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India through the eyes of a Slovenian

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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 littleindia.com

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Recovery Rate Rises and Case Fatality Goes Down in India

Recovery rate is rising, case fatality is going down, says Health Ministry of India

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The case fatality rate is 2.83 per cent which has decreased from 3.30 per cent as on April 15. Pixabay

The Union Health Ministry on Monday said that two specific trends were noticed in the Covid-19 situation – while the recovery rate is increasing on one hand, case fatality is going down on the other.

The ministry said at least 4,835 Covid-19 patients had been cured in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cured patients to 91,818.

“The recovery rate in the country is progressively increasing and has reached 48.19 per cent amongst Covid-19 patients. On May 18, it was 38.29 per cent, on May 3, it was 26.59 per cent and on April 15, it was 11.42 per cent,” it said.

The Health Ministry also said that presently there are 93,322 active cases in the country, which are under active medical supervision.

The case fatality rate is 2.83 per cent. On May 18, it was 3.15 per cent, on May 3, it was 3.25 per cent and on April 15, it was 3.30 per cent.

“A steady decline can be seen in the case fatality rate in the country. The relatively low death rate is attributed to the continued focus on surveillance, timely case identification and clinical management of the cases,” the ministry said.

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“A steady decline can be seen in the case fatality rate in the country.”, the Ministry was qouted saying. Pixabay

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It also said that the testing capacity increased in the country through a total of 676 laboratories including 472 government and 204 private laboratories.

“Cumulatively, 38,37,207 samples have been tested so far for Covid-19, whereas, 1,00,180 samples were tested on Sunday,” the Health Ministry stated.

According to the data the ministry cited in its press statement, the case fatality rate in the world is 6.19 per cent. It is highest in France, at 19.35 per cent, followed Belgium with 16.25 per cent, Italy with 14.33 per cent and the UK with 14.07 per cent. (IANS)

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Xiaomi to Unveil Mi Notebook on June 11 in India

The launch event is all set to kick off at 12 noon IST

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Xiaomi is all set to launch exclusive Mi Notebook in India on June 11 via an online event. Wikimedia Commons

Xiaomi on Monday said it is going to unveil an India exclusive Mi Notebook on June 11 via an online event.

The launch event will kick off at 12 noon IST and will be streamed across Xiaomi’s social media platforms and Mi.com as well.

In a tweet, Manu Jain, Vice President, Xiaomi and Managing Director, Xiaomi India, confirmed that upcoming Mi Notebook model is exclusively made for the Indian consumers.

Xiaomi’s Mi last week announced that it will enter the Indian laptop market in June.

“We are ready to introduce the next big category in India with the Mi Notebook series. We will broadly have two series under Mi Notebook that we are going to launch. It will be a minimalistic design, a power-packed device with latest technology to fulfill the requirements of our Indian users,” Raghu Reddy, Chief Business Officer, Xiaomi India, told IANS in an interaction.

He also said the company also intends to introduce more products under the Mi brand, like Internet of Things (IoT) products and Smart TVs.

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Xiaomi RedmiBook 13 features a 13.3-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) resolution anti-glare display. (Representational Image). Pixabay

According to a recent report, Mi’s first Notebook will be a rebranded version of RedmiBook 13 which launched in China in December last year.

Xiaomi RedmiBook 13 features a 13.3-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) resolution anti-glare display with narrow 4.65mm bezels on three sides.

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The display offers 178-degree wide-viewing angle with 250 nits maximum brightness. It is 16.3 mm thin and weighs around 1.23 kilogrammes.

The laptop comes in two sets of configuration options– with 10th gen Intel Core i5-10510U processor and 10th gen Intel Core i7-10510U chipset

The RedmiBook 13 comes fitted with a chiclet keyboard with a 1.3 mm keystroke travel along with Microsoft PTP supported trackpad. (IANS)

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Here’s Why China is Predictable and Not Inscrutable

India could’ve easily predicted the Chinese coming on 5 August 2019

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The Chinese actions are far away from being Inscrutable. Pixabay

As the tensions rise between India and China along the borders in Ladakh, Shekhar Gupta in his article for The Print invokes an American political satirist P.J. O’Rourke.

