Coronavirus: The race to stop the virus spread in Asia’s ‘biggest slum’

But an outbreak of coronavirus in a place where social distancing is an oxymoron could easily turn into a grave public health emergency and overwhelm the city’s stretched public health system.

Nobody realises this more than the officials racing to track and contain the infection.

Patient No 1 of Dharavi lived with his eight-member family – his wife, four daughters, and two sons – in a poky 420 sq ft one-room apartment in a low-rise slum tenement ringed by squalid shanties.

…The man owned another apartment in the same complex. There he hosted five people who had reportedly arrived from Delhi after attending a conference in early March organised by Tablighi Jamaat.

…Hundreds of people who attended the religious event in the capital set off several Covid-19 clusters across the country and are now linked to some 650 cases across 14 states.

The police believe the five men lived in the Dharavi apartment for two days – between 19 and 21 March- before they left for Kerala. “We are trying to trace these people,” said Mr Dighavkar.

…On Thursday, a 35-year-old doctor working with a private hospital and living in the slum tested positive for the virus. Municipality workers scrambled to isolate and seal 300 people living in the doctor’s building. They have also identified 13 high-risk contacts in the building and sent their swabs for testing. The doctor told officials that two nurses in his hospital had tested positive for the virus. And at the weekend, a 30-year-old woman inside the same building complex as the trader, a 60-year-old man, who owns a metal fabrication shop and a 21-year-old male lab technician, tested positive.

“We are still able to try to contain the infection of the gated slum colonies. But there are the slums outside, and if we get cases there, we can’t isolate them at home, and have to send even the high-risk cases to the sports complex quarantine centre,” says Mr Dighavkar.

Coronavirus: The race to stop the virus spread in Asia’s ‘biggest slum’ – BBC News



Has Putin already disrupted the 2020 elections?

Meanwhile, intelligence officials tell Sen. Bernie Sanders, the leading candidate to unseat the president, that Russian bots have infiltrated his online army to sow discord in the Democratic Party.

…Not sure what to believe? Bingo. This fever of mistrust is the desired symptom of a powerful virus — a confidence-sapping worm of mutual suspicion — that Russia has planted in the operating system of American democracy. At little cost and with surprising ease, Vladimir Putin and his government have exploited partisanship and social media to serve Russia’s long-term goal of weakening the West by encouraging disorder and disunity. Already, eight months before Election Day, the virus is spreading virtually unchecked, because the very existence of a Russian chaos project has itself become a partisan wedge.

…Seizing opportunities on the lawless frontiers of social media, the Russian leader has stoked division, spread disinformation, fanned conspiracy theories and generally mind-gamed the American system.

…It’s ironic that Americans of all political stripes have contributed to Putin’s success — by failing to understand what he wants and why he wants it. 

…A unified United States, pursuing a bipartisan, pro-democracy foreign policy is Putin’s biggest fear. So, he has taken the risk of creating an operation specifically to sow discord through social media. Putin’s computer hackers look for any internal divisions and tensions that tend to erode American unity or discredit American leadership. Though he clearly favored Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016, Putin doesn’t generally favor one point of view over another; he supports whichever candidates are most divisive and amplifies whatever arguments are most bitter. 

…So, too, history will eventually confirm the foundational fact of Putin’s deliberate hacking of the West. “The Russian Government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion,” the Mueller report concluded. As spelled out in a detailed federal indictment of the Internet Research Agency, Russian agents employed by a Putin associate began in 2014 to sow inflammatory lies and truly fake news on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Their strategy was simple enough: Find divisive wedge issues and try to hammer the wedge deeper.

Russian trolls and computer “bots” spread phony reports of a Muslim terrorist attack in Louisiana. They stoked racial tensions after controversial police shootings. They touted a nonexistent outbreak of Ebola in Atlanta and fanned baseless rumors of Ku Klux Klansmen loose on a Missouri college campus. Such seemingly scattershot efforts in fact were aimed precisely: anything likely to divide Americans from each other, or divide Americans from the world, was a candidate for amplification. Shake, stir and repeat.

