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from India Insight:

Nagpal case highlights challenges for civil servants in India

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(Any opinions expressed here are not of Thomson Reuters)

How does a civil servant survive India's labyrinthine government bureaucracies? The question has come up again after the government of Uttar Pradesh suspended an employee and charged her with illegally allowing the demolition of a wall that was going to form part of a mosque.

The case of Durga Shakti Nagpal, 28, boils down to whether she was inciting religious disharmony through her order, or whether she was getting her comeuppance for trying to stop a sand mining racket in India's most populous state. Her suspension also has highlighted the difficulties that bureaucrats face every day.

We asked current and former bureaucrats: how do young officers deal with hostile politicians and superiors? Does the IAS need changes to how it operates to make it easier for civil servants to do their jobs honestly? Should the judiciary control the IAS, not the legislature?

JM Lyngdoh (former chief election commissioner of India): In the beginning [politicians] didn’t like rules and regulations to be put up to them. Gradually, things became worse, and eventually they had nothing but contempt for rules and regulations. Officers become stenographers and nothing better than that.

from The Human Impact:

Child rape victim jailed in India: A journalist’s “immunity” breaks down

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Her story is like so many I have heard in my years of reporting on the plight of girls and women in India.

It is a story of rape. A story of police insensitivity, of ostracism, of fear.

I think I've heard enough of these stories to be immune, unaffected by the tale of suffering that each victim recounts in the aftermath of her sexual assault.

from India Insight:

Too poor to buy a car, Mr MLA? Dig into your development fund

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For a politician whose party's symbol is a bicycle and who used the "aam aadmi's" (common man's) mode of transport for an election rally, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has stoked all the wrong emotions with a proposal to let lawmakers buy cars using up to 2 million rupees (about $36,800) from their local area development funds.

Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh have panned the chief minister's proposal, one that would cost the state exchequer 806 million rupees ($14.6 million) -- in case all 403 lawmakers in the state assembly buy cars priced at 2 million rupees each.

from India Insight:

Assembly Elections 2012: Results Coverage LIVE

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Live coverage of election results from Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Uttar Pradesh.

from The Great Debate (India):

Who will win in Uttar Pradesh elections?

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Exit polls show the Samajwadi Party winning by far the largest number of seats in the Uttar Pradesh assembly. This would almost certainly mean a return to power for Mulayam Singh Yadav and the ouster of Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati as the chief minister.

Rahul Gandhi had staked his political future on reviving the Congress party in a state where it has not held power for 22 years. But elections have proven notoriously hard to predict in the past, and Congress officials are defiantly upbeat about the party's chances despite the surveys.

from India Insight:

Parents to get top marks for voting in UP

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Students at a Lucknow college will earn extra credit if they can get their mom and dad to vote in the Uttar Pradesh state elections this month.

Getting those 10 extra marks is no easy task. A girl student at Christ Church college said she would have to work hard to push her "lazy" mother to go out on polling day but it would be worth it.

from India Insight:

Mayawati’s memorials a waste of money?

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As chief minister of India's most populous state and the country’s most influential dalit leader, Mayawati is used to getting her way. The memorials she has built around Uttar Pradesh are a testament to that.

The latest one is the "Rashtriya Dalit Smarak" (literally translated as National Dalit Memorial) in Noida, just across the river from the capital New Delhi.

from India Insight:

Graft charges bite as Mayawati eyes polls

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By Annie Banerji

While the government of India announced austerity measures in July to rationalise its expenditure in an attempt to meet its fiscal deficit target, the chief minister of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh didn't seem to get the message.

Mayawati, popularly known as the "untouchables' queen" for her championing of poor, lower-caste Indians, has spent over $4 million from the state's contingency fund without budgetary approval on renovation and new construction at her bungalow.

from India Insight:

Much ado about Rahul Gandhi’s ash claim

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By Annie Banerji

Days after Rahul Gandhi’s dramatic motorcycle pillion ride to twin villages in Uttar Pradesh to quell land acquisition agitations between police and farmers, the Congress general secretary told Indian media that he found a 70-foot pile of ashes with human remains inside.

He added that women had been raped, people had been beaten up and the police had torn down houses during the protests.

from FaithWorld:

Pious Indians bank on holy deposits

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(An employee counts Indian rupee notes inside a bank in Agartala, capital of India's northeastern state of Tripura December 31, 2010/Jayanta Dey)

In a bank with no security gates, guards or locks, deposits from thousands of customers from across India are stacked on shelves, protected from theft by the grace of God. In a cramped room in a small house in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Ram Ram Bank offers no interest or loans, but has around 5,000 customers who flock to deposit documents bearing God's name.

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