6 May 2020

India’s National Cyber Security Strategy : How to Go About It

By Maj. Gen. P K Mallick

The exponential growth and rapid adoption of information and communication technologies (ICT) with its associated economic and social opportunities have benefited billions of people around the world. The Internet has become the backbone of modern businesses, critical services and infrastructure, social networks and the global economy. The confidentiality, integrity and availability of ICT infrastructure are challenged by cyber threats including electronic fraud, theft of intellectual property and personal identifiable information, disruption of service and damage or destruction of property. Cyber security is a foundational element for achievement of socio-economic objectives of modern economies. It encompasses governance policy, operational, technical and legal aspects.

India E-ditions: Where Can You Read Books on India Online for Free?

By Krzysztof Iwanek

The pandemic has affected our lives unevenly. The virus has already infected over 3 million people and caused the deaths of over 200,000. For the world’s poor, the pandemic has brought tremendous suffering and significant challenges; it’s been a curse for many businesses. Undoubtedly, however, many of us are lucky to have the privilege to be able to stay at home – and we should not complain about it, given the hardship that the pandemic and the lockdowns have brought to others. Some of us have even more free time than ever before. For those that would like to use this period to learn more about India – how can one do this without leaving your home and paying any money?

In one of my previous texts for The Diplomat, I explored Indian museums that offer virtual tours of their collections. This time, I will suggest online places where one can read academic books about India free of cost. This won’t be a catalogue of texts open for those with institutional access only – instead just those publications which you can download in a PDF format with one click. There is actually quite a lot of them so this article won’t be exhaustive. To be sure, this is only a chunk of the available selection, and one collected from my own perspective and limited by my knowledge.

Ian Hall's Modi and the Reinvention of Indian Foreign Policy

by Rajesh Rajagopalan, Paul Staniland, Manjari Chatterjee Miller, Constantino Xavier, and Ian Hall

In Modi and the Reinvention of Indian Foreign Policy, Ian Hall explores the drivers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attempt to reinvent India’s foreign policy based on Hindu nationalism. Rajesh Rajagopalan, Paul Staniland, Manjari Chatterjee Miller, Constantino Xavier, and Ian Hall discuss the outcomes and ideologies behind this narrative shift and the structural forces that continue to hold sway in Indian policy.

Tajikistan Struggles to Integrate Ismaili Pamiris Living Along Afghan Border

By: Paul Goble

Eastern Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region—comprising more than half of the historical mountainous region of Badakhshan, which it shares with northern Afghanistan—is one of the most isolated, impoverished and unsettled places in Central Asia. Gorno-Badakhshan was a center of resistance to Dushanbe during the civil war in the 1990s, and the central government has since worked hard to try to bring it to heel, alternating threats of a military crackdown with expanded economic assistance (see EDM, October 18, 2018; Ozodandishon, October 23, 2018). Dushanbe adopted this strategy in part to limit the influx of influence from its southern neighbors, fearful that they could trigger a local secessionist threat. But it has faced obstacles other than geography, economics and the porosity of the Tajikistani-Afghan border: namely, the population of Gorno-Badakhshan is incredibly ethnically and religiously diverse. Its people are not only divided between Tajiks, Kyrgyz and Pamiris but also between Sunni Muslims and the Ismailis—locally, the religious majority, whose members follow the Aga Khan but who view themselves and are perceived by others as part of the Shia Islam tradition, centered on Iran.

The demographic and socio-political situation in eastern Tajikistan is particularly complex because the region’s ethnic and religious cleavages do not perfectly coincide, and the Pamiris, who form a majority of Gorno-Badakhshan’s 200,000 people, have historically looked to Shia Iran despite their specifically Ismaili religious orientation. Consequently, Dushanbe has stepped up its efforts to integrate the Ismailis into Tajik society lest they become a Trojan horse for outside influences, Afghani or Iranian. To date, the central government has not achieved much in its campaign to encourage a common Tajikistani identity regardless of religion by, for example, promoting intermarriage; but it has managed to foster tolerance to the point that the two groups recognize each other’s religion as legitimately Islamic, allow children of the few mixed marriages to freely choose their faith and, perhaps most importantly, bury their dead in the same cemeteries (Cabar.asia, April 24).

Myanmar and COVID-19

By Kyaw San Wai

A man donates cash to a Buddhist monk wearing face mask and gloves as they collect morning alms in a street in Yangon, Myanmar, April 8, 2020.Credit: AP Photo/Thein Zaw

Five weeks after confirming its first COVID-19 case on March 23, Myanmar has reported 151 confirmed cases and six deaths. The country’s largest city, Yangon, is the outbreak’s epicenter, though cases have been detected in other states and regions. Limited testing capacity and reports of people under investigation dying before being tested have fueled fears that Myanmar’s outbreak could be vastly under-reported.

