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Lauren Frayer

Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.

Before moving to India, Lauren was a regular freelance contributor to NPR for seven years, based in Madrid. During that time, she substituted for NPR bureau chiefs in Seoul, London, Istanbul, Islamabad, and Jerusalem. She also served as a guest host of Weekend Edition Sunday.

In Europe, Lauren chronicled the economic crisis in Spain & Portugal, where youth unemployment spiked above 50%. She profiled a Portuguese opera singer-turned protest leader, and a 90-year-old survivor of the Spanish Civil War, exhuming her father's remains from a 1930s-era mass grave. From Paris, Lauren reported live on NPR's Morning Edition, as French police moved in on the Charlie Hebdo terror suspects. In the fall of 2015, Lauren spent nearly two months covering the flow of migrants & refugees across Hungary & the Balkans – and profiled a Syrian rapper among them. She interviewed a Holocaust survivor who owed his life to one kind stranger, and managed to get a rare interview with the Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders – by sticking her microphone between his bodyguards in the Hague.

Farther afield, she introduced NPR listeners to a Pakistani TV evangelist, a Palestinian surfer girl in Gaza, and K-pop performers campaigning in South Korea's presidential election.

Lauren has also contributed to The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the BBC.

Her international career began in the Middle East, where she was an editor on the Associated Press' Middle East regional desk in Cairo, and covered the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in Syria and southern Lebanon. In 2007, she spent a year embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, an assignment for which the AP nominated her and her colleagues for a Pulitzer Prize.

On a break from journalism, Lauren drove a Land Rover across Africa for a year, from Cairo to Cape Town, sleeping in a tent on the car's roof. She once made the front page of a Pakistani newspaper, simply for being a woman commuting to work in Islamabad on a bicycle.

Born and raised in a suburb of New York City, Lauren holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from The College of William & Mary in Virginia. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, rusty French and Arabic, and is now learning Hindi.

With India under a nationwide lockdown and religious gatherings banned, Islamic clerics are urging Muslims to observe this weekend's Eid al-Fitr holiday, marking the end of Ramadan, at home with social distancing.

A storm of massive proportions has thumped the coastal border regions of India and Bangladesh, slinging heavy rains and gusts exceeding 100 mph when it made landfall. After days of churning in the Bay of Bengal, Cyclone Amphan came ashore Wednesday afternoon local time on the northeastern coast of India with the strength of a Category 2 hurricane.

The world's biggest coronavirus lockdown has been extended by another two weeks.

For the past five weeks in India, more than 1.3 billion people have been required to shelter indoors, with few exceptions. The lockdown was due to expire Sunday night.

For police, the new coronavirus poses a dilemma: How do you apprehend a suspect in the era of social distancing?

In India, they've come up with a way to lengthen the long arms of the law: giant tongs.

Chinese officials on Tuesday criticized India's decision to cancel orders for more than half a million antibody testing kits. India's decision, announced Monday, came amid accuracy concerns surrounding the Chinese-made kits.

"It is unfair and irresponsible for certain individuals to label Chinese products as 'faulty' and look at issues with preemptive prejudice," Ji Rong, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, said in a statement.

When novel coronavirus cases first emerged in India, authorities acted swiftly. They halted public transit, scrambled to stockpile medical gear and ordered more than 1.3 billion residents to stay indoors. Everyone braced for the worst.

On the first day of India's coronavirus lockdown a month ago, Amar Sankrit realized he couldn't get to work.

Sankrit, 21, normally rides a bus two hours each way to a call center outside New Delhi where he has worked for the past year. His company handles customer service queries for U.S. and U.K. telecom companies.

But on March 25, all public transit was halted. He didn't own a laptop, so he couldn't work from home. He worried about losing pay. On a salary of about $3,000 a year, Sankrit helps support his mother.

The world's biggest coronavirus lockdown has been extended for 19 more days.

India's 1.3 billion residents have been under lockdown for the past three weeks. Restrictions were set to expire at midnight Tuesday (2:30 p.m. ET). But in a televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that Indians will have to stay home through May 3.

Under threat of "retaliation" from President Trump, India earlier this week reversed its export restrictions and some companies are ramping up production of a malaria drug Trump has touted as a potential game-changer for fighting COVID-19.

For centuries, Hindus gathered to burn corpses on funeral pyres along the Ganges River. Jews received condolences at home during a seven-day mourning period. Muslims huddled together to wash the corpses of loved ones in Iraq and across the Arab world.

But global burial rituals are being dramatically changed by the coronavirus pandemic.

At least one-quarter of garment workers in Bangladesh — the world's second-largest clothing manufacturer, after China — have been fired or furloughed because of declining global orders amid the coronavirus crisis, according to the Penn State Center for Global Workers' Rights.

Under lockdown, well-off Indians isolate indoors, work from home and get groceries delivered.

But outside their windows, it's a different story: Poor laborers amass in the streets, hungry and homeless.

In a video posted on Twitter, a woman calls down to a crowd of people gathering below her window. They yell back up to her, desperate: "There are 400 of us here without food. We need help. There are lots of children."

