Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: If war breaks out with China, India must not lose the chance to make up for 1962

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Sino-India tussle

China seems to be headed towards taking military action (“With the Doklam standoff in its third month, India looks beyond the wait-and-watch approach”). If so, that can only be averted if the US comes forward to say that they would take India’s side in case of an armed conflict. China’s strategy is to show the world, and especially its neighbours that India, one of the strongest military powers in Asia, is of no match to it militarily. This way, it can tell the world not to raise a voice against China when it takes a chunk of their land of waters.

Therefore, India should be ready to face battle at short notice. India should not think of action only on its borders with China but should have a careful and mutli-faceted economic and military, keeping in mind that this could be our chance to make up for the humiliation of 1962.

The military should give a befitting response on the border and simultaneously, some of China’s constructions and bases in other cases should be targetted to.

On the economy front, we should stop all Chinese imports, boycott Chinese goods and boost indigenous manufacturing. This can also help us give stiff competition to Chinese imports in other countries.

In the diplomatic field, we should now not hesitate to educate other countries who import lot of Chinese goods or take China’s monetary help, about the disadvantages and dangers of all this. USA and EU nations must be included in this economic war. It is advisable that immediate action be taken to sign a mutual defence treaty with the US, like the one signed with Russia before the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war. In the event of an armed conflict, whatever happens will affect our psyche and we now could have a chance to make up for 1962. – RK Sharma

Right fight

I admire Riya’s courage and her efforts in exerting her rights (“Why a transgender woman has sued the government, CBSE and Delhi University”). She really is god-send for others in India who differ from the supposed norm when it comes to gender identity or sexuality. I really hope more people like her openly fight for their rights and for acceptance from society, so that one day, they will be treated like everyone else.

I know that dream is distant, but with concerted efforts by those like Riya, it may be closer than we think. I hope the court rules in her favour. – B Viswanathan

Rise of the Right

I don’t usually read Scroll.in, but the title of this article got my attention (“From Charlottesville to India, majoritarian identity politics can only be countered by universalism”). But the author does not substantiate his claims and it ends up being the same old rant against the Right. Don’t misguide people by using tall headings without any substance in the article. – Subhash Gahlawat

Short and sweet

I loved the story and I also I loved the use of authentic Urdu words like surmedani (‘Ganga Ram’: Pre-Partition memories live on in Pakistani writer Azra Waqar’s poignant story”). The writing conjured up lovely images enough. Maybe someday somebody could adapt the short stories for a television series. – Unita Vasishta

Sea world

I enjoyed this well-researched and informative piece (“From Iraq to Burma: These recipes show that Bengalis aren’t alone in their devotion to hilsa”). However I was dismayed that there was no mention of the neighbouring state of Odisha and the love Odias have for soriso ilisi, their version of sorshey ilish as also the dried Hilsa fish and its roe sukhuya. Many aristocratic Bengali households claimed with much pride that they had a Odia cook supervising their kitchen. – Sandip Das

Football season

No! They’re just going through transition and I am sure you will change your opinion at the end of season (“Is this the end of Barcelona’s domination in Spanish football?”). – Harish Vucchuru

Under water

Thank you for this article on the Assam floods (“Severity of Assam floods heightens old fears about dams in the Brahmaputra basin”). Of all the articles I’ve read on the topic, as far back as I can remember, this is the most well-researched and informative one. It is clear that the author article did his due diligence. Readers are treated to facts and figures from which they can form an informed opinion about the role of hydro-power dams in the floods in the North East. Among the many eye-opening facts mentioned here, the fact that the flow rates of rivers in Indo-Gangetic and Brahmaputra valley rivers are considered state secrets by the Indian government was the most striking. – Prabir Barooah

Switching sides

Nitish Kumar deserted the Mahagathbandhan over a non-issue (“JD(U) crisis: 21 leaders, believed to be Sharad Yadav loyalists, suspended for anti-party activities”). For this, he deserves that the JD(U) split vertically and his newly made ministry in collaboration with the BJP (against voters’ mandate) fall. – Satyendra Singh

Pot-shots

I had great respect for Kamal Haasan but his asking for the resignation of Tamil Nadu chief minister shows he has a childish and parochial outlook (“Tamil Nadu: Why has no one demanded CM’s resignation, asks Kamal Hassan”). If his film fails in the box office, should we ask him to resign from acting? If we keep on asking for resignations of persons for everything without ascertaining the facts, there will be gross injustice. – Mukul Gangal

Lost city

Why don’t we follow the Singapore model in Bengaluru, of impose such a high tax on all classes of vehicles entry that travel in private transportation becomes prohibitively expensive there (“How Bangalore went from being India’s most liveable city to a dystopia in the making”).

The widening of roads is akin to loosening one’s belt – you just leave more room to grow. And our beloved trees need to stop being axed! These are the last vestiges of the erstwhile Garden City.

I am a third-generation Bangalore resident and can’t help but rue the days I peacefully walked or bicycled the roads of central Bangalore to my school in the late ’50s with such ease and pleasure on gulmohar lined streets bereft of the pandemonium of today’s traffic.

The government should encourage bicycling on dedicated lanes with punitive fines for motor vehicles who enter these lanes. At my age, as a retiree, if I can cycle around 8 to 10 km on average daily, I don’t see why young professionals can’t.

Traffic discipline and responsible waste disposal needs to be inculcated from a very young age with strict fines fines for violations. But we must not be pessimistic by saying that Bengaluru will become unliveable by 2025. It is resilient enough to withstand the influx of citizens with proper governance. – Peter Lopes

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
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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.