India Insight

Timeline of events: The Delhi gang rape case

In December last year, a 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist died two weeks after she was gang-raped and mutilated in a moving bus in Delhi, raising questions over women’s safety in the capital and sparking debates over their treatment in India.

Here is a timeline of key events in the case:

December 16:  A 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist is beaten, raped for almost an hour and thrown out of a moving bus in New Delhi by six people. Her male friend, a software engineer, is beaten with a metal rod.

December 17-22: The woman remains in Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital. Police arrest suspects. Hundreds of students and activists block roads in Delhi and march to the president’s palace, breaking through police barricades. Police use batons, tear gas and water cannon to turn back protestors, who demand the death penalty for the accused and safety assurances for women.

December 23: The government moves to stamp out the protests, banning gatherings of more than five people. About 30 to 35 people, including a few policemen, suffer injuries.

December 24: Authorities shut roads and metro stations in New Delhi. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appeals for calm in a televised address.

India speaks 780 languages, 220 lost in last 50 years – survey

No one has ever doubted that India is home to a huge variety of languages. A new study, the People’s Linguistic Survey of India, says that the official number, 122, is far lower than the 780 that it counted and another 100 that its authors suspect exist.

The survey, which was conducted over the past four years by 3,000 volunteers and staff of the Bhasha Research & Publication Centre (“Bhasha” means “language” in Hindi), also concludes that 220 Indian languages have disappeared in the last 50 years, and that another 150 could vanish in the next half century as speakers die and their children fail to learn their ancestral tongues.

The 35,000-page survey is being released in 50 volumes, the first of which appeared on Sept. 5 to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Indian philosopher Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, who was also the country’s second president. The last one is scheduled to come out in December 2014.

Bollywood movie review: Shuddh Desi Romance

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The hero of Maneesh Sharma‘s Shuddh Desi Romance is a confused young man. Raghu is never sure of what he wants. As a character in the film puts it, Raghu just flirts with himself.

Gayatri, on the other hand, knows exactly what she wants from life. She is an independent woman – and the man of the house – figuring out living expenses, insisting that her live-in boyfriend takes turns cooking and is unapologetic about having had relationships in the past.

These are characters poles apart from their Bollywood stereotypes. They don’t make a big deal about their love life, dealing with it as casually as one would drink a beverage or smoke a cigarette – at least on the outside. All this bravado ends when it comes to marriage.

Markets this week: Sensex gains 3.5 percent, ICICI surges 19 percent

The BSE Sensex rose 3.5 percent for the week ending September 6, as sentiment on Dalal Street was boosted after Raghuram Rajan took charge as the new governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

Rajan kicked off his term with a bang on Wednesday, announcing several measures to support the rupee and unveiling steps to liberalise financial markets and the banking sector. Hopes that the government might announce a one-time hike in diesel prices to cut its steep import bill also helped the stock market.

The rupee rose to its strongest against the dollar in nearly two weeks on Friday, rallying on growing expectations the unit has been badly oversold. A Reuters poll shows that the Indian unit has likely bottomed out.

Duniyadari trumps Bollywood star power for Marathi magic

While Bollywood film Chennai Express was steamrolling its way to success, another movie was on the fast train too, but not many people noticed.

Duniyadari (Worldliness), a Marathi-language film based on a novel by Suhas Shirwalkar and released in July, has gone on to become the highest grossing Marathi movie of all time.

The film, a light-hearted and somewhat clunky take on a group of friends in 1970′s Pune, opened to full houses, and sustained its winning run even in the face of a near monopoly of cinemas by Chennai Express and later by other Bollywood films Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara! and Satyagraha in cinemas. A local right-wing party, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, threatened the makers of Chennai Express if they forced Duniyadari out of cinemas.

Bollywood screenwriters are finally getting their due, sort of

Jaideep Sahni, the writer of blockbusters such as Bunty Aur Babli and Chak De! India, is getting top billing in promotions for his new project Shuddh Desi Romance, a rare honour for a screenwriter in Bollywood.

Sahni spoke to Reuters about the curse of film intermissions and the reason his movies have so many layers. Here are edited excerpts from the interview:

Q: You and director Maneesh Sharma share top billing in the promotions for Shuddh Desi Romance. How did you pull that off?
A: Maneesh and I were quite embarrassed by it. Because we are not used to it, I guess. But our marketing colleagues felt it might do its little two bits in attracting people. I guess it is a bit of body of work and largely the producers and directors I have worked with. They are the kind of people who respect writing.

Bollywood movie review: Zanjeer

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Everything is distorted in Apoorva Lakhia’s Zanjeer (Shackles), a modern-day version of the iconic 1973 action-thriller of the same name that gave Amitabh Bachchan his aura of Bollywood’s angry young man.

Inspector Vijay Khanna (played by Ram Charan) is not the brooding, intense young man of the original. The protagonist is now a sculpted statue that twists its face while expressing emotion.

Mala (played by Priyanka Chopra) is no longer the effervescent chakku chhuriyan street performer. She’s an irritating woman with too much make-up who gyrates to songs with offensive lyrics.

Outlook weak for India economic growth: analysts

India’s economy grew at 4.4 percent in the June quarter, its slowest rate since the first three months of 2009 and weaker than analysts’ consensus of 4.7 percent in a Reuters poll.

With the rupee still trading near record lows and a ballooning current account deficit alarming investors and policymakers, several investment banks are worried about the road ahead.

Here are some comments on India’s economic growth released by investment banks after the recent GDP data:

from The Human Impact:

How old is old enough to be jailed for gang rape and murder?

The crime was horrific, the case shocking, and the trial long. Yet when the much anticipated first verdict in the high-profile Delhi gang rape case was pronounced in India over the weekend, there was no jubilation, just outrage.

Found guilty of the gang rape and murder of a student on a bus in December, the teenager - one of six accused - was sentenced to three years in a juvenile home, sparking anger and debate over whether India is too soft on its young offenders. Four adult defendants are on trial in a separate fast-track court. One of the accused committed suicide in jail.

The first reaction came from the parents of the dead 23-year-old student, who was beaten, tortured with an iron rod and raped on the night of Dec. 16 before being dumped on a roadside in the capital.

Kids rule the roost as Bollywood woos audiences

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Mumbai resident Gopal Das doesn’t usually go to the movies. It’s the children who drag him and his wife to the cinema to watch the latest Bollywood film.

Das’s 8-year-old son Shubham insisted on watching Shah Rukh Khan’s “Chennai Express” on his birthday this week. His teenage sister had recommended it.

“They both said they don’t want a cake or dinner out,” Das told India Insight as he waited with his children at a city multiplex. “We usually don’t watch movies, only the ones they want to watch.”

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