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.

The non-native snakes - which escaped into the wild in Florida or were released as pets - pose the biggest threat to the small mammal population of the national park. They also eat birds, alligators and deer. In 2005, a Burmese python tried to swallow an alligator and exploded in the park, leaving both the predators dead.

Ever since the pythons were spotted in the wild more than two decades ago, authorities have tried everything to catch the elusive snakes in the marshes, but with limited success.

They have used pythons (called Judas snakes) to find other pythons during the mating season, asked people to turn in their pet snakes, poisoned prey, and even encouraged people to hunt them for a cash prize.

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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".

Read full article Inside India's first department of happiness

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

Why do Indians vote for 'criminal' politicians?

  • 16 January 2017
  • From the section India
A statue of Mahatma Gandhi overlooks the Indian parliament building as lawmakers from opposition parties form a human chain to protest against the government demonetizing high-value bills in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016. Image copyright AP
Image caption A third of MPs in the Indian parliament faced criminal charges

Why do India's political parties field candidates with criminal charges? Why do the voters favour them despite their tainted past?

Political scientist Milan Vaishnav has been studying links between crime and democracy in India for many years now. His upcoming book When Crime Pays offers some intriguing insights into what is a disturbing feature of India's electoral democracy.

Read full article Why do Indians vote for 'criminal' politicians?

How myths and stereotypes colour rape sentencing in India

  • 10 January 2017
  • From the section India
Indian students of Saint Joseph Degree college participate in an anti-rape protest in Hyderabad on September 13, 2013. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Tough new anti-rape laws were introduced after the brutal gang rape and murder of a student in 2012

India's Supreme Court once gave an array of curious reasons about why an Indian woman would not make a false rape claim.

In a 1983 judgement, the top court said that western and Indian women were vastly different.

Read full article How myths and stereotypes colour rape sentencing in India

Why are Indians being arrested for sitting during the national anthem?

  • 14 December 2016
  • From the section India
Indian movie goers stand up as national anthem is played at a movie hall before the screening of a movie in Jammu, India, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Image copyright AP
Image caption The top court has ruled that the national anthem be played before every film and that audiences stand

Twelve people were arrested on Monday evening at a cinema in India, after they remained seated while the national anthem played.

The cinemagoers, who were attending an international film festival in the city of Trivandrum in Kerala, were later freed but they face charges of "failure to obey an order issued by a public servant, thereby causing obstruction or annoyance to others".

Read full article Why are Indians being arrested for sitting during the national anthem?

Can jet engines clean up Delhi's foul air?

  • 13 December 2016
  • From the section India
Traffic drives through smog in Delhi, India November 7, 2016. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world

Sometime next year, if all goes well, a retired jet engine will be mounted on a flatbed trailer and taken to a coal-fired power plant in Delhi.

With the exhaust nozzle pointed at the sky, the engine will be placed near the smokestack and turned on.

Read full article Can jet engines clean up Delhi's foul air?

'My baby isn't dead, she was stolen from me'

  • 8 December 2016
  • From the section India
Media captionThe Sarkars were told their baby had a heart problem

More than two years after doctors at a clinic in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata told her that her newborn had died, Kanon Sarkar believes that her baby girl is still alive.

On a summer evening in July 2014, the clinic handed her family the corpse of an infant, tightly wrapped in white cloth, and told them to go home.

Read full article 'My baby isn't dead, she was stolen from me'

What do the cash queues tell us about India?

  • 29 November 2016
  • From the section India
Indians stand in queues to exchange or deposit discontinued currency notes outside an Axis Bank branch in central New Delhi, India. Image copyright AP
Image caption Millions of Indians have been standing in queues to deposit or withdraw cash

There was a time, not so long ago, when most Indians stood in queues for hours on end for essential goods and services.

I remember queues outside "fair-price shops", streetside taps, cinema houses and electricity offices. People lined up to buy cheap food and fuel, store up water, go to the cinema and pay bills.

Read full article What do the cash queues tell us about India?

How will India destroy 20 billion banknotes?

  • 23 November 2016
  • From the section India
In this Nov. 16, 2016 file photo, a man holds a charred facsimile of the discontinued Indian currency 500 note after a protest by a traders association demanding adequate arrangement to exchange discontinued currency notes outside Reserve Bank of India in Kolkata, India. Image copyright AP
Image caption India will destroy some 20 billion "expired" banknotes

India's central bank will have to destroy, by one estimate, some 20 billion "expired" banknotes after it scrapped two high-value denominations - the 500 ($7.60) and 1,000 rupee notes - this month to crack down on "black money" or illegal cash holdings.

To give some idea of the amount of the currency that represents - there were more than 90 billion banknotes in circulation in India last March.

Read full article How will India destroy 20 billion banknotes?