The World This Week

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The World This Week
Biden's climate summit, Putin's new redlines, China's media clampdown in Hong Kong, and India's alarming COVID case

  GP Team

The World This Week #116, Vol. 3, No. 17

Akriti Sharma, Harini Madhusudan, Sukanya Bali and Lokendra Sharma.

The US: Biden brings back the Climate change agenda 
What happened?
On 22 April, President Joe Biden hosted online a two-day "Leaders Summit on Climate." The summit aimed at addressing the climate crisis, resilience and adaptation, reduction in emissions, innovation, finance, and job creation. The summit was attended by 40 world leaders along with business leaders around the globe. 

"Time is short, but I believe we can do this," Biden said in his opening remarks. "We will do this." He also said: "As we transition to a clean energy future, we must ensure workers who have thrived in yesterday's and today's industries have as bright a tomorrow in the new industries as well as in the places where they live."

What is the background?
First, the return of the US to climate action. Earlier, on 1 June 2017, Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. On the first day as the President, Biden announced that the US would rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. The Biden administration also appointed a Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, to look into the US climate and energy policy. By hosting the summit, Biden has brought the agenda of climate change back to the US.  He has also attempted to bring climate change back on the global agenda.

Second, the revised targets. During the summit, the US, Canada, Japan announced revised emission targets way ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference set to take place later in 2021. Biden announced that the US would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52 per cent by 2030 below 2005 levels. He further announced that the US would double its annual financing commitments to developing countries by 2024. Canadian PM Justin Trudeau announced a cut of 40 per cent to 45 per cent by 2030 below 2005 levels. Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga announced a cut by 46 per cent by 2030 below 2013 levels, nearly doubling the previous target. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced that Brazil would reach emissions neutrality by 2050, ten years ahead of the previous goal. The summit has enabled the countries to take a leadership role and announce the revised targets ahead of the Glasgow Climate Change Conference. However, India and China reiterated their previous targets.

Third, the presence of the key countries. The summit was attended by the world's largest emitters, the EU, China, Russia, and India, which account for most greenhouse emissions. Twenty out of forty countries in the summit account for 80 per cent of the global emissions. The summit was attended by countries representing all regions: Asia (including India, China, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Israel, UAE, and Saudi Arabia), Africa (including Kenya, Congo, Nigeria, and Gabon), Latin America (including Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina). Island states, including Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, and the Marshall Islands that are heavily impacted by climate change also attended the summit. This highlights the inclusivity of the summit.

What does it mean?
First, the US leadership. During the pandemic, climate action has taken a back seat as the world is grappled with the socio-economic impact of COVID-19. The US has taken the responsibility of bringing back the climate change agenda to focus. By announcing the revised targets, Biden seems to be ahead of Obama in attempting to institutionalize climate action globally.  

Second, the US engaging with the rivals. Biden is using soft power to deal with rival states like China and Russia to achieve its climate targets. The presence of the world's largest emitters, including China and the EU, further makes it significant to achieve the targets that cannot be achieved unilaterally by any country. 

Third, setting up the pace for the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference. Countries like the US, Canada, and Japan have set up an example by releasing the targets way ahead of the COP26. The summit has promoted more meaningful interactions for the upcoming conference in Glasgow.

Russia: Putin draws redlines against the West, but withdraws troops from the Ukraine border
What happened?
On 21 April, during his state-of-the-nation address, President Vladimir Putin issued a warning regarding Russia's "swift" and "severe" response to hostile foreign actions. He told both houses of Parliament: "We want good relations...and really don't want to burn bridges."  While referring to the West, he said: "I hope that nobody would decide to cross the so-called red line in relations with Russia, and we will define those [red lines] on our own in every individual case." He also discussed the issues of Covid in Russia, protests in favour of Navalny, and domestic economic hardships. 

On 22 April, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the withdrawal of its military forces from the Ukrainian border. The announcement comes after weeks of military buildup at the Russia-Ukraine border, causing concerns of renewed conditions for a clash between Ukraine and Russia. The announcement states that the troops will withdraw from the region between 23 April and 1 May. 

