News Shaikh in 2013; one of his roles was in a Hindi version of 'Yes Minister'

Farooque Shaikh, who died on 27 December of a heart attack on a visit to Dubai with his family, was the plump, unlikely hero of scores of Bollywood films. He was born in 1948, his career beginning on a high note with the 1973 film Garm Hawa, about the Partition. His performance earned him a key role in Satyajit Ray's The Chess Players, a study of the decadence of India's feudal classes. His cherubic looks struck a chord with ordinary people, who identified with his man-in-the-street image.

Fired up: protests in New Delhi in December 2012

Nirbhaya: Play about the Delhi rape that shocked the world set for Edinburgh

'This drama will speak about sexual violence'

Video: American teenager speaks 23 languages

Whilst most people struggle to learn one new language, a 16-year-old from New York has managed to master 23 different tongues.

Say hello to a new language

Scared of Spanish? Flunked French? It could be time to try again, says Enjoli Liston, who's finally tackling Hindi

Mathoor Krishnamurti: Champion of Indian arts in Britain

The sudden death in Bangalore of the lively and ebullient Mathoor Krishnamurti at the age of 85 has stunned his friends, disciples and admirers in both Britain and India. He was born on Janmashtami, the birthday of the Hindu god Krishna, hence his name. Though rooted in ancient Indian culture and literature he was essentially a man of the present: he could quote from the Vedas while busy employing up-to-the-minute computerspeak. He was compounded of past and present and believed in the creed of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam ("The world is one family").

Reduced BBC Hindi service will affect millions, critics say

BBC Hindi, the shortwave radio service that since 1940 has brought global news and current affairs to some of India's poorest and most remote regions, scaled back its transmission yesterday in a move that the author Vikram Seth said was contributing to "a great loss of goodwill and increase of mistrust in India".

Vikram Seth: Flagship without a fleet

I was absolutely amazed to find out from a series of recent questions in parliament that the BBC hadn't even consulted the Foreign Office when they made their decision to axe their shortwave Hindi programmes, which resulted in such a great loss of goodwill for Britain in India - and concomitant increase of mistrust.

Album: Cornershop feat Bubbley Kaur,...and the Double-O Groove of (Ample Play)

Rather than hook up with an Indian singer of existing repute, the first collaborative album by the criminally underrated Cornershop is recorded with Bubbley Kaur, an unknown who was working in a Preston launderette and singing in cellar clubs prior to their chance meeting.

Dreaming in Hindi, By Katherine Russell Rich

This gem of a book deserves to outshine the narcissistic platitudes of Eat, Pray, Love. After crises in both health and career, Rich "no longer had the language to describe my own life. So I decided I'd borrow someone else's". She went to India not to imbibe some mish-mash mysticism but to learn Hindi via "total immersion" in the lakeside city of Udaipur.

India's new rupee symbol unveiled

India has finally got a symbol for its currency, the rupee. The government announced it had selected one of five short-listed designs it hopes will become as recognisable as the shorthand for the dollar, the yen and the euro.

Defeated Tamils a force again

Sri Lanka's election could be decided by those who lost the civil war, reports Andrew Buncombe in Menik Farm

Album: Nguyen Le, Saiyuki (ACT)

The Japanese title means "Journey to the West", which in this case indicates a journey – led by the Paris-based Vietnamese Nguyen – with the Japanese koto-player and singer Mieko Miyazaki, tabla-player Prabhu Edouard and the great Hindustani flute player Hariprasad Chaurasia. Each is conversant withtransnational modernstyles. The resulting musicchanges its cultural centreof gravity from track totrack. Sometimes it's northIndia; sometimes it linksJapan and San Francisco.Asparky experiment.

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan: Sarod maestro who played with Ravi Shankar and appeared at the Concert for Bangladesh

In 1966 Yehudi Menuhin uttered the words that have reverberated in many of the sarod maestro's obituaries. When introducing Ali Akbar Khan, ustad [master] of the sarod, he called him "an absolute genius... perhaps the greatest musician in the world." Uncounted thousands of musicians and music lovers would contest the "perhaps". His music affected the Beatles, Byrds and Grateful Dead and, as the Indian classical singer Rita Ganguly wrote, "... there is hardly any instrumentalist in our country today who is not indebted to the great musical philosopher, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, directly or indirectly."

Cyber Sutra: India's online eroticism

Now known for strict conservatism, India was the birthplace of erotica, famed for its sensual literature and carvings. Andrew Buncombe looks at a modern expression of an ancient urge.

Kishan Maharaj: 'Fearsomely talented' tabla player

To hear Kishan Maharaj or his contemporary Ustad Alla Rakha play tabla – the two-piece hand drum now synonymous with the Hindustani art music of northern India – meant you knew you were in the presence of musical giants. It would be difficult to overestimate Maharaj's reputation as the living embodiment of the Benares style of tabla playing.

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The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003