Julie McCarthy

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi is noted for making bold statements — both in policy and fashion. When Modi sported a suit with pinstripes that spelled out his name in tiny gold lettering, his critics called it the height of vanity.

But the controversial suit raised more than eyebrows: It sold at auction today for nearly $695,000.

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."

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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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.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. We have today the sound of an historic election victory in India.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERS AND MUSIC)

The signs came early that Abhina Aher was different.

Born a boy biologically and given the male name Abhijit, Aher grew up in a middle-class neighborhood of Mumbai, India. The son of a single mother who nurtured a love of dance, Aher would watch enthralled as she performed.

"I used to love to wear the clothes that my mother used to wear — her jewelry, her makeup," Aher, now 37, recalls. "That is something which used to extremely fascinate me."

Think Taj Mahal and then try to imagine what came before it. What was the inspiration for that masterpiece?

Archaeologists and architects say a 16th century tomb tucked in the southeast corner of Delhi presaged the jewel of Muslim art in India.

The recent restoration of the mausoleum built to memorialize the Muslim emperor Humayun has created a sensation in the city, drawing sightseers, schoolchildren and history buffs to the site that is now a showcase for India's architectural patrimony.

Sachin Tendulkar: The very name evokes Indian national pride, and it resounded through Wankhede Stadium Thursday in the cricket superstar's hometown of Mumbai.

That's when Tendulkar took the field for the final test match of his fabled 24-year long career. There are fevered celebrations for the 40-year-old batsman who has dominated the Indian imagination on and off the field, and whose self-effacing demeanor masked a steely determination to win.

The atmosphere was electric as India's favorite son stepped onto the field.

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Raghuram Rajan, the new governor of India's central bank, swept into office this week infusing a sense of optimism.

He announced hard-headed measures Wednesday that remove uncertainty that has characterized the Reserve Bank of India's moves.

By Friday, Indian equities and the rupee were clawing back.

But analysts say the exuberance — and honeymoon with the suave MIT-trained economist — is unlikely to last.

After decadelong high growth rates, India is now the sick man of Asia.

For an introduction to India's cultural and culinary delights, you might hop a flight to Delhi or book a trip to Mumbai. But to meet the country sans passport free of airport indignities, you could just curl up with the crime novels of Tarquin Hall.

Vish Puri, Hall's opinionated private investigator, is a 50-something Punjabi super sleuth with a fondness for family and food. The mustachioed detective cracks open India's underbelly with a caseload that delves into forbidden love, corruption in Indian cricket and the deadly clash between science and superstition.

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