Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: ‘Does tolerance mean marginalisation of the majority community?’

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Intolerance and India

The US Report is wrong in its analysis as well as its conclusions (“Religious freedom and tolerance deteriorating in India, says United States panel report”). The judiciary recently passed an extremely stringent order seeking trial of Hindus purportedly involved in Babri Masjid demolition. The so-called religious tolerance was an outright favouritism of the minority for votes. Hindu Temples were being muzzled but Muslim Masjids were allowed to use loud speakers for azaan.

Is it tolerance if the majority community is being marginalised in every sphere and minorities are being given special posts? Secularism was practised only by the majority community. And every minority was and is rabidly communal. All conversions have been from Hindu to Islam or Christianity. Never vice versa. – Shashi Kapila

Saffronising Bharat

As a retired Armed Forces officer, I am ashamed and condemn the senior-ranking defence services officers present at the government function, that too in full uniform, where obeisance was paid to the RSS version of Bharat Mata (“The RSS idea of India is not just being spread in colleges but among the defence forces too”). The forces are being wooed by the Right and this is dangerous. This is bound to destroy professionalism and camaraderie amongst the rank and file and the services and the nation will suffer from the deviant ideology being injected into the psyche of our soldiers, sailors and airmen. It is a sorry state of affairs.

Earlier governments were extremely careful to ensure services remain completely apolitical and secular, which was a matter of great pride for us. I feel relieved that I retired well before this pernicious tendency could raise it’s ugly head. – Kanchan Mukherjee

***

If this is the level of understanding of someone who is a professor then no wonder students are taught to chant “Bharat tere tukde honge” or “Kashmir maange azadi” And why is Apoorvanand sleeping on the expansionist activities of communist China? Maybe he is on a payroll or fulfilling his duties as a true subordinate. How does chanting Bharat Maata ki Jai become communal and expansionist? By the same logic even, Jai Hind can be termed expansionist. It is because of this mindset that the Left has become a laughing stock. – Yogaditya Singh Rawal

***

Is there anything factual or historical to bolster the claims made in this article? The question raised is plausible but justifications provided are equally implausible. You cannot deny political space to a particular ideology just because of your prejudiced stand.

I agree that until approved Constitutionally, such display must be avoided, but denying a voice to the majority to ensure the minority flourishes is equally reprehensible. Long before the Constitution, two communities were living together.

It is really a matter of concern that some of our teachers present an flawed account of our history just because it suits their political ideology and vested interests. Never do they use their intellect for some genuine independent research. The real Bharatiya way will guide us despite the intellectual machinations of liberal bourgeoisie. – Prashant Mishra

***

This argument is as futile as Arvind Kejriwal blaming EVMs for his successive defeats. You Leftists had a free run for seven decades,infesting all the arms of the state, academia, art and culture like termites.

You are crying hoarse now, since you are out of power and your privileges are gone. Apoorvanand ought to assimilate Vivekanand to understand India and the idea of India before giving sermons. – Chaitanya Aggarwal

***

This present ruling class is extreme miserly when it comes to spending on the working class, farmers, and soldiers. What are they doing to fix the jobs crisis? Or for soldiers, in whose name they are dreaming of demolishing the Indian democratic values?

Any opposition is crushed by this ugly fascism and I wonder how people are not seeing this. If you don’t wake up now, you will be pushed back by decades. March ahead for a socialist revolution, under the leadership of proletarian class! – KK Singh

***

I found this article to be in poor taste and inflammatory. It suggests that an “Akhand Bharat” is a bad thing, and consequently suggests that respect for the same should be diluted, which essentially boils down to promoting and incentivising anti-nationalism. – Manish Gupta

***

From what I understand, the idea of Bharat Mata was not a construct of the RSS. It was created by freedom fighters. In Indian mythology, Earth and by extension the country is the mother. Indians understand that. It is Western-educated leaders who do not have this concept in their heart. If you read this article with this in mind, all you can see is that people are trying to turn the minds of people away from the Western-oriented view. Is that wrong? – Godan Nambudiripad

Liberal challenges

There are many more challenges facing liberals in India than the ones cited in this article (“Being liberal in India: A manifesto for violent times”).

A few centuries ago, it was widely held that all authority was derived from the deity whose wishes were interpreted by the priests of the religion dominant in that region. In the 16th century during the Religous Wars in Eruope we had the principle of cuisu regio, eius religio: the prince of each of the principalities into which Germany was divided then would choose to be Catholic or Lutheran and all citizens must accept the choice of the prince or leave the state. Subsequently, the Enlightenment movement in Europe in the 18th century bred skepticism about religion . The Founding Fathers of the United States were influenced by Enlightenment thinking and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution decreed: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” As many jurists have pointed out, it never decreed “separation of state and church,” a much broader concept.

