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...

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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Comment by Riaz Haq on June 28, 2021 at 7:26am

India shifts additional 50,000 troops to #China border in historic move. Although the two countries battled in the Himalayas in 1962, #India’s strategic focus has primarily been Pakistan over #Kashmir, since the #British left #SouthAsia. via @detroitnews

India has redirected at least 50,000 additional troops to its border with China in a historic shift toward an offensive military posture against the world’s second-biggest economy.

Although the two countries battled in the Himalayas in 1962, India’s strategic focus has primarily been Pakistan since the British left the subcontinent, with the long-time rivals fighting three wars over the disputed region of Kashmir. Yet since the deadliest India-China fighting in decades last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has sought to ease tensions with Islamabad and concentrate primarily on countering Beijing.

Over the past few months, India has moved troops and fighter jet squadrons to three distinct areas along its border with China, according to four people familiar with the matter. All in all, India now has roughly 200,000 troops focused on the border, two of them said, which is an increase of more than 40% from last year.

Both the Indian Army and a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Whereas previously India’s military presence was aimed at blocking Chinese moves, the redeployment will allow Indian commanders more options to attack and seize territory in China if necessary in a strategy known as “offensive defense,” one of the people said. That includes a lighter footprint involving more helicopters to airlift soldiers from valley to valley along with artillery pieces like the M777 howitzer built by BAE Systems Inc.

While it’s unclear how many troops China has on the border, India detected that the People’s Liberation Army recently moved additional forces from Tibet to the Xinjiang Military Command, which is responsible for patrolling disputed areas along the Himalayas. China is adding fresh runway buildings, bomb-proof bunkers to house fighter jets and new airfields along the disputed border in Tibet, two of the people said. Beijing also adding long-range artillery, tanks, rocket regiments and twin-engine fighters in the last few months, they said.

China’s Foreign Ministry “will not comment on unsubstantiated information,” a spokesperson said in response to questions.

The fear now is that a miscalculation could lead to an even deadlier conflict. Several recent rounds of military-diplomatic talks with China have made minimal progress toward a return to the quiet status quo that had prevailed along the border for decades.

“Having so many soldiers on either side is risky when border management protocols have broken down,” said D. S. Hooda, a lieutenant general and former Northern Army commander in India. “Both sides are likely to patrol the disputed border aggressively. A small local incident could spiral out of control with unintended consequences.”

The northern region of Ladakh where India and China clashed several times last year has seen the largest increase in troop levels, three of the people said, with an estimated20,000 soldiers including those once engaged in anti-terrorism operations against Pakistan now deployed in the area. The reorientation means India at all times will have more troops acclimatized to fight in the high-altitude Himalayans, while the number of troops solely earmarked for the western border with Pakistan will be reduced.

India has also obtained an offensive capability along the southern Tibetan plateau near the center of the border. In that more populated area, regular soldiers outfitted with machine guns have joined lightly armed paramilitary officers, the people said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 28, 2021 at 7:27am

IISS Report: #India has some #cyber-intelligence & offensive cyber capabilities but they are focused on #Pakistan. #Delhi is building new capability with the help of key international partners – including #US, #UK & #France. #Cyberwar via @IndianExpr

Cyberpower, in the study, is measured on seven parameters: from strategy to cybersecurity. India’s reform in cyber governance has been slow. It should better harness its digital start-up ecosystem, says the study.

Greg Austin, who leads the IISS programme on Cyber, Space and Future Conflict and played a leading role in the preparation of the report, told The Indian Express Sunday: “India has some cyber-intelligence and offensive cyber capabilities but they are regionally focused, principally on Pakistan. It is currently aiming to compensate for its weaknesses by building new capability with the help of key international partners – including the US, the UK and France – and by looking to concerted international action to develop norms of restraint.”

The report said that India’s approach towards institutional reform of cyber governance has been “slow and incremental”, with key coordinating authorities for cyber security in the civil and military domains established only as late as 2018 and 2019 respectively.

