As expected there is a lot of idle chatter about Corona Virus and what should have been done. This post is a list of some of major actions that Indian govt has taken to control the spread of Corona Virus in India.

1. Multiple rescues of 1000s of Indians from a number of different countries

  1. Saviour! Air India aircraft to rescue over 200 Indians stranded in Rome, Italy due to Coronavirus https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/travel-tourism/saviour-air-india-aircraft-to-rescue-over-200-indians-stranded-in-rome-italy-due-to-coronavirus/1905308/
  2. India Evacuates Citizens, Others From China, Iran Amid COVID-19 https://thediplomat.com/2020/03/india-evacuates-citizens-others-from-china-iran-amid-covid-19/
  3. Air India Boeing 747 on standby to evacuate Indians from Wuhan amid coronavirus outbreak https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/air-india-boeing-747-on-standby-to-evacuate-indians-from-wuhan-amid-coronavirus-outbreak/articleshow/73659590.cms
  4. India evacuates 405 citizens stranded at Kuala Lumpur airport https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/india-evacuates-405-citizens-stranded-at-kuala-lumpur-airport-1657158-2020-03-18
  5. India evacuates over 90 citizens stranded in Singapore https://www.rediff.com/news/report/covid-india-rescues-over-90-stranded-in-singapore/20200319.htm

2. Not just Indians, even foreign citizens are evacuated and aid sent

  1. India pips China to extend emergency medical supplies to South Asian neighbours :https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/india-pips-china-to-extend-emergency-medical-supplies-to-south-asian-neighbours/articleshow/74743862.cms
  2. India evacuates Maldivians, Bangladesh citizens from Wuhan as part of neighbourhood first policy
    https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/india-evacuates-maldivians-bangladesh-citizens-from-wuhan-as-part-of-neighbourhood-first-policy/articleshow/73890602.cms
  3. India evacuates other citizens from COVID-19 countries https://www.wam.ae/en/details/1395302830356
  4. India Sends Military Aircraft Carrying Lab and Scientists to Test 6000 Stranded Indians for COVID19 in Iran https://www.indianeagle.com/travelbeats/indian-lab-coronavirus-testing-iran/
  5. India sends aid to Coronavirus COVID-19-hit Italy https://zeenews.india.com/india/india-sends-aid-to-coronavirus-covid-19-hit-italy-2271007.html
  6. India sends 15 tons medical relief to China for COVID-19 aid https://indusdictum.com/2020/02/27/coronavirus-india-sends-15-tons-medical-relief-to-china-for-covid-19-aid/

3. Strict controls imposed to control spread of virus

  1. India bans incoming international flights (18th March) https://www.france24.com/en/20200319-coronavirus-india-bans-incoming-international-flights
  2. India suspends domestic flights as coronavirus spreads (23 March) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/23/india-suspends-domestic-flights-coronavirus-lockdown
  3. Air India cancels flights to Rome, Milan, Seoul (12 March) https://english.manoramaonline.com/news/nation/2020/02/27/coronavirus-list-of-flights-cancelled-india-singapore-bangkok.html
  4. Indian Railways suspends all passenger trains till March 31 (22 March) https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/coronavirus-all-passenger-trains-to-stop-plying-till-march-31-1658409-2020-03-22
  5. Lockdown in 75 districts; trains, metros, interstate-state bus services shut till March 31 (22 March) https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/coronavirus-in-india-trains-metros-interstate-state-transport-bus-services-shut-till-march-31/story/398890.html
  6. Government Suspends Air Travel from China, Declares All Visas ‘Invalid’ (3 Feb) https://weather.com/en-IN/india/news/news/2020-02-04-govt-suspends-air-travel-from-china
  7. India sets 21-day ‘complete lockdown’ to stop coronavirus spread. It could be the biggest lockdown of its kind in human history. (24 March) https://abcnews.go.com/International/india-sets-21-day-complete-lockdown-stop-coronavirus/story?id=69769594

