News Demonstrators gather near effigies representing the convicted rapists during a protest in New Delhi in December 2013; the case of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student who was gang-raped caused a lot of anger in the country. The story of a new gun named after the victim has been met with horror and anger from millions across India

Activists call the revolver an abhorrence to the student's memory

India's fascism wears a mask like Churchill

The decline of Congress has paved the way for Hindu nationalists, finds Peter Popham - unless the Gandhi name can work its magic

The black heart of Indian politics

TWO DAYS before polling begins in the world's biggest election, there is little doubt about the most important issue - and it is nothing to do with policies. It is the infestation of Indian politics by criminals.

Obituary: Attia Hosain

Attia Hosain, writer: born Lucknow, India 20 October 1913; married Ali Bahadur Habibullah (one son, one daughter); died London 23 January 1998.

Sonia Gandhi rejects plea to fight elections

The office of Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born widow of the former Indian premier Rajiv Gandhi, said yesterday that she would not contest forthcoming elections.

Sonia Gandhi keeps India guessing

With an election looming, all eyes are on the Italian-born wife of a former prime minister, writes Peter Popham

Obituary: Muqimuddin Farooqi

Muqimuddin Farooqi, party activist: born Ambetha, Uttar Pradesh, India 1920; joined Communist Party of India (CPI) 1940, member, national council 1958, central executive 1972, central secretariat 1981; married Vimla Kapoor (one son); died New Delhi 3 September 1997.

TODAY'S TELEVISION

You've got to admit that cosmologist Stephen Hawking is a pretty extraordinary man. I don't mean in the accepted sense of genius - I have no idea whether or not the author of A Brief History of Time should be taken at his own estimation as the spiritual heir to Galileo and Isaac Newton. I mean in the shallower sense that he has got to be by far the most disabled man to have fronted a major TV series.

Through bandit country on the magic bus

Best Discovery

Once a bandit ...

Phoolan Devi, India's 'Bandit Queen', is in trouble again. But this time, as she hears herself accused of murder, she is sitting in a seat in parliament.

Bandit Queen takes to the road again

India's notorious Bandit Queen, Phoolan Devi, is on the run again. The former outlaw, elected as a member of parliament from Mirzapur last year, went missing last week after mass murder, kidnapping and robbery charges against her were revived and her petition for advance bail was turned down.

India looks to Taj Mahal

India's Supreme Court, cracking down on chemical and carbon fumes threatening the Taj Mahal, ordered almost 300 coal-based industries in its vicinity to close by the end of 1997.

Foreign Office forced to rethink policy on Britons in distress

The Isherwood family were on their first foreign holiday. On the grassy verge beside a quiet road on the Greek island of Crete, Howard Isherwood pushed his four-year-old son, David, in a buggy, as his wife, Joan, walked beside them with their other son, Andrew, nine.

Books: Mutineers without bounty

Frank McLynn reviews a sober account of the bloodlust that characterise d the Indian Mutiny; Our Bones are Scattered: The Cawnpore Massacres and the Indian Mutiny of 1857 by Andrew Ward John Murray, pounds 25

Book review / Stabbing the serpent

I, Phoolan Devi by Phoolan Devi, Little, Brown, pounds 18.99

India creaks as Congress falls apart

This week's poll result leaves the world's largest democracy politicall y unstable, says James Chiriyankandath
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

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

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there