India's water refugees who live in cattle camps

  • 29 April 2016
  • From the section India
A government-run cattle camp is seen outside a village in Osmanabad, India, April 15, 2016. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption There are more than 350 cattle camps sheltering 380,000 animals in Maharashtra

Five months ago, the Gholap family - three brothers and their wives - moved from their drought-hit village home in Beed in the western state of Maharashtra to a squalid shantytown of straw-and-tarpaulin cattle shelters.

They brought along their 21 head of cattle, some clothes and utensils, a rope bed, and a wall calendar to keep track of time. Back in the village, it hasn't rained for the past three years, and their three-acre farm lies barren. There's no fodder for the animals, and wells are dry. Most of the young men in the village have migrated to the cities in search of work.

So the Gholap family left their four school-going children home with their ageing parents, to forage for water and fodder. At the shelter in Palwan, they found both, plentiful and free, provided by the government. "If we go back home we will starve," says Bal Bhim Gholap. "This is our home now."

The shelter in Palwan is one of 267 cattle camps in Beed - one the 256 drought-hit districts in India - that provide free water and fodder to animals. More than 280,000 cattle along with thousands of farmers are packed into these camps.

'Dismal life'

Maharashtra has been ravaged by drought - many say it equals the worst in a century - and the Gholap brothers are among the estimated nine million affected farmers. Beed is possibly the worst-affected district.

Read full article India's water refugees who live in cattle camps

Searching for water in drought-hit Latur

  • 26 April 2016
  • From the section India
Anjali Patole Image copyright Mansi Thapliyal
Image caption Anjali Patole is spending her summer holidays queuing up for water

It is 42C in the shade, but that doesn't deter 10-year-old Anjali Patole from queuing up every day near a water tank on a baking pavement in the city of Latur in the western state of Maharashtra.

Here, Anjali and her uncle - her father has migrated to Pune to look for work, and her mother is a vegetable vendor - will stand under the blazing sun for up to three hours to fill 150 litres of drinking water in 15 containers, a smorgasbord of shiny kitchen utensils and brightly coloured plastic tanks.

Read full article Searching for water in drought-hit Latur

Why are India's housewives killing themselves?

  • 12 April 2016
  • From the section India
Indian women wait to vote at a polling station on April 17, 2014 in the Jodhpur District in the desert state of Rajasthan, India. India is in the midst of a nine-phase election that began on April 7 and ends on May 12. Image copyright AFP
Image caption There are very few studies on why Indian homemakers have been killing themselves

More than 20,000 housewives took their lives in India in 2014.

This was the year when 5,650 farmers killed themselves in the country.

Read full article Why are India's housewives killing themselves?

Is India facing its worst-ever water crisis?

  • 27 March 2016
  • From the section India
Power plant dry water canal
Image caption The canal connecting the Ganges to the power station dried up because of a lack of water

On 11 March, panic struck engineers at a giant power station on the banks of the Ganges river in West Bengal state.

Readings showed that the water level in the canal connecting the river to the plant was going down rapidly. Water is used to produce steam to run the turbines and for cooling vital equipment of coal-fired power stations.

Read full article Is India facing its worst-ever water crisis?

Why women are worst hit by India's farm crisis

  • 21 March 2016
  • From the section India
Farm widow Image copyright Mansi Thapliyal \Action Aid
Image caption Mandha Alone suffered from depression after her debt-stricken husband took his life

He tried to take his life for the first time in 2009.

Mukunda Wagh, a farmer, consumed pesticide in the cow shed at his village home in Maharashtra's Washim district.

Read full article Why women are worst hit by India's farm crisis

Why India has a 'sliver of time' to seize its chances

  • 15 March 2016
  • From the section India
Sunil Khilnani
Image caption Sunil Khilnani's new book tells the story of India through 50 remarkable lives

Is time running out for India?

It's a rather dire question to ask a historian, but Sunil Khilnani believes that a young, aspirational country like India in a fast-changing world "will have only a sliver of time, a matter of years, in which to seize its chances".

Read full article Why India has a 'sliver of time' to seize its chances

Kanhaiya Kumar: India's most loved and loathed student

  • 11 March 2016
  • From the section India
Media captionKanhaiya Kumar talks about his politics

Revolution still remains some distance away at Delhi's prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University, but the Indian spring has already arrived in the wooded campus with a vengeance.

A bank of bougainvillea is in full bloom, the air is crisp and pleasant, and parrots squawk noisily in a clear, blue sky.

Read full article Kanhaiya Kumar: India's most loved and loathed student

Is Narendra Modi's government unravelling?

  • 26 February 2016
  • From the section India
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the centenary celebration of missionary organisation the Gaudiya Math and Mission at the Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata on February 21, 2016 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Modi has remained silent on the recent unrest

A week is a long time in politics, and what happened in India last week has not exactly covered Narendra Modi's government in glory.

Many believe the government whipped up needless nationalist hysteria by sending the police into the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and arresting students under India's discredited colonial-era sedition laws.

Read full article Is Narendra Modi's government unravelling?

Caste unrest: Why India's farm communities are angry

  • 23 February 2016
  • From the section India
Demonstrators from the Jat community shout slogans during a protest in New Delhi, India, February 21, 2016. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Demonstrators from the Jat community shout slogans during a protest in Delhi

Why are some of India's major farming communities in ferment?

In recent days at least 16 people have been killed in violent protests by the Jat community in the state of Haryana. They are demanding the reinstatement of caste quotas for government jobs and education places.

Read full article Caste unrest: Why India's farm communities are angry

Did a meteorite kill a man in India?

  • 10 February 2016
  • From the section India
Indian authorities inspect the site of a suspected meteorite landing on February 7, 2016 in an impact that killed a bus driver and injured three others on February 6 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The meteorite left a crater inside the campus of Bharathidasan Engineering College in Vellore

Did a meteorite kill a man in India last week?

As far as we know, an object fell from the sky into the campus of an engineering college in the southern city of Vellore in Tamil Nadu state on Saturday.

Read full article Did a meteorite kill a man in India?