6 October 2017

British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro wins Nobel Literature Prize

British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro gestures during a press conference at his home in London, Thursday Oct. 5, 2017. Ishiguro, best known for “The Remains of the Day,” won the Nobel Literature Prize on Thursday, marking a return to traditional literature following two years of unconventional choices by the Swedish Academy for the 9-million-kronor ($1.1 million) prize.
Kazuo Ishiguro, the Japanese-born British novelist who in “The Remains of the Day,” ″Never Let Me Go” and other novels captured memory’s lasting pain and dangerous illusions in precise and elegant prose, won the Nobel Literature Prize.

The selection of the 62-year-old Ishiguro marked a return to citing fiction writers following two years of unconventional choices by the Swedish Academy for the 9-million-kronor ($1.1 million) prize. Friday’s selection also continues a recent trend of recognizing British authors born elsewhere — V.S. Naipaul, the 2001 winner, is from Trinidad and Tobago; the 2007 honoree, Doris Lessing, was a native of Iran who grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

30 September 2017

Indian theater actor Tom Alter has died at age 67

In this Wednesday, April 18, 2007, file photo, Indian theater personality Tom Alter poses for a photograph in New Delhi, India. Alter, a well-known Indian theater, television and Bollywood actor of American descent, has died in Mumbai Friday after a brief illness. He was 67.
Tom Alter, a well-known Indian theater, television and Bollywood actor of American descent, has died in Mumbai of cancer. He was 67.

A statement issued by his family on Saturday says Alter died Friday night at home with his family around him in Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital. He had been diagnosed with skin cancer last year.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his grief and recalled Alter’s contribution to the film world and theater.

29 September 2017

Stampede on crowded Indian pedestrian bridge leaves 22 dead

A slipper of an injured commuter is seen stuck on the railing of a pedestrian bridge where a stampede took place at the Elphinstone station, in Mumbai, India, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. The stampede broke out on a crowded pedestrian bridge connecting two railway stations in Mumbai during the Friday morning rush, killing a number of people police said.
A stampede broke out on a crowded pedestrian bridge connecting two railway stations in Mumbai during the Friday morning rush, killing at least 22 people and injuring 32 others, Indian officials said.

Police were investigating what caused the stampede on the bridge, which led some commuters to leap over the railing. Others were crushed or fell underfoot and were trampled.

“There were too many people on the bridge, and the people were in hurry and wanted to move out,” said Brijesh Upadhyay, one of the many caught in the crowd. “There was nobody helping, it was very suffocating, and we just wanted to get out of there — and fell on each other.”

India’s flagging economy draws dire warnings of recession

In this June 16, 2017, file photo, Indians buy dry fruits from a roadside vendor at a market in New Delhi, India. Three years later Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, India’s economic prospects are looking decidedly more grim. India’s economic expansion has slowed to its lowest level in three years. Small businesses are struggling, or even shutting down, after a major overhaul to both the country’s currency and sales tax system.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power on a euphoric wave of promises to boost India’s economy, add millions of jobs and bring “good times” to the developing nation.

Three years later, India’s economic prospects look decidedly grimmer. India’s economic expansion has slowed to its lowest level in three years. Small businesses are struggling, or even shutting down, after overhauls of the nation’s currency and sales tax system. Modi’s own allies warn of a dire outlook, with some raising the specter of an economic depression.

14 September 2017

India, Japan start work on high-speed train during Abe visit

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave during the ground breaking ceremony for high speed rail project in Ahmadabad, India, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017.
India and Japan launched work on a high-speed train line in the western Indian state of Gujarat on Thursday during a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The “bullet train” will link Ahmadabad, the main commercial city in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s native state, to India’s financial capital of Mumbai.

The 500-kilometer (310-mile) project will be financed by a Japanese credit of $17 billion and is expected to be completed by 2022. The loan carries a nominal interest rate of 0.1 percent to be paid over the next 50 years.

Boat capsizes in Indian river, killing 19; about 31 missing

Rescuers search in the Yamuna River as villagers gather after a country boat, seen in foreground, capsized near Baghpat town in Uttar Pradesh state, India, Thursday, Sept.14, 2017. The boat crowded with construction workers capsized early Thursday and nineteen bodies have been pulled out of the river so far.
A boat crowded with construction workers capsized in the Yamuna River in northern India early Thursday and at least 19 people have drowned, officials said.

A search is underway for missing passengers, said senior police officer Ram Kumar.

More than 60 people were on the boat when it capsized near Baghpat town in Uttar Pradesh state early Thursday.

At least 10 people swam to safety while about 31 passengers are missing. Nineteen bodies had been pulled out of the river, Kumar said.

