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International Latest News

Biden focused G-7 Summit disappoints

By Asad Mirza

The 3Cs: Covid, China and Climate Change dominated the 47th annual G-7 Summit in Cornwall, UK. But overall the leaders were not able to present a united stand on any major issue.

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wanted the summit to showcase his brand of ‘Global Britain’, after Brexit. But there were terse exchanges between the French, EU and British leaders and officials on the issue. In effect, the summit turned out to be more Biden focused and expectations were raised high on some real agreement taking place on the 3C’s before the summit, though that was not the result ultimately.

Broadly, Biden sought to set a new tone after the unrestrained Trump years. Most G-7 leaders seemed relieved to have a return to a more predictable and traditional US administration. France’s Emmanuel Macron welcomed Biden back to the “club.” But the final Communique showed that even Biden’s expectations to ensure a consensus on many of his promises fell short.

On the issue of Covid-19, the leaders of the seven most affluent western nations seemed united, but there was a difference of opinion on the way forward. Earlier, they had shown commitment to donate 1 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses over the next year to poorer countries. But in reality the bloc fell short of its own goal — 613 million new doses pledged, instead of a billion.

Even so, the vaccine effort gave Biden some help with his China push. Biden has criticised China for a transactional brand of vaccine diplomacy, where the shots are being doled out for geopolitical advantage. Biden called on democracies to counter China and Russia by donating vaccines equally and based on need, without seeking favours in return.

On the second day of the summit, US unveiled plans to counter China through infrastructure funding for poorer nations. Promising to “collectively catalyse” hundreds of billions of infrastructure investment for low- and middle-income countries, the G7 leaders said they would offer a “values-driven, high-standard and transparent” partnership.

G-7s “Build Back Better World” (B3W) project was aimed directly at competing with China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Infrastructure (BRI) initiative.

However, several leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, pushed back over worries about turning the G-7 into an anti-China group, suggesting any infrastructure programme should be framed as a more positive, pro-environment effort.

French President Emmanuel Macron also pushed back publicly, saying that the “G-7 is not a group that is hostile to China.” Macron was one leader who sought the middle ground.

China hit back at these statements dismissively saying that the days when “global decisions” were dictated by a “small group of countries are long gone”.

The final version of the communique skirted B3W, instead creating a task force to study how to spur infrastructure development abroad. It made no mention of BRI, though Biden renewed his call at a press conference, and said that, “I proposed that we have a democratic alternative to the Belt and Road initiative, to build back better.”

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced last month that due to surging Covid cases in India, he’d not travel to the UK, he addressed the summit virtually. He conveyed India’s commitment to “collective” solution to global health challenges, and called for “one earth, one health” approach, which aims for unity and solidarity among the states of the world to deal with the pandemic. He also emphasised the need to keep raw materials for vaccines easily accessible.

The summit’s Communique, which was issued several hours after the end of the summit, promises many things but falls short of what was expected to be achieved before the summit.

(The Op-Ed appeared in IANS)

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e-paper-stories International Latest News

President Biden counters China, Russia at summits in Europe

Geneva: President Biden went to Europe for a week to convince the allies that America was back, and for good; gather them in common cause against the rising threat of China; and establish some red lines for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, whom he called his “worthy adversary.”

At G7 he made inroads on China on which in Europe here has been reluctance to think of China as a threat — economically, technologically and militarily.

In Geneva, Biden expressed cautious optimism about finding ways to reach a polite accommodation with  Putin. But it is far from clear that any of the modest initiatives the two men described on Wednesday, after a stiff, three-hour summit meeting on the edge of Lake Geneva, will fundamentally change a bad dynamic, rcometns New York Times

Biden, one of his senior aides said after the meeting was over, “is perpetually optimistic” that Mr. Putin may, despite a long history of efforts to undermine the Western alliance, see advantage in changing course.

This was Biden’s first foreign tour as President. He began over the weekend in England, on the rocky shores of Cornwall, the venue for G7, talking about friendship, alliances, consultation, comity and multilateralism. At every stop he opened with the same three words: “America is back.”

In Brussels, at NATO’s 31st summit on Monday, he  said it was up to Democratic nations to prove to the world that autocracies cannot deliver for their people. He said NATO members must root out corruption, guard against hatred and “phony populism,” and invest in strengthening institutions “that underpin and safeguard our cherished democratic values.”

Photo courtesy Yahoo News
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India Latest News

Indian Army top brass discuss threats from China, Pakistan

New Delhi: Amid border standoff with China, the Indian Army held a commanders’ conference led by General Manoj Mukund Naravane on Thursday to review the operational situation at the border with China and Pakistan. Indian Army Commanders’ Conference is an apex level biannual event, which formulates important policy decisions through collegiate deliberations.

The conference was attended by senior officers of the Army including the vice chief of the army staff, all commanders, principal staff officers (PSOs) of the Army Headquarters and other senior officers.

In the two-day conference, the Army top brass discussed the current position of Chinese People’s Liberation Army positions in disputed areas at Gogra, Hot Springs, Demchok and Depsang at Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh.

China has enhanced troops, artillery and armour deployment in three sectors of Line of Actual Control — western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal) sectors.

