India Insight

Rajiv Chowk: that’s Rajiv Gandhi, not Goswami, Wikipedia

Rajiv Gandhi was the former prime minister of India. Rajiv Goswami was a Delhi student who set himself on fire in 1990 to protest job reservations for India’s so-called backward classes. Gandhi has a place named for him in the middle of New Delhi: Rajiv Chowk.

This is true everywhere but on Wikipedia. The online, user-maintained site’s entries for Rajiv Chowk (formerly Connaught Place), which is in Delhi’s central business district, and the city’s busiest metro station, say both were named after Rajiv Goswami.

The colonial-era Connaught Place, designed to resemble two concentric circles with a manicured park in the centre, was renamed by a Congress-led government in 1995. The inner circle was named Rajiv Chowk after Rajiv Gandhi, the former Congress prime minister killed by a suicide bomber in 1991. The outer circle was called Indira Chowk to honour his mother Indira, who had been assassinated nearly a decade earlier.

Regardless of the errors on the two Wikipedia pages, Rajiv Gandhi is in no danger of losing his status as India’s most commemorated political figure – at least in terms of government schemes.

Although the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Hyderabad looks set to be named after a former regional leader, the newly elected government under Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party is apparently not interested in renaming government schemes that carry the Gandhi or Nehru names.

India will be an important art centre in five years – India Art Fair director

If Christie’s debut auction in Mumbai last month is any indication, buyers are flocking towards Indian art as investors shake off the remnants of an economic downturn.

An untitled work by abstract painter Vasudeo S. Gaitonde sold on Dec. 19, fetching $3.7 million (237 million rupees) – a record for modern Indian art. Another of his works will be the showpiece in Sotheby’s South Asian art sale in New York in March. It’s not just Gaitonde. The Christie’s auction raked in $15.4 million (966 million rupees), doubling pre-sale estimates and defying the economic downturn. A November report by art market analysts Art Tactic said confidence in Indian modern art was on the rise.

That’s good news for Neha Kirpal, founder and director of the India Art Fair which opens in New Delhi this week. Kirpal told India Insight the Christie’s auction was a “booster shot” for the leading art exhibition in South Asia.

Starbucks in India: Taste trumps price as fans rush in

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

The excitement on Garima Bajaj’s face is evident as she finally “makes it” to Delhi’s first* Starbucks store after dropping out of the queue twice before.

“Patience is always a virtue. It’s always good to wait,” the management student from Gurgaon said.

Delhi rape: what it says about us Indians

 Demonstrators run and throw stones towards the police during a protest in front of India Gate in New Delhi December 23, 2012. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

We Indians are an angry people now. Thousands of people have poured into the streets, indignant and outraged over the savage case of rape and assault on a young woman in New Delhi.

That anger degenerated this week into hysteria and bloodlust, with calls for capital punishment and castration of the rapists. The Internet was flooded with comments urging public hanging and beatings. One response on an Internet forum suggested that Delhi men be raped so that “the problem can be solved”; another advocated the rapists be urinated upon.

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.

Delhi gang rape: a case for the death penalty

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

“It appears to be that a rod was inserted into her and it was pulled out with so much force that the act brought out her intestines along. That is probably the only thing that explains such severe damage to her intestines,” he said.

According to sources, one of the accused persons who were brought to the hospital for a medical examination on Tuesday confessed to having seen a rope-like object — likely her intestines — being pulled out of the girl by the other assailants on the bus. The sources said that the girl had bite marks on her body.

Delhi gang rape case: ‘she deserved it’ is not a good argument

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

The gang rape of a 23-year-old woman and the beating of her male friend on a moving bus in New Delhi Sunday night has produced debates about women’s rights in India and about whether the death penalty — or castration — are suitable remedies for the situation. It has not prompted, from what I can see, any speculation that the woman got what she deserved because she was dressed like a slut… until today.

For anyone who has missed the story, here’s what has happened so far, according to multiple media reports: the woman and her friend boarded the bus. They thought it was operating on a public route, but the driver and the men on board apparently were out for a joyride instead. They raped the woman, beat the pair with an iron rod, and threw them out of the bus and left them to die on the street. Police have arrested some of the men, politicians are in high dudgeon, and the woman is in the hospital. She suffered damage not only to her reproductive system, but to her intestines.

Gang rape puts spotlight on India’s rape capital

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

Yet another rape has rattled India. As I read the details, I felt familiar sensations of anger, frustration, helplessness and vulnerability. Sunday’s incident, in which a 23-year-old student in New Delhi was gang raped, assaulted and thrown out of a bus, made the front pages of India’s newspapers and was debated in parliament.

The woman is hospitalised with severe vaginal, abdominal and head injuries. One of those arrested is a 30-year-old driver who ferries school children.

Why Delhi autowallahs take you for a ride

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

Here’s a phrase that you need to learn if you’re new to New Delhi. Everyone knows it and anyone can teach you: “Meter kyon nahi chalta hai?” (“Why doesn’t the meter work?”) This will become an elementary part of your conversation with autowallahs, the drivers of the green-and-yellow three-wheelers that ferry people around the region.

Never tell them that you’re new to this part or that part of the city; you’re asking to be gouged on price. Look at the meter and say the phrase that I just taught you. Say it even if the meter is working. That means it’s time to negotiate. Be confident and you will only pay a ridiculous amount of extra money, rather than an insane amount. And if they do use the meter, be prepared for them to take you the long way around to your destination.

Photo gallery: Preparing for Durga Puja in Noida

There is a workshop near my home in Noida, east of Delhi, where sculptors mould clay into idols of Hindu gods and goddess all through the year for festivals. These occasions mean brisk business for the craftsmen, who work in a makeshift hut covered by tin sheets. The idols sell for 500 to 700 rupees, depending on the size.

The idols of the goddess Durga and other characters in her story are being built because the Durga Puja is only a week away. I asked the people in the workshop if I could shoot, and they gave in after a bit of persuasion. The pictures that follow are of these craftsmen painting the idols of Durga.

The annual Durga Puja is a five-day festival commemorating the death of the buffalo demon Mahishasura at the hands of Hindu goddess Durga. Traditionally a festival celebrated in eastern India — it is the biggest festival in the state of West Bengal — Durga Puja is now celebrated in north India with much gusto and fanfare.

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