Wednesday March 21, 2018
Home India India through...

India through the eyes of a Slovenian


By Marija Sres

As a child, I knew India as “Indija Koromandija,” a synonym for “paradise on earth” in the minds of most Slovenians. Symbolically then, India was a promised land, whose “rivers flowed with milk and honey” — not water. And I received God’s gift of spending the best and happiest years of my life there.

Was it really heaven on earth?

I lived in Sabarkantha with the Bhil Adivasis, along the state border between Gujarat and Rajasthan. It was hill country, now sadly made barren by deforestation and drought. I lived here 40 years, the longest period of my life, enough time and opportunity to learn and adjust. During those years, I made bonds with people from all over India.

This world was vastly different from the people I previously lived with. My worldview and my values were also so very different from theirs, so it required a complete change of heart from me to enter into their world.

What was their world?

It was a feudal, patriarchal world. The world where women were still looked down upon, were illiterate and treated as cheap labor by contractors for road-building and construction, were sexually exploited, were harassed by government babus for the smallest concession — and where women considered themselves of little worth. Their existence was one of survival.

How so many women could smile and survive in these situations is something I have no words to describe, but only a deep appreciation for. My challenge was to build up, not only their economic well-being but their sense of dignity as well, and I did this with their help and support. In turn, they made me see how many of the things I wanted were not really necessary. I simplified my life, I learned to do with less.

The cornerstone of their lives was their deep love for life. For them, life was a gift, be it ever so hard. They were grateful for it, enjoyed it and expressed it in work, smiles, dances and songs!

This led me to see the values of relationship: to take time for each other, to share and know that “everything depends not on what you do, but on who you know.”

But people are unpredictable; so you need to embrace uncertainty. This means that nothing goes according to plan. India is a big country, a continent by itself. So lots of travelling is necessary for visitors. And travelling in India is difficult and uncomfortable. When you travel, open your mind: India is a sensory overload. You learn a lot by just being there.

Another value is to know how to wait. For us Westerners, this is the most difficult thing. Everything in India moves at a slower pace, like in the stories. To make most of the time, lose track of it. Throw away your clock, maybe also your calendar!

Value the family. It’s not a choice, it’s a necessity, a way of life. Lack of commitment to family is not just dishonor; it’s a personal shortcoming.

And yet, paradoxically, I have also learnt very much how to be alone even in the midst of a crowd — alone with oneself and alone with God.

My image of God grew tremendously. Not God in a temple, but the Divine Spirit everywhere, as the Adivasis see Her. God accepts each and everyone with the same loving care. We are all precious in her eyes. The spirituality we aspire to is so much above the petty piety of externals.

I marvel at the Indian genius for thinking, for inventing, and am puzzled why this country is still so poor. There is so much wealth here — one of the richest men in the world happens to be Indian; but so is the poorest woman! Such inequality, such discrimination. The most beautiful women in the world reside here (note how many Miss World and Miss Universe competitions Indians have won), but the ugliest and most polluted cities are also in India. Truly a continent of contradictions!

It was in India that I became a writer. As I said often, I came to myself here, realized my potential, and wrote from my heart. That’s how the stories about my Adivasi women, their children and their men, the people I lived with, I walked with, were written. My writings brought our tribal Dungri Garasiya Bhils into Gujarati literature, as a dear writer friend once told me. But not just Gujarati — into other languages like Marathi, Tamil, Slovene, English and Spanish. Their stories went around the world. I feel so proud of them!

Finally, dream and be hopeful in this land, lit by the warm sunshine, washed by the gentle rain. Why? Because in India we say, “Everything will be all right in the end.” If things are not all right, it means it’s not yet the end. So there’s still hope!

What I am today is because of the way India and its people shaped me: a happy woman who worked hard, laughed and cried, danced a lot, and learnt how to love and enjoy life. I know that I have left my heart here, with my Adivasi women among their barren hills. And my home will always be where my heart is.

For this is what “home” truly is, is it not? More than a place on earth, one is truly at home in the hearts of friends, and only there. For there are many who pass in and out of our lives, but we only remember those who leave their footprints in our heart. My mind races back over the years to the faces and voices of Indian friends I shall never forget.

Yes, I am grateful to this great land, where “milk and honey” flow not only in the big rivers and little streams but in the veins of my hands and feet, for I am the daughter whom India took into her home.

Thank you, aabhara, shukriya, dhanyavaad.

Marija Sres, a Slovenian, spent four decades empowering the Bhil Adivasis of Gujarat. She presently lives in Beltinci, Slovenia, in central Europe.

This article was first published at

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 NewsGram

Next Story

Reasons Why India Has Become a Call Center Hub

Experts are expecting the industry to grow considerably in the coming years on account of a steady influx of foreign investors

India is one of the largest call centre hubs in the world. Pixabay
India is one of the largest call centre hubs in the world. Pixabay
  • India has become a call center hub
  • In past few years, the industry has seen a drastic growth
  • There are several reasons which are making this industry flourish in India at such a fast pace

For over a decade, the call center industry in India has reached at least US$710 million in revenue. Experts are expecting the industry to grow considerably in the coming years on account of a steady influx of foreign investors.

At present, there are a lot of call centers in India and nearly every multinational company has outsourced their customer service to the country. Call centers, after all, can help in terms providing better customer outreach and flexibility according to More so, it has become essential for companies to set up call centers in India as a means to lessen costs and, more importantly, achieve better growth.

UP Investor Summit saw the launch of app e-Saathi.
This upsurge in the industry is providing many people with jobs. Pixabay

Indeed, it’s not so hard to think about the reasons why India has been preferred as a call center hub by a lot of foreign corporations. For a fact, these reasons are too obvious to begin with.

Government support

Ever since it lifted obstacles that have gotten in the way, the Indian government was able to prioritize the growth of the call center industry as an important economic driver, and it has continued to do so today. With such a strong backing from policymakers, the business process outsourcing environment in the country continues to prosper.

 A competitive workforce

The first thing that’s on this list is the Indian workforce itself. A lot of companies are looking towards India not because it’s cheaper to set up a CRM arm there. It’s the Indian employees themselves that encourage companies to invest. What with a great wealth of skilled and professional workers, India is a powerhouse when it comes right down to supplying qualified individuals to the job of engaging clients from overseas.

Also Read: 7 Pro SEO Tips for Small Businesses

From text to graphics, this software does it all. Pixabay
A competitive workforce is another reason for the upsurge of call centre industry in India. Pixabay

English proficiencies

But aside from the abilities of Indian workers along the lines of customer service, it is their capacity to speak English is what drives companies from Canada and the United States to expand their operations across the subcontinent. Language, after all, is an important factor of effective CRM, and with an Indian workforce, companies can get a competitive edge.

 An effective training environment

One reason why Indian call center workers are valuable is that they are constantly trained. Nothing else can provide better results than a worker who has just updating his skills through re-training. For foreign investors, this has been one of the most notable reasons  they prefer to establish a foothold in India.

Investments in IT

Apart from being a call center hub, India has also been regarded as one of the world’s most important tech hubs, standing side by side with Silicon Valley. Recent forays into the IT industry has introduced several innovations that have also impacted other industries as well. Call centers are not exempted from these disruptions since they are currently reaping the benefits of updated technologies and infrastructure.

Also Read: ‘WhatsApp Business’ Now Available On Android In India

Cloud networking is also a great way of lessening the work burden. Pizabay
Investment in IT and Infrastructure is increasing the number of call centers in India. Pixabay

There are still a lot of reasons that can very well define the successes of the Indian call center industry. What’s important is that the industry enjoys a large share of the global call center pie, providing employment and driving growth for the years to come.