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India mine collapse: Bodies of 13 recovered in Jharkhand

The bodies of 13 people are recovered and scores remain missing after a coal mine collapse in India.

Indian politician Akhilesh Yadav sacked by his father Mulayam

The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state is fired by the head of his party – his own father.

Four die in India coal mine collapse in Jharkhand

At least four workers are killed and a dozen are feared trapped in a coal mine in India.

India: Madras high court questions Jayalalitha death cause

Court asks why the body of former chief minister J Jayalalitha cannot be exhumed for investigation.

Indian Olympic body stirs storm over Suresh Kalmadi role

An Indian politician charged with corruption turns down an honorary Olympic role after protests.

India needs about 200-250 Rafale aircafts to maintain edge: Arup Raha

New Delhi: Outgoing IAF chief Arup Raha on Wednesday made it clear that just 36 Rafale fighter jets would not suffice as India needs about 200-250 more fighters to maintain
its combat edge over adversaries.

The Air Chief Marshal, who is set to retire on 31 December, also rued that the tender for the much needed “force multiplier” mid air refuellers had to be withdrawn. He said a fresh tender is in the offing and the procurement will be speeded up.

Arup Raha. Image courtesy: PIBArup Raha. Image courtesy: PIB

Arup Raha. Image courtesy: PIB

Underlining that the teeth of any air force is the combat fleet, Raha said that the country needs another production line besides the Tejas.

He explained that the strength sanctioned by the government is 42 squadrons “which was a numerical value. He said what is needed “is also a capability mix”. Raha said India has enough of heavy weight fighters – the Su30 MKI – which will last for another 30-40 years. He said the light weight spectrum would be served by the 123 Tejas light combat aircraft ordered by the IAF.

Terming Rafale as an excellent aircraft, Raha said it comes in the medium weight spectrum. “It is tremendously capable in all its role. It is a multi-role aircraft and can be used very effectively. It can prove its worth in any situation,” Raha said.

“But we have just ordered 36 aircraft and we require more aircraft in this middle weight category to give entire spectrum of capability,” he said.

Raha said a void has been created in the past because of obsolescence and many of the squadrons will be past their use-by date.

“We have already used them for four decades plus. It is time to retire them and get new aircraft,” he said adding this void has to be filled up quickly and 36 Rafale aircraft “will not do as we require much more”.

“Over the next 10 years, we must have 200-250 aircraft. It has to be balanced out. In the heavy weight spectrum, we have enough. But in the medium weight category, we need to have more. Yes, about 200 will be very good,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 18:39 IST

Two dead after train derails near Kanpur, India

At least two people are dead after a train derailed near Kanpur in India’s Uttar Pradesh state.

India Goa crash: Twelve hurt as plane veers off runway

At least 12 passengers on an Indian airliner were hurt when it veered off the runway, officials say.

Tamannaah Bhatia praised for standing up to ‘sexist’ filmmaker Suraj

Social media users praise actress Tamannaah Bhatia for standing up to a filmmaker’s ‘sexist’ comments.

How Mormons find love in India

Ian Trueger visits a Mormon event in India, designed to help young followers find love.

Our tailor and the ‘ticking time bomb’

The challenge posed to India by Type 2 diabetes is set to increase further, according to experts

Are India and Pakistan set for water wars?

India wants to use more water from rivers it shares with Pakistan as tensions deteriorate.

India tests ‘Nirbhay’ cruise missile, outcome not known yet

Balasore (Odisha): India on Wednesday conducted the flight test of indigenously-designed and developed long range subsonic cruise missile ‘Nirbhay’ from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in Odisha.

However, there was no official word immediately about the outcome of the test flight.

The sophisticated missile with a strike range of 1,000 km was test launched from a specially-designed launcher around noon from the launch complex-3 of the ITR near here, defence sources said.

Powered by a solid rocket motor booster, ‘Nirbhay’ missile with a turbo-fan engine is guided by a highly advanced inertial navigation system.

The DRDO logo. Image Credit: drdo.gov.in

The DRDO logo. Image Credit: drdo.gov.in

After the missile achieves designated altitude and velocity the booster motor is separated and the torfan engine automatically switches on taking over further propulsion, a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientist associated with this project said.

He said that mid-way in its flight, missile’s wing opens up by the commands generated by the sophisticated on board computer for stabilising the flight path.

The missile was tracked with the help of ground based radars and it’s health parameters were monitored by indigenous telemetry stations by team of professionals from DRDO’s ITR and LRDE (Electronics & Radar Development Establishment).

