April 18, 2020

Future of Arctic Security


The Arctic environment is changing rapidly due to climate change. Despite continued cooperation between the Arctic states and other countries, the risk of the region becoming a playground for great power competition is increasing. _Current trends point to a further geopolitisation of the area, multiplied by the melting of ice._ Increasingly, Russia, China and the United States will compete in the Arctic in the context of the global power game. Moscow is stepping up its military activities and securitisation is increasingly characterising the American Arctic policy. Beijing is increasing its financial- economic investment in the region, which serves its long-term agenda of becoming a global superpower. The US administration has already started to respond, both by accusing Russia and China of their geopolitical activities as well as by stepping up its own involvement in the region. As a result, Arctic security is more prominently on the agenda than ever before.

Read full report.

Mata Nasti Pita Nasti

ఆదిశంకరులవారు సన్యాసం తీసుకోని హిందూధర్మ పునరుధ్ధరణ కోసం దేశాటన చేస్తున్న కాలంలో వారి మాతృమూర్తి అర్యాంబ ఆరోగ్యం బాగాలేదని దివ్యదృష్ఠి తో తెలిసి హుటాహుటి తమ జన్మస్థలం కలడి వెళ్ళారు. తాము ఆమెకు ఇచ్చిన మాట నిలబెట్టుకోని ఆమె అవసానదశలో ప్రక్కన ఉండి ఆమె మరణానంతరం తల్లి అంత్యక్రియలు చేసి మాతృణం తీర్చుకున్నారు. మొదటి శ్లోకం:

మాతా నాస్తి, పితా నాస్తి, 
నాస్తి బంధు సహోదర, 
అర్ధం నాస్తి గృహం నాస్తి, 
తస్మాత్ జాగృత, జాగృత

మనం నిత్యమూ చూసేవి సత్యం కాదు--చివరకు మీ తల్లి, తండ్రి , బంధువులూ సహోదరులూ, ధనమూ, గృహమూ కూడా అనిత్యాలు. ఇవే సత్యాలు అనుకోవద్దు. భగవంతుడు సత్యం, ఇవేవీ కాదు.తెలుసుకో, కనుక మెళుకువగా ఉండు. సన్యసించిన తరువాత కూడా తల్లి అంత్యక్రియలు చేసిన భగవత్పాదులు ఈ మాటలు చెప్పటంలో ఆదిశంకరులవారు అందరూ సన్యసించమనే పలాయన మంత్రం బోధించటం లేదు.నీవు నిజమనుకుంటున్నవన్నీ సత్యమూ నిత్యమూ కాదూ అంటే నీ విధ్యుక్త ధర్మాలు నిర్వహించవద్దని కాదు.

కామ క్రోధంచ లోభంచ
దేహే తిష్టంతి తస్కరాః
ఙ్ఞాన రత్నాపహారాయ
తస్మాత్ జాగృత జాగృత

కామమూ, క్రోధమూ, లోభమూ అనేవి శరీరంలో తిష్ఠ వేసుకుని ఉండే దొంగలు. ఈ దొంగలు ఙ్ఞానమనే రత్నాన్ని దొంగిలించుకొని పోతవి.

ఆశయాబధ్ధతే లోకా
కర్మణా బహుచింతయా
అయుక్షీణం నజానాతి
తస్మాత్ జాగృత జాగృత

ఈ లోకమంతా ఆశ అనే పాశంతో కట్టబడి ఉన్నవి. మన పనులూ బాధలలో ముణిగి, మన అయువు క్షీణిస్తున్నదనే తెలుసుకోము. జాగ్రత్త.

జన్మ దుఃఖం జరా దుఃఖం
జాయా దుఃఖం పునహ్పునః
సంసార సాగరం దుఃఖం
తస్మాత్ జాగృత జాగృత

మనిషి పుట్టుకే దుఖహేతువు, అట్లాగే ముసలితనమూ, భార్యా, మాటిమాటికీ జన్మజన్మకీ వచ్చే సంసారసాగరమూ ఇవన్నీదుఖహేతువులే.. వీటివలన నీకు ఏదో సుఖం అబ్బుతుందనే భ్రమలో ఉండవద్దు... మేలుకో.

Blaming Muslims

Blaming Muslims

 April 18, 2020

IN a radical move that bears all the hallmarks of bigotry, India has brought charges of culpable homicide against a senior cleric for holding a gathering last month that authorities say led to a big jump in coronavirus infections in that country.

Head of the Delhi-based Tableeghi Jamaat Markaz, Maulana Muhammad Saad Khandalvi was booked for manslaughter by police under a provision of the Penal Code which carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison.

While there is little doubt that Tableeghi Jamaat leaders acted irresponsibly by continuing congregations in several countries, including Pakistan, despite the threat from the coronavirus, the extreme reaction from the Indian authorities betrays the latter’s intolerant and bigoted approach towards Muslim citizens.

The action is very much in line with India’s unabashed and sustained discrimination against Muslims under the Modi regime.

The recent move to stigmatise and make an example of a Muslim community leader has not occurred in a vacuum.

It closely follows the dangerous path cemented by the ruling BJP and its Hindu supremacist outlook.

From the crackdown on India-held Kashmir, to the biased citizenship law that blatantly targets Muslims, India has over the last year been creating a suffocating atmosphere of fear and hostility for one of the largest Muslim populations in the world.

In this time of crisis, attempting to blame a race or religion can be dangerous, and will push an already battered community to the edge.

Repeated attempts by US President Donald Trump to frame the coronavirus as a ‘Chinese virus’ have resulted in a marked escalation in racism-fuelled attacks on Asian communities.

Similarly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s systematic targeting of Muslims and the impunity with which his government publicly attacks them have set the stage for grave repercussions for the community.

In the aftermath of BJP officials labelling Tableeghi leaders as “Talibani criminals” and bandying about the term “corona jihad”, a string of anti-Muslim attacks have been reported in India.

