India's 'dead' car auctions: Where you can get a Porsche for $7,000

  • 5 February 2016
  • From the section India
A flood-damaged 2015 Jaguar at the car yard Image copyright NATHAN G
Image caption M Prem Kumar picked up this flood-damaged 2015 Jaguar for $25,000 at the yard

In the middle of a sprawling yard lined with used cars, Jambu Kumar is hunting for a Mercedes Benz sedan.

The 29-year-old did not own a car until six years ago. His father, a pawnbroker, drove a scooter all his life. In 2009, Mr Kumar, who runs a small automobile spare parts business, bought a Skoda, becoming the first person in his family to own a car.

When Mr Kumar heard from friends that cars damaged in last year's deadly floods in the southern city of Chennai (Madras) were being auctioned, he drove down to the yard.

The car enthusiast is looking to pick up the Mercedes he has always dreamt of owning, and never had the money to buy. He has a budget of a million rupees ($14,677; £10197).

"My wife said if you go the auction, you must return with a Merc. So I am looking for a bargain. If he was alive, my father would have been proud of me," says Mr Kumar.

Spurring dreams

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India's maverick 'frog man'

  • 22 January 2016
  • From the section India
Mansi Thapliyal Image copyright Mansi Thapliyal
Image caption Dr Biju grew up in a remote village in Kerala

"Without this frog, I would be a nobody," says Sathyabhama Das Biju, sitting in his laboratory in Delhi University, on a cold overcast afternoon.

The phones haven't stopped ringing ever since Dr Biju and his team of scientists announced their latest discovery - an extraordinary tree frog thought to have died out more than a century ago. The usually quiet and cosy book-lined lab with a frosted glass door which says 'The Frog People' is unusually frantic.

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Why are India's Dalit students taking their lives?

  • 20 January 2016
  • From the section India
Rohith Vemula Image copyright Rohith Vemula's Facebook page
Image caption Rohith Vemula, a PhD student at the Hyderabad Central University, killed himself on Sunday

"My birth is my fatal accident... I always was rushing. Desperate to start a life... I am not sad. I am just empty. Unconcerned about myself. That's pathetic. And that's why I am doing this."

These are excerpts from the last letter - "this kind of letter for the first time" - that Rohith Vemula, a PhD student at Hyderabad Central University wrote before he killed himself on Sunday.

Read full article Why are India's Dalit students taking their lives?

Was Delhi's car-rationing trial a publicity gimmick?

  • 19 January 2016
  • From the section India
An Indian woman crosses a road as vehicles move through morning smog on the last day of a two-week experiment to reduce the number of cars to fight pollution in New Delhi, India, Friday, Jan. 15, 2016 Image copyright AP
Image caption The jury is still out on whether the trial had any impact on Delhi's toxic air

Sorry I am late, the traffic is back with a vengeance in Delhi.

No prizes for guessing why. The capital's much-hyped two-week trial - private cars with even and odd number plates were only allowed on alternate days - to curb air pollution ended on Friday. The headlines over the weekend said it all: Traffic in Delhi back to square one, moaned one.

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Rare pictures of the last 10 years of Gandhi's life

  • 11 January 2016
  • From the section India
Gandhi

Here's an anxious-looking Mahatma Gandhi making a telephone call from his office in Sevagram village in the western state of Maharashtra in 1938.

India's greatest leader had moved to a village called Segaon two years earlier. He had renamed it Sevagram or a village of service. He built an ashram, a commune which was home to "many a fateful decision which affected the destiny of India". Gandhi had moved in with his wife, Kasturba, and some followers. There was also a steady stream of guests.

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Why is Mark Zuckerberg angry at critics in India?

  • 29 December 2015
  • From the section India
Facebook chief executive and founder Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a "town-hall" meeting at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Delhi Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mark Zuckerberg says he is surprised by the debate over Free Basics in India

Mark Zuckerberg is feeling the force of critics who believe his effort to provide Indians with free access to a limited number of internet services hurts India's democracy and violates net neutrality.

In an unusually pugnacious appeal in the mass-circulation Times of India, the Facebook founder forcefully defended introducing his Free Basics service, "a set of basic internet services for education, healthcare, jobs and communication that people can use without paying for data".

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Can Delhi ever clean up its foul air?

  • 8 December 2015
  • From the section India
Indian man takes a morning walk in a public garden surrounded by the smog in the outskirts of Delhi, India 20 November 2015. Image copyright EPA
Image caption Delhi is now the world's most polluted city

The anguish and outrage over Delhi's rising air pollution has a sense of déjà vu all over again.

With the onset of what is still a feeble winter, the air quality in India's capital has again become appalling. Particulate matter - particles so small they can be ingested deep into the lungs - and a toxic cocktail of nitrogen oxide, ozone, benzene, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide hangs heavy over the world's most polluted city. People cough, wheeze and whinge and your correspondent is no exception.

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'Intolerant India': Is criticism against Modi's BJP justified?

  • 30 November 2015
  • From the section India
An Indian activist shouts slogans as he is detained by police outside the home of Bollywood actor Aamir Khan in Mumbai on November 24, 2015. Image copyright AFP
Image caption There have been protests against Bollywood star Aamir Khan's comments on intolerance in India

In recent weeks, actors, writers, academics and scientists have expressed concern over growing intolerance in India.

A movement that began with writers returning state awards has spread to scientists, historians and filmmakers. Some 200 academics teaching in India and abroad have issued a joint statement against rising "intolerance and bigotry.

Read full article 'Intolerant India': Is criticism against Modi's BJP justified?

What the backlash against Bollywood's Aamir Khan tells us about India

  • 25 November 2015
  • From the section India
Aamir Khan Image copyright AFP
Image caption Aamir Khan is a top Bollywood star

The bitter backlash against Bollywood star Amir Khan's remarks about "growing intolerance" in India tells us a few things about the world's largest democracy.

At a journalism awards ceremony, Khan said there was a growing sense of fear, insecurity and despondency in the country, and that when he discussed things with his filmmaker wife, Kiran Rao, she wondered whether the family should move out of India.

Read full article What the backlash against Bollywood's Aamir Khan tells us about India

Is Narendra Modi facing a mutiny?

  • 11 November 2015
  • From the section India
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) and Amit Shah, the president of India"s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), wave to their supporters during a campaign rally ahead of state assembly elections, at Ramlila ground in New Delhi in this January 10, 2015 file photo Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Modi and Mr Shah are the most powerful leaders of BJP

US founding father Thomas Jefferson once said a "little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world, as storms in the physical".

After suffering two consecutive - and humiliating - defeats in the Delhi and Bihar elections, India's ruling BJP, many believe, also needed a small rebellion to shake it out of its complacency.

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