Archive for January, 2011

India: ‘Wife-beating diplomat’ shames nation

Posted on January 26, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime, India, International, Media, women.

MUMBAI, India — “Envoy shames India.” “India-UK diplomatic row.” “Diplomatic cover for domestic violence?” “Wife beating hardly diplomatic.” These are some recent headlines peppering Indian news outlets.

Put plainly, the case of a senior Indian diplomat allegedly beating up his wife at their London home has caused quite a stir. Indians are debating everything from the role of diplomatic immunity to what extent one allegedly violent husband can shame an entire nation.

But perhaps most strikingly, the case reflects India’s complicated relationship with and often tolerance for domestic violence. In India, many communities still condone marital abuse.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

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In God’s Own Country

Posted on January 24, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under India, International, travel.

The first night my mother and stepfather arrived in Mumbai, I stuffed them into an auto-rickshaw and took them to my local Bandra (northwest Mumbai) hangout for a bite to eat, washed down with the obligatory Sula wine. On the way back to my apartment, my mother leaned her head out the rickshaw and stared in wonderment at the tiny shacks lining the road. She turned and whispered to me: “This is all fascinating. But, you know, I’m a little disappointed. We haven’t seen a cow yet.”

And from there our weeklong adventure began. Them seeing India through my eyes, and me seeing it through theirs.

We spent two days in Mumbai so they could get a sense of where I have been living for the past year, as I’ve worked as a GlobalPost correspondent. We did the tourist must-sees – the Gateway of India and Taj bathroom stop, National Gallery of Modern Art, Jehangir Art Gallery, a view of the Queen’s Necklace from Dome. After eating butter-pepper-garlic crab at Trishna, we took a rest outside the majestic Prince of Wales museum.

As we sat on a concrete divider, my mother took photographs of Indian families with their anklet-clad children, and Indian families took photos of us. We never made it into the museum.

Continue reading and see photographs from our trip to Mumbai and Kerala at India Abroad. (Use the zoom function at the top to read it.)

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India’s Own Ivy League?

Posted on January 17, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under India, International.

MUMBAI, India — You may not be able to take the Harvard out of Cambridge, but what are the odds India can grow its own Ivy League?

In an effort to boost the country’s presence on the global stage and improve the quality of its higher education, India has announced plans to create a so-called Indian Ivy League. The government hopes to build world-class universities that compete with the likes of Yale and Princeton, according to Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal.

The creation of Navratna Universities also aims to satisfy some of the increasing demand in India for higher education as the pool of lower middle-class and female students in this rapidly developing country grows.

Education experts in India applaud the government’s ambitions. However, they also question whether this goal will be possible in the current environment, where regulations are plentiful and funding can be scarce.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

Follow Hanna on Twitter: @Hanna_India.

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Indian Wedding Proposals Meet Bollywood

Posted on January 6, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under Culture, India, International.

MUMBAI, India — He hired a helicopter to hover over his girlfriend’s building ($1,300) while musicians serenaded her from below ($335). He threw rose petals from the sky, then proposed with a diamond ring (5 carats). She said yes (priceless).

A typical Indian wedding involves hundreds of guests, days of festivities and countless glittery outfits. But for many of India’s wealthiest young lovers, a traditionally extravagant wedding is no longer fabulous enough. It’s the proposal that really needs to sparkle.

From private yachts to personalized action movie sequences, more and more young lovers are popping the question with increasingly elaborate — often borderline outlandish — theatrics. One groom-to-be got a nightclub to stop the music long enough for him to propose to his girlfriend in front of a crowd that chanted on cue: “Say yes! Say yes!”

Enter the Mumbai company that offers to help its clients make their wildest wedding proposal dreams come true.

“We’re giving you what you dream,” said Bhabesh Mehta, the 28-year-old founder of MyGenie, which he describes as a personal occasion management company. “You tell me the weirdest thing; I can make it happen for you.”

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

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India Opens Restaurant for Vultures

Posted on January 3, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under India, International, environment.

PHANSAD WILDLIFE SANCTUARY, India — Deep in the wildlife sanctuary, a swath of grasslands opens onto a clearing so dry the ground looks covered in yellow hay. In the middle of the clearing, leftover cow teeth, hooves and bones are strewn about. We have arrived, the forest officials say, at India’s vulture restaurant.

Vultures in India, Pakistan and Nepal began dying off two decades ago after a painkiller used to treat sick farm animals became popular in the region, according to environmentalists. Feasting on heavily medicated pack animals, the vultures were unknowingly bringing about their own demise.

In an effort to save the scavengers from extinction, the state of Maharashtra has embarked on a project to create a safe space where the birds can eat, mingle and table hop without accidentally being poisoned to death.

The so-called restaurant, which will have its grand opening this month, will serve vulture delicacies: cow, water buffalo and bullock carcasses. Forest officials will secure the carcasses from nearby villages, ensure the animals had not been treated with the poisonous chemical called diclofenac before they died and then bring them to this clearing in Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary in Raigad district, about 150 kilometers south of Mumbai.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

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How Assam’s Tea Is Beginning to Feel the Strain of Global Warming

Posted on January 2, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under India, International, environment.

Lush green tea plantations, so bright they often look fluorescent, blanket the hills of Assam in northeastern India. Women plucking the leaves in black aprons with large baskets on their backs dot the gardens that contribute to India’s production of nearly a third of the world’s tea. But this picturesque industry that the British began in the early 19th-century faces a very modern problem: climate change.

Researchers and planters worry that a rise in temperatures and change in rainfall patterns are threatening the production and quality of Assam’s famous tea.

About 850 tea gardens in Assam produce 55 percent of India’s tea, but crop yields are decreasing and amid fears of a correlation with environmental change. Production in the state fell from 564,000 tons in 2007 to 487,000 tons in 2009, and the crop was estimated to have fallen to 460,000 tons in 2010, according to the Assam Branch Indian Tea Association. “Climate changing is definitely happening,” said Mridul Hazarika, the director of the Tea Research Association, which is conducting studies on how the changes are hitting tea production. “It is affecting the tea gardens in a number of ways.”

Continue reading at The Independent.

Follow Hanna on Twitter: @Hanna_India.

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