Muslim men distributing food to the poor have been beaten with cricket bats; many others have been labelled “virus spreaders”, badly beaten or chased out from their residential communities.

A report in The Guardian describes how Muslim-owned businesses have been boycotted and workers accused of spitting in food and infecting water supplies with the virus.

As the world grapples with the deadly Covid-19 phenomenon which has severe consequences for society and the economy, the Indian government must put humanity first.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2020

TRIVIUM CHINA: Tag-team telecomforting

Malodorous numbers -- China Tip Sheet April 17, 2020
Trivium China
to me
21 hours ago
Trivium China

FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2020

The Tip Sheet

Know China Better.



"[T]he stability of...the supply chain is impacted to some extent."

- Xu Kemin, Director of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology Industrial Policy and Regulations Department

Context: Talk about an understatement. Xu made this comment Thursday while discussing the difficulties facing Chinese firms in procuring key components from foreign producers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies have been forced to jack up their prices to offset the increased cost of sourcing materials from abroad. Beijing may not like it, but China’s economic recovery will depend strongly on when the rest of the world reopens for business. More in the Tip Sheet below.

Pandemic or no, the stability (and quality) of the Tip Sheet will not be affected. Keep the Tip Sheet’s supply chain unbroken by forwarding today’s note to friends and colleagues who can click here to subscribe.

And keep the great comments coming!



Driving the Day

1. Wuhan revises up COVID-19 deaths and cases

This morning, the NHC dropped the latest numbers for domestic COVID-19 cases.

On April 16 (NHC):

  • There were 26 new COVID-19 cases, of which 15 were imported.
Local transmission continued in Guangdong and Heilongjiang.
  • Five local transmissions were recorded in Guangdong and three in Heilongjiang.
There were also 66 new asymptomatic cases, of which three were imported.

But here's the big news: The Wuhan government have revised up their estimates of both confirmed cases and deaths over the course of the outbreak (Xinhua 1):
  • As of yesterday, the number of confirmed cases in Wuhan went up to 50,333 from 50,008.
  • Deaths went up to 3,869 from 2,579.
The official explanation raised a few eyebrows (Xinhua 2):
  • Everything was hectic during the outbreak and both the government and the medical system were too thinly stretched to keep an accurate count.

Get smart: Many welcomed the step as a (small) concession to transparency.

Our take: There are good reasons to be skeptical of China's figures, particularly in Wuhan. We believe cases and deaths were underreported there, especially during the chaos at the beginning of the outbreak.

But...we also don't think the official numbers are too far off the mark. Our contacts in Wuhan don't think the numbers are grossly underestimated. And we don't think the government would be reopening the economy if it didn’t think the virus was under control.

NHC: 截至4月16日24时新型冠状病毒肺炎疫情最新情况
Xinhua: 关于武汉市新冠肺炎确诊病例数确诊病例死亡数订正情况的通报
Xinhua: 武汉市新冠肺炎确诊病例数确诊病例死亡数订正情况答记者问

Finance & Economics

2. Quarterly GDP sees deep contraction

It’s official: Chinese GDP contracted by 6.8% y/y in Q1 2020, on a real basis.

  • In real q/q terms: The economy shrunk by 9.8%.
Some context: These numbers are the lowest on record – by far – but they are in line with the consensus projections from economists.
  • Anyone who’s been paying the slightest attention to China over the past three months already knew the economy shrank significantly during that period.
  • With the vast majority of businesses shut down for weeks, the extent of economic weakness was clear to everyone.
Quick take: It’s not really worth breaking down the performance in the various parts of the economy for the quarter.
  • Every industry was in the doldrums during the COVID-19 shutdown.
  • That said, agricultural production held up okay, growing by 3.5% y/y. That makes sense – people still gotta eat.

What it means: The economy has a deep hole to climb out of in Q2, and while March already saw significant improvement from February (see next entry), policymakers have much more work to do to achieve even a semblance of economic normalcy.

Get smart: As we said yesterday, any GDP number above -5% would not be credible. We think the contraction was deeper than the official data, but at least these numbers pass the smell test.

NBS: 统筹疫情防控和经济社会发展成效显著 3月份主要经济指标降幅明显收窄


Intern with Trivium

Trivium is looking for a few good research interns, based anywhere, to help us dig up data in some exciting new fields. You'll need solid Chinese reading skills and an obsessive interest in China's political economy.


Finance & Economics

3. Slower economic contraction in March is a win

The stats bureau also released March economic data on Friday morning.

The headline: Things were bad – but much better than in the Jan-Feb period.

The details:

  • Industrial production contracted by 1.1% y/y – vastly improved from the 25.9% contraction in Jan-Feb.
  • Fixed asset investment contracted by 10.9% y/y – improved from the 24.5% contraction in Jan-Feb.
  • Retail sales contracted by 15.8% y/y – improved from the 20.5% contraction in Jan-Feb.
  • The surveyed unemployment rate came in at 5.9% in March – down from 6.2% at the end of February.
Get smart: The economy was clearly still contracting in March, although it was contracting less quickly than in February – which makes sense given then resumption of business throughout the month.

Get smarter: The most concerning data point to us was the deeply negative retail sales. Again, it makes sense, as consumers were cautious when they came out of lockdown – reluctant to physically go to restaurants or shopping centers.
  • But weak demand is now the key variable keeping businesses from normalizing their operations – so if that number doesn’t improve in a hurry in April, then it will be a big problem.

One last thing: The surveyed employment rate doesn’t cover SMEs – so we wouldn’t put much stock in the March improvement.

NBS: 统筹疫情防控和经济社会发展成效显著 3月份主要经济指标降幅明显收窄

Finance & Economics

4. Business resumption update

Business activity in China continues its slow, upward grind, according to the Trivium Business Activity Index.

