India | KUOW News and Information

India

Arundhati Roy in 2017.
Flickr Photo/Chris Boland (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/www.chrisboland.com

When an acclaimed novelist publishes their first new work in 20 years, people take notice.

When the first book was Arundhati Roy’s “The God of Small Things,” the interest is especially intense. She was awarded the esteemed Booker Prize for the best novel in the English language in 1997.

Roy’s new work is “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.” The novel concerns, as she suggests in the text itself, “the vast, violent, circling, driving, ridiculous, insane, unfeasible, public turmoil of a nation.”

As I hurry home battling the rush hour traffic in the evening, I see a queue in front of the gates of the local mosque. Men in white skull caps, women clad in saris and burkas, young children with school bags on their backs — all are waiting with containers in their hands for a share of the nombu kanji. Mosques in the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala distribute the kanji, a lightly spiced rice and lentil porridge, before the sunset prayers during the fasting month of Ramadan, which starts Friday evening.

Since the February death of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, the first bias fatality of the Trump era, one question has been coursing through South Asian-American circles: was this hate-crime killing in Olathe, Kansas their "Vincent Chin moment"?

Chin was a Chinese-American in Detroit who was beaten to death by two white men in 1982. His death is credited with sparking a pan-Asian-American activist movement.

Two weeks ago, a hashtag began going viral in India: #LahuKaLagaan. It literally means the tax on blood.

That would be India's tax on sanitary napkins — 12 to 15 percent on top of the 40 to 80 rupees (.60 cents to $1.25) for a package of eight. (Typically sold in an unmarked black plastic bag because India is not big on talking about menstrual topics.)

Madhura Nirkhe at ACT Theatre
KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

The Storywallahs series provides a stage for Puget Sound residents with roots in India and South Asia to tell stories. This time around the theme concerned the question of belonging. In the era of "making America great again," these stories help illuminate what it means to be great in the first place. 

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.

Check out this bhangra by the beach, Nova Scotia style

Sep 28, 2016
S
Facebook Screenshot

Bhangra is a style of both music and dance that's popular in the Punjab region of India.

But a new bhangra video that went viral has a distinctly different backdrop: Peggy's Cove, in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. 

Isha Devi hails from Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, built by a grieving king for a beloved queen. Isha now lives three hours and a world away from any such romantic ideals.

Renting a small dingy room, this mother of a 12- and 14-year-old has come to the outskirts of New Delhi to live close to her fertility clinic. Isha, 30, is six months pregnant with someone else's twins. Her room opens onto a noisy alleyway of families in similarly cramped quarters all sharing a single bathroom. Isha groans, shifts uncomfortably on her cot and rearranges her pink floral sari.

A legendary South Asian dish has suddenly found itself in the midst of a war in India. Made up of layers of meat and rice and cooked with fragrant spices, the dish is the much-loved biryani. And the latest battlefield is in the northern Indian state of Haryana.

A steady rain falls on velvet green terraces, releasing a powerful scent of newly harvested tea. A ripple of voices tumbles down the hillside as a man barks orders.

The tea pickers, all women, many in bare feet, expertly navigate the leech-infested slopes. Balancing hampers on their backs loaded with freshly plucked tea leaves, they descend for their morning tea break.

People in India know the Sundarbans as a beautiful and dangerous patchwork of mangrove islands covering nearly 4,000 square miles extending into Bangladesh. It is also home to a variety of rare and endangered species and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Now, this watery landscape is getting international attention for a different reason.

Some of these islands are disappearing, swallowed up by rising tides. Tens of thousands of people who live in the Sundarbans have lost their homes in recent decades.

In Hindi, the saying goes that to survive, you need three things: roti, meaning bread or food, kapda or clothing, and makaan, shelter.

India has a roti problem. While the country has catapulted to No. 3 in the world for obesity, it's also the hungriest country in the world.

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.

Early morning light filters into the cavernous gymnasium as Neetu lunges, climbs and contorts her body into impossible positions. She shimmies up a thick rope that dangles from the two-story ceiling, her heavily muscled arms propelling her upward. She races through calisthenics with 25 other young women in the boot camp atmosphere of Chhotu Ram Stadium and Wrestling Center, in the Indian state of Haryana, known for its wrestling tradition.

The grueling twice-a-day practice– 4 hours in the morning and 3 1/2 in the afternoon-- is her ordinary routine.

Courtesy of Kamna Shastri

I’m the black sheep in my family.

Scratch that - I’m actually more of a white sheep.

Here’s what a family photo would look like: my mom, dad, and brother, each with their own wonderful shade of brown. And then there’s me: pale, white, and blond haired.

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.

