Julie McCarthy

India is an ancient, traditional country. It's also a democracy that's very modern when it comes to the Internet and technology.

That's one reason the country sometimes sends mixed messages like this: Publishing or distributing pornography in print or on the Web is illegal in India. But viewing it is not.

With this in mind, lawyer Vijay Panjwani argued before the Supreme Court last month that pornography should be blocked as broadly as possible.

"Pornography is a criminal activity from A to Z. Completely!" he says.

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Sri Lanka, a palm-fringed island in the Indian Ocean, is in the sixth year of peace. But as the country prepares for elections in August, the legacy of its long civil war still casts a shadow.

The intervening years have been especially painful for the families of the thousands who disappeared in three decades of conflict and remain unaccounted for.

You don't expect to see world leaders getting down on all fours to perform yoga in public, let alone in a mass yoga class that draws observers from Guinness World Records.

But India's Narendra Modi did just that when he launched International Yoga Day on Rajpath, the central Delhi mall that represents the nerve center of power in India.

"Who would have thought that we would turn Rajpath into Yog-path [Yoga Road]," Modi asked the assembled yoga enthusiasts.

It seemed like a noble idea: Declare an international day of yoga.

Who knew it would be so controversial?

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi put forth the proposal during his maiden speech before the United Nations last September. Modi, who himself does yoga, called the ancient practice "India's gift."

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It's India's latest social media battle cry: #DespiteBeingAWoman erupted on Twitter on Monday after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the phrase while talking about the female prime minister of Bangladesh.

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The Swiss giant Nestlé is facing a commercial disaster in India over allegations that its best-selling brand of instant noodle soup contains unsafe amounts of lead as well as the taste enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Sales of the soup, sold under the brand Maggi (pronounced Maggie), have plunged since the food safety dispute erupted.

Pope Francis gave majority Buddhist Sri Lanka its first Catholic saint today during a seaside ceremony before thousands of people who packed the oceanfront of the capital, Colombo.

Francis is in Asia on a six-day tour intended to build the Roman Catholic Church's following on a continent that holds 60 percent of the world's population but only 12 percent of Catholics.

As church bells rang, the pope canonized Joseph Vaz, a priest who worked against the persecution of Catholics by the island's 17th-century Protestant Dutch rulers.

Heart surgery is a spectacle to behold. Even more so to see it on a mass scale, which is what happens at the Narayana Health, a state-of-the-art medical center in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.

I am invited to scrub up and witness renowned surgeon Dr. Devi Shetty at work. The operating room is a symphony of all things medical: monitors beeping out a metronome-like rhythm, forceps and scissors clanging onto metal tables, a heart-lung machine gurgling as it does the work of the patient's stopped heart, and, curiously, pop music drifting though the room.

In India, the law has caught up with one of the country's most powerful political figures. A court has sentenced the popular J. Jayalalithaa, chief minister of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, to four years in prison and a record $1.5 million fine.

Her crime: accumulating vast wealth for which the 66-year-old veteran politician could not account.

It is India's highest-profile corruption case addressing illegally amassed wealth; the ruling has stunned an Indian political class that is widely seen as permeated with graft.

Saying his country is prepared to resume peace talks with Pakistan, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the U.N. General Assembly Saturday that the discussion must take place "without the shadow of terrorism."

Anticipation is building in India over its rendezvous with Mars.

NASA erupted into cheers after confirmation Sunday night that its space probe MAVEN injected into the Martian orbit. NASA's success came two days ahead of a critical engine burn designed to place an Indian spacecraft around the Red Planet, in a project dubbed MOM, Mars Orbiter Mission.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said al-Qaida will fail to attract recruits among his country's Muslims.

Earlier this month, al-Qaida said it had created a new branch to bring Islamic rule to the entire Indian subcontinent.

After a year of silence, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has exhorted his "Muslim brothers" to join a newly established South Asia faction that would "defend the vulnerable in the Indian subcontinent."

A new film projects a decidedly different perspective about one of the most convulsive episodes in India's modern age.

Kaum De Heere, or Diamonds of the Community, looks at the 1984 assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi — through the lens of her assassins.

Producer Satish Katyal rejects the criticism that the film eulogizes Gandhi's killers. "It has a human angle," he says. "It's about their personal lives. Why did they suddenly commit this act?"

There are signs of rising tensions between India's Hindu and Muslim communities since Narendra Modi, a self-avowed Hindu nationalist, took power as prime minister in May. Most of the small skirmishes have played out in India's largest state, Uttar Pradesh, or UP.

There, Hindu nationalists from Modi's BJP Party have seized on charges of an alleged forced religious conversion to say that Hindu India is under siege.

District party leader Sanjay Prajapati says the Muslim community has harmed the Hindu community, India's largest.

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India's new prime minister, Narendra Modi, says he has been denied the "honeymoon" period that new governments traditionally enjoy. Just one month after taking office, he has also asserted that he has defied expectations and secured a firm grip on India's sprawling government.

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The kidnapping of 40 Indian construction workers in Iraq by suspected militants has rapidly become the first foreign policy test for India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, barely a month after he assumed office.

The workers are believed to have been captured by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) when the jihadist group overran the northern Iraqi city of Mosul this past week.

Members of India's transgender community, known as hijras, are now the stars of an entertaining advocacy campaign aimed at persuading India's motorists to buckle up.

A young girl sweeps fallen debris from a tempest that blew through her village of Katra Sahadatganj one recent evening. This remote spot in Uttar Pradesh — India's largest state — has become the center of another gathering storm.

It was here two weeks ago where two young girls were audaciously attacked: raped and hanged from a tree. Inter-caste violence and patriarchal attitudes combined to make a chilling spectacle in this impoverished place of mud-caked children and hand-pumped water.

As U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took notice of the global assault against women and girls, another brutal attack in India has highlighted once more the prevalence of gender-based crime in the world's largest democracy.

Police say a mother of five was shot dead by militants in a remote village in the northeast of the country after she resisted attempts to molest her.

A mother and grandmother's wailing rises in the garden of their cement-and-thatched home in the impoverished village of Katra Sahadatganj in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. They mourn two young girls who were raped and murdered a week ago.

The fresh scent of mint from nearby fields competes with the smell of cow dung baking in the sun.

Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, officially takes office as India's new prime minister in a ceremony in New Delhi that broke with the past. More than 3,000 guests witnessed the most elaborate oath-taking India has ever staged.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

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And I'm Robert Siegel.

Narendra Modi will be sworn in Monday as India's next prime minister. Today, the country's president invited him to form a new government. And Modi thanked his Hindu nationalist party for unanimously naming him as their parliamentary leader.

NPR's Julie McCarthy reports his speech was filled with emotion and some surprise.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

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