These work closely with the main cyber-intelligence agency, the National Technical Research Organisation.

“India has a good regional cyber-intelligence reach but relies on partners, including the United States, for wider insight”, the report said.

It said that the strengths of the Indian digital economy include a vibrant start-up culture and a very large talent pool. “The private sector has moved more quickly than the government in promoting national cyber security.”

The country is active and visible in cyber diplomacy but has not been among the leaders on global norms, preferring instead to make productive practical arrangements with key states, the report said.

“India is a third-tier cyber power whose best chance of progressing to the second tier is by harnessing its great digital-industrial potential and adopting a whole-of-society approach to improving its cyber security,” the report said.

The report also assessed China’s cyber power as clearly inferior to that of the US, and substantially below the combined cyber power of the US network of alliances.

The countries covered in this report are US, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia (four of the Five Eyes intelligence allies); France and Israel (the two most cyber-capable partners of the Five Eyes states); Japan (also an ally of the Five Eyes states, but less capable in the security dimensions of cyberspace, despite its formidable economic power); China, Russia, Iran and North Korea (the principal states posing a cyber threat to Western interests); and India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam (four countries at earlier stages in their cyber-power development). It is an ongoing study, which will cover a total of 40 countries, including Germany, Singapore, Nigeria among others.

India has been put in the third tier meant for countries that have strengths or potential strengths in some of these categories but “significant weaknesses” in others. Also in this category are: Japan, Iran, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and North Korea.

In the second tier, with world-leading strengths in “some” categories are: Australia, Canada, China, France, Israel, Russia and the United Kingdom.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 28, 2021 at 9:29am

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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 29, 2021 at 7:55am

Pakistan-linked hackers targeted Indian power company with ReverseRat

A threat actor with suspected ties to Pakistan has been striking government and energy organizations in the South and Central Asia regions to deploy a remote access trojan on compromised Windows systems, according to new research.

"Most of the organizations that exhibited signs of compromise were in India, and a small number were in Afghanistan," Lumen's Black Lotus Labs said in a Tuesday analysis. "The potentially compromised victims aligned with the government and power utility verticals."

Some of the victims include a foreign government organization, a power transmission organization, and a power generation and transmission organization. The covert operation is said to have begun at least in January 2021.

The intrusions are notable for a number of reasons, not least because in addition to its highly-targeted nature, the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) adopted by the adversary rely on repurposed open-source code and the use of compromised domains in the same country as the targeted entity to host their malicious files.

At the same time, the group has been careful to hide their activity by modifying the registry keys, granting them the ability to surreptitiously maintain persistence on the target device without attracting attention.

Explaining the multi-step infection chain, Lumen noted the campaign "resulted in the victim downloading two agents; one resided in-memory, while the second was side-loaded, granting threat actor persistence on the infected workstations."

The attack commences with a malicious link sent via phishing emails or messages that, when clicked, downloads a ZIP archive file containing a Microsoft shortcut file (.lnk) and a decoy PDF file from a compromised domain.

The shortcut file, besides displaying the benign document to the unsuspecting recipient, also takes care of stealthily fetching and running an HTA (HTML application) file from the same compromised website.

The lure documents largely describe events catering to India, disguising as a user manual for registering and booking an appointment for COVID-19 vaccine through the CoWIN online portal, while a few others masquerade as the Bombay Sappers, a regiment of the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 29, 2021 at 7:59pm

#PMImranKhan: #China-#Pakistan relationship is extremely strong. The idea that #India is supposed to lean to the Western world to counterbalance China is going to be very detrimental for India. - Global Times #Modi #Quad #US #Australia #Japan #CPEC

Khan noted that relations between China and Pakistan have nothing to do with India. The two countries have a long history of diplomatic ties. "Our bilateral relations are extremely strong," Khan said.

Recently, Khan has been under vicious attacks from some Western media outlets because he did not criticize China's policy in Xinjiang during an interview with Axios news website. Some even claimed that the interview showed how China buys silence over Uygurs.

