Exclusives/Special Reports

The Sonia Story Cong Doesn’t Want You To Read (Exclusive: Cover story. Read the turn here.) Mail Today, June 2010
It’s as close as it gets to a hagiography, but Javier Moro’s unauthorised biography of Sonia Gandhi, The Red Saree: When Life is The Price of Power, has triggered a war of words between the Congress and the Spanish writer that shows no signs of abating.

Exclusive: Afghan woman ditched by Indian army officer (Cover story) Mail Today, January 2009
If there is any heartbreak in this tragic love story, Sabra Ahmadzia, a 20-year-old translator from Kabul, is not showing it. What she does show – after two years of waiting for the Indian man, an Army Major who wooed, married and then abandoned her – is a steely resolve for justice.

Tibet’s Gen India (doublespread) Mail Today, April 5, 2009
Fifty years after a band of brave Tibetans followed the Dalai Lama to India to escape Chinese persecution, NEHA TARA MEHTA talks to exiles and finds that they are very much at home in their second home.

CBSE Makes The Grade With Caution (doublespread) Mail Today, September 4, 2009
Replacing marks with grades and making the Class X board examinations optional has got a thumbs up from educationists. But they warn that it is not a remedy for all the ills afflicting our school education system.

The Mahatma’s Blood Report To Go On Sale (Cover story. Read the turn here.) Mail Today, June 20, 2010
Mahatma Gandhi’s haemoglobin level, blood colour index and red blood cell count, as recorded 10 days before his assassination, will see the light of day when Los Angeles-based billionaire James Otis puts the blood report up for auction within a week.

Babus Spoil Mallya’s Bapu Party (Cover story. Read the turn here.) Mail Today, March 14, 2009
Officials more loyal to a 1972 law than the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi are playing party-pooper to the ‘King of Good Times’.

Long March of Peace Soldiers (doublespread) Mail Today, February 8, 2009
Days before the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai pushed the relations between India and Pakistan to their lowest point ever, a group of Indian ‘peace warriors’ — ex-military officers who had come together under the banner of the India Pakistan Soldiers’ Peace Initiative (IPSI) — had completed all the formalities for their annual visit to the neighbour. The terror strikes made sure the visit wouldn’t happen.

Have You Poked God Yet? Mail Today, November 1, 2009
Move over Ramanand Sagar and BR Chopra. The Web 2.0 generation is rediscovering the epics beyond the glycerin, gold and gota on larger-than-life TV sets. The Mahabharata, the Bhagvad Geeta, the Ramayana, the Bible and even asura tales have undergone an epic metamorphosis and are up in a delightful, if sometimes irreverential form, on Facebook walls, tweets and blog posts.

A Ray of Hope: Reverse mortgaging has come as a boon for the city’s elderly (Page 1) Hindustan Times, June 2
Seventy-five-year-old Seema Chandra (name changed), a retired university professor who is a window with no children, finally has a way of paying her mounting medical bills owing to failed kidneys: reverse mortgaging her sprawling home in a Delhi suburb.

United in grief Hindustan Times,  November 3
As a fourth-generation Army officer, Col. Amanpreet Singh Legha didn’t know what it meant to be helpless. Hard-wired to soldier on despite all odds, his exceptional bravery in resisting the Naga insurgency won him the Shaurya Chakra in 1998. But one March afternoon this year, the Colonel came face-to-face with helplessness.

’05 Diwali blasts haunt child survivors (Page 1) Hindustan Times, October 27, 2007
Diksha Poddar, 14, hasn’t slept properly for the last two years. On October 29, 2005, she had gone to Sarojini Nagar to buy Dhoom shoes for her brother, Karan, 7, a John Abraham fan. Karan was one of the 67 who died in the serial blasts that rocked Delhi that day.

Also see 2 years after blasts, trauma refuses to go away.