What is the background?
First, Putin's Redlines. While referring to the US, NATO and the EU, he said: "like a kind of sport, they have developed a 'highly unseemly habit' of picking on Russia for any reason, and most often for no reason at all." In recent weeks, there was a series of threats between the West and Russia, which Putin says targets their "core security interests." However, there is no mention of what the 'red lines' actually mean. Analysts like Sam Greene, the director of Russia Institute at King's College, called it an intentional policy paralysis, a deliberate move by Putin to keep everyone guessing what the redlines would mean. 

Second, the growing international concerns about Russia and the US sanctions. First should be the recent legislation allowing Putin to contest till 2036. He is also seen preparing for the parliamentary elections in September 2021. A recent provocation also is the assassination attempt against the Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko. Russia's border tensions with Ukraine is another issue. Two sets of sanctions have been placed on Russia, one for the jailed opposition leader Navalny and the other over the solar-winds cyber attacks, since Biden took office in January. Biden, while stating that the Russians were involved in the 2020 US elections, has threatened to place more sanctions. Domestically, people took to the streets in demand of medical care and protested against the treatment of Alexy Navalny in jail. There is also a sense of dissatisfaction among the people over stagnant incomes and the rising inflation. 

Third, the withdrawal of troops from the Ukraine border. During the recent weeks, despite fears of escalation, Russia maintained that the movement of troops in the borders was only part of their military exercises. Russian military blocked flights and closed navigation in the Black Sea and parts of Crimea for 'winter period control checks' throughout April. The withdrawal announcement could be unrelated. Or, it could indicate political balancing after a strong statement earlier by Putin to ensure the tensions do not escalate beyond control. 

What does it mean?
During the recent weeks, there is international pressure on Putin. The redline statement by Putin is an effort to respond. Both Biden and Putin seem to be testing waters and see who blinks first. 

With the Parliamentary elections in Russia six months away, Putin's statement could be catering to a local audience. Though the redline statement can be a political grandstanding, it was timely and carefully balanced with troops' removal from the borders.

Hong Kong: China now targets media freedom 
What happened?On 22 April, Bao Choy Yuk-ling, a freelance journalist with Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), was convicted of making false statements using license plate information from publicly accessible databases. She was fined USD 775 for violating the road traffic ordinance.

Ivy Chui, West Kowloon Magistrate, said: "The regulations are not intended to allow the public to obtain vehicle particular without limitations." She highlighted that the public could obtain vehicle ownership records only for three stated purposes: legal matters, vehicle purchase or other transport or traffic-related matters. According to Reuters, Chris Yeung, Chief of Hong Kong Journalists Association, said: "it was a day of shame for the city." He also said: the criminalizing normal journalism is "recklessly destroying" press freedom
What is the background?
First, Hong Kong as a bastion of free media. Under constitutional guarantees of free speech, Hong Kong had engaged in independent journalism. From the Tiananmen massacre in 1989 to the Umbrella Movement in 2014, the press had far more freedom than the mainland in reporting the protests and regional politics. Social media has also played a prominent role in mobilizing support in the pro-democracy protest of 2019 in Hong Kong. Consequently, pro-Beijing officials blamed the negative coverage of China by the press as a reason for the rising anti-china sentiments in the territory.
Second, Beijing's strategy to target the independent media in Hong Kong. After the imposition of the national security law, freedom of expression has deteriorated in the territory, marking a clear shift from the media-friendly environment of Hong Kong. On 16 April, Jimmy Lai, founder of Apple Daily, who has been arrested on several occasions, was sentenced to 14 months in prison. In February, RTHK, a government-funded network, replaced its head with a bureaucrat and called for stringent supervision. Many international newspapers like New York Times have also relocated their offices to Seoul after facing pressure from the government. Journalists have shown concerns over raids, search warrants, and arrests. According to New York Times,  Reporters without Borders said: The National Security law used by the government is a "full-blown intimidation" of journalists.
In September 2020, Hong Kong police announced that the designation of 'media representative' will be restricted to government-licensed organizations, effectively curbing reporting by freelance journalists. 

What does it mean? 
Boa's conviction indicates the growing pressure on media in Hong Kong. The use of national security law against media freedom has narrowed the space for dissent. 
China seems to be moving towards a "one country, one media" environment by replicating mainland media's features in Hong Kong, thereby effectively eroding the territory's civil liberties.

