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 May 8, 2021 at 1:45pm

An Open Letter to #Modi #Bhakts in #America: Your God has Feet of Clay and Blood on His Hands.Your God does not feel the pain of others or acknowledge his role in inflicting the worst on them. #COVID19India #India #BJP #coronavirus #pandemic https://americankahani.com/perspectives/an-open-letter-to-modi-bhak...

Vineetha Mokkil
BY 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?

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 9, 2021 at 12:35pm

The second wave and the Indian State

By Yamini Aiyar

https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/the-second-wave-and-the-indi...


Pritchett turned to India’s public health system to illustrate his argument. When you talked to the top tiers of India’s government, he said, you get an elaborate story of facilities, human resources, health services and programmes. But travel to any part of India, particularly in the north, Pritchett noted, and it became clear that this description of India’s “health system” was, in fact, a complete fiction.

As the horror and suffering of the second wave of Covid-19 unfold, one thing is clear. In the short decade between when Pritchett first posited the idea of the flailing State and today, India has transitioned to a failed State. The “fiction” of India’s health system is now exposed. And as hapless citizens struggle to find oxygen, basic medicines, hospital beds, the once sound and functional “head”, or more specifically the national government, is no longer visible. Indeed, it has abdicated from all responsibility, from leadership and governance.

The flailing State, in Pritchett’s formulation, was capable of undertaking “thin”, logistical, tasks. Tasks where goals are clear, outputs visible and command-and-control actions could be deployed. After all, India managed to conduct large-scale elections, vaccination programmes (the irony is inescapable), even handled natural disaster relief with relative competence.

Yet, when it comes to Covid-19 management, the Centre has failed to perform even these logistical tasks — oxygen supply, availability and access to basic medicines, treatment protocols, data systems, vaccinations. The political leadership, from the prime minister (PM) downwards, is completely absent and the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) — whose “brain power”, as Pritchett saw it, could capably formulate excellent policies — is drafting botched-up and confused policy. It is extraordinary that oxygen supply chains and aid distribution cannot be streamlined weeks after hospitals and state governments sounded alarm bells. Of course, when all else fails, we are reminded that health is, after all, a state subject.

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Battling Covid-19 requires political maturity. This cannot be done in an institutional vacuum. One option is to set up an inter-state council within the National Disaster Management Authority, comprising the PM, chief ministers, senior ministers and bureaucrats from both states and the Centre. Institutionalised coordination will send the right signals to the limbs of the once flailing State. But this requires political leadership and trust. It’s not too late. But soon it will be.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 9, 2021 at 1:02pm

On the shelf are four books heralding India as a superpower. All published in the past two decades. How did so many Indians fall for this delusion? How did so many Indians tolerate the charlatans who sold it? The Soviet Union at its most decrepit was less hollow than this India.

https://twitter.com/kapskom/status/1391010523131654145?s=20

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 11, 2021 at 5:18pm

#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 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/11/world/asia/covid-india-ganges-ox...


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.

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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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 13, 2021 at 8:28am

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 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/13/opinion/india-coronavirus-vaccin...

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.


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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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 15, 2021 at 7:56am

India’s #coronavirus crisis spreads to its villages, where #healthcare is hard to find. 75% of all districts in #India are reporting a positivity rate of more than 10%, a #health official said Tuesday, an indication of how widely the #virus had spread. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/05/15/india-coronavirus-r...

The illness traveled silently through the narrow lanes of this prosperous village in Uttar Pradesh, infecting both young and old. People complained of fevers, cough and breathlessness. Then they began to die.

Vipin Kumar, a farmer in his 40s, was one of them. Last week, a feverish Kumar lay in pain on a cot in the courtyard of his family’s modest home, which abuts a maize field.

On the fifth day, his breathing became labored, and the family was advised by a local doctor to rush him to a big city 25 miles away — a formidable task the family could not manage, according to his son, Devendra. That evening, on May 10, his body began to shake violently and he died soon after.