Talking about his works Shekhar points out that in his ‘A Brief History of Man’, P.J. O’Rourke writes a small sentence “Meanwhile, in China, there were the Chinese.”. This sentence is relevant to us today.

Shekhar Gupta believes that the sentence conveys us a sense of resignation about the “inscrutable” Chinese. This thought happens to be familiar thought in the West.

“But we don’t live in the West. We’ve lived next door to China for as long as first civilisations grew.”, writes Shekhar Gupta

Let’s look at the history of Indian interactions with China since independance. What is inscrutable about it? Talking about the military assault across two fronts in 1962, it may have been a surprise to our leaders back then, but that is only because they were delusional.

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Chinese actions in respect to India are predictable now. Pixabay

From Chinese ultimatum to India to “return their stolen yaks and sheep” in 1965, to their appearance along the Ladakh frontier this year, China happens to be completely predictable and far from inscrutable. Especially keeping in mind Chinese actions in respect to India.

The push at Nathu La (Sikkim) in 1967 was probably to check out the resolve from India. Which they saw at its weakest — having fought two recent wars (1962 and 1965), famines, ship-to-mouth existence, political instability and a diminished Indira Gandhi. . The Indian response was a lesson they quickly learnt. What did the Chinese do after that? They have kept the peace for 53 years. Will you call that response evidence of Chinese inscrutability? They probed us, got a rude push-back, and decided to wait and stir the pot in different ways, at different times, says Shekhar Gupta in his artcile for The Print.

The Chinese kept the hold of what they wanted in 1962. According to Shekhar the truth is, they had it in their possession almost fully, barring small, tactically important slivers in Ladakh. They asserted their ownership and let their larger claim, Arunachal Pradesh, fully in Indian control, go militarily uncontested.

The Chinese never gave up claim on it. In 1986-87, they again checked us out at Wangdung-Sumdorong Chu (Arunachal), when they saw Rajiv Gandhi take India’s defence budget to a 4 per cent-plus of GDP. And once more, the response was firm and the Chinese backed off. The lesson we learnt according to Shekhar Gupta is that the Chinese won’t open fire randomly for the sake of it, Or when they are absolutely sure of an easy victory so they could be seen like ‘teaching an upstart a lesson’ as they did in 1962. Predictable.

Each and every action and response of China fits a pattern- Deliver a message, add leverage, and return, according to Shekhar Gupta.

India, China and Pakistan shared this unusual ‘triangulation’ in which China was using Pakistan to keep India preoccupied, said Former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh during his tenure.

His idea was to break this ‘triangulation’ by seeking peace with Pakistan. He thought, that a country as big and powerful as China, would see less of an incentive for peace with India than Pakistan.

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Former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s idea was to break this ‘triangulation’ by seeking peace with Pakistan. Wikimedia Commons

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Shekhar Gupta believes that today, that option is not so available, as hostility with Pakistan is central to the Modi-BJP politics. They’d rather make peace with China than Pakistan. That is why the lavish welcomes and frequent meetings with the Chinese leaders. The objective, still, is escaping that triangle.

Another instance of Vajpayee explaining the Chinese negotiating style. “Dekhiye, aap aur hum baithe hain aur vaarta kar rahe hain (see, you and I are sitting and negotiating),” he said. If two people require something and the first person asks to let go of something, the other will say no. Then the first person again asks for something little less, then again the other person might say no. But ultimately the second person will relent and let go of some. The Chinese would never do that.

Both these leaders underlined that the Chinese are consistent, and predictable. And that is why we should not be shoched or surprised by what they have unveiled across Ladakh. We should have anticipated it on 5 August last year when we made the big changes in Jammu & Kashmir. This Chinese move, like all others in 60 years, was fully predictable. Even the timing, says Shekhar Gupta in his article for The Print.