A year after the Galwan valley clash in Eastern Ladakh, China is still sitting at the Line of Actual Control and India has geared up for a long grind. Indian and Chinese military delegates had 11 rounds of talks to resolve border disputes at friction points.

During the commanders’ conference meeting, Army top brass discussed how to be better prepared to face Chinese belligerence in Ladakh over the last year as a final resolution seems far off. India has enhanced military infrastructure, increased troop deployment to 50,000 to 60,000, and constructed better roads connectivity for quick mobilisation.

Last month, General Naravane said that the troops are on high alert at Line of Actual Control and are keeping watch on Chinese People’s Liberation Army activities.

The Indian Army chief stated that India wants the status quo ante of April 2020 to be restored. He also stated that India has made it clear to China that de-escalation will only be considered once disengagement is completed to the mutual satisfaction of both the sides.

He had said that Indian troops are on high alert and deployments have not thinned after the disengagement in Pangong River.

General Naravane said that India is currently concentrating on resolving outstanding problems at other friction points like Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang at Line of Actual Control.

The army chief also stated that trust levels between two countries are low but pointed out that the trust deficit should not hinder the negotiation process.

At Galwan valley, the clash took place on June 15 last year sparking a war like situation. Later by the end of August last year there was a further build up across and Pangong Lake at 14,000 feet turning it into a battle zone as India occupied key mountain tops at the Kailash Range overlooking the southern bank of the lake.

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Latest News USA

Covid origins… Zoonotic or biowarfare accidental lab leak?

By Debdoot Basu Ray and Samiksha Roy

Covid-19 has disrupted lives globally for over a year now, and the global Covid death toll has crossed well beyond the 3 million mark. It is clear now that the virus will leave its unfortunate imprint on both the global economy and geopolitics, but what remains shrouded in mystery is its origins. To shed light on this, on June 2, Usanas Foundation virtually hosted Mr Ravi Batra, a prominent American lawyer, who shared his views on the origins of Covid-19 Origins. Having served as Legal Advisor to the Permanent Missions of Honduras, India and Ukraine to the United Nations and consulting several others, over the years, Mr Batra became increasingly involved in the diplomatic and political process at the United Nations and beyond. Insightful political commentary and analytical pieces in the US and foreign press have earned him a high reputation in the UN diplomatic corps. The primary areas of his public intellectual interest include the matters of war and peace, international security and fight against terrorism, international conflict management, and sustainable energy. Mr Batra has been one of the first global voices advocating the need for a transparent inquiry into the virus’s origins.

 

The transcript of the interview follows:

Abhinav Pandya (AP): Welcome, Mr Batra; it’s good to have you with us for this interview. I have read your interviews in US newspapers, and the things you said about the scientific aspect of Covid’s origins were shocking and interesting. The facts that you highlighted were extraordinary; you were among the earliest voices highlighting the lab origin of this virus. I would like to begin the interview by saying that we are faced with an adversary which is very clear cut and focused on its vision to dominate the world. It’s not about one virus; China will be coming out with many other ways to sabotage the institutions which we have created, the culture of democracy that we have created. Recently what they did with India is an example. We must come out with a strategy to contain or counter this to save humanity. 

Ravi Batra (RB): It is a pleasure and delight to be with you. We need to separate every human civilization from the desire to become an empire and, in some cases, become an empire again. If someone is using bullets or gunpowder or acceptable forms of war which is even nuclear weapons which we do not want to use, but we did drop them on Japan during WWII. There are acceptable means of war. We have determined as a human race that chemical wars are not allowed, and bio wars are not allowed. They are illegal weapons of domination and war. Whatever is happening between India and China at the border is a geopolitical issue that can be dated back to the 1949 Karachi Agreement, which took most of the land from Raja Hari Singh, which he had given to India. India was unable to keep what it had received, which was very peculiar. All of this stuff that has happened is very strange. But you know lawyers are different, statesmen are different, politicians are different, foot soldiers are different. What we have to realize is that Chairman Mao is one of the most exceptional military leaders in human history. He decided from the minute the PLA was created he would look beyond the Great Wall of China and acquire whatever he could. This included the 1949 agreement, Tibet acquisition, 1962 war etc. PM Modi, as the head of an independent state, is doing what he has to do to keep his borders safe. Your borders should be locked; you should be allowed to invite people and guests in and not burglars. People should not be able to just come in. International law states that where our rights end, yours begins, but you can’t enter into our rights. I don’t want to confuse this coronavirus with border conflicts or what is happening in the South China Sea.

 

Rushali Saha (RS): In your open letter to President Trump concerning the origins of the Covid virus, you talk about the science behind your claim that Covid-19 is a lab generated virus. So, I would like to start with a general question: could you summarize the facts that we know about the virus for sure and what remains unknown?

RAVI BATRA:  There is a series of three letters written to dignitaries of the world over China’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic. The first letter was addressed to then-President Donald Trump on April 14, 2020, which formed the backbone of my call for an independent investigation on the emergence of the pandemic and its source. The second letter was written a year later, in April 2021, to President Biden, asking about the steps that were being taken by the US administration to uncover the origins of the virus.

