India's first transgender college principal

  • 27 May 2015
  • From the section India
Manobi Bandyopadhyay
Manobi Bandyopadhyay has been appointed as the principal of a women's college

Her Facebook page is overflowing with messages complimenting her for her new job.

Congratulations, you have hit the headlines, writes a student, attaching a newspaper story headlined "Bengal college to have India's first transgender principal". "We salute your courage," writes a friend.

"Yes, it has taken some courage. It's been a struggle to be accepted as a transgender professional," says Manobi Bandyopadhyay, 51, shouting over the din of heavy traffic down a telephone line from Kolkata (Calcutta).

Born into a lower-middle class family - her father was a factory worker, while her mother is a homemaker - Ms Bandyopadhyay went to school on the outskirts of Kolkata before heading off to a prominent city college to study Bengali. She wrote a paper on women's rights and joined a college in a remote village in a Maoist-affected region in West Bengal to teach Bengali.

In 2003, she says, she decided to go in for hormone replacement and surgery to change her sex. At work, she completed a dissertation on the role of transgenders in West Bengal, where their population exceeds 30,000.

Read full article India's first transgender college principal

Has Narendra Modi lived up to expectations?

  • 25 May 2015
  • From the section India
Narendra Modi
Mr Modi swept to power by inflicting a heavy defeat on Congress

Is a year in power long enough to evaluate the performance of a new government? Possibly difficult in a country with many unresolved social and economic issues like India, but it is a good time for some stock-taking.

So it is with Narendra Modi and his BJP government, which stormed into power last May.

Read full article Has Narendra Modi lived up to expectations?

The dressing up of Narendra Modi

  • 18 May 2015
  • From the section India
Indian Prime Minister Modi visits the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses, in Xian
Mr Modi at the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses, in Xian

"Make way, Tom Cruise. Modi's the new top gun", screamed a headline in The Times of India over the weekend.

It was alluding to one of the most striking by-products of last week's grand summit between India and China: a torrent of astonishing images emanating from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government's feed.

Narendra Modi - sunglasses from his twitter feed

Read full article The dressing up of Narendra Modi

A bad seven days for Indian justice

  • 13 May 2015
  • From the section India
Jayalalitha
Jayalalitha is one of India's most powerful politicians

It's been a bleak seven days for justice in India.

In three separate cases, high profile and influential individuals - a Bollywood star, a powerful politician, and a former business baron - were allowed to walk free by appeals court despite being found guilty by lower courts.

Read full article A bad seven days for Indian justice

Salman Khan: Bollywood's popular 'bad boy'

  • 6 May 2015
  • From the section India
Salman Khan
Salman Khan has acted in more than 80 Bollywood films

Salman Khan has been the "bad boy" of Bollywood for as long as anyone can remember.

The brawny 49-year-old superstar has appeared in more than 80 films in his nearly three-decade-long career. Khan has played a range of popular roles - from the cloying romantic hero to a flashy action star. Popularity chased him swiftly to the small screen when he become the convivial host of Bigg Boss, the popular Indian version of Big Brother.

Read full article Salman Khan: Bollywood's popular 'bad boy'

Why is Indian media facing a backlash in Nepal?

  • 4 May 2015
  • From the section India
An Indian shopkeeper reads a newspaper with front-page news of Nepal earthquake in Mumbai, India, Sunday, April 26, 2015
Many in Nepal feel Indian media's coverage of the earthquake has been shrill and jingoistic

Narratives of disasters can easily go awry and make the affected people angry. So it seems to be the case with the Indian media and its coverage of the devastating earthquake in neighbouring Nepal.

As the impoverished Himalayan state struggles to recover from a calamity which has killed more than 7,000 people and left more than 14,000 people wounded, the media next door has been facing a lot of criticism for its coverage of the tragedy.

Read full article Why is Indian media facing a backlash in Nepal?

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.

Read full article Nepal earthquake: How India and China vie for influence

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.

Read full article Delhi farmer death highlights countryside crisis

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."

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

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.

Read full article Is India's anti-corruption party unravelling?