Sonia Sarkar

Sonia Sarkar is a journalist based in India for the past 17 years. She writes on human lives, conflict, religion, politics, health and gender rights from South and Southeast Asia. Her work has appeared in a range of international publications including Al Jazeera, British Medical Journal, Ozy.com and Nikkei Asian Review. She loves to travel and considers the world as her "beat."

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Latest from Sonia Sarkar

Why did a Hindu who attacked Sikhs in Australia receive a hero’s welcome in Modi’s India?

Vishal Jood, a Hindu, was deported from Australia after a series of attacks on Sikhs. Rather than opprobrium, on his return he was greeted by a roadshow and lauded as a patriot.

Vishal Jood, a Hindu, was deported from Australia after a series of attacks on Sikhs. Rather than opprobrium, on his return he was greeted by a roadshow and lauded as a patriot.

Why did a Hindu who attacked Sikhs in Australia receive a hero’s welcome in Modi’s India?
22 Oct 2021 - 10:17PM
Afghanistan’s running out of medicine, oxygen in hospitals with health sector facing ‘dark future’

A survey of 940 public health facilities after the Taliban took power found two-thirds are short of medicine and can’t pay staff. Even private hospitals are struggling and a doctor says 10 women had given birth to malnourished women at her facility in the past month.

A survey of 940 public health facilities after the Taliban took power found two-thirds are short of medicine and can’t pay staff. Even private hospitals are struggling and a doctor says 10 women had given birth to malnourished women at her facility in the past month.

Afghanistan’s running out of medicine, oxygen in hospitals with health sector facing ‘dark future’
12 Oct 2021 - 8:52PM
Afghan women officials and diplomats seek asylum as the Taliban targets their jobs

Women in high-ranking posts say they are especially at risk amid a Taliban decree asking them to resign.

Women in high-ranking posts say they are especially at risk amid a Taliban decree asking them to resign.

Afghan women officials and diplomats seek asylum as the Taliban targets their jobs
19 Sep 2021 - 7:12PM
Flee Afghanistan? No way – this comedian is as determined to stay as she is to keep laughing

To Nadima, ‘running away is not the solution’ – she wants to show the world a new beginning is possible under Taliban rule.

To Nadima, ‘running away is not the solution’ – she wants to show the world a new beginning is possible under Taliban rule.

Flee Afghanistan? No way – this comedian is as determined to stay as she is to keep laughing
13 Sep 2021 - 2:56PM
Afghanistan: after US withdrawal, citizens fear loss of freedoms, cash crunch under Taliban rule

Ordinary Afghans fear a rise in Islamist militancy in the region, the loss of freedoms, especially for women, and having to fend for themselves.

Ordinary Afghans fear a rise in Islamist militancy in the region, the loss of freedoms, especially for women, and having to fend for themselves.

Afghanistan: after US withdrawal, citizens fear loss of freedoms, cash crunch under Taliban rule
1 Sep 2021 - 9:51AM
Afghanistan: Taliban celebrates victory as last US troops leave

The Taliban were in full control of Kabul’s international airport after the last US plane left its runway.

The Taliban were in full control of Kabul’s international airport after the last US plane left its runway.

Afghanistan: Taliban celebrates victory as last US troops leave
31 Aug 2021 - 3:24PM
Afghanistan’s ethnic minorities receive threats, fear persecution under Taliban rule

Many young Tajik and Hazara Afghans want to leave the country, after the minorities were targeted by the Taliban in the past.

Many young Tajik and Hazara Afghans want to leave the country, after the minorities were targeted by the Taliban in the past.

Afghanistan’s ethnic minorities receive threats, fear persecution under Taliban rule
29 Aug 2021 - 11:13PM
How I left Afghanistan, with a Taliban escort to the airport

After being stranded in Kabul following the Taliban takeover, journalist Sonia Sarkar managed to leave on an Indian air force plane, but with no luggage.

After being stranded in Kabul following the Taliban takeover, journalist Sonia Sarkar managed to leave on an Indian air force plane, but with no luggage.

How I left Afghanistan, with a Taliban escort to the airport
23 Aug 2021 - 1:42PM
Journalist recounts evacuation from Kabul after Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

Journalist Sonia Sarkar was reporting from Afghanistan when the capital Kabul fell to the Taliban on August 15, 2021. During her week in Afghanistan, she saw as the mood in the city shifted from being normal to frantic in a matter of days. Speaking with the SCMP’s Alkira Reinfrank, the Indian national recounts her brushes with the Taliban as she navigated her way to the Indian embassy before heading to the military airport that was already under Taliban control. 

Journalist Sonia Sarkar was reporting from Afghanistan when the capital Kabul fell to the Taliban on August 15, 2021. During her week in Afghanistan, she saw as the mood in the city shifted from being normal to frantic in a matter of days. Speaking with the SCMP’s Alkira Reinfrank, the Indian national recounts her brushes with the Taliban as she navigated her way to the Indian embassy before heading to the military airport that was already under Taliban control. 

