Interesting NYT piece by Somini Sengupta on gated communities in Gurgaon, a business-process-outsourcing just outside Delhi. Although they lack the overtly racial tones these enclaves suggest for many Americans, Sengupta does a pretty good job at teasing out the two vastly different worlds that coexist.

Also noteworthy (though woefully underreported) is a quick report on women and alcoholism in India via the Hindustan Times.

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(Photo by Tom Maisey, licensed under Creative Commons on Flickr.)

There are still government-authorized bhang (a derivative of cannabis) shops in India (like the storied shop in Jaisalmer), but fewer people are probably aware that certain states sanction the sale of opium. The Indian Express discusses the politics surrounding Gujarat’s decision to license opium but bar the sale of alcohol.

It’s certainly a different tack than that taken by the U.S. government and its wasteful, ill-conceived War on Drugs. (Link to AEI report, “Are We Losing the War on Drugs? An Analytic Assessment of U.S. Drug Policy.”) Better or worse? Lacking better evidence, it’s tough to say — but it’s hard to imagine we could do worse than we are now.

Recent woman-friendly news from the subcontinent:

  • “Female condom for Rs 5 in India” (Times of India) — “Union Health Minister A. Ramadoss said: ‘When a male partner refuses to wear a condom, women need self-initiated methods to protect themselves against unplanned pregnancies and HIV/AIDS.'”
  • “Women force liquor shops closure” (Times of India) — “The women folk in Akurdi had a reason to rejoice on Sunday as their long-pending demand of closing down two liquor joints — one a country liquor shop and the other a wine shop — had been granted by the district collector. The women had been conducting relentless campaigns against the shops as they were causing nuisance in the area for the past several years. Their efforts bore fruit when the two shops were sealed by the excise department on Saturday night on the directives of the district collector.”
  • “Indian families offered cash to stop abortion of girl foetuses” (The Independent) — “India has launched a dramatic initiative to stop the widespread practice of poor families aborting female foetuses by offering cash incentives for them to give birth to the girls and then bring them up.”

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports that travelers on the New York Thruway can pick up free coffee or tea from 11 p.m. Monday (New Year’s Eve!) to 7 a.m. Tuesday (Welcome, 2008!) at any of the thruway’s 27 travel plazas.

While I applaud the effort to keep drivers safe, a steaming cuppa is no panacea for drunk drivers — no, not everyone chooses to imbibe on NYE, and many designate someone to safely steer them home, but it’s an issue. A big issue. If you’re going to drink, take public transport. Eat something, then wait a few hours before you pick up the keys. If you’re still soaking in gin, stay the night at your host’s place. Just, uh, be safe ya’ll.