• Indian film legend Suchitra Sen dies – Bengali actress Suchitra Sen — the first to play Paro in 1955’s Devdas before Aishwarya Rai played the same role almost 50 years later in a remake of the film — passed away earlier today from a heart attack. (NDTV)
• Racist American diplomats leave New Delhi – Are all diplomats generally just bad at life? You tell us! Wayne May, a diplomat serving at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and Alicia Muller, his wife, who worked as a community liaison officer, have both been recalled from India following absurd Facebook comments they made about Indians that made their way to local media. May made fun of his impoverished and undernourished gardener by comparing him to his dog, while Muller, referring to India’s reputation for sexual violence, wrote, “It’s the vegetarians that are doing the raping, not the meat eaters — this place is just so bizarre.” The U.S. State Department has distanced themselves from the couple, and claim that the couple’s remarks are not representative of official US policy in India. You can read some of the diplomats’ remarks here. (Time)
• Not again… – A 51-year-old Danish woman was kidnapped and gang-raped for five hours by a group of men that the Delhi police are describing as “vagabonds.” She got lost in an area close to the New Delhi Railway Station, trying to return to her hotel in Paharganj. As she inquired for help and directions, she was accosted by the gang, who also robbed her. She has refused medical tests and has returned to Copenhagen. Police have two suspects in custody. (The Times of India)
• South Asian Americans stand with Sangeeta – The National Coalition of South Asian Organizations has issued a statement in support of Sangeeta Richard, the maid at the center of the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade. “We stand with Sangeeta Richard and call upon our community members to support her and domestic workers around the country,” said the Coalition. There are around 1.8 million domestic workers in America, many of whom labor under the same conditions that Richard did. Catch up with Nannygate by clicking here. (AsAmNews)
• Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan greet Rekha publicly – Shocking? You decide! Amitabh and Jaya have allowed themselves to be seen in public with Rekha — the same Bollywood legend who has allegedly had an affair with Amitabh in the past. (India West)
• Shashi Tharoor’s wife is pissed – Shashi Tharoor, India’s popular human development minister, has allegedly been having an affair with Mehr Tarar, a Pakistani journalist, revealed Tharoor’s wife, Sunanda Pushkar. In a series of tweets, Pushkar made the allegations about the “extramarital affair,” and accused Tarar of trying to “break up her marriage.” Tarar claims that the rumors aren’t true, and is filing an anti-defamation suit against Pushkar for calling her an “ISI Agent”. On Thursday, the couple issued a statement that they were still happily married. (India West)
UPDATE: (January 17 11:35 EST): Several Indian media outlets are reporting that Sunanda Pushkar was found dead a few hours ago in the Leela Hotel in New Delhi. No word yet on the cause of death. Here is NDTV’s report.
• Pakistani teen hero honored – The Government of Pakistan is paying tribute to Pakistani teen Aitzaz Hassan, who sacrificed himself to prevent a suicide bomber from entering his school last week. Provincial Governor Shaukatullah Khan visited the family home and awarded the family a reward of 5 million Pakistani rupees (USD$47,000). “His mother cried when he died, but there are 500 students in the school and if [Aitzaz] had not stopped the suicide bomber, mothers of all the 500 would have been crying for their kids,” said Khan. Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani advocate for education for girls, has also given half a million rupees to the family, or $5,000. (Voice of America)
• New Leadership at SAALT – South Asian Americans Leading Together is seeing the departure of its executive leader Deepa Iyer. Iyer served her position for ten years and oversaw SAALT’s expansion from a tiny operation to the full-fledged organization it is today. Iyer helped expand SAALT’s mandate to help deal with the increased racism South Asians experienced after 9/11. Iyer is to be replaced by Suman Raghunathan, an immigration and housing rights advocate. (AsAmNews)
Jaya Sundaresh lives in Chandigarh, India. She grew up in various parts of the Northeast in the U.S. before deciding to study political science at McGill University. Follow her on Twitter at @anedumacation and read her thoughts on her personal blog.