Here are our estimates as of April 17:

  • The Trivium National Business Activity Index indicates that China’s economy is operating at 82.9% of typical output, up from 82.8% on April 16.
  • The Trivium National Large Enterprise Activity Index indicates that China’s large enterprises are operating at 83.0% of typical output, showing no change from April 16.
  • The Trivium National SME Activity Index indicates that China’s small businesses are operating at 82.9% of typical output, up from 82.6% on April 16.
The All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce provides more detail on the resumption picture. It has surveyed over 80,000 private companies since late January (Yicai):
  • According to the survey, as of early April, 91.39% of private companies had resumed operations.
But this is bad:
  • Less than half were operating at above 50% capacity.

Get smart: Clearly, some SMEs are still struggling to make ends meet.

Yicai: 全国工商联调研:九成民企复工,在线经济领域民企逆势增长
Trivium: Getting China back to work

Politics & Policy

5. Breaker of chains

2020 is going to go down in the books as a bad year for globalization.

We’ll let Xu Kemin, director of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) Department of Industrial Policy and Regulations explain why (MIIT):

  • "Due to the poor flow of international personnel and logistics, enterprises that have returned to work and resumed production are again faced with the risk of having to reduce production or shutting down.”
  • “[T]he stability of the industrial chain and the supply chain is impacted to some extent."
You can say that again.

Here’s just a sampling of the woes facing Chinese companies as global supply chains break down.
  • A shortage of Ecuadorian balsa wood is delaying the construction of wind turbines in China and delaying the installation of new capacity (SCMP).
  • Automakers with production based in China are also feeling the pinch as key components become harder to source from abroad (Bloomberg).
  • Ditto excavator manufacturers who have been forced to jack up prices in response (Caixin).

Get smart: Beijing is doing its best to get the economy back on track, but can’t do much about broken global supply chains. Such are the perils of a globalized economy.

MIIT: 国务院联防联控机制新闻发布会介绍民营企业、中小企业有序推进复工复产情况
SCMP: China turbine makers winded after Ecuador lockdown leaves them without blades
Bloomberg: China’s Fledgling Car Rebound Faces Risks of Parts Shortage
Caixin: As Pandemic Epicenter Moves Abroad, Chinese Excavator-Makers Raise Prices

Politics & Policy

6. Tag-team telecomforting 

No prizes for guessing what Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang got up to on Thursday.

  • No, not making BFF bracelets in the halls of Zhongnanhai.
Instead, the duo once again hopped on the phone to various world leaders to offer aid and support in the global fight against the coronavirus.

Some context: The two leaders, especially Xi, have been on a telephonic public relations tear in recent weeks, promising support far and wide to countries still struggling with COVID-19.

On Thursday, they called:
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin (Xi)
  • Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (Li)
  • Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok (Li)
The calls followed the familiar template as exemplified by Li’s comments to Hamdok (Gov.cn):
  • “The virus is the common enemy of mankind.”
  • “[Li said] that the Chinese people are willing to join hands with the people around the world…to overcome difficulties and safeguard global public health security.”
But Xi’s call to Putin had an added flair that caught our eye (Xinhua):
  • “He stressed that politicizing and labeling of the COVID-19 pandemic are detrimental to international cooperation.”

Get smart: In an oblique jab at the US, Xi is looking to cast China as the “adult in the room” re: COVID-19.

Xinhua: Xi holds phone talks with Putin on COVID-19 pandemic
CGTN: China to support Poland's fight against the coronavirus: Chinese PM
Gov.cn: Premier Li talks with Sudan's PM over phone

April 17, 2020

Why Ventilators May Not Be Working as Well for COVID-19 Patients as Doctors Hoped

Getty Images

APRIL 16, 2020

New York City emergency-medicine physician Dr. Cameron Kyle-Sidell sparked controversy when, two weeks ago, he posted a YouTube video claiming that ventilators may be harming COVID-19 patients more than they’re helping.

“We are operating under a medical paradigm that is untrue,” Kyle-Sidell warned. “I believe we are treating the wrong disease, and I fear that this misguided treatment will lead to a tremendous amount of harm to a great number of people in a very short time.”

Weeks later, claims from Kyle-Sidell and like-minded doctors continue to spark impassioned debate within the medical community, with some doctors moving away from the use of ventilators and others defending the current standard of care. What’s clear, though, is COVID-19 patients on ventilators aren’t doing as well as doctors would hope—and health care experts are scrambling to fix it.

Mechanical ventilation always comes with risks: a tube must be placed into a patient’s airway to deliver oxygen to their body when their lungs no longer can. It’s an invasive form of support, and most doctors view it as a last resort. Under the best of circumstances, up to half of patients sick enough to require this type of ventilation won’t make it.

But for COVID-19, the numbers are even worse. Only a small portion of COVID-19 patients get sick enough to require ventilation—but for the unlucky few who do, data out of China and New York City suggest upward of 80% do not recover. A U.K. report put the number only slightly lower, at 66%.

But Dr. David Hill, a pulmonary and critical care physician who treats COVID-19 patients in Waterbury, Conn. and serves as a volunteer medical spokesperson for the American Lung Association, says arguments against COVID-19 ventilation have been over-simplified. It may be less that ventilators aren’t the proper treatment for coronavirus, and more that they’re not a panacea for a pandemic that has pushed the health care system to its breaking point, Hill argues.

“You have really sick people, [while] the people who have the best training are in short supply and ventilator management is not simple,” Hill says. If a dedicated lung specialist were available for each patient, he believes, outcomes would probably be better. They could make the subtle adjustments required for effective long-term ventilation, or try less-invasive options and only move to intubation when absolutely necessary. But with many hospitals nearly at capacity, last resorts can become first resorts.

High ventilator mortality rates in New York City suggest “a health care system failing, and not a ventilator hurting people,” Hill says. (He says telehealth consultations with pulmonology experts could provide stop-gap support for emergency-room doctors.)

Few doctors are saying COVID-19 patients should never be ventilated, but there is a growing subset that thinks it’s happening too quickly. Dr. Nicholas Hill (no relation to Dr. David Hill), chief of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and a past president of the American Thoracic Society, says he’s avoiding mechanical ventilation when he can, and finding success with some non-invasive options like flipping patients onto their stomachs, which can trigger better blood flow to the lungs.

