Protests erupt as India pushes for religion-based citizenship bill

Protests erupt as India pushes for religion-based citizenship bill
By Zarir Hussain and Abhirup Roy

GUWAHATI/MUMBAI (Reuters) – Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in India on Monday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government offered a controversial bill in parliament that would give citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from three neighboring countries.

Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in India’s lower house amid raucous debate. Opposition parties stood against the proposed law that would, for the first time, create a legal pathway to grant Indian nationality on the basis of religion.

The bill was originally introduced in 2016 during the Modi government’s first term but lapsed after protests and an alliance partner’s withdrawal. It proposes to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslims who came to India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan before 2015.

Oppositions politicians inside parliament, and protesters in several Indian cities, said the bill discriminated against Muslims and violated India’s secular constitution.

Shah and Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which had included the CAB as part of its manifesto in the last general election, insist that it is necessary.

“In these three countries, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians, followers of these six religions have been tormented,” Shah said, before the bill was tabled after a vote.

‘LAST DROP OF BLOOD’

But protesters returned to the streets in Assam – one of India’s remote northeastern states that had previously opposed the bill – and blocked roads, burnt tyres and painted walls with slogans against the new proposal.

Student groups called for dawn-to-dusk shutdown in four districts of the state. Shops, businesses, educational and financial institutions remained shut and public transport stayed off the roads.

“We will fight and oppose the bill till the last drop of our blood,” All Assam Students’ Union adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya told Reuters, underlining the region’s resistance against migrants amid fears that tens of thousands of settlers from neighboring Bangladesh would gain citizenship.

In Modi’s home state of Gujarat and the eastern city of Kolkata, hundreds of people staged protests and marched against the proposed law.

In a statement issued on Monday, a group of more than 1,000 Indian scientists and scholars also called for the immediate withdrawal of the bill.

“We fear, in particular, that the careful exclusion of Muslims from the ambit of the bill will greatly strain the pluralistic fabric of the country,” the statement said.

After going through the lower house of parliament, where BJP has a majority, the bill has to be passed by the upper house, where the ruling party enough votes. Any bill needs to be ratified by both houses of India’s parliament to become law.

“Please save this country from this law and save the home minister,” Asaduddin Owaisi, an opposition MP from the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen party, told parliament.

(Reporting by Zarir Hussain in Guwahati and Abhirup Roy in Mumbain; additional reporting by Rupak De Chowdhuri in Kolkata and Sumit Khanna in Ahmedabad; editing by Devjyot Ghoshal, Larry King)

Women seek to reclaim Delhi’s streets – but more men show up

By Annie Banerji

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – How can women reclaim the streets when they fear venturing out alone?

That was the challenge faced by the organisers of a street festival in New Delhi held to encourage Indian women to reclaim public spaces this week, as the country reeled from the latest gang rape and murder to hit the headlines.

“It seemed that most women came with their families, male friends or partners,” said Kiran, a police inspector who goes by one name, of the Step Out At Night festival organised by the city authorities on Thursday night.

“We hoped women would come without fear … but maybe this needs to be done more often to make them feel safe enough to do so,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Friday.

India has a grim record of sexual violence against women, with an average of some 90 rapes reported each day in 2017, according to latest federal data.

Thursday’s event came amid angry protests over the gang-rape and murder of a 27-year-old veterinarian near the southern city of Hyderabad last week.

Four suspects were shot dead during a reconstruction of the crime early on Friday by police who said they had tried to seize weapons. the killings drewing praise from many on social media but raised concerns over due process.

India strengthened its laws on sexual violence against women after the 2012 gang rape and murder of a woman on a Delhi bus that led to an outpouring of anger.

But critics say enforcement remains weak. On Thursday, a rape victim was set alight by a gang of men as she made her way to court.

In Delhi, dubbed India’s “rape capital” due to high levels of sexual violence, hundreds of women turned out for the festival, which included music and dance performances and gender equality themed games including snakes and ladders.