The maiden test flight of Nirbhay held on 12 March 2013 had to be terminated mid way for safety reasons due to malfunction of a component, sources said.

However, the second launch on 17 October 2014 was successful.

The next trial conducted on 16 October 2015, had to be aborted after 700 seconds of its launch. All these trials were conducted from same defence base.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 20:27 IST

Standing tall

HS Doreswamy is a 98-year-old freedom fighter who is still battling for his idea of a just India.

Bollywood’s Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan have a baby boy

Top Bollywood star Kareena Kapoor has given birth to a baby boy and he has been named Taimur.

Sushma Swaraj released from hospital

India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is released from hospital after a kidney transplant.

‘Hundreds die’ in India police custody, says rights group report

Some 600 people died in police custody in India between 2010 and 2015, says a rights group report.

The man who looks after 735 dogs

Rakesh Shukla is a software engineer who looks after 735 dogs that no-one wants.

Scots architect Lachie Stewart missing in India found

A Scottish architect who was reported missing in India after being out of contact with his family has reportedly been found.

Bad money

Bad info about demonetisation is circulating online.

India court bans liquor shops on highways

India’s top court bans liquor shops along highways in a bid to curb drink driving and accidents.

Arranged marriage 101

An Indian woman’s advice for those entering arranged marriages has been widely shared online.

Second ‘funeral’ for Indian politician Jayalalitha

A man claiming to be an estranged cousin of of J Jayalalitha conducts a cremation for her with an effigy.

India newspaper offers ‘tips’ for conceiving a baby boy

An Indian paper defies science by saying women can have baby boys if they attract “strong” sperm.

The women scientists who took India into space

The BBC meets three Indian female scientists who prove that rocket science is not a male preserve.

Six myths about a priceless diamond

William Dalrymple and Anita Anand demolish some myths about the world’s most controversial diamond.

India social media marks the first month of rupee ban

Indian social media users are at their creative best in marking the first month of the rupee ban.

Soul searching

J Jayalalitha’s sudden death has left a political vacuum in Tamil Nadu’s politics.

India surprises by holding rates at six-year low

India’s central bank has unexpectedly held interest rates at a six-year low.

Mourners shave heads for India’s Jayalalitha

Indians shave their heads as a mark of respect to late charismatic politician J Jayalalitha.

Andaman: Rains leave tourists stranded on India island

Hundreds of tourists are stranded in India’s eastern archipelago of Andaman and Nicobar after rains.

Rare pictures of India’s extraordinary Jayalalitha

The chequered film and political career of one of India’s most powerful and popular politicians

Tamil icon Jayalalitha dies at 68

Leading Indian politician J Jayalalitha dies aged 68 after a heart attack, hospital officials say.

Jayalalitha Jayaram suffers heart attack

One of India’s most powerful and popular politicians, J Jayalalitha, has had a heart attack.

Delhi weather: Service disrupted at Delhi airport, over 140 flights delayed

 New Delhi: More than 140 flights were delayed and seven cancelled today as poor runway visibility in the morning disrupted operations at IGI airport here.

This is the second consecutive day when more than 100 flights have been impacted by bad weather at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport even as authorities implemented low visibility procedures.

delhi-airport-afp

Representational Image. AFP

As many as eight departing flights were cancelled, seven of them due to weather conditions, and two were diverted, airport officials said.

According to them, little over 140 flights were delayed and out of them 94 were due to weather conditions that resulted in poor runway visibility in the morning hours. As many as 47 were delayed on account of “other reasons”.

At least two international flights were diverted in the morning. One Air India flight from Paris was diverted to Mumbai while an Oman Air flight from Muscat was diverted to Jaipur, as per the officials.

Over 100 flights were delayed yesterday as well due to dense fog in the morning apart from 16 cancellations for “other reasons”.

With around 1,100 flight movements per day, IGI airport is the busiest aerodrome in the country.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 20:08 IST

The volunteers who saved flooded Chennai

A year on from the devastating Chennai floods, we hear from the volunteers who kept the city afloat.

India prisons: Why security needs to be improved

Two jailbreaks in a month shine a spotlight on security in India’s overcrowded prisons.

India’s Sonia Gandhi in hospital after fever

India’s main opposition Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi is being treated in hospital for a fever.

Facebook Express Wi-fi goes live in India

Facebook’s scheme offering internet access for underserved regions goes live in India.

