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India

Madeshwaran Subramani is the human face of IT disruption in India. He recalls being recently summoned to the HR office of his employer in southern city of Coimbatore at 11 a.m. By noon, the 29-year-old software engineer was out of a job. He worked for Cognizant Technology, a U.S.-based firm with offices in India.

An ad that came out on Monday has gone viral this week in India. The topic? Open urination and defecation.

It goes like this. A group of guys heads out at the break of dawn to relieve themselves in the fields surrounding their village. But, as they start to undo their pajamas, they hear a metallic beat.

#fakenews isn't just a U.S. thing. And it isn't just about politics. In India people are putting their health at risk by following spurious advice dispensed on forwards on Whatsapp, the phone-based messaging app.

Four men convicted of a notorious gang rape in New Delhi will be hanged to death, after India's Supreme Court rejected their appeals over the 2012 crime that drew worldwide attention and prompted mass demonstrations and calls to stop the harassment of women — calls that the court repeated today.

In India, Hindu nationalists have swept recent elections, and flush from victory, stand accused of using vigilantism to promote a Hindu way of life for all Indians.

At a buffalo market outside the town of Nasirabad in central Rajasthan, transporters say Hindu vigilantes have targeted them on rumors that they have sold, bought, or killed cows for beef.

A few weeks ago, my husband brought home a bottle of chilled beverage that wasn't on the grocery list I had sent him out with. It was a bottle of pre-packaged sugarcane juice – a novelty in a market flooded with bottled soda and mango drinks. But one sip of the drink and I was transported back to my childhood summers.

It was one of the most incendiary episodes in India's modern history.

Now, the country's Supreme Court has decided to revive criminal conspiracy charges against four veteran ruling party politicians over the destruction of a mosque 25 years ago.

"The destruction of the Babri Masjid by a Hindu mob in 1992 ignited the worst communal rioting across India in decades," NPR's Julie McCarthy reports from New Delhi. "More than 2,000 people were killed."

It's an ad for Vicks, maker of cold and cough remedies, produced for the Indian market. It's had 9 million views on YouTube so far. And it's launched a discussion on social media about the rights of transgender people.

The 3 1/2-minute commercial, released online on March 31, doesn't mention any products. Instead, it tells what is labeled as a "true story."

On March 24, Manish Khari, an Indian teenager in Greater Noida, a city on the outskirts of India's capital New Delhi, went for a walk and did not come home.

Someone said he had been seen with some Nigerian students who lived a few doors down. An angry crowd barged into their house but could not find the boy. A rumor spread that boy could not be found because the Nigerians were involved in cannibalism.

I have always found it difficult to explain my family's syncretic faith traditions to both white Americans and to other South Asians. We are Hindu Sindhis, originating from an area around the Indus River, in what is now modern southeast Pakistan. On our home altar, familiar Hindu idols — Lakshmi, Ganesh, Krishna — share space with images of the 10 Sikh gurus and Jhulelal. Jhulelal, a river deity, is not only the patron saint of Hindu Sindhis, but is also revered by Sufi Muslims.

America has some noisy neighborhoods — and Los Angeles is number one. That's what you can learn from a new noise map from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

I sympathize with the beleaguered ears of Los Angelenos — up to a point. That's because I live in India.

Married at 14 and divorced by 16, Seema Parveen had a marriage as brutal as it was short.

Now 42, Parveen remembers her husband threatening to hurl her from the balcony of their home. She blinks back tears recalling his rage when she bore him a daughter and not a son.

Last November, helium balloons with pictures of the bridal family floated over Bangalore Palace in southern India, welcoming some 50,000 guests to a $75 million wedding.

In San Francisco, companies will pay six-figure salaries to entry-level tech workers from all over the world. So this might come as a surprise: A public university there is laying off some of its own IT staff and sending their jobs to a contractor with headquarters in India.

Until recently, Hank Nguyen's daughter wanted to follow in his footsteps and work in tech. Last spring, she was accepted into the University of California system.

"She was inclined to take computer science and engineering," Nguyen says.

The Trump Organization has more interests in India — at least five — than anywhere else outside North America. With an ever-increasing taste for luxury, India offers the Trump brand a lucrative market, no matter who runs the company after President-elect Donald Trump separates from his global enterprises, as he's said he would do.

I celebrated my first Thanksgiving in 2002. I'd arrived in the United States in August of that year to start graduate school at the University of Missouri, Columbia. A few months later, I was invited to my first Thanksgiving dinner at a house shared by two Indians, one American, two New Zealanders and their sweet black Labrador, named Willow.

On Sunday, India celebrated Diwali with lamps, candles, feasting and fireworks. Now, a day after fireworks for the festival of lights, New Delhi is choked with a thick, dark smog.