One female lawmaker tweeted a photo from the festival which showed her eating street food with a small group of women and throngs of men in the background.

Nishtha Gupta, a 22-year-old Delhi University student who attended, said she had asked her brother to accompany her “because my parents feel better knowing he’ll be with me”.

“The idea behind the festival is great … to have more women be visible and present in public spaces, but that’s not going to happen overnight,” she said.

Kalpana Viswanath, co-founder of an app that provides safety-related information, said the festival was a positive first step for women to assert their right to public spaces.

“As long as there are more women in public spaces, it will be safer just by virtue of there being more women,” said Viswanath, whose app, Safetipin, was a co-organiser.

(Reporting by Annie Banerji @anniebanerji, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, gender equality, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org to see more stories)

Facial recognition at Indian cafe chain sparks calls for data protection law

A visitor drinks coffee at the 'International Coffee Festival 2007' in the southern Indian city of Bangalore February 25, 2007. REUTERS/Jagadeesh Nv (INDIA) - GM1DURPKFSAA

By Rina Chandran

BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The use of facial recognition technology at a popular Indian cafe chain that triggered a backlash among customers, led to calls from human rights advocates on Monday for the government to speed up the introduction of laws to protect privacy.

Customers at Chaayos took to social media during the last week to complain about the camera technology they said captured images of them without their consent, with no information on what the data would be used for, and no option to opt out.

While the technology is marketed as a convenience, the lack of legislative safeguards to protect against the misuse of data can lead to “breaches of privacy, misidentification and even profiling of individuals”, said Joanne D’Cunha, associate counsel at Internet Freedom Foundation, a digital rights group.

“Until India introduces a comprehensive data protection law that provides such guarantees, there needs to be a moratorium on any technology that would infringe upon an individual’s right to privacy and other rights that stem from it,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from New Delhi.

A statement from Chaayos said the technology was being tested in select cafes and was aimed at reducing purchase times for customers.

The data was encrypted, would not be shared, and customers could choose to opt out, it added.

“We are extremely conscious about our customers’ data security and privacy and are committed to protecting it,” the statement said.

A Personal Data Protection Bill is scheduled to be introduced by lawmakers in the current parliamentary session to Dec. 13.

The draft of the bill proposed strict conditions for requiring and storing personal data, and hefty penalties for misuse of such data.

But digital rights activists had criticised a recent consultation on the bill they said was “secret and selective”.

The ministry for information technology did not respond to a request for comment.

Worldwide, the rise of cloud computing and artificial intelligence technologies have popularised the use of facial recognition for a range of applications from tracking criminals to catching truant students.

In India, facial recognition technology was installed in several airports this year, and the government plans to roll out a nationwide system to stop criminals and find missing children.

But digital rights experts say it could breach privacy and lead to increased surveillance.

India’s Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling in 2017 on the national biometric identity card programme Aadhaar, said individual privacy is a fundamental right.

There is a growing backlash elsewhere: San Francisco and Oakland have banned the use of facial recognition technology, and “anti-surveillance fashion” is becoming popular.

(Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran; Editing by Michael Taylor. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Mass surveillance fears as India readies facial recognition system

Mass surveillance fears as India readies facial recognition system
By Rina Chandran

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As India prepares to install a nationwide facial recognition system in an effort to catch criminals and find missing children, human rights and technology experts on Thursday warned of the risks to privacy and from increased surveillance.

Use of the camera technology is an effort in “modernising the police force, information gathering, criminal identification, verification”, according to India’s national crime bureau.

Likely to be among the world’s biggest facial recognition systems, the government contract is due to be awarded on Friday.

But there is little information on where it will be deployed, what the data will be used for and how data storage will be regulated, said Apar Gupta, executive director of non-profit Internet Freedom Foundation.

“It is a mass surveillance system that gathers data in public places without there being an underlying cause to do so,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Without a data protection law and an electronic surveillance framework, it can lead to social policing and control,” he said.