Shortly after I wrote the letters to Biden, I saw the devastation being caused in India and thinking like a lawyer, I could see it in terms of crime and punishment. I believe that if someone commits a crime, they should be made to pay for it. Therefore, I realized that the COVID-19 virus was something that went beyond crime and punishment, and this was a virus that everyone in the world needed to come together to combat and disarm. We see the COVID-19 virus as an ICBM of viruses. It is very-very similar to those ICBMs but in biological designs. I wrote another letter, this time addressed to PM Modi and suggested that we need to move away from the concept of crime and punishment and towards Desmond Tutu’s idea of Truth and Reconciliation commissions because what we are lacking today is the exact information that makes this virus tick. If one does not know the problem, its solutions are ineffective. The COVID-19 virus continues to mutate and become even deadlier, whereas a natural virus usually mutates towards harmlessness. This path of mutation is also clear evidence that points towards the COVID-19’s lab-created origins. I would also like to mention that by explaining the genetic sequence and biological structure of the virus in my letters to then US President Trump and Trump’s office confirming my signature the next day, the US began its investigation into China’s role in the origin of the virus.

Personally, I am a big admirer of Chinese culture and consider Confucius to be one of the greatest thinkers of all time. The Chinese civilization has given a lot to the world. Therefore, my words in the letter were not meant to attack and accuse the Chinese people or Chinese culture. However, there is certainly a problem with the actions by the Chinese Communist Party, the People’s Liberation Army, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and tests conducted therein.

The protein and genetic make-up of the COVID-19 virus as we know it today suggests that it was engineered in a lab and does not have natural zoonotic origins. The evidence provided by me in the letter to Trump indicated the fact that COVID-19 was a bio-warfare weapon, and instead of dropping a nuclear bomb, one only has to drop the virus, and millions of people have died and will continue to die until the COVID-19 bomb can be disarmed. I want the world to band together and strong-arm China into releasing its data on the COVID-19 virus so that an effective solution can be created. If the virus continues to exist and mutate, there will not be people left for China to dominate.

A week ago in England, two scientists revealed that they can prove that the coronavirus can be made to look natural. But in reality, the coronavirus was not natural, but a dyed blonde as opposed to a natural blonde. The study will be released in the coming weeks. The only reason that China could have for tweaking the coronavirus to look natural is if the virus were originally not natural and part of China’s biowarfare scheme, China has to cover its tracks. China, like almost all civilizations in the past and present, wishes to become an empire or return to being an empire. Civilizations use all acceptable means from guns and force to achieve their goals. Even the US used nuclear weapons during World War II. This signifies that there are acceptable means of war, but humanity had long ago decided that chemical warfare and biowarfare are something that is not allowed; thus, their use is deemed illegal and unethical.

 

RS: A pressing question right now is that it’s been over a year since the original theory of Bat animal-human transmission from Wuhan’s wet market has happened despite, of course, no concrete evidence is provided by Beijing on the same. So, according to you, why is this question on the origins of the covid virus heating up and reopening now again? 

RAVI BATRA:  Policymakers are not scientists, and thus the technical aspects behind the coronavirus become ‘mumbo jumbo’. By the time that actual research reaches policymakers, the words become ‘mumbo jumbo’. The coronavirus is a lab-created Trojan horse that is getting more and more lethal as time goes by. The origins of the virus and finding its solution should be the top priority of the world. I recently received the second dose of the vaccine and have noticed that people are not being allowed to travel freely without getting the vaccine. But the vaccine is a solution for a problem that people do not fully understand yet. And since they do not fully understand it, they cannot effectively tackle it and its many mutations. The COVID-19 virus that came out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology is a biowarfare weapon that has been used illegally. Even war has rules of engagement, and the coronavirus is an illegal weapon used by the Chinese.

 

RS: What is your view about the WHO (World Health Organization) report which recently came out? It’s a 120-page long report published jointly with the Chinese experts in Wuhan, which basically says that the SARS-COV2 virus rose in bats and then got transmitted to humans by an unidentified intermediary animal which almost rules out the laboratory escape theory. It’s contested by several nations, who are demanding more research into it. So what are your thoughts on the report, and more broadly if you can tell us about the role of geopolitical influence of countries in the WHO case?

RAVI BATRA:  Well, first of all, I am laughing because the WHO report was the ultimate vacation report. These people were invited, the host was inviting the people, the host was selecting who was coming in. If I want to come in as an inspector into your home to make sure that your house was properly constructed, do you think that you have the right to tell me who to send as an inspector like maybe your brother or relative? No. Well, that is what occurred here. It’s a massive joke on a global level. They had Peter Daszak. I mean, the man is a cover-up artist. You know, when we were giving 3.7 million dollars which is not a lot of money, but when we were giving that money, it was going through Peter Daszak organization to the same virology lab for the gain of function research. The gain of function research was outlawed by President Barack Obama. If Peter Daszak is in the United States, the department of justice judge Merrick Garland, now our attorney general, may have some criminal investigation to do. Was there money laundering of federal government grants? Peter Daszak is a joke with zero personal and public honor.

