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The Daily Fix: Tamil Nadu’s people must be allowed to decide who leads them after Amma

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The Big Story: Mother dearest

More than nine months after her death, former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s remarkable influence and her many failings are still being keenly felt in Tamil Nadu. Almost everything about the current political and, to some, constitutional crisis that is playing out in the state can be attributed to Jayalalithaa. Last year’s victory in the state elections ended a three-decade old cycle of power switching back and forth between her party, the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and arch-rivals, the Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam. As the first chief minister to be re-elected in 32 years, Jayalalithaa cemented her status as a truly historic character in a state where many politicians have loomed larger than life.

But in that victory were also sown the seeds of today’s crisis. Jayalalithaa never developed a clear line of succession in a party she dominated entirely, leaving second-tier leaders and aides in a state of confusion after her death in December 2016. As the weeks following Jayalalithaa’s death turned into months, initial stability gave way to splintering, with two sides attempting to lay claim to her legacy. And then, in February 2017, the former chief minister added one more posthumous jolt: the Supreme Court upheld her conviction in a corruption case dating back two decades. The verdict did not diminish her stature, but it added another variable to the post-Amma dynamics of the party, as her former aided VK Sasikala was also sent to prison for the crime. Suddenly, two AIADMK factions turned into (at least) three.

As things stand today, after much prodding and deft use of investigation agencies by the Bharatiya Janata Party-run Centre, two of those factions have united and sought to lay claim to the party, while keeping Sasikala and her family out. Yet far from clarifying matters, this move only seems to have confirmed that current Chief Minister Edapadi Palaniswamy, along with former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, do not have enough Members of Legislative Assembly supporting them even after coming together. Meanwhile, the acting Governor of the state appears to have gone missing, choosing the BJP’s preferred strategy of waiting until the AIADMK – which now seems beholden to the Centre – can resolve its differences and continue ruling, rather than risk the chance of losing in elections.

Nothing reflects the state of Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa better than what has happened in her constituency, Dr Radhakrishnan Nagar in Chennai. Left vacant after her death, a by-poll there was called off by the Election Commission in April after staggering amounts of bribery was noticed, and its constituents continue to be unrepresented. Some could say the same for the people of Tamil Nadu, as a political farce of representation has played out over the last nine months, with resort politics, horse-trading and controversial floor tests – even as residents of the state grapple with agricultural crises and federal battles.

The DMK this week promised that if the acting Governor still does not respond to demands for a floor test, it will take the matter to the courts. The acting Governor would do well to pay heed. The views of the people of the state, whose rights to a representative government he is meant to safeguard, have barely been considered in the infighting and horse-trading over most of 2017. It is high time Tamil Nadu’s people have a chance to put Jayalalithaa’s legacy to rest, and choose their way forward.

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  1. “Mayawati will need to change the BSP’s organisational structure and reinvent its political language if the party is to stay relevant in the 2019 elections,” writes Badri Narayan in the Indian Express.
  2. Peter Smetacek in the Hindu calls for a relook at the National Forest Policy, and points out the many elements that would need to be changed to build a genuinely progressive approach to India’s forests.
  3. “The greed for political gain has blinded the BJP. The AIADMK could serve as its Trojan horse but Tamil Nadu is no Troy,” writes R Kannan in the Hindustan Times.
  4. States have gotten more fiscal autonomy in recent years, but that has not led to increased spending on nutrition, writes Malancha Chakrabarty in Mint.
  5. What should worry policymakers is that the economy is slowing at a time when global markets are reasonably stable and commodity prices are within India’s comfort zone,” says a leader in Mint.
  6. “An essential precondition for doing away with cash is trust. And on that score, India’s experiment provides an example of what not to do,” says an editorial from Bloomberg.
  7. “There’s a small feeling ‘Arre, I could have got that gold in my hand’. It’s not like, ‘I didn’t play this, or I could’ve done that’. I played everything, gave it my all. I cried a lot after the match was over. Happens… My gold will come.” Shivani Naik in the Indian Express looks at what brought PV Sindhu here – and what comes next.


Don’t miss

Prerana Dharnidharka explains what Shubh Mangal Savdhaan, a Hindi film that was released last weekend, gets wrong about erectile dysfunction.

“Shubh Mangal Saavdhan makes it seem like erectile dysfunction is caused by mysterious and mostly psychological factors. This is a dated and inaccurate assumption. In addition to important psychological causes like stress, erectile dysfunction has a large physiological component, which should not be ignored. Erectile dysfunction has been shown to predict cardiovascular diseases – it is even considered to be an early sign and a reason to get tested for such diseases. Doctors, therefore, recommend that men with erectile dysfunction go to a general physician or a specialist and get examined for cardiovascular diseases and other risks.

Third, the movie seems to imply, that if you have erectile dysfunction, you and your partner are doomed to a life of sexual frustration and celibacy, until there is a spontaneous resolution of the problem. But erectile dysfunction is actually treatable. There are pharmaceutical options that you can and should explore with your physician. Studies have also shown that improving physical health – by increasing one’s level of physical activity, for instance – can also help resolve erectile dysfunction. Any attempt to increase one’s level of physical activity, however, should be cleared by a doctor.”

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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.


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.