Environmental protest

Ignored at home, Australians travel to Gujarat to protest Adani's coal mine

Cricket stalwarts Ian and Greg Chappell are among signatories of a letter that appeals to Gautam Adani's conscience to stop building a coal mine in Queensland.

Cricket stars Ian and Greg Chappell have joined a growing campaign against a proposed coal mine in Australia, by Indian billionaire Gautam Adani’s company.

The Chappell brothers are among 90 Australians including politicians, musicians, writers and indigenous people who have signed an open letter appealing to Adani’s conscience to abandon his proposal to dig coal in Carmichael, Queensland.

The letter says that the mine will be harmful to the environment of both India and Australia, will be a “public health disaster”, and also “does not have wide public support in Australia”. The group did not give numbers to support this last contention.

“We urge you to think about global warming and public health and listen to the wishes of the people,” the letter said. “It would be a great shame if this one project were to damage the image of India in Australia.”

A group of Australians delivered the letter to Roy Paul, Assistant General Manager of Corporate Communications of the Adani Group in Ahmedabad on Thursday afternoon. Paul was cordial but did not give any assurances, the group said.

“We have come here to represent the majority view of our people, given that our government is not listening to us,” said Imogen Zethoven of the Australian Marine Conservation Society. “We know Adani has big plans for solar in India. We would welcome that instead of a coal mine.”

Adani statement

In a statement on its website, the Adani group says that it will “undertake its Australian operations in a manner, which meets our legal obligations, recognises the importance of working closely with our internal and external stakeholders, and strives to prevent environmental harm and improve our environmental performance”.

It added: “We understand that our environmental performance is critical to the sustainable success of the organisation and we will implement an environmental management framework that is accessible, innovative and enduring.”

Meanwhile, Ian Chappell suggested in an interview to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that India’s cricketing ties with Australia might be affected if Adani were to continue with the mine.

“Cricket has a bit to do with the feeling between India and Australia,” Chappell said to the publication. “The thought that this [mine] could affect the relationship, hopefully that’ll get through.”

The Adani Group has applied for a $1 billion loan from the Australian government to build a railway line between the project site and a shipping terminal. The Australian government has given the Carmichael mine all the required approvals, while the government of Queensland has given most, but not all.

Environmental disaster

Activists and environmentalists are concerned that the coal project could lead to the death of the Great Barrier Reef, which is very close to the location of the coal deposits in Carmichael, apart from the long term health and environment implications of releasing coal from what would be the largest coal mine in Australia and among the largest in the world.

“We came all the way out here to India because we are so concerned about this coal mine,” Zethoven said. “The mine will produce 60 million tonnes of coal each year for 60 years and because of it, hundreds of coal ships will pass the Reef each year.”

The coal from this mine will supply Indian power plants, but might create anywhere between 1,500 to 10,000 jobs for Australians.

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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.