4. Multiple testing and quarantine facilities set up early

  1. Passengers arriving in India on all international flights to be screened for coronavirus (4 March) https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/passengers-arriving-india-all-international-flights-be-screened-coronavirus-119463
  2. India steps up screening of passengers arriving from China, Hong Kong (21 Jan) https://www.deccanherald.com/national/coronavirus-india-steps-up-screening-of-passengers-arriving-from-china-hong-kong-796819.html
  3. Coronavirus-hit India digs in for the long haul; here are the facilities set up so far (6 March) : https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/how-india-is-gearing-up-to-take-on-coronavirus/articleshow/74487704.cms
  4. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, has put out a list of 52 laboratories  capable of administering the test. (9 March) https://qz.com/india/1814798/india-increases-coronavirus-testing-facilities-as-cases-rise/
  5. By the end of this week, there will be 72 functional ICMR labs for Covid-19 testing and also 49 others in the government system. We are also in talks with 51 private laboratories, accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories, to start testing (18 March) https://qz.com/india/1820426/india-announces-new-coronavirus-testing-labs-and-quarantine-rules/
  6. India is stamping hands of people under coronavirus quarantine (18 March) https://nypost.com/2020/03/18/india-is-stamping-hands-of-people-under-coronavirus-quarantine/
  7. The defence forces are building more quarantines to ensure that travellers do not mix with others :https://www.businessinsider.in/india/news/these-are-the-coronavirus-quarantine-facilities-in-delhi-mumbai-hyderabad-and-other-parts-of-india/articleshow/74650950.cms
  8. Amid the fight against coronavirus, a new challenge has reared its head: 20,000 quarantined homes in Delhi. The number of people quarantined at home so far is 45,616, including 22,716 with foreign travel history and 22,850 who came in contact with them. https://www.indiatoday.in/mail-today/story/20000-homes-in-quarantine-delhis-new-challenge-amid-coronavirus-1663700-2020-04-06

5. Massive efforts put in to track, isolate & treat infected people

  1. Coronavirus testing, treatment to be free for 50 crore Ayushman Bharat beneficiaries https://www.thestatesman.com/coronavirus/coronavirus-testing-treatment-free-ayushman-bharat-beneficiaries-1502874017.html
  2. Close to 22,000 Tablighi Jamaat members, their contacts quarantined in India: MHA. According to a MHA official, 200 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel and the Central Armed Police Forces are coordinating the same on the ground level. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/close-to-22000-tablighi-jamaat-members-their-contacts-quarantined-in-india-says-mha-6347314/
  3. Platform ticket at Rs 50, quarantined wards, clean stations: How Railways is fighting Coronavirus https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/transportation/railways/how-indian-railways-is-fighting-coronavirus/articleshow/74591556.cms

6. Large budget allocated for relief packages

  1. FM Sitharaman announces package worth Rs 1,70,000 crore for poor, daily wagers. n additional five kilos of rice/wheat will be given to 80 crore individuals — over the 5 kilo they already get — along with a one-kilo pulse per household for a period of three months.The government will spend Rs 45,000 crore for undertaking these measures.She also announced that there will be Rs 50 lakh insurance cover for each healthcare worker for three months. 8.69 crore farmers to be immediately benefited through direct cash transfers under Kisan Samman Nidhi. Instalment of Rs 2,000 in the first week of April will be transferred,” Sitharaman said.Wages under MNREGA will also be increased by Rs 2000 per worker on an averagehttps://www.indiatoday.in/business/story/finance-minister-nirmala-sitharaman-live-updates-economic-relief-package-india-coronavirus-1659912-2020-03-26
  2. India’s Finance Minister on 24 March 2020 announced measures that include tax relief in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. https://home.kpmg/us/en/home/insights/2020/03/tnf-india-tax-relief-measures-coronavirus.html
  3. Cash transfer, free LPG, grains, part of coronavirus package https://www.livemint.com/news/india/nirmala-sitharaman-live-economic-package-announcement-likely-11585207106896.html

