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Julie McCarthy

It bills itself as the "God's Own Garden," and this tribal village tucked in India's remote northeast is unlike any other in the country.

Mawlynnong is free from what plagues so much of rural and urban India: litter, burning garbage and open defecation, the latter punishable by fine.

Reaching this mini-Shangri-La is a commitment, as we climb evergreen-studded mountain roads, peer into emerald valleys, and plateau into lush vegetation that overlooks the border with Bangladesh to the south.

Rahul Gandhi, the 47-year-old scion of India's Nehru-Gandhi family, takes the helm of the National Congress Party this week, raising questions about the potency of the political opposition in the world's biggest democracy.

Rahul succeeds his mother, Sonia Gandhi, 71, who steps down amid concerns of ill health, and ends a record 19 years as party president.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

As China's clout in the Asia-Pacific region rises, the United States is wooing India into a closer embrace.

Standing beside Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during his maiden visit to South Asia as secretary of state this week, Rex Tillerson said the United States "supports India's emergence as a leading power."

India is set to celebrate Diwali this week, but the Indian capital could be in for a different sort of celebration.

Once illuminated with clay lamps, the festival of lights has morphed into a festival of sound and fury.

It's estimated some 50,000 tons of fireworks are exploded during Diwali, which marks the homecoming of the Hindu god Lord Ram from exile. But a public health alarm was sounded in Delhi after Diwali last year, when a toxic haze blanketed the city for days.

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