13 September 2017

From India to Malaysia, Rohingya face hardship, uncertainty

In this Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, photo, Rohingya refugee Muhammad Ayub shows off a picture of his grandfather allegedly killed during recent violence in Myanmar, in Klang on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Recent violence in Myanmar has driven hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to seek refuge across the border in Bangladesh. There are some 56,000 Rohingya refugees registered with the U.N. refugee agency in Malaysia, with an estimated 40,000 more whose status has yet to be assessed.
Recent violence in Myanmar has driven hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to seek refuge across the border in Bangladesh. But Rohingya have been fleeing persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar for decades, and many who have made it to safety in other countries still face a precarious existence.

Some are barred from working or feel unwelcome in unfamiliar lands. Still, many say they are relieved to be safe.

Here are four countries where Rohingya have established settlements in recent years:

Abducted Indian priest rescued in Yemen after 18 months

An Indian Catholic priest who was kidnapped by militants from a home for senior citizens in Yemen has been rescued after 18 months, an Indian official said Tuesday.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter that Tom Uzhunnalil had been rescued, saying later Tuesday that he had reached Vatican City. He is expected to meet Pope Francis. Swaraj gave no other details.

Uzhunnalil had worked for more than four years as a chaplain at the home in Aden in southern Yemen established by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.

7 September 2017

Indian court sentences 2 men to death in 1993 Mumbai blasts

Indian police officials stand guard outside the sessions court complex in Mumbai, India, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. An Indian court has sentenced two men to death and another two to life in prison for a series of bombings that killed 257 in Mumbai in 1993. The four Indian men had earlier been convicted of criminal conspiracy and murder in the planting of 12 powerful bombs in cars, scooters and suitcases around India’s financial capital.
An Indian court on Thursday sentenced two men to death and two others to life in prison for a series of bombings that killed 257 people in Mumbai in 1993. A fifth man was given 10 years in prison.

The five men were convicted earlier of criminal conspiracy and murder in the planting of 12 powerful bombs in cars, scooters and suitcases around India’s financial capital.

The sentencing ended a second trial related to the bombings. An initial trial ended in 2007 with more than 100 people convicted, of whom 11 were sentenced to death and the rest to various terms in prison.

Indian journalist’s killing provokes outrage, anguish

Mourners stand next to a portrait of Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh during the public viewing of her body in Bangalore, India, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. The Indian journalist was gunned down outside her home the southern city of Bangalore — the latest in a string of deadly attacks targeting journalists or outspoken critics of religious superstition and extreme Hindu politics. Kannada reads, “Heartfelt Condolences”.
The killing of an Indian journalist provoked outrage and anguish across the country on Wednesday, with thousands protesting what they saw as an effort to silence a critic of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party.

Even as police promise to hunt down the assailants who gunned down Gauri Lankesh outside her Bangalore home Tuesday night, many said they feared the perpetrators of the attack - like so many others - would get away with impunity.

Spontaneous rallies erupted in cities and towns across India on Wednesday. Protesters demanded the government do more to protect free speech in the secular, South Asian democracy.

6 September 2017

Indian journalist gunned down outside her home

A participant holds a placard with a photograph of Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh at a protest demonstration against her killing in Bangalore, India, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. The Indian journalist was gunned down outside her home the southern city of Bangalore — the latest in a string of deadly attacks targeting journalists or outspoken critics of religious superstition and extreme Hindu politics.
An Indian journalist was fatally shot outside her home the southern city of Bangalore, the latest in a string of deadly attacks targeting journalists or outspoken critics of religious superstition and extreme Hindu politics.

The assailants fled on a motorcycle after spraying bullets at Gauri Lankesh on Tuesday night as she was leaving her car outside her home in the Karnataka state capital.

Police said they were searching for leads, but that it was too early to say who killed her. Top police officer R.K. Dutta said he had met Lankesh recently, but that she did not mention any threat to her life.

3 September 2017

Indian Prime Minister Modi drops ministers as economy slips

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets attendees during the swearing-in ceremony of new ministers at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Sept.3, 2017. Modi on Sunday reshuffled some of his key minister’s portfolios to refurbish his government’s image, which has been dented by falling economic indicators.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday reshuffled some of his key minister’s portfolios to refurbish his government’s image, which has been dented by falling economic indicators.

Modi named Suresh Prabhu as the new commerce and industry minister and Piyush Goyal the railways minister. Dharmendra Pradhan was promoted as oil and gas minister. Modi dropped half a dozen ministers for failing performance.

A big surprise was 58-year-old Nirmala Sitharaman’s appointment as the country’s defense minister, an elevation from the post of junior commerce minister.