What he said, it was zoonotic; it was zoonotic, it was zoonotic. You have got to go to a hairdresser to tell you whether you are a natural blonde, or a hair dyed blonde. So, the scientists have now come up with even with the virus released, now I am going to get a little into the weeds. You know, the protein of a virus is like a blockchain. Now I am not a techie, so I cannot get into too many blockchains definitions, but I understand the concept of blockchains which is, you cannot change the building blocks. Everything is on everything else, so you cannot move anything, and if you do, it will show. The SARS-COV1 and SARS-COV2, these are protein strings; it’s like a blockchain when you change something, it shows this is lab-created there is no dispute about this and to allow people like Peter Daszak even to have the microphone of the world to say the opposite is a fraud against humanity. Now a very simple test of fraud is this. All the animal farms that were about 800-1000 KM away from the Wuhan lab, not a single one of them had a single Covid case, not one. That is what Peter Daszak is saying; this virus only jumps. This sounds like that great movie, ‘My Cousin Vinny’. You know this virus only jumps in a petri-dish in a PLA owned Wuhan virology lab when it jumps not from an animal to a human being but from a slide to a human being. Come on, this is absurd. Peter Daszak should be sent to the world hall of shame. He is one of the great mumbo-jumbo creatures which is confusing governments of the world.

Do you know, under the 30 days they were in China 14 days they were in a five-star hotel under a quarantine rest of the time they went around the world on a nice vacation tour guy and then for three hours they went to Wuhan lab out of 30 days? They could not ask a single question or touch a single piece of evidence. If I come in as an inspector, don’t you think I want to look at the microscope, look at the petri-dish, don’t you think I want to see the notes, don’t you think I want the copies of the records, don’t you think I want every single effort that was made for every successful and unsuccessful samples? They did nothing, and they issued a report which is why it’s completely a laughingstock for the world.

 

RS: Recently, several reports have come out stating US National Institutes of Health had funded the controversial Wuhan Institute of Virology in two phases, first from 2014-2019 and the other reportedly began shortly after. This has obviously raised concern that Covid-19 may have been produced through this research. My question to you is, why would the NIH want to fund the WIV, to begin with, especially given the controversial nature of such gain of function research? Secondly, several scientists in America have come out in support of the conclusion that it is not a manufactured virus. Would you consider this as indicative of the success of China’s infamous influence operations within America?

RAVI BATRA:  Let me go in reverse. How many good car mechanics do you know? Not many. Most of them are mediocre, and a lot of them are incompetent. The same is true for scientists, the same is true for lawyers, the same is true for doctors. It is the same, that is, the human bell-shaped curve. The fact that a lot of people are stupid does not make them right because the truth is not a popularity contest. You have to understand everything that human beings do under the rule of law has to go through a court. Lawyers that teach in a classroom are participators, lawyers that try cases like I do in the court when you are facing the opposition and by able adversary the use of confrontation clause which is to confront your witnesses and use cross-examination, that’s how you scalpel away the lies and get to the truth. Even during the Nuremberg trials, we had a Supreme Court judge step down at the request of the government and become a chief prosecutor. So, it is always a lawyer in court who gets to determine the truth, not all these people who want to have other motives and other biases, that’s one. Second, to your point of research, you have to understand sovereignty is analogue, not digital; that is a problem today. When you look at a map, you can take a pencil and go around, and yes, there will be some border conflicts, but that is fine; basically, sovereignty is drawing a line around the map and saying this the United States, this is England, this is China, this is whatever, and then you can say these are disputed areas. That is sovereignty. Mathematics has no sovereign limit. Science has no sovereign limit. It is a global universe. So, a mathematician is going to be peer-reviewed equally whether he is in New York, California, New Delhi or Tokyo or Beijing. The world of science and mathematics is global. The learning process is global. How much have we learnt from the Greeks? How much have we learnt from the Chinese culture? How much have we learnt from England, the United States? How much have we learnt from France or Russia? Science and Math are global; they are not sovereignly limited. Research, human development like the Italian Renaissance, where Leonardo da Vinci proved is unlimited. So, it has to be unlimited. So, there is nothing wrong with the US funding other countries to go do better mathematics. That is how we get to Mars; that is how we explore interstellar. However, the gain of function, for example, I can go to the barber to cut the hair on top of my head, I am basically bald. Now gain of function would say for someone like me can you change my genes and give me a head of hair? That is a gain of function. Some people may like it. I am used to just using a towel instead of a comb at this point; it is fine, I am more efficient getting ready, but the gain of function could be positive or negative. But there is a problem. The technology to do this is American; it is called CRISPER, which goes back to the year 2000. It is gene editing. Think of it like scissors, genetic scissors. A tailor would understand this very well; if you want to cut a certain way, you have to first cut the fabric a certain way, and then they stitch it. The cutting is more important than the stitching. It’s the cutting. So, the scissors, which is gene editing, is the American technology that was created at UCLA Berkeley and China took this technology for baby selection. People in India were using the amniocentesis test to determine whether the unborn child was a boy or a girl; in China, they were doing better. They were creating testing with a better gain of function. So, to be 6ft tall or 6ft 5 and never get fat, eat whatever you want, those are positive gains of function. But you do not know 10, 20, 100 years from now that is the end of the human race. China shut that down. The baby creation gain of function was shut down by China. So, give China the credit for what it deserves, they understood what this gain of function was, and it was diabolical. Unfortunately, the PLA saw this as a secret Trojan horse for a weapon because it takes time to figure out the fingerprints for this.

