Sushmita Pathak

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.

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.

MUMBAI, India — Watching horrifying scenes in India's big cities, where COVID-19 patients have been unable to get ambulances, and even the best-equipped hospitals have run out of oxygen, Saurav Kumar shuddered to think what this wave of the pandemic would do to his hometown.

Sohini Mitter is a huge cricket fan. Normally, she would never miss the Indian Premier League (IPL), a glamorous, action-packed cricket tournament held every year during the months of April and May — and one of the biggest in the world. But this year, Mitter had other things on her mind.

"My parents' illness coincided with the IPL," Mitter told NPR.

MUMBAI, India — Sanchi Gupta was running around, trying to get her hands on an oxygen cylinder — even an empty one.

Her mother was one of 140 COVID-19 patients in Saroj Hospital, one of the best-equipped hospitals in India's capital, New Delhi. She was on a ventilator in intensive care. Then the hospital told Gupta and other families that its oxygen supply had run out. So they had to go out and find oxygen cylinders to bring to the hospital to keep their loved ones alive.

MUMBAI — Santosh Pandey's wife is the head of their village, population about 1,600, near the holy city of Varanasi in northern India. He sometimes answers her phone. So he's up to date on what's happening in town.

And what's happening these days, he said, is horrific.

Fifty people from his village, Ashapur, and a neighboring one, Tilamapur, have died in the past two weeks. Most died at home, gasping for breath, with fevers. But only five or six of them were officially counted as COVID-19 deaths, Pandey said.

HYDERABAD, India — One of the largest gatherings of people in the world continues in northern India amid a sharp rise in coronavirus cases and a weakening supply of vaccines.

In a narrow lane near Mumbai's docks, commuters on bicycles weave through the crowd as workers push wooden carts loaded with heavy burlap sacks into warehouses.

Thirty-eight-year-old laborer Mohammad Yaqoob unloads sacks full of marbles from a truck. When he gets tired and thirsty, he walks to an ornate stone structure in the middle of the bustling street. It's a drinking fountain, or pyau (sometimes spelled pyaav), as it's called in the local Hindi and Marathi languages.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

India's commercial capital, Mumbai, has some amazing architecture - gothic towers, art deco buildings. But there's another part of Mumbai's cultural heritage you probably won't find in any guidebook - colonial-era drinking fountains. Most are in disrepair, and there's an effort underway to change that. NPR's India producer Sushmita Pathak has the story.

(SOUNDBITE OF STREET AMBIENCE)

Pages