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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

Week of March 26, 1999

Most of the 28 victims of a fire that razed a vast shantytown of garbage scavengers were in a mosque in eastern Delhi when they died. Deadly, acrid smoke from stockpiled plastics salvaged from scrap heaps and an angry crowd that stoned fire fighters for arriving late on the scene hampered rescue efforts.


Week of March 19, 1999

BIHAR Because ratification of the move faced certain defeat in the Upper House of Parliament, the government revoked its takeover of Bihar, the poorest and second-most populous state. It had come under federal control in February due to the breakdown of public security.


Week of March 12, 1999

DHARAMSALA The Dalai Lama is being treated for exhaustion and the early stages of pneumonia. Doctors advised bed rest for at least two weeks, including March 10, the 40th anniversary of the failed uprising that resulted in the spiritual leader fleeing Tibet.

The bilateral trade pact that was supposed to go into effect on March 1 was virtually scuttled when New Delhi backtracked on the need to reduce duties on tea imports from Sri Lanka. There was no immediate action from either side to negotiate an end to the impasse.


Week of February 26, 1999

NEW DELHI Air-traffic controllers were slapped with contempt notices. The Delhi High Court said domestic and international passengers at airports across the country were being harassed by their two-week "go-slow" strike. The court formed a three-member panel to look into possible pay raises to put the controllers on a par with pilots.


Week of February 19, 1999

NEW DELHI India proposed Feb. 20 as the date for PM Atal Behari Vajpayee to travel to Pakistan on the inaugural Delhi-Lahore bus service.

ORISSA STATE Jayanti Ballabh Patnaik, the chief minister of Orissa, submitted his resignation to the Congress party, but not the governor as legally required, over the ongoing anti-Christian violence in the state. Congress leader Sonia Gandhi reportedly asked Patnaik to leave the post, her most decisive move since she came to the head of the party last April.


Week of February 12, 1999

NEW DELHI Tensions within India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party erupted on Jan. 30, with the resignation of the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Tourism Madan Lal Khurana. Protesting the wave of recent attacks on Christians and apparently rebelling against extremists in his party, Khurana, a moderate, quit the cabinet and the BJP. He then made strong accusations against Hindu nationalist hardliners, alleging that the Jan. 23 murders of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons in Orissa state were the handiwork of the Bajrang Dal, a militant ally of the BJP. The killings, said Khurana, were aimed at embarrassing PM Atal Behari Vajpayee, who has been challenging the hold of Hindu extremists on his party.


Week of February 5, 1999

THE AGNI - IT MEANS "FIRE" in Hindi - the newest intermediate range ballistic missile in New Delhi's arsenal, was on display during the Republic Day parade in the capital. Along with the short-range Prithvi, the Agni can deliver nuclear warheads. Mixed in with colorful floats and motorcycle stunt teams, the weaponry displays made it clear that the government's pride in its new-found nuclear capability would not be reined in. But other voices were heard, too. President Kocheril Raman Narayanan called for religious tolerance, and an anti-nuclear tableau staged by the government of West Bengal was included in Calcutta's patriotic parade. It had been rejected for the Delhi celebrations


Week of January 22, 1999

GUJARAT PM Atal Behari Vajpayee came under criticism for suggesting during his visit to Gujarat State that there is need for a national debate on the phenomenon of religious conversions, although his Bharatiya Janata Party welcomed the call. Gujarat has been hit by a wave of attacks on Christian churches. Militant Hindu leaders say poor Gujaratis are being targeted as likely converts to Christianity.

"WE WERE WORRIED ABOUT VIOLENCE, but it was peaceful all the way," Gurjit Singh, one of the passengers and chairman of the transportation commission for the Indian capital of New Delhi, said upon arriving in Pakistan. "We feel like we are coming home." Guarded by a heavily armed convoy, Indian officials made the 10-hour voyage across desert and over mountains on Jan. 8 on the first passenger bus in 50 years to run from India to Pakistan. The long-awaited trip was a trial run before scheduled service starts later this month. The link is one of the few concrete results of the otherwise disappointing series of negotiations by senior diplomats last year to try to resolve some of the rancor between the two countries.


Week of January 15, 1999

BANGALORE PM Atal Behari Vajpayee told a public meeting that India would demand the return of one-third of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir in any talks on the future of the disputed northern province.

A Historic Dismissal

ADMIRAL VISHNU BHAGWAT was one of the brightest chiefs of the Indian navy. When he was suddenly dismissed on Dec. 30 - the first time any chief of one of the armed forces had met with such a fate - shock waves ran through the military. The government says Bhagwat was sacked because he refused to comply with the cabinet's decision to appoint Vice-Admiral Harinder Singh as his deputy. Bhagwat countered - correctly - that he was entitled to choose his principal staff officer under the Navy Act. Though New Delhi has the power to overrule him in the matter, it is also obliged to pass a "speaking order" explaining the reason for its decision, which the cabinet did not do. This has led to speculation Bhagwat was fired because he opposed the powerful network of arms dealers and middlemen allegedly aligned with the Defense Ministry. His problems might have been aggravated by the fact that his wife Niloufar, a lawyer, worked to expose the members of the Hindu chauvinist Shiv Sena involved in the savage anti-Muslim rioting that rocked Bombay in 1993.


Week of January 8, 1999

New Delhi The Indian Express accused the government of displaying "the classic paralysis that has been seen in all build-ups to major outbreaks of communal violence" for failing to stop attacks on Christians by Hindus in the state of Gujarat. Tensions rose when Ashok Singhal, leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council), a militantly anti-Muslim and anti-Christian grouping allied to the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, accused Nobel prize winner Amartya Sen, a Hindu, of being part of "a Christian conspiracy" to undermine Hinduism. Singhal alleged that Sen's call for higher literacy rates in India was aimed at encouraging Christian missionaries to set up more schools in the country. The BJP distanced itself from Singhal, who, when cornered by the press, retreated from his comments. But he still maintained that Christian groups were luring poor Hindus into their religion. The 65-year-old Sen refused to join the debate.


News from India in 1998


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News from India in 1996


News from India in 1995


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