Talking of Contrasts

During German Research Minister visit to India last year, Health and Environment were identified as areas of common interest, writes Varupi Jain.

india Updated: Jan 31, 2006 10:47 IST

During German Research Minister Mrs Bulmahn's visit to India last year and her talks with the Indian Research Minister Kapil Sibal, Health Research and Environmental Technology were identified as areas of common interest.

Subsequent activities resulted in the establishment of the "Indo-German Liaison Office Infectious Diseases Research -CDFD Hyderabad / ZINF Wuerzburg" late last year.

It will provide the basis for a long-term, structural cooperation between the German Research Centre for Infectious Diseases at the University of Wuerzburg (ZINF, Prof. Hacker), the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics in Hyderabad (CDFD, Prof Hasnain) and the public and private research networks connected to the two centres.

The project is a pilot measure promoted for two years. Following the pilot phase, the financing will be acquired from third party means (industry orders, EU projects, Indian sources etc)

The main goal of the office is the development of bilateral and multilateral research projects in the area of Infectious Diseases Research and to find resources of financing. The office will build up strong links to the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in both countries in order to use the excellent research cooperation already existing.

In the long run, the liaison office is envisaged to be the nucleus for establishing a bilateral research laboratory for common research going beyond Germany and India -- as a kind of "cooperation gateway" for the German and Indian industry. The Liaison Office is located in Wuerzburg and Hyderabad (http:www.uniwuerzburg.de/infektionsbiologie/IPGC.htm)

Jai Narmada!

That is too much of science of technology, my German friends, who recently returned from India, would have said. They belong to the club of people who prefer the countryside over downtown and whose refrigerator is loaded not with frozen baguettes but with organic milk and bio-broccoli.

They can walk many miles a day and can differentiate between the edible and poisonous varieties of mushrooms dotting the forest area close to their beautiful house.

While in India recently, they were happily settled on the Narmada-facing terrace of their cottage, they said. It looked like a fine painting -- a few boats were gently finding their way through the waters in the backdrop of the temple remains visible on the other bank.

The sounds of the bells and drums pierced the landscape like music. "The swarms of pilgrims before us took us back to long-lost times -- times we had thought were lost forever", they said.

Suddenly, two hours later, the bells and the drums fizzled away and a different reality came to life. It all converted into a hugely illuminated construction site of a new dam -- flooding away the romanticism of the evening.

The following day, they say, they explored the turmoil among the pilgrims. These simple, loving villagers, clad in white, priestly clothes, carried a pole in one hand and a hollowed out pumpkin containing drinking water in the other. They walked down the stairs chanting "Narmade, Jai!"

They walked down stoically, quite disconnected to their surroundings -- without a need to know that the other end of their beloved Narmada was being saturated, brick by brick, by a 'temple of modern times'.

My friends climbed down the stairs as well, wondering if contrasts can be more massive and ruthless.

Delhi Disorder

Talking of contrasts, I am reminded of grudge our 'island manager' in Alleppey, Kerala, held against Dilliwalas. I call him Island Manager because our resort was located on an island -- the only building, the only sign of human civilisation on the island in the backwaters. And it would be dysfunctional without its manager, Sabu.

Sabu would first come to pick you up at the bank in his motor-boat, take you on a pride-ride around the island, hook up your hammock and show you his library. He would whip up a prawn curry with just as much élan as he would uncork a champagne bottle on Christmas Eve.

Dilliwalas amuse me, he announced in his Malayali English. "We have purposely chosen not to install TVs in the resort rooms", he says. These Dilliwalas do not realise that they just need to look out of the window and it is TV all around -- could TV ever match up to this entertainment?

But they cannot seem to live without flipping channels -- then why do come all the way to Kerala? They should stick to their restless city.

Just a few days ago, he says, he was fed up with the cribbing of a few Dilliwalas. I called up the manager of our city hotel. "Paanch aadmi bhej raha hoon, unko TV ke saath daal do," he told him. "They were cured there," he says with a snigger.

First Published: Jan 31, 2006 10:47 IST