india-embarrassment-tease

How India Botched the Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games—in which 71 teams from 54 Anglophone nations compete in Olympic-style sports—were meant to showcase the country's emergence onto the global stage. Instead, they are turning into a grand humiliation.
india-soccer-cricket-hsmall

Will Soccer Finally Eclipse Cricket in India?

Poverty-stricken nations are supposed to be breeding grounds for soccer hysteria. Yet in India, where 600 million people live in poverty, cricket is still the preeminent sport. With the World Cup, that may finally be changing.

Rahul Gandhi: A Man Who Could Revolutionize India

A revolution is underway in India. The man leading the charge is neither a fiery ideologue nor a gun-toting guerrilla. Instead, he is the scion of one of the world's most famous political families. But Rahul Gandhi, 38, has set out to disrupt the very system that created his power. At first glance, he is simply trying to restore the 125-year-old Indian National Congress—a party once led by his great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, his grandmother Indira Gandhi and his father, Rajiv Gandhi, and now run by his mother, Sonia Gandhi—to its once lofty position as India's dominant political group. But his tactics are game-changing: insisting on grassroots activism, building deep connections to rural India and trying to democratize the hierarchical Congress party itself. If he succeeds—a big "if"—India could soon undergo a kind of political big bang, ushering in a new model for developing countries: combining a well-functioning democracy with good government and economic growth. And if that...

Dalai Lama's Successor Could Be Female

The Dalai Lama didn't name a successor at the recent gathering of 600 exiled Tibetan leaders in Dharamsala, India, but triggered a wave of speculation by saying that he "may even choose a young girl," noting that he believes women have a greater capacity for compassion. If that happens, experts say it would be the first time a female outside the United States led a major world religion. It also would signify Tibetan Buddhism's capacity to evolve with the times.While Tibet has never witnessed a female Dalai Lama, scholars say other high-ranking lamas, like the Demmo Lama, have occasionally been reincarnated in female form. Still, while the 14th Dalai Lama's succession ideas are revolutionary (he's also mentioned letting Tibetans democratically choose to abolish the post altogether), it's uncertain whether the tradition-bound population would accept a female leader. Seems there are glass ceilings even on the rooftop of the world.

After India's Bombings, Calls for Counterterrorism

The bombings that killed at least 45 people in the city of Ahmadabad on July 26 are a reminder of the scope of India's internal terror threat. Last year, 1,093 people died in terror incidents, which places India fourth in the world, after Iraq (13,606), Afghanistan (1,966) and Pakistan (1,335). And the number of attacks by terrorists with no apparent motives is rising at a time when India has neither a national strategy nor a federal agency to contain terrorism.This wasn't always the case. Inspired by attacks in the Muslim-majority state of Kashmir, India passed a tough 1998 law that allowed police to detain terror suspects for six months without charges, and allowed courts to sentence them based solely on confessions to police. But after taking office in 2004, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh repealed the law in response to critics who said it was being abused to target innocent Muslims and regular agitators, while failing to stop attacks like the one on Parliament in 2001.Now, after...

The Man Who Might Lead Tibet

Ogyen Drodul Trinley Dorje holds a special place among Tibetans: both Beijing and the Dalai Lama recognize his legitimacy as the Karmapa, Tibetan Buddhism's third highest leader. He spoke to NEWSWEEK's Sudip Mazumdar in Dharamsala. Excerpts: Mazumdar: How do you view the Tibet protests?Dorje: The main thing is that Tibetans in Tibet should have a good future. The protests have made the lives of Tibetans more difficult. What about a boycott of the Games? [The] Olympics are a chance for the Chinese people to show [their growth]. I am not for any boycott. Can Tibetans live under Chinese rule? It's difficult to say. [Here] we always talk negatively about the Chinese. We need to think about the positive for the future. Do you think you could be a bridge to Beijing? Not that I want it, but if they give me a chance then I hope [so]. What have you learned from the Dalai Lama? I hope I get some of his immense patience.

Reordering India's Caste System

The election two weeks ago of Mayawati, a member of India's oppressed Dalit castes, as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP) shocked the country. The surprise wasn't her victory per se. Dalits (once known as untouchables) have occupied high office before. The stunner came from how Mayawati got there this time: by building an unprecedented coalition of Dalits, marginalized Muslims and upper-caste Brahmins, long viewed by Dalits as their oppressors. Now this most unlikely of combinations threatens to seriously shift politics, not just in India's most populous state, but in the entire country.Mayawati's revolution brings to an end 14 years of shaky UP coalitions; the 206 seats (out of 403) won by her BSP (Bahujan Samaj, or "Majority Society," Party) should ensure stable rule for an entire five-year term. If she decides to stick around: for Mayawati managed not just to thump the incumbent Samajwadi (Socialist) Party, but also the two dominant national parties, Congress and the Hindu...

