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The Daily Fix: In Alwar, murderous mobs are emboldened by the indulgence of politicians and police

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The Big Story: Alwar again

It is a story that has been repeated far too often about Alwar in the last few months. Another Muslim man accused of cattle smuggling and allegedly killed by cow vigilantes, another battle for justice launched with little hope. Six months after dairy farmer Pehlu Khan was lynched for allegedly transporting cattle, the body of 35-year-old Umar Khan was found on the railway tracks on November 10. His family have lodged a complaint saying he and two others were attacked by a gang of seven vigilantes. The police have already started pointing fingers at the victims, saying one of them has a record of cattle smuggling. Ummar Khan’s family have demanded arrests but also questioned the testimonies of his two companions and asked for a fair investigation. Given the precedents and the political climate that surrounds these attacks, it is unlikely that they will get one.

Already, the routine excuses and evasions have started. State Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said they did not even “manpower” to “control every situation in all cities in time”. Of Pehlu Khan’s killing, he had said it was “alright” that people “illegally” transporting cattle were caught, though no one had the right to “take the law into their own hands”, that the “problem is from both sides”. Then, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi tried to deny that a lynching had actually taken place. It took Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje almost a month to break her silence on the Pehlu Khan case, when she said that violence would not be tolerated. Months later, the six men Khan had named in his dying declaration were let out on bail, even though they were on the run and had never been questioned. Of course, this culture of impunity stretches beyond Rajasthan, to the various states that have seen lynchings in the last couple of years: Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Assam, Gujarat. There have been few arrests, few trials and no convictions.

In Alwar in particular, the political acquiescence that accompanied Pehlu Khan’s lynching has emboldened murderous bullies. For instance, when activist Harsh Mander tried to take his Karwan-e-Mohabbat or Caravan of Love to Behror, the site of the lynching, they received threats from rightwing groups. When they pressed on, protesting crowds gathered at the spot as the local police claimed they were helpless to stop them. Never mind contrition, violence has only strengthened violence in Alwar, while the administration cheers on.

The Big Scroll

Harsh Mander recounts a visit to Pehlu Khan’s village and takes the “Karwan-e-Mohabbat’ to Behror, where the dairy farmer was lynched.


  1. In the Indian Express, Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes how the judiciary has created a crisis of credibility for itself.
  2. What human rights can Myanmar expect or Aung San Suu Kyi enforce under a military junta, asks Nilanjana Sengupta in the Hindu.
  3. In the Telegraph, Ruchir Joshi on fulfilling spaces to work in.


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Alok Prasanna Raghav weighs in on the institutional crisis of the judiciary:

 “The Chief Justice of India, like the Chief Justice of any High Court is the ‘Master of the Rolls’ – the judge with the power to decide the roster of the court: who hears which case and when. This was never in dispute. The ‘order’ passed by the ‘Constitution Bench’ reiterating the legal position makes no reference to the facts which prompted these proceedings. The writ petition was filed given that Misra’s conduct was in question and, when it came to a judicial inquiry about the same, he cannot be allowed to be a judge in his own cause. This cardinal principle of natural justice, the cornerstone of any independent and impartial judiciary, and one which courts in common law jurisdictions have recognised for over 400 years was violated with impunity. While the order cites case-law and precedent to assert his powers as a master of the rolls, it does not, even in passing, address the argument made by Prashant Bhushan and the petitioners that Misra, as Chief Justice of India, should have recused from hearing this case.” 

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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.