So, if I had not invested my time learning biochemistry and epidemiology, I could not have written the letter to the President with clarity saying, ‘I caught them, they are lying, its lab-created, it is right here.’ It is hiding in plain sight, but you must take off your Peter Daszak glasses which have corrupted them, whose motives are corrupt. Would you hear a corrupt person tell you what to do? Would you listen to a doctor who never went to a medical school and only went to a bar and got drunk? Well, do not listen to Peter Daszak; he is myopic. Now, as far as funding as I said, the advancement of mathematics and science is a global endeavor, is a human endeavor. So, there is nothing wrong when we were funding it while it was legal. But when it stops being legal, it is illegal, and our Attorney General has something to look into with Peter Daszak about money laundering of federal grants. A grant given by NIH to Peter Daszak’s organization may have a different grant application. Then when you move the money to PLA on Wuhan land, that’s illegal money laundering. It is a criminal enterprise if that’s what occurred, and if Antony Fauci knew was aware of what was happening, then we have a problem.

Recently the Washington Post reported that George Gao, the Director of CDC of China; now CDC of China like CDC of Taiwan or CDC of America is responsible for protecting public health. So those doctors don’t deal with disease creation; they deal with disease management. Not necessarily disease cure as well. So, George Gao reached out to Tony Fauci on March 20, 2020, saying that they should work together to get this virus out of this earth. And I applaud George Gao. This is what every CDC should be doing, working together. That is what I am also telling PM Modi, put the border issue on hold for a minute; every government should tell Xi, ‘please stop!’ We are not sending you to the International Criminal Court; we are not going to bring up crimes against humanity; let us just solve this problem because it’s even good for China.

On another footnote, the reason China did not suffer as much as other countries were because China had vaccinated all its population except Wuhan with the TB vaccine by April of 2019. The TB vaccine protects your lungs which is a primary area where the coronavirus attacks. It is not the only area but definitely a major area. That is according to the report; I am not vouching for it; I am just telling you what was in the report. That would explain why 500 miles away, Beijing and Shanghai did not suffer. Whereas when the Chinese tourists went all over the world in Japan, in Italy to celebrate the Chinese New Year, all those tourists that went out were super spreaders without knowing it. That is not fair. When we hear about Israel and Palestine using human shields as cover to protect each other from rockets, I remember telling my friend, the Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansoor, to send roses instead of rockets, and we will get peace better. Sending innocent Chinese all over the world who are sick, who are innocent carriers for vacation, that’s not fair! That was all up till December 30, 2019. Then like Peter Daszak, China engaged in a cover-up. They went to Wuhan Wet Market, which has no bats there. Where did the transmission take place? It is a joke! By December 30, China knew that the world knew that there was a fire. So, they had to go to a house, they could not go to the right house, which was the Wuhan Virology Lab, so they went to the wrong house on purpose, the Wuhan Wet Market. They said, ‘Oh! This is the house that is burning!’ Did they do swabs? Collect samples? No! They power-washed the entire area to get rid of the evidence of the fact that there was no virus there in the first place. Before Peter Daszak did anything, the Chinese did that with a cover-up fire. Imagine a detective saying, and I do not want to make any statements, I do not want any evidence, I’ll tell you who did it. Well, we do not want to listen to that person.

 

RS: Few would disagree when we say that India-US ties are arguably at their highest, and the current leadership is seeing frequent contacts; we have seen participation with the QUAD, we have seen stronger defence ties. However, America’s coverage of the Covid pandemic regarding India has cast a negative dispersion of public perception. So, according to you, what steps should be taken in the communication strategies between the two countries to evade this problem of a negative public perception?

RAVI BATRA:  First of all, Americans love India; they always have. If you remember, if it were not for Indian tea in the Boston Harbor of 1773, there would be no Boston Tea Party. So, the American Revolution had Indian tea sparring the Boston Harbor is something John Kerry would enjoy. Second, after George Washington defeated Lord Cornwallis and Lord Cornwallis lost the colonies. He had to go back to King George, through his (Lord Cornwallis) political contact because he was a Lord in the House of Lords; he was then sent to India. He was promoted because he lost. You know how these things happen in administration. If someone messes up, regular people get fired, but if you are politically connected, you get promoted. Well, Lord Cornwallis was politically connected as he was promoted to the ‘Crown Jewel’ of the British Empire, which was India. He decided that he was not going to lose India. He ordered that the first five thousand people on his landing, men, women, and children, be killed, so they knew he would rule with an iron fist.