LIVING WITH FEAR

The morning of Dec. 26 began like so many others along India's eastern coast, with the sounds of kids playing on the beach. Like thousands of children in the coastal hamlets of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, Rajan, 10, was surprised by the giant waves that suddenly swept the shoreline. "I ran up a mound with a few others but saw our hut getting washed away," he says. He lost his parents and is now in the care of volunteers. He's so frightened of the sea he doesn't even want to cast a glance eastward. His sleep is usually interrupted by nightmares, and he spends most of his time staring vacantly.On the island of Andaman, in the Bay of Bengal, Rizpo, a 25-year-old member of one of the world's few surviving primitive tribes, has maggot-infested infections in her thighs and a deep, pus-filled cut over her left eye. She lost 13 members of her family in the disaster. She cannot recall what happened to her when the tsunami struck. She vacillates from a stoic silence to uncontrollable...

INVASION OF THE CRITTERS

Cleanup crews are used to thankless tasks. But when maintenance men at the Sao Paulo Electrical Co. (CESP) descended to the bowels of the huge Sergio Motta hydro- electric plant on the Parana River earlier this year, they couldn't believe what they saw. Or smelled. Like some nightmare still life, rotting shellfish were everywhere. And that was the good news. Limnoperna fortunei--better known as the golden mussel--is a tiny monster. Left untended, the fast-multiplying mussels would quickly clog the cooling tubes, causing the turbines to overheat and, conceivably, the plant to shut down. The Sergio Motta plant is one of the crown jewels of the regional power grid, which supplies electricity to six of 10 Sao Paulo residents. The only way to fight back is to drain the turbines and scrape off the mussels with water jets and pickaxes. "We hauled out trucks of the stuff," says engineering chief Luis Tadeu de Freitas. "The stink was unbearable."Odor is the least of their problems. The...

A FEW WHO GOT US HERE

We know Bill Gates as the father of Windows, Steve Jobs as the man behind the iPod and Sergey Brin and Larry Page as the geeks who brought us Google. When it comes to the new wireless revolution, however, many of its pioneers aren't even as well known as "American Idol" reject William Hung. Here is an eclectic mix of communications gurus who helped transform our lives.ANTHONY TOWNSEND ...

Betting On Reform

An incongruous name adorns one new housing estate in teeming Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). "Animikha," translated from Bengali, means "so beautiful, beholders cannot blink." Surrounded by reclaimed wasteland at the fringe of the migrant-choked metropolis, the low-rise complex is no sooner beheld than one cannot but blink in the clouds of swirling dust. Still, the place holds tremendous promise. Well-heeled managers employed in one of the city's new IT parks will soon move in with their families. Day laborers--most from India's hardscrabble interior--already draw wages laying bricks, digging ditches or pouring cement in the vast area. "There's no development back home," says Bihari farmer Rupnarayan Mahoto, 35, who supports his wife and two children on the $45 a month he earns breaking rocks for new roadways to service the high-tech city rising around the new apartments. "But something is happening here."Clearly it's not happening quickly enough for tens of millions of Indian voters....

Sex Sells, And Saves

The buzz in Bollywood is best captured by the kiss count for Mallika Sherawat. A small-town girl turned sex symbol, she debuted last year in "Khwaish" ("Desire"), which caught the eyes of critics for its 17 smooching scenes. Her latest movie, "Murder," is also a sensation for reasons not all tied to plot. "God has given me a great body and I will show it off," says Sherawat, 21. "If you don't want to see it, don't."Many Indians admit they do. Bollywood was dominated for years by musicals in which scenes of bees' sucking honey from flowers were as erotic as it got. Since the mid-' 90s, some filmmakers have been getting racier to avoid the fate of 75 percent of Indian movies, which is to lose money. Now, there are signs the margin is becoming the majority; so far this year, nearly two thirds of new Indian films have received an "A" rating for adult content. While these so-called sex flicks still stop short of full nudity, they do show just about anything that can be done with clothes...

