Stories written by Neeta Lal

Big Trouble in the Air in India

Like many others of her age, 15-year-old Aastha Sharma, a Class 10 student at a private school in India’s capital, New Delhi, loves being outdoors, going for walks with her friends and enjoying an occasional ice-cream. But the young girl can't indulge in any of these activities.

Millennium Development Goals: A Mixed Report Card for India

Despite being one of the world's fastest expanding economies, projected to clock seven-percent GDP growth in 2017, India – a nation of 1.2 billion – is trailing behind on many vital social development indices while also hosting one-fourth of the world's poor.

India Still Struggling to Combat Child Labour

Eleven-year-old Chottu* works 12 hours daily at a roadside tea joint near New Delhi's bustling interstate bus terminus.

Battle Heats Up Over Legalisation of Sex Work in India

Thirty-six-year-old Chameli Devi, a sex worker operating out of New Delhi's G.B. Road - Asia's largest red-light district, housing an estimated 12,000 of India’s three million sex workers – is an unhappy woman these days.

Bhopal Cloud Hovers Over Industrial Safety in India

Three decades after 40 tons of deadly methyl isocyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide India Limited plant in the central Indian city of Bhopal on Dec. 3, 1984 – killing an estimated 4,000 almost instantly and maiming and blinding hundreds of thousands of others – the world's worst industrial disaster remains a sharp lesson on the need for greater safety regulations in Asia’s third-largest economy.

India: Home to One in Three Child Brides

Basanti Rani*, a 33-year-old farmers’ wife from the northern Indian state of Haryana, recently withdrew her 15-year-old daughter Paru from school in order to marry her off to a 40-year-old man.

Ethics of ‘Mercy Killing’ Up for Debate in India

If a terminally ill patient, with scant hope of recovery, pleads for his death to be facilitated, should the doctors comply? Or, if the family of a patient who has been declared brain-dead requests that her life-support system be withdrawn, should their will be respected?

India’s Great Invisible Workforce

According to census data released this month, a whopping 160 million women in India, 88 percent of who are of working age (15 to 59 years), are confined to their homes performing ‘household duties’ rather than gainfully employed in the formal job sector.

India’s Unholy Mess

One of the first things that Narendra Damodardas Modi did after being anointed as the Indian prime minister on May 26 was to set up an exclusive ministry (Ganga Rejuvenation) under Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti to clean up the country’s national river, the Ganges.

Women’s Political Representation Lagging in India

National outrage over women’s security in India – or the lack of it – is nothing new. From the gang rape of a young girl on a Delhi bus two years ago, to the recent rapes and lynching of two teenage cousins in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, gender-based violence has claimed headlines.

A Price to Pay for Selling on the Street

Bhure Lal, a 33-year-old street-food vendor, has been selling his spicy ‘chaat’ outside the New Delhi Railway Station for 15 years. But despite a punishing 12-hour work schedule, and a new law to protect hawkers like him, he doesn’t take home enough to feed his family.

INDIA: Despite Failed Climate Talks, More Green Awareness

The world supped on an alphabet soup of acronyms over the nearly two weeks of climate change talks that just ended – UNFCCC, COP-15, IPCC, CDM, LDCF, MEF, CCS. But did any of these filter down to reach the average citizen?

INDIA: Towards an AIDS-Free Society, But at What Price?

As the global community observes World AIDS Day today, India is caught in a rancorous debate about a government scheme which mandates that all pregnant women in the country be tested for HIV so that its 1.2 billion people can have "an AIDS-free generation".

INDIA: Mumbai Attacks One Year Later

"A bullet whizzed past us smashing the window to smithereens! My terrorised daughter slid under the nearest table. Everybody ran helter-skelter to save their lives. Just then three menacing-looking youths dressed in black exploded into the wedding hall, brandishing AK-47s. They started shooting indiscriminately, and soon our wedding venue was transformed into a battleground for dead bodies."

INDIA: Women’s Political Empowerment, Yes; Better Lives, No

Despite getting suitably politically empowered, women in India continue to lag behind on almost all crucial developmental parametres like education, health and economic participation.

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