The American Revolution, the American independence started with Indian tea and was paid for by Indian blood. I just want to make that clear. Second, India’s great lawyer Dr Ambedkar studied at Columbia Law School. He knows that after the ‘Magna Carta’ as a document, the Italian Renaissance produced a lot of genius but not a document; the last great document of humanity was in England in the ‘Magna Carta.’ And we (USA) created in Philadelphia the Constitution beyond the declaration (of independence). So, our separated powers regime is what makes American exceptionalism structural. Americans by humanity or by genes are better than anybody else, but it is the structure that we live in, the house that we live in is better. So, Dr. Ambedkar contorted America’s constitution to India, and the Indian constitution is largely grafted from the American constitution. So, there is a great deal of love for India. So, it is not just currently, which you know, the sovereign’s geopolitical interests are transitory. I am talking about people to people. I know Indians in India love America, and I can tell you Americans love Indians, not a problem. The coverage issue which you are talking about is one that ought not to be argued against. You know, when you get lemons, do not argue with the lemons. It is still going to remain a lemon. When I see all these crematoria fires burning, you can either feel sad; American coverage all shows sadness. Nobody was dancing on the streets. They were sad. So, showing sadness is empathy; it is what friends do. So, do not argue with a lemon; make lemonade. So as Prime Minister Modi did and Foreign Minister Jaishankar came to the US, the US helped India. USAID, now run by Samantha Powers, who used to be the US Ambassador to the UN, now head of USAID, sent the first plane that left, that’s lemonade. Do not be angry about the coverage; accept it as sympathy because the coverage is showing pain. If I am your neighbor and I see something happening; people burning in your house, do you not want me to be hurt? Do you not want me to show it? I will say, ‘Oh my God, oh my God!’

 

RS:  Mr Batra, what are your opinions on what is next to searching for a solution. Can we expect an impartial, fact-based, purely scientific study, and will the US take the lead on that? What are your recommendations on the same? 

RAVI BATRA:  So, there are now studies, and they say that; as in London, the article came out last week that there was a study which was done last year which was suppressed. It showed that China had tried to alter the blockchain protein strain to make it look like that it was a ‘natural blond.’ So, that was not published, and it is now coming out. The mumbo-jumbo, which is calculated; it is not, it is corrupt, has been drowning out the truth. Now, however, when people stop to say that ‘a natural virus mutates into harmlessness, this is getting more lethal, hmm, maybe it is not natural.’ So now the voices of truth are beginning to grow in a garden of weeds because everybody else is getting paid, one way or another, to apply it. So, whether they are getting media celebrity or they are getting money, or they are getting whatever on the side, you know, or they are getting invited to the big China one month tourist vacation which is not bad for 30,40,50 thousand dollars if your time has no value.

As Peter Daszak’s time had no value, he enjoyed the thirty days stay. So, in the weeds of incompetence and corruption, the truth is beginning to emerge, and I would say to you very simply, the policymakers have to be like Solomon. Is it a wax rose or a real rose? Look where the bee goes to; which rose does the bee sit on? That is the real rose. Because the wax rose is the mumbo jumbo, so our leaders all over the world, may it be President Biden, PM Modi, or President Xi. Because I do not know if President Xi knows fully that this is a biowarfare campaign that was launched, I do not know if he knows that. I know it was done. I know on December 30 of 2019, in the Wuhan Wet Market, they released a secondary virus. That was the one which was aimed at ‘looking blond.’ So, the genome of the ‘looking blond’ virus is the one that went down. The original virus which leaked from the Wuhan Lab has a different protein strain. So, the patient ‘Zero’ who was at Wuhan Hospital on December 1 of 2019, and the patients in Sweden in October of 2019 were the original leak. The secondary leak is the ‘artificial blond’ made to look like a ‘blond.’ That is the study which is coming out of London in the next few days.

 

AP: The New York Times recently reported that India’s death figures are ten times higher than what the official sources are saying. As far as the American public and American mainstream media houses are sad about what is happening in India, the idea that the death figures are ten times higher looks a little dicey, don’t you think?

RAVI BATRA:  Reporters talk to people; they talk to government officials. I am not standing up for the New York Times at all. I have a battle going on with them over royals. They are behind a protocol that wants to get away with the title of mother, father, he and she, and we should all become it. I am not interested in that. I believe in the ‘Equal Protection Clause’, I do not believe we should wipe away man and woman, and we give away everything else. And we cannot use today’s morals to whitewash, and that also people will argue is a racist term, but to whitewash the entire image of our history today, we are not God and to that extent is the New York Times.

They have an agenda, but it is for the Government of India to sue them. It does not matter if India wins or loses, but they must sue them. Sometimes banging someone’s door really hard at night, which keeps them up at night, is punishment. They have to expose their sources once taken to court; if they don’t expose their sources, then how do they prove the truth of it? There are benefits to the due process, which is undervalued when it comes to justice. I can tell you as a lawyer for 40 plus years; due process is often justice itself. The end verdict by the jury is the cherry on the cake, and the cake is the due process itself. And most people and countries don’t understand the value of due process. You get to make a discovery; you get to find out where you would go? Who would you talk to? Why would you say that? We had a US Ambassador, Nancy, a lovely lady. When she was first appointed Ambassador to Nepal, and told me, if you come to Nepal, I will hold a dinner in your honor. It turned out she was the one violating Indian immigration laws, the Sangeeta Richards case dealing with Devyani Khobragade. I am the only one publicly calling for her firing, and she was retired. We all send American ambassadors to other countries not to violate the laws of those countries; that is what American ambassadors should not be doing. If you want to talk about the New York Times, you should ask the government to take action against the New York Times.

 

AP: We all got to know that the Chinese regime has got rid of most of the evidence over the last two years. Looking into the investigation, will the investigation results offer something concrete, or will it just be a formality?

