‘They are invisible’: the migrant workers struggling in wake of India’s Covid response

As a new Guardian documentary explores the impact of one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, we speak to some of those who, like millions across the country, were left poorer and more vulnerable than ever

When Ram Yadav fled India’s strict countrywide lockdown imposed in March 2020, he was one of the lucky ones, managing to hitch rides from Delhi on trucks going in the direction of his village near Kanpur, 400km (250 miles) away.

An estimated 10 million workers were forced to walk home, travelling on foot via fields, forests and highways in the scorching sun.

Continue reading...
India bridge collapse prompts fears over safety of thousands of ‘distressed’ structures

Tragedy that killed 135 sparks safety fears over creaking colonial-era structures

The collapse of a bridge in Gujarat that left 135 people dead has prompted concerns over the safety of thousands of other colonial-era structures across India.

The bridge in Morbi was more than a century old when it snapped in two last month while families had gathered on it to enjoy an evening on the river. Many of those standing in the middle of the bridge plunged into the river and drowned, while others died from the impact of falling on to the stones and boulders below.

Continue reading...
Gujarat bridge collapse: anger grows in India over cover-up claims

Questions asked after 135 people killed as to why repair contract was given to local firm better know for making clocks

Anger is growing in India over allegations that corruption was responsible for the collapse of a bridge in Morbi in Gujarat leaving 135 people dead, amid claims that a cover-up is under way to shield those responsible.

The bridge snapped in two on Sunday evening when families were out enjoying the evening air over the river. Many of those standing in the middle of the bridge when it collapsed plunged into the river and drowned, while others at both ends of the bridge, closer to the banks, died from the impact of falling on to the stones and boulders below.

Continue reading...
Indian states ban guns and airguns to safeguard Amur falcons

Assam, Nagaland and Manipur officials also confiscate catapults and nets to ensure birds can recuperate

Officials in north-east India have banned the use of guns and airguns and confiscated catapults and nets in an effort to safeguard the small Amur falcons that make an autumn pit stop on their way to sunny South Africa.

Forest officers were patrolling areas of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur states to make sure no one disturbs the long-distance travelling raptors who stop briefly in India.

Continue reading...
Testimony of boy who witnessed mother’s murder leads to life sentence in India

Court sentenced boy’s father and grandparents for killing his mother over demands for higher dowry

The testimony of an Indian child who witnessed his father and grandparents murder his mother in the living room of his home when he was four years old has led to their imprisonment for life.

A court in Aligarh sentenced the boy’s father, Ashok Singh, and his paternal grandparents, Munnalal and Savitri Singh, for the murder of Sadhna Singh in 2015 in a dispute over a dowry payment.

Continue reading...
‘His humility is genuine’: Rishi Sunak’s father-in-law, the billionaire who does the dishes

Narayana Murthy drives a small car, cleans his own loo and likes nothing more than to read

He may be worth £3.9bn but Rishi Sunak’s father-in-law, NR Narayana Murthy, lives in the same Bengaluru flat with his wife, Sudha, that he did decades ago, drives a small car, clears up the dishes, and cleans his own toilet.

Murthy is famous in India for co-founding in 1981 the software firm Infosys, now a £9.6bn multinational that employs more than 345,000 people.

Continue reading...
‘A moment of pride’: Hindus in India hail Rishi Sunak’s victory

Indians react to news UK will have its first Hindu PM and consider how it will affect bilateral ties

As Rishi Sunak prepares to become the UK’s next prime minister at the start of the festival of Diwali – when Hindus pray to the goddess Lakshmi for prosperity and success – in India some Hindus celebrated the fact that someone sharing their religion had reached such high office in the UK.

“To have a Hindu inside 10 Downing Street is something astonishing and of great joy, and that too on Diwali,” said Satish Verma, a supermarket owner in Delhi. “Although he is British, it will make us Hindus proud that one of us made it so big.”

Continue reading...
Modi employs new tool in India’s war against the English language: Hindi medical degrees

Ever since it came to power, the BJP has have taken intermittent pot shots at English, branding it a ‘colonial relic’ surrounded by a ‘slavish mentality’

Narendra Modi’s government is intensifying its efforts to relegate English to the margins of Indian life where it believes it belongs as a “colonial relic” by offering medical degrees in Hindi for the first time.