Journalist recounts evacuation from Kabul after Taliban takeover of Afghanistan
30 Aug 2021 - 11:17AM
Afghanistan conflict: I watched Kabul fall to the Taliban

The Taliban’s lightning advance caught not only the US off guard, but ordinary Afghans too. Sonia Sarkar was there as the mood went from normal to frantic.

The Taliban’s lightning advance caught not only the US off guard, but ordinary Afghans too. Sonia Sarkar was there as the mood went from normal to frantic.

Afghanistan conflict: I watched Kabul fall to the Taliban
17 Aug 2021 - 1:51PM
As Taliban violence forces schools in Afghanistan to close, mobile libraries give hope to girls

Motorcycle-riding volunteers from the Pen Path Civil Society travel across areas ravaged by fighting to distribute books and stationery to children.

Motorcycle-riding volunteers from the Pen Path Civil Society travel across areas ravaged by fighting to distribute books and stationery to children.

As Taliban violence forces schools in Afghanistan to close, mobile libraries give hope to girls
16 Aug 2021 - 10:37PM
Why more Indian women are freezing their eggs during the coronavirus pandemic

Indian fertility clinics have seen a 25 per cent rise in the number of women freezing their eggs in the last year, to keep their childbearing options open.

Indian fertility clinics have seen a 25 per cent rise in the number of women freezing their eggs in the last year, to keep their childbearing options open.

Why more Indian women are freezing their eggs during the coronavirus pandemic
16 Aug 2021 - 10:03AM
LA mayor Eric Garcetti’s track record under scrutiny, as Biden nominates him as US ambassador to India

Indian-Americans are among the many Angelenos to have drawn attention to the Californian city’s problems with homelessness, drug addiction and crime.

Indian-Americans are among the many Angelenos to have drawn attention to the Californian city’s problems with homelessness, drug addiction and crime.

LA mayor Eric Garcetti’s track record under scrutiny, as Biden nominates him as US ambassador to India
12 Jul 2021 - 9:51PM
Religion is keeping Indians apart, especially in the north of the country: Pew survey

The study found Hindus see their religious and national identities as closely intertwined, while a third of respondents don’t want a Muslim neighbour.

The study found Hindus see their religious and national identities as closely intertwined, while a third of respondents don’t want a Muslim neighbour.

Religion is keeping Indians apart, especially in the north of the country: Pew survey
7 Jul 2021 - 8:37PM
Coronavirus: Delta variant fears leave India’s international students struggling to get back to class in the US, Australia

As Western universities prepare to restart in-person lectures, many of these students risk being stuck at home.

As Western universities prepare to restart in-person lectures, many of these students risk being stuck at home.

Coronavirus: Delta variant fears leave India’s international students struggling to get back to class in the US, Australia
22 Jun 2021 - 8:45AM
Coronavirus: Indian airline SpiceJet feels heat as couple flout rules with mid-air ‘wedding’ attended by 160 people

Viral footage showing ceremony with more than three times the number of guests allowed on land prompts turbulence on social media.

Viral footage showing ceremony with more than three times the number of guests allowed on land prompts turbulence on social media.

Coronavirus: Indian airline SpiceJet feels heat as couple flout rules with mid-air ‘wedding’ attended by 160 people
27 May 2021 - 3:55AM
Indian seafarers left in limbo as coronavirus restrictions create chaos in shipping industry

Difficulties securing vaccines mean seafarers face job losses as well as obstacles to returning home after finishing contracts.

Difficulties securing vaccines mean seafarers face job losses as well as obstacles to returning home after finishing contracts.

Indian seafarers left in limbo as coronavirus restrictions create chaos in shipping industry
25 May 2021 - 7:14AM
The missteps that led India into an oxygen shortage amid a devastating Covid-19 surge

Poor planning and logistical problems have played a part, critics say. So too have superspreader events, religious beliefs about cow dung, and a flesh-eating black fungus.

Poor planning and logistical problems have played a part, critics say. So too have superspreader events, religious beliefs about cow dung, and a flesh-eating black fungus.

The missteps that led India into an oxygen shortage amid a devastating Covid-19 surge
12 May 2021 - 12:12AM
As India’s Covid-19 surge hits embassies, Modi’s image abroad suffers

Diplomats have not been spared the wave of infections sweeping the country. In an embarrassing development for the government, some have made public appeals for assistance.

Diplomats have not been spared the wave of infections sweeping the country. In an embarrassing development for the government, some have made public appeals for assistance.

As India’s Covid-19 surge hits embassies, Modi’s image abroad suffers
5 May 2021 - 11:08PM
Beyond The Serpent: Charles Sobhraj through the eyes of those who knew him

Accused of murdering dozens of Western tourists across Thailand, Nepal and India in the 1970s, Charles Sobhraj’s life story has spawned multiple books, a movie, and a new BBC miniseries on Netflix.

Accused of murdering dozens of Western tourists across Thailand, Nepal and India in the 1970s, Charles Sobhraj’s life story has spawned multiple books, a movie, and a new BBC miniseries on Netflix.