More than 20 people with coronavirus symptoms have died in the village over the past two weeks, according to locals, a significant increase over the three or four deaths per month the village saw before the pandemic. Most of them, like Kumar, were never tested.

“Not a day goes by when there are no deaths,” said Hariom Raghav, a farmer and businessman who had just returned from a cremation. “If things continue like this, the village will empty out soon.”


The story of Banail has been playing out in villages across India as the virus continues its deadly surge: Rural areas, where over 65 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people live, had been spared in the first wave of the pandemic but are now facing devastating numbers of infections. Three quarters of all districts in India are reporting a positivity rate of more than 10 percent, a health official said Tuesday, an indication of how widely the virus had spread.

With more than 23 million reported cases, India is the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. The country is recording more than 4,000 deaths a day, which experts say is an undercount. This week the World Health Organization classified the variant first found in India as a variant of “concern” and said initial studies suggested it spreads more easily.

Health-care infrastructure in villages — deficient at best or missing altogether before the pandemic — is ill-equipped to service the current needs. India’s rural health-care system has far fewer specialist doctors than needed. Low levels of awareness among villagers about coronavirus prevention and a slow rollout of vaccines has added to worries.

At the center of this crisis in the hinterland is the state of Uttar Pradesh — home to 230 million people, more than the population of Brazil. It is also one of the poorest and least-developed states. In April, local elections were held in villages across the state, which officials say led to the surge in rural areas. According to a teachers’ organization, more than 700 government teachers who were assigned to poll duty died after the elections, many after testing positive for the coronavirus. At the start of the month, the state was recording just over 2,500 cases. By the end of the month, as the elections wrapped up, cases surged to nearly 35,000.

This week, dozens of bodies suspected to be coronavirus patients have been found floating in India’s holy Ganges river in areas of Uttar Pradesh and its adjoining state, raising fears that corpses are being cast into the river because crematoriums are overwhelmed.

Activist and farmer leader Yogendra Yadav wrote that “sheer political callousness” has made the state the epicenter of “one of the worst” disasters in 21st century India. Recently, legislators from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party wrote to the state chief minister to raise an alarm over the situation in rural areas.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 15, 2021 at 9:29am

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 https://www.wsj.com/articles/as-india-hunkers-down-to-fight-covid-1...


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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 17, 2021 at 4:21pm

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. https://tribune.com.pk/story/2300144/tauktae-drifts-towards-india-t...

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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 19, 2021 at 11:41am

World's deadliest day in #India with 4,500 #Covid_19 deaths. Official stats significantly understate fatalities. Crematorium figures, obituaries and death certificates have repeatedly indicated higher numbers of deaths. #ModiMustResign #BJP #Hindutva https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/india-deadliest-c...

For a doctor, it was another 18-hour day trying to rescue patients who could not be saved. For a crematorium official, it was one more procession of victims. For the family of a young academic, it was a time to mourn its second loss to the virus just this month.

India reported more than 4,500 deaths from covid-19 on Wednesday for the prior 24 hours, the worst single-day death toll in any country since the pandemic began and a grim marker of the scale of the outbreak ravaging this nation of 1.3 billion people.

The previous high for daily fatalities in the pandemic — 4,400 — occurred in the United States on Jan. 20, according to data from The Washington Post.

While the official statistics on covid-19 deaths in India are devastating, they do not capture the full scope of the calamity. Crematorium figures, obituaries and death certificates have repeatedly indicated higher numbers of deaths in this wave of infections than are reflected in the data from local and national authorities.

Deaths from covid-19 lag infections by several weeks, and there are signs that after an exponential rise, the surge in India appears to be moderating. The country has reported fewer than 300,000 new infections each day this week, still a large number but lower than the record-shattering 414,000-plus daily cases recorded earlier this month.

