What Germany can learn from India about treating immigrants

Kanchan Gupta
Kanchan GuptaFeb 03, 2016 | 14:27

What Germany can learn from India about treating immigrants

The celebrated and controversial German writer and Nobel Prize winner Gunter Grass, no stranger to India, used one of his fictional characters to ask, "Why not a poem about a pile of shit that god dropped and named Calcutta?... How it swarms, stinks, lives and gets bigger and bigger. If god had shat a pile of concrete the result would have been Frankfurt."


Grass, who saw the detritus of the Empire’s Second City during his visits, did believe that Calcutta was "god’s excrement", as he is reported to have eloquently told filmmaker Mrinal Sen. Frankfurt, with it its chrome-and-glass towers, its vast avenues and glimmering skyline, would have matched Grass’s description.

Berlin was still a divided city and an occupied zone, even if notionally. Frankfurt (apart from Bonn) was the happening city, though soulless in its grey concreteness. Calcutta, on the other hand, was metaphorically grey and literally shabby, a dying city in terminal decay. God discriminated between the grey and the shabby. Or else Grass would not have drawn so scathing a distinction.

Had Grass been alive, he would have possibly revised his opinion. Not one to turn his face away from reality, he would have taken note of the not so pleasing scenes of immigrants, described as "refugees" in perhaps the worst perversion of the term, defecating in the streets of Berlin and other German cities.

It is ironic that Germany today boasts signs that seek to inform immigrants, who have flooded the country this past year, that showers are for bathing and not shitting. God, it could be said, is making amends for earlier injustices.

It is equally ironic that Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, pictured as Mother Teresa in the closing days of 2015 for openly and warmly embracing the unwashed masses that trekked their way to Europe’s most affluent country, is now portrayed as a hijabi.

Christian charity and the limitless kindness of a welfare state are now replaced by a refusal to play the Good Samaritan and reluctance to step up to the plate. To revert to Grass’s scatological imagery, Germans do not wish to carry the can for Syrians, Iraqis, Africans, Libyans, Afghans and assorted seekers of the good life far away from the mess at home.

The sense of guilt for what Germans did to the Jews still lingers, but is not overwhelming. Popular anger against more than a million immigrants who entered Germany in 2015 has been rapidly rising ever since women were sexually assaulted in Cologne during New Year’s Eve.

The German way of life is now seen as facing a serious threat from those who believe, to quote a belligerent immigrant, "German women are meant for sex". Imam Sami Abu Yusuf of Cologne has further outraged public opinion by justifying what the Arab immigrants did across cities.

"The events of New Year’s Eve were the girls’ own fault, because they were half-naked and wearing perfume. It is not surprising the men wanted to attack them. (Dressing like that) is like adding fuel to the fire," he said in a recent media interview.


There have been three fallouts of the mood turning hostile in Germany. First, Merkel is fast losing supporters. Till December, it appeared she would remain Germany’s most popular and Europe’s strongest leader for the foreseeable future.

40 per cent of her supporters now want her to go. Her party, the Christian Democratic Union, has suffered erosion too. Its popularity ratings are at its lowest in three years. Will Merkel’s colleagues stand by her if she fails to halt the slide?

Second, there is greater support, building up each day, for the far Right. Electorally inconsequential up until now, the far Right has now latched onto the massive crisis looming large over Germany. Multiculturalism, the Germans have let it be known, is not acceptable to them. An enfeebled Left agrees.

On her part, Merkel has debunked multiculturalism in an obvious effort to smoothen ruffled feathers. "Multiculturalism leads to parallel societies and therefore remains a 'life lie' or a sham," she said, adding that Germany may be reaching its limits in terms of accepting more refugees. "The challenge is immense," she said. "We want and we will reduce the number of refugees noticeably."

But that may prove to be too little too late, words that cannot be translated into action.


Third, alarmed by the eruption of hostility towards immigrants in Germany and the political cost of toeing the Merkel line, countries in Europe are breaking ranks and, even if temporarily, opting out of Schengen common border arrangements.

Finland would like to see 30,000 of its 32,000 immigrants return to wherever they came from. Sweden would like 80,000 immigrants, nearly half of those who entered the country, to leave.

That’s a fond hope, reiterated by Merkel. "This is a temporary residential status," she said during a weekend meeting of the CDU. "We expect that, once there is peace in Syria again, once IS (Islamic State) has been defeated in Iraq, that you go back to your home country with the knowledge that you have gained."

It doesn’t work that way. Merkel could have checked with India. We had fixed 1971 as the cut-off year, and expected immigrants, call them refugees if you wish, to return to Bangladesh after the liberation war was over. Nobody returned.

On the contrary, many more have since then come into India, arguably by resorting to stealth and deceit.

Europe’s conversion into Eurabia is a work in progress. The Arabs will ensure that that work is not disrupted. Everything else is no more than the violent twitch of a dying body.

Having opened the proverbial gates of Vienna, Europe has set in motion its conquest. Unlike in the Levant, the caliphate here is taking shape and form silently, quietly.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Last updated: February 03, 2016 | 17:22
Please log in
I agree with DailyO's privacy policy