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In a growing country that harbors fabulous wealth alongside crippling poverty, a number of unique cultural practices have developed.
India's massive population and rapid economic growth is one of the biggest stories of the century so far.
But with this huge growth comes all sorts of big challenges relating to bureaucracy, crime, culture, commerce, and social ills.
We regularly hear reports of massive power outages, false death certificates, and farmer suicides.
Other stories are associated with unimaginable riches and extravagance.
Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani built a 400,000 square foot, 27-story building called Antilla that was estimated to cost $1 billion. His family and their staff are the only occupants of his home.
India's wedding market is an estimated $11 billion and wealthy Indians are spending money not just on food and ferrying guests about, but also on "thank you gifts" and invites.
Some 6 million tons of India's grains, worth $1.5 billion, could rot, while 43 percent of children under the age of five are underweight and 3,000 children reportedly die from malnutrition-related illnesses every day.
Superstitious parents in India are known to have c-sections, or to plan ahead and induce labor at times that are considered auspicious. Some Hindus believe that being born at a certain time will better a child's future.
The western state of Maharashtra authorized its forest officials to shoot and kill poachers on sight without fear of prosecution. Poaching has driven many species to extinction and is threatening many others.
India has the worst bureaucracy in Asia, according a report by Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy. A new poll by KPMG showed that 71 percent think fraud is "an inevitable cost of doing business in the country." People even face bureaucracy in getting much needed medical treatment.
One anti-bureaucracy activist was transferred 43 times, from job to job, because people didn't want him around.
Farmers with massive debt burdens have been committing suicide since 1995. Over 250,000 farmers have reportedly committed suicide. Many accuse foreign companies like Monsanto of selling farmers overpriced seeds that are forced on them by the government. The low cost of produce along with poor harvests have often caused farmers to take their own lives as they see it as the only way out of their tremendous debt.
Santosh Kumar Singh fought for nine years to prove that he was alive. His brothers declared him dead and stole his land after he married a woman of a lower caste. False death certificates are frequently issued in land grabs.
The Indian military chose to turn the world's hottest chili, "bhut jolokia" or "ghost chili" into a weapon.
A woman named Shaheen Dhada posted a status on Facebook questioning a Mumbai "bandh," or shutdown, after the death of politician Bal Thackeray, known for using various forms of intimidation to achieve political ends. Her friend Renu Srinivasan liked the post. Both were arrested for their actions and the incident sparked a furor about the lack of freedom of speech in India.
Termites ate through 10 million rupees ($222,000) at the Fathepur branch of State Bank of India last year.
India's Delhi metro hired a monkey handler or langurwallah, to chase monkeys off the city's metro trains. Monkey handlers have also been used on the grounds of parliament and in some government buildings to scare off wild monkeys.
Even though it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of caste, creed, religion, or gender, developers and realtors often advertise apartments for rent/sale for certain religious groups or certain castes.
Nearly 50 percent of India's population is said not to have a toilet at home and public defecation is a huge problem. BBC columnist Rahul Tandon wrote about a home where people had put up photos of Indian deities to prevent people from urinating on their walls. This was also mentioned in Rohinton Mistry's 1991 novel, "Such A Long Journey."
An Indian non-profit believes that 70,000 child miners illegally work the coal mines in just one part of the country called Jaintia Hills. Parents often send their children to the mines instead of school since they become a source of income.
In July India faced a massive power outage that left 600 million people without power. Some agricultural states were accused of exceeding the power quota assigned them during a weak monsoon season. But India frequently faces power outages, many of which are blamed on corruption.
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