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Watch Manmohan Singh take apart the idea and implementation of demonetisation

Demonetisation had also been suggested to the UPA government as a means to curb black money, revealed the former Prime Minister.

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Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took to the stage to express his views (video above) on demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax during a meeting with a group of traders in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. In his address, he said that the two schemes, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government ostensibly created in the name of people’s welfare and the fight against corruption and black money, were “badly designed and hastily implemented” and a complete disaster for the Indian economy. Here are the key highlights from his speech:

  • Singh started his address by “invoking the memory of more than 100 people who lost their lives last year in the wake of demonetisation.” Calling it a “disastrous policy”, he said it was thrust on the people of India.
  • He marked November 8, 2016 as “a black day for our economy and for our democracy.” Recalling his feeling of shock on hearing Prime Minister Modi’s announcement, he said: “I wondered who would have advised him to inflict such a reckless step on our nation and whether any considered thought went into it.”
  • “Black money and tax evasion are a menace which the country needs to tackle but demonetisation was clearly not the solution,” he said. He disclosed that demonetisation had been suggested many times in the past as one of the methods to eradicate black money, yet his government purposefully refrained from implementing such an extreme step as the cost always exceeded the benefits very substantially.
  • Criticising the introduction of an even more high value currency note of Rs 2000, he said: “Nowhere in the world has any democracy undertaken such a coercive move withdrawing 86% of the legal tender in one single swoop.”
  • Singh said that the Modi government has significantly failed in meeting any of the stated objectives of demonetisation, namely, eliminating black money, terror financing and counterfeit currency. “The cash in circulation after one year is close to 90% of the previous levels,” he reminded everyone. The fact that more than 99% of the demonetised currency came back into the banking system has further punctured the government’s claims, he said.
  • “The policy has proven to be mere bluster to reap political dividends, while the real offenders have escaped,” he declared, adding that demonetisation was supposed to have helped the poor, but had only increased their suffering instead.
  • Singh labelled the move as “organised loot and legalised plunder” as the GDP growth rate dropped to 5.7%, jobs were lost, businesses were shut down and lives were lost.
  • He went on to criticise the government’s choice to inflict “a badly designed and hastily implemented GST,” calling the twin blow a complete disaster for our economy.
  • “What is even more tragic is that none of the lessons from this monumental blunder have been learnt by the Modi government,” Singh concluded.
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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.