He says some doctors are intubating early because they fear that less-intensive forms of ventilation, like high-flow nasal oxygen, can aerosolize a virus, putting health care workers at risk of getting sick. “This is more theoretical fear than a real fear,” Hill says, since there’s not strong evidence that COVID-19 spreads this way.

Tufts’ Hill also points out that patients sick enough to require intubation tend to be those who are older and have underlying conditions. These patients are not only the most likely to experience COVID-19 complications, but also the least likely to do well on an invasive form of support. “That raises the question of whether we should think more about intubating a patient who is very unlikely to do well on a breathing machine,” he says.

Finding Hope: The TIME 100 Community on Navigating Our New Reality
Here's advice from Margaret Atwood, Sundar Pichai, Stephen Curry, Tsai Ing-wen and others on how to get through the coronavirus pandemic

Then there’s the issue of how to treat patients who do end up on ventilators. Tufts’ Hill agrees that COVID-19 patients do not behave exactly like they have ARDS, a type of respiratory distress that occurs when fluid builds up in the lungs’ air sacs. The lungs usually get stiff when a patient has ARDS, requiring high-pressure ventilation to support them. But that’s not happening with many COVID-19 patients, Hill says, leading some doctors to fear that the extra pressure is actually damaging the lungs.

Even stranger, some COVID-19 patients who show very low blood oxygen levels still appear to be breathing fairly comfortably, raising even more questions about how much support they need.

Dr. Ken Lyn-Kew, a pulmonologist at National Jewish Health in Colorado, agrees that there are some differences between classic ARDS and COVID-19, but he emphasizes that there’s a lot of variation among COVID-19 patients he’s treated. He says most still meet the criteria for an ARDS diagnosis. In his view, coronavirus patients likely have ARDS plus other issues, but they still have ARDS. With so much unknown, and with treatment protocols being updated on the fly, he thinks it’s too soon for doctors to go off-book and avoid conventional protocols like mechanical ventilation.

“The world is not a dichotomous, black-and-white place, but a lot of people are having trouble with that,” Lyn-Kew says. “We might be able to do better, but in the absence of data on the way to do that, we need to follow our societal guidelines and 25 years of research.”

April 16, 2020

COVID-19: Testing the exits


Illustration of a woman pushing a virus up a hill like Sisyphus

Where's the peak? Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that the thinnest of margins — an infection rate of 1.0 vs. 1.2 — will determine whether Germany’s outbreak remains manageable or outstrips hospital capacity and forces a new clampdown.

Why it matters: The key to reopening economies will therefore be to quickly identify and isolate those who are exposed to the virus.

1. Some epidemiologists have proposed intense testing campaigns in which most of the population — even those who don’t have symptoms — are tested as often as once a week.

  • But even Germany, which has Europe's greatest testing capacity, is testing roughly 0.6% of its population each week.

2. Antibody tests could be used to pinpoint those who have recovered.

3. Contact tracing in Europe lags behind countries like South Korea, where cellphone data is used to locate and then isolate those who recently interacted with anyone who tests positive.

  • That approach is being explored in the EU, but could prove difficult due to privacy concerns.
  • Effective contact tracing will likely require not only increased testing capacities but thousands of workers to trace contacts.

4. Governments are also reserving the right to tighten lockdowns again if caseloads rise, as Singapore recently did.

  • Anders Tegnell, the epidemiologist leading Sweden’s strategy, believes that could prove fatal for public trust.
  • “Can you really go back? What does your population think if you open the schools one week and then close them the next week,” he asked in a discussion Wednesday hosted by German Marshall Fund

COVID-19: China asks MEA to import certified testing kits, PPE

Beautiful Image

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 16

Reacting to reports of defective personal protection equipment (PPE) having been exported to India, China has asked all sourcing authorities to be wary and has suggested that the problem may have arisen because the sourcing may have been done disregarding the genuineness or the ability of the supplier.

There have been reports that nearly 90,000 PPE kits from China have failed the Indian quality and safety test.

Of them, about 50,000 were among the 1.70 lakh donated units which arrived from China on April 5. Also smaller consignments of PPE, many from China, also failed the safety test.

Chinese Embassy spokesperson Ji Rong skirted the issue of even donated kits turning out to be faulty which are presumed to have been checked by the donators.

Ji had a word of advice for the Ministry of External Affairs which is in the forefront of India’s hunt for PPE, ventilators and testing kits.

“Some countries, including India, raised their purchasing demands through diplomatic channels, and we recommend qualified companies. We hope that foreign buyers can choose products certified by Chinese regulatory authorities and with production qualifications when importing relevant products,” she said.

Recently, China introduced stricter regulatory measures, requiring exporters to provide written statements that their exports have obtained the registration certificate for medical device from the State Food and Drug Administration and met the quality standards of the importing country or region

India Will Reject All Faulty PPE Kits Donated by China, Say Govt Sources; 50k of 1.7 Lakh Kits Failed Checks

China, the world’s main supplier of the kits, reportedly sent a poor-quality consignment that failed the quality tests.


Updated: April 16, 2020, 7:43 PM IST
India Will Reject All Faulty PPE Kits Donated by China, Say Govt Sources; 50k of 1.7 Lakh Kits Failed Checks
Image for representative purposes only.

New Delhi: Top government sources on Thursday told CNN-News18 that India will reject all the faulty personal protection equipment (PPE) kits donated by China and those that have failed quality checks.

China, the world’s main supplier of the kits, reportedly sent a poor-quality consignment that failed the quality tests.

At least 50,000 of the 1.7 lakh PPE kits from China failed checks, said the sources.

When questioned about the PPE quality problem, spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in India Ji Rong said Chinese authorities have recently introduced stricter regulatory measures that require relevant exporting enterprises to provide written or electronic statements when declaring to the customs that their exports have obtained the registration certificate for medical device from the State Food and Drug Administration and met the quality standards of the importing country or region.

