Was Aarushi Talwar murder verdict a miscarriage of justice?

  • 21 July 2015
  • From the section India
Aarushi Talwar
Aarushi Talwar was killed in May 2008

"We are living an unreal life for the past seven years," says Rajesh Talwar. "It is like living in a haze."

Talwar and his wife, Nupur, are currently lodged in a prison set amid verdant farmland outside India's capital, Delhi. In November 2013, a court found the dentist couple guilty of killing their 13-year-old daughter Aarushi and their Nepalese servant, Hemraj Banjade, in the family apartment in nearby Uttar Pradesh, one of India's worst-governed states.

Fuelled by sensational media leaks and the fact that the accused belonged to India's thriving, upwardly mobile middle-class, the 2008 double murder quickly became the country's most-talked-about crime. The verdict was based on circumstantial evidence as key forensic evidence had been lost during two flawed investigations. The Talwars were sentenced to life in prison.

From the beginning, there were doubts about the way the investigations were conducted, first by the local police and then by federal detectives belonging to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) - it was "haphazard, absurd and defamatory" and worsened by the "administrative dystopia" of Uttar Pradesh, wrote British writer Patrick French, who was a patient of Rajesh Talwar.

Puzzling

Now an explosive new book by journalist Avirook Sen claims that the conviction of the couple may have been a gross miscarriage of justice. Sen conducted some 100 interviews with investigators, lawyers, witnesses, family and the schoolgirl's friends, attended the trial and had his material vetted by lawyers. His book - Aarushi - is a gripping account of the crime, an allegedly slipshod investigation and a puzzling trial.

Read full article Was Aarushi Talwar murder verdict a miscarriage of justice?

Does India's national anthem extol the British?

  • 9 July 2015
  • From the section India
Tagore was the first Asian to win the Nobel prize for literature
Tagore was the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize for literature

More than a century after it was first sung in the eastern city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), the song that later became India's national anthem is again mired in a worn-out controversy.

On Tuesday, the governor of Rajasthan state Kalyan Singh, a veteran BJP leader, pulled an old chestnut out of the fire by saying that Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's Jana Gana Mana, had actually praised the British rulers. He said the phrase adhinayak jai he, which literally translates as "hail the leader" should be removed and replaced with mangaldayak, which means the "welfare giver" . His audacious remarks even made it to the front page of a prominent newspaper.

Read full article Does India's national anthem extol the British?

What yoga record attempt tells us about India

  • 20 June 2015
  • From the section India
Indian school students attend a yoga workshop conducted by teachers from The Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Institute at The FD Higher Secondary School in Ahmedabad on June 16, 2015
More than 30,000 people are expected to participate in Sunday's gathering in Delhi

India is in the grip of yoga fever, thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr Modi coaxed the United Nations into declaring 21 June International Yoga Day and announced a grand event to be held in Delhi on that day. His government plans to get tens of thousands of people to perform yoga in the heart of the capital on Sunday.

Read full article What yoga record attempt tells us about India

Is India's growth exaggerated?

  • 1 June 2015
  • From the section India
A worker carries an iron pipe inside a metal fabrication workshop in an industrial area of Mumbai February 9, 2015
Many experts say the economy is still waiting to gather momentum

Last week, India announced growth figures which would make the world envious.

Asia's third-largest economy grew 7.5% in the three months ending in March, higher than the previous quarter and above expectations. Forecasts were for growth of about 7.3% for the period compared with a year earlier.

Read full article Is India's growth exaggerated?

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.

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.

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?