Delhi's Dreamer

Dreams have always played an important role in the life of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, a poor boy from an ordinary Muslim family in southern India who grew up to become a national hero. Shortly after Kalam survived a helicopter crash last September, the elderly missile scientist fell into a deep slumber at a government guesthouse. A principal adviser to the prime minister, Kalam oversaw five nuclear tests in 1998, earning the tabloid nickname "Missile Man" and the patriotic gratitude of the multitudes. But the men in his dreams that night dwarfed even his stature. Standing before him in a moonlit desert, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Emperor Ashoka (who spread Buddhism 2,300 years ago) and Albert Einstein were deep in discussion. What is it, they wanted to know, that makes humankind inflict so much violence upon itself? Two weeks later Kalam resigned from the government and began a new mission: to meet at least 100,000 students and deliver a message of peace and spirituality. In six...

Nirvana Behind Bars

Three years ago Bhupinder Singh, a burly 23-year-old man, was sent to Tihar Jail on the outskirts of New Delhi. He'd been charged with murder. When Singh arrived at Tihar, say prison officials, he was angry and violent. Then, in 1999, he joined a meditation program inside the prison. "Today you can't recognize Bhupinder," says Sunil Gupta, a jail superintendent. "He is not only gentle but helpful to others."With 11,000 inmates, Tihar is not only India's largest jail, but also one of its most dangerous. The prison is home to hardened criminals who engage in drug peddling, sexual abuse and gang violence. But lately Tihar has undergone a startling transformation. Thanks to a spirited police officer named Kiran Bedi--who ran Tihar in the mid-1990s and introduced Vipassana meditation techniques to the prisoners--the place has mellowed out. Once dangerous convicts now preach peace, love and understanding. Hundreds of inmates meditate daily--and claim to be changed men. Their violent...

Veerappan Strikes Again

India's most-wanted fugitive is a 60-year-old brigand named Veerappan. Advancing age and an asthma problem have supposedly mellowed him, but he's not yet lost his nerve. Last week Veerappan and a dozen armed gangsters allegedly burst into the country cottage of actor Raj Kumar on the border between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states, and kidnapped the legendary movie star, along with three of his relatives.Raj Kumar, who has appeared in more than 200 Kannada-language films, was watching TV with his wife when the gunmen burst into their farmhouse. The gang left an audiocassette with the actor's wife before fleeing with the hostages into sugar-cane fields.The kidnapping rattled southern India, where the 72-year-old Raj Kumar is an idol. Agitated fans took to the streets of Bangalore, capital of Karnataka and India's Silicon Valley, stopping buses, overturning cars and throwing stones at Tamil-language-newspaper offices. Veerappan is a native of Tamil Nadu state.Veerappan, a wiry man with...

Desperate For Water

On a searingly hot morning last week, Bhil, a 15-year-old boy, began trudging away from his hamlet in the desert of Rajasthan, Western India. Bhil had told the village elders that he was going to search for water and would not return until he found it. After two days, there was no sign of the boy or his donkey, so some villagers set out to look for them. Nearly 10 kilometers into the desert, they found the boy lying dead, half buried in the sand, apparently a victim of heat and starvation. The donkey stood vigil nearby--a leather sack full of water on its back. The water allowed the thirsty villagers to quench their thirst, but only for a day.A deathly pall hangs over five states in Western and Central India--an arid area larger than Italy. More than 50 million people are suffering through the worst drought in a century. Reservoirs, riverbeds and ponds are dry. In the face of soaring temperatures (up to 45 degrees Celsius) and wicked winds, hundreds of thousands of people have...

Setting Fire To 'Water'

How can water set a city on fire? Indian-born moviemaker Deepa Mehta would be happy to explain. She's been trying for weeks to roll the cameras on her new movie, called "Water", which is set in the placid Hindu holy city of Varanasi. Mehta had her script vetted by the Indian government. Wooden sets were erected on the banks of the Ganga River. The crew, including lead actress Shabana Azmi, was ready to begin filming on Jan. 30. But not a single frame of film has been shot. Hindu extremists in Varanasi are determined to wreck the $1.8 million production and, so far, they've succeeded. A day before filming was to begin, scores of radicals laid siege to the movie's set, setting fire to some of the wooden structures and tearing down others. The protestors say that "Water" is "vulgar" and "a piece of moral vandalism." They want the script changed--and insist that the movie be renamed. The radicals take offense at Mehta's alluding to the mystical Ganga as merely "water"--perhaps...

