Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: Gauri Lankesh’s death should not go in vain – time to show the might of the pen

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Killing dissent?

News of Gauri Lankesh’s murder scares budding journalists like me (“Gauri Lankesh (1962-2017): Journalist who raged like a fire as she championed just causes”). But her death should not go in vain. Time has come for even the youngest journalists to wield their pen and stand up against Right wing fanaticism. These are dark times but keeping quiet will only worsen the situation. It is time we rise, break the shackles and show the power of the pen.

And hats off to the entire Scroll.in team for standing up at a time when many media houses are worried about their revenue generation and are thus shying away from any critique of Right- wing fanaticism. – Utsav Basu

***

What follows every such dastardly act is, some hype, heated debates on news channels, followed by a deathly silence and collective amnesia! A new story surfaces soon after, with similar exasperating responses and so on and so forth...the common man shrugs and gets back to earning his daily bread.

Where’s the sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic that was India? Or is it time to rewrite the Constitution to say we’re a Sanghi–dictator-retrograde nation? – Anita Robbins

***

It is really deplorable that a respected journalist was done to death for her radical views. But there may be more to it than meets the eye. Gauri Lankesh was being tried in a defamation case and this went against her. Perhaps she created enemies by trying to unearth some misdeeds by influential people. So before we get to the truth, let us not speculate that she was killed for her far Left ideas. May her soul rest in peace. – R Krishnamoorthy

NEET imposition

As a doctor from a poor socioeconomic background, I believe the NEET issue is dangerous for a majority of students in medicine (“NEET aims to reward merit, curb corruption. Did it end up driving 17-year-old Anitha to suicide?”). State government should have their own system of admitting students to government as well as private colleges. NEET another imposition like demonetisation. A post-graduate degree should be made mandatory for politicians, especially those who are allotted portfolios like education and finance. – Papa Dasari

***

There are some drawbacks to NEET, but that does not imply that the entire idea is ridiculous and fruitless. The country needs one system and implementing it can run into hurdles, because of the many diversities in India, but in case of higher secondary education in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics, why shouldn’t the entire country follow the same curriculum? There is no question of if Hindi or non-Hindi. Once we all accept the syllabus n start working on it, the problems will start decreasing.

NEET is a good initiative to counter the money-oriented admission system. Having one platform for all students all over the India will help people to compete for all the seats in all over the country.

Yes there are problems for students who are new to the syllabus. But they can be helped. – Dhananjay Patil

***

The entire process involving NEET and central counselling is self-defeating. Medical institutes are made keeping in mind the ecosystem where they exist. Students should be aware of the health situation prevailing in that community and it would be better if they belong to that region. The centralised process brings unknowing prospective students to places where they may not fit into and this can become counterproductive for the maintenance of public health. With respect to private institutions. governments should not interfere in their functioning, But that could happen in the future with NEET. – Karthik G

Since the country’s blood-soaked birth in 1947, at least three generations of Pakistanis have been fed two grossly exaggerated myths. The first is that one Pakistani soldier is equal to 10 Indian solders and second, that all Muslims of the sub-continent are one great family, distinct from their neighbours of other religious denominations.

In 1971, both myths were blown to pieces. A Pakistan that effectively became half of what it was at birth, still dreams that one day its flag would fly on the ramparts of Red Fort in Delhi. For that unattainable goal, ordinary Pakistanis will give up their everything. And it suits their army very well. – GSK Sarma

Big changes

The only thing exciting the media about Nirmala Sitharaman’s elevation is the breaking of the glass ceiling, which shows the average attitude towards women. Nirmala Sitaraman’s USP is her professionalism, her approach to a problem-solving (“A JNU free thinker in the Defence Ministry: Looking back at Nirmala Sitharaman’s career”). Politicians including Arun Jaitley and others before him did not have have the same problem-solving skills and were often guided by bureaucrats as advisers. The defence ministry needs someone who can to break up a problem into its various aspects, evaluate it correctly and then solve it. Her selection is not an example of political expediency but a collective decision taken purely on merit. If she can evolve a well-established system on tendering and decision-making on all aspects within a time frame, it will be easier for foreign suppliers to deal directly instead of using agents. Her other strength is her very measured and articulate replies to questions posed to her. Modi has realised that he needs such a professional approach in areas where results can be visible. For this, Sitharaman and \former bureaucrats with an established record of honesty and efficiency were needed rather than someone who just ideologically aligns with the BJP or the RSS. – SN Iyer