In spite of recent reforms and investments, Myanmar’s once-neglected health system under the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS) has limited surge capacity to rapidly test or treat critical cases beyond a moderate number. In early 2020, there were an estimated 600 critical care beds (including 180 ICU beds) across the entire country (roughly 1.1 bed per 100,000 people) while the World Health Organization reported that Myanmar had around 6.7 doctors and 10 registered nurses and midwives per 10,000 population in 2018.

China: Fighting COVID-19 With Automated Tyranny

By Maya Wang

“I thought the days when humans are ruled by machines and algorithms won’t happen for at least another 50 years. [But] this coronavirus epidemic has suddenly brought it on early,” a blogger on the popular Chinese forum Zhihu wrote. The blogger was complaining about Health Code, an app that local authorities around China rely on to make decisions about quarantining individuals amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Chinese authorities are notorious for using technology for surveillance, unconstrained by privacy legislation, a free press, robust civil society, or an independent legal system. In Xinjiang, northwestern China, police over the last few years have collected residents’ biometrics without their consent. This and other data has been used to evaluate the level of political loyalty of the region’s 12 million Turkic Muslim minority residents and to determine how much freedom of movement they will be allowed.

How does Health Code work? People first fill in their personal information, including their ID number, where they live, whether they have been with people carrying the virus, and their symptoms. The app then churns out one of three colors: green means they can go anywhere, yellow and red mean seven and 14 days of quarantine, respectively. The app also surreptitiously collects – and shares with the police – people’s location data.

As COVID-19 Loses Steam, Hong Kong Protests Heat Up

By Zen Soo

Hong Kong police used pepper spray on Friday to disperse over a hundred protesters in a shopping mall who were singing and chanting pro-democracy slogans.

The demonstrators sang the protest anthem “Glory to Hong Kong” and chanted “Glory to Hong Kong, revolution of our times” in the New Town Plaza mall in Hong Kong’s New Territories.

As protesters gathered in the mall, riot police stopped and searched some and later told them to leave, saying they were violating social-distancing rules. The police then sprayed tear gas to disperse the crowd before cordoning off the atrium of the mall.

The protest was one of several that went ahead on May 1, Labor Day, despite rules that forbid public gatherings of more than four people. Small groups of protesters also gathered near Kowloon’s Mong Kok and Kwun Tong subway stations.

Organizers initially planned citywide protests but many were canceled, with the organizers urging people to support pro-democracy restaurants instead.

What Would Kim Jong-un’s Death Mean for China?

by Paul Heer

Editor's Note: This is part of a symposium asking what happens if Kim Jong-un died. To read the other parts of the series click here.

If Kim Jong-un were to die suddenly, Beijing might well be as surprised and uncertain of the implications as any other capital. 

Although China has a closer relationship with North Korea than any other country, that relationship is not as warm as is widely assumed. Indeed, ties between Pyongyang and Beijing have been incrementally if inconsistently eroding for two generations. Mao Zedong and Kim Il-Sung were comrades-in-arms, although even their relationship was not always copacetic. The generation of Chinese leaders that succeeded Mao and Deng Xiaoping never fully warmed to North Korean successor Kim Jong-il, who never really forgave them for extending formal diplomatic recognition to the South Korean government in 1992.



Officials need to prepare the public for the prospect of a period of coronavirus resurgences over the next two years, infectious disease experts have said in a report.

A team from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota also urged leaders to prepare for the "worst-case scenario" such as there being no vaccine; draw up plans to ensure healthcare workers are protected during spikes of disease; and map how to reinstate measures to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

In the document titled The Future of the "COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned from Pandemic Influenza," the experts wrote: "Risk communication messaging from government officials should incorporate the concept that this pandemic will not be over soon and that people need to be prepared for possible periodic resurgences of disease over the next 2 years."

Coronavirus Death Rate Will Largely Be a Mystery Until the Pandemic Ends

The Unintended Consequences of a Proposed Cure for COVID-19

by Samantha McBirneySangita M. BaxiKrishna B. KumarTodd A. Richmond

The very discussion of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as therapeutic options against COVID-19 has decreased their availability for proven treatments, exacerbated global shortages, fueled an already rampant counterfeit drug market in Africa and worsened trade tensions.

