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.
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.
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.
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 Or, if the family of a patient who has been declared brain-dead requests that her life-support system be withdrawn, should their will be respected?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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".
"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."
Despite getting suitably politically empowered, women in India continue to lag behind on almost all crucial developmental parametres like education, health and economic participation.
Here is a sobering thought on the eve of Children's Day celebrated across India on Nov. 14. Despite the country's impressive economic growth trajectory and growing geopolitical heft, the benefits of that prosperity are not percolating down to its children who constitute a sizeable 30 percent of the country's 1.2 billion population.
"For almost one full day, we were desperate, wet and hungry," said Raja Angamutthu. "Our house, farmland, utensils, everything was floating in a watery grave while we looked on helplessly!"
With the clock ticking away on the United Nations Framework for Climate Change Committee (UNFCCC) summit in Copenhagen in December, the fractiousness between the developed and the developing nations on who ought to do more to control climate change is getting increasingly strident.