Nepal earthquake: How India and China vie for influence

  • 28 April 2015
  • From the section India
An Indian Air Force person walks carrying a Nepalese child, wounded in Saturday’s earthquake, to a waiting ambulance as the mother follows after they were evacuated from a remote area at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, Monday, April 27, 2015
Indian air force personnel have rescued Nepalese people wounded in the quake

The alacrity with which India and China have reacted to the massive earthquake in Nepal again demonstrates how the two Asian giants continue to vie for influence in the tiny, landlocked Himalayan country.

India lost no time in sending aircraft to Kathmandu carrying disaster response forces, medical teams, food, medicines and rescue equipment. China promptly flew in rescue teams, sniffer dogs, medical equipment, tents, blankets and generators. Leaders of both the countries - Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping - were also quick to convey their condolences. "For many people of our country, Nepalis are our own people," said Mr Modi in his monthly radio show on Sunday.

The competition for influence in Nepal between the Asian giants is not new, but it appears to have escalated in recent years.

Nepal's ties with India run deep and are often, according to many, schizophrenic. Many in Nepal - including the Maoists - have criticised its "semi-colonial" relationship with India, spoken about Indian "expansionism" and pointed to how their impoverished country had become India's "bonded market". Indian traders have controlled much of the lucrative parts of Nepal's economy. Asymmetrical water sharing treaties, many argue, have allowed downstream irrigation benefits for India. Nepalese opposition parties, playing the nationalist card, have sometimes thrived on anti-India rhetoric; and Maoists have derided other mainstream parties as India's brokers.

Close relationship

On the other hand, Delhi is geographically, linguistically and culturally much closer to Nepal than China. The anti-India rhetoric softens when political parties come to power. "India has been a political player in Nepal as much as any Nepali political party," says Michael Hutt, professor of Nepali and Himalayan studies at the University of London.

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Delhi farmer death highlights countryside crisis

  • 23 April 2015
  • From the section India
Indian labourers gathering wheat
Millions of Indians depend on agriculture for their livelihood

If you believe media reports, Gajendra Singh, the man who died after hanging himself at a political rally in Delhi on Wednesday, was hardly the poorest of farmers.

Journalists visiting his village in Rajasthan found that his family owned more than 10 acres of land, growing wheat, gooseberry and teak.

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Is India's Aam Admi Party no place for intellectuals?

  • 21 April 2015
  • From the section India
Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan
Mr Yadav (left) and Mr Bhushan (right) were founder members of the party

Vaclav Havel, the Czech Republic's first president after the Velvet Revolution against communist rule, once said that politics needs more intellectuals.

"I hear objections," Havel, a former dissident playwright wrote. "Politicians must be elected; people vote for those who think the way they do."

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Is India's anti-corruption party unravelling?

  • 31 March 2015
  • From the section India
Arvind Kejriwal
Arvind Kejriwal is the mascot of his anti-corruption party

Is India's anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) unravelling?

Weeks after staging an epic comeback - winning 67 of the 70 assembly seats in the Delhi state elections and posing the first real challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP - the two-year-old party, run by the charismatic former tax inspector Arvind Kejriwal, has been roiled by feud and dissension. Inspired leaks and murky sting operations initiated by party leaders have meant that most of the party's dirty linen has been washed in public.

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Why India gang-rape film row is extraordinary

  • 5 March 2015
  • From the section India
Composite of Delhi Police hand out photos of Vinay Sharma , Pawan Gupta, Mukesh Singh, Akshay Thakur convicted for the notorious December 2012 gang rape and murder of a female student on a bus in the Indian capital, Delhi.
Mukesh Singh (second from right) and his fellow rapists are appealing against their sentences

A documentary by a British film-maker on the 2012 gang rape and murder of a female student in Delhi has kicked up a storm in India.

The courts have issued an injunction stopping it from being shown in India, and the home minister has promised an inquiry into the making of the documentary.

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India's Arvind Kejriwal makes an epic comeback

  • 10 February 2015
  • From the section India
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supporters yell as they watch the results of Delhi Assembly Elections outside the party office at Patel Nagar on February 10, 2015 in Delhi, India.
Arvind Kejriwal is headed for a landslide win

As political comebacks go, Arvind Kejriwal's is surely epic.

Written off by his rivals and the media after suffering a drubbing at the hands of Narendra Modi's resurgent BJP in last May's general elections, India's most famous anti-corruption campaigner has bounced back.

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Is Arvind Kejriwal set to regain Delhi?

  • 4 February 2015
  • From the section India
Aam Aadmi Party, or Common Man Party, leader Arvind Kejriwal addresses an election campaign rally in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015
Arvind Kejriwal has run a strong comeback campaign

If opinion polls and the political buzz in Delhi are to be believed, India's leading anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal is poised to lead his party to power in hotly-contested state elections on Saturday.

An aggregate of three leading polls shows Mr Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (Common Man's Party) picking up 37 seats - two more than the simple majority needed to form a government.

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RK Laxman: Chronicler of Indian life

  • 26 January 2015
  • From the section India
RK Laxman Voter cartoon
RK Laxman's Common Man cartoon ran in the Times of India for decades

As a young boy growing up in Mysore in southern India, RK Laxman did not remember wanting to do anything else except draw.

"My passion was sketching: street scenes, people and landscapes. I do not remember a day when I have not sketched." He was the youngest of six sons of a "strict" school headmaster.

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