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.

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The first thing you notice, approaching the Ghazipur landfill, is a pack of emaciated feral dogs. Some of them are coughing.

That, and the stench — a putrid mix of rot, burning plastic and a dead animal somewhere close.

From afar, it looks like an arid plateau on the outskirts of India's capital. But this mountain isn't made of earth. It's made of trash.

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The rains were late in parts of India this year, but the monsoon has finally arrived. It's bringing welcome relief from the heat but also some dangers. NPR's Lauren Frayer reports from Mumbai where they got more than a foot of rain in 24 hours.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been reelected and his party is poised to take more seats than the 2014 election, signaling India's support of the strongman leader and his Hindu nationalist ideology.

The voting lasted almost six weeks to accommodate nearly 900 million people who were eligible to cast their votes.

On Thursday, the ballots were counted and results showed Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, winning more seats than any other party.

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It looks like a landslide victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India. Votes are still being counted today after elections that lasted six weeks. NPR's Lauren Frayer has been following all of it, and she joins us live from Mumbai.

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Early vote results show a landslide victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India. Votes are being counted today after elections that lasted six weeks. NPR's Lauren Frayer has been following it and joins us from Mumbai.

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Outside a barn in a jungle north of Mumbai, dozens of cows roam in the shade of mango trees and palm fronds. They're doted on by the farm's caretaker, a Hindu monk draped in white robes.

Cows are sacred to Hindus. Saved from slaughter, they live out their days in tranquility at shelters like this across India, courtesy of donations made by worshipers at temples.

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In a Himalayan valley surrounded by military barracks, blasts of artillery fire often reverberate across the icy mountain peaks. This is one of the world's longest-running conflict zones. It's near where India and Pakistan recently traded airstrikes. So it's not unusual to see helicopters buzzing overhead.

But on a morning in early February, one particular chopper was not part of the conflict.

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India says its fighter jets crossed a disputed border as they headed into Pakistan before dawn Tuesday, conducting airstrikes on a militant training camp and killing "a very large number of terrorists."

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It was three years ago, working at an electronics store in his hometown, that Saumil Shah first laid eyes on the woman who would become his wife.

Saumil, now 31, was back in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad after getting an MBA in Manchester, England. Zarina had just earned a computer science degree at a local university.

They flirted at work. And soon, "We started meeting each other outside of work," Saumil recalls, smiling. "Then we fell in love."

Zarina, now 26, says she knew right away.

Updated at 7:33 p.m. ET

They are hunter-gatherers who live on a remote, forested island in the Indian Ocean. They do not use money. They resist contact with the outside world — and have been known to sling arrows at outsiders who approach their shores.

They are the Sentinelese, one of the last remaining groups to reject contact with the outside world.

It was the new Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's first day in parliament, alongside the lawmakers he was appointed to lead. But he got a less-than-welcoming reception.

Instead, parliament on Wednesday spared no time in passing a no-confidence motion against him, less than three weeks after he was sworn into the job.

India has 1.3 billion people, and no equivalent of the Social Security number. About 4 in 10 births go unregistered. Less than 2 percent of the population pays income tax.

Many more are eligible for welfare benefits but may never have collected them, either because they can't figure out how or a middleman stole their share.

For generations, R. Elamparithi's family farmed rice paddies in a lush corner of southeast India that's also dotted with coconut palms and banana groves.

But 10 years ago, a representative from a nearby palm oil production plant visited, and convinced him to switch over to oil palms.

Oil palms grow bunches of fruit that look like dates or small plums, flanked by prickly fronds. The fruit is pressed, yielding palm oil — which is used in all sorts of processed foods, cosmetics and even biofuel.

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Editor's note: This story includes descriptions of sexual activity.

For 30 years, health counselor Arif Jafar has been handing out condoms at the sprawling Charbagh train station in his hometown of Lucknow, a midsize city in northern India.

From June to September, monsoon rains fall on Mumbai, India's largest city, delivering relief from stifling heat and vital nourishment to surrounding farmland. But they also bring an unwelcome visitor: Tons of garbage wash up on the city's shores.

When Mumbai floods, the water flushes waste out of city streets, storm drains and slums and sends it to the Arabian Sea. Then the tides ebb and blanket the beaches in that trash — most of it, plastic.

And now the government is taking action with a ban on plastics.

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At her home in Dublin, actress Tara Flynn recalls how, 12 years ago, she learned she was pregnant. It was not planned.

"I was 37. I was single. I wasn't working very much, and I didn't want to be a parent," Flynn says.

She didn't want to have a baby and give it up for adoption, either. But with abortion illegal in Ireland, her only option at the time was to leave the country to end her pregnancy.

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