India: The second wave drives an unprepared country into a humanitarian disaster
What happened?
On 22 April, India recorded over 3.14 lakh COVID-19 infections, the highest daily infection recorded anywhere in the world. On 23 April, even this grim milestone was surpassed as the country reported over 3.22 lakh infections and 2,247 deaths, taking the total reported cases to 1,62,57,337 cases and deaths to 1,86,919. 

On 23 April, New Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said that 25 patients had died due to a shortage of oxygen. In another incident, 20 patients died at Delhi's Jaipur Golden Hospital due to oxygen shortage. 

On 23 April, PM Modi chaired a review meeting with chief ministers of 11 high burden states. Chief ministers flagged issues of oxygen supply and vaccine pricing. PM Modi asked states to ensure uninterrupted movement of medical oxygen and assured that the Railways and the Indian Air Force had been pressed into service. 

On 22 April, the Supreme Court (SC) took cognizance of the rising cases. But, on 23 April, the SC adjourned the case till 27 April.  Earlier, on 19 April, the central government announced that everyone above the age of 18 would be eligible for vaccine shots from May 2021. 

What is the background?
First, an extremely overstretched healthcare system. With demand for beds, oxygen and drugs outstripping supply by a huge margin, Indian cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru) have witnessed people dying in search of beds/oxygen and round-the-clock working crematoriums with waiting lists. The situation is so grim that the healthcare workers themselves cannot get beds in their own or other hospitals. 

Second, the failure of the political class. Many political leaders, cutting across Indian geography and party lines, have either held political rallies or organized religious congregations. PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah held massive rallies in West Bengal even as the cases spiralled this month, flouting all safety protocols. Some leaders even downplayed the pandemic. 

Third, the carelessness and culpability of people. After seeing a trend of declining cases for four months (November 2020 - February 2021), people assumed that the pandemic had waned away. With a false sense of security, they violated safety protocols like social distancing and wearing masking. A narrative about the innate immunity of Indian people also surfaced and was readily bought by them; this happened even when the epidemiologists have been continuously warning about the imminent second wave. 

Fourth, failure of the three pillars of democracy. The SC and mainstream TV media and Election Commission of India (ECI) could have also played a better role. Taking a very delayed cognizance of the matter, and only after various High Courts passed very critical orders and observations, the SC adjourned the matter to 27 April, despite the urgency of the oxygen crisis. The ECI failed to rein in political parties and leaders as they campaigned in the polling states. Mainstream TV media also failed to highlight people's sufferings and, like the SC and the ECI, failed to hold the central and state governments accountable. 

What does it mean? 
The ongoing second wave has exposed the lack of administrative preparation at both federal and state levels. It has also highlighted the inadequacies of healthcare infrastructure to cope with any major crisis. Despite the experience of the first wave, and despite more than a year to build healthcare capacity, India did little on this front. And, that some states are even disrupting the movement of oxygen tankers highlights the failure of cooperative federalism in this moment of crisis. Finally, people would have to strictly adhere to safety protocols to beat the second wave as vaccination will take many months, if not years, to reach a significant proportion of the population.

The only positive story so far, notwithstanding the delayed approval to the Sputnik V vaccine, is India's vaccination programme. According to the Health Ministry, India became the fastest nation to administer 13 crore doses in 95 days. Rolling out vaccines for all aged above 18 is a welcome development. 