2 September 2017

A singular storm in Houston; a recurring nightmare in Mumbai

In this Aug. 15, 2017, file photo, flood affected villagers travel by boat in floodwaters in Morigaon district, east of Gauhati, northeastern state of Assam. This week’s flooding in Houston is unprecedented, but such devastation is chronic across South Asia. Experts say local officials are ignoring dangers and pursuing development plans that only increase the risk of flood-related death and destruction as annual monsoon rains challenge cities to cope.
Two massive, rain-soaked cities on opposite sides of the world are struggling with swirling, brackish waters that have brought death and devastation. For Houston, it’s unprecedented. For Mumbai, it’s painfully common.

For India’s financial capital and other South Asian cities and farmlands, floods are regular, cataclysmic occurrences made worse by breakneck urban development and population booms that will only become more challenging as climate change increases disaster risk.

30 August 2017

Troubled Indian hospital says 217 children died in August

In this Aug. 13, 2017 file photo, a child receives treatment at the state-run Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, India. The government hospital in north India where dozens of babies died within two days earlier this month said on Wednesday, Aug. 30, that at least 217 children died there in the month of August due to a variety of reasons including an annual encephalitis outbreak.
Death continues to haunt a government hospital in north India that came under fire earlier this month after dozens of babies died within two days.

Dr. P.K. Singh, the head of the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur city, said Wednesday that at least 217 children died there in August alone due to a variety of reasons including an annual encephalitis outbreak. Singh added that 42 children have died in the last 48 hours. Seven of the deaths were from encephalitis while the others were attributed to other medical complications.

Torrential rains bring India’s financial hub to a halt

School children wade through a waterlogged street following heavy rains in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. Heavy rains Tuesday brought Mumbai to a halt flooding vast areas of the city.
Torrential monsoon rains paralyzed India’s financial capital Mumbai for a second day Wednesday as the streets turned into rivers and people waded through waist-deep waters.

On Tuesday, the city received about 5 inches (127 millimeters) of rain and it’s already hamstrung infrastructure collapsed. Public transport stopped and thousands of commuters were stranded in their offices overnight.

29 August 2017

Train derails in India’s third rail accident in 10 days

Workers repair the track near upturned coaches of the Duronto Express in Asangaon, some 70 kilometers from Mumbai, India, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. A passenger train partly derailed Tuesday morning in western India, the third rail accident in the country in 10 days. Rescuers were working to pull out people who were trapped in the toppled train engine and seven coaches lying on their sides. No casualties or injuries have been reported, railway spokesman A.K. Jain said.
A passenger train derailed Tuesday in western India, the third rail accident in the country in 10 days.

Rescuers were working to pull out people who were trapped in the toppled train engine and seven coaches lying on their sides. No casualties or injuries were reported, railway spokesman A.K. Jain said.

The train had 18 coaches and was headed from the central Indian city of Nagpur to Mumbai, capital of Maharashtra state.

Judge sends Indian guru to jail for 20 years in rapes

In this Oct. 5, 2016 file photo, Indian spiritual guru who calls himself Saint Dr. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan, center, greets followers as he arrives for a press conference ahead of the release of his new movie “MSG: The Warrior Lion Heart,” in New Delhi, India. A judge on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017 sentenced the flamboyant and controversial Indian spiritual guru to 20 years in prison on charges of raping two female followers.
A judge on Monday sentenced a popular and flamboyant Indian spiritual guru to a total of 20 years in prison on charges of raping two female followers.

The sentences were pronounced amid intense security at a prison in the northern town of Rohtak where the guru, who calls himself Dr. Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, has been held since his conviction Friday.

Defense lawyer S.K. Garg Narwana said the guru was sentenced to 10 years in each case and fined a total of 3 million rupees ($47,000).

26 August 2017

Despite crime allegations, gurus in India hold sway

In this Wednesday, Oct. 5, file 2016 photo, Indian spiritual guru, who calls himself Saint Dr. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan, arrives for a press conference ahead of the release of his new film “MSG, The Warrior Lion Heart,” in New Delhi, India. Several cities in north India were under a security lock down Thursday ahead of a verdict in a rape trial involving the controversial and hugely popular spiritual leader.
A flamboyant and hugely popular spiritual guru who was convicted of rape, triggering a deadly rampage by angry supporters, is not the only Indian sect leader to find himself on the wrong side of the law.

Like the guru who calls himself Saint Dr. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan, tens of thousands of others run religious empires across the 1.3 billion-strong deeply spiritual country. A look at some of them:

Indian guru convicted of rape revered by millions

In this May 17, 2017 file photo, an Indian spiritual guru, who calls himself Saint Dr. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan, attends the premiere of the movie ‘Jattu Engineer’ in New Delhi, India. A north Indian court on Friday, Aug. 25, convicted the flamboyant leader of a quasi-religious sect of raping two of his followers, prompting thousands of supporters camped out near the courthouse to shout angry protests.
The millions of followers of the flashy Indian guru consider him the embodiment of God on Earth.

