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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

Why India's sanitation crisis kills women

This May 12, 2006 file photograph shows a slum resident (L) as he uses a toilet that opens into the water below as children swim in the water near a protest rally against the government for demolishing make-shift huts at Mandala in Mankhurd in north central Mumbai.
Nearly half-a-billion Indians lack access to basic sanitation

The gruesome rape and hanging of two teenage girls in the populous Uttar Pradesh state again proves how women have become the biggest victims of India's sanitation crisis.

The two girls were going to the fields to defecate when they went missing on Tuesday night.

Nearly half-a-billion Indians - or 48% of the population - lack access to basic sanitation and defecate in the open.

The situation is worse in villages where, according to the WHO and Unicef, some 65% defecate in the open. And women appear to bear the brunt as they are mostly attacked and assaulted when they step out early in the morning or late in the evening.

Several studies have shown that women without toilets at home are vulnerable to sexual violence when travelling to and from public facilities or open fields.

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Will India's Narendra Modi be a reformer?

India's prime minister-elect Narendra Modi has been compared to Deng Xiaoping, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Shinzo Abe, Tayyip Erdogan and Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Commentators have variously described him as assertive, dynamic, authoritarian and nationalist.

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Why did India's Grand Old Party suffer a poll rout?

Congress supporter

Why did India's Grand Old Party suffer a historic drubbing in the general elections?

After all, India enjoyed social stability and 8.5% growth for most of the decade the Congress government was in power. It rolled out a number of welfare schemes which many believed improved public facilities in the poorest regions of India.

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Has India election shattered old orthodoxies?

Supporters of Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, prime ministerial candidate for India"s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), wear masks depicting Modi outside their party office in Mumbai

Does the resounding success of the BJP mean India's election has shattered old orthodoxies of caste and identity, as some would like to believe?

After all, some argue, Narendra Modi was able to able to attract votes cutting across caste, class and gender lines, leading to what is turning out to be a sensational win for his BJP. The party has also succeeded in picking up both urban and rural votes at a time when parties like the outgoing Congress maintained that the key to power in Delhi mainly depended on the rural vote.

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India's BJP scores a historic win

India's main opposition BJP has risen like a phoenix from the depths of despair.

As the leads poured in on Friday morning, it was clear that the party was steaming ahead to India's biggest election victory in 30 years. This, after two losing two elections in a row - the party was able to mop up only 116 seats in 2009.

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Are India's exit polls telling the truth?

A commuter in an auto-rickshaw holds up a copy of an English-language Indian newspaper, with the headlines on exit polls
Exit poll results are dominating headlines in India

"Exit polls: Enter Modi", headlined Delhi's widely-circulated Hindustan Times newspaper in its Tuesday edition.

If Monday evening's polls are to be believed, Narendra Modi is on course to be India's next prime minister with his BJP winning a narrow majority.

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Political battle for India's city of faith

BJP supporters in Varanasi
Activists of all stripes have been making their presence felt in Varanasi

"Let us revive the Ganges, let us build a new Varanasi," Narendra Modi, the man who many believe will be India's next prime minister, tells a public meeting on the outskirts of Varanasi.

Mr Modi, the BJP's candidate for the ancient city, is pushing the right buttons.

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  • 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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