In New Delhi, India’s capital, the number of new cases has fallen sharply after more than a month of lockdown measures. The slowing growth rate has helped ease the immense pressure on the city’s hospitals, which were turning away patients and grappling with shortages of oxygen earlier this month.

Yet the situation remains dire, notably in rural areas, where the majority of Indians live and where health care is scarce. In India’s vast hinterland, scores of people are dying with covid symptoms without being tested. Hundreds of bodies have been found floating in the Ganges River or buried in shallow graves near its banks.


Sanjeev Goyal, a civil servant with the Defense Ministry, lost his 23-year-old wife, Nidhi Goyal, a teacher, to the virus in April. The family found her a hospital bed in Delhi after a frantic search, but when her condition turned critical, no ventilator was available, Goyal said. She was six months pregnant.

Goyal returned to his small ancestral village in the state of Bihar to immerse his wife’s ashes according to tradition. The number of people complaining of fever, coughs and sore throats in the village is on the rise, he said. But officially there are no coronavirus cases there because “not even a single person has been tested.”

He blames the Delhi authorities for forcing him to search for a ventilator and criticized a lack of preparation by the central government for the second wave. “I will carry this pain for the rest of my life that I couldn’t see her face properly one last time,” Goyal said.


A covid-19 patient receives oxygen outside a government-run hospital in Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir, on May 19. (Channi Anand/AP)
The deadly surge has spurred anger against the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who held election rallies and allowed a massive religious gathering to proceed even as cases spiked. Modi last addressed the nation on the coronavirus crisis on April 20. In recent days, he has talked about the need to help rural and remote areas combat the pandemic.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 19, 2021 at 4:04pm

#Modi's approval fall amid #India's #COVID19 crisis. Those saying “very satisfied” fall sharply to 40% from 64% last year. Those “not at all satisfied” is up to 32%, up from 15% last year. Modi still gets a 60% rating as preferred Prime Minister candidate. https://fortune.com/2021/05/03/india-covid-narendra-modi-popularity...


Indian Prime Minister Modi's diehard fan following is legendary. But the tsunami of COVID cases that has slammed India in recent weeks, filling hospitals and overwhelming crematoriums, is testing Modi’s popularity like no other crisis has.

India recorded 2.6 million new COVID cases and 23,800 related deaths in the past week. On Monday alone, India recorded 368,147 new infections and 3,417 deaths. People are dying from lack of medical supplies and equipment, just weeks after India dispatched vaccines and medicines to the rest of the world, confident the virus threat had receded at home.

The wave of infections has incited criticism of Modi. Opponents say he was too quick to declare victory over the virus and prioritized politics over public health by holding huge rallies for state elections as the second wave gathered steam. The outcome of those elections suggest that Modi’s party remains resilient, even in the face of catastrophe, but opinion polling proves that the COVID crisis is tarnishing the Prime Minister’s once-unassailable approval rating.


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opinions are more divided over COVID-19; some perceive it as a man-made virus unleashed by China, and others blame it on a failure of management by Indian authorities. There was some anger over the lockdown Modi imposed with little warning during India’s first COVID wave in March 2020, but the general public thought that he was trying to protect them. Anger over the second wave is directed at the state governments of the worst-affected regions, the federal government, and the public’s own lax adherence to protocols like wearing masks and social distancing.

The second wave of the COVID crisis also threatens to choke the recovery of India's economy. Dipti Deshpande, principal economist at CRISIL Ratings, said that her firm is maintaining its GDP growth forecast of 11% for fiscal year 2022. But she acknowledged the firm may need to reconsider that estimate if the rate of new COVID cases, now running three times levels during the peak of last year’s wave, forces more lockdowns through May.

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Given the current crisis, however, even leading industry officials are urging Modi to tame the virus, no matter the economic cost. Uday Kotak, president of Confederation of Indian Industry, said in a statement on Sunday that his organization urged “the strongest national steps including curtailing economic activity to reduce suffering.”

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