Beyond The Serpent: Charles Sobhraj through the eyes of those who knew him
22 Oct 2021 - 8:45AM
India, Thailand face looming refugee crisis as Myanmar violence sparks fears of civil war

New Delhi and Bangkok have had to counter accusations they are ignoring the plight of Myanmar’s people, while experts warn a civil war could spill across borders as more armed ethnic groups back the anti-coup movement.

New Delhi and Bangkok have had to counter accusations they are ignoring the plight of Myanmar’s people, while experts warn a civil war could spill across borders as more armed ethnic groups back the anti-coup movement.

India, Thailand face looming refugee crisis as Myanmar violence sparks fears of civil war
1 Apr 2021 - 9:21PM
In Australia, tensions between Sikhs and Modi-supporting Hindus simmer on the back of farmers’ protests in India

Members of the Indian community in Australia say divisions have become wider, with attacks on Sikhs in Sydney and calls to boycott Sikh-owned businesses.

Members of the Indian community in Australia say divisions have become wider, with attacks on Sikhs in Sydney and calls to boycott Sikh-owned businesses.

In Australia, tensions between Sikhs and Modi-supporting Hindus simmer on the back of farmers’ protests in India
17 Mar 2021 - 4:26PM
In South Asia, coronavirus and poverty are forcing girls as young as 8 into marriage

For desperate families, girls are sometimes seen as a financial burden from the moment they menstruate.

For desperate families, girls are sometimes seen as a financial burden from the moment they menstruate.

In South Asia, coronavirus and poverty are forcing girls as young as 8 into marriage
31 May 2021 - 11:35AM
India’s fake degrees: hundreds in Singapore, Malaysia, US, Canada left questioning qualifications after Manav Bharti University scandal

Manav Bharti University in Himachal Pradesh sold 36,000 bogus degrees for as little as US$1,362 each, an Indian government agency investigation found.

Manav Bharti University in Himachal Pradesh sold 36,000 bogus degrees for as little as US$1,362 each, an Indian government agency investigation found.

India’s fake degrees: hundreds in Singapore, Malaysia, US, Canada left questioning qualifications after Manav Bharti University scandal
3 Mar 2021 - 6:46PM
‘Nepal is becoming Afghanistan’: activists hit out at plan requiring women to get male assent for foreign travel

Requiring Nepali women under the age of 40 to get permission from a male family member before they can leave the country is a backwards step on the path to equality, activists say.

Requiring Nepali women under the age of 40 to get permission from a male family member before they can leave the country is a backwards step on the path to equality, activists say.

‘Nepal is becoming Afghanistan’: activists hit out at plan requiring women to get male assent for foreign travel
18 Feb 2021 - 7:46PM
India farmer protests put police brutality and use of ‘lathis’ under spotlight

Delhi police have denied using metal sticks during protests by farmers, but police brutality and the use of batons is under renewed scrutiny.

Delhi police have denied using metal sticks during protests by farmers, but police brutality and the use of batons is under renewed scrutiny.

India farmer protests put police brutality and use of ‘lathis’ under spotlight
11 Feb 2021 - 10:39AM
India’s Hindu nationalists see Nepal’s political chaos as chance to boost royalist calls, target secular state

China has urged political stability as fractures within the Nepal Communist Party deepen, with critics warning that disillusioned residents in the secular state will increasingly find an icon in Indian PM Narendra Modi.

China has urged political stability as fractures within the Nepal Communist Party deepen, with critics warning that disillusioned residents in the secular state will increasingly find an icon in Indian PM Narendra Modi.

India’s Hindu nationalists see Nepal’s political chaos as chance to boost royalist calls, target secular state
22 Jan 2021 - 7:38PM
‘The Illegal’: new film shows dark side of American dream for Indian immigrants

Danish Renzu’s gritty, realistic story of an aspiring filmmaker from India in pursuit of the ‘American dream’ aims to acts as a window on the migrant experience in the US.

Danish Renzu’s gritty, realistic story of an aspiring filmmaker from India in pursuit of the ‘American dream’ aims to acts as a window on the migrant experience in the US.

‘The Illegal’: new film shows dark side of American dream for Indian immigrants
17 Jan 2021 - 9:19PM
Coronavirus vaccine race: how many doses have Asia-Pacific countries ordered?

India is the runaway leader in number of doses secured, at 1.6 billion, while Vietnam has yet to announce any official deals.

India is the runaway leader in number of doses secured, at 1.6 billion, while Vietnam has yet to announce any official deals.

Coronavirus vaccine race: how many doses have Asia-Pacific countries ordered?
29 Dec 2020 - 2:23PM
Coronavirus vaccine: Asia-Pacific countries tread cautiously in roll-out

Authorities across region set out conservative timetables for starting immunisations, ranging from several weeks to the latter half of 2021.

Authorities across region set out conservative timetables for starting immunisations, ranging from several weeks to the latter half of 2021.

Coronavirus vaccine: Asia-Pacific countries tread cautiously in roll-out
29 Dec 2020 - 4:52PM