A spokesman for India’s Home Ministry did not return calls seeking comment.

Worldwide, the rise of cloud computing and artificial intelligence technologies have popularised the use of facial recognition for a range of applications from tracking criminals to catching truant students.

There is a growing backlash however, and in San Francisco authorities banned the use of facial recognition technology by city personnel, and “anti-surveillance fashion” is becoming popular.

Facial recognition technology was launched in a few Indian airports in July, and Delhi police last year said they had identified nearly 3,000 missing children in just days during a trial.

But technology site Comparitech, which ranked the Indian cities of Delhi and Chennai among the world’s most surveilled cities in a recent report https://www.comparitech.com/vpn-privacy/the-worlds-most-surveilled-cities, said it had found “little correlation between the number of public CCTV cameras and crime or safety”.

Indian authorities have said facial recognition technology is needed to bolster a severely under-policed country.

There are 144 police officers for every 100,000 citizens, among the lowest ratios in the world, according to the United Nations.

The technology has been shown to be inaccurate in identifying darker-skinned women, those from ethnic minorities, and transgender people.

So its use in a criminal justice system where vulnerable groups such as indigenous people and minorities are over-represented risks greater abuse, said Vidushi Marda, a lawyer and artificial intelligence researcher at Article 19, a Britain-based human rights organisation.

“The use of facial recognition provides a veneer of technological objectivity without delivering on its promise, and institutionalises systemic discrimination,” she said.

“Being watched will become synonymous with being safe, only because of a constant, perpetual curfew on individual autonomy. This risks further entrenching marginalisation and discrimination of vulnerable sections.”

India’s Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling in 2017 on the national biometric identity card programme Aadhaar, said individual privacy is a fundamental right, amid concerns over data breaches and the card’s mandated use for services.

Yet the ruling has not checked the rollout of facial recognition technology, or a proposal to link Aadhaar with social media accounts, said Gupta.

“There is a perceptible rise in national security being a central premise for policy design. But national security cannot be the reason to restrict rights,” he said.

“It is very worrying that technology is being used as an instrument of power by the state rather than as an instrument to empower citizens.”

(Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran; Editing by Michael Taylor. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

More than 1,600 die in India’s heaviest monsoon season for 25 years

By Devjyot Ghoshal and Saurabh Sharma

NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW (Reuters) – The heaviest monsoon rains to lash India in 25 years have killed more than 1,600 people since June, government data showed on Tuesday, as authorities battled floods in two northern states and muddy waters swirled inside a major city.

The monsoon, which typically lasts between June and September, has already delivered 10% more rain than a 50-year average, and is expected to withdraw only after early October, more than a month later than usual.

The extended rains have wreaked havoc, with northern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states the worst hit in the latest spell of intense downpours, killing 144 people since last Friday, two officials said.

In Patna, Bihar’s riverside capital city that is home to around two million people, residents said they were wading through waist-deep water to buy essential items like food and milk.

Ranjeev Kumar, 65, a resident of Patna’s Ashiyana neighbourhood, told Reuters by telephone that the entire area was stranded by the water.

“The government is not doing any rescue and the situation is very serious here,” he said.

On Monday, relief workers rescued Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi from his home in Patna. Video footage showed him dressed in shorts and a t-shirt as he was brought out on a raft along with his family members.

Saket Kumar Singh, who lives in the city’s Boring Road area, said he was stranded for four days, with about two feet of water inside his house.

“There was no electricity, and despite having money I was helpless,” Singh, 45, said.

In neighboring Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, heavy rains have brought down more than 800 homes and swathes of farmland are submerged.

Data released by the federal home ministry shows that 1,673 people have died because of floods and heavy rains this year, as of Sept. 29.

Officials said that many of these fatalities were caused due to wall and building collapses, including in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, the western state that has seen 371 flood-related deaths in 2019, the highest in the country.