Indian efforts praised by multiple international bodies

  1. “Apart from ensuring the safe return of hundreds of Indians from China, Iran and other countries, the Indian government has taken decisive measures to contain community spread,” said Sriram Gutta, Head of Community Development, India and South Asia at the World Economic Forum. “India is doing quite well,” said the WHO Representative, Henk Bekedam. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/quarantine-india-covid-19-coronavirus/
  2. Coronavirus: As World Fights COVID-19, India’s Efforts Praised “This is true. The country has done well. I arrived in India on January 20. Awareness was already very high,” Bruno Macaes said while retweeting a tweet that praised India’s effort against COVID-19. https://news.abplive.com/news/india/coronavirus-as-world-fights-covid-19-indias-efforts-praised-1175897
  3. ‘Commendable’: WHO praises India’s prompt actions to contain coronavirus spread https://english.jagran.com/india/commendable-who-praises-india-s-prompt-actions-to-contain-coronavirus-spread-watch-10009695

I am taking data from arcgis.com and using this to calculate infection and mortality rates for some of more seriously infected countries, US UK, Italy, Iran and Spain.

Then I am calculating infection and mortality rates in China based on rates of above countries. Of these, only Iran has poorer infrastructure and unreliable figures. All other countries including even much hated US has much better health system, free press, better data collection, less pollution, less population density and are better than China in every single factor like elderly population which can affect these figures.

The epidemic started in China first and no one had any clue about existence of disease (suppressed information) let alone treat it. At the very least, numbers of Italy and China should match. Even the test kits that China is exporting have 80% failure rates.

It’s quite clear that China should have a much much larger number of causalities. To be very conservative, I am comparing China with the above mentioned countries and posting figures accordingly. Actual death toll in China should be in a few 100s of thousands if not millions.

This is from 21st March. Will add more to this post as numbers change.

INFECTIONSDEATHS
China-Italy978,00081,152
China-Spain550,00225,344
China-Iran329,02522,951

and this from 27th March

INFECTIONSDEATHS
China-Italy1920,704195,790
China-Spain550,002132,807
China-Iran329,02533,932
China-US372,0765,607
China-UK249,18312,234

Few days ago, I came across one interesting incident about origin of UAVs and how they developed in to the amazing machines we see everywhere now. This post is about development early surveillance UAVs (or drones as they are called now) and how they branched off from expensive ungainly remote controlled aircraft/missiles/target practice drones in to cheap and rugged machines they are now.

First military use of UAVs was done back in 1849 by way of balloons and later during WW1. But latter were little more than remote controlled planes carrying explosives, more like primitive cruise missiles or just target practice. USA did use some classified drones during Vietnam war, but they were not very successful with it.
First nation to find a proper niche for UAVs for surveillance and warfare was Israel. It started in 1968 when Israel and Egypt were on verge of war. Suez canal divided the two belligerents  and both had erected static defences all along the common border. USSR was providing Egypt and a few other nations hostile towards Israel with highly lethal weapon systems in large numbers while Israel had no such benefactor. Egypt had created 25-30 feet high artificial sand banks to prevent any visual reconnaissance  from Israeli side. At first, Israelis tried creating a platform mounted on tanks but enemy fire made them useless. Spy satellites were not that common, Israelis didn’t have any at that time and aerial reconnaissance using normal planes was just too risky due to strong air defenses on Egyptian side.


Shabti Brill, a major in IDF Military Intelligence came up with an idea to attach cameras to commercially available toy planes and use them to take pictures of Egyptian military buildup. At first Israeli Air Force refused to consider the idea. So he asked his commander who approved a budget of USD 850. It was used to buy three toy planes, extra engines, remote controls and some other spares from a toy store in New York. A member of visiting Israeli defence delegation bought all of this gear and sent it back in embassy’s diplomatic pouch. It was done this way to prevent any suspicion.


Once in Israel, these toy planes were fitted with German built 35 mm cameras timed to take pictures every 10 seconds.Before sending the planes for actual missions, Brill’s superiors wanted to do some trials. So the toy planes were shot at by Israeli air defence guns at altitudes ranging from 1000 feet to 300 feet, . Even with prior information about flight paths of the drones, the air defence guns couldn’t shoot them down. Impressed by the results, these planes were immediately sent on their first reconnaissance mission in July 1969, which they successfully completed. There was some minor drama but the pictures taken by these planes uncovered defensive preparations being done by Egypt and later Jordan too.


