The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix: Hardik Patel 'sex CD' is further proof of how little the BJP cares for privacy

Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more).

The Big Story: Private eye

Gujarati Patidar leader Hardik Patel knew it was coming. The man who has spearheaded the agitation demanding reservations for his community and has decided to tie up with the Congress to vote out the Bharatiya Janata Party said two weeks ago that the saffron party had prepared a “doctored sex CD” to defame him and would release it soon. In the event, two videos purportedly showing Patel have emerged, one in which he appears to have sex with a woman and another that reportedly shows him drinking alcohol. Although nothing scandalous has so far been established in either of the videos, they have nevertheless been received with glee by the BJP’s supporters, hoping this will if nothing else put a moral dent in Patel’s stature.

Some tweeted with the hashtag #HardikExposed. Others said that those who were defending Patel, by pointing out that what happens in the “sex CD” appears to be consensual and so represents nothing scandalous, are “exposing themselves more than what Hardik did.” Many other comments descend into much more profane territory.

The lack of any evidence suggesting something untoward is happening, particularly in the “sex CD,” has prompted a conversation around privacy and what is permissible, with other leaders backing Patel in saying there is no scandal even if it is him in the video. While most of the BJP leadership has itself been careful to not say too much about the tapes, even as Patel blamed the saffron party for its dirty tactics, its support base has happily taken on the task of spreading the videos and screenshots. One man claiming to be the convener of the IT and social media cell of the BJP’s Gujarat unit tweeted saying the video showed the “real truth of Hardik Patel”, adding #Besharam_Hardik, meaning shameless Hardik.

These supporters have insisted there is a public interest in releasing the Hardik Patel videos, even if there is nothing illegal in them. But this is a sharp contrast with the way the party and its support base reacted to a similar incident in Chhattisgarh, where the police have arrested a former BBC journalist for possessing videos of a sex tape showing a state minister who belongs to the BJP. The journalist, who was earlier part of a fact-finding mission to the state to look at arrests and threats against the media in the state, is accused of allegedly attempting to extort money from the BJP minister involved. But a large part of the conversation has simply been about why he had possession of a sex CD at all.

This cavalier and inconsistent attitude to privacy is reflective of a party that argued in the Supreme Court that Indians don’t have a fundamental right to privacy, only to come back after the apex court affirmed the right anyway and say it had supported the idea all along. Yet in practice, especially when there are political gains to be had, the BJP seems to live up to its image of not believe in the fundamental right. Footage from a hotel in Gujarat which hosted Congress and Patel leaders last month, for example, was allegedly confiscated by intelligence agencies and then promptly released to the media as proof of meetings between the two. And any discussion of privacy invasions in Gujarat serves as a reminder of the ‘snoopgate’ fracas, in which Narendra Modi, who was then chief minister of the state, used government machinery for surveillance of a private individual.

This attitude towards privacy, happily invading it in an election-bound Gujarat but arresting a journalist in Chhattisgarh, albeit with the addition of extortion charges, are reflective of the party that appeared willing to ditch the concept altogether simply to save its Aadhaar programme. The Supreme Court earlier this year affirmed our fundamental right to privacy but the message does not seem to have gone through. For the BJP, it seems, privacy is still a right of convenience, applied only when it is advantageous.

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Punditry

  1. “To conclude, demonetisation failed and failed miserably. It adversely affected every sector of the economy and every section of society,” writes Bhalchandra Mungekar in the Indian Express. “The government must be complimented for celebrating a monumental failure as a stupendous victory.”
  2. Nikhil Shrivastav in the Hindu says the studies conducted present a less rosier picture of the status of sanitation in India than what the government claims about Swachh Bharat, suggesting the latter is at best running on a check mark-based approach.
  3. “There is nothing in economic theory that suggests that one should eschew cash. There is a substantial body of economic theorising that provides a clear rationale for the use of paper currency,” writes Pulin Nayak in the Hindustan Times.
  4. Ronald Abraham in Mint argues for a strong data privacy law that would restrict database linking not just of Aadhaar but any Indian identity document.
  5. “For India, which shuns the world’s main cash cow, and distrusts the world’s main weapons manufacturer, the Quad is neither about alignment nor is it about nonalignment. It is simply taking delusions of grandeur with all the attendant costs and none of the gains,” writes Abhijit Iyer-Mitra in the Economic Times.

Giggle

Don’t miss

Vivek Menezes writes about what realtors call “Portuguese architecture” in Goa, which is actually a uniquely Indian fusion of many different forms that represents something very specifically Goan.

 Goans were the first Indians to seize the reins of their destiny, and they were not shy about expressing highly evolved aesthetic and cultural preferences. This is the crucial difference between the colonial structures in Goa and Mumbai or Kolkata. These “were not buildings imposed upon Goans, or buildings negotiated between Goans and foreign prelates or authorities…they were buildings by Goans, designed by Goan architects and masons, including Goan Catholic priests, and in many cases, commissioned by Goan landowners or Goan local communities”.  

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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.