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.

It's not looking very promising this summer.

This month's parliamentary election in Srinagar was scarred by violence and a record-low turnout of voters. To add fuel to the fire, graphic social videos surfaced claiming to show abuses by security forces and young people who oppose Indian rule. A full-blown protest by students has now erupted on the streets; and, in a rare sight, even schoolgirls are pelting stones and hitting police vehicles.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who leads an awkward ruling coalition with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), rushed to Delhi on Monday to urge the federal government to "announce a dialogue and show reconciliatory gestures".

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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".

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.

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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