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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Views: 327

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 23, 2021 at 5:46pm

#COVIDEmergency : The poor, the rich: In a sick #India, all are on their own. Well-connected bureaucrats, and the people who clean the sewers. Wealthy businessmen fight for hospital beds, & powerful govt officials send tweets begging for oxygen. #Modi #BJP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But every day, thousands more people die.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 24, 2021 at 5:31pm

As #covid19 devastates rural #India, #Modi focuses on covering govt incompetence. #Media focus is on lack of oxygen in cities but the real carnage is unfolding in #Indian villages, where access to basic #healthcare is virtually nonexistent. #BJP #Hindutva

Rana Ayub

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

But as hard as officials try to hide the truth, people are suffering and showing their discontent. Yogi Adityanath, the radical monk who is the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and is seen by many as a possible successor to Modi in the next general elections, is now facing the wrath of the villages — his party suffered a defeat in the local elections.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 24, 2021 at 6:33pm

#India #COVID : Dirty oxygen cylinders, ventilators behind ‘black fungus’? A rapid rise in cases of mucormycosis, also known as “black fungus”, has added to the challenges as India deals with a massive second wave of COVID-19 infections. via @AJEnglish

COVID-19 has been associated with a wide range of secondary bacterial and fungal infections, but experts say India’s second COVID wave has created a perfect environment for mucormycosis.

Low oxygen, diabetes, high iron levels, immunosuppression, as well as several other factors including prolonged hospitalisation with mechanical ventilators, creates an ideal milieu for contracting mucormycosis, researchers wrote in the journal Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews.

“It is a new challenge and things are looking bleak,” said Ambrish Mithal, the chairman and head of the endocrinology and diabetes department at Max Healthcare, a chain of private hospitals in India.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 25, 2021 at 8:27pm

Top #Pakistan #health official doesn't foresee #India scenario. Says Pakistan avoided a similar scenario to India because thousands of beds were added to hospitals and the production of #oxygen was increased as part of a contingency plan. via @YahooNews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He said Pakistan after months of wait received its first supply of COVID-19 vaccines through the U.N.-backed COVAX initiative, over 1.2 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, earlier this month. However, he said Pakistan is relying on vaccines purchased from China and enough funds were available for such purchases.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 26, 2021 at 10:44am

Modi's Hindu Nationalism (Islamophobia) Hurts Everyone, Including Hindus

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 26, 2021 at 7:22pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The next day, federal Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan wrote a two-page letter to Ramdev, urging him to withdraw his “objectionable statement completely”.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 27, 2021 at 8:02am

#SiliconValley is in a high-stakes standoff with #India. #Modi's government insists that the new regulations are reasonable and will help protect national security, maintain public order and reduce crime. #media #democracy #BJP #Hindutva #COVID19

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

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

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

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

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

The new rules, which were issued in February, include demands that companies create special compliance officers in India. There are also requirements that services remove some content, including posts that feature "full or partial nudity."
Additionally, tech platforms would have to trace the "first originator" of messages if asked by authorities — a requirement that compelled WhatsApp to file its legal complaint against the government. The company said this demand would break the platform's "end-to-end encryption and fundamentally undermines people's right to privacy."
A government "that chooses to mandate traceability is effectively mandating a new form of mass surveillance," WhatsApp has written in a blog post about why it opposes the practice.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 28, 2021 at 12:08pm

#COVID19 overwhelmed #India’s hospitals, & some doctors there are convinced it has gotten more virulent. They described seeing faster-spreading lung damage and faster-dropping #oxygen levels among relatively young patients, and longer recovery times.

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

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

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

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

Epidemiologists cautioned that what Indian doctors are describing is anecdotal evidence, and that more study is needed to determine whether mutations in the virus in India have led to more-severe disease. Other factors could explain what the doctors are seeing, particularly longer waits for hospital care, they said. The recent Covid-19 surge overwhelmed India’s healthcare system, leading to shortages of beds, oxygen and medication at hospitals.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 28, 2021 at 4:18pm

#Pakistan reports first confirmed case of #Indian #coronavirus variant. Health ministry: "The (genome) sequencing results confirmed [the] detection of seven cases of B.1.351 (#SouthAfrican variant) and one case of B.1.617.2 (Indian variant)" #COVID19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 1, 2021 at 9:59am

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

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