Shame, The Virtual Weapon

One of the web sites generating the most buzz in India these days is--surprise--not about shopping, job openings or pornography. It's about shame. Late last month cvc.nic.in--the Web site of a small government department known as the Central Vigilance Commission--posted a seemingly innocuous list of the names of 88 top bureaucrats and police officials. The catch: the document recommended that each of the officials be punished for acts of corruption big and small. For most Indians, who watch in helpless silence as corruption permeates almost every sphere of public life, the list was the rarest of things--a beam of light shining into the dark recesses of government misdeeds. The CVC's Web site suddenly began getting hundreds of hits every day--not just from curious citizens, but also from officials praying not to see their own names. "Corruption is a low-risk, high-profit business in India," says commission chief Nagarajan Vittal, who came up with the idea of posting the list. "I want...

Case Of The Stolen Boys

There was nothing unusual about the birth of Keya Bhattacharjee's baby boy at a dingy, overcrowded Calcutta hospital. But soon after the delivery, the doctors gave her the bad news. The premature baby, weighing only 1.25 kilograms, needed to be put into an incubator, but the hospital didn't have any. Bhattacharjee's husband, a bus driver, rushed with the baby wrapped in a towel to the state-run Calcutta Medical College and Hospital. The same evening, the baby was admitted into the nursery of the city's biggest hospital, a sprawling institution with crowded, dim corridors. "That was the last that we saw of our son," recalls Keya, sobbing. "We don't know where he is. Whether he is dead or alive."After a week of convalescence, Bhattacharjee went to the medical college. Strangely, nurses refused to let her see her son. They took tumblers of her breast milk to feed the baby, but for a week told her she couldn't enter the intensive-care nursery. Finally a nurse handed her a female infant....

Dark After The Storm

Early on the morning of Oct. 29, Raghu Behera was startled awake by fierce rain and winds whistling through his tin-and-tarp shack. A stevedore by trade, Behera peered out and froze at the sight. A wall of water almost 30 feet high was racing toward him. Behera grabbed his sleepy wife and two children, and ran. He lost his grip, and turned to see crashing water devour his family. He tried to run, but fell down. The wave swept over him and pushed him under for several seconds before receding. Behera looked back. His village of 1,200 shacks and most of its inhabitants had been swept into the Bay of Bengal. His wife and children were gone.One of the worst cyclones of the century hit India that night, devastating a 150-kilometer stretch of the coast in eastern Orissa state. Waves washed away highways and railway embankments, leaving tracks hanging in the air. Winds up to 260 kilometers per hour snapped telephone and electric poles, plunging a region of 35 million people into darkness....

Anyone On The Line?

Shortly after Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee won a second term in office, telephones started jangling at his tree-lined bungalow in New Delhi. One of the callers was Pakistan's prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. The Pakistani congratulated Vajpayee, saying that the election was "a vote of trust and confidence" and "a tribute to [Vajpayee's] personal qualities of leadership." Nawaz urged Vajpayee to revive the stalled peace process started last February, when Vajpayee went on a historic bus ride to Lahore. Vajpayee thanked Nawaz and underlined the need for peace in South Asia, too.The friendly line may have been cut. Just four days after the phone call, a pall fell over Vajpayee's swearing-in ceremony as Nawaz was held incommunicado in his Islamabad home. Army Chief Musharraf Parvez, the general who has declared himself Pakistan's chief executive, hasn't exactly gone out of his way to make a good impression on Vajpayee. When the Indian leader stepped off the bus on Pakistani...

All Smiles?

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's upcoming Inauguration won't be as tense as the last. A year and a half ago Vajpayee took the podium at the presidential palace looking ashen, averting his eyes from the front row of VIPs. There sat K. Sudarshan, boss of a militant Hindu movement called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, surveying the proceedings with the air of a kingmaker. Vajpayee's own Hindu nationalist party had grown from roots in the RSS, and was still beholden to its radical leaders. In the dead of the previous night, Sudarshan had gone to Vajpayee demanding that he drop "liberals" from his cabinet. High on the hit list: Vajpayee's old friend, Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh. After the Inaugural, Vajpayee walked away with the grim expression of a man haunted by his party's radical past.No more. In national elections last week, the Hindu nationalists continued their rapid ascent from the violent fringe to the democratic mainstream. Less than a decade ago their...
Pages