One would think that everyone in Israel would’ve realised the utility of these UAVs right then and started their development and induction in earnest. But Israelis share a few traits with us. Brill was promoted and he left others in charge of this project who completely bungled the development of new models. After repeated crashes, the whole project was shelved only a few months later. Strong protests by Brill were ignored.

Scout Drone


A wake up call came up with war of 1973, in which Israel barely managed to hold on to their territory with 2000+ causalities. The surprise attack by Egyptians on western and by Jordanians on eastern front shocked everyone in Israel. It was more than evident now that Brill was right and the decision to stop work on UAVs was quite foolish. His plans were again pulled out of storage and development of new drones started again. First one to enter service was Scout. It was it’s first trial by combat in 1982, where it’s electronic warfare and reconnaissance capabilities were instrumental in destroying the formidable Syrian SAM network and shooting down of 82 enemy jets without any loss.


Americans had their own drone programs, but none was successful even after spending nearly a billion dollars. So they turned to Israel to help them develop a better version of Scout, called Pioneer. Deliveries started in 1986 and these drones saw their first use in Iraq. This war also had the first incident of human soldiers surrendering to a machine when a group of Iraqi soldiers panicked and waved their white under-shirts after noticing it flying over their heads.Now everyone knows about sophisticated military drones like Predator, Heron, Global Hawk. Many of the people who will read this would have flown smaller drones just for fun. But it’s always good to know how it all started.


A lot of people think that Israeli military is financed by Americans. It is partially true now, but it was not always like that. After the creation of Israel, not a single country was willing to sell them any weapons, let alone provide them any kind of aid. They had to make deals with arms smugglers, scrounge for usable machines in scrap yards, even steal from many countries. They had other nations back out of signed deals and deal with outright refusals after long negotiations. As a poor fledgling nation, they had Israeli civilians and sometimes foreigner Jews finance their defence purchases. Yet their conditions forced them to be innovative, make the best out of every situation and strive for indigenisation at all costs. There was just no other alternative.

Now after decades of hard work and focus, they are making some of the best military equipment on planet and are one of the largest exporters. Their achievements in civilian technology is no less impressive, but that’s a topic for another post.The anecdote above is just one of the many others which sheds some light how they managed to develop numerous different successful systems with so few resources.  

SOURCES:

A lot of people I follow on Twitter type platforms are angry with the news that Modi govt is giving away 5 crore scholarships in next 5 years to “minorities” while ignoring Hindus. A lot of Raita Wingers in prepetual outrage mode as well as saner folks are pretty pissed about it. I was pretty annoyed by this too and did a bit of searching around to find out that most of it is just baseless controversy due to shoddy reporting and incomplete data. This will be too long for Twitter and the leftist jihadis running it are censoring my account anyway. So posting rebuttals here:

1. Number of scholarships is 5 crores over a period of 5 years, 1 crore per annum. But guess what total number of students in whole country appearing for board exams is ? 1.44 crores

SOURCE : https://www.india.com/education/board-examinations-2017-over-1-crore-students-appear-for-exams-is-india-equipped-to-provide-higher-education-to-all-2148938/

I couldn’t find any data about religion wise breakup, but it should be a safe assumption that even if pre-matric numbers are included, than the number will be 2-2.2 crore per annum. Even if 1 crore scholarships are being given per year, it shouldn’t be hard to calculate that it’s impossible to meet these numbers without including Hindus

2. Ideally, even point 1 should be enough to satisfy most people, but there’s more to be sure. This is what PIB posted from Minister MA Naqvi’s press conference.:

Shri Naqvi said that our target is to provide “Pradhanmantri Scholarship” to 5 crore students in the next five years, which will include 50 per cent girl students. The entire process of “Pradhanmatri Scholarship” has been made easier and transparent through DBT mode.

