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Bharat-Bavaria Bhaichara

Bavaria is to Germany what Rajasthan is to India, writes Varupi Jain.

india Updated: Nov 02, 2005 14:43 IST

Bavaria is to Germany what Rajasthan is to India. You can equate stereotypes of overflowing beer mugs at the Oktoberfest with those of wrinkled, ancient looking men adoring dome-sized pagris riding parched camels - we often tend to confuse images with the multi-dimensionality of the nation itself. In any case, Bavaria - the real Bavaria - which is a step above leather shorts and all that, recently threw open its doors to India - and with so much élan.

The India Week celebrated in the state of Bavaria from 10-15 October 2005 touched upon economic, commercial and cultural interfaces between Bavaria and India to mark the 500th anniversary of Indo-Bavarian trading relations. According to Mr JS Mukul, Consul General at the Indian Consulate in Munich, the Week "was an overwhelming success in bringing India - both traditional and modern - in its multi-dimensional character and flavour to a very wide cross-section of Bavaria and its people".

The week was marked by activities in many cities of Bavaria - Munich, Augsburg, Nuremberg, Regensberg and Ingolstadt. The crowds were quite expectedly attracted to the cultural events: Kathak by Guru Rajendra Gangani's dance troupe sponsored by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Pt Salil Bhatt's classical instrumental music ensemble.

A Film Festival screened Bollywood movies dubbed in German - as usual an absolute hit. Indian pop music was just as enthusiastically received as readings from Indian literature by prominent personalities.

A Food Festival was held at Bayerisher Hof - a leading hotel of Munich. In fact, the concept was extended into a 'GastroTour' with the objective of involving as many Indian restaurants as possible. Sixteen Indian restaurants put together special offers like cookery courses, dance, music, special festive menus etc.

Two Indian business delegations also participated in the Week. First, the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA) which is a leading Indian nodal agency with over 480 member companies from the auto component industry contributing around 90 per cent of the total auto component output in the organised sector in India. ACMA's activities include trade promotion, technology up-gradation, quality enhancement, participation in international trade fairs and collection/dissemination of information. ACMA's delegation comprising 16 participants made factory visits and interacted with Bavaria-based auto majors - BMW, Audi and MAN.

The Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council or ESC is the apex body in India representing business interests of over 2,400 Indian Electronics and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies. ESC has strong networks across the world with the main objective of forging business linkages, joint ventures, strategic alliances, exports from India to global markets and multi level cooperation. The ESC delegation of 8 members focused on IT outsourcing, joint ventures, agency tie-ups etc.

Finally, the Week was also marked by 'high level' /ministerial participation from both sides. India was represented by Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Mr EVKS Elangovan. He inaugurated the India Week jointly with Minister-President of Bavaria, Dr. Edmund Stoiber, who was present despite the critical formation of the German coalition government in Berlin. Both the ministers made insightful observations about Indo-German economic and historical relations in their respective speeches - experts from which will be considered in future articles in this column.

Yes, Minister!

Talking about 'high level' visits, one has to think of how we treat our high-level visitors - most often perched on pedestals of misplaced reverence. How office-hour traffic is blocked simply because Minister-sahib has chosen to go for a walk in Lodhi Gardens. It's funny, isn't it, at the impression we convey - that we're such unsafe territory that the Head of State of any nation has to be preceded and followed by a cavalcade of black-cats in Limos and apna Ambassadors - while Delhi Police holds back helpless citizens waiting patiently, as though on the other side of the circus watching the clowns perform.

But why blame our politicians. May be it is something more deep-seated, having to do with complex stuff like the Indian psyche and all that (whatever that is!). You know how the importance of our Chief Guests is directly proportional to the number of minutes, ugh hours, she arrives late. We think we're weighty and this weight, my dear, is to be thrown around.

I remember how German professors often cycle down to their university offices - immaculately done up in a tie and jacket and during lunch time, rush to the cafeteria to join masses of students and with them, dig pasta and sip coffee.

In the same breath, I must recall a chat with a junior bureaucrat in a bharat sarkar Ministry who insisted on a posting in a small town in order not to feel lost. After all, it is easier for DM sahib to summon an army of chamchas in a gullible kasba.

Our sahibs of all species are not aam aadmi, after all.