So when he was convicted of rape Friday, tens of thousands of supporters responded with fury, setting off riots that left more than two dozen dead and buses, trains and buildings set on fire. Police said calm was restored on Saturday.

When he appears in a “darshan,” or audience, once a week at his ashram in Haryana state’s Sirsa town, the guru of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, who calls himself Saint Dr. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan, makes his followers weep and clap and flatten themselves to the ground at the sight of him. The sect claims as many as 50 million followers.

Calm returns after 30 die in India riots over guru verdict

A man lifts a motorbike in a vandalized area by Dera Sacha Sauda sect members in Panchkula, India, Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. Deadly riots have broken out in a north Indian town after a court convicted a guru of raping two of his followers. Mobs also attacked journalists and set fire to government buildings and railway stations.
Security forces on Saturday patrolled the streets of a north Indian state where rampaging mobs left at least 30 people dead and more than 250 others injured, after a court declared a quasi-religious sect leader guilty of raping two of his followers.

Authorities lifted the curfew in the town of Panchkula, the main trouble spot, after the night passed relatively peacefully and the area was cleared of protesters, said police officer Pradeep Kumar.

On Friday, mobs set fire to government buildings and attacked police and TV journalists in the town, smashing the windshields of news vans and breaking broadcast equipment.

22 August 2017

India’s top court: Instant divorce among Muslims unlawful

Farha Faiz, a Supreme Court lawyer, speaks to media after the apex court declared “Triple Talaq”, a Muslim practice that allows men to instantly divorce their wives, unconstitutional in its verdict, in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. The court also requested the government legislate an end to the practice.
India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down the Muslim practice that allows men to instantly divorce their wives as unconstitutional.

The bench, comprising five senior judges of different faiths, deliberated for three months before issuing its order in response to petitions from seven Muslim women who had been divorced through the practice known as triple talaq.

Indian law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on NDTV that since the court deemed the practice unconstitutional there is no need for any further legislative action by the government.

20 August 2017

Train derails in northern India, killing at least 23

Indian police watch as rescue work is in progress near the upturned coaches of the Kalinga-Utkal Express after an accident near Khatauli, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, India, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017. Several coaches of the passenger train derailed, causing fatalities and injuries in northern India on Saturday, officials said.
Rescuers using cutting torchers and cranes worked through the night to pull apart 14 coaches of a crowded train that went off the tracks in northern India, killing 23 people and injuring more than 80 others, officials said Sunday.

Two of the coaches piled on top of one another, while 12 others toppled off the tracks, said Arvind Kumar, a top official in Uttar Pradesh state, where the train derailed overnight.

Railway police and local volunteers helped pull passengers out of the upturned coaches of the Kalinga-Utkal Express, which was travelling to the Hindu holy city of Haridwar from the temple town of Puri, in the eastern state of Orissa.

18 August 2017

Indian IT company Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka resigns

The CEO of India-based outsourcing and information technology company Infosys, Vishal Sikka, has resigned following differences with some founders of the company, including N.R. Narayana Murthy.

The Infosys board of directors accepted Sikka’s resignation and appointed U.B. Pravin Rao as interim CEO and managing director, a company statement said Friday.

In his notice to the board, Sikka said he was leaving because of “a continuous stream of distractions and disruptions” that were hindering management of the company.

17 August 2017

Flooding maroons people in Indian states, eases in Nepal

Flood affected villagers wait for relief material on a broken road washed away by floodwaters in Morigaon district, east of Gauhati, northeastern state of Assam, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. Deadly landslides and flooding are common across South Asia during the summer monsoon season that stretches from June to September.
Monsoon flooding is easing in Nepal, but the water flowing downriver has worsened floods in northern India and marooned thousands of villagers across the border, officials said Thursday.

The existing flood situation was aggravated in Uttar Pradesh state after three rivers became swelled with the waters from Nepal, said disaster relief official Mohammad Zameer Ahmad. At least six deaths have occurred since Wednesday.

Ahmad said Thursday that over 300 villages were marooned in no time and thousands of people were forced to move to higher ground.

China, India soldiers hurl stones at each other in Kashmir

In this Sunday, June 17, 2016, photo, an Indian tourist rides on a horse back at the Pangong lake high up in Ladahak region of India. The Chinese soldiers hurled stones while attempting to enter Ladakh region near Pangong Lake on Tuesday but were confronted by Indian soldiers, said a top police officer. The officer said Indian soldiers retaliated but neither side used guns. There was immediately no comment from China.
Indian and Chinese soldiers yelled and hurled stones at one another high in the Himalayas in Indian-controlled Kashmir, Indian officials said Wednesday, potentially escalating tensions between two nations already engaged in a lengthy border standoff elsewhere.