Why don’t Indians win the Nobel prize? Hindustan Times, Big Story, October 9, 2005
A system steeped in bureaucracy has kept our scientists away from the most coveted award for decades. As part of this package, read, ‘Wanted: Critical Mass for Indian Science‘ and  ‘A Very Physical problem indeed

Indian denied Nobel Hindustan Times, October 15, 2005 (Exclusive)
Following the award of the Nobel prize to physicist Roy J. Glauber for his work on quantum optics, Indian scientists are peeved. They feel that compatriot E.C.G. Sudarshan, now at the University of Texas, should have shared the award, as he made the same discovery at around the same time.
Related stories: Nobel denial: Swedes petitioned (Hindustan Times, November 26, 2005) and ‘My work got Nobel, not me,’ (Hindustan Times, April 3, 2006)

Delhi’s child psychiatrist problem Hindustan Times, February 11, 2007, Page 1
If you find your child needs to see a psychiatrist, brace yourself: you might not find a proper one. India’s capital has only two qualified child psychiatrists, according to the Delhi Psychiatric Society.

From Silicon Valley to organic farming Hindustan Times, June 23, 2007, Page 1 (read the turn here)
Ever since he switched to ploughing from programming and gobar cakes from CDs, 44-year-old Balaji Coomandur, a software professional until recently, has lost 20 pounds and a lot of work-related worries. Says the IIT-Madras graduate who had a burnout at 36 after working for software giants in Chennai, the Silicon Valley and Canada, “Working on the farm is so much more peaceful than dealing with people in the workplace.”

Plan to lure back NRI scientists has few takers Hindustan Times, August 18 2007 (Page 1)
It was meant to attract brilliant science and engineering brains from across the world, especially NRIs struck by patriotic fervor, to boost scientific research in the country. But two years after the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) prestigious Ramanujan fellowship was announced, only three NRI scientists have returned to the country. Another two are expected shortly.

Vegetarian below 40? Take care (Page 1) Hindustan Times, November 11, 2007
If you are vegetarian and 40 years of age or younger, make sure you get the right intake of B-vitamins, especially vitamin B12 — else you could be at the risk of suffering from a stroke. Ongoing research at the Bangalore-based National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) has linked vitamin B deficiencies commonly seen in vegetarians, as well as genetic defects — that cause levels of a chemical called homocysteine to increase in the body — to the alarming incidence of strokes in young Indians.

High IQ men as sperm donors Hindustan Times, June 2008 (Page 1)
He’s a 30-year-old software engineer, who is planning to start a family soon. But he often thinks about the children he has already helped bring into the world — as a sperm donor. “One of the main reasons I became a donor is that I believe I am a good person, and wanted to help create good people,” says the Mumbaiite, who donated ten samples as an engineering student. And even though he didn’t get to hear any Father’s Day greetings last week, he says, “I hope I have passed on my good values to the children, wherever they may be.”

Economic Slide Fuels Fertility Business Boom Mail Today, December 2008
Last year’s sealing drive took away her husband’s catering unit. This October, recession cost Anita her retail job. Christmas, though, may finally bring some cheer — and money — to this 26- year- old retail management postgraduate. No, she hasn’t found another job. But she will raise money by renting out her womb to an American woman who is flying in to India to start the procedure next week.

Has IPL Delivered Bang For The Bucks? (Doublespread story with Harini Subramani) Mail Today, May 10, 2009
“The IPL, someone said, is recession-proof.” Sneha Rajani, the business head of MAX (now called Multi Screen Media) isn’t way of the mark when she says that. After all, even after the whopping Rs 8,200 crore her channel had spent in securing the broadcast rights of IPL-2 from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), it is still laughing its way to the bank — it is expected to rake in three times the moolah it did last season from advertising revenues alone (Rs 238 crore).

Rushdie to pen his life after fatwa Mail Today, March 2010
Living in the shadow of fatwa is decidedly unpleasant, but the story promises to make for a riveting read. Acclaimed author Salman Rushdie is now contemplating a book that could be one of the most anticipated stories of the future: The story of his life with a price on his head for ‘blasphemy’, following the publication of his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, in 1988.

Failed artists novels are about pictures (Covering Orhan Pamuk) Mail Today, January 22, 2011
I am nothing but a corpse now, a body at the bottom of a well. Though I drew my last breath long ago and my heart has stopped beating, no one, apart from that vile murderer, knows what’s happened to me. If the opening lines of My Name Is Red (2001), startled you into reading further, Orhan Pamuk achieved what he set out do: making you, the reader, identify with the cultural problems of the 16th century, through the story of miniature painters in Ottoman Turkey and Mughal India.