Also, in the news …
By Sukanya Bali and Avishka Ashok

East and Southeast Asia This Week 
China: Joint declaration on International Lunar Station with Russia 
On 24 April, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and Russia's Roscosmos issued a joint declaration on cooperation in creating the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS). ILRS design aims to carry multidisciplinary research activities, including exploration, lunar observations, fundamental research experiments, and technology verification with the long-term unmanned operation. Wu Yanhua, Deputy Chief of CNSA said: "China and Russia will work with other international partners in building the ILRS."
China: Australia scraps Belt and Road Initiative deal
On 21 April, Australia's foreign minister decided to cancel four deals, including two, which the State of Victoria agreed with China, in 2018 and 2019. FM said: "I consider these four arrangements to be inconsistent with Australia's foreign policy or adverse to our foreign relations." China's embassy in Australia showcased its "strong displeasure and resolute opposition" to the move. 
China: Foreign ministry spokesperson condemns bomb explosion in Pakistan 
On 22 April, China's foreign ministry spokesperson condemned the bomb explosion in the parking lot of Serena Hotel in Quetta, where the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan was being hosted. The attack left four killed and 12 wounded. He said: "The relevant departments in Pakistan are currently investigating the incident, and China believes that Pakistan will find out the truth and bring the culprits to justice and ensure the safety of Chinese personnel and institutes in Pakistan." 
China: Scientists accuse WHO director of being "extremely irresponsible"
On 21 April, Chinese scientists accused the WHO Director of being "extremely irresponsible" for pursuing "lab leak theory." A foreign ministry spokesperson said: "all parties should respect science and the opinion and conclusion of scientists, WHO in particular should play an exemplary role." Last month, after the release of the joint report on origin COVID-19, Tedros suggested further investigation on 'lab leak theory', which was described as an 'extremely unlike' scenario in the report.
China: Foreign minister urges Japan to reconsider its Fukushima wastewater release 
On 22 April, the Chinese foreign minister urged Japan to reconsider its decision on dumping nuclear-contaminated wastewater with all stakeholders and IAEA. A foreign ministry spokesperson said: "The dumping of Fukushima radioactive wastewater concerns global ecological environment security and the public health of all nations; it is not a private issue for Japan, but a matter that could cause major environmental damage". He also said: "The decision should not be a 'unilateral' or 'black box' operation."
Japan: China accused of cyberattack 
On 20 April, 200 Japanese companies, research organizations, and space agencies faced a cyberattack believed to be linked with the Chinese military. Japan Chief Cabinet Secretary said: "Police have forwarded the case involving attacks on the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to prosecutors for further investigation." He also said: "The involvement of China's People's Liberation Army is highly likely." As of now, no actual data leak or damage has been found. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson has denied the allegation. 
Myanmar: UN Secretary General's calls for a regional solution, as violence continues
On 19 April, the UN Secretary-General called for the ASEAN members to collectively find a solution to the crisis in Myanmar. On 20 April, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) attacked a police post in Kachin State. No casualties were reported. KIA also warned local people to relocate to safe places. A series of attacks also took place in Injangyang, Momauk, Namtu, Hpakant, Tanai and Shwegu townships. 

Myanmar: ASEAN demands an end to violence
On 24 April, ASEAN released a five-point statement, demanding an end to the continuous violence in Myanmar. The group of nations pushed for a "constructive dialogue" to restore peace and stability in the country. A special envoy of the ASEAN chair will facilitate mediation and provide humanitarian assistance.  On the same day, the parallel government, the National Unity Government, expressed satisfaction with ASEAN's united stand on the political crisis in the country.
Indonesia: Navy declares all 53 on board of the missing submarine dead 
On 24 April, the Indonesian navy announced: "missing submarine had sunk and cracked open, killing 53 crew members aboard." Searchers have found parts of torpedo straightener, a grease bottle, debris from prayer rugs, and a broken piece from a coolant pipe. Navy chief said: "With the authentic evidence we found, believed to be from the submarine, we have now moved from the 'sub miss' phase to 'sub sunk'."

South Asia This Week
India: The fifth batch of Rafael jets arrives
On 22 April, the fifth batch of four Rafale fighter jets arrived in India, completing the first Rafale squadron No. 17 Golden Arrows based in Ambala. Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said: "The fifth ferry marks end of training of our third batch of pilots and all our maintenance crew." The jets flew with air-to-air refuelling support by the French and UAE Air Force.
Sri Lanka: Radioactive material detected in a China-bound vessel 
On 21 April, Sri Lanka detected radioactive material from a China-bound vessel. The vessel, citing "mechanical emergency" had sought permission to berth at Hambantota port. Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Authority officials said: "the ship was on its way to China from Rotterdam port". Later, the port authority asked the ship to leave the port, citing the vessel's failure "to disclose its radioactive cargo (Uranium hexafluoride) after docking at the port."   
Afghanistan: Trilateral meet on Taliban, reaffirm commitment to peace 
On 23 April, FM of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey held talks about Afghanistan's future. As per the joint statement, the ministers underlined: " 'the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire' to end the violence and 'provide a conducive atmosphere for peace talks.'" They also "called on all parties, in particular the Taliban, to reaffirm their commitment for achieving an inclusive negotiated settlement leading to lasting peace in Afghanistan desired by the Afghan people, the region, and the international community."
Afghanistan: US Military sends B-52s to protect the withdrawing forces
On 23 April, the White House approved the temporary deployment of six B-52 bombers in order to protect the US and NATO forces as they withdraw from Afghanistan. of which two have already arrived. Bloomberg reported: the bomber deployment was approved by the Defense Secretary as the US prepares withdrawal of 2,500 troops from the country by September.
Afghanistan: Taliban negotiators in Pakistan 
On 22 April, the Taliban's chief negotiator travelled to Pakistan to seek guidance. Taliban recently stated: "the extension of US troops in the country was a reason for their non-participation at the Turkey conference." President Ashraf Ghani said: "Now is the time for Pakistan to choose either a win-win policy or a lose-lose policy."