Shilpa Shetty’s Animal Farm ‘review’ trolled on Twitter

A Bollywood actress recommends Stalinist metaphor to children, to teach them to “care for animals”.

India jailbreak: Sikh separatist Harminder Singh Mintoo recaptured

Police in India say they have recaptured a Sikh separatist leader, who escaped from jail in Punjab.

India outrage at minister’s $7.3m house with bullet-proof bathroom

The chief minister of the south Indian state of Telangana causes outrage after moving into a $7.3m home.

India telecom firm launches first ‘stripped down’ bank

India launches its first payment banking service. The BBC’s Suranjana Tewari explains how it will work.

How did the poorest escape demonetisation? Simple, they don’t have money

By Mukta Patil, Shreya Shah and Swagata Yadavar, IndiaSpend.com

Dressed in a white dhoti or loin cloth, with a bright pink tilak or mark on his forehead, Chandu Kokre shepherded about 60 sheep along national highway 60, 30 km southeast of Mumbai, India’s financial capital. “It doesn’t matter to us,” the thin 28-year-old told IndiaSpend when asked about the Indian government’s delegitimising of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes–86 percent of currency in circulation by value. “We don’t have bills that exceed Rs 50 and Rs 100,” he explained.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

On 9 November, 2016, the Indian government scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, resulting in long queues to exchange these notes or withdraw money in lower denominations and reduced short-term income for many small-scale businessmen. But the poorest labourers, farmers, small business owners and shepherds like Kokre appear to have been affected less by the move because they either earn too little to save, or survive on what they themselves grow, found IndiaSpend reporters in rural areas of Pune, Ahmednagar and Palghar districts, and urban areas in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.

As many as 269.3 million Indians–equivalent to the population of Indonesia–live below the poverty line of Rs 27 a day in rural areas and Rs 32 in urban areas. About 216.5 million of the poor live in rural areas, as IndiaSpend reported in October 2015. In Maharashtra–India’s richest state, by gross state domestic product, and the second most populous–19.7 million (17.35 percent) of 112 million are poor.

Several farming households told IndiaSpend they were not affected by the government’s move because they depended on their own produce for sustenance. That did not appear to be the situation in urban areas, where various media reports–such as this in the Indian Express, and this in the Hindustan Times–reported survival struggles.

As farming recedes across India, poor labourers proliferate

Narayan Deo Rinjad stood in the doorway of his brick house, in the village of Pandre Pade in Palghar district, about 120 km north of Mumbai, as a hen and its chicks explored the surroundings. “It hasn’t affected us much because we eat what we grow,” said the 43-year-old farmer, who lives below the poverty line, and grows rice, lentils, chillies and cucumbers.

Rinjad said the family buys oil, sugar and spices from the market but stocks up for 15 days to a month as the closest market is 5 km away. When the government announced that old notes would no longer be valid, the family had Rs 5,000 that they deposited in a bank, and withdrew Rs 2,000 . Rinjad added he didn’t plan to go the bank anytime soon, because he didn’t have an urgent need or time to spare from the sowing season; the last trip to the bank to deposit and withdraw money took four hours.

But the number of farmers in India is falling, while the number of agricultural labourers is increasing. Farmers–known as “cultivators” in census parlance–have reduced by 7 percent, from 127.6 million in 2001 to 118.6 million in 2011, as IndiaSpend reported in August 2014. Agricultural laborers rose by 36.8 million, or 34.2 percent, to 144.3 million in 2011 over the decade.

Source: Census of India

Daily labourers who work on farms and rural construction sites also said they had too little money to be affected hugely by the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, but some said they weren’t taking money until their employers gave them small change.

Even if the poor have bank accounts, they may not use them

Krishna Shukla, 36, dressed in a faded shirt, paired with blue pants and an orange scarf, counted his wages for the day, all in denominations below Rs 50, which he had earned as a porter at the agricultural market in Vashi, south of Mumbai. “Where do we get to see a 500 rupee note?” he said wryly, explaining he spends 26 percent of his daily earning of Rs 300. He gives his savings to a friend who has a bank account to send back home to his village in Bihar.

Even though several laborers and farmers said they had bank accounts, many said they have zero or little money in the account, as they earn just enough for their daily needs. Out of the 25.51 crore new accounts opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (Prime Minister’s People’s Wealth Programme), until November 2016, 23 percent had no money in them, according to finance ministry data.

Further, many still depend on informal family networks or moneylenders to send and borrow money.

