Julie McCarthy

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Over the last couple of months, over 10,000 people have been injured protesting for one idea. That idea is freedom from India. We're talking about a decades-old dispute over the territory of Kashmir, which is administered by India but also claimed by Pakistan.

Gautam Lewis has had the sort of life that could spring from the pages of a fairy tale.

Afflicted with polio at 18 months, he was taken in by Mother Teresa when he was 3. He doesn't know all the details of how he came to live at her Home for Children in Kolkata, but he does speak of the courage his family must have had to give him up.

In an amateur video, four frightened men, stripped to the waist and tethered to a truck, are publicly flogged on a busy street in broad daylight.

Their assailants accused the four men of killing a cow — a sacred animal in India. Calling themselves protectors of the cow, they filmed themselves beating the foursome with iron rods and wooden sticks on July 11 — then posted their video on social media.

A steady rain falls on velvet green terraces, releasing a powerful scent of newly harvested tea. A ripple of voices tumbles down the hillside as a man barks orders.

The tea pickers, all women, many in bare feet, expertly navigate the leech-infested slopes. Balancing hampers on their backs loaded with freshly plucked tea leaves, they descend for their morning tea break.

The move has sent shockwaves across India's financial sector: Raghuram Rajan, the governor of India's Reserve Bank who's been buffeted by political attacks, announced that he will be leaving. The 53-year old economist had said he was open to a second term, but will instead be returning to academia in the United States when his three-year tenure is up in September.

There has been intense speculation about whether Rajan, who had been appointed Reserve Bank chief by the previous government, would serve a second term under the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

With near universal literacy and long life expectancy, the small Indian state of Kerala is a model for the rest of India.

In recent weeks, however, the small state tucked at the bottom of the country has been in the spotlight for what its glowing human development indicators do not reveal.

It sometimes takes an awful event to uncover maladies beneath the surface, and here, it was the savage murder of an underprivileged law student.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Tukaram Jadhav was barely surviving off of his tiny cotton farm when he killed himself last September. His widow, a petite mother of two, pulls her purple sari tightly around her, and says she discovered her husband as he lay dying.

"I was the one who found him. I was sleeping and woke up to the powerful smell of pesticides that we use to farm," Bhagyashree Jadhav says. She says she thought there had been a spill. "I asked my husband if he smelled it, then I realized he couldn't speak. He'd swallowed the pesticide." Tukaram languished in the hospital for two days before dying.

A fire crackles along the banks of the Yamuna River: a cremation of a young mother, struck by a car while she was fetching water.

The stench of the river engulfs the sad assembly.

Before the hissing funeral pyre, floating down the river, white blocks of what looks like detergent appear like icebergs. It is 95 degrees in Delhi this night. This is chemical waste from factories that have sprung up across the city, manufacturing leather goods, dyes and other goods.

Downstream, the living reside along garbage-strewn banks.

Early morning light filters into the cavernous gymnasium as Neetu lunges, climbs and contorts her body into impossible positions. She shimmies up a thick rope that dangles from the two-story ceiling, her heavily muscled arms propelling her upward. She races through calisthenics with 25 other young women in the boot camp atmosphere of Chhotu Ram Stadium and Wrestling Center, in the Indian state of Haryana, known for its wrestling tradition.

The grueling twice-a-day practice– 4 hours in the morning and 3 1/2 in the afternoon-- is her ordinary routine.

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