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 3, 2021 at 7:42pm

#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 https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2021/05/indian-american-...

by Prachi Gupta

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.”

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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.

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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 4, 2021 at 12:57pm

#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. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/india-covid-crisis-deaths-vaccine-oxygen/

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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 5, 2021 at 7:54am

#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 https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/05/05/99...

"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."

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 5, 2021 at 6:15pm

#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 https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/may/05/help-desks-for-... 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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 6, 2021 at 7:16am

#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 https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/05/06/coronavirus-covid-...

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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 6, 2021 at 9:17am

#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 https://cnb.cx/2PS2TH8

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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 6, 2021 at 4:43pm

#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

https://www.economist.com/asia/2021/05/08/indias-national-governmen...

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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 7, 2021 at 4:17pm

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 https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/the-taste-with-vir-sanghvi-t...


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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 7, 2021 at 4:58pm

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 https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/06/india/india-modi-parliament-intl-hnk...

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."

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 7, 2021 at 6:31pm

India’s Covid crisis exposes its great power delusions | TRT World

https://www.trtworld.com/opinion/india-s-covid-crisis-exposes-its-g...


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.

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