Central Asia, Middle East and Africa This Week
Georgia: The EU declares an end to the political crisis
On 20 April, the European Council President announced that the political crisis in Georgia was officially "over" despite the opposition's refusal to join the EU-mediated deal. On 19 April, the ruling party of Georgia and a few of the opposition leaders agreed to sign an agreement to bring an end to the political crisis in the country. However, a majority of the opposition has rejected the deal and held protests against the government, demanding the release of the chairman and new elections. 

Armenia: The US recognizes the 1915 massacre of Armenians as genocide 
On 24 April, the US officially recognized the massacre of Armenians by the Ottomans during World War I as "genocide." US President Joe Biden addressed the killing of the 1.5 million Armenians on the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. He said: "Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring. The American people honour all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today."

Israel: Continuous escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip 
On 24 April, Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip fired more than 20 rockets into Israel's territory. The Israeli military also responded to the attacks by targeting the areas controlled by the Hamas group. The recent clashes took place soon after an unprecedented rise in tensions in Jerusalem which injured at least four policemen and six other protestors. The rise in violence also comes during the holy month of Ramadan and does not seem to be ending soon. 

Iran: Talks on JCPOA enter the second round in Vienna 
On 20 April, the talks in Vienna entered the second round of discussions as countries pushed towards achievable goals. Iran, China, Russia, Germany, France, the UK and the EU agreed to form a third expert working group to prioritize the restoration of the accord. On 19 April, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said: "we will reach results in a short time if the Americans move within the framework of honesty." The talks have achieved about 70 per cent progress in reaching its goals. However, on 21 April, a US State Department official revealed that despite some progress, important disagreement with Iran continues to exist. 

Iran: Pakistan's Foreign Minister visits President Rouhani
On 21 April, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan visited Tehran and met with President Rouhani. The Iranian President expressed the country's commitment to enhance bilateral relations with Pakistan in the field of trade, investment and border management and stressed mutual concerns such as security. The leaders agreed to cooperate on energy sharing and enforce peace and security in the future amidst the looming threat of rising instability once the US withdraws completely from Afghanistan. 

Syria: President Assad to run for the third term in May
On 18 April, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad submitted his candidacy for a third term as President. The parliament speaker announced the second elections amidst the war, set to take place on 26 May 2021. The US and the opposition party in the country have expressed their discontent against the election. 

Syria: Idlib receives the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines
On 21 April, the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines was dispatched to the Idlib region in northwestern Syria. A total of 53,800 doses have been sent to the country as a part of the COVAX initiative. The medical personnel and first responders are being given priority and will be vaccinated in the coming days. Senior citizens above the age of 60 and younger age groups with chronic diseases will be vaccinated next. 

Ethiopia: UNSC issues first collective response to the Tigray conflict
On 22 April, the United Nations Security Council issued a press statement on the humanitarian situation in the Tigray region. The statement expressed concern regarding the violation of human rights and sexual violence in the region. It acknowledged the Ethiopian government's efforts to provide assistance and access to humanitarian aid. However, the UNSC called for a bigger response to restore normalcy in the war-torn region. 

Chad: Slain President Idriss Deby's son appointed as replacement
On 21 April, a charter released by the presidency announced that Idriss Deby's son would be appointed as the President in place of the slain leader. The charter said: "General Mahamat Idriss Deby will occupy the functions of the president of the republic and also serve as head of the armed forces." The new charter will discard the previous constitution and will be considered as the "basic law of the republic."