The celebrations sharply exacerbated the city's perpetual pollution problems — the BBC reports that in the wake of the fireworks, levels of extremely small particulate matter more than doubled over the course of a few hours.

Updated on Oct. 27

There's a new ad that shows Donald Trump declaring, "I am a big fan of Hindus," speaking a sentence in Hindi and lighting a diya, a ceremonial lamp that's popular in India, at a "Hindus for Trump" event in New Jersey on Oct. 15.

The moment my boyfriend — now husband — and I got serious about our future together, my father-in-law got serious about teaching me to cook Indian cuisine. My boyfriend was already skilled in the kitchen. But Dr. Jashwant Sharma wanted extra assurance that the dishes from his native country would always have a place in our home. Plus, as he told me recently, he thought I'd like it.

"We mix four, five, six different spices in a single dish. These create a taste and aroma that you don't get in any other food. People exposed to it usually like it," he said.

With near universal literacy and long life expectancy, the small Indian state of Kerala is a model for the rest of India.

In recent weeks, however, the small state tucked at the bottom of the country has been in the spotlight for what its glowing human development indicators do not reveal.

It sometimes takes an awful event to uncover maladies beneath the surface, and here, it was the savage murder of an underprivileged law student.

On virtually every other street corner, in every city or town or village in India, there is a chai wallah — a tea vendor who supplies the piping hot, milky brew that fuels the country.

And because everybody — politicians, rickshaw drivers, schoolteachers — needs a daily cuppa, chai wallahs get to meet people from every walk of life.

A city in India has recorded the highest temperature in the country's history — 51 degrees Celsius, or 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

Murari Lal Thanvi told the BBC it was so hot in the city of Phalodi on Friday that his cellphone stopped working. "I was able to switch my mobile phone on after putting a wet cloth on it for about 20-25 minutes."

In a dimly lit hut made of mud and straw, a shaft of sunlight slices through a hole in the ceiling and lands on a bag of rice. Debendra Tarek, 80, pulls out a handful of the rough brown grains and holds them up to the beam of light.

His bare chest is sunken, and his eyes glow deep in their sockets. "This resists the saltwater," the village elder explains through an interpreter. This variety of rice, he says, allows his family to remain here on Ghoramara, the island where they were born.

Waiting quietly in the living room of a home in an upscale New Delhi neighborhood are a dozen people of all ages — maids, security guards, construction workers, all of whom earn at most a few dollars a day. The elegant, plant-filled room is hushed except for the sound of coughing.

Over in the next room, Dr. Gita Prakash is at her dining table with a stethoscope pressed to a pregnant woman's chest. Prakash has been treating indigent patients here for 30 years, six nights a week, in the evenings after she finishes her rounds at the local hospital where she works.

A fire crackles along the banks of the Yamuna River: a cremation of a young mother, struck by a car while she was fetching water.

The stench of the river engulfs the sad assembly.

Before the hissing funeral pyre, floating down the river, white blocks of what looks like detergent appear like icebergs. It is 95 degrees in Delhi this night. This is chemical waste from factories that have sprung up across the city, manufacturing leather goods, dyes and other goods.

Downstream, the living reside along garbage-strewn banks.

"It is unbelievable, sir."

That's how NPR contributor Wilbur Sargunaraj characterizes the heat that is gripping parts of his native India. "It's just getting worse and worse and worse, and people are suffering."

In India, rape is illegal. And the definition of what constitutes "rape" was widened only recently in response to a horrific fatal assault in New Delhi in 2012. Forced penetration by any object in any orifice is now a crime.

Despite this law, some men in India can have sex with a woman against her will. That's because Parliament chose to exempt husbands.

This decision — which makes India one of 49 nations that don't criminalize marital rape — has come under fire from women's rights advocates around the globe.

The number of tigers in the wild has risen from an estimated 3,200 in 2010 to about 3,890 in 2016 — a gain of more than 20 percent after a century of decline, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The group says the tiger populations have grown in at least four countries: India, Russia, Nepal and Bhutan.

The death toll has risen to at least 24 in Thursday's collapse of an overpass in a busy intersection in Kolkata, India. Now comes word that police have detained at least five officials from the company that's been building the structure, as forensics teams try to figure out what happened.

Citing local police, The Associated Press reports, "The officials from the IVRCL Infrastructure Co. are being questioned for possible culpable homicide, punishable with life imprisonment, and criminal breach of trust, which carries a prison sentence of up to seven years."

Emergency crews are scrambling to reach people trapped when an under-construction elevated roadway collapsed onto a busy street in Kolkata, India, on Thursday. More than a dozen people have died, local media say, and dozens more are trapped.

News of the number of dead or injured is still emerging, and those reports are currently fluctuating. Citing police, Asian News International reports that at least 14 people are dead, with more than 70 wounded.

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