A 13-year-old boy from Punjab, India, who is worshipped by the locals and believed to be an incarnation of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman, is thinking of having his seven-inch tale removed despite the adoration.
Arshid Ali Khan will have to decide on his own whether to have the tail removed, which could be causing some of his health issues, but his grandfather, Iqbal Qureshi, said Khan should keep his tail rather than face a risky operation.
"It is for Balaji to decide. If he wants to get the tail removed, we do not mind," Qureshi said. "He has trouble walking and so we are asking doctors what can be done." more >>
Two Indian teenage girls were gang-raped and hanged from a mango tree in an orchard near Katra village in Uttar Pradesh state on Wednesday, sparking hundreds to protest what they allege is police inaction.
TV footage showed hundreds of villagers sitting under the bodies later that day in silent protest of police inaction. The people are accusing the local police chief of ignoring a report by the girls' father on Tuesday night that they are missing.
Villagers apparently found the bodies of the girls, two cousins 14 and 15 years old, hanging from a tree on Wednesday. more >>
Several Indian church officials said that they are not concerned that Hindu extremist groups will increase after a landslide victory for the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the government elections, noting that religious minorities are protected by the Constitution.
"Minorities, such as Christians and Muslims are an integral part of the nation and of the social fabric of Indian society. Minorities are protected by the Constitution, I believe that the new government cannot and will not want to go against the Constitution. As Christians we are confident," said His Exc. Mgr. Stanley Roman, Bishop of Quilon, in the state of Kerala, according to Fides News Agency on Friday.
CNBC reported on Friday that early results from India's five-week long elections are pointing to a big victory for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Narendra Modi. It has already won or is winning 338 parliamentary seats, which is more than the required majority of 272. India's National Congress party, which had been in power for the past decade, was leading in only 68 seats, which is its worst-ever showing. more >>
The roughly two million or so transgendered people in India will be recognized as a third gender following a ruling by India's Supreme Court.
"It is the right of every human being to choose their gender," the Supreme Court said, according to BBC News. The ruling also mandates the government to provide transgender people with quotas in jobs and education in line with other minorities.
Estimates state that there are close to two million transgender people in India, who are often discriminated against and ostracized by the rest of society, forced to live in poverty. more >>
India suffers from an abysmal literacy rate, weak infrastructure and rampant poverty. But one of the toughest challenges the world's second largest country must confront in the 21st century is how it will better serve its declining and vulnerable female population.
The causes discouraging families and communities from raising and protecting girls and women are explored in "Veil of Tears," a new documentary from Gospel for Asia, which releases in the U.S. on March 28. more >>
A new economic report on India revealed a lower poverty rate in the world's second most populous country. At the same time, more than half of the population still cannot meet their basic needs. With that, the Roman Catholic Church in India echoed Pope Francis' call to devote itself to serving the poor and those marginalized by society.
"The Catholic community intends to improve its services to education, making schools and other educational institutions closer to the poor. It also aims to combat the culture of well-being, which leads to 'globalization of indifference,' as Pope Francis defines it," Agenzia Fides reported on Thursday, citing comments by the "Justice and Peace" Commission of the Indian Bishops.
The McKinsey Global Institute report, commissioned by the Indian government and released this month, revealed mixed economic news for the South Asian country. While the official poverty rate has gone down from 45 percent of the population in 1994 to 22 percent in 2012, it was found that 56 percent of the population, or 680 million people, still lack the means to meet essential needs, such as food, energy, housing, drinking water, sanitation, healthcare, education, and social security. more >>