At G-20 and in Vietnam, Biden to sell American partnerships — all at China’s expense

The world’s largest democracy is collapsing before our eyes

“The easiest way to understand what Modi has done to India is to see it as kind of a mutually reinforcing cycle of two different agendas.

The first is using the powers of the premiership to spread Hindutva ideology and polarize the electorate along Hindu-versus-Muslim lines. The second is consolidating power in his hands and weakening countervailing authorities — including the judiciary, oversight commissions, the free press, and opposition parties.

The more the Hindu public is converted to his ideology, the more popular Modi becomes, providing him political cover to pursue attacks on judges, bureaucrats, and reporters. The more he controls India’s government and the press, the easier it is for him to spread Hindutva propaganda.”

“Under Modi, the party has managed to significantly expand its demographic base among both lower-caste and poor Hindus (two groups that overlap to some degree but not fully) without losing its base. By 2019, poor Hindu voters were as likely as rich ones to vote for the BJP.”

Why the US is selling India so many weapons

“Jets, drones, cyber capabilities, and more.
It’s a significant list, and builds on an expanding military partnership. The US has partnered with India more and more in response to China’s rise, seeing New Delhi as a valuable counterweight. This is happening as India advances grievous human rights abuses against minorities, against journalists, and against political critics — all in contradiction of America’s stated values.

And yet this week, the White House is promoting a “next generation defense partnership” with India. This includes the co-production of cutting-edge technologies like jet engines and semiconductors, the prospect of new arms sales, and agreements that would allow the US to have its navy ships repaired in India. The country will also purchase 31 advanced drones from General Atomics in a deal that will cost some $3 billion. And the Pentagon and the Indian Ministry of Defense have established a new military-tech incubator called INDUS-X.

Experts point out that India under Modi increasingly does not share American values, and some of the advanced military technologies that the US is providing the country could be used against dissidents or journalists.

“If we’re just going to go full-on countering China with India as a realist approach to things, that can come back and bite us,” says Derek Grossman, a defense analyst at the RAND Corporation. “Because, as we saw during the Cold War, a lot of the dictators or semi-authoritarian regimes that we cozied up with, they were not our friends in the long run.””

The deadly train collision in India, explained

“India’s railway system was constructed in the 19th century, when the country was a British colony, and serves millions of people each day. Though it’s an important part of the country’s transit system, it has long suffered from underinvestment, and deadly, destructive accidents are not uncommon.”

“Modi’s government has recently announced major spending on the transit and railway systems, including high-speed, indigenously produced trains between major transit corridors. But many such upgrades are years away, require mountains of outside investment, and must wind through a labyrinthine government bureaucracy to take effect.”

“India’s railway system is in some ways a marvel, in that it connects a massive country together, is an affordable mode of transportation that serves 13 million people each day according to state-run Indian Railways, and connects India’s large rural population to its urban areas.
The railway system also spurred economic growth after it was first introduced in 1853, because it could move commodities both internally and internationally far more quickly than traditional transportation. The economy still depends on rail transportation, to an extent, though increased roadways and a large auto industry have increased Indians’ auto-ownership from 115 million in 2009 to 295.8 million in 2019, according to a report from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway Transport.

Still, people all over the country depend on old, overcrowded trains for all aspects of life, despite the massive number of accidents and deaths that occur on India’s more than 40,000 miles of railway.”

Despite sanctions, Russian fuel is still selling — here’s who’s buying

“Petroleum shipments are still relatively stable for Russia, as nations like China and India have picked up some slack from EU countries weaning themselves off oil, and Russia still has LNG, coal, and nuclear energy to help the economy float, too.

In order to make petroleum products more appealing to customers like India and Indonesia, Russia has offered fairly steep discounts — an average of $30 per barrel — against Brent crude oil, which has also been a benefit for Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Cuba, all emerging economies struggling with inflation, as Business Insider reported. Although according to S&P the discounts on Russian crude oil are decreasing, some analysts believe they’ll persist, making Russian crude oil imports highly palatable for poorer countries.”

“Countries like China, India, and Turkey are proving eager partners for the Russian fuel industry, with Turkey doubling Russian oil imports this year and vying to become a hub for Russian LNG transfers into Europe after damage to the Nord Stream pipelines.”

“Even with the Nord Stream 1 pipeline out of commission — and setting aside the transfers to China, now Russia’s biggest natural gas buyer — European countries are importing record amounts of Russian LNG at market prices, according to Bloomberg. France has purchased about 6 percent more Russian LNG between January and September of this year than it did all of last year; Spain has already broken its record for Russian LNG imports this year, and Belgium is on track to do the same.

The stakes for natural gas imports are somewhat different than they are for Russian petroleum, in a number of different ways; for one, the EU hasn’t imposed sanctions against it as it has against petroleum products, though the bloc does intend to eliminate its reliance on Russian fossil fuels by 2027. Second, Russia has already used Europe‘s reliance on its natural gas as a weapon; Russia cut access to many European countries which refused to pay for LNG in rubles, and cut total output to Europe by 60 percent in June and by 80 percent in July, Reuters reported last month.”

“Russia continues to invest heavily in its nuclear technology, and nuclear facilities in many nations are dependent on Russian technology and cooperation to function, even if they’re not directly importing Russian nuclear fuel, according to a report by Robert Ichord for the Atlantic Council.”

“Russia has several illicit strategies to evade western sanctions on its energy products and financial system. Because these transactions are, by their nature, often difficult to track, it’s hard to know how effective and how widespread they are — not to mention how much the Russian economy is benefiting from them.”