The Chinese soldiers hurled stones while attempting to enter Ladakh region near Pangong Lake on Tuesday but were confronted by Indian soldiers, said a top police officer. The officer said Indian soldiers retaliated but neither side used guns.

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.

25 July 2017

5-story building collapses in India, killing at least 12

Rescuers work on the debris after a five-story building collapsed in the Ghatkopar area of Mumbai, India, Tuesday, July 25, 2017. A fire official says 11 people have been rescued and more are feared trapped.
A five-story building came crashing down Tuesday in Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, killing at least 12 people and injuring 12 others, police said. Another dozen people were feared trapped under the rubble.

The cause of the collapse of the building, which housed 15 families, was not immediately known.

Rescuers have been digging through the rubble in search of more victims since Tuesday morning and will continue during the night, police officer Lal Bhandari said.

24 July 2017

Girl’s HIV infection seems under control without AIDS drugs

This undated photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a scanning electron micrograph of multiple round bumps of the HIV-1 virus on a cell surface. In a report released on Monday, July 24, 2017, researchers said a South African girl born with the AIDS virus has kept her infection suppressed for 8 1/2 years after stopping anti-HIV medicines _ more evidence that early treatment can occasionally cause a long remission that, if it lasts, would be a form of cure.
A South African girl born with the AIDS virus has kept her infection suppressed for more than eight years after stopping anti-HIV medicines — more evidence that early treatment can occasionally cause a long remission that, if it lasts, would be a form of cure.

Her case was revealed Monday at an AIDS conference in Paris, where researchers also gave encouraging results from tests of shots every month or two instead of daily pills to treat HIV.

“That’s very promising” to help people stay on treatment, the U.S.’s top AIDS scientist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said of the prospects for long-acting drugs.

AP Explains: India and China face off in border standoff

In this Oct. 16, 2016, file photo, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping listen to a speech during the BRICS Leaders Meeting with the BRICS Business Council in Goa, India. India and China have faced off frequently since fighting a bloody 1962 war that ended with China seizing control of some territory. India’s army chief warned in July 2017 that India’s army was capable of fighting “2 1/2 wars” if needed to secure its borders. The dispute was discussed briefly without resolution by Xi and Modi on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
It was the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan that sounded the alarm: Chinese soldiers had arrived with bulldozers and excavators, and were building a high-mountain road near India’s border — in an area the two nuclear-armed Asian giants have disputed for decades.

India responded to the call by sending troops last month to evict the Chinese army construction party from the Doklam Plateau. Within a few days, Indian media were running leaked video footage of soldiers from both sides shoving one another atop a grassy flatland.The tense standoff has only escalated since then, raising concerns in both capitals of an all-out military conflict. Both sides have made threats while simultaneously calling for negotiations. The U.S. State Department has urged the two sides to work together toward a peaceful resolution.

20 July 2017

Researchers in Cambodia find nest of rare riverine bird

In this undated photo provided by Wildlife Conservation Society, a Masked Finfoot sits on a nest in Preah Vihear Province, Cambodia. The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement on Thursday, July 20, 2017 that its researchers, along with conservationists from Environment Ministry and local residents, found a nest of Masked Finfoot, along the Memay river in the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary in Cambodia’s northern Preah Vihear Province. It said the site is the only confirmed breeding location in Cambodia for this very rare species.
Wildlife researchers in Cambodia have found a breeding location for the masked finfoot, one of the world’s most endangered birds, raising hopes of its continuing survival.

The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society said Thursday its scientists, along with conservationists from Cambodia’s Environment Ministry and residents along the Memay river in the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, discovered the only confirmed breeding location in Cambodia for the very rare species.The International Union for Conservation of Nature has placed the bird on its red list of globally endangered species because its worldwide population of less than 1,000 is declining at an alarming rate. It is found only in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

India ready for talks with China to end border standoff

In this Wednesday, Oct. 23,2013, file photo, an Indian national flag is flown next to the Chinese national emblem during a welcome ceremony for visiting Indian officials outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. India says it is ready to hold talks with China with both sides pulling back their forces to end a standoff along a disputed territory high in the Himalayan mountains.
India said Thursday it was ready to hold talks with China with both sides pulling back their forces to end a standoff along a disputed territory high in the Himalayan mountains.

Tensions flared last month in the southernmost part of Tibet in an area also claimed by Indian ally Bhutan, after Chinese teams began building a road onto the Doklam Plateau.

19 July 2017

China urges India withdrawal in standoff, stages drills

China renewed a call for India to immediately withdraw its troops from disputed territory high in the Himalayan mountains, following a report that Chinese forces recently held live firing drills in the region.

Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that Indian forces had to leave the area to avoid an “escalation of the situation.”

“We have stated many times that we hope the Indian side will get a clear understanding of the situation (and) immediately take measures to withdraw the troops that illegally crossed the border back to the Indian side of the border,” Lu said at a regular news briefing Tuesday.

14 July 2017

Political prisoner, Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo dies at age 61

In this image taken from July 24, 2008, video footage by AP Video, Liu Xiaobo speaks during an interview at a park in Beijing, China. The judicial bureau in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang says jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has died of multiple organ failure Thursday, July 13, 2017, at age 61.
Imprisoned for all the seven years since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xiaobo never renounced the pursuit of human rights in China, insisting on living a life of “honesty, responsibility and dignity.” China’s most prominent political prisoner died Thursday of liver cancer at 61.

His death — at a hospital in the country’s northeast, where he’d been transferred after being diagnosed — triggered an outpouring of dismay among his friends and supporters, who lauded his courage and determination.

12 July 2017

Scientists say massive iceberg has broken off in Antarctica

This Nov. 10, 2016 aerial photo released by NASA, shows a rift in the Antarctic Peninsula’s Larsen C ice shelf. A vast iceberg with twice the volume of Lake Erie has broken off from a key floating ice shelf in Antarctica, scientists said Wednesday July 12, 2017 . The iceberg broke off from the Larsen C ice shelf, scientists at the University of Swansea in Britain said. The iceberg, which is likely to be named A68, is described as weighing 1 trillion tons (1.12 trillion U.S. tons).
One of the biggest icebergs ever recorded, a trillion-ton behemoth more than seven times the size of New York City, has broken off of Antarctica, triggering disagreement among scientists over whether global warming is to blame.

The event, captured by satellite, happened sometime in the past few days when the giant chunk snapped off an ice shelf.

9 July 2017

G-20 shut Trump out on climate, strike deal on trade

Leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and their partners attend a concert at the Elbphilharmonie concert hall on the first day of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, Friday, July 7, 2017.
World powers lined up against U.S. President Donald Trump on climate change, reaffirming their support for international efforts to fight global warming.

The Group of 20 summit that ended Saturday in Hamburg also revealed tensions on trade, as the U.S. administration and international partners forged a deal that endorsed open markets but acknowledged countries had a right to put up barriers to block unfair practices.

8 July 2017

Key points from the G20 summit of world leaders

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left to right, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, United States President Donald Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pose for a photo after the Women and Development event at the G20 summit Saturday, July 8, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany.
Leaders of the Group of 20 rich and developing countries spent two days trying to come up with common positions on climate change, trade and migration at their summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Implementation depends on the will of national governments to take action, and compliance isn’t perfect. But a common statement of purpose sets the tone for policy and enables peer pressure.

Here’s a look at what the leaders did — and didn’t — agree on:

22 May 2017

Mumbai Indians clinch thrilling IPL final against Supergiant

Mumbai Indians celebrate after winning the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket final against Rising Pune Supergiant in Hyderabad, India, Sunday, May 21, 2017.
Mumbai Indians won their third Indian Premier League title on Sunday, defeating Rising Pune Supergiant by just one run in a dramatic final which went to the last ball.

Supergiant lost three wickets in the last over — bowled by Mitchell Johnson (3-26) — to be restricted to 128-6 after Mumbai Indians scored 129-8.

Supergiant needed 11 runs off the last over but Johnson dismissed Manoj Tiway and top-scorer Steve Smith (51) off successive deliveries after conceding a boundary off the first ball.

19 May 2017

Reema Lagoo, who played mother to top Bollywood actors, dies

A woman wails near the body Bollywood actress Reema Lagoo during her funeral in Mumbai, India, Thursday, May 18, 2017. Lagoo, the ever-smiling screen mother to some of India’s top actors, died Thursday. She was 59.
Bollywood actress Reema Lagoo, the ever-smiling screen mother to some of India’s top actors, died Thursday. She was 59.

Condolences and tributes to the actress poured forth on Twitter, including from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Reema Lagoo was a versatile actor who left a big impact in the film & TV world. Her demise is saddening,” Modi tweeted.

Veteran actor Rishi Kapoor tweeted “Good friend. heartfelt condolences.”

18 May 2017

UN court orders Pakistan not to execute Indian national

Friends of Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav celebrate the International Court of Justice order on Jadhav as they gather near a portrait of him in Mumbai, India, Thursday, May 18, 2017. The U.N. court on Thursday ordered Pakistan not to execute the Indian naval officer convicted of espionage and terrorism, in a case that has further strained relations between the Asian neighbors.
The International Court of Justice on Thursday ordered Pakistan not to execute an Indian naval officer convicted of espionage and terrorism, a case that has further strained relations between the Asian neighbors.

