Air travelers arriving in Mumbai can be forgiven if they suddenly get the urge to turn around and go elsewhere. At touchdown, the city's sprawling slums are literally a stone's throw from the plane's wingtips, and visitors are sometimes welcomed by the sight of locals relieving themselves on the hillside next to the airport.
Soon after Mukhtar Mai was savagely gang-raped on the orders of a village council three years ago, she considered her options. She had never been accused of any crime. (The rape was carried out as supposed retribution for an alleged and implausible affair between Mai's teenage brother and a 30-year-old woman.) But according to rural Pakistan's strict Islamic code, she was forever "dishonored." The local Mastoi clan, which dominates the village council, expected her to keep her mouth shut or...
Two years ago, Indian corporate giant ITC set up a computer inside the modest, one-story brick house of wheat and soybean farmer Amar Singh Verma. Powered by rooftop solar panels and connected to the Internet by a satellite dish, the desktop links Verma and dozens of neighboring farmers to ITC-designed, Hindi-language Web pages that provide district-specific weather reports, the market price of soybeans and wheat and tips on modern growing methods.
India's robust outsourcing industry grew up in the country's major cities--New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, to name three. Prominent information-technology firms like Wipro, TCS and Infosys set up shop in those places, took advantage of smart but inexpensive technical talent, and flourished.
The week began with a meltdown. As Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi--fresh from a surprise election victory that ousted Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party from power--worked to form a new coalition government, India's stock markets went into free fall.
Sonia Gandhi never harbored great expectations for this election. In 1999 the Italian-born leader of the Congress party, who had only reluctantly allowed herself to be dragged into politics the year before, had presided over her party's worst electoral defeat, in elections that brought Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee back to power.
Indians can be forgiven if they are suffering from corruption fatigue. Almost daily they seem to be bombarded with yet another official scandal. Despite her vociferous denials, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh was forced to resign this summer amid allegations that she was accepting kickbacks from a real-estate developer, tucking the money away in her 87 personal bank accounts.
The peace gesture was as sudden as most declarations of war. Late last week India's prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, stunned Parliament with plans to send a new ambassador to Pakistan, resume air traffic and open peace talks with Islamabad. "The talks this time will be decisive," he promised. "I am confident I will succeed." Islamabad quickly confirmed the news. "Talks will begin very soon," said Pakistan's Information minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed. "Things are moving very fast."The two...
Afghan warlord Ismail Khan, the governor of Herat province, tries his best to sound like a loyal subordinate. When asked if he submits to President Hamid Karzai's authority, Khan laughs and points to a portrait of the president hanging on the wall behind his desk. "If I didn't respect him and his authority I wouldn't have his picture hanging up there." But posters plastered on shop windows around Herat City come closer to the truth: they feature a large, imposing portrait of Khan with a smaller...
For 40 years, Shaukat Khan has made a modest income singing and dancing to traditional Pashtun music at weddings and family celebrations. Now the 50-year-old performer, along with hundreds of other musicians, is being run out of show business in Pakistan's North-West Frontier province.
A score of Pakistani peasants, dressed in shalwar kameez and turbans, stood nervously before a table piled high with land contracts. They had come to the sprawling Military Farms--a 17,000-acre dairy, meat and grain-producing agribusiness in the heart of the fertile Punjab--at the urging of its owner, the Pakistani Army.
In Pakistan, politics is often a family affair. This week's parliamentary election called by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is no different. For example, in the central Punjab district of Jhang, Syeda Abida Hussain, a handsome, gray-haired, Swiss-educated politician and landowner, is a parliamentary candidate for a pro-Musharraf breakaway faction of the Pakistan Muslim League, called the PML-Q.