Is Patil a Brahmin

"Ms. Patil's election sets an example"

Doris Simon: Today, for the first time, a woman is moving into the Presidential Palace in New Delhi. The new president of 1.1 billion Indians is called Pratibha Patil, she is 72 years old, 45 of which she spent in politics for the ruling Congress party. Today Pratibha Patil is introduced to her new office, which is primarily of a representative nature.

Now on the phone is Hans-Georg Wieck, who has been President of the Indo-German Society for many years. Mr Wieck - when you think of India, you don't immediately think of women's emancipation, but at the same time women have determined the fate of the country there for many years, Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister, her daughter-in-law Sonia as chairwoman of the Congress Party. How do you classify the new President Patil?

Hans-Georg Wieck: Yes, Ms. Patil's choice is setting an example. And you will see how Ms. Patil implements this symbol. The emancipation of women in India is of course also an issue. Perhaps not in the affluent society, in which women in many ways participate in general events in the same way as men, but behind this there is a backward country in this regard, because most of the illiterate are women. And it is not without reason that Parliament passed a law more than a decade ago that ensures - that is, a quota is created - that a third of all seats in local councils and district councils are held by women, because this disadvantage , mostly based on traditions, is part of daily events. So, a sign is being set here to give women in all parts of the country full participation in social and economic events.

Simon: Ms. Patil's election was controversial; the Hindu nationalist opposition had accused her of financial irregularities and nepotism. Is that a problem for Indian politics?

Wieck: Of course, corruption and clans are a problem for Indian politics, for authoritarian systems as well as for democratic ones, and in democratic systems it is openly discussed, which is a great advantage. She will know how to fight her skin, I think, but that remains to be seen. But it is also an issue with her strong political and economic commitment during her professional life, during her activity, but hardly anyone is completely free from it, but it is also important to note in this context that she is a professionally and politically experienced woman acts, who enters this office, and is therefore washed with all waters.

Simon: Mr. Wieck, India is often mentioned in the same breath as China when it comes to the economy. How is this rapid development expressed in the country?

Wieck: Yes, the country has made enormous economic progress after the liberalization that was initiated in the early 1990s and hopes to be able to eradicate poverty with the growth rates of 8-10 percent of the gross national product per year. This is a program for all parties, to what extent it can be realized in 20 years, that remains to be seen, but this problem of poverty is on the agenda of every government at all levels, whether at the federal level or in the federal states or at the lowest level, which has been a problem for decades, centuries and has to be overcome. But the difficulty is not so much in the expression of will, in the implementation, but in the deficits of the infrastructure.

Simon: What does that mean?

Wieck: This means that there are no roads, there are no transport connections, means of communication, hospitals, schools, facilities of this type, in the ports, in the streets and in an economic development of 8-10 percent that of course has a very quickly disruptive and disruptive effect Obstacle that may help keep the country from being gripped by progress. You need new programs for this, everyone has ideas, I also have ideas on how to do it, but it remains to be seen how it can be implemented. Only - China is not much better off in that regard. China also has a problem of poverty.

Simon: How will this affect the Indian economic miracle that you mentioned if this growing divide between rich and poor is not really tackled more forcefully?

Wieck: Yes, democracy in India, and that is a very important factor in this context, democracy in India means the gradual integration of all, including the disadvantaged, into society. So the so-called Dalits, the lower-class people who come from religious tradition ...

Simon: ... who used to be called the untouchables ...

Wieck: ... the untouchables, and Mahatma Gandhi called them the children of God, these sit, have quotas for training places, have quotas in state institutions, and recently in an electoral coalition between this, such a Dalit party and the Brahmin Party, the BJP, that is, the Conservatives, a Dalit woman took and won the office of prime minister in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh. In other words, participation, integration into the political and economic structure, is the decisive breakthrough. He may still need time to get to the last village, but in the appreciation and assessment of the people as citizens of the same kind lies the chance of overcoming poverty and discrimination.

Simon: Mr. Wieck, you are President of the Indo-German Society. What do you expect from the German government's policy on India? Unlike China's policy, which is constantly discussed, it is not so much the subject of public discussion.

Wieck: Well, German-Indian politics cannot of course be problematized, because it is the cooperation between two democracies. There are different opinions, for example on the question of India's turn to building a nuclear military power, but basically these are analogous value structures. And that is a basis that does not exist with China, and that is why it is being discussed controversially. Today the Federal Republic has also made it up to have normal arms relations with India. That is not possible with China for reasons that we do not need to discuss here now. In addition, there is a centuries-old cultural and economic connection between India and the German-speaking area. Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha, that is world literature, known everywhere here. The Goethe Institutes in India are not called Goethe Institutes, they are called Max Müller Buildings because a Max Müller, who is not known here at all, recovers the intellectual and literary foundations of ancient India from oblivion in Oxford in the 19th century has brought to light and is highly valued and honored in India for this. That is not even known here.

So, the cultural links between India as a base of civilization and culture and Germany and the German-speaking area and Europe as a base of culture are long, have existed for a long time and continue to exist today across the board. They are somewhat displaced by the fact that India also has English as its first foreign language, actually already as its own language, and therefore the great majority of the population, when they communicate with foreign countries, communicates English and therefore primarily with English speakers Countries. But that does not mean that the German-Indian relationship is not deep in the hearts and minds of Indians.

Simon: It was Hans-Georg Wieck, the President of the Indo-German Society. Mr. Wieck, thank you very much and goodbye.

Wieck: Goodbye, goodbye.