“The danger of old or weak structures collapsing increases during the heavy rainfall, like what happened this time,” Chandrakant Sharma, a flood expert with Uttar Pradesh’s disaster relief department, told Reuters.

India’s flood prevention and forecasting systems are lacking, other experts say, even as the total flood-prone area in the country has increased in recent decades because of deforestation, degradation of water bodies, and climate change.

(Reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal in NEW DELHI and Saurabh Sharma in LUCKNOW, Additional reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in MUMBAI; Editing by Peter Graff)

Floods kill 113 in north India in late monsoon burst, jail, hospital submerged

By Saurabh Sharma

LUCKNOW, India (Reuters) – Heavy rains have killed at least 113 people in India’s Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states over the past three days, officials said on Monday, as floodwaters swamped a major city, inundated hospital wards and forced the evacuation of inmates from a jail.

India’s monsoon season that begins in June usually starts to retreat by early September, but heavy rains have continued across parts of the country this year, triggering floods.

An official said that at least 93 people had died in most populous Uttar Pradesh since Friday after its eastern areas were lashed by intense monsoon showers.

Rising water levels forced authorities to shift 900 inmates from a prison in eastern Ballia district, police officer Santosh Verma said.

In neighboring Bihar, an impoverished agrarian region that was hit by floods earlier this year, the death toll from the latest bout of rain had reached 20 on Monday, a state government official said.

Bihar’s capital city of Patna, home to around 2 million, has been badly hit, with waist-deep floodwaters across many streets, and entering homes, shops, and even the wards of a major hospital. In some parts, authorities deployed boats to rescue residents.

“The rains have stopped but there is waterlogging in many areas,” Bihar’s Additional Secretary in the Disaster Relief Department Amod Kumar Sharan said.

In its bulletin on Monday, India’s Meteorological Department said the intensity of rainfall over Bihar was very likely to reduce. Showers in Uttar Pradesh are also expected to abate this week.

Weather department officials said this month that monsoon rains were likely to be above average for the first time in six years.

(Reporting by Saurabh Sharma in LUCKNOW; Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Alison Williams)

Wider Image: The Indian children who need to take a train to get to water

By Rajendra Jadhav

MUKUNDWADI, India (Reuters) – As their classmates set off to play after school each day, nine-year-old Sakshi Garud and her neighbor Siddharth Dhage, 10, are among a small group of children who take a 14-km (9-mile) return train journey from their village in India to fetch water.

Their families are some of the poorest in the hamlet of Mukundwadi, in the western state of Maharashtra, a village that has suffered back-to-back droughts.

India’s monsoons have brought abundant rain and even floods in many parts of the country, but rainfall in the region around Mukundwadi has been 14% below average this year and aquifers and borewells are dry.

“I don’t like to spend time bringing water, but I don’t have a choice,” Dhage said.

“This is my daily routine,” said Garud. Their cramped shanty homes are just 200 meters (220 yards) from the train station. “After coming from school, I don’t get time to play. I need to get water first.”

They are not alone. Millions of Indians do not have secure water supplies, according to the UK-based charity, WaterAid. It says 12% of Indians, or about 163 million people, do not have access to clean water near their homes – the biggest proportion of any country.

For an interactive graphic on India’s depleting water resources, please click https://tmsnrt.rs/2mgof1L

Recognizing the issue, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to spend more than 3.5 trillion rupees ($49 billion) to bring piped water to every Indian household by 2024.

More than 100 families in Garud and Dhage’s neighborhood do not have access to piped water and many depend on private water suppliers, who charge up to 3,000 rupees ($42) for a 5,000-litre tanker during summer months.

But private water supply is something Garud and Dhage’s parents say they can not afford.

“Nowadays, I don’t get enough money to buy groceries. I can’t buy water from private suppliers,” said Dhage’s father, Rahul, a construction worker. “I am not getting work every day.”

