News Mother Teresa: Skopje also has plans for a huge statue of the nun, who was born in the city

Not content with four-storey statues of Alexander the Great and Mother Teresa, city planners in Skopje are now inviting bids for a version of Rome’s Spanish Steps, part of a beautification campaign that has divided residents.

Taj saviour

India's Supreme Court yesterday ordered the closure of 11 factories threatening the white marble Taj Mahal monument in the northern city of Agra, AFP reports from New Delhi.

Architecture Update: Indian summons

QUINLAN TERRY has been summoned to design a hotel near the Taj Mahal, Agra. Mr Terry, whose work includes the Richmond Riverside development on the Thames in Surrey and the new library for Downing College, Cambridge, says: 'When you spend your life doing the Great Tradition (Classical architecture), designing an Islamic Indian building is like falling off a log.'

The Broader Picture: A nation of record-breakers

THE Guinness Book of Records documents the world's ultimates: its biggests and smallests, its most opulent, its stingiest, its strangest. The one record it hasn't awarded is to the people who strive hardest to win world records. That would have to go to the citizens of India: a land of extremes, filled with people who go to any extreme to get their names into the Guinness book. An ambitious Indian from a small town or village may type for days, blow smoke rings or thread needles one after another, in the hope that the next edition will honour him, his stunt and his country.

Obituary: Winifred Shand

Winifred Alured Shand, trade secretary: born Edinburgh 2 June 1902; died Edinburgh 4 December 1993.

Travel: The best way to Goa: Karaoke in Ye Olde Taj Mahal pub was what Naomi Marks dreaded on her package tour to India's smallest state. She found luxuriant beauty and Portuguese baroque

THE TAXI driver tilted back in his seat: 'Whatever it's like,' he begged, 'tell everybody that it's not up to much.' This Kenyan-born British citizen, who had not yet set foot in the land of his ancestors but had high hopes, was keen for me to enjoy Goa - but not to spread the word. 'It will get ruined,' he explained, as he took me to Gatwick on the first stage of a two-week package holiday in the former Portuguese colony that is the smallest of India's 25 states.

Right of Reply: Ken Campbell responds to the reviews of his latest one-man show, Jamais Vu, at the National Theatre

'Nowhere near as fine or funny as its precursors . . . The impossible story turns on a notice outside the hut of Chief Jack Naiva of Tanna in the South Pacific: 'We believe that Prince Pilip (sic) is originally of Tanna and we want him to return home'.' Andrew St George, Financial Times

Taj Mahal dims

India's Supreme Court ordered 212 factories to close immediately because their pollutants were dimming the lustre of the Taj Mahal, AP reports from New Delhi. The court said the offending industries failed to respond to notices demanding that they install pollution control devices. The factories' closure will hit thousands of workers.

Indian truckers gain ground

INDIAN truck drivers, on strike against taxes and corrupt officials, scored their first victory yesterday when the authorities in Maharashtra, one of the country's main industrial states, agreed to their demands. Elsewhere the strike continued for a third day, driving up prices and causing panic buying in some places.

BOOK REVIEW / Mrs Dalloway takes a walk on the wild side: 'The Glassblower's Breath' - Sunetra Gupta: Orion, 13.99 pounds

THE Glassblower's Breath tells the story of a single day. A woman married to a rich man walks dreamily through London thinking about the other men in her life. She has some adventures and returns home to her husband. So far, so Virginia Woolf. But whereas Clarissa Dalloway is all ready for her grand reception in the evening, this woman forgets that her little niece has been asked to a birthday party. When she should be taking her there, she is in fact indulging in some pretty unsatisfactory sex in a seedy hotel with a man she has known for a couple of hours. Her return home results in a spot of bloodletting: this is not a metaphor, merely an understatement.

Don't trip over the price tag: Carpet auctions may not be such a great source of bargains, warns John Windsor

ORIENTAL CARPETS, auction of bankrupt stock, Kilims, Kazaks, Heriz] Go to some of these auctions, often held in provincial hotels, and you can end up paying prices higher than at Harrods.

Donald Trump sues over Indian casinos

DONALD TRUMP has ridden into the fray over Indian gambling in the United States. He is suing the US Interior Secretary and the National Indian Gaming Commission over alleged preferential treatment for native-run casinos.

Travel: Warm rain on the Agra road: Janet Suzman: from Delhi to the Taj Mahal, Agra

'IT'S A killer,' said Janet Suzman. 'When you arrive in Delhi, the heat is unbelievable.' Having grown up in Africa, the actress was more prepared than most for the worst that the sun can throw at us. But even she was amazed by its power.

Letter: Cultural bias and cricket tourists

Sir: Apropos Mihir Bose's apt piece (24 February) about the culture shock of the Indian sub-continent on the English cricket team, I happened to be there during most of the three Test matches and could not but sympathise with Indian glee at the discomfiture and humiliation of such graceless, excuse-laden tourists.

Cricket: Not so much to worry about

OVER a breakfast of runny scrambled eggs here yesterday, Mike Atherton stared wistfully out of the window at a familiar sight. Rain. But whereas it comes as a relief in Manchester during a non-stop summer, in India its arrival is hampering his chances of building up any sort of form.

Hindu zealots attack Indian minister

AS MINISTER of Civil Aviation, Madhavrao Scindia could have easily returned to New Delhi after a New Year's Eve party in Gwalior by plane. But Mr Scindia has an affection for trains.
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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The fall in the oil price will hit Russia hard, but is unlikely to personally affect the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin

It looks very much as though 2015 will be a good year for the world economy, after all – and, if it is, that will be thanks to the fall in the oil price. It won't be good for everyone and we have already seen the pressure it puts on the Russian leadership – though, before you conclude that sometimes there is natural justice in the world, remember that the people who are hurt are not leaders such as Vladimir Putin. Other oil- and gas-exporting countries are damaged, too, and I think we will see further fallout in unpredictable ways. But the net impact is strongly positive, more so than most commentators at present acknowledge. The winners far outnumber the losers.

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Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
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The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

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From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

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A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

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From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

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