With a fraction of the hospital beds and ventilators per capita of developed countries, Indian doctors and public health experts warn an explosion of coronavirus cases could overwhelm their hospitals on a greater scale than what's happening in Italy and the United States — and lead to many millions of deaths.

Not enough toilets – and the ones there are often dirty. Beds crammed together. The only way to shower is with water from a bucket that everyone has to share. No soap or hand sanitizer.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Updated at 2:50 pm ET

Riots and mob violence have rocked neighborhoods for three nights in New Delhi — the Indian capital's worst sectarian tumult in decades. At least 20 people have been killed in the fighting, which follows months of mostly peaceful protests over a new citizenship law that excludes Muslim refugees.

When President Trump arrives on his first official visit to India on Monday, his first stop will be Ahmedabad, the largest city in the western state of Gujarat. It's the place where Indian freedom leader Mahatma Gandhi built his ashram, a place for prayer and communal living, on a riverbank lined with Indian lilac trees.

When Aysha Renna decided last month to demonstrate against India's new citizenship law on her college campus in New Delhi, it never occurred to her that doing so might be dangerous.

A court in India has issued a death warrant for four men convicted in the fatal 2012 gang rape of a college student on a New Delhi bus, a crime that sparked huge demonstrations and a nationwide reckoning over sexual violence in India.

The men are scheduled to be executed by hanging at 7 a.m. on Jan. 22, the court in New Delhi announced Tuesday. India's president can still stay their execution, but he is not expected to intervene.

A fresh wave of protests spread across India's biggest cities Monday, hours after masked assailants invaded dormitories on an elite university campus in the capital New Delhi and beat up students and faculty.

Tens of thousands of protesters marched on college campuses across India on Monday, saying a new citizenship law is unconstitutional because it treats Muslims differently from Hindus, Buddhists and other religious groups.

At Sri Lanka's southern tip, an abandoned British lighthouse stands sentinel near a half-moon-shaped cove bobbing with turquoise dinghies. Fishermen wearing sarongs drag wooden outriggers across a beach backed by centuries-old salt flats and palm trees.

Less than 2 miles down the coast, towering blue-and-white cranes dwarf the lighthouse, as does a contemporary glass and stucco office building — the Chinese headquarters of a sprawling new port complex.

On Dec. 26 last year, in a town surrounded by tea and rubber plantations in central Sri Lanka, residents discovered Buddhist statues had been vandalized on the side of the road. In the middle of the night, some saw young men speeding away on motorbikes after they'd shattered glass cases protecting the statues and hacked off the stone and marble Buddhas' noses and hands.

Before dawn Friday, police transported four suspects to the scene of a crime that has outraged their nation: A roadside in southern India, where the men are accused of gang-raping a woman, suffocating her and setting her body on fire.

The woman's Nov. 27 murder sparked protests and candlelight vigils across India. Within 48 hours, police had arrested the four, their brutality allegedly caught on CCTV cameras.

Police said they needed to question the suspects at the crime scene — before daybreak — to have them retrace their steps and collect more evidence.

On a roadside in northern Sri Lanka, a dozen women in bright-colored saris squat in the shade of an open canvas tent, waving tattered photographs at passing cars. They're school portraits, now yellowing, of their children who disappeared more than a decade ago in the country's civil war.

The women weep and nod as each tells her own son's or daughter's story. Kasipillai Romee was 16. She wanted to be a doctor. Sheeva Kumar was 20. He went to work and never came home. Rajendran Uday was 22 when soldiers came at midnight and took him away.

Thousands of Buddhists from all over the world made a pilgrimage this fall to a monastery high in India's Himalayas. Orange-robed monks with shaved heads huddled cross-legged on the floor, as Tibetan opera singers in multicolored gowns teetered under the weight of giant silver headdresses. They carried fruit baskets as offerings and chanted in unison, all praying for the same thing: the Dalai Lama's longevity.

When Martin Luther King Jr. visited the villa in Mumbai, India, where Mohandas Gandhi stayed in the 1920s, he had a special request: He wanted to spend the night in Gandhi's bedroom.

Wednesday marks 150 years since the birth of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Better known as the Mahatma, or great soul, Gandhi was an Indian lawyer who led his country to freedom from British colonial rule in 1947. He was assassinated months later at age 78.

Gandhi is most famous for his philosophy of nonviolence that has inspired civil rights leaders around the world. But his legacy is facing fresh scrutiny against modern ideas about race, feminism and nationalism.

They found it!

More than 36 hours after India lost contact with an unmanned spacecraft it was trying to land near the moon's South Pole, scientists appear to have located it on the moon's surface. But there's no word on what condition it's in.

On the eve of India's surprise Aug. 5 takeover of Kashmir, Sanna Shah was sitting cross-legged on a silk carpet, trying to enjoy the folk singers performing at her cousin's wedding in the state's summer capital, Srinagar.

Nobody could concentrate on the music. Tens of thousands of Indian troops were pouring into Kashmir, already a heavily militarized area. Wedding guests were increasingly worried, trying to figure out what was going on.

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