RAVI BATRA:  It is not a formality. If I were in the PLA and I wanted this lab and was a biowarfare agent, what would I do? I would say, okay, I had a lab leak. It was not my fault, but we had poor protocols, and it is documented in the public record. Now we have a lab leak. What do we do with this? Or maybe we allow it to let it go; let’s send people out as super spreaders. The first one was an accident. You can hold people accountable for negligence and poor protocols. Still, the subsequent cover-up virus was artificially made to look like a blonde, if you remember, because there are two different protein strings. So, the original Wuhan virus that came out, the accidental leak because I have no evidence it was done on purpose, the protein string is different than the one that came out on December 30, 2019, out of the wet market.

However, when you look at the protein string, that tells you what it is. Each one tells you it is transplanted; each one tells you that it’s artificially made, it’s man-made, it’s lab-created. Now we know a crime was committed against humanity. What do we do about that? Do we go to the international criminal court? No, it does not save lives. Going to the International criminal court does not save lives because, unlike World War II, when Hitler was dead and defeated, the virus was not defeated. The virus is alive and growing. By the way, it is in the animal kingdom. We can vaccinate humanity but are we going to vaccinate the rats, the cats, and dogs etc.? As long as it is there and since it’s already humanly transmissible, now it’s zoonotic.

The current virus, the covid-19 is reverse zoonotic, we are getting it, and we are giving it to the animals; it was not zoonotic in the first instance because it was lab-created but now zoonotic in reverse. So, we need to forget about crime and punishment or new Nuremberg trials for covid-19. We need to look at disarming this. We need China to say your PLA chief stored all the biodata and took it out of the Wuhan lab but stored it. We need access to it because we need to disarm this virus. It is not enough to punish the people who did this; it does not get us anywhere. This is a weapon that is going on and going on. It is self-perpetuating, and it is getting lethal. It is mutating higher and stronger like an ICBM. It has multiple rockets. It keeps going higher and stronger. We need to disarm this.

Samiksha Roy and Debdoot Basu Ray are with the Usanas Foundation, which is a  geopolitics and security affairs organization based in India.

Interview courtesy: Usanas Foundation.

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India Latest News

Seven years on, Modi faces three challenges

By Shashi Shekhar

The beginning of the third year of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term would be an apt occasion to look at the early days of this innings. He began as a run-hungry batsman, eager to notch up a big score, belting out sixes and fours to every corner of the ground.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government divided Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and abrogated Article 370 in one fell swoop. A new Union Territory, Ladakh, emerged and J&K’s full state status was done away with. The practice of triple talaq was declared illegal. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) always had these issues in its sights, but Modi is the one who grasped the nettle.

His vow of making India a $5-trillion economy by 2024 meant removing certain hurdles to growth. He zeroed in on non-performing assets of public sector banks as one and a merger of 19 banks into four was executed. Despite unprecedented opposition from farmers and the Opposition, agri-sector laws were changed and the path to the privatisation of government undertakings was cleared. Modi meant to show that he would not hold back on economic reform.

Then disaster struck in the form of the lethal coronavirus.

Of the three major challenges facing the government, this has been the biggest the NDA has faced by far.

The government claims that everyone will be vaccinated by December but so far there is little to inspire confidence in this assertion. A vaccination drive for those above 18 years has been announced, but hundreds of vaccination centres are running short of vaccines for this cohort. In fact, the whole vaccination strategy, which was to be a model for the world, is now in trouble. Vaccines are in short supply and prior commitments made to foreign nations for vaccine supplies cannot be fulfilled.

The state governments ruled by opposition parties are up in arms about the paucity of vaccines and have accused the government of ignoring the threat from the virus for political gain.

The pandemic may eventually peter out but it has seriously damaged the economy.

The second challenge Modi faces is political. Next year, assembly elections will be held in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa and Manipur.

The groundwork for these has begun. Despite the victories in Assam and Puducherry, the defeat in West Bengal has dented the BJP’s reputation as an invincible election machine. During Modi 2.0, the party has won only four out of 10 state elections. In these, the role of the allies was crucial. That is why many political critics feel that even though there is no alternative to Modi at the Centre, the voters prefer strong state-level parties in the assembly elections.

As of March 2018, the NDA was ruling 21 states, with 71% of the country’s population. In April 2019, it was reduced to 18 states. However, in terms of demography, now 49% of the population is ruled by the NDA.

The third challenge to the Modi government is from across the borders. China is still up to its old tricks. Will Modi be able to get China to retreat from the border areas it has encroached on?

These are all daunting challenges for PM Modi. His track record on meeting difficult situations head-on is well known. He is a past master at political manoeuvrings. Will he rise to the occasion now as well?

It remains to be seen but this is why the eighth year of his prime ministership or his second term as pradhan sevak as he likes to term himself, will prove interesting to both his admirers and critics.

(The opinion piece appeared in The Hindustan Times)

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Latest News USA

Bipartisan support on out-competing China

Kicker: Senate weighs investing $120 Billion in science to contain China’s rise

Washington: The US Senate voted on Monday to advance a broad bipartisan effort to counter China’s economic and geopolitical ambitions, though negotiators are still hammering out critical details of the legislation.

Senators voted 86-11 to move forward on the Endless Frontier Act, the base for the larger China bill. Ultimately, it’s expected to include additional measures boosting technology research and development, revitalizing manufacturing sectors, and outlining a diplomatic and national security strategy for the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific region.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has long pushed for a more hawkish approach to China, is leading the effort alongside Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), a rising voice in his party on foreign affairs.The final product could pass the Senate before June and would represent the culmination of a two-month effort by Senate committees, to draw up bipartisan legislation aimed at out-competing China. The nascent agreement is also a bright spot for a chamber that has grown increasingly partisan in recent years.

