India

A city in India has recorded the highest temperature in the country's history — 51 degrees Celsius, or 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

Murari Lal Thanvi told the BBC it was so hot in the city of Phalodi on Friday that his cellphone stopped working. "I was able to switch my mobile phone on after putting a wet cloth on it for about 20-25 minutes."

In a dimly lit hut made of mud and straw, a shaft of sunlight slices through a hole in the ceiling and lands on a bag of rice. Debendra Tarek, 80, pulls out a handful of the rough brown grains and holds them up to the beam of light.

His bare chest is sunken, and his eyes glow deep in their sockets. "This resists the saltwater," the village elder explains through an interpreter. This variety of rice, he says, allows his family to remain here on Ghoramara, the island where they were born.

Waiting quietly in the living room of a home in an upscale New Delhi neighborhood are a dozen people of all ages — maids, security guards, construction workers, all of whom earn at most a few dollars a day. The elegant, plant-filled room is hushed except for the sound of coughing.

Over in the next room, Dr. Gita Prakash is at her dining table with a stethoscope pressed to a pregnant woman's chest. Prakash has been treating indigent patients here for 30 years, six nights a week, in the evenings after she finishes her rounds at the local hospital where she works.

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.

"It is unbelievable, sir."

That's how NPR contributor Wilbur Sargunaraj characterizes the heat that is gripping parts of his native India. "It's just getting worse and worse and worse, and people are suffering."

In India, rape is illegal. And the definition of what constitutes "rape" was widened only recently in response to a horrific fatal assault in New Delhi in 2012. Forced penetration by any object in any orifice is now a crime.

Despite this law, some men in India can have sex with a woman against her will. That's because Parliament chose to exempt husbands.

This decision — which makes India one of 49 nations that don't criminalize marital rape — has come under fire from women's rights advocates around the globe.

The number of tigers in the wild has risen from an estimated 3,200 in 2010 to about 3,890 in 2016 — a gain of more than 20 percent after a century of decline, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The group says the tiger populations have grown in at least four countries: India, Russia, Nepal and Bhutan.

The death toll has risen to at least 24 in Thursday's collapse of an overpass in a busy intersection in Kolkata, India. Now comes word that police have detained at least five officials from the company that's been building the structure, as forensics teams try to figure out what happened.

Citing local police, The Associated Press reports, "The officials from the IVRCL Infrastructure Co. are being questioned for possible culpable homicide, punishable with life imprisonment, and criminal breach of trust, which carries a prison sentence of up to seven years."

Emergency crews are scrambling to reach people trapped when an under-construction elevated roadway collapsed onto a busy street in Kolkata, India, on Thursday. More than a dozen people have died, local media say, and dozens more are trapped.

News of the number of dead or injured is still emerging, and those reports are currently fluctuating. Citing police, Asian News International reports that at least 14 people are dead, with more than 70 wounded.

In India, spring officially begins with the festival of Holi. The date is not fixed, but follows the lunar calendar. It's celebrated on the full moon day, the poornima, closest to the spring equinox – March 24 this year. The spring festival, also called the festival of color, is marked by celebrations that involve bonfires, colored powder and supersoakers.

Once Mumbai's largest slum, Dharavi — made famous by the 2008 movie Slumdog Millionaire — is a teeming multi-ethnic and multicultural settlement claiming almost a million migrants from across India.

In Pakistan, there aren't a whole lot of stand-up comics.

"When it comes to satire, I think as a culture, we kind of struggle with it," says Pakistani stand-up pioneer Saad Haroon.

His humor shines a light into some delicate areas.

"I wrote this song called 'Burqa Woman,' which is a parody of 'Pretty Woman,' " Harron says.

He gives the audience a taste of his act:

Burqa woman, in your black sheet

Burqa woman, with your sexy feet

Burqa woman, my love for you, it grows

Every time I see your nose

A Muslim man living in the Indian city of Dadri, just outside New Delhi, was beaten to death by a mob of Hindus angry that the man allegedly had beef in his refrigerator that he was planning to eat.

The cow is considered sacred by Hindus, who make up the majority of the population in India, and the slaughter and consumption of beef is illegal in many – but not all – states.

Shikha Jain

In 1996, playwright Eve Ensler reclaimed a word that had mostly been relegated to medical textbooks and grade-school jokes. In her piece, “The Vagina Monologues,” she adapted interviews with women about their sexuality and turned them into performance art. The play has inspired women around the world to talk more openly about their bodies.

Here in Seattle, it inspired some South Asian women to reclaim the word “yoni.” That’s the Hindi word for vagina.

Instead of performing Ensler’s piece, these women write and perform their own stories. And there’s much to explore. They come from a society that’s grabbed unwelcome headlines in recent years for brutal violence against women. Even here in Seattle, South Asian women say they battle repressive attitudes within the expatriate community.