PIPE DREAM

The children take the train daily to fetch water from the nearby city of Aurangabad.

The train is often overcrowded, so a group of small children jostling to get on board with pitchers to fill with water is not always welcome.

“Some people help me, sometimes they complain to railway officials for putting pitchers near the door. If we don’t put them near the door, we can not take them out quickly when the train stops,” Dhage said.

Garud’s grandmother Sitabai Kamble and an elderly neighbor help occasionally by pushing them on board in the face of irritable passengers.

“Sometimes they kick the pitchers away, they grumble,” Kamble said.

When the train pulls into Aurangabad thirty minutes later, they scramble to fill the pitchers at nearby water pipes. Garud can’t reach the tap, so she relies on her taller sister, Aaysha, 14, and grandmother.

Others, like Anjali Gaikwad, 14, and her sisters, also board the train every few days to collect water and wash clothes.

Their neighbor Prakash Nagre often tags along with soap and shampoo. “There’s no water to bathe at home,” he says.

When the train returns them to Mukundwadi, they have just under a minute to disembark. At times, Dhage’s mother, Jyoti, is waiting at the station to help.

“I’m careful, but sometimes pitchers fall off the door in the melee and our work is wasted,” she said, holding her infant in one arm and a pitcher in the other. “I can’t leave my daughter at home alone so I have to take her along.”

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Additional reporting by Francis Mascarenhas; Writing by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Euan Rocha and Neil Fullick)

Floods in India kill 33, displace thousands

Members of a rescue team wade through a water-logged area during heavy rains on the outskirts of Kochi in the southern state of Kerala, India, August 8, 2019. REUTERS/Sivaram V

By Rajendra Jadhav and Derek Francis

MUMBAI/BENGALURU (Reuters) – Floods brought by heavy rains and overflowing rivers across large swathes of western and southern India have killed at least 33 people and forced the evacuation of 180,000 from their homes, officials said on Thursday.

Seasonal monsoon rains from June to September cause deaths and mass displacement across South Asia every year, but they deliver more than 70% of India’s rainfall, crucial for farm output and economic growth.

The tally of dead in the floods was 25 in the western state of Maharashtra by Thursday, officials said, while government data in the neighboring southern state of Karnataka showed eight dead.

Rivers burst their banks in some parts of Maharashtra after authorities released water from dams brimming with as much as 670 mm (26.4 inches) of rain received in a week.

“If we get more rainfall, then we have no option but to release water in rivers,” said administrative official Deepak Mhaisekar, adding that many reservoirs around the state’s industrial city of Pune were full.

A boat full of villagers trying to escape the floods capsized on Thursday, killing at least 9 people, with rescuers searching for three or four still feared missing, he added.

Thousands of trucks were stuck on a national highway linking the financial capital of Mumbai with the southern technology hub of Bengaluru, as waters submerged the road in some places, Mhaisekar said.

In Karnataka, officials said some major reservoirs were nearly full, and warned that nearby villages could be hit by large discharges of water.

“We have sought help from the central government to rescue any people who may get stranded because of the floods,” Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa told media.

Temples and electric poles were underwater as the floods flowed unabated, in video images posted by a journalist in a northern district of Karnataka.

Weather officials have forecast heavy rain in the region, including the nearby states of Kerala and Goa, over the next three to five days.

Kerala weather officials called a “red alert” in four districts they saw at risk of receiving more than 200 mm (8 inches) of rain on Thursday.

Schools and colleges in many places have been shut since Monday and are unlikely to open this week, authorities have said.

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai and Derek Francis in Bengaluru; Editing by Euan Rocha and Hugh Lawson)

Rape accuser of Indian ruling party lawmaker battles for life after accident

People hold their mobile phone torches as they take part in a protest demanding investigation in a highway collision in which a woman who is fighting a rape case against a legislator of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was critically injured, in New Delhi, India, July 29, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian police were investigating on Monday a highway collision that critically injured a woman who had accused a legislator of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of rape, a police officer said.