Asked about how he would respond to these voices, Khan told the Global Times that the version from China about what is happening in Xinjiang is completely different to what is being portrayed by Western media and Western governments.

"We have a very strong relationship with China based on trust. So we actually accept the Chinese version," he said.

He criticized Western media for being "hypocritical" as they turned a blind eye to the serious human rights problems in Kashmir.

During Tuesday's press conference, Khan also congratulated China and the Communist Party of China (CPC) for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Party. He highly praised China's anti-corruption fight and the miracle that China and the CPC were able to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

He told media that the CPC is a unique model. While they had been told that the best way for a society to improve itself is to follow the Western system of liberal democracy, the CPC actually beat all Western democracies by nurturing a society that brings things forward.

"What the CPC has done is that, without that electoral democracy, it has actually fared much better. What I saw in China when I visit the Communist Party headquarters and when they give us briefings about their system of sifting talent and then grooming it and bringing it up, for me it is probably more remarkable than any electoral democracy."

He stressed that the CPC has a flexible system when they want to try something. The system allows them to bring a change, while in Western democracies it is very difficult. Besides, China has long-term planning while in an electoral democracies people only look for the next presidential term.

This year also marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Pakistan. Khan stated that Pakistan is committed to strengthening its political relations with China, as well as in the economy and trade.

"The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a flagship program of the Belt and Road Initiative, and for Pakistan, it is the one program which gives us the greatest optimism and hope for our future economic development."

He said that Pakistan hopes to attract Chinese industry to the country's special economic zones by offering incentives to businesses. "In Pakistan, the labor is much cheaper than in China. We hope to attract businesses which will benefit from our cheaper labor."

Pakistan also hopes to get more help from China to develop its agriculture and improve productivity.

Khan said that the great power rivalry between the US and China is taking place in the region. "It creates problems because what the US is doing is building this regional alliance called the QUAD.

"From that point of view, Pakistan thinks that it is very unfair for the US and all other powers like us to take sides. Why do we have to take sides as we should have good relationship with everyone? It is not going to happen if this pressure is put on Pakistan to change its relationship or downgrade relations with China. Because relations between Pakistan and China are very deep. It is not just between governments, It is a people to people relationship," he said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 12, 2021 at 4:31pm

Sashi Tharoor: #India besieged by #Covid19, rising #poverty, falling #GDP growth & tensions with #China & #Pakistan. #Modi's embrace of the #Quad with the #US, #Japan and #Australia should be seen in this light: it is shield, more than sword via @scmpnews

The Hindu nationalist BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government in India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi marked the seventh anniversary of its ascent to power a little over a month ago without any of its customary fanfare. The subdued air around the government’s conduct reveals a country in many ways under siege.
First of all, the deadly coronavirus has besieged India, with the authorities’ response to a devastating second wave bordering between the inept and the irresponsible. So far, close to 400,000 people have lost their lives, though unofficial estimates place the toll much higher. More than 30 million people have been infected; many have had to struggle for basic supplies of medicines and oxygen in the last three months, as hospitals overflowed and the health-care system buckled under the pressure. Only 4 per cent of Indians are fully vaccinated, the government having failed to order sufficient doses even while it was boasting that it had done the world a favour by preventing a major calamity.
Next, the economy is under siege. The GDP growth rate has cratered, thanks in part (but not only) to the draconian nationwide lockdown imposed in March 2020 and fitfully renewed since. Some 75 million people were pushed below the poverty line in 2020 and 97 per cent of Indians reported becoming poorer during the last year. Unemployment figures are at the highest levels ever recorded. Tens of thousands of micro, small and medium enterprises (especially those employing fewer than twenty people) have been forced to close. India’s middle class is estimated to have shrunk by 32 million in the last year. It is clear that both lives and livelihoods have been in jeopardy since the Modi government’s re-election in May 2019.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 16, 2021 at 11:26am

‘Ram bharose’: why India has become a failed state?
The current Covid crisis has tested states globally for their ability to handle challenges

The current Covid crisis has tested states globally for their ability to handle challenges emerging out of this pandemic. In case of India, the Covid crisis seems to have made a permanent home in the corridors of Rajpath. Few days back, Allahabad High Court rebuked the UP government for its collapsing health system in rural areas and leaving the poor people to ‘Ram bharose’.