Ever since he came to power eight years ago, Modi, along with home minister Amit Shah and other Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, have taken intermittent pot shots at the English language and talked up Hindi, the language of north India.

Continue reading...
India’s Congress party appoints first non-Gandhi president in 24 years

Mallikarjun Kharge, a Gandhi loyalist, aims to lead fightback against Narendra Modi’s BJP

India’s Congress party has appointed its first president in 24 years not from the Gandhi dynasty, in an effort to reverse its apparent decline and take on the seemingly invincible Narendra Modi.

Mallikarjun Kharge, 80, a loyalist in the court of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty which rules the party, defeated the rival candidate Shashi Tharoor by almost 7,000 votes in a poll of 9,000 party delegates.

Continue reading...
Delhi drinkers left dry after government’s alcohol policy U-turn

Aam Aadmi party’s decision to scrap plan to privatise sale of alcohol comes after pressure from rival BJP

All over the Indian capital, the sound of metal shutters being pulled down at off-licences has left drinkers high and dry.

The dry spell, expected to last until 1 September, is the result of Delhi’s government scrapping a new alcohol policy that would have allowed private companies to operate off-licences.

Continue reading...
Man overcharged 20 rupees for India train ticket wins 22-year legal battle

Lawyer Tungnath Chaturvedi took on the might of Indian Railways after being charged 20 rupees – or 21p – too much

An Indian lawyer has won a 22-year legal battle with Indian Railways for overcharging him by 20 rupees (21p or 25c).

When Tungnath Chaturvedi, 66, bought a ticket at Mathura station in Uttar Pradesh in 1999 to go to Moradabad, he was charged 90 rupees instead of 70. He complained there and then but did not receive a refund.

Continue reading...
‘Cancer care can’t stop’: flood-hit Assam hospital uses boats to reach patients

Staff use makeshift rafts and boats to transport patients and bring painkillers and medicines to those trapped at home

When the flood water roared into her home in Assam, Jyoti Bora* saw the morphine pills she takes for head and neck cancer swept away along with all her belongings. At the relief camp she was evacuated to, Bora, who uses a wheelchair, found a boat to take her to the hospital to get more medication.

But when she got to Cacher cancer hospital and research centre she found the entrance flooded – the water was 1.5 metres high. A hospital orderly and a nurse were dispatched in a raft, made from planks of plywood tied to tyre inner tubes, to collect her.

Continue reading...
Delhi’s street vendors baulk at India’s single-use plastic ban

Ban on 19 items comes in on Friday, but researchers warn that millions are not prepared to use alternatives to ubiquitous plastic

On Friday India’s nationwide ban on single-use plastic comes into effect, but a glance at the street vendors who line one road in the Indian capital selling coconut water, flowers, samosas, mangoes and ice-cream – each in their own plastic bag – reveals that few are ready.

Faimudin Ahmed, who sells mangoes piled high on a cart, says plastic bags cost him 40 rupees for 250 grams. The cost of paper bags is double that.

Continue reading...
Indian journalist prevented from flying to Europe to speak about intimidation

Rana Ayyub, a columnist for the Washington Post, was not allowed to board a flight at Mumbai airport on Tuesday

A prominent Indian journalist has been prevented from flying to Europe to speak about intimidation of journalists and rights in the world’s largest democracy.

Rana Ayyub, an outspoken critic of the government of Narendra Modi and columnist for the Washington Post, was not allowed to board a flight at Mumbai airport on Tuesday. She had been due to travel to London to address a conference at the International Centre for Journalists.

Continue reading...
Low turnout for India’s national two-day strike as 50 million join protests

Unions say strike over ‘anti-worker’ government policies a success despite limited impact, with far fewer than predicted taking part

An estimated 50 million people joined India’s two-day national strike this week, a fraction of the number expected to protest.

Bank, factory and public transport workers disrupted services in six states on Monday and Tuesday, but the strike had limited impact across the rest of the country.

Continue reading...