11 August 2017

Key events in India-Pakistan relations since Partition

In this Feb. 20, 1999, file photo, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, left, and his Indian counterpart Atal Bihari Vajpayee wave upon Vajpayee’s arrival in Wagha border, 28 kilometers (17 miles) from Lahore, Pakistan. Vajpayee rode a bus to the Pakistani city of Lahore to meet with Pakistan counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, and sign a major peace accord.
India and Pakistan have had testy relations at best since independence. Some key dates that helped define the South Asian nations:

August 1947 - Britain ends its colonial rule over the Indian subcontinent, which becomes two independent nations — Hindu-majority, but secularly governed India and the Islamic republic of Pakistan. The division, widely known as Partition, sparks massive rioting that kills up to 1 million, while another 15 million flee their homes in one of the world’s largest human migrations.

10 August 2017

AP Explains: 70 years of India-Pakistan tensions unresolved

In this June 10, 1947 file photo, Viceroy of India Lord Louis Mountbatten, right, speaks with Muslim League leader Muhammed Ali Jinnah during conferences on India’s division in New Delhi. Jinnah appealed to Indians to carry out peacefully the British plan for dividing the country. The Muslim League formally adopted the plan on the night of June 9. As the 70th anniversary of India-Pakistan Partition comes up next week, relations between the two nations are as broken as ever. In some ways, their violent birth pangs dictated their future course through suspicion and animosity.
When the British ended two centuries of colonial rule on the Indian subcontinent in August 1947, they left a jigsaw legacy — the vast country of India flanked on either side by a newly created Pakistan split in two parts. Excitement over independence was quickly overshadowed by some of the worst bloodletting the world has ever seen, leaving up to 1 million people dead as gangs of Hindus and Muslims slaughtered each other.

As the 70th anniversary of India-Pakistan Partition comes up next week, relations between the two nations are as broken as ever. In some ways, their violent birth pangs dictated their future course through suspicion and animosity.

Here’s a look at the troubled legacy of Partition:

Remembering Partition: 70 years since India-Pakistan divide

Survivors from both India and Pakistan, from left to right: Sohinder Nath Chopra in New Delhi; Mohammad Ishaq in Rawalpindi, Pakistan; Shamsul Nisa, in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir; Krishen Khanna, in New Delhi; Shamim Uddin, in Karachi, Pakistan; Hira Gulrajani in New Delhi; Akhtari Begum in Lahore, Pakistan. It’s been 70 years since India and Pakistan were carved from the former British Empire as independent nations. Overnight, Hindu and Muslim neighbors became fearful of one another. Here, survivors from both India and Pakistan recall living through that uneasy time, and consider what it meant to the future of the two countries.
It’s been 70 years since India and Pakistan were carved from the former British Empire as independent nations, a process that triggered one of the largest human migrations in history. Overnight, Hindu and Muslim neighbors became fearful of one another. Mob violence broke out, leaving hundreds of thousands dead. Some 12 million people fled their homes — including Hindus afraid they would not be welcome in the newly declared Islamic state of Pakistan, and Muslims worried they’d suffer at the hands of India’s Hindu majority.

Here, survivors from both India and Pakistan recall living through that uneasy time, and consider what it meant to the future of the two countries.

8 August 2017

7 decades into Indian democracy, a royal palace thrives

This March 6, 2007 photo, shows a general view of the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, India. The 347-room palace, considered one of the world’s fanciest residences, was used as the primary location for “Viceroy House,” a film by director Gurinder Chadha. The movie details the last days of the British Empire in India and the bloody partition with what became Pakistan in 1947.
In the summer of 1944, hundreds of royals gathered for the opening of Umaid Bhawan Palace, a magnificent sandstone edifice that dominates the skyline in India’s northwestern city of Jodhpur. It was the last of its kind.

Three years later, India was free from British colonial rule, and more than 500 princely states — the semi-sovereign principalities ruled by royal clans — faced an uncertain future. Most have faded into obscurity, but the family that built this palace continues to thrive — in part by converting a section of it into a hotel.

2 August 2017

India’s central bank cuts key lending rate to 6 percent

Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel, looks on during a press conference in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. India’s central bank Wednesday cuts its key interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point on Wednesday, raising hopes of lower borrowing costs for households as inflation ebbs.
India’s central bank cut its key interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point on Wednesday, raising hopes of lower borrowing costs for households as inflation ebbs.

The announcement by the Reserve Bank of India reduced to 6 percent its repo rate, the interest rate it charges on lending to commercial banks.

India’s inflation rate declined to a record low of 1.54 percent in June, while the annual rate of growth in factory output fell to 1.7 percent in May from 8 percent in the same month a year earlier.

27 July 2017

Blowing smoke? E-cigarettes might help smokers quit

In this April 23, 2014 file photo, E-cigarettes appear on display at Vape store in Chicago. Smokers who used e-cigarettes were more likely to kick the habit than those who didn’t, according to a new study that suggests a liberal approach to the electronic devices could help curb smoking rates. The American study was based on the biggest sample of e-cigarette users to date and attempted to clarify if e-cigarettes help smokers quit. The research was published online Wednesday, July 26, 2017 in the journal, BMJ.
People who used e-cigarettes were more likely to kick the habit than those who didn’t, a new study found.

Nicotine patches, gums and medications are known to aid smoking cessation, but there’s no consensus on whether vaping devices can help anti-smoking efforts. The U.S. research is the largest look yet at electronic cigarette users and it found e-cigarettes played a role in helping people quit.

“It’s absolutely clear that e-cigarettes help smokers replace cigarettes,” said Peter Hajek, director of the health and lifestyle research unit at Queen Mary University in London, who wasn’t part of the study.

26 July 2017

48 dead as heavy monsoon rains lash western India

An Indian woman who was air lifted from a flooded farm gets down from an air force helicopter after she arrived at an airport in Deesa, Gujarat, India, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. At least 29 people have died in the state of Gujarat amid torrential rains. This week’s deaths have taken the toll the state to 83 since the start of the monsoon season which runs from June through September.
At least 48 people have been killed as large swaths of western India have been lashed by heavy monsoon rains and flooding over the last week, officials said Wednesday.

In Rajasthan, home to a number of popular tourist destinations, the streets of at least four districts have been turned into virtual rivers, trapping tens of thousands of people on the upper floors of residential buildings. Rescue workers were scrambling to rescue thousands of others whose homes have been flooded or destroyed.

By Wednesday, the death toll in the state stood at 19.

Sri Lanka deploys army to distribute fuel during strike

Army soldiers guard the main oil installation facility after taking the control back from protesting union workers in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Sri Lanka's government has deployed army troops to restore fuel distribution crippled during a strike launched by trade unions who want to stop leases of oil tanks to India and China.
Sri Lanka’s government deployed army troops on Wednesday to restore fuel distribution crippled during a strike launched by trade unions who want to stop leases of oil tanks to India and China.

Long lines have formed at gasoline stations across Sri Lanka since Monday evening due to the strike by workers at the state-run petroleum company.

Military spokesman Brig. Roshan Seneviratne said troops entered the country’s main distribution facility and refinery at Kolonnawa and Muthurajawela outside Colombo early Wednesday and they are now working in distribution facilities alongside the workers not on strike to resume the distribution of fuel.