Each day in Africa, more than 1,000 people die of malaria, in part driven by shortages of these proven anti-malarial treatments. These drugs are also FDA-approved treatment options for the 1.3 million Americans who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and the 1.5 million who suffer from Lupus. Chloroquine is known to have antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects, garnering attention as a candidate for COVID-19 treatment. But at this point, there is no definitive evidence that these drugs work to treat COVID-19, and they remain as unproven options still under investigation.

Immediately after these drugs were promoted as possible treatments, in the United States, hospital orders were up 3,000 percent for chloroquine and 260 percent for hydroxychloroquine from March 1 to March 17. This skyrocketing demand has now created an official nationwide shortage in the United States of both drugs. Part of this shortage is driven by medical professionals who may be inappropriately prescribing the medicines. Over-prescription has become so common that several states have restricted prescribing of the drugs, including Texas, Ohio, and West Virginia. Hoarding of these drugs has also deprived many patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis of their needed medication.

Finding a Vaccine Is Only the First Step

By Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
It is now abundantly clear that the world cannot fully emerge from its current state of novel coronavirus lockdown until a vaccine is found. Never before have so many lives, livelihoods, and economies depended so much on a single health intervention. But as scientists race to develop potential vaccine candidates, the international community must remember that the ultimate goal is not only to produce a safe and effective inoculation but to bring the pandemic to an end. And that can happen only after billions of doses are produced affordably and made available to everyone, particularly those in low-income countries.

An enterprise on this scale requires a new perspective: vaccines must be recognized as global public goods. Neither domestic agendas nor profit can be allowed to drive the effort for the largest vaccine deployment in history. Governments, pharmaceutical companies, and multilateral organizations must work together to develop, produce, and deliver the vaccine. Producing and distributing billions of doses of a new vaccine would be challenging at the best of times. Doing so during a pandemic will require an unprecedented global effort.


Trump Has Two Options: Leave the Middle East Or War With Iran

by Trita Parsi

X“Everybody who has touched the Middle East has gotten bogged down.” Candidate Donald Trump rightly pointed this out in October 2015 as he laid out his vision for a foreign policy that would end America’s forever wars and extract America from its Mideast quagmires. Trump not only tapped into public anger toward Washington’s indifference to the American people’s pain and suffering, but he also pointed to America’s indisputable interest in ending misguided foreign adventures and refocus on domestic needs. President Trump, however, speaks of leaving the region while doing precious little about it. Nowhere has his policy contradicted his promise to get out of the Middle East more than his maximum pressure strategy on Iran.

“Our brave troops have now been fighting in the Middle East for almost 19 years,” Trump complained in his State of the Union address in February 2019. "In Afghanistan and Iraq, nearly 7,000 American heroes have given their lives. More than 52,000 Americans have been badly wounded. We have spent more than $7 trillion in the Middle East... As a candidate for President, I pledged a new approach. Great nations do not fight endless wars."

Iran's Old Air Force Could Be On Its Last Legs

by Paul Iddon

Here's What You Need To Remember: After the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran had a brief opportunity to revamp its air force. Tehran briefly contemplated buying modern Mirage 2000 fighters from France but ultimately decided against it, logically concluding it was more familiar with American and Russian equipment.

Two incidents in late August 2018 involving Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force F-5F Tiger II fighter jets underscored the ongoing crisis in Iran’s air force.

On Aug. 21, Iran unveiled what it described as a new, fourth-generation fighter jet. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani even sat in the plane’s cockpit and posed for photographs.

One problem. The aircraft in question was conspicuously an F-5F, one of the 17 Iran bought from the United States during the rule of the Shah. It was not domestically-built.

“Iran has probably upgraded the electronics systems, originally from the 1960s, and made other upgrades,” Iran analyst Nader Uskowi suggested. “But it is not clear why the president of the country should unveil a 40-year-old plane as a new fighter.”

America Underestimates Iran's Military At Its Own Peril

by Harry J. Kazianis

Here's What You Need To Remember: Iran’s forces, when confronted close to its shores, would not be easily subdued. What is referred to commonly as the “tyranny of distance,” combined with Tehran’s growing A2/AD capabilities, creates an interesting challenge for U.S. warfighters if the unthinkable ever came to pass.

The facts are simple: Washington and Tehran are locked into a long-term geopolitical contest throughout the Middle East that will span decades—a similar contest in many ways to Washington and Beijing’s battle for influence in the Asia-Pacific and wider Indo-Pacific regions. 

Over the long term, the U.S.-Iranian struggle throughout the Middle East could very well be a mini-Thucydides trap, to steal the phrase from my beloved Harvard’s resident geostrategic guru, Graham Allison—the classic tale of how when a rising power meets an established power, war is oftentimes the most common result (eleven out of fifteen times, per Allison).

(This first appeared in 2015.)