***

She may have been a free thinker in her student days but her abrasive defence of her party on TV as a spokesman firmly places her in the apparatchik, with blessings from Nagpur. People change. – Srinivasan

No direction home

The citizenship amendment act has been proposed to provide shelter to persecuted Hindus, Jains, Sikhs,etc (“The Daily Fix: Persecuted Pakistani Hindus are allowed refuge in India, so why not Rohingyas?”). This is because a) these religions originated in India and b) Hindus,Sikhs and Jains are only present in India in significant numbers.There is no voice for these communities outside India so if this country won’t protect them, who will? Muslims are not included in this bill simply because there are more than 50 Muslim-majority nations that can lend them support at any time, and there are two Muslim-majority right next to India. – Rahul Gupta

***

I agree with the government. Whether its Rohingya Muslims or members of any other religion, the refugees to be deported back to their country. They are a security risk and a financial burden for the country. – Anil Kakad

Money mayhem

Around 99% of the hard cash that was with the public came back into banking system, which is making people claim that demonetisation was a flop (“Demonetisation: The chronicle of a failure foretold”). But at least 50% of this wealth was unaccounted for. Since this amount has been deposited into banks, it will be easy for the IT department to pursue with the depositors for the source and take appropriate action against the culprits who have either avoided payment of taxes or earned these amounts through objectionable means. This was the target behind demonetisation and success is on the way. We should have patience to see the results. Blaming the decision at this stage is premature and prejudiced. – AV Nagaraju

***

Why is Raghuram Rajan commenting on demonetisation so late in the day (“Did Raghuram Rajan know that monetisation was coming? Here’s his answer”)? And what, in his opinion, was the alternative to it, for tackling black money? – A Bhatia

***

It is laudable that Raghuram Rajan has broken his silence after giving his successor some time to settle into his role as RBI governor, which happened to be a breathless period for Urjjit Patel.

India needed to see the plain truth of demonetisation from Rajan to expose the insane action of Modi and Jaitley as well as to make the people aware of the economic catastrophe the country has been forcefully led into. – Joseph Dost

Parodying Trump

This is utterly mean. Get a life and deal with the real issues (“Watch: This parody of ‘Ivanka Trump’ singing about her father is priceless”)! Most people care about food on their tables, having a car to get to work in, an education for their kids, a home that is not under five feet of water and not being taken out by Korea.

Why are you people spreading hate? It helps no one. You are only showing your small-mindedness. Do you think those of us who love and believe in this country care about these parodies? Stop bashing our President. You don’t have to like him but you should pay attention to how he already ISis Making America Great Again and respect him because he is the President, elected by the majority of the people. You only show your ignorance with pieces such as this. – Bernadette Jackel

The North Korea question

Although Trump spoke vehemently about responding to North Korea with “fire and fury”, there are limits to the US’ jurisdiction (“North Korea says it successfully conducted a hydrogen bomb test”). It is quite clear that the sanctions imposed (from Resolution 1718 to Resolution 2371) on North Korea are ineffective as the state still continues carrying out missile tests. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has proven that it can dodge these sanctions. Besides, the UN cannot force compliance to the resolutions on any member state. To elucidate, confirmation on compliance with resolution 2321 was given only by 77 member states, according to the UN.

Many reports over the decade have shown that North Korea has many shell companies and other fronts in place to ensure that despite all the sanctions, its economy can retain stability. Diplomatic talks in the past have also failed. Former President Barack Obama’s attempt to cut a deal with North Korea in order to impose a moratorium on nuclear missile tests clearly failed. The only way to ameliorate this situation is ending the totalitarian regime of Kim Jong Un and hoping for a better, more sensible and less peevish successor. – Akanksh Sharma

Flood fury

The government in Bihar is perceived to be headed by an honest person but has never been so (“Bihar floods: With 28 more deaths, toll rises to 440”). It is a deeply corrupt regime. There is a politician -bureaucrat-engineer-contractor nexus and the recent floods were caused because the flood protection embankment had been breached. An independent inquiry will reveal the truth. I hail from the worst affected area and learnt of this when I visited my village.

The recent contract amount assigned to plug the breaches may also be the evidence of sarkari loot when evaluated on spot. taking into consideration the length and width of the breach. Who cares for the poor and affected lot in Bihar? It’s a state of scams: past, present and future. – Dharnidhar Jha

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”.

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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.