Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: With Aadhaar, we are losing the basic freedoms enshrined in our Constitution

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Big brother

Thank you for making an effective suggestion on protesting, in our own humble way against the encroachment into our private lives and day to day activities (“Why Indian mobile users must take the initiative to protest against linking their phones to Aadhaar”). This is nothing but tyranny by a democratically elected government with brute majority. I strongly feel young, educated, otherwise resourceful and conscious young people should start a movement the way you have suggested. Thank you once again for your initiative. – Sanjit Chatterjee

***

I am a 80-plus year old man with reduced physical capabilities because of various serious ailments. However, I run an industry for the last 42 years and pay several crores as taxes and duties to the government. I also provide direct and indirect employment to another 150 families. While trying to get my Aadhaar number verified, I was surprised that none of my fingers matched. Even during my second attempt, it failed.

Now, after March 31, if my Aadhaar physical verification fails and I am denied my authentic existence as a bonafide Indian citizen, 150 families will lose their livelihoods. Stuff like this should be taken into consideration before making Aadhaar mandatory. – Sanjit Chatterjee

***

The errors component in Aadhaar is not big compared to the benefits of linking it to welfare schemes. The error component is not large to be alarmed at as compared to the benefits achieved by linking Aadhaar with social benefit schemes. The government should act fast to plug the shortcomings so that the system does not crash. – DP Gupta

***

There are far too many defects in the Aadhaar implementation and how far it has come from what was envisioned. If bank accounts details are leaked, who will take responsibility? And how can we trust private companies with all our personal data? I hope the Supreme Court decides against making Aadhaar mandatory. – Juanita War

***

I retired as additional chief secretary to the government of Gujarat and I have studied the Aadhaar law very carefully. As a concerned citizen, I strongly feel that the law needs to be scrapped outright, except maybe for a few welfare schemes.

In fact we are fast losing the basic freedoms enshrined in our Constitution. We as citizens have only one sanctuary left now and that is the Apex Court. If that too fails us, we will become subjects to be manipulated at will by a villainous state. There are obviously very sinister and powerful business interests that hold the present government in their selfish clutches and they will do their best to transform the people of India into servile slaves to be ordered about as George Orwell predicted in 1984!

We are at a crossroads at this point and we as a nation of right-thinking people should battle the state to preserve our fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution. A large forum of citizens should be formed to take up the matter with the government and educate the people at large about the perils of the unique identity project. We now do not have much time to lose. People of India must awake for their second freedom struggle from this crushing law and that too right now. – A Prasad

***

As law-abiding citizens, it is essential for us accept the government’s decision. What is wrong with this project? India is faces threats from terrorists and my government will have to save me for which I will cooperate. – Venkatraghavan Maruthuvanpadi

***

I agree with the benefits of Aadhaar but the manner in which the government is making it mandatory for almost everything is putting citizens in a tough spot. For example, if someone wishes to move back to their hometown upon retirement, they will not be able to access many facilities without updating their address in the Aadhaar card. But changing official documents is very challenging. Such concerns must be addressed. – DK Painuli

***

Insisting on Aadhaar-linking is good move made by the government to save the misuse of public money and crack down on black money collected under fictitious names. – Ashok Jadhav

***

There should be be more mass protests across the .country against the government’s autocratic and unilateral action in violation of the fundamental right to privacy. This will pose a serious threat to people in coming days. The Supreme Court must arrive at a verdict immediately to resolve the matter. – Arup Kumsen

***

Switching off our phones for 15 or 30 minutes will not achieve anything. Ultimately we will miss our important calls. So, we should find a way that will result in a significant loss for telecom companies. – Betson P Kunjappan

***

What is wrong with linking Aadhaar? Why should we be afraid? The government should heed to complaints but all Indians should link Aadhaar to all services to prevent criminal, anti-social and anti-India activities. – Chandrashekar BK

***

I have no objection to getting my phone number linked to Aadhaar. To hell with the objections.Why shouldn’t I abide by a government order? First stop phone manufacturers from collecting our fingerprint information and then object against to the government. – Mukesh Patel

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The proposal to link Aadhaar to so many services is a clear violation of our right to privacy which that Supreme Court has upheld as our Constitutional right. – Ajit Kumar

