India Insight

Elsewhere in India: girls, mobile phones and slapping your tormentors

Here’s a short roundup of regional news in India that attracted our interest this weekend. Any opinions expressed by the author are no doubt ill informed and ridiculous. Aditya Yogi Kalra contributed to this post.

Another politician, another reference to women being the root of all man’s troubles. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh blamed “girlfriends, bikes and  mobile phones” for the rising number of road accidents in the state.  ”It’s a common sight to see youngsters driving two-wheelers while talking on cellphones which often leads to accidents. Youths should avoid such habits,” Singh said. (PTI via CNBC-TV18)

Shivakumar of Uliyakovil, Kollam, was arrested after promising to marry a woman, but demanding that she sell one of her kidneys first. “The victim was identified as Manju (alias Chinchu). Police said Manju had lodged a complaint in 2009. The operation to remove her kidney was conducted at KIMS Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram.” Shivakumar reportedly abandoned Manju, and took the kidney, which he sold for 1 million rupees, or $18,289. (TNN)

Slap happy: Three allegedly drunk men aged 21 to 25 groped a woman in Mumbai while she was on her way to work at a call centre at King’s Circle. When she shouted at them, and a fight ensued, at which during one point one of the men slapped her. A crowd beat up the men, but urged the woman not to summon the police. She did so anyway, and the cops took the men to the Antop Hill police station. The woman “refused to leave, saying the two men had ‘manhandled her and slapped her and that it was only fair that she is allowed to slap them’. “The police agreed. I slapped the men and told them that the next time they think about touching a woman, the sound of my slap will ring in their ears.’” (Times of India)

LinkedIn is “dabbling” with the idea of allowing members in India to pay with local currency rather than with credit cards. “Everything needs to be in place because where money is concerned, you need to be doubly sure,” said a spokesperson for the site, refusing to give a time frame. There reportedly are 15 million Indian users as of May, accounting for more than 9 percent of its users. (Mint)

Statutes and statues: Mayawati gets Supreme Court nod for sprawling memorial park

Every powerful politician deliberates their legacy. For Mayawati, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state and one of the country’s most recognizable politicians, hers will be set in stone.

Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of stone statues, to be precise.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) President Mayawati releases a manifesto, which she termed an "appeal", for the upcoming general elections during a news conference in the northern Indian city of Lucknow March 20, 2009. India will hold a general election between April 16 and May 13, election officials said on March 2, kicking off a mammoth process in which 714 million people will be able to cast their votes.  REUTERS/Pawan Kumar
Ridiculed by some quarters of the media for her seemingly exorbitant narcissism, she was granted the right to continue construction of a 34-acre memorial park by the Supreme Court on Friday, after staring down mounting criticism over the size of the so-called ‘memorial’ budget from the coffers of one of India’s poorest and least developed states.

Dubbed the “Untouchable Queen” for her success in championing the cause of Dalits, one of India’s former backward castes, and turning their support into numbers at the ballot box, Mayawati has ruled over India’s most populous state since sweeping to power in the 2007 elections.

Mayawati’s public display of wealth or affection?

MayawatiGarlands of flowers have been a standard greeting for politicians in India. Ceremonies and inaugurations with a political leader as chief guest mean more prosperity to florists than anyone else.

Most of these garlands get swept aside or badly crushed. But not the one recently presented to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati.

The several metres long garland made up of 1,000 rupee notes is now garnering scrutiny from Income Tax sleuths of the country.

Is caste behind the killing in Vienna and riots in Punjab?

Why did the murder of a preacher in a Sikh temple in Vienna spark riots in the faraway Indian state of Punjab, in which thousands took to the streets to torch cars, trains and battle security forces?

The root cause may lie in India’s caste system that Sikhism officially rejects, but that still grips swathes of India’s billion-plus people, including in Sikh-dominated Punjab state in northwestern India.

“Via Vienna, Sikh caste war returns, sets Punjab aflame” ran the headline of the Hindustan Times.

Will Mayawati’s Brahmin card work this time?

Much has been written about Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati’s inventive politics that saw her forging an unlikely alliance between Dalits and Brahmins — from the two ends of the Hindu caste spectrum — to win an election in Uttar Pradesh in 2007.

She did this with a promise to widen the appeal of her party beyond her traditional Dalit voters and bring Brahmins and other upper castes into her programme of all-round development.

As proof, she gave tickets to scores of Brahmins in 2007 and appointed a Brahmin (Satish Misra) as her chief adviser and strategist.

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