Al-Shabab’s Territory in Somalia Is a COVID-19 Powder Keg

Abdullahi Abdille Shahow 

NAIROBI, Kenya—The novel coronavirus arrived relatively late to Africa, where the first case was confirmed only in mid-February. Since then, COVID-19 has swept across the continent, with more than 37,000 cases confirmed thus far. Experts point out that the true number of cases is higher than the official tally in many African countries, though, given their limitations in testing.

Somalia, the base of operations for the al-Qaida-affiliated extremist group al-Shabab, is no exception. It announced its first COVID-19 case on March 16 and currently has just over 580 cases, with 28 confirmed deaths from the disease. In response, the Somali government in Mogadishu has announced a raft of measures to try and curb the virus’s spread, including the suspension of all international flights arriving or leaving the country, a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Mogadishu and the closure of schools and universities. Citizens are being urged to pray at home, not at mosques.

Could America Face Another Gulf Of Tonkin Incident With Iran?

by Lawrence J. Korb 

Here's What You Need To Remember: One can only hope that an isolated incident or an alleged attack does not spark a retaliation that could lead to a Vietnam-style conflict with Iran, one that could necessitate sending hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops to the Middle East. While President Trump has said he does not want to go to war with Iran, President Johnson likewise did not want to start a war with North Vietnam.

Many analysts have argued that the rising tensions between the United States and Iran in the Persian Gulf region, especially the claims by the United States that Iran is increasing its military capabilities bear disturbing similarities to the run up to the Iraq war in 2002 and 2003, when the Bush administration falsely hyped Iraq’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. While this analogy may be correct, the events are actually more similar to the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which occurred in August 1964—something I remember well.

Israel Has Russia To Thank For Its Successful Air War On Syria

by Petri Mäkelä 

Here's What You Need To Remember: It’s also interesting to see how the Russian-Iranian relations develop as Russia doesn’t seem to be willing to protect Iran or Syria from Israeli strikes. As an open conflict against a high tech nation like Israel could tax the limited number of advanced Russian weapon systems available for expeditionary ops, it's not surprising that the Kremlin seems to avoid that scenario.

On May 9th the Iranian Quds force that belongs into the Revolutionary Guards Corps launched a rocket salvo against the Israeli forces in the Golan heights. The IDF had anticipated the move and placed several Iron Dome batteries to protect the region, so the attack did very little damage and several rockets were shot down.

There have been conflicting reports on whether the weapon used to attack Israel was a Russian built BM-27 Uragan or an indigenous Iranian Fajr-5.

The Fajr-5 system is an indigenous Iranian 333 mm artillery rocket that is mounted on Mercedes-Benz 2624 trucks in 4-tube launchers. System has a maximum range of 75 km and rather abysmal accuracy with a 3 km CEP. Combination of a 900 kg class conventional warhead and the low accuracy makes the FAJR-5 more of a terror weapon than any kind of precision battlefield instrument.

Improvisation and Adaptability in the Russian Military

As the U.S. military pivots back to a world shaped by great power competition, it faces the need of coming to grips with the evolving capabilities and doctrines of its principal rivals, China and Russia. The Russian military, in particular, is rapidly updating its tools and techniques in ways that challenge traditional thinking about great power competition. To promote a better understanding of the Russian military’s evolving capabilities and doctrines, the CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program (REP), with support from United States European Command (EUCOM) has undertaken to gather this series of papers designed to give planners and executors a clear sense of just where the Russian military is headed.

The National Debt Dilemma

by James McBride, Andrew Chatzky, and Anshu Siripurapu

The U.S. national debt is once again raising alarm bells. The massive spending in response to the pandemic of a new coronavirus disease, COVID-19, is projected to soon take the budget deficit to levels not seen since World War II. This expansion follows years of ballooning debt—totaling nearly $17 trillion in 2019—that will now be even more difficult to reduce. 

Major budget legislation signed by President Donald J. Trump, along with continued growth in entitlements and higher interest rates, saw the debt on track to nearly double by 2029, coming close to the size of the entire U.S. economy. With the debt added in response to the pandemic, this will likely happen even sooner. That could expose the country to a number of dangers, economists say, and reducing it will require politically difficult decisions to curb entitlement spending, raise taxes, or both.

How did the debt get to where it is today?

The United States has run annual deficits—spending more than the Treasury collects—almost every year since the nation’s founding. The period since World War II, during which the United States emerged as a global superpower, is a good starting point from which to examine modern debt levels. Defense spending during the war led to unprecedented borrowing, with the debt skyrocketing to more than 100 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1946. (The deficit is a yearly measure, while debt refers to the cumulative amount that the government owes. Measuring both deficits and debt as a proportion of GDP is a standard way of comparing spending over time, since it automatically adjusts for inflation, population growth, and changes in per capita income.)