***

Aadhaar is indeed a must. It is the only identity document that has the complete details of citizens. Objecting to it is against the nation’s interest. – Badri Narayanan

***

There is no harm in linking Aadhar to different schemes. No secret information is needed for Aadhar. I don’t see the harm in sharing my details for Aadhaar. It’s only some people who have a problem. – GP Shukla

Clarification from a university

This article refers to an interview that Scroll.in had telephonically with a member of our Committee on Gender Sensitisation Against Sexual Harassment or COGSASH at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (“Universities respond to Raya Sarkar’s list of alleged sexual predators: Mostly silence, some denials”). The members of the COGSASH had not yet met to deliberate the issue when the said interview was conducted. Following its meeting on November 8, the COGSASH would like to reiterate as a body that no complaints have been registered with it against the two members of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences named in the list recently uploaded by Raya Sarkar.

However, we would also like to point out that there is no consensus among the current members of the COGSASH over the nature of the general impact that a crowd-sourced public list of alleged sexual harassers happens to have on our society and politics. Nevertheless, as a statutory body, the COGSASH remains committed to abide by the letter and the spirit of the Policy on Gender Sensitization against Sexual Harassment that the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences had adopted in September, 2010. – Debdatta Chowdhury, Chairperson, COGSASH

Mapping a deluge

I am a Chennai resident since birth and have seen at first hand the effects of the December 2015 floods (“Six Chennai maps spanning over a century explain why the city faces flood danger each year”). My home in Ashok Nagar was submerged. My secretary’s husband lost his life. Your research and article on the lost Chennai lakes is an eye opener and should be circulated widely so that more people become aware of the ill effects if greed and unbridled urbanisation. – Sudarshan Suresh

Ailing medical profession

Through the bill is now being considered for implementation in Karnataka, it should be implemented pan India (“40,000 private hospitals in Karnataka keep OPDs shut in protest against medical bill amendment”). Health, like education, is considered a social service sector. The thought of medical service as social service has a special link to the spiritualism of India’s past history and Indian philosophy of looking at human life as the abode of god.

Swami Vivekananda has put human beings before everything. Doctors all over the world take the Hippocratic oath and promise to engage themselves in the service of mankind. The society also places doctors next to god as they have the power to save lives.

However, in recent times, the commercialisation of the profession has changed its face. It is often seen that patients are made to undergo unnecessary treatments to drive up costs.

Doctors should be working to win the heart of their patients instead of wining a fight against the medical bill. – Sukanta Samanta

Looking back at 1984

This is a very good article, but so many such pieces have been published over the last many and yet no one has been taken to task for the crimes committed at that time (“1984 anti-Sikh riots: Supreme Court appoints panel to review closed cases”).We are a nation that is half asleep and has no conscience. How can a human kill another in name of religion, just because they were Sikhs. Don’t be a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian, be a human first. I hope we never see a repeat of happened in 1984. – Jaspreet Singh

No offence

In the US and other Western countries, criticising government activities or government policies is seen as a way of expressing nationalism (“The Daily Fix: Tamil cartoonist’s arrest is yet another attempt to gag voices on social media”). Here in India, it is just the opposite. No one or nothing should be above criticism. – Varun Akavoor

Ease of doing business

What joy do you get by being the party-pooper (“Ease of Doing Business isn’t the best way to gauge economic performance. Just see China’s low scores”)? It makes sense for the media to taunt the government when it doesn’t show results, but why pull it down when there is positive change? Do you expect a country this size to change dramatically in less than five years after a new administration comes to power? Have patience. – John Agapi

Climate talks

“Nothing is decided till everything is decided”. This axiom quoted by JM Mauskar in this interview sums it all up (“Principle of equity must guide Bonn talks, says member of Indian PM’s climate change council”). The success of the Paris Agreement would be the success of mankind. Leaving behind a cleaner planet for the next generation is essential. The work initiated by eminent personalities like Mauskar towards reducing carbon footprint is commendable. His use of words is also brilliant. His thoughts are clear and that is reflected in this interview. The planet will be most grateful for his efforts. – Renu

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.