The officer, Kulbhushan Jadhav, was convicted in Pakistan and sentenced to death on April 10. The U.N. court ruled unanimously that Pakistan shouldn’t put Jadhav to death until India’s allegation that Pakistan breached his right to consular assistance is legally resolved.

Asian funerals go green, high-tech at Hong Kong trade fair

Wicker and seagrass coffins are displayed at the Asia Funeral and Cemetery Expo & Conference in Hong Kong, Thursday, May 18, 2017. The expo underscores how for some investors Asia’s rapidly aging population makes its death industry a potentially lucrative market. Asia’s aging population is projected to hit 923 million by mid-century, according to an Asian Development Bank, putting the region on track to become the oldest in the world.
Death is inevitable but it doesn’t have to be bad for the environment.

Caskets made of paper and wicker coffins on display at a recent Hong Kong funeral industry trade highlighted a trend toward “green burials” in an industry booming as Asia’s population rapidly ages.

Chinese businessman Alex Sun’s company, Shandong Ecoffin International, makes wicker and seagrass coffins, which first became popular in the West and are now catching on in Asia. Basket-weaving dates to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) in northeast China’s Shandong province, where Sun’s factory uses fast-growing willow reeds to make caskets that are an eco-friendly alternative to wood.

17 May 2017

Christian sect attacks Congo prison, frees leader, 50 others

Burned minivans are seen outside the main prison in Kinshasa, Congo, Wednesday May 17, 2017. Christian sect members stormed a prison in Congo’s capital Wednesday, freeing the leader of their movement and 50 others, Congo’s justice minister said. Bundu dia Kongo movement leader Ne Mwanda Nsemi is now on the run after a 4 a.m. attack on Malaka prison in Kinshasa, Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba told local radio station Top Congo FM.
Christian sect members stormed a prison in Congo’s capital Wednesday, freeing the leader of their movement and 50 others, Congo’s justice minister said.

Bundu dia Kongo movement leader Ne Mwanda Nsemi is now on the run after the 4 a.m. attack on Makala prison in Kinshasa, Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba told local radio station Top Congo FM.

Gunfire could be heard in the morning, but the justice minister said the situation is now under control.

What we currently know about the global cyberattack

In this May 13, 2017 file photo, a screenshot of the warning screen from a purported ransomware attack, as captured by a computer user in Taiwan, is seen on laptop in Beijing. Global cyber chaos is spreading Monday, May 14, as companies boot up computers at work following the weekend’s worldwide “ransomware” cyberattack. The extortion scheme has created chaos in 150 countries and could wreak even greater havoc as more malicious variations appear. The initial attack, known as “WannaCry,” paralyzed computers running Britain’s hospital network, Germany’s national railway and scores of other companies and government agencies around the world.
As danger from a global cyberattack that hit some 150 nations continues to fade, analysts are starting to assess the damage.

Hard-hit organizations such as the U.K.’s National Health Service appear to be bouncing back, and few people seem to have actually paid the ransom. But the attack has served as a live demonstration of a new type of global threat, one that could encourage future hackers.

Here’s what we currently know about the ransomware known as WannaCry, which locked up digital photos, documents and other files to hold them for ransom.

12 May 2017

India’s Modi emphasizes links with Sri Lanka to deepen ties

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the gathering at the UN celebration of Vesak ceremony in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, May 12, 2017. During his two-day visit Modi participated in the United Nations celebration of Vesak or the day of birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha. He also inaugurated a modern hospital for the benefit of tea plantation workers, ancestors of Indian laborers brought by the British from the 18th century.
India’s prime minister emphasized common heritage with Sri Lanka on Friday as he tries to woo the island neighbor that’s become an important cog in China’s plans for control of the Indian Ocean.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a speech in the Sri Lankan capital marking the International Day of Vesak, the remembrance of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death as part of his two-day visit to the country. He later went to meet tea-plantation workers with Indian ancestry.

11 May 2017

How are saints made? A primer on miracles, martyrs, virtues

In this photo taken May 4, 2017, souvenir tiles are displayed for sale at a shop in the village of Aljustrel, outside Fatima, Portugal. The tiles show Lucia Santos, Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto, the Portuguese shepherd children who say they saw visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago. Pope Francis is visiting the Fatima shrine on May 12 and 13 to canonize Francisco and Jacinta Marto.
Lengthy historic investigations. Decrees of “heroic virtues.” Miraculous cures.

The Vatican’s complicated saint-making process has long fascinated Catholics and non-Catholics alike, and will be on display Saturday when Pope Francis canonizes two children whose “visions” of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago turned the sleepy farming town of Fatima into a major Catholic pilgrimage site.

