India Insight

Women still feel unsafe in India’s rape capital

Assurances from the police and a new anti-rape law have done little to make the streets of New Delhi safer for women, especially for those using public transport, interviews conducted by the Reuters India Insight team show.

The December incident, in which a 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist died two weeks after she was gang-raped in a moving bus, raised questions over women’s safety in India and sparked debate over how men treat women all over the country.

A teenager has been sentenced to three years in juvenile detention and a court is expected to announce its verdict on the four adults accused of the crime on Tuesday. (Update: Four men convicted and sentenced to death)

The India Insight team travelled in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses and Delhi Metro trains, and spoke to nearly 50 commuters. The Delhi gang rape is still on people’s minds, with many saying things haven’t changed nine months after the incident. Insecurity has also set in, forcing some to adapt to the new environment.

“In foreign countries, even if you wear shorts, nothing happens; we have to change because we can’t change the attitude … I wear sports shoes so that (if) something happens I could run. I never wear chappals (slippers) nowadays,” said Thoudam Regina, an analyst at the department of science and technology in the central government.

Women and New Delhi: the views of travellers

By Aditya Kalra and Anuja Jaiman

Assurances from the police and a new anti-rape law have done little to make the streets of New Delhi safer for women, especially for those using public transport, interviews conducted by the India Insight team show.

The India Insight team travelled in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses and Delhi Metro trains and spoke to commuters.

Here are edited excerpts from conversations:

Farhana Ahmed, 22, student; travelling in a bus
I only feel safe travelling by bus in the day time because it’s crowded and there are less chances of being in trouble. I prefer not to board a bus after five in the evening. Whenever we go out after 9 p.m., we have experienced eve-teasing. I think it’s better not to wear dresses at night.

Pricey dollar puts South Africa, Australia on Indian tourists’ maps

When Aparupa Ganguly visited South Africa in 2007, the country’s topography and wildlife made such an impression on the communications professional that she couldn’t wait to come back. Ganguly got her wish six years later – thanks to a stable rand.

Foreign-bound Indian travellers such as Ganguly are realizing that holidaying in countries such as South Africa and Australia offers value for money as their currencies have been largely stable in recent weeks and haven’t appreciated as much against the rupee, when compared to the dollar or the euro.

Data shows the South African rand and the Australian dollar have gained around 10 percent since May, compared to a near 30 percent surge in the U.S. dollar which hit a record high above 68 per rupee on Wednesday.

Rupee spoils holidays abroad for Indians, but not for all

With the rupee hovering near a record low, Indian tourists would be tempted to give foreign shores a miss this year. But staying home is not an option for Harsh Chadha, a multinational executive just back from a three-week family vacation in the UK.

Chadha, 35, is part of India’s growing elite, whose trips abroad are not affected by the vagaries of the currency market.

“[If I’m planning] a trip to a place like London [and] already spending enough money … a 10-15 percent increase in the dollar will not be pinching me a lot,” says Chadha, an IT director who bought pounds for 92 rupees ($1.5) each before going on vacation.

The Mongol Rally: Siberia

The Mongol Rally: SiberiaThe morning brought good news. We were closer to Semey, a large town near the Russian border than we thought. There was still the issue of how to get our half-broken-down car there.

(To read earlier posts from Mongol Rally, click here)

It was time to put our knowledge of off-road driving to the test and manoeuvre the car as lightly and gently as possible over the potholes to the safety of a garage.

The sight of a gaggle of sunburnt, shirtless mechanics smoking on a garage driveway was a relief. It took the combined intelligence of the three members of my rally team and four Kazakh mechanics to communicate, mostly using sign language, what was wrong with the car.

All set for the Mongol Rally

The League of Adventurists, a UK company that organises extreme travel expeditions, will launch its annual off-road motor adventure: The Mongol Rally on July 24.

This annual scramble from London to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia attracts adventure travellers from around the world.

Each team drives over 9,000 miles – a third of the way around the world – to raise money for a group of charities and undertake a unique journey through the heart of Asia.

The Ugly Indian

– Jason Overdorf writes for the GlobalPost, where this article first appeared. –

The instant that the fasten seat belts light went out aboard Cathay Pacific’s inaugural Delhi-Bangkok flight this summer, a chorus of metallic dongs erupted like a romper roomful of Ritalin-deprived 5-year-olds turned loose on an arsenal of xylophones.

The passengers were attacking their call buttons.

In seconds, flight attendants were up and running. By the time they began dishing out the special meals, tempers were beginning to fray.

Indian dilemma — To Nano or not to Nano

I was stuck in a traffic jam on one of New Delhi’s busiest roads, taking in the sights and smells of vehicles idling in all directions, when my cab driver turned to me and asked — “Are you going to buy the Tata Nano?”

It’s a question thrown at me several times over the past few months and each time the answer has been “No”.

Tata Motors is launching the Nano, the world’s cheapest car, on March 23. Bookings open in the second week of April and the 100,000-rupee car is slated to hit Indian roads before July.

India’s dream of ‘world-class’ airports and why I can’t afford it

After a two-hour flight sitting a few feet away from four boisterous children who made enough noise to put a marching band to shame, emerging at Hyderabad’s swanky new airport for my first visit to the city proved very soothing for my frayed nerves.

The spacious terminal building, high glass walls, and the view, as you step outside, of palm trees and people leisurely posing for photographs in front of water fountains made me recall chaotic scenes back at Delhi’s airport, as I allowed myself a wry grin.

planeq.jpgMy admiration for what the aviation minister has described as India’s first truly “world-class” airport vaporized when on my return trip, a smiling attendant approached me at the terminal and directed me to a counter that collected 375 rupees from every passenger flying out of the city — courtesy a recently introduced toll called UDF or User Development Fee (International travellers were asked to shell out a thousand rupees).

Taking the red bus home: a joyride in New Delhi

Riding home in the air-conditioned comfort of a gleaming red bus, I find it hard to believe I am travelling in New Delhi.

busnew.jpgSqueaky-clean seats, no crowds jostling for room, automatic doors and huge windows offering panoramic views of the bustling streets — it’s a far cry from the torture I have endured in the past.

Buses in India’s capital are not known for being commuter-friendly. The state-owned ones are mostly rickety slowcoaches while the privately operated Blue Line buses zigzag their way through traffic, dangerously negotiating bends and racing each other in a bid to pick up passengers.

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