Link : http://pib.nic.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1573381

I can’t find anything which says that the scholarship is only for minorities, not Hindus. The press conference was indeed by a Muslim minister handling Minister for Minority Affairs along with Minister of State, Kiren Rijju. But the statement NEVER specified that the scholarships will only be for minorities. It was only media outlets which reported it as such.

3. This Pradhanmantri Scholarship scheme includes multiple schemes for different categories of students, most of which do not have anything to do with religion. These schemes include children of defence personnel (http://desw.gov.in/scholarship), existing scholarship schemes like
 10 lakh Begum Hazrat Mahal Girls Scholarship for female students and quite a few more.

In nutshell: Storm in a tea cup and baseless controversy. If I’m missing anything, please feel free to point out.

There’s been a lot of noise about what happened in Balakot on 26th Feb 2019 and on LoC on 27th Feb. There were lots of claims from both sides but nothing definite. Indian officials were tight lipped and issued only terse statements , while Pakistanis released one statement after another. Media reports from both sides were as usual quite trashy and more noise than substance. In all this noise, there were some recordings, witness statements and less publicised events which provide some hints about what actually happened. There is some new information  coming out almost every day and it’s a difficult task to do detailed fact checks and connect all the dots. Following is an attempt to find some answers based upon some of the facts which are seemingly true.  This part covers just the Balakot strikes on 26th Feb. If I have some time, I’ll write something about events of next day.

26th Feb. 2:55 am  : A Indian Air Force strike team consisting solely of  Mirage 2000 fighter jets attacked a JeM terrorist training camp in Balakot in Khyber Phaktunwa province across international border. There were reports of 2 other targets, Chakoti and Muzaffarabad in Pakistan being hit, but no confirmations from either side. But both sides are in agreement that Balakot was bombed.  

India announced the attacks later in the day via an official statement made by Vijay Gokhale, Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs

Pakistani Claims:

Pakistanis on the other hand made a number of mutually contradictory claims.

  1. “Pakistani National Security Committee strongly rejected Indian claim of targeting an alleged terrorist camp near Balakot and the claim of heavy casualties. Once again Indian government has resorted to a self-serving, reckless and fictitious claim,” 1* 2*
  2. Pakistan foreign minister Qureshi said “multi-dimensional intrusion” had been attempted by the Indian fighter jets early on Tuesday. “But the intervention by Pakistani jets forced them to return back within minutes,” he said. The minister dismissed the notion that Pakistan Air Force jets were late in responding to the Indian attack, saying the planes were “ready” and “air-borne”. 2*
  3. Director-general of Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, said India had “attempted” to send its combat air patrols (CAPs) “first from the Lahore-Sialkot sector” and they were “challenged” by Pakistani CAP. “They tried to enter from Bahawalpur-Okara and were forced to go back,” he said. According to Ghafoor, “the third (Indian) CAP which was bigger in number made it from Muzaffarabad and they were challenged and were forced to return”. 2*
  4. Pakistani Army confirmed attack on Twitter with pictures of craters outside the terrorist training facility. They claimed that bombs missed target and damaged only one civilian who suffered a gash on his forehead and a few trees.  “Payload of hastily escaping Indian aircrafts fell in open. pic.twitter.com/8drYtNGMsm”

  5. This video shows house of a local “civilian” close to the terrorist camp. It is a bit odd as it shows a small crater about 25-30 meters downhill and narrator claims that the whole house has been severely damaged.

Actual Proofs:

Following are some videos and pictures which tell a different story.

  1. This video was uploaded on 8th March by a Pakistani media outlet. It shows a senior Pakistani army officer in a village meeting consoling family members of some (200) dead people. Some roughly translated lines below:

Whoever fights alongside rulers of land in name of jihad is fighting for jihad.

Yesterday 200 people died. It was written in their fate, not ours.

Your father is not dead, he is alive. We don’t call him dead,

So this Pakistani army man is definitely admitting that 200 or more “good jihadis” got killed in one go.