"Some countries including India raised their purchasing demands through diplomatic channels, and we recommend qualified companies," said Ji. "We hope that foreign buyers can choose products certified by Chinese regulatory authorities and with production qualifications when importing relevant products."

India on Thursday also received the much-awaited five lakh rapid COVID-19 testing kits from China.

Earlier, a report in The Economic Times said these kits were donated to the Indian government. "Two small consignments with 30,000 and 10,000 PPE kits, too, failed tests," said a person aware of the developments.

The report stated the kits were tested at the Defence Research and Development Organisation laboratory in Gwalior. The government officials have maintained that they are procuring CE/FDAcertified PPE kits only, while the consignments that have come from China are donations.

"Kits that are not FDA/CE-approved have to pass quality tests in India," the person was quoted as saying.

According to the minutes of a meeting held by the textiles ministry on March 18 to assess the availability of protective wears for health professionals in the country, there is a shortage of vital equipment needed to protect healthcare staff from catching Covid-19 infections. The minutes stated there was dearth of body coveralls and N-95 masks.

To meet the shortfall, an order for an additional 1 million suits were placed through traders, including a Singaporean company, the report quoted people with knowledge of the plan as saying. However, all suits will be sourced from China only. "By the end of May first week, we should have these suits. More orders are being placed," they said.

China, meanwhile, has asked all the countries to import these items through reputed Chinese firms cleared by the government and vowed to punish those involved in counterfeit behaviour.

The daily News18 Coronavirus COVID-19 newsletter. Designed for mobile consumption and social distribution. 

Jaagrata Jaagrata: Awaken Awaken


This is a simple poem which is supposedly by Sri Adi shankracharya. We can make see the Truth of these verses as we journey through our lives. Every moment, every instant, we can really see how True this teaching is.

There are several such works attributed to Sri Adi Shankaracharya which may not have been actually by Sri Adi Shankaracharya himself. May be some of these were by another acharya of the shankara parampara. However in this context the content of the verses is more important than the person who wrote them.

Elsewhere I heard a story related to this song. There used to be a watchman. In olden days the watchman used to roam around singing "Jaagrata! " to mean "Be Alert/Mindful" to everyone. That was the job of the watchman , besides ofcourse the obvious task of taking care of the security. Once this watchman had to go on a vacation and so he asked his son to do the job. The next day morning the king himself came down to the watchman's house to meet his son. The watchman felt really frightened that his son might have done something wrong --- but actually he comes to learn that the king was impressed by his son's style of singing "Jaagrata ! Jaagrata!" , his son sang these slokas and evoked a sense of Truth in the people of the kingdom. These verses are really useful for contemplation as I see them.

--- Quote ---
Verse 1:

माता नास्ति पिता नास्ति नास्ति बन्धुः सहोदरः।
अर्थँ नास्ति गृहँ नास्ति तस्मात् जाग्रत जाग्रत॥

There is no mother, no father, no relationships nor any siblings.
No money or house. Therefore be alert, Wake up!

--- End quote ---

Mother, Father, relations and siblings are really sojourners in this journey of ours.
When the time of death draws near, we leave these all and move away.
We cannot carry a single object from here.
Thus, lets value the time we stay together.
when we are together, and we know its a short time we are together ... lets love each other.
love every experience we chance upon, because these experiences are not going to last.
and at the same time , lets first experience these moments because we seem to be almost
sleep walkign through life unmindful of most of the things. Lost in our ambitions, desires,
feelings, attachments etc, we miss "This Moment" where life really is. Attachment is an attempt
to stop things from moving and in this eagerness to stop things from moving, we miss the Present
and things move anyways.

Vedanta is about : being Relaxed and at the same time being Alert -- but not sleeping
Vedanta is about: being Loving and yet seeing the world as only a dream -- love without attachment.

--- Quote ---
Verse 2

जन्म दुःखँ जरा दुःखँ जाया दुःखँ पुनः पुनः।
सँसारसागरँ दुःखँ तस्मात् जाग्रत जाग्रत॥

Birth is sorrow, aging is sorrow, spouse is sorrow !
Samsara itself is sorrow, therefore remain awake! be alert!

--- End quote ---

Sorrow is when we try to stop things from moving. We tend to get into conflict with what is, because
we think this is going to be a long stay. But the reality is, things are constantly moving.
when i look at myself as being born and aging , and do not like this whole process of aging etc
then there is a conflict. when I look at a woman as "my spouse" and try to control or possess there is
conflict, because its against the nature of things. one cannot make a dream changeless.
its movement cannot be stopped.
things change
things will not be as we plan.
instead of getting into conflict, how about experiencing them as they are ?
This is a transformation. Spouse is not sorrow ... but when i try to hold onto someone as "me and mine"
that causes sorrow. expectations, attachments, aversions ... these make life into a hell.

In this short sojourn, lets not take things to seriously ... lets do what is needed and move on with love,
friendliness and joy. These experiences, which we call samsara are transient and going to change.
Lets bring in acceptance and love -- thus make this journey more joyful.

--- Quote ---Verse 3:

कामक्ष्च क्रोधक्ष्च लोभक्ष्च देहे तिष्ठन्ति तस्कराः।
ज्ञनरत्नापहाराय तस्मात् जाग्रत जाग्रत॥

Kama (desires), Krodha (Anger), Lobha (Greed) are like thieves in this body who steal the jewel called "Jnana" [Self Knowledge]. Therefore be alert! Be Awake!

--- End quote ---

Desires etc are thieves  because they rob us of the present moment. We miss this moment and keep seeking something else. we miss these experiences of life and God is "Here, Now", not in the dead past nor in the future that never is!
We might have knowledge that all this is a dream and yet we often fall into the trap of these thieves and suffer.