US Intel Community Says Coronavirus Was Not Made In a Lab

Source Link

The statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence comes after months of speculation and disinformation.

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was likely not produced in a lab, though it remains possible that a lab’s mishandling of the virus contributed to its spread, the head of U.S. intelligence said in a Thursday statement, which said the finding reflects “wide scientific consensus.”

“As we do in all crises, the Community’s experts respond by surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital to U.S. national security. The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, said in the statement. 

The World Health Organization made a similar statement on April 21

The origins of COVID-19 have been a subject of speculation, conspiracy, and rumor. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, and others have suggested that the virus may have been the result of Chinese government experiments. Cotton has since partially walked back his remarks, saying the matter should be investigated.

Will Macron Pay the Price for France’s Heavy-Handed COVID-19 Response?

Judah Grunstein 

The violent protests in Paris’ banlieues this week, after an incident of police brutality, are a clear indication of the social tensions fueled by France’s strict national lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Neither the violence by police nor the riots come as any surprise, given the history of both in the suburban ghettos surrounding France’s major cities, where much of its immigrant and immigrant-origin population lives.

But the tensions between France’s overstretched security forces and its population extend beyond the banlieues. Combined with popular dissatisfaction over French President Emmanuel Macron’s response to the pandemic, they risk making Macron a lame-duck president, creating a power vacuum that could jeopardize France’s ability to navigate the lengthy crisis ahead.

In Defense of the Blob

By Hal Brands, Peter Feaver, and William Inboden
The foreign policy establishment has seen better days. During the Obama administration, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes derided it as “the Blob,” mocking its stodgy hawkishness. Then Republicans joined the chorus, with the Trump administration declaring war on mainstream foreign policy and national security professionals and the president dismissing critics as “the failed Washington elite looking to hold onto their power.” On this issue, moreover, even some of Trump’s harshest critics in the academy agree with him.

American foreign policy, they contend, has been controlled by a privileged cabal bent on serving its own interests rather than those of the nation at large; one that protects its turf by shutting out alternative ideas and excluding dissenting voices. The result has been three decades of dismal failure, with the United States squandering its post–Cold War advantages and careening from catastrophe to catastrophe. The key to getting things back on track, these critics charge, is to break the grip of the Blob.

How Can Your Phone Tell You If You've Been Exposed to the Coronavirus?

by Johannes Becker David Starobinski

On April 10, Apple and Google announced a coronavirus exposure notification system that will be built into their smartphone operating systems, iOS and Android. The system uses the ubiquitous Bluetooth short-range wireless communication technology.

There are dozens of apps being developed around the world that alert people if they’ve been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Many of them also report the identities of the exposed people to public health authorities, which has raised privacy concerns. Several other exposure notification projects, including PACT, BlueTrace and the Covid Watch project, take a similar privacy-protecting approach to Apple’s and Google’s initiative.

So how will the Apple-Google exposure notification system work? As researchers who study security and privacy of wireless communication, we have examined the companies’ plan and have assessed its effectiveness and privacy implications.

Cyber Terrorism: Why It Exists, Why It Doesn’t, And Why It Will – Analysis

By Stefan Soesanto*

For more than two decades, the idea of cyber terrorism has survived in the absence of a concise definition and rigorous case-studies that prove its actual existence. Many researchers have moved the ball forward over the years by investigating –among others topics– whether cyber terrorism is a real or imagined threat, which actors can conduct cyber terrorism, what the motivations behind an act of cyber terrorism might be, and whether terrorism logics in real-space hold true in cyberspace.1 This article is not going to revise this existing knowledge. Instead, it seeks to explain different government logics on the defensive end for buy-into the cyber terrorism narrative and outline operational thinking on the offensive end to create terror as a desired outcome.


The conversation on cyber terrorism began in the late-1990s amidst a wave of high-profile terrorist attacks in the United States, including the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and the Oklahoma bombing in 1995. By 1997, the US Department of Defense conducted its first ever no-notice information warfare exercise to test the cybersecurity of its own systems, and in the same year, the Marsh Commission report on critical infrastructure protection put the growing cyber threat landscape on the policy map in Washington.2 Following the simultaneous bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the subsequent rise of al-Qaeda, terrorist attacks in and through cyberspace were seen as a potential future threat vector to the homeland. In October 1999, the Naval Post Graduate School prepared the first and to date most comprehensive study on ‘cyberterror’ for the US Defense Intelligence Agency.