India’s Louvre of Loos, its Tate of Toilets

You’ve heard of art and craft museums, textile museums, waxworks museums (Madame Tussaud’s), even those showcasing shoes (Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto). But India has its spectacular Sulabh International Museum of Toilets – the world’s only museum showcasing a repertoire of lavatory exhibits from 56 countries. It has been attracting amused visitors ever since it threw…

Married, with AIDS

Radhika, 26, and her boyfriend Mohan, 32, are excited about their October marriage in the Mumbai suburb of Thane. They have booked a banquet hall, invited 500 guests, lined up the best florist in town and a couturier to do their wedding ensembles. Everything is as it would be for any young couple getting married…

Rhinos at Risk in Indian Preserve (story and slideshow)

{smoothgallery} Two years ago, Kaziranga National Park in India’s strife-torn Assam State celebrated its centennial with what was praised as a colossal success story – preserving, against all odds, a highly endangered species – the great Indian one-horned rhino. But today the park, which shelters as much as 70 percent or more of the species,…

News of Her Own

Deep inside the cramped streets of the bustling Kamathipura district in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, an editorial meeting is in progress at the tiny office of a new magazine. The clatter of keyboards is audible as contents for the upcoming issue are finalized, page layouts planned and the past issue dissected. This could be any…

Indian Men Put on a Pretty Face

Tall, dark and handsome? Make that tall, fair and handsome in India. While savvy brand managers have always cashed in on Indian women’s obsession for lighter skin by peddling a raft of `fairness’ products, they have now zeroed in on a new cache of clients – Indian men. Didier Villanueva, country manager for L’Oreal India,…

A Business School for the Indian Poor

In an age when business schools have become synonymous with stratospheric tuition fees and blue-chip faculties, the Mann Deshi Udyogini, or Udyogini Business School, which opened in January 2007 in a drought-prone village in Maharashtra State, is India’s, and perhaps the world’s, first and only B-school for unlettered rural women. A kind of parallel universe…

Hidden Darkness: Child Sexual Abuse in India

After a brilliant 16-year-old New Delhi girl repeatedly complained last month that her mathematics teacher was “touching and fondling her private parts,” the upshot was a long way from what anybody bargained for. When the girl’s parents complained, the principal called them “regressive” and blamed them for damaging the school’s reputation. The girl now stays…

Pakistan is the Spanner in South Asia’s Works

Although the 14th summit of the eight-member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit in New Delhi last week raised hopes hope that finally the politics and economics of the region would be transformed, it is going to take a long time. The primary reason is Pakistan’s increasing instability after the sacking of Supreme Court…

The developing world’s curse from deep wells

Sing Ingti, 39, a watchman at a local high school in Asom (formerly Assam) state in Northeast India, has been suffering from serious, ill-defined bodily pain since 1995.  His teeth are mottled, his leg bones are distorted and his legs are losing strength from what seems a mysterious ailment. But actually this is an all-too-common…

Indian Hubris Creates a Mountain of Debt

It may have been a coincidence that the Shanghai stock market tumbled 5 percent on the day that India's Tata group won a $12-billion battle for the Anglo-Dutch steel company Corus. But maybe not. Easy money and reckless purchases are a global phenomenon fuelled by a surfeit of cheap money. Chances are the neophyte investors…