The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix: Modi's cynical app survey betrays the government's insensitivity on demonetisation

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The Big Story: Poll vault

The idea that the government will listen to the people is one of the hallmarks of democracy. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to demonetise old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes enters its third week, though, a remarkable sense of obduracy seems to have gripped his government. Even as the administration has ignored the massive inconveniences that the plan has caused, a badly executed survey conducted on Narendra Modi’s smart phone app rubbed salt into the wounds. The results of the survey released on Wednesday show overwhelming support for the decision.

Given that only 17% of Indians have access to smart phones, the survey ab initio targetted a micro, unrepresentative segment of India’s population. Moreover, the survey was replete with leading questions and a multiple-choice questionnaire that often did not even give users the chance to disagree with the plan.

Naturally, this led to some gentle mocking on Twitter as here:

But this isn’t a laughing matter. The Modi government is actually using the results of this survey to claim validation for its demonetisation programme. On Wednesday, the Prime Minister put out the results, neatly patting himself on the back. Ninety per cent of the people who took the survey had supported the decision, said the Prime Minister.

The survey only goes to show how tone deaf the Modi government has been of late. It has even treated the deaths that have resulted due to its sudden demonetisation with insensitivity. In another demonstration of his lack of empathy, the prime minister cracked a joke about wedding parties stuck for cash, though this has caused great anguish to couples in the middle of the marriage season. Besides, there has also been little political management of the difficuties faced by farmers as they try to sow their rabi crop.

Given the evident problems that demonetisation has caused, slowing down the economcy at least for the short term, a healing touch is required urgently. The nation needs real leadership, not gamed, self-congratulatory surveys.

The Big Scroll

Ten questions Modi really should have asked in his demonetisation survey

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Giggle

Don’t Miss

Tamil Nadu’s schools are in crisis (but nobody is talking about it), reports M Rajshekhar.

One unusual pattern appears when looking at the number of marks scored by students taking the exams. One would expect a bell curve here – in any test, some students fare very poorly and some very well, and many average. So, a graph showing the number of students and their scores should be slim at either end – the high and low scorers – and thick in the middle.

But that is not how these charts look. A total of 10,23,566 students sat for the tenth standard board exams this year in Tamil Nadu.

In the maths graph, the curve rises slowly till the score of 20 and then falls again, so much so that no student achieves 33 or 34. But then, as many as 111,776 students score 35 – the passing grade. This is followed by another steep fall, and then almost a plateau. About 12,880 students score 98. And, then finally, there is a second, smaller spike, as 18,754 students get 100 marks.

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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.