India Insight

They say every vote counts, but mine wasn’t

(Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters Corp.)

Fifty-four percent of Bangalore‘s eligible voters showed up at the polls on April 17, a disappointing number considering the high turnout in some states. I was not among them, but it was not for lack of trying. Despite doing everything correctly, my application never went through.

I was 18 the last time India held national elections. Since then, we moved around a lot. I was looking forward to voting this year for the first time. A record number of people are registered to vote in this election, and the country is at a crossroads as it considers whether to kick out the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty and its Congress party in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party and prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi, or perhaps a third front of other parties.

I was eager to include my voice in the nation’s decision. I filled out the forms and gave copies to volunteers in the Reuters Bangalore newsroom who submitted the applications to the Election Commission. Voters’ names are supposed to appear on the electoral rolls six weeks after submission. The deadline for applications to reach the Election Commission was March 16. Voting day in the state of Karnataka where I live was April 17. I checked my application status online on April 15 and saw that it was still “under process”.

I called the Electoral Registration Officer that day to ask why I wasn’t registered yet. An officer there told me to call my ward office to confirm that it went through because it might not necessarily reflect online. I asked an official at my local area ward office what was happening. He said that if the Election Commission hadn’t processed my application yet, it was probably too late for me to vote. When I asked why this happened, he said that it could be because Election Commission officials either lost my application or didn’t have time to process it. At that point, another worker there said that I should go home and wait for the voting slips that the commission distributes 48 hours before polling. If I didn’t get it, then it was too bad for me.

Young professionals in Bangalore favour Modi’s promise, shrug off riots

As far as Vinod Hegde is concerned, Indian prime minister candidate Narendra Modi bears no responsibility for the 2002 Gujarat riots. More to the point, Hegde doesn’t care.

Hegde, a 26-year-old stockbroker in Bangalore, said that for people like him, the Gujarat chief minister is the only choice to lead India after countrywide parliamentary elections that began this week.

Allegations that Modi failed to stop or even allowed deadly riots in 2002 don’t sway his vote, Hegde said. And if the ruling Congress party’s candidate is Rahul Gandhi, the choice becomes even clearer.

Using cloud computing to solve Bangalore’s garbage problem

Bangalore’s garbage problem stems from its two-decade transformation into India’s technology capital, so it seems appropriate that a new plan to clean up the mess is coming from an executive at one of the city’s technology companies.

Prashant Mehra has developed a cloud-based technology network, now being tested privately, that he hopes will make garbage disposal and recycling more efficient, provide better working conditions for people who collect and separate the garbage, and lead to city streets that don’t double as dumps.

“Bangalore generates about 6,000 tonnes of solid waste every day of which 15 percent to 20 percent is dry and recyclable,” said Prashant Mehra, who has the unusual designation of ‘Chief Architect of Social Inclusion’ at Mindtree, an information technology services company based in Bangalore and New Jersey.

Karnataka Assembly elections: Bangalore goes to the polls

(Pictures by Gokul Chandrasekhar, Rahul Singh and Raktim Hazarika) Elections to 224 constituencies of the Legislative Assembly of Karnataka were held on Sunday, May 5, 2013 across the state. The state capital Bangalore has 28 seats in the legislative assembly. Despite muted campaigning in the city, voters came out in large numbers to vote. Security was tight, given that the city had witnessed a bomb attack barely a few weeks ago.  Voter turnout was brisk during the early hours but slowed towards the afternoon. Here are a few snapshots of the polling booths across the city, where the elections by and large were peaceful.

Samsung Galaxy S4 lands on Bangalore, hundreds get in line

By Sayantani Ghosh and Supantha Mukherjee

“I’m very excited. I’ve been waiting a couple of hours; I couldn’t get any sleep last night,” said Arif, an employee of UK retailer Tesco. He was near the front of the line of hundreds of people to line up at the UB City Mall in Bangalore to buy the new Galaxy S4 smartphone.

The phone went on sale at the Samsung store on Saturday, and Arif waited for about two hours for the privilege of spending 41,500 rupees, or about $763, on the new model, which comes with a 5-inch screen and 13-megapixel camera, and runs on Google’s Android platform.