Paedophiles hang around schools hunting for prey (Page 1) Hindustan Times, December 16, 2006
An ongoing study on paedophilia at Tihar jail finds that nearly 80 per cent paedophiles spent a lot of time outside schools, including some prominent ones. They targeted boys around age 10, and girls between the ages eight and 14, in ‘public school dress.’

Child, interrupted (The ‘Big Story’ page) Hindustan Times, December 2007
Children in Nithari have a new bedtime ritual. When they refuse to turn in for the day, their parents say, “Sleep, or Moninder will come and get you.” Sleep descends on the frightened children quickly thereafter — and so do the nightmares. It has been nearly a year since the village — and the world — woke up to the horror of skeletal remains of 15 children being unearthed from a drain in a rich businessman’s backyard in Noida’s upscale Sector 31. D-5, Moninder Singh Pandher’s bungalow bordering Nithari went on to become the global metaphor for the defiling of innocent lives.

Fear shadows the children of Nithari (Page 1) Hindustan Times, December 2007
On December 29  last year, the remains of missing children were recovered from a drain in Noida. A year later, fear still stalks the young in the nearby village of Nithari. Some of them see themselves being chopped into pieces in their dreams, a recent study has found. A team of psychologists studied 38 children aged between nine and 12, and found that all of them feared that they too would become victims of serial killings: 97% felt “very frightened” in the presence of strangers, especially men, and 91% felt “extremely scared” suddenly for no reason, the study by Swanchetan, an NGO, found.
Related: Nithari victims’ kin hit by health problems, trauma (Hindustan Times, December 28, 2007)

Shrink’s chamber of dirty secrets (Page 1) Hindustan Times, March 18, 2006
It’s one of the city’s dirtiest secrets: the sexual exploitation of female patients by mental health professionals. Though the community of professionals is well aware of such cases — and sometimes, the culprits — no one is, unfortunately, willing to bring this out into the open.

Many Gitanjalis on Delhi’s mean streets (Page 1) Hindustan Times, September 9, 2007
Gitanjali Nagpal, a homeless, mentally unstable ex-model received psychiatric help; but 2,500 mentally ill women are leading wretched lives on Delhi’s streets, with no one to turn to.

India’s Sexist Taliban Mail Today, August 8, 2010
Wardha Vice-Chancellor V.N. Rai was following the tradition of other notables when he equated women writers with prostitutes. Neha Tara Mehta lists the country’s top ten misogynists. (Illustrations by R. Prasad)

Bikini a disfiguring garment: Germaine Greer Mail Today, March 2011
In the end, it took Germaine Greer– the writer who revolutionised feminist discourse – to articulate a truth we would rather not acknowledge as we chase artificial beauty parameters set by a botox-obsessed fashion industry. “Ninety-nine per cent of the female population looks dreadful in a bikini,” Greer said, sending the audience into paroxysms of somewhat self-conscious chuckles.

Censored in Pakistan Mail Today, February 8, 2011
The shadow of Salman Taseer’s assassination loomed large over the second Karachi Literature Festival, held in the city between February 5-6, with writers speaking on how self-censorship has become a way of life for them. “This is a very unsettled time in Pakistan, and we are heading towards more and more instability.  As long as I have friends and family here, I will have to exercise self-censorship,” said writer-farmer Daniyal Mueenuddin, whose 2008 collection of short stories was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Pak minister killed for liberal stand Mail Today, March 3, 2011 (with Badar Alam in Karachi)
Shahbaz Bhatti had seen it coming. Four months ago, Pakistan’s federal minister for minorities affairs, a Roman Catholic, recorded his farewell video message, asking it to be broadcast if he was killed.

Melbourne cops ignore racist angle Mail Today, January 2010
Here’s an attack in a Melbourne suburb that did not make the headlines in India – or in Australia. This past Christmas, a mob of young white men attacked a group of Indian students in Glenroy.

Australia plays up killing by Indians Mail Today, January 2010
An Indian couple has been arrested for the murder of Ranjodh Singh, a contract worker whose half-burnt body was fund in the New South Wales town of Griffith on December 29.


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