2. Indian government and armed forces have release very little information till now. Maybe it’ll change later as it did with Uri strikes. But as of now, one major statement made is that Indian intelligence had detected around 300 mobile phone signals in the terrorist camp. 4*

3. Following interview with some locals deflate official Pakistani claims

a. Access to whole area has been completely blocked off for outsiders as well as locals.

b. Pakistani authorities are prohibiting any information leaks. For this, they’ve blocked internet, enforced no go zones and are actively warning people against talking to anyone.

4. BBC Urdu interviewed a local resident who claimed to have heard atleast 5 huge explosions. But Pakistanis have released pictures of only 1 crater site, which by the way doesn’t seem to be a crater made by a high explosive bomb.

5. BBC interview of some locals confirming that all flow of information and regular movement of even civilians has been blocked by Pakistani army

What Happened :

Following are my guesses based upon available information:

  1. IAF Mirage 2000s did attack atleast one target at Balakot. Other two possible targets were Chakoti and Muzaffarabad. Both are near to LoC in J&K
  2. Earlier reports said that terrorist camp was hit using “1000 kg bombs”. Later it was revealed to be Spice, which is actually a guidance kit for 2000, 1000 and 500 pound bombs in Indian inventory. I believe that it was Spice 1000 used for 1000 lbs (450 kg) bombs which can have 200 kgs of high explosives. A single 1000 kg bomb will have around 450 kgs of explosives which will blow off most of hill top. Considering that avoiding collateral damage was one major mission objective, it’s unlikely that 1000 kg bombs were used.
  3. According to local witness accounts, 4-5 bombs were dropped. It should be pretty obvious that these smart bombs usually don’t miss. Even if we believe story of that single injured civilian whose house was damaged, there are still 3-4 other bombs which found their mark. Their impact points have not been made public by Pakistan and access blocked off.
  4. There have been atleast 200 causalities including some terrorists, their trainers as well as regular Pakistani army. Pakistan is doing everything in it’s power to hide it. We’ll have to wait for more information to be released by Indian government to have a reasonably accurate number and actual impact.

References:

  • 1. https://www.news18.com/news/world/pakistan-vows-to-respond-to-indian-air-strikes-at-time-and-place-of-its-choosing-2049355.html
  • 2. https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/damage-come-and-see-it-says-pakistan/cid/1685821
  • 3. https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/jaish-e-mohammed-camp-balakot-pakistan-blocks-media-1473243-2019-03-08
  • 4. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/mar/04/ntro-surveillance-of-balakot-jem-camp-before-strikes-confirmed-300-active-targets-1946650.html

Name: Mushaf Airbase. IATA Code: BHW

Type: Major Pakistan Air Force base and nuclear weapons storage site.

Location: Sargodha, Punjab, Pakistan.

Coordinates: 32°02′34″N  72°40′43″E

Comments: PAF base Mushaf in Sargodha, Punjab is one of more important military establishments for multiple reasons:

  1. It is Central air command of PAF. It also houses Combat Commanders School which has Skybolts flying Dassault Mirage 111/5 and Dashings currently flying Chengdu F.7P. These can be seen parked out in open often.
  2. Number 9 and 19 Squadrons with F-16A/B Block 15. Unlike Mirage and F7 mentioned above, F-16s spend most of their time in hardened shelters.
  3. Number 24 Squadron flying Electronic Warfare aircraft based on French Dassault Falcon 20 airframe.
  4. A large number of Pakistani nuclear warheads and missiles like M-11 are stored here.
PAF Airbase Mushaf in Sargodha, Punjab province of Pakistan. , 176 km from IB
old aircraft, probably for display
Old aircraft on display
Some transport and quite a few fighter planes are almost always visible here
Same place, Snapshot from 2008
Supposedly residential colony near aircraft shelters
Reinforced aircraft shelters
Aircraft shelters 1
Looks like reinforced storage area
Possible SAM sites
Air defence site
Some hangars and possibly underground storage
Heavily fortified bunkers. Possible weapon storage
PAF Mushaf, Sargodha, runways
Radar site. Administrative buildings are on lower left side. Bigger complex is not visible in this picture.
Possible SAM site
Pakistani PM posing with some pilots in front of a F-16 parked outside it’s hardened shelter.
Another view of the shelters.

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