Why are millions of Indian women dropping out of work?

  • 18 May 2017
  • From the section India
India women taxi drivers Image copyright AFP
Image caption More women are finding work in cities

Why are millions of women dropping out of work in India?

The numbers are stark - for the first time in India's recent history, not only was there a decline in the female labour participation rate, but also a shrinking of the total number of women in the workforce.

Using data gleaned from successive rounds of National Sample Survey Organisation and census data, a team of researchers from World Bank have attempted to find out why this is happening.

"These are significant matters of concern. As India poises itself to increase economic growth and foster development, it is necessary to ensure that its labour force becomes fully inclusive of women," says the study, authored by Luis A Andres, Basab Dasgupta, George Joseph, Vinoj Abraham and Maria Correia.

So what accounts for the unprecedented and puzzling drop in women's participation in the workforce - at a time when India's economy has grown at a steady pace?

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Women need better and more suitable job opportunities outside farming, the authors say

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Aadhaar: Are a billion identities at risk on India's biometric database

  • 4 May 2017
  • From the section India
Aadhaar Image copyright Mansi Thapliyal
Image caption More than a billion residents of India have a unique identity number

"My fingerprints and iris are mine and my own. The state cannot take away my body," a lawyer told India's Supreme Court last week.

Shyam Divan was arguing a crucial petition challenging a new law that makes it compulsory for people to submit a controversial biometric-based personal identification number while filing income tax returns.

Read full article Aadhaar: Are a billion identities at risk on India's biometric database

Is India losing Kashmir?

  • 26 April 2017
  • From the section India
A Kashmiri female student throws a rock on police during clashes in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, 24 April 2016 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Schoolgirls have participated in protests against Indian rule

As India's most restive region stares down the abyss of what a commentator calls another "hot summer of violence", the doom-laden headline has returned with a vengeance: Is India losing Kashmir?

Last summer was one of the bloodiest in the Muslim-dominated valley in recent years. Following the killing of influential militant Burhan Wani by Indian forces last July, more than 100 civilians lost their lives in clashes during a four-month-long security lockdown in the valley.

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Why are farmers in India protesting with mice and human skulls?

  • 21 April 2017
  • From the section India
A farmer from the southern state of Tamil Nadu poses as he bites a mouse during a protest demanding a drought-relief package from the federal government, in New Delhi, India, March 27, 2017 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Chinnagodangy Palanisamy says he will be forced to eat mice if the farm crisis doesn't end

Last week, Chinnagodangy Palanisamy, 65, held a live mouse between his teeth to draw the government's attention to the plight of farmers in his native state of Tamil Nadu.

"I and my fellow farmers were trying to convey the message that we will be forced to eat mice if things don't improve," he told me, sitting in a makeshift tent near Delhi's Jantar Mantar observatory, one of the areas of the Indian capital where protests are permitted.

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The 'studious' 12-year-old victim of India's Kashmir problem

  • 14 April 2017
  • From the section India
Faizan Fayaz Dar's mother with his photograph Image copyright Abid Bhat
Image caption Faizan was one of eight people killed during last Sunday's violence

The day 12-year-old Faizan Fayaz Dar died, he woke up in the morning in his hilltop home in Budgam in Indian-administered Kashmir, had a cup of salted tea, recited the Koran and pottered around in the kitchen where his mother prepared breakfast for the family.

His grandmother offered him a plate of grapes, but she doesn't remember whether Faizan had it. The son of a farmer then put on his pheran, the woollen cape-like garment Kashmiris wear, and quietly left for his Sunday lessons.

Read full article The 'studious' 12-year-old victim of India's Kashmir problem

How PM Modi destroyed rivals in India's Uttar Pradesh

  • 11 March 2017
  • From the section India
Indian supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrate outside the party office as state assembly votes are counted in Lucknow on March 11, 2017. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Narendra Modi personally campaigned in the absence of a chief ministerial candidate from his party

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) decisive win in elections in India's politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh - it sends 80 MPs to the lower house of parliament, has produced nine prime ministers, and is located next door to the capital, Delhi - is clearly being seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr Modi was the face of the campaign in the absence of any clear chief ministerial candidates.

Read full article How PM Modi destroyed rivals in India's Uttar Pradesh

How India uses recycled pipes to detect ferocious solar storms

  • 1 March 2017
  • From the section India
Earth's magnetosphere Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Artwork: The Earth's magnetosphere protects the planet from a continuous flow of cosmic radiation

What does a sensational scientific discovery about a solar storm in the Earth's magnetic field have to do with old, recycled steel pipes which lay buried for more than a decade under a now-defunct gold mine in India?

Almost everything.

Read full article How India uses recycled pipes to detect ferocious solar storms

The Indian tribesmen catching giant snakes in Florida

  • 6 February 2017
  • From the section India
Irula snake catchers in US Image copyright Jeremy Dixon, USFWS
Image caption Masi Sadaiyan and Vadivel Gopal have caught 27 pythons in Florida so far

Every morning, two Indian tribesmen in T-shirts and long trousers, leave their dwellings in southern Florida and head into the Everglades to hunt for some of the world's biggest snakes.

Masi Sadaiyan and Vadivel Gopal, members of the once-nomadic Irula tribe, are armed with crowbars and machetes. Wearing fleece jackets and baseball caps, they slash and wade their way through the largest subtropical wilderness in the world to hunt down Burmese pythons.

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Inside India's first department of happiness

  • 30 January 2017
  • From the section India
Happiness day in Bhopal Image copyright Prakash Hatvalne
Image caption People receive certificates for participating in 'happiness programmes'

On a crisp weekday afternoon recently, hundreds of men and women, young and old, thronged a dusty playground of a government high school in a village in India's Madhya Pradesh state.

Hemmed in by mobile towers and squalid buildings, the ground in Salamatpur was an unusual venue for a government-sponsored programme to "spread cheer and happiness".

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Why India bull-taming protest may not be just about bulls

  • 21 January 2017
  • From the section India
A bull about to attack a young contestant at a Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu (file photo) Image copyright J Suresh
Image caption The sport is a 2,000-year-old tradition and a way of life with people

India, wrote author VS Naipaul, is a country of a million little mutinies, reeling with rage and revolt.

One such mutiny has brewed almost all of this week in southern Tamil Nadu state, where people have been protesting against a ban on a traditional bull-taming contest, known as jallikattu. They say the ban is an attack on their culture and identity.

Read full article Why India bull-taming protest may not be just about bulls