--- Quote ---verse 4:

आशाया बध्यते जन्तुः कर्मणा बहुचिन्तया।
आयु क्षीणँ न जानाति तस्मात् जाग्रत जाग्रत॥

We are [The animal -humans are also addressed as animals here]  bound by Expectations: various activities and excess thinking. so much so that we do not recognize the ebbing away of life. Therefore be awake! Be Awake!

--- End quote ---

:) Acceptance is the solution to expectations. Self Knowledge allows for acceptance.

--- Quote ---verse 5:

सम्पदः स्वप्नसँकाशाः यौवनँ कुसुमोपम्।
विधुच्चन्चचँल आयुषँ तस्मात् जाग्रत जाग्रत॥

All possessions are like what are seen in a dream, youthfulness is only for a short time , like a flower's lifetime. Life passes away like a lightening therefore be alert!

--- End quote ---

Life passes away like a lightening, and this journey is over.
and we suddenly realize towards the end of life that we have not truely lived
and perhaps we do not even "Truely Die"
So now is the time to live our understanding, now is the time to become more and more mindful.

--- Quote ---
Verse 6:

 क्षणँ वित्तँ क्षणँ चित्तँ क्षणँ जीवितमावयोः।
यमस्य करूणा नास्ति तस्मात् जाग्रत जाग्रत॥

Money, memory and life are all momentary.
Lord Yama, the lord of death, does not show any mercy. Therefore be awake!!

--- End quote ---

Yama has no karuna, meaning he does not wait even a moment ... when our time is up, we do not get a choice.
Thus, when the time is still available, lets live a life of liberation and love rather than a life of strife and struggle.

--- Quote ---verse 7:

यावत् कालँ भवेत् कर्म तावत् तिष्ठन्ति जन्तवः।
तस्मिन् क्षीणे विन्श्यन्ति तत्र का परिदेवना॥

As long as their karma lasts so long we see the animal here, the moment the karma is over, the animal is gone. what is there to brood over this ?

--- End quote ---

--- Quote ---verse 8:

ऋणानुबन्धरूपेण पशुपत्निसुतादयः।
ऋणक्षये क्षयँ यान्ति तत्र का परिदेवना॥

as per the debts of prarabdha karma, relations are developed in this world. animals, wife or children, they are all forms of debts of previous life. when the debts exhaust temselves, all these pass away, what is there to brood over this ?

--- End quote ---

What is there to brood over these , tatra ka paridevana ? Brooding or expressing sorrow over these is really an attempt to stop
the dream from changing .. it will change none-the-less and we need to inculcate the habit of seeing all this as a dream
nothing shall remain.
it shall pass away !

--- Quote ---
Verse 9:

पक्वानि तरूपर्णानि पतन्ति क्रमशो यथा।
तथैव जन्तवः काले तत्र का परिदेवना॥

As Even the ripe leaves of a tree drop one after the other
even this animal shall drop off, what is there to brood over this ?

--- End quote ---

--- Quote ---verse 10:

एक वृक्षसमारूढा नानाजाति विहङ्गमाः।
प्रभते क्रमशो यान्ति तत्र का परिदेवना॥

Assembled on the same tree, birds of differed feathers.
as it dawns, they all leave one by one, what is there to brood over this ?

--- End quote ---

All stages are thus. This forum is also like this. Our house is thus. Our family is like those birds that have come together.
every group , every coming together is of this very nature.

--- Quote ---verse 11:

इदँ काष्ठँ इदम् काष्ठँ नध्यँ वहतिसँगतः।
सँयोगाक्ष्च वियोगाक्ष्च का तत्र परिदेवना॥

This and that corpse are flowing together in a river.
They remain together for some time and then separate, what is there to brood over this?

--- End quote ---

This body is a corpse ... it does not fear aging or death, neither does the Awareness within ..
its but a few thoughts that create a fear in a fictitious entity ... a notion of I
dropping this one remains absolutely calm and relaxed,
neither the body nor the awarenss have any problem.

thus , in fact : who is there to brood over ?


India dials up medical diplomacy, sends 85 mn HCQ tablets to 108 countries

The exercise to deliver the HCQ and paracetamol tablets has been a complicated exercise since most countries, including India, do not permit flight operations.

Covid 19,coronavirus,Narendra Modi
PM Narendra Modi has cleared consignments of HCQ and other drugs for nearly 108 countries.
Updated: Apr 16, 2020 13:02 IST
By Shishir Gupta , Hindustan Times, New Delhi

India has dialled up its medical diplomacy, sending loads of medicines to 100-plus countries over the last two weeks to help them fight the Covid-19 pandemic. A top government official told Hindustan Times that India is supplying nearly 85 million hydroxychloroquine tablets and close to 500 million paracetamol tablets to the 108 countries.

This is apart from the 1,000 tonnes of paracetamol granules that have been sent to make tablets.

“As we speak, a total of 4,000 plus consignments to 60 countries are being cleared for dispatch,” the government official cited above said. In all, the medicine supplies will cover 108 countries.



Apr 14, 2020



The current pandemic is a global crisis with implications for all levels of governance, but most importantly cities as they are on the frontlines of crisis response. It calls for leadership at the local level as well as synergy between the local and the federal governments. An integral part of the local response is cities’ international affairs role, given the growing linkages between international relations and urban priorities.

Last week, the USC Center on Public Diplomacy brought together city leaders with international purview from 10 U.S. cities to share experiences and perspectives in navigating the current crisis. The group explored difficult challenges facing city diplomacy, impactful actions and future outlook for the practice. We would like to share five key takeaways from the roundtable discussion.

Joining broader, city-wide effort of emergency response

The functions of city diplomacy are significantly affected as the crisis unfolds. Priorities are shifted toward emergency response to address the immediate needs of the city and to provide basic services to its constituents. These range from supporting the city’s effort in financial and business relief, to assisting with treatment facilities, and to sourcing medical suppliers from overseas partners. While certain aspects of city diplomacy work continue apace, the daily operations of city offices have changed as the current crisis response is decidedly an all-hands-on-deck situation.