Samsung is trying to increase its lead over Apple, a possibility for the South Korean company, considering the preference of many Indian shoppers for a good discount over products priced at the top of the line compared to their competitors. Both companies are now handing out discounts on some of their older models. The S4 also is competing with other phones on sale in India such as the HTC One and the BlackBerry Z10, not to mention Apple’s iPhone 5 — its primary rival.

Turning a Bangalore shanty town into a mall

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

The Bangalore city government and a private developer kicked more than 1,500 poor families out of subsidised housing in January, razed their neighbourhood and left them homeless. The reason? They want to build new, better housing – and a mall.

The flattening of 15 acres in the neighbourhood of Ejipura is another step to refurbish India’s information technology capital, where rents and property values have risen thanks to foreign companies pouring into the city and people from all over India seeking good jobs. As is often the case when there is money to be made, poor people are in the way.

“Homelands” exhibit in Delhi examines identity through art

Indians give high importance to the concept of identity and kinship, especially in a land that is home to hundreds upon hundreds of different languages and ethnic groups. Indian curator Latika Gupta explores this theme in “Homelands”, an exhibition of works by 28 leading contemporary British artists, all wrestling with the idea of what “home” means in the 21st century.

The artists whose works are displayed include four Turner Prize winners, Jeremy Deller, Richard Long, Grayson Perry and Gillian Wearing. Work by World Press Photo (2007) winner Tim Hetherington, who was killed in Libya, also is on display.

“I wanted to see what it is that makes up our idea of what our identity is. Is it our language that we speak? Is it the place that we come from?” said Gupta. “The exhibition really hopes to raise a set of questions rather than provide answers.”

Photo gallery: vigils after Delhi rape victim dies

Here are some photographs from our India Insight contributors that show vigils following the death on Saturday of a 23-year-old woman after six men raped her aboard a bus in Delhi on Dec. 16. We will update this post as more photos arrive. Thanks to Soumya Bandyopadhyay in Kolkata, Anoo  Bhuyan and Anuja Jaiman in Delhi and Vidya L. Nathan in Bangalore. Apologies for any inconsistent sizing or lack of uniformity. Note for non-Hindi readers or speakers: the sign in the first photograph says: “My voice is higher than my skirt.”

Delhi (Anoo Bhuyan):

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kolkata:

 

 

 

 

Delhi (Anuja Jaiman):

 

 

Bangalore:

 

 

 

 

 

You can see many more images related to this story from our Reuters photographers as well.

Delhi gang rape: protests for women’s rights attract politicking instead

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

The perfect recipe of a bad curry is to do everything right, then add one wrong ingredient, or add the right ingredient in the wrong amount. In this case, the ingredient is the mango, or as they call it in Hindi, “aam.”

I attended a candlelight vigil on Sunday night in Bangalore to stand up for women’s rights in India. The vigil was a peaceful version of the protests that have swept the nation after six men were accused of gang-raping and battering a 23-year-old medical student in New Delhi last Sunday.

Elsewhere in India: Maria Sharapova wins hearts, minds of cameramen

Here’s some more news that we found in the Indian press over the weekend and would like to share with you. Rather than present stories of great national importance, we would like to highlight some of the items that you are less likely to see in world news reports. Any opinions that the author might express are surely beneath contempt, and are not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters.

Tennis pro Maria Sharapova visited India. Gushing ensued. “The 25-year-old, here to announce her partnership with UK-based real estate company Homestead, sported an infectious smile throughout the interaction even though the lensmen could not get to focus enough of capturing the blonde beauty. ‘Well, it is just the hair and make-up you know. I don’t wake up looking like this,’ quipped Sharapova when a scribe called her pretty. Here only for a day, Sharapova said food and culture was something she would take back from India. ‘I arrived last night and asked the chef what should I try of the Indian food. I had a dosa which tasted really nice. I wanted to have this great Indian experience. There is so much energy in the city, I have been in some quiet areas recently, resting. I really like the culture and people. You all have been really welcoming.’” Final score: love-love. (NDTV)

Mulayam Singh Yadav’s interests spread wider than wrestling or politics. He is also a lover of poetry. “For more than 35 minutes, Mulayam Yadav analysed the content of the book, ‘Yatharth ke Aas Pas’, written by a Congress leader, Chandra Prakash Rai. “This collection of poems on some very sensitive issues like girls, female foeticide, loneliness, loss of faith and other human emotions must be read by everyone,” he said. (The Indian Express)

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