Rani Devi, 34, came to Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital, two months ago, to treat her rectal cancer. Her husband, a daily labourer in the northern state of Bihar, came with her, and hasn’t had a job since. The family spends Rs 200 a day surviving in Mumbai, and borrowed Rs 5,000 from moneylenders in the village, at an interest rate of 36 percent per annum.

Rani Devi, 34, came to Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital, two months ago, to treat her rectal cancer. Her family has a bank account but doesn’t earn enough to save. Image courtesy: IndiaSpendRani Devi, 34, came to Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital, two months ago, to treat her rectal cancer. Her family has a bank account but doesn’t earn enough to save. Image courtesy: IndiaSpend

Rani Devi, 34, came to Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital, two months ago, to treat her rectal cancer. Her family has a bank account but doesn’t earn enough to save. Image courtesy: IndiaSpend

“We have a bank account but there is hardly anything left to save at the end of the day,” said Devi, her back resting on two plastic bags lined against the wall on the footpath outside the hospital–their makeshift home. She was unclear about how the ban of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has affected their family.

Though some daily wage workers were paid in notes of Rs 100 or less, some weren’t. Jitendra Bhurkud, a daily wage farm worker in Palghar district, said his employer didn’t have Rs 100 notes, so he continued to work without pay. “We will get (money) once the employer has change,” he said.

Daily wage labourer Jitendra Bhurkud has worked without pay for the last two weeks. “We will take once the employer has change,” he said. Image courtesy: IndiaSpendDaily wage labourer Jitendra Bhurkud has worked without pay for the last two weeks. “We will take once the employer has change,” he said. Image courtesy: IndiaSpend

Daily wage labourer Jitendra Bhurkud has worked without pay for the last two weeks. “We will take once the employer has change,” he said. Image courtesy: IndiaSpend

Others said they had too little money to care about the move, but that their businesses were impacted by a paucity of small change. “We don’t have money, so it doesn’t affect us,” said Rasika Lohale, 41, who owns a small store in Wade Pali, in northern Maharashtra, adding that her business has fallen from Rs 500/600 to Rs 300/400 a day. “We don’t eat meat nowadays because we don’t have the money for it.”

Rasika Lohale, owner of a small shop, says her family hasn’t eaten meat in the last few days because her business has reduced about 50% because of a lack of small change. Image courtesy: IndiaSpendRasika Lohale, owner of a small shop, says her family hasn’t eaten meat in the last few days because her business has reduced about 50% because of a lack of small change. Image courtesy: IndiaSpend

Rasika Lohale, owner of a small shop, says her family hasn’t eaten meat in the last few days because her business has reduced about 50% because of a lack of small change. Image courtesy: IndiaSpend

IndiaSpend-Logo11IndiaSpend-Logo11

Indiaspend.com is a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit

First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 10:52 IST

Can India really become a cashless society?

Can scrapping high denomination banknotes transform India from a cash economy to a cashless one?

India opposition calls for ‘day of rage’ against cash crisis

India opposition parties call for a nationwide protest against the government’s currency ban.

Demonetisation: Despite fortnight of hardship, cash-strapped India stands by Modi

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India call centre workers held for defrauding Americans

An probe is on in India after 19 call centre workers are held for allegedly defrauding US citizens

India train crash: Survivors tell stories of ‘miraculous escape’

Survivors of Sunday’s train accident tell the BBC how they escaped the crash that killed 140 people.

Head in the Cloud

Gouri Chindarkar was one of the first children in India to experience a unique way of learning.

Sushma Swaraj: Indians offer kidneys to ailing minister

Indians offer to donate their kidneys to the foreign minister after she says she needs a transplant.

‘God-woman’ shoots dead wedding guest

An Indian “god-woman” is on the run after firing celebratory shots at a wedding, killing the groom’s aunt.

India money-changers marked with ink

India’s rupee crackdown will see people marked with indelible ink to ensure they get only one chance to change their bank notes.

Indian man calls news conference to declare he is alive

An Indian man holds a press conference to declare he is alive after reports he died because of the cash crisis.

Indian pupils invent their own lessons

A project in a rural village in India finds out what happens if children are able to teach themselves using a tablet computer without any adult instructions.

India hospital fined after wrong body cremated

A hospital in India is fined after releasing a dead body to the wrong family for cremation.

Kashmir clash: Pakistan says India killed seven troops

Pakistan says seven soldiers were killed by shelling in Kashmir as tensions with India rise.

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