Sushmita Pathak

On a hot afternoon in August, 16-year-old Punam Mitharwal finished a routine college test and made her way to the nearest post office in her northern Indian town of Hisar to send a special bit of mail. It was a short letter written in Hindi on a postcard addressed to India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Half a dozen of her girlfriends accompanied her, each with a similar letter. They all contained a specific request — to raise the legal age of marriage for girls to 21.

When President Biden hosts the leaders of Japan, Australia and India at the White House on Friday, it will be part of a push, analysts say, to reorient U.S. foreign policy away from long wars and traditional alliances in Europe and instead focus on countering a fast-rising foe: China.

The four leaders will be meeting for the second time this year as part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, founded in the aftermath of the 2004 Asian tsunami. In recent years, analysts say the group has emerged as the most important democratic bulwark against China's burgeoning power.

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India imposed a strict COVID-19 lockdown last year, and tens of millions of poor day laborers lost their jobs. In a massive exodus from megacities, migrant workers sought safety in their native villages. One of the most harrowing stories to emerge from those months was that of now-17-year-old Jyoti Kumari, whose father drove a tuk-tuk in New Delhi and was recovering from an injury. Kumari had come to care for him.

When Chetana Madavi, 29, gets her period, she gathers a few clothes and makes her way to a kurma ghar — or menstruation hut — a few blocks from her home in a tribal community in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. It's a mud shack with a broken door and no toilet. When it rains, water leaks through the mud-tiled roof.

How many people have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began?

The official global total as of this week: 4.1 million.

But everyone agrees the true toll is far greater. A study released on Tuesday looks at how much of a disparity there may be in India, one of the epicenters of the pandemic.

MUMBAI — The slightly rusty metal gates of a single-screen cinema creak as they open to reveal a nearly 100-year-old white building whose curved contours and ziggurat roofline hark back to its Art Deco roots. Big silver letters proclaim its name — Central Plaza — but the letter 'T' is missing.

A placard outside the building says "House Full." The theater has been empty for more than a year, though.

The coronavirus has silenced even Dhaka's cacophony.

The notoriously traffic-clogged streets of Bangladesh's capital were eerily empty Thursday, save for soldiers on patrol on the first day of a national lockdown imposed after daily tallies of new coronavirus infections nearly quintupled over the past month.

When Asha Gond first started skateboarding, neighbors in her village of Janwar in central India were aghast. They urged the teenager's parents to keep her busy with housework or get her married. When she walked through the village, skateboard in hand, they would sneer at her and make disparaging comments. Skateboarding is for boys, Gond, now 21, recalls the villagers saying.

Each week, we answer frequently asked questions about life during the coronavirus crisis. This week, we look at some of the questions being posed by children in India, which is in the midst of the world's worst outbreak.

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