Conversion conflicts

SC orders Kerala Police, Hadiya’s father to produce her in court on November 27

The Supreme Court held that a woman’s consent as an adult is the most important aspect to consider in a case.

A woman’s consent as an adult is the most important aspect to consider in a case, the Supreme Court said on Monday after hearing the Hadiya matter, ANI reported. The case from Kerala involves a woman whose father alleged that she was forced to convert from Hinduism to Islam to marry a Muslim man.

“In a habeas corpus matter, the consent of the girl is the most important aspect,” Chief Justice Dipak Misra said. In May, the Kerala High Court had placed Hadiya in her parents’ custody.

The court is also believed to have held that there was no need for an investigation into the case, which is based on a petition filed by Hadiya’s husband Shafin Jahan. He had challenged the High Court order annulling their marriage on charges of “love jihad”.

In its argument, the Centre said parental authority can be invoked in cases where someone is believed to have been manipulated or indoctrinated, the Hindustan Times reported. “Consent is manipulated by indoctrination and radicalisation,” the NIA said, according to News18. “In fact, people with hypnotic expertise have been employed to manipulate young women.”

The Supreme Court, however, held that marriage was a personal affair and such individual cases should not be interfered with. “There is no law stating that a person cannot marry a criminal,” it said.

The bench has asked Hadiya’s father and the Kerala Police to produce her before the court at 3 pm on November 27, when the case will be heard next. The judges also refused her father’s plea seeking to hold in-camera proceedings in the case on November 27 and said the case will be heard in an open court, ANI reported.

The court passed the order despite objection from Additional Solicitor General Majumder Singh, representing the Centre, and lawyer Shyam Divan, who was appearing for Hadiya’s father.

“I will produce Hadiya before the court on November 27,” her father Ashokan said.

On October 9, the bench had adjourned the hearing after objecting to the “high pitched, politically coloured” arguments made by Jahan’s lawyer Dushyant Dave. Earlier in the month, the Kerala government had rejected the National Investigation Agency’s claims that Hadiya’s case was part of a pattern of religious conversions in the state. It said the police had been doing an efficient job investigating the matter till the Supreme Court intervened in August and transferred the case to the central agency.

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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.

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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.