Has Putin already disrupted the 2020 elections? – The Washington Post

Speculating about Putin’s motivations and referring to these thoughts as if they were facts is a wee bit much there, Drehle…

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Pledges To Invest $1 Billion In India

Amazon’s aggressive expansion in India has kickstarted an e-commerce boom in a country where hundreds of millions of people have rapidly come online through cheap smartphones and data plans in the last few years, and where most people outside urban areas do not have access to large retail chains. But it has also angered millions of small brick-and-mortar businesses, who say that Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart, which dominate online shopping in the country, are affecting their livelihoods by using their deep pockets to heavily discount products and undercut traditional retailers.

Small business owners in the country have also accused online retailers like Amazon of violating the country’s foreign investment laws. …They’ve also accused the companies of striking deals with smartphone makers that force them to sell their devices online exclusively and not in traditional retail stores.

…“The goal of Amazon and Flipkart is to bring in crony capitalism in India, dominate and monopolize the market, wipe out the competition, and leave consumers with no choice,” CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal told BuzzFeed News at the protest site. Khandelwal claimed that over 100,000 small retailers had been driven out of business thanks to Amazon and Flipkart’s deep discounting in the last four months alone.

…When asked about Bezos’ latest billion-dollar investment to digitize India’s small and medium businesses, Khandelwal said that cash infusion was to help Amazon continue to sell products at a loss by offering large discounts. “They’re trying to build a wrong and a false narrative here,” he said. “That’s not acceptable.”

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Pledges To Invest $1 Billion In India


A revolution betrayed: The tragedy of Indonesia’s Jokowi

Jokowi has embraced hardline Islamists and members of the former dictatorial regime. And to make matters worse, he is sidelining political reform, including weakening anti-corruption agencies, in order to push through infrastructure development and please the country’s reactionary forces.

A revolution betrayed: The tragedy of Indonesia’s Jokowi | Asia | Al Jazeera


India Citizenship Act: government controls on protests extended after day of deadly violence

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in at least 15 cities across the country, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata on Thursday in a show of nationwide public anger against the law considered by many to be unconstitutional and discriminatory against Muslims.

At least two people died in the protests, which saw violent pitched battles between police and protesters in several cities, including Ahmedabad, Mangaluru, and Lucknow. Police fired tear gas, water cannons and used batons against protesters who pelted stones, vandalized and set fire to buildings and buses. Thousands of people were arrested.

…At the center of the unrest is the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which was passed into law last week. The law that promises to fast-track citizenship for non-Muslim religious minorities, including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who arrived before 2015.

The government, ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said the law will provide safe haven for religious minorities who fled persecution in their home countries. Critics say it undermines the country’s secular constitution as it bases citizenship on a person’s religion and would further marginalize India’s 200-million strong Muslim community.

India Citizenship Act: government controls on protests extended after day of deadly violence – CNN


Jammu and Kashmir: the history behind India’s new crackdown on the disputed region.

While India was part of the British Empire, Jammu and Kashmir was one of the many princely states that made up the colonial territory.

…Singh, a Hindu ruler of a Muslim-majority state, initially desired that the Jammu and Kashmir become an independent neutral region between India and the new nation of Pakistan. However, an uprising in the state’s western region, aided by Pakistani raiders and primarily targeting Singh, forced him to cede sovereignty to India in exchange for military aid.

…As a concession to Kashmiris who bristled under Indian rule, this article exempted Jammu and Kashmir from the rest of the Indian Constitution, established the state’s own Constitution, forbade outsiders from buying property in the region, exempted the state from laws passed by the Indian Parliament, and allowed the state to create its own laws except those regarding foreign policy, defense, and communications.

…India has interfered with the state’s politics from the very first day. The provisions of Article 370 were meant to be applied to Jammu and Kashmir by an established constituent assembly—and the constituent assembly was dissolved in 1957, leaving the institutional framework for the law uncertain. 