The case against the lawmaker in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh has been an embarrassment for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP since 2018, after the woman tried to kill herself, saying police had refused to register her complaint.

The woman and her lawyer were in hospital battling for their lives after a truck on Sunday hit a car in which they were traveling, killing the woman’s two aunts, who were also in the car, police official Rajeev Krishna said.

“Our inquiry is going on and we will look into the family’s allegations,” Krishna, the additional director-general of police, told reporters in Lucknow, the state capital.

One of the aunts was a witness in the rape case, which has cast a spotlight on lawlessness in the northern state, whose chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, a member of the BJP, has often touted his government’s record on cracking down on crime.

The accused legislator, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who has been in jail since last year, has denied the accusation of rape.

His lawyer, Awadhesh Singh, said the case was a conspiracy to harm his political career.

“It’s just an accident,” he told Reuters on Monday, referring to the car crash.

However, police have lodged a case of murder against Sengar, based on the family’s complaint that he was involved in causing the crash, according to a copy of the report seen by Reuters.

The woman’s family said it feared for its safety, with her mother calling the crash a conspiracy by Sengar, who wanted the rape case against him withdrawn.

“This is not an accident,” the mother told reporters at the hospital, adding that the family had faced threats over the rape case.

“One by one, all the witnesses are being eliminated. We’re afraid for our lives,” said the mother, whose husband died while in police custody last year.

Police have arrested the driver and owner of the truck.

(Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui in NEW DELHI; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Clarence Fernandez)

Death toll from India, Nepal, Bangladesh floods jumps to over 300

Flood-affected people receives water purifying tablets from volunteers in Jamalpur, Bangladesh, July 21, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

By Serajul Quadir and Sudarshan Varadhan

DHAKA/NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The death toll from severe flooding in parts of India, Nepal and Bangladesh rose to more than 300 on Monday, even as heavy rains are starting to ebb and water levels started to recede in some of the worst-affected areas.

Heavy rains and overflowing rivers swamped vast swathes of eastern India more than a week ago, and officials on Monday said so far 102 people have died in Bihar state, 35 more than what the state government had estimated on Thursday.

Torrential rains in Bangladesh killed more than 47 people in the last two weeks and at least 120 are missing and feared dead following severe floods and landslides in mostly mountainous Nepal, authorities from the two countries said.

A flood-affected woman wades through flooded area in Jamalpur, Bangladesh July 21, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

A flood-affected woman wades through flooded area in Jamalpur, Bangladesh July 21, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

Parts of Pakistan have also been flooded.

In Bangladesh, at least 700,000 people have been displaced.

Deaths due to flooding in the region more than doubled in the last five days.

At least five districts in central Bangladesh are at the risk of being flooded, as water levels of two rivers are still rising, an official at the Bangladesh Water Development Board told Reuters.

Authorities are struggling to deliver relief supplies to marooned people.

“We have enough relief materials but the main problem is to reach out to the people,” Foyez Ahmed, deputy commissioner of Bangladesh’s Bogra district, said. “We don’t have adequate transport facilities to move to the areas that are deep underwater.”

In India’s tea-growing state of Assam, close to the border of Bangladesh, severe flooding has displaced millions of people and killed more than 60, officials have said.

Separately, at least 32 people were killed on Sunday in lightning strikes in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state in the north.

India’s weather office on Monday forecast “extremely heavy” rain in four of the 14 districts of the southern state of Kerala.

Kerala last year faced its worst floods in about a century, with heavy rain and landslides killing nearly 500 people, destroying houses and wiping out farmlands.

Monsoon rains, which deliver 75% of India’s annual rain, have not been evenly distributed.

The Himalayan region has received substantially more rain than some of the areas in the plains, where rainfall deficiency has widened to 60%, according to the state-run India Meteorological Department.

(Writing by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Mayank Bhardwaj & Kim Coghill)