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India is what many foreign policy gurus describe as an "emerging power" in Asia. While it still lags behind Japan and China in quality of life, its 1 billion people are seeing economic advances. One of the cornerstones of economic success, as well as democracy, is a good education system. India's literacy rates are climbing. Its software engineers are already world class. One measure of progress is the growing acceptance of Indian girls attending school, even college. Today, the Monitor begins a three-part series about the lives and education of three high school girls from different parts of this South Asia colossus (page 1).

David Clark Scott World editor


ROLL UP YOUR PANTS: For today's story about the role of Palestinian students in this intifada, the Monitor's Nicole Gaouette followed one of the professors to work - and she has the muddy shoes to prove it. The roads to Bir Zeit University have been blocked by Israeli soldiers. So, the professors park their cars at a Catholic monastery in Bethlehem, with the monastery's permission. Then, they walk for about half an hour through farm fields and behind homes to get to the university. "The professor knew all the folks along the way, the vendors of mint tea and the farmers in the field," Nicole says.

RAVAGED BEAUTY: Dan Murphy hadn't been back to East Timor since he covered the independence referendum in August 1999. Returning last week, he was struck by the scale of the destruction wrought by the Indonesian troops who left in September 1999. "It's hard to capture the scale of the destruction. Sixty to 70 percent of the buildings and homes were destroyed," says Dan. The other impression was one of stunning beauty. "There are few places in Indonesia as naturally beautiful as East Timor," he says. The beaches are "incredible," and he was inspired by the views as he drove to a disbanding ceremony of the Falintil rebels in the highlands. "Around every switchback was a view of the ocean that reminded me of southern Spain."

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