Maintaining local diplomatic engagement

Cities are stepping up efforts to provide frequent and timely communication through digital platforms with the consular corps, foreign businesses, and immigrant and diaspora communities on safety measures and evolving city policies and guidelines. The communication becomes especially important when the safety measures and protocols differ between home country and the host city. Given the global nature of this crisis, consular corps are essential partners not only as representatives of national governments for commercial and cultural engagement, but also as effective conduits to diaspora and immigrant groups in many cities. Consular affairs are generally deemed “essential services” during the current crisis. Maintaining and improving communication with them remains a critical function of city diplomacy in this rapidly evolving environment.

Leveraging existing international relationships

Cities have also tapped into their international networks for best practices and mutual support. For instance, as Chair of C40, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently convened a video conference with 45 mayors from 31 countries to share practices and lessons learned as they manage through the COVID-19 crisis. These included the cities of Milan and Seoul that provide instructive cases of containment measures. Some cities are leveraging their sister city and other international connections for support, including sourcing protective gear and testing kits. This may serve as a revealing moment that demonstrates the benefits of robust long-term relationship building through cultural exchanges, as manifested in not only messages of support but also through concrete actions from cities’ international partners in this time of critical need.

Resource headwinds against city diplomacy

Meanwhile, resource contraction amid all the uncertainties will likely exact a toll on aspects of city diplomacy work. U.S. cities’ international affairs operation is already small in terms of staff size and resources and is vulnerable to the budgetary shortfall as do other functions of the city. The current situation has caused the funding for international affairs to be cut in some cities, resulting in staff furloughs. This might also reflect a perception that international engagement is a nice-to-have, but not a must-have, element of city operation. Such perception, if sharpened through a crisis like the current one, threatens the sustainability of city diplomacy that requires long-term commitment and investment.

Pivoting to post-crisis strategy

While adapting city diplomacy strategies and activities to address the immediate challenges of the outbreak is paramount, it is equally important to grapple with the potential impact of the pandemic on the general practice of city diplomacy. The current crisis may harbor a galvanizing effect, as it can potentially elevate the role and value of diplomatic engagement and international collaboration for city leaders and residents alike. It may provide a teachable moment for connecting local priorities with global matters to enhance the security and prosperity of citizens. This may also be a time to explore openings and opportunities for infusing international perspectives into various facets of city operations.

City diplomacy is a powerful tool for international engagement at the local level. It provides a much-needed, anchoring mechanism to generate goodwill, reciprocity and solidarity between cities and peoples across national borders. Trust forged in a crisis is particularly telling, because it has a central ingredient of emotion that arises from the groundswell of authentic human interactions—the kind of trust that transcends the top-down paradigms of geopolitical calculations. This trust is the very foundation of a functioning global society


Apr 13, 2020


 : This article was originally published here by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.

The global health crisis precipitated by the coronavirus (COVID-19) requires a swift and dramatic increase in global transparency, collaboration, diplomacy and communication. The pandemic is forcing a reconstruction of global priorities, agendas and even the known order.

Within that context, South Korean president Moon Jae-in is pushing a public diplomacy campaign to elevate his nation’s brand by leveraging the information the country has accumulated since January 2020 on how best to respond to the crisis. South Korean data has proven essential to the crisis management programs many other states are now scrambling to assemble.

Coronavirus is not the first viral outbreak to severely affect Asian countries. The 2003 SARS epidemic, which hit China, Hong Kong and Singapore, pushed those economies to prepare for the next crisis. Because of that preparation, Asia may well ride out the coronavirus crisis better than the West.

During a pandemic, diplomacy and international cooperation are critical tools. To find solutions fast, countries must learn from one another’s experiences, and cooperation is essential to ensure crucial supplies of protective equipment. States’ success or failure at managing the crisis is measured by other countries, foreign investors and global citizens.

Asia’s response to the coronavirus outbreak—contain, then stimulate—has now been implemented by most of the western world. Western healthcare centers are turning to Asian governments as examples of forceful measures of containment.

A prominent example is South Korea. It is the fourth-largest economy in Asia and the 11th-largest in the world. Over the past decade, South Korea has built powerful industries in high tech, mobile, automotive and technology.

States’ success or failure at managing the crisis is measured by other countries, foreign investors and global citizens.

The coronavirus outbreak has led to an improvement in South Korea’s global image. The country, which reduced its number of confirmed coronavirus cases in early February 2020 just as case figures were dramatically escalating around the world, is perceived as a model of how to cope with the crisis. Impressively, the country has tested more than a quarter-million people at 600 testing sites nationwide—a capacity of 20,000 people a day. Not only are the tests much more numerous in South Korea than elsewhere, but results are sent to citizens by text within six hours. One month after South Korea’s first case was reported, it had more recoveries than new infections.

Korean citizens played an essential role in the rise of their national brand by being the first to model “voluntary passive social isolation,” an element that was vital to the success of the government’s measures. The immediate and widespread cooperation of the public contributed to South Korea’s ability to avoid a total lockdown. Even before the government coordinated its message on social distancing, the people of South Korea embraced the need to close businesses even if that measure would incur personal financial hardship. Korean churches suspended services and moved online. According to one resident, “It’s less about protecting ourselves and more [that] we don’t want to spread this throughout the community.” This attitude is the opposite of what was seen in Miami, for example, where crowds of people flocked to the beach in total disregard of the danger of either being infected by coronavirus or passing it on to others.

The Asian private sector also stepped up, creating net cash positions that the western economies are having severe difficulty emulating. Asian central banks prepared financial “ammunition” to support their economies and position them to weather disasters. South Korea’s aggressive, efficient and fast testing has impressed countries around the world, around 117 of which are now importing Korean testing kits and medical equipment as their numbers of confirmed cases grow. Health ministries around the world are applying the Korean strategy to their own fights against coronavirus.

