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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

India's Mars mission: Picture that spoke 1,000 words

  • 25 September 2014
  • From the section India
Indian staff from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) celebrate after the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft (MoM) successfully entered the Mars orbit

When the crowded command control room of India's Mars mission exploded into applause after it successfully put a satellite into orbit around the Red Planet, photographer Manjunath Kiran of the AFP news agency clicked this remarkable image of scientists congratulating each other.

Wednesday's picture arrived with a rather anodyne caption saying "staff from the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) celebrate after the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft (Mom) successfully entered the Mars orbit".

But in reality, the picture was about much more than that - a bunch of smiling Indian women resplendent in gorgeous saris greeting each other as their male colleagues look on admiringly at mission control in Bangalore.

"The women were leading the applause when the good news arrived. They were celebrating more than men. Who said men are from Mars and women are from Venus?" says senior science journalist Pallava Bagla, who was present in the control room.

The picture - which brightened up my manic morning writing up the Mars mission story - went viral and became the event's image of the day.

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Bollywood cleavage row shows India's 'crass' side

  • 22 September 2014
  • From the section India
Deepika Padukone
Deepika Padukone is one of Bollywood's top actresses

A clash between India's top newspaper and a Bollywood actress shows no signs of abating.

It all began last week with The Times of India publishing a photo and tweet about actress Deepika Padukone's cleavage.

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Did Kashmir 'abandon' its flood-hit people?

  • 12 September 2014
  • From the section India
A view of residential houses submerged in flooded waters on September 10, 2014 in Srinagar
While waters are receding in Kashmir, some 400,000 people are feared to be stranded

The chief minister of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir has told a TV news channel that his government was caught off guard by the devastating floods as it could not predict the magnitude of the disaster.

Omar Abdullah said his government did not have a "response... designed for waters of this level".

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The angry youth of Kashmir won't accept al-Qaeda

  • 5 September 2014
  • From the section India
Anti-India protests in Kashmir (File picture)
There were massive anti-India protests in Kashmir in 2010

Will the disaffected youth of Kashmir really listen to al-Qaeda and "raise the flag of jihad"? Is there an appetite for violence?

'War should continue, message to the Muslims of Kashmir' was the name of a video uploaded earlier this year by al-Qaeda, urging Muslims in Indian-administered Kashmir to follow the "brothers" in Syria and Iraq and wage jihad against India.

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Narendra Modi's first 100 days

  • 2 September 2014
  • From the section India

The idea of 100 days in office possibly dates back to US Democrat President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), who took charge in the midst of Great Depression and pushed through 15 key pieces of legislation to tackle unemployment and a broken financial system.

The flurry of law making - which Mr Roosevelt discovered later had taken him exactly 100 days - formed the basis of the New Deal, which led his country out of the downturn. There have been books written on FDR and Barack Obama's 100 days in office.

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Why India loves to ban films

  • 21 August 2014
  • From the section India
Kaum De Heere (Diamonds of the Community) tells the story of Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, Indira Gandhi's assassins
Kaum De Heere (Diamonds of the Community) tells the story of Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, Indira Gandhi's assassins

The move to ban a controversial film on the October 1984 assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi has a sense of deja vu about it.

This time, the Congress party is up in arms against the Punjabi film Kaum De Heere (Diamonds of the Community), complaining that it glorifies the assassins of Mrs Gandhi, who was shot dead by her Sikh bodyguards for sending the military into the Golden Temple, the community's holiest shrine.

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Sachin Tendulkar - India's missing MP

  • 8 August 2014
  • From the section India
Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar smiles as he arrives at Parliament House in New Delhi, July 2012
Tendulkar had talked about raising issues related to sports in parliament

When cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar was nominated as an MP in India's upper house of parliament (the Rajya Sabha) two years ago, the first sportsperson to be so honoured, one newspaper fawned that "God has a new House".

But the newspaper sounded a prescient note of caution, saying that the "populist move made little sense" as he was an active sportsman spending more than 200 days on the road. I had been similarly sceptical in a blog post, but hoped he would speak out on sporting matters.

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Is Indian PM Narendra Modi's 'foster son' a public relations triumph?

  • 7 August 2014
  • From the section India
Narendra Modi in Nepal

It all began with a series of tweets by Narendra Modi on the eve of his recent official trip to Nepal, the first by an Indian premier in 17 years.

Narendra Modi tweet
Narendra Modi tweet
Narendra Modi tweet

Next day Indian foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin tweeted a picture of a beaming young man with his family and Mr Modi, saying: "Thanks to @narendramodi, a happy reunion for Jeet Bahadur and family."

Jeet Bahadur Magar and his family with Narendra Modi

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Is India's politics becoming less dynastic?

  • 27 July 2014
  • From the section India
Narendra Modi addressing BJP MPs
The ruling BJP is considered to be less dynastic than the former ruling Congress party

Is India's politics becoming less dynastic?

Serving up some revealing data on the stranglehold of family and lineage on Indian politics, historian Patrick French wrote in his 2011 book India: A Portrait that if the trend continued, India could slide back to the days when it was ruled by a "hereditary monarch and assorted Indian princelings". He also expressed concern that the next Lok Sabha - the lower house of parliament to which 543 MPs are directly elected - would be a "house of dynasts".

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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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