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17 crazy things that only happen in India

In a growing country that harbors fabulous wealth alongside crippling poverty, a number of unique cultural practices have developed.

India unique things 2012 12 06Enlarge
Horse carriage-maker Sameer Bhai Baggiwala handles horses pulling his new air-conditioned buggy in Ahmedabad. The carriage, inspired by one ridden by England's Queen Victoria, took Baggiwala seven months to construct at a cost of 600,000 rupees (11,110 USD) and will be rented out for wedding and religious functions. (Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

Billionaires build entire skyscrapers and live in them as homes

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.

They also spend tens of millions of dollars on weddings

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.

Millions of tons of grain rot in storage even as thousands die of malnutrition

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.

Parents induce labor to deliver babies at auspicious times

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.

Forest officials are authorized to shoot and kill poachers

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.

Anti-bureaucracy activists get transferred endlessly to different jobs, because nobody wants them around

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.

Hundreds of thousands of farmers commit suicide

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.

People are declared dead when they're actually alive

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.

Chillies are used as weapons

The Indian military chose to turn the world's hottest chili, "bhut jolokia" or "ghost chili" into a weapon.

People are arrested for liking a Facebook status

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 feast on the money

Termites ate through 10 million rupees ($222,000) at the Fathepur branch of State Bank of India last year.

Monkey handlers are hired to keep wild monkeys off public transportation

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.

Realtors advertise buildings just for Brahmins

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.

Bootleggers mix up their brands

This store is selling Nike-Puma slippers.

People put up photos of deities on building walls to prevent public urination

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."

Tens of thousands of children are employed in its illegal coal mines

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.

Power grids go down and cause half a billion people to lose power

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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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/121206/17-crazy-things-only-happen-india