Europe and The Americas This Week
The European Union: European Commission introduces new regulations on AI
On 21 April, the European Commission revealed a set of proposed regulations on the use of artificial intelligence, which may threaten people's safety and rights. The regulations aim to keep a check on high-risk technology and bans a majority of surveillance and live facial scanning applications. An EU official stated: "With these landmark rules, the EU is spearheading the development of new global norms to make sure AI can be trusted." However, Belgium has raised concerns regarding the regulations causing a ban on 'social scoring' systems and creating a barrier for the EU to become a leading player in the field of AI.

France: Police employee stabbed to death by a Tunisian immigrant
On 23 April, a female police officer was stabbed to death at a police station in South-west Paris by a Tunisian man. The assailant who shouted "Allahu Akbar" while assaulting the woman was shot dead right after the attack. The anti-terror prosecutors have initiated an inquiry into the attack while treating it as a terrorist attack. The President also commented on the attack and said that the country would not surrender to "Islamist Terrorism."  

Czech Republic: Government issues a cap on Russian employees in the embassy
On 22 April, the government announced that it would impose a ceiling on the number of Russian embassy workers in the country. The move would force dozens of employees of the Russian embassy to return home by the end of May. As the diplomatic tensions between the two countries continue to rise, the Czech Foreign Minister asked the Russian embassy to reduce the number of employees to the same level as the Czech embassy in Moscow. 

Russia: Alexei Navalny ends hunger strike in prison
On 23 April, Alexei Navalny thanked his supporters and announced an end to his three-week hunger strike. He addressed his supporters through an Instagram post and revealed that he was denied medical help and his own medical records. He said: "I have been examined twice by a team of a civilian doctor. Their words that 'very soon there will be no one to treat' deserves attention. Taking into account all the circumstances, I am getting out of the hunger strike."

Venezuela: World Food Programme to provide food for school children
On 19 April, Venezuelan officials and the United Nations World Food Programme announced a deal to provide food for school children in the country, which is suffering from an economic collapse. The program will attempt to reach out to 1,85,000 children by the end of 2021 and will stretch to cover 1.5 million children by 2022-23. The President addressed the country on state television and said: "This is the first step toward a series of ambitious projects that will provide food support to all of the Venezuelan people."

Cuba: Raul Castro hands over the party chief position to Miguel Diaz-Canel
On 19 April, the Communist Party of Cuba chose Miguel Diaz-Canel to lead the party as the first secretary. For the first time since 1959, the country will have a different leader, not from the Castro family. Diaz-Canel succeeded Raul-Castro as the President in 2018 and has since shown himself as loyal to the Castro model of governing the country. As President of Cuba, he has maintained strong relations with North Korea, China, Russia, Bolivia and Venezuela. 

Argentina: Local laboratory produces the first batch of Sputnik V vaccines
On 19 April, Richmond SACIF, a pharmaceutical company in Argentina, announced that it produced the first batch of the Sputnik V vaccine in the local laboratories. The indigenously produced batch, consisting of 21,176 doses, has now been sent to Russia for quality checks and will start mass-producing the vaccines by June. Argentina is the first Latin American country to produce the vaccine. On 20 April, the country also marked 60,000 COVID-19 deaths and added 26,000 new infections to its pre-existing list. 

Mexico: Sharp rise in migrant children at the Mexican border 
On 19 April, the UNICEF regional director for Latin America reported that the number of migrant children in Mexico showed a sharp increase from 380 to almost 3500. On average, over 275 children are caught trying to cross over to the US and are being returned to the authorities in Mexico. He said: "Most of the shelter facilities I visited in Mexico are already overcrowded and cannot accommodate the increasing number of children and families migrating northward. We are deeply concerned that living conditions for migrant children and mothers in Mexico could soon deteriorate further."

The US: The Senate passes Anti-Asian hate crimes bill
On 22 April, the US Senate passed a bill to address the hate crimes against Asians. The bill received immense support in the Senate, with 91 lawmakers voting in support of the bill and one voting against it. The bill mandates the Justice Department to review hate crimes and support local bodies to respond to violent acts of targeted hate. The bill will be sent to the House of Representatives and then to the President for final approval. 

About the Authors
Harini Madhusudan, Lokendra Sharma and Akriti Sharma are PhD Scholars in the School of Conflict and Security Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. Sukanya Bali and Avishka Ashok are Research Associates at the Institute. 

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