Francis recently reformed the process to address financial abuses that had long tarnished the Vatican’s saint-making machine, but the basic criteria remain.

9 May 2017

Jakarta governor sentenced to 2 years prison for blasphemy

Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, center, enters the court room as he attends his sentencing hearing in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. The minority Christian governor is currently on trial on accusation of blasphemy following his remark about a passage in the Quran that could be interpreted as prohibiting Muslims from accepting non-Muslims as leaders.
An Indonesian court sentenced the minority Christian governor of Jakarta to two years in prison on Tuesday for blaspheming the Quran, a jarring ruling that undermines the reputation of the world’s largest Muslim nation for practicing a moderate form of Islam.

In announcing its decision, the five-judge panel said Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama was “convincingly proven guilty of blasphemy” and ordered his arrest. He was taken to Cipinang Prison in east Jakarta. At the court, supporters of the governor wept and hugged each other amid shouts of jubilation from members of conservative Islamic groups.

Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya guilty of disobeying top court

In this June 3, 2010 file photo, United Breweries Group Chairman Vijay Mallya attends the Global Investors Meet organized by Karnataka state government in Bangalore, India. India’s top court on Tuesday, May 9, 2017, found wanted tycoon Mallya guilty of disobeying its order barring him from transferring $40 million to his children. Mallya, who fled to London last year, is wanted in India on charges of money laundering and bank demands that he pay back more than a billion dollars in loans extended to his now-defunct airline. India has been seeking his extradition over the charges, which Mallya denies.
India’s top court on Tuesday found wanted tycoon Vijay Mallya guilty of disobeying its order barring him from transferring $40 million to his children.

Mallya, who fled to London last year, is wanted in India on charges of money laundering and bank demands that he pay back more than a billion dollars in loans extended to his now-defunct airline. India has been seeking his extradition over the charges, which Mallya denies.

3 May 2017

India summons Pakistan envoy over killing of 2 soldiers

Indians burn an effigy of Pakistan and shout anti-Pakistan slogans during a protest in Ahmadabad, India, Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Two Indian soldiers were killed and their bodies mutilated Monday in an ambush by Pakistani soldiers along the highly militarized de facto border that divides the disputed region of Kashmir between the nuclear-armed rivals, the Indian army said. But Pakistan denied any such attack, calling the Indian claims false.
A top Indian diplomat Wednesday summoned Pakistan's ambassador to demand that Islamabad take action against soldiers and officers responsible for the killing and mutilation of two Indian soldiers.

The Indian army has said the soldiers were killed and mutilated Monday in an ambush by Pakistani soldiers along the highly militarized de-facto border that divides the disputed region of Kashmir between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Daredevils beat Sunrisers by 6 wickets in IPL

Sunrisers Hyderabad's cricketer Yuvraj Singh ties the shoelaces of Delhi Daredevils' batsman Rishabh Pant during their Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket match in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, May 2, 2017.
Delhi Daredevils broke their five-match losing streak in style on Tuesday with a six-wicket win against defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League.

Daredevils' third victory in the tournament lifted them from the bottom of the eight-team table to the No. 6 spot with six points after nine matches.

Sunrisers, with 13 points from 11 matches, still occupy third spot behind leader Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders.

1 May 2017

India says Pakistan killed 2 Indian soldiers in Kashmir

Two Indian soldiers were killed and their bodies mutilated Monday in an ambush by Pakistani soldiers along the highly militarized de facto border that divides the disputed region of Kashmir between the nuclear-armed rivals, the Indian army said. But Pakistan denied any such attack, calling the Indian claims false.

Separately, five police officials and two bank employees were killed when suspected rebels ambushed a bank van in Indian-controlled Kashmir, police said.

27 April 2017

India Bollywood actor Vinod Khanna dies of cancer at age 70

In this Aug. 15, 2011, file photo, Bollywood actor Vinod Khanna attends the funeral of versatile Indian actor Shammi Kapoor in Mumbai. A hospital official says Vinod Khanna, a dashing Bollywood actor turned politician, has died of cancer in Mumbai. He was 70.
Vinod Khanna, a dashing Bollywood actor turned politician, has died of cancer, a hospital official said. He was 70.

Tushar Pania, a spokesman for Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, said Khanna died Thursday due to bladder carcinoma.

Khanna made his Bollywood debut in 1968 and acted in more than 100 films. His popular performances included "Mere Apne" (My Own), "Mera Gaon Mera Desh" (My Village, My Country), "Gaddaar" (Traitor), "Kachhe Dhaage" (Delicate Thread) and "Amar Akbar Anthony." He acted with top stars Amitabh Bachhan and Dharmendra in several Hindi movies.