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Soutik Biswas, Delhi correspondent

Soutik Biswas Delhi correspondent

This is where to come for my take on life and times in the world’s largest democracy

Atul Gawande: What ails India's public health system

  • 16 December 2014
  • From the section India
Atul Gawande
Atul Gawande is an expert on medical error and performance

What do you make of India's under-performing, poorly-funded, leaky public health system, smothered by high population and appalling sanitation?

It is the same health system, by the way, which has helped raise life expectancy from 32 years a few decades ago, to more than 65 today.

What do you make of a health system which pulls off the remarkable feat of eradicating polio - India was home to four-fifths of the world's polio cases in 2002 - in a decade, but where women continue to die delivering babies and during simple sterilisation surgeries?

So does India's health system - like many other things in the country - do the big things well and fare badly in executing the relatively smaller ones?

Surgeon and writer Atul Gawande, who loves grappling with such gruelling questions, believes India's public health system is one of the "most complex things" in the world.

Read full article Atul Gawande: What ails India's public health system

Why segregated housing is thriving in India

  • 10 December 2014
  • From the section India
Rizwan Kadri
Rizwan Kadri moved into a Muslim apartment building from a mixed neighbourhood

Rizwan Kadri runs an architecture firm with three partners, all Hindus, in India's western city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat state.

Son of a revenue official, he grew up in mixed neighbourhoods. In 2002, massive anti-Muslim riots sparked by the burning of a train carrying Hindu pilgrims, left more than 1,000 people dead in Gujarat.

Read full article Why segregated housing is thriving in India

Why so many Indians flock to gurus

  • 19 November 2014
  • From the section India
Devotee of Sai Baba
Sai Baba's influence endures after his death

I don't think many people were aware of the controversial Hindu guru Rampal before Tuesday's violent clashes between his supporters and the police.

But then India is a country of more than a billion people and tens of thousands of gurus.

Read full article Why so many Indians flock to gurus

India's dark history of sterilisation

  • 14 November 2014
  • From the section India
A woman, who underwent sterilization surgery at a government mass sterilisation "camp", walks to sit in a hospital bed at a district hospital in Bilaspur, in the eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh, November 13, 2014
Nearly four million Indians, mostly women, were sterilised during 2013-14

The death of 15 women at two state-run sterilisation camps in Chhattisgarh has put a spotlight on India's dark history of botched sterilisations.

The drive to sterilise began in the 1970s when, encouraged by loans amounting to tens of millions of dollars from the World Bank, the Swedish International Development Authority and the UN Population Fund, India embarked on an ambitious population control programme.

Read full article India's dark history of sterilisation

Are Gujarat's 'toilet politics' democratic?

  • 13 November 2014
  • From the section India
In this September 22, 2014, photo schoolchildren talk in front of a poster bearing a quote from PM Narendra Modi in Delhi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made abolishing open defecation a top priority of his government

Is banning a person from contesting for public office if he or she does not have a toilet at home a good idea?

India's western state of Gujarat certainly believes so. Earlier this week, the state's legislators passed a bill which makes it mandatory for candidates to have toilets in their homes to qualify for contesting elections to local municipalities and village councils. Existing elected members will also have to declare within six months that they have toilets at home, failing which they will face disqualification.

Read full article Are Gujarat's 'toilet politics' democratic?

Will Narendra Modi change India?

  • 5 November 2014
  • From the section India
Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi led his BJP to a historic election win

He is a powerful speaker and draws huge crowds. He talks about himself in the third person. He's the most energetic leader India has had in years, burning the midnight oil and campaigning for his party with equal fervour.

He's also an astute performer: recently he dropped into a police station and picked up a broom to promote a campaign to clean up India. Behind the bluster and performance, he, according to insiders, is a loner who trusts his instincts but very few people.

Read full article Will Narendra Modi change India?

Why the riots in Delhi's Trilokpuri are significant

  • 1 November 2014
  • From the section India
A policeman walks past a burnt shop in Trilokpuri, New Delhi
A clothes shop owned by a Muslim was burnt down in the riots

Last week's clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Trilokpuri in Delhi did not exactly become headline-grabbing news.

Residents - helped by, many say, outsiders - fought pitched battles on the streets with stones and bricks, torched a couple of shops, threatened each other and vandalised property. Thirty-five people were injured. Five people sustained gunshot wounds as the police fired to rein in the rioters. More than 60 people were arrested.

Read full article Why the riots in Delhi's Trilokpuri are significant

Black money: Making a mountain out of a molehill?

  • 28 October 2014
  • From the section India
India notes being counted
Undeclared cash is seen as a major hurdle to India's economic growth

"Black money is so much a part of our white economy, a tumour in the centre of the brain - try to remove it and you kill the patient," wrote Indian-born writer Rohinton Mistry in his novel Family Matters.

To put it simply, black money is cash that has not been declared or taxed. It also fuels India's bustling underground economy. Politicians are believed to use it to finance expensive election campaigns. Buyers and sellers vastly prefer it in transactions involving land and property . It is near-impossible, for example, to buy both in the capital, Delhi, without paying a substantial amount of the price in funny money. Since the majority of India's jobs are in the informal sector, undeclared cash transactions are common. Essentially, black money rewards the dishonest and punishes the honest.

Read full article Black money: Making a mountain out of a molehill?

Indian media invited to rather formal 'informal chat'

  • 25 October 2014
  • From the section India
Indian PM Narendra Modi meets journalists, 25 October 2014
The Indian PM made a speech praising the media's role in highlighting his cleanliness campaign

India's mainstream media has had a rocky relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr Modi believes that the media has often been unfair and hostile to him after it blamed him for not doing enough to stop the religious riots in Gujarat in 2002.

Read full article Indian media invited to rather formal 'informal chat'

How Cyclone Hudhud got its name

  • 11 October 2014
  • From the section India
Hoopoe bird
Hudhud in Arabic refers to the hoopoe bird

Did you know Cyclone Hudhud, expected to hit India's south-eastern coast on Sunday afternoon, was "born" in Oman?

We are talking about the name of the cyclone, not the storm itself. The cyclone itself originated in the north Andaman sea in the Bay of Bengal and is now hurtling towards Andhra Pradesh and Orissa states.

Read full article How Cyclone Hudhud got its name

More Correspondents

  • Lyse Doucet Lyse Doucet Chief international correspondent

    Stories behind headlines, and front lines

  • Andrew North Andrew North South Asia correspondent

    Around and about the world's largest democracy

  • Damian Grammaticas, China correspondent Damian Grammaticas China correspondent

    The people, power and politics of China

  • Gavin Hewitt, Europe editor Gavin Hewitt Europe editor

    The arguments over Europe, its politics and personalities

About Soutik

Before joining the BBC, Soutik worked with Indian newspapers and magazines and an international newspaper as a correspondent and an editor.

He was a Reuters Fellow at the University of Oxford.

Soutik has covered elections in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, the tsunami in India and Sri Lanka in 2005, and militancy in Kashmir, working mostly on a series of stories on the state of youth and women in the disputed region.

In 2005, he used a laptop link to connect BBC News readers from around the world to a people living in a Pashtun village in Afghanistan. He revisited the village two years later to do a similar project and to see how life had changed.

He loves blues and jazz, and believes Derek Trucks is the best and most innovative slide guitarist alive.

He is a big movie buff, with Michael Haneke, Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, Woody Allen and Satyajit Ray among his favourite directors.

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