When I was a child growing up in India, once every year my father took my two siblings, my mother and me to the village where he grew up. He thought it was important for us kids to see rural living and to learn how basic life could be. He often said, "City folks are lucky to have cooking gas cylinders. You'll see how food is cooked in the village."

It's evening rush hour at a street market in the city of Pune, India. Fifteen-year-old flower seller Aniket Sathe is in his element — bargaining with customers, catching up with friends who drop by. They gossip about school, check out the motorbikes whizzing past and dream up crazy schemes. Like, what if they could get ahold of the balloons that the woman next to Aniket is selling?

Aniket points to a nearby building and grins. "If we took as many balloons as would fit in there and tied them to your hand you could fly in the sky," he says.

Taken at the second Storywallahs event; the theme was Coming Home.
KUOW Photos/Bond Huberman

The 24-year-old man didn’t have a home.

So he came up with a bold plan: Go to the nicest neighborhood in Grand Rapids, Michigan, knock on the doors of 10 mansions and ask if he could move in.

Conjuring images of a dystopia, the shroud of bad air blanketing New Delhi in recent weeks has intensified global pressure on India to curb its greenhouse gas emissions.

India will arrive at the climate change summit in Paris next week as the third biggest generator of fossil fuel pollution blamed for warming the planet, after China and the U.S.

Half of India's emissions come from burning coal. A visit to the coal-rich northeastern Indian state of Jharkhand reveals how this stands to get even worse.

Aziz Ansari and I both look Indian, but there is a difference of day and night in our upbringing. He was born in an American hospital, and I was born 10,000 miles away in a small hospital in Lucknow, India. He grew up in America, and I moved to America when I was 30. He is a comedian, and I couldn't have dreamed of choosing comedy as a career growing up in India. According to my parents, it is not a respectable enough profession.

A U.S. recovery team has returned to a remote part of India to try to retrieve the remains of troops killed in World War II. Family members say a border dispute between India and China has delayed recovery efforts for years.


She was attacked. That won't stop her.

Oct 30, 2015
Anne Bailey

Surrounded by people she trusts, Reshma is not shy. And as her brother points out, half her face, the right side, is still beautiful. 

Oh, but the other half.  

A horizontal scar below her nose slides to the left and opens up a web of scars, a book of pain that relates her attack and more than a year’s worth of surgery with more to come.

Scientists and crew prepping the Healy for a voyage to the North Pole
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

The Shell Oil rig that left Elliott Bay last week isn't the only big vessel heading to the Arctic from Seattle. A Coast Guard icebreaker heads to Alaska on Wednesday. The Seattle-based ship will help a multinational team of scientists explore pollution at the North Pole.

Climate change has fueled competition at the top of the world, where shipping and resource extraction are becoming feasible for the first time. With a tiny fleet of icebreakers (the Coast Guard has just two in operation), the U.S. lags behind other nations. At last count, Russia has 41 icebreakers.

KUOW's John Ryan reports.

How to save rhinos? By turning their dung into paper.

Mar 18, 2015
<a href="http://www.lightstalkers.org/chirodeep-chaudhuri">Chirodeep Chaudhuri</a>

In a small factory in the northeastern India, a strange type of swill churns in a vat. Bits of chopped-up old hosiery swirl around in almost 200 gallons of water while, at six-second intervals, 72-year-old Mahesh Bora adds fists full of rhino dung.

Yes, you read that right.

Bora is making paper. The rhino dung adds fiber to the paper, and Bora says the whole enterprise will help save the endangered Asian one-horned rhinoceros.

Across the world, a child's survival is a lot like drawing a lottery ticket. Factors based purely on chance — where a child is born, how much money his or her family has and what their ethnic background is — can determine if a child lives past age 5.

Courtesy of Deepali

Living with mental illness is never easy, no matter where in the world you live. But it can be particularly hard in India, and even more so if you’re a woman.

For Deepali, a 46-year-old yoga teacher in New Delhi, the problems began about 10 or 12 years ago. “There were financial troubles, there were definite marital troubles,” she says.

'Papa, you are brown, and I am white'

Dec 26, 2014
Courtesy of Deepak Singh

I'm the father of a 5-year-old girl whose skin color is several shades lighter than my own.

Her eyes aren't black like mine; they're an icy blue. She has blond streaks in her hair. And most people say she doesn't look like me — though my mother thinks she does. Like most Indians who value light skin, my mother worries my daughter might turn dark if she plays in the sun too long.

Courtesy Shana Greene

Jeannie Yandel talks with Village Volunteers founder Shana Greene about creating biodegradable sanitary pads out of water hyacinth for women who don't have reliable access to menstrual supplies.

AP Photo/Ajit Solanki

David Hyde interviews former Washingtonian, diplomat and scholar Haroon Ullah about the recent election of  Narendra Modi to be the next prime minister of India.

Pages