s a wake-up call,” said Enoch Wu, founder of the Forward Alliance, a nongovernmental organization that has started training Taiwanese civilians in emergency response and first aid. “The threat that we face is an existential one, and so our defense mission has got to involve the entire society.”


The main opposition Nationalist Party, known as the Kuomintang, holds a different view. “We want to talk to the Chinese. We believe that we can have a dialogue with the Chinese. That will certainly de-escalate the tension, to make sure no accidental war, and for sure no intentional war, happens,” Kuomintang vice chairman Andrew Hsia said in an interview before departing on a trip to China in June, his second this year.

Ukraine’s tragedy has made an outreach to Beijing even more vital, he added: “In the past we talked about war, but now for the first time we saw in our living rooms, on television, all this destruction. Are we ready for that? I don’t think we are, I don’t think we are that resilient.”

The Kuomintang’s presidential candidate, Hou Yu-ih, pledged this week that he would return the compulsory military service length to four months after improving ties with Beijing.

Riaz Haq said…
India can aim lower in its chip dreams

BENGALURU, July 5 (Reuters Breakingviews) - India’s semiconductor dreams are facing a harsh reality. After struggling to woo cutting-edge chipmakers like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (2330.TW) to set up operations in the country, the government may now have to settle for producing less-advanced chips instead. Yet that’s no mere consolation prize: the opportunity to grab share from China in this commoditised but vital part of the tech supply chain could pay off.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to “usher in a new era of electronics manufacturing” by turning India into a chipmaking powerhouse. So far, the government has dangled $10 billion in subsidies but with little to show for it. Mining conglomerate Vedanta’s $19.5 billion joint venture with iPhone supplier Foxconn (2317.TW) has stalled; plans for a separate $3 billion manufacturing facility appear to be in limbo, Reuters reported in May. In a small win for the government, U.S.-based Micron Technology (MU.O) last week announced it will invest $825 million to build its first factory in India in Modi’s home state of Gujarat, though the facility will be used to test and package chips, rather than to manufacture them.

Even so, the Micron investment could pave the way for the country to move into the assembly, packaging and testing market for semiconductors, currently dominated by firms like Taiwan’s ASE Technology (3711.TW) and China's JCET (600584.SS). It’s not as lucrative as making or designing them but global sales are forecast to hit $50.9 billion by 2028, according to Zion Market Research.

An even bigger opportunity awaits in manufacturing what are known as trailing-edge semiconductors. Recently, New Delhi expanded fiscal incentives for companies to make these lower-end products in the country. It’s a far more commoditised part of the market but there’s much to play for. Analog chips, for example, are vital for electric cars and smartphones. Last year, sales grew by a fifth to $89 billion, per estimates from the Semiconductor Industry Association, outpacing growth for memory, logic and other types of chips.

The majority of the world’s trailing-edge semiconductors are currently made in Taiwan and China. So rising geopolitical tensions between Washington and Beijing, as well as worries of military conflict in Taiwan, will make India an attractive alternative for companies like U.S.-based GlobalFoundries (GFS.O) that specialise in this segment. Booming domestic demand is another factor: the Indian market is forecast to hit $64 billion by 2026, from just $23 billion in 2019.

Aiming lower could be just what India’s chip ambitions need.

Follow @PranavKiranBV on Twitter

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. Refiles to add link.)

U.S. memory chip firm Micron Technology on June 28 signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indian government to build a semiconductor assembly and testing plant, its first factory in the country.

Construction for the $2.75 billion project, which includes government support, will start in August, according to Ashwini Vaishnaw, India’s minister of electronics and information technology in an interview with the Financial Times published on July 5, with production expected by the end of 2024.

Riaz Haq said…
Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of Foxconn, announced his candidacy for Taiwan's presidency in January elections. Gou said he wants to unite the opposition and ensure Taiwan does not become "the next Ukraine". He said he will bring 50 years of peace to the Taiwan Strait and build a foundation for mutual trust. Gou also criticized the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for policies that have put Taiwan at risk of war with China. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory.

Gou says he can use his experience working in China to protect Taiwan's security. He said he will not allow Taiwan to become "the next Ukraine". However, a researcher at National Chengchi University in Taiwan said Gou's candidacy could make it harder for an opposition leader to defeat the DPP.
Riaz Haq said…
A new Huawei phone has defeated US chip sanctions against China

The new Kirin 9000s chip in Huawei’s latest phone uses an advanced 7-nanometer processor fabricated in China by the country’s top chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC), according to a teardown of the phone that TechInsights conducted for Bloomberg.

Huawei’s latest smartphone, the Mate 60 Pro, offers proof that China’s homegrown semiconductor industry is advancing despite the US ban on chips and chipmaking technology.

The new Kirin 9000s chip in Huawei’s latest phone uses an advanced 7-nanometer processor fabricated in China by the country’s top chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC), according to a teardown of the phone that TechInsightsconducted for Bloomberg

A brief recent timeline of US chip sanctions against China
August 2022: The US Congress passes the CHIPS and Science Act, a law that approves subsidies and tax breaks to help jumpstart the production of advanced semiconductors on American soil.

September 2022: The Biden administration bans federally funded US tech firms from building advanced facilities in China for a decade.

October 2022: The US commerce department bars companies from supplying advanced chips and chipmaking equipment to China, calling it an effort to curb China’s ability to produce cutting-edge chips for weapons and other defense technology, rather than a bid to cripple the country’s consumer electronics industry.

November 2022: The US bans the approval of communications equipment from Chinese companies like Huawei Technologies and ZTE, claiming that they pose “an unacceptable risk” to the country’s national security.

May 2023: Beijing bans its “operators of critical information infrastructure” from doing business with Micron Tech, an Idaho-based chipmaker.

“In the AI garden, the seeds are the AI software frameworks—which China already has access to. The plants in the garden are the AI models in use, which again are already available to Chinese AI companies. Nvidia provides the best shovels and pruning shears to tend the garden, but not the only means to tend it. So it doesn’t make sense to try to build a high wall around it...[T]o over-regulate these chips creates the risk that the US could fumble away its technology leadership. Would you rather have Chinese AI customers continue to fuel Nvidia’s growth and success? Or would you rather they spend their yuan to fuel the growth and success of Chinese suppliers?”

—Patrick Moorhead, a tech analyst, writing in Forbes in July 2023

One big number: China’s hoard of Nvidia chips
$5 billion: The value of orders that China’s tech giants have placed with Nvidia for its A800 and A100 chips, to be delivered this year, according to an August report by the Financial Times. The biggest internet giants—Baidu, ByteDance, Tencent, and Alibaba—have placed orders totalling $1 billion to buy around 100,000 A800 processors. Given that the US is mulling new export controls, Chinese companies are rushing to hoard the best chips on the market to train their AI models and run their data centers.

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