Schumer called the bill a “once-in-a-generation investment in American science and American technology.”

“We can either have a world where the Chinese Communist Party determines the rules of the road for 5G, artificial intelligence and quantum computing — or we can make sure the United States gets there first,” Schumer said on the floor.

President Joe Biden supports the bill, the White House announced Monday, calling it “an important step in ensuring the U.S. remains globally competitive in the 21st century.”

The final legislation is likely to include bipartisan bills to boost semiconductor manufacturing, push back against China’s theft of U.S. intellectual property, and confront Beijing’s threats to U.S. national security, among others. Aides said they expect the Senate to wrap up its work on the effort by Memorial Day.

The centerpiece of the Endless Frontier Act is $100 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation to create a new technology directorate. But Sen. Young raised concerns after the Senate Commerce Committee adopted an amendment to the bill last week that would redirect billions of dollars instead to the Department of Energy. Young hinted that it could cause Republicans to yank their support from the final product, but said he was hopeful that negotiators could reach a compromise.

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China creates ‘line of separation’ at Mt Everest as Covid spikes in Nepal

China will set up a “line of separation” on one side of Mount Everest’s peak, saying the measure is needed to keep Nepal’s COVID-19 outbreak from crossing the border, according to state media.

The plan is part of China’s “zero contact strategy” to keep climbers from the Chinese and Nepalese sides of Everest from mixing if they reach the summit on the same day, said Nyima Tsering, head of the Tibetan Sports Bureau, according to the state-run Xinhua news outlet.

Everest straddles the border between Nepal and the Tibetan region of China — where the world’s highest mountain is known as Mount Qomolangma. The separation line will be erected by guides who are climbing alongside rope-fixing teams who are readying paths for the looming season.

Officials say the line will cordon off the northern side of the peak, starting from one of the highest Tibetan camps at 27,230 feet, from which mountaineers leave to reach the summit.

China has barred foreigners from visiting Everest since last year, due to the pandemic. But for the 2021 mountaineering season, Chinese nationals have been granted 21 expedition permits for the north side of the mountain, Xinhua reports.

News of China’s plan comes after a coronavirus outbreak made headlines at Nepal’s Everest Base Camp, which is situated at 17,598 feet.

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e-paper-stories Latest News

India-Pakistan crises may escalate, borders tensions with China still high: US intel

Washington, DC: India-China border tensions “remain high” despite pullbacks of forces and although a war between India and Pakistan is “unlikely”, crises between them will become “more intense, risking an escalatory cycle” the US intelligence community said on Tuesday in its annual assessment of threats around the world.

It added that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India was “more likely than in the past to respond with military force to perceived or real Pakistani provocations, and heightened tensions raise the risk of conflict between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, with violent unrest in Kashmir or a militant attack in India being potential flashpoints.”

For the US, the intelligence community saw China as “a near-peer competitor, challenging the US in multiple arenas”; Russia as “pushing back against Washington where it can globally, employing techniques up to and including the use of force”; Iran was described as a “regional menace” with broader malign influence activities; and North Korea as a “disruptive player on the regional and world stages.”

The report — released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — said China was seeking to use “coordinated, whole-of-government tools to demonstrate its growing strength and compel regional neighbors to acquiesce to Beijing’s preferences”, including its claims over disputed territory and assertions of sovereignty over Taiwan. India-China border “tensions remain high, despite some force pullbacks this year”, the report said, adding: “China’s occupation since May 2020 of contested border areas is the most serious escalation in decades and led to the first lethal border clash between the two countries since 1975.”

As of mid-February, “after multiple rounds of talks, both sides were pulling back forces and equipment from some sites along the disputed border”, the report added on the India-China conflict.

The US has followed the border conflict closely and condemned China’s aggression in strong terms. It has also expedited certain military supplies requisitioned by India. (Source: hindustantimes.com)

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e-paper-stories Latest News

China willing to discuss restoring LAC status quo of April 2020

Beijing: China on Thursday said that India’s proposal for the restoration of the status quo of April 2020 in eastern Ladakh could be discussed at the next meetings between the two countries.

China also said that there is no delay in holding talks with India to discuss the disengagement of troops from the remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh, amid reports about the likelihood of the 11th round of corps commander-level talks on Friday.

Asked to confirm the date for the 11th round of China-India Corps Commander-level meeting to discuss further disengagement in eastern Ladakh, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here that “China and India are in communication on the holding of the 11th round of talks.”

“As for the specific date for the upcoming talks, I have no information,” he said.

The spokesman also denied any delay in holding of the 11th round of talks when pointed out that it is going to be about two months since the first disengagement has taken place and a month since the 10th round of talks on the disengagement of troops.

“There is no delayed meeting as you cited. I want to stress that the merits of the situation at the India-China border are very clear and the responsibility does not rest with the Chinese side,” Zhao said.

“We hope the Indian side will work with China to follow through the important consensus of our two state leaders, abide by relevant agreements and treaties to de-escalate the tension at the border,” he said.

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