…The state also became the site of several clashes during India’s multiple wars with both Pakistan and China, as all these countries attempted to grab more Kashmiri land for themselves. Part of what spurred this desire for Kashmiri territory is the water: The Indus river system is split between India and Pakistan, and the water supply’s availability is incredibly important to both countries.

…India often shut down telecommunications within the region and plunged it into darkness much as it’s doing right now. Some militant groups carried out terrorist attacks in India, including the 2001 Parliament shooting and the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

…With this move, more than just reinforcing its control of Kashmir, the Indian government now seems to be working toward totally reshaping the state in its own self-glorious vision by taking away the self-determination of its citizens. 

Jammu and Kashmir: the history behind India’s new crackdown on the disputed region.


Kashmir dispute: Pakistan downgrades ties with India

Indian-administered Kashmir has been on lockdown since the Indian government decided on Monday to strip the region of its special constitutional status.

Phone networks and the internet have been cut off since Sunday evening.

Tens of thousands of troops have been patrolling the streets.

Instances of protest and stone-throwing have been reported, despite the communications blackout and a curfew.

Kashmiris in other parts of the country said that they were unable to get through to their families. Local leaders have also been detained.

…Pakistan is suspending all trade between the two countries.

It is expelling India’s high commissioner (the equivalent of an ambassador) from Islamabad. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s newly-appointed envoy, Moin-ul-Haq, was yet to start his role but now will not move to Delhi.

…Many Kashmiris think revoking Article 370 is an attempt to change the territory’s demographic character, by allowing non-Kashmiris to buy land there. Before now, Indians from outside the state could be barred from settling or buying property.

While the current insurgency began in 1989, violence surged again in 2016, with the death of a young militant leader, Burhan Wani. Last year, more than 500 people were killed – including civilians, security forces and militants – the highest such toll in a decade.

Kashmir dispute: Pakistan downgrades ties with India – BBC News


India revokes disputed Kashmir’s special status with rush decree

Home Minister Amit Shah told parliament on Monday that the president had signed a decree abolishing Article 370 of the constitution that gave a measure of autonomy to the Muslim-majority Himalayan region.

…Regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir had earlier called attempts to revoke Article 370 an aggression against the 7 million people living in the disputed region.

The law dates to 1927, when an order by the administration of the-then princely state of Jammu and Kashmir gave the state’s subjects exclusive hereditary rights.

Two months after India won independence from the British rule in August 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, signed a Treaty of Accession for the state to join the rest of the union, formalised in Article 370 of the Indian constitution.

Further discussions culminated in the 1952 Delhi Agreement, a presidential order that extended Indian citizenship to the residents of the state but left the maharaja’s privileges for residents intact.

…Critics of such a measure say that in doing away with Article 370, the government hopes to change India-administered Kashmir’s Muslim-majority demographics by allowing in a flood of new Hindu residents.

Shah said the government also decided to split the state into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and Ladakh, which will be ruled directly by the central government without a legislature of its own.

…On Sunday, parts of India-administered Kashmir were placed under lockdown and local politicians reportedly arrested amid growing tensions following a massive deployment of troops by the Indian government.

…The measures came after the Indian government moved about 10,000 troops to the region last week, followed by an unprecedented order asking tourists and Hindu pilgrims to leave the Himalayan valley.

India revokes disputed Kashmir’s special status with rush decree | India News | Al Jazeera


India’s Gay Prince Invites Homeless LGBTQ Individuals To Live in His Palace

The development comes after India’s only openly gay member of royalty, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil of Rajpipla, Gujarat, decided to open the gates of his palace to the community and also turn a part of his ancestral estate into a help centre with counselling, care, and medical attention.

The palace, named Hanumanteshwar 1927, will serve as a safe space for members of the LGBTQ community and will also provide help in terms of vocational skills, and English training.

The Prince further revealed that he will be crowdfunding his initiative and the effort to build more support facilities within the palace compound through his foundation, the Lakshya Trust.

India’s Gay Prince Invites Homeless LGBTQ Individuals To Live in His Palace