Applying this thinking to Contemporary India, the question that arises is whether the freedom of religion includes the freedom to change religion. Yet there is a rising sentiment against conversion.

Alex de Tocqueville spoke of societies where “men born equal and made equal.” Indians in 1947 were not born equal and much evidence indicates that they are not yet made equal. Seventy years after Independence, many Hindus are denied entry into the temples or right to draw water from the village well. Where among the liberals is a modern Gandhi or Ambedkar?

In the economic sphere, the social responsibility to uplift is considered discharged by establishing quotas in education and employment. Is there a discussion whether it has succeeded or whether there are more effective means to make men and women equal?

My concern is that Indian liberals are resorting to repeating some catchpenny maxims instead of a critical analysis and in the process losing ground to political or religious dogmatism. – RV Ramachandran

Religious law

I fail to understand how this practice of triple talaq is still being allowed in our country when it has been banned even in some of the Muslim countries, not to speak of the progressive countries of the world (“Understanding triple talaq (and domestic violence) through the stories of three Muslim women”). Shame on those who tries to defend this practice.

The reason is, of course, not too difficult to find. These people are either male chauvinists or religiously hard headed fools. The present Government has taken the right stand and has asked the Supreme Court to deliver judgement on this barbaric practice. I hope the apex court invalidates this medieval tyrannical practice and brings some relief to the countless hapless Indian Muslim women. – Apurba Das

Right to privacy

Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi claims that the Aadhaar card helps prevent corruption in social schemes (“Aadhaar will help India fulfil its international obligations, attorney general tells SC”). But has the government managed to prevent corruption in the Railways, where a catering scam was recently unearthed in which, among other things, curd was being bought for Rs 972 a kg?

Why should I part with my finger prints? Am I a criminal? Does the Modi government suspect every Indian of being an anti-national tax evader? Which Aadhaar card prevented Mallya from repaying his dues?

Privacy is embedded in the personality. They are inseparable.How can the Parliament say the individual has no right to privacy? It is ingrained in the fundamental right provided by the Constitution. Let the Legislature understand this. – Paul Dhanasekaran

Limited liberty

By choosing such a topic, it appears as though you want to become a platform that actively spreads rumours against our great nation (“There is an overall sense of shrinking liberty in India, says report on World Press Freedom Day”). If that is not the case, please avoid debates and opinionated pieces that are against Indian interests. – Sunita Malviya

***

True, it’s been shrinking for ages. Nowadays, muscle and money power has overtaken everything. Press plays to the interests of the rich and powerful while genuine voices are silenced. But it’s we the people who are to be blamed because every five years, we fall for the claims of political parties. – Avadhnam Ravichandran

Bahubali at the Box office

All Bahubali reviews refer to Amar Chitra Katha as an inspiration, but we in Andhra had an even better version, the original Chandamama (Why the mega-success of ‘Baahubali 2’ will be difficult for other directors to replicate”). In its days as a pan-Indian publication, it gave kids across generations, a richer and more wholesome imagination that any American super-hero series or Amar Chitra Katha could give. Rajamouli is a product of that inspiration. – KS Murthy

Myanmar mayhem

While denying the need to probe atrocities against Rohingyas, the impunity enjoyed by men in uniform implicated in the Rohingya killings is what Aung San Suu Kyi is actually denying (“Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi rejects UN’s decision to probe atrocities against Rohingya Muslims”). As she bluntly told one of her interviewers that she is “no Mother Teresa”, and also in another interview, she indicated that she was always a “politician” one should be not be surprised about what she said. Her love for power supersedes her love of humanity and justice. Either she should voluntarily return her Nobel Peace Prize or it should be taken away by the Nobel committee. – Usman Madha

Coal’s dark days

This article gives great insights into the coal block allocation process (“Stumbling blocks: Centre does not have much to show for its coal block allocations”). Much hype was creating by the Centre to try and gain political advantages over previous governments.

The Parliament had taken the decision to go for privatisation of coal blocks to fill the gap between supply and demand of electricity and to complete these projects on war-footing. Now that there are no takers for coal blocks, the government should review its decisions, examine the national and internal scenario and seek expert help to come up with solutions. – Suresh Babu

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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.