India has failed its people because of five major factors: poor governance, a disregard of lower classes, a confused and fake leadership, bankruptcy of morality, and hiding of health data. These are covered in detail here.

Starting from forewarning, timely decisions and interventions to the health management, the current crisis has been an unfortunate saga of one failure after the other. India had built an image of a cheap and high-quality health system for the last three decades. Combined with tourist attractions, India named it health tourism. It was projected that you could get a cheap deal by enjoying medical treatment at state-of-the-art hospitals, with highly qualified medical staff looking after you along with tourism.

No wonder the Indian government and private hospitals made fortunes out of this package.

The advent of Covid and its second wave in April this year exposed the Indian health system. Starting from the top, Indian political leadership had put cronies in charge of the Covid crisis management, the Godi media and the sycophant cabal of Modi lovers in the cabinet kept the poor Indians in good humour by his famous strategy of ‘sab changa see’. Last year, when Narendra Modi shut down India without warning, an exodus occurred of millions of poor workers from big cities to the villages. We named it the March of Shame, as poor and lower-class workers were abandoned by the states and the union government to travel hundreds of miles on foot.

Although few journalists like Barkha Dutt and some YouTubers covered this arduous journey of migrant workers, the Godi media did not allow it to become a major issue as it affected the so-called image of Modi’s progressive India.

Two weeks ago, a British channel, 4 News, interviewed Sir Anish Kapoor where he revealed some eye-opening, bitter facts. Kapoor feels that the environment of disenfranchisement of the lower class has been ingrained in the Indian psyche for a millennia and nothing will change because of following reasons:

One, whatever you do in India, there is someone lower than you to suffer. You don’t have to pick up your rubbish, someone else will do so. Two, historic disdain of castes, which is a racial looking down upon the dark-skinned downtrodden people. Three, it doesn’t matter that the lower class dies — the invisible and unwanted ones are suffering the most from Covid as no one in the upper class is bothered. Four, there has never been an anti-poverty riot in India in the past many centuries, as the lower classes are so suppressed that they cannot raise their voice for poverty.

While it is important to discuss the physical aspects, the most alarming thing that emerged out of this crisis is the moral question. As mismanagement and poor governance led to a shortage of oxygen and lifesaving medicines, the worst side of corporate India came into action. The price of Remdesivir went up from Rs10,000 Rs70,000; ambulance fares to ferry patients and dead bodies went up five times; MPs from BJP were seen selling hospital beds for Covid patients; an oxygen cylinder jumped from Rs7,000 to Rs40,000.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 21, 2021 at 6:08pm

Michele Flournoy, an undersecretary of defence in the Obama administration, has previously talked about sinking the entire Chinese Navy (PLAN) fleet in 72 hours.

In an article in the journal Foreign Affairs in June, Flournoy said that as Washington’s ability and resolve to counter Beijing’s military assertiveness in the region declined, the US needed a solid deterrence to reduce the risk of “miscalculation” by China’s leadership.

Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.

“For example, if the US military had the capability to credibly threaten to sink all of China’s military vessels, submarines, and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours, Chinese leaders might think twice before, say, launching a blockade or invasion of Taiwan; they would have to wonder whether it was worth putting their entire fleet at risk,” Flournoy said.

Defence and diplomatic observers said that realising that idea would come at huge cost but appointing its advocate would signal that the US would keep piling military pressure on China.

Collin Koh, a research fellow from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said one point was certain no matter who took office.

“Irrespective of who’s in the White House, the ability to sustain credible deterrence and if necessary, defeat [People’s Liberation Army] aggression against Taiwan in line with the Taiwan Relations Act, would have been seen as a given,” Koh said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 27, 2021 at 6:54pm

#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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 3, 2021 at 5:40pm

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.


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