Author: Saryu Joshi

On a chilly and foggy winter day, hundreds of apple farmers in Pulwama district of Indian-administered Kashmir stored their harvest in a temporary tin shelter installed at the fruit market, anticipating the arrival of traders who would purchase their produce. The farmers were anxious as the quality of apples this year had not been the best and would affect the price they’d get. Kashmir is known in India for its variety of apples. But a series of challenges – from the onslaught of fungal scab, the impact of climate change, and a range of economic hurdles – has thrown the…

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Rescue work to save 41 workers trapped in a tunnel in India’s Uttarakhand state has been delayed by at least four to five days because the drilling machine broke down inside the tunnel. Rescuers will begin digging manually once the faulty part is removed. The workers have been stuck inside the tunnel for two weeks after a portion of it collapsed due to a landslide. The operation has been challenging due to the presence of rocks, stones and metal inside the debris. Rescuers have to resort to drilling by hand because the auger keeps getting stuck on pieces of metal…

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For a long time, people living in two densely populated Asian capitals have suffered the toxic smog that blanket their cities. On some days, when the smoke draped Delhi and Beijing – both teeming cities with more than 20 million people – in an orange-grey hue, and the air tasted smoky, people said it felt like living in a dystopian nightmare. Beijing residents even gave the calamity a popular nickname – “airpocalypse”. That time of the year is back in Delhi, but Beijing is breathing much better. Particulate matter, known as PM2.5 – particles so small they can be ingested…

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Residents of India’s capital, Delhi, woke up to smoky skies as air quality dropped after the festival of Diwali. People in the city burst crackers late into Sunday night despite a ban on fireworks due to high pollution levels. Delhi has been battling toxic air for weeks, with the government announcing an early winter break for schools in an effort to protect children. The city has high pollution through the year due to factors including vehicular emissions and dust. But the problem becomes worse in winter as farmers in neighbouring states burn crop stubble. Low wind speeds also trap pollutants…

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Police in India are investigating a series of explosions which killed three people and injured more than 50 others in the southern state of Kerala. The blasts took place during an event by Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian-based religious movement, in the town of Kalamassery on Sunday. A man was detained after he posted a video claiming responsibility for the attacks and surrendered to police. Police said they were still trying to verify his confession. “He is in our custody. He has also presented some pieces of evidence which we are verifying. The investigation is at its preliminary stage,” Additional Director…

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London (08/11 – 50) A U.S. development agency announced on Wednesday that it would lend $553 million to establish a deepwater shipping-container terminal at the Port of Colombo in Sri Lanka, expanding America’s effort to finance infrastructure around strategic parts of Asia. The loan package is tied to Adani Ports, part of a conglomerate closely linked with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India that is still wobbling from a short-seller’s attack in January. Adani will help develop the terminal with Sri Lankan partners. The money from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation resembles the kind of big-ticket deals that China’s…

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Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe will visit China in the upcoming week as the crisis-hit country makes progress on debt restructuring talks with its biggest lender. Wickremesinghe took office in July last year, after a popular uprising, brought on by an economic meltdown, had forced his predecessor out of power. His Oct. 15-19 visit to Beijing will be his first to China since then. Wickremesinghe, who is also finance minister, has been leading Sri Lanka’s push to manage its heavy debt and keep funds flowing from a $2.9 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme. He will attend a Belt and…

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Rescue operations have entered the third day after flash floods in India’s north-eastern state of Sikkim left over 100 people missing. At least 26 people, including seven soldiers, have died, officials said on Friday. The massive floods were trigged by a cloudburst over a mountain lake this week. The floods worsened after water was released from a nearby dam into the Teesta river. It destroyed the power infrastructure at the Chungthang dam before moving downstream and flooding towns and villages. Hundreds of search and rescue personnel have been deployed across Sikkim and in the northern parts of the neighbouring West…

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A Hindu celebration which was attended by more than 1,000 people was filled with “joy, heart-throbbing beats and the smiles on faces of young and old”. The Swindon Hindu Centre is celebrating Ganesh Utsav, a religious celebration commemorating the birth of the Hindu god Ganesha, from 18 to 23 September. The event on Monday featured a Ganesha idol carried on a chariot in a lively procession of dancing and music. It was one of biggest gathering of Hindus ever seen in the town. Prayers and activities will be held over the next few days at the Swindon Hindu Centre to…

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China has told India to “stay calm” over a new Chinese map that Delhi says lays claim to its territory. India protested after Beijing released the map showing north-eastern Arunachal Pradesh state and the disputed Aksai Chin plateau as China’s territory. Beijing responded by saying its neighbours should refrain from “over-interpreting” the issue. Meanwhile, media reports say Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to skip next week’s G20 leaders talks in Delhi. Unconfirmed reports suggest Premier Li Qiang will attend instead. Mr Xi had earlier confirmed he would travel to Delhi for the meeting from 9-10 September – but China’s…

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