Europe and the U.S. are scrambling to fight the pandemic, with entire cities and states locked down. The worst-hit countries in Europe, such as Italy and Spain, have seen cases surge to the tens of thousands, while infections in the U.S. spiked tenfold in a week to cross 70,000.

The West would likely be looking eastward for solutions to this crisis regardless, as the virus originated in Asia. As the brunt of the pandemic makes its way west, the Asian nations are beginning to emerge from the worst and can offer examples of effective responses. The West is also still China’s biggest customer, with the U.S. and Europe serving as major markets for online shopping malls like Alibaba and AliExpress. The Asian countries, led by China, have a significant financial interest in restoring those markets.

The countries that were able to respond quickly and whose citizens obeyed national health guidelines will have an advantage in the post-coronavirus era. The economic impact of the pandemic is hitting almost every business in Europe and the U.S. The proven strength of Asian companies, people and governments bolsters their global reputation and will probably translate into more foreign investment. South Korea had a low score on the 2019 Soft Power Index (19th), but it will likely rise much higher after the coronavirus crisis passes.



There is much work being done worldwide to combat misinformation and other malignant information campaigns, and effective research must go beyond simply identifying small components of much larger subversive efforts. The time it takes to uncover and stop fake news or compromised accounts requires a more robust methodology.  

In response, RAND Corporation’s new report, “Detecting Malign or Subversive Information Efforts Over Social Media - Scalable Analytics for Early Warning,” authored by RAND researchers William Marcellino, Krystyna Marcinek, Stephanie Pezard and Miriam Matthews, provides recommendations in response to three key questions:

  1. What evidence currently exists regarding malign or subversive information campaigns on social media?
  2. What analytic methods can be used to detect such campaigns on social media?
  3. How could such methods be of use to the U.S. government, other researchers, and social media companies in the future?


The crux of the publication is a novel methodology the authors created to inductively identify large-scale subversive social media campaigns. The method adapts existing network and text-analysis strategies for more robust applications toward combating disinformation. To evidence the efficacy of this method, the authors showcase their work analyzing Russian information efforts regarding the 2018 World Cup.

To read the full synopsis or purchase the report, click here.

China already has a WHO alternative

Illustration of the Chinese flag as a red cross

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We've all heard of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which I have described as a growing global network of "Chinese-led, largely opaque alternatives to Western-led institutions and global norms."

Yes, but: Western observers have tended to ignore a BRI-linked initiative that Chinese President Xi Jinping has recently touted — the "Health Silk Road" (健康丝绸之路).

  • Xi has alluded to the initiative in phone calls and letters with several European heads of government since the coronavirus pandemic began, including Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Why it matters: "It is the clearest example of the fact that BRI is not about infrastructure construction, but a broader effort to redraw the world according to Beijing’s preferred design," said Nadège Rolland, a senior fellow at the National Bureau of Asian Research.

The intrigue: In August 2017, the then-new, China-backed WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, gave a speech hailing the Health Silk Road's creation.

  • "President Xi’s proposal for a Health Silk Road, which strengthens and renews ancient links between cultures and people, with health at its core, is indeed visionary," said the WHO chief. "If we are to secure the health of the billions of people represented here, we must seize the opportunities the Belt and Road Initiative provides."

Details: The Health Silk Road "is not a multilateral institution per se," said Rolland. "It’s more a hub-and-spoke organism, like the 17+1 model: China at the center, with multiple bilateral arms extending outwards."

The big picture: China is seeking to position itself as a global leader that can be relied on in times of crisis.

  • The BRI, and its affiliated Health Silk Road, are both a rhetorical and an organizational means of defining the economic and geopolitical relationship between China and other countries as that of magnanimous leader and grateful followers.

Go deeper: A China-centric 21st century

April 14, 2020

Inauguration of CPEC project Thakot-Havelian gets delayed due to corona


ISLAMABAD-The inauguration of Thakot-Havelian Expressway of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been delayed due to the ongoing corona pandemic.

An 80 kilometre long portion from Mansehra to Thakot was set to be completed in the last week of February 2020.

However, when contacted the project director Ashfaq Ahmed Khan informed that the construction work has almost been completed and project is ready for handing over and taking over—a formal transfer of any road by contractor to the custodian.

READ MORE: PM announces extension of partial lockdown for next two weeks
He, however, informed that the same process could not be initiated due to the ongoing corona pandemic because movement is curtailed due to lockdown in the country.

The said portion is a part of 120 kilometre long expressway being constructed by M/s China Communications Construction Company Ltd under CPEC that is divided into two sections, a 40 kilometre long Havelian to Manshera section and 80 kilometre long Manshera to Thakot section.

The first 40km long six lane access controlled section had been completed last year and inaugurated by the Prime Minister Imran Khan while rest of the 80km was to be completed in the last week of February 2020 that is a Class-II Highway.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Total number of cases surge to 5988 across Pakistan
The said 120km Havelian-Thakot expressway project is linked with Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway (M-1) at Burhan Interchange via 65km long Hazara Expressway completed with the funding of Asian Development Bank.

The project is a part of the northern alignment of CPEC known as KKH Phase II and it is an integral part of said multibillion bilateral initiative, which was started by the last government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz under the leadership of former premier Nawaz Sharif.

Meanwhile, sources at different projects of NHA informed reliably that most of the ongoing projects slowed down due to ongoing pandemic as the respective provincial governments announced lockdowns to avoid the spread of corona virus.

READ MORE: UN chief warns of ‘epidemic’ of virus misinformation
“Besides delay in the projects, there is a possibility of huge revenue loss as well due to this pandemic,” a senior officer of finance wing explained; “The toll plazas and rest areas operators would submit their claims for compensations and NHA will have to entertain them according to rules.”

When contacted, NHA’s spokesperson Capitan (R) Mushtaq Ahmed said that everything is disturbed due to ongoing situation but the road authority is trying to do maximum possible progress on its projects.

Regarding revenue loss, he said the claims if received would be settled according to respective law after rationalising them.