Statement of Vision
by: Rajnish Tiwari, project initiator & co-ordinator
IndiaWorld on the Net (as represented by the domains india-world.net and india-world.de) is a non-commercial information project launched with the primary aim of providing quality information on India and her culture, people, economy and current affairs to a broad section of people world-wide; people that are interested in knowing and understanding India.
When I first came to Germany it was soon after the nuclear tests carried out by India under the then NDA government of Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee. There was a tremendous curiosity amongst people about a "Third-world, poverty-stricken" country of "Mahatma Gandhi, the Nehrus, the Maharajas, the tigers, the snake-charmers, the holy cows" and so on and so forth. On the other hand there was also a subtle resentment, indeed a contempt, for a country that was thought to be irresponsible enough to indulge in dangerous games.
I was sometimes confronted with questions such as, whether India also had cars or only used elephants and bullock carts for transport. This was, even if a humorous thing unto itself, a painful indicator of the fact that the Indian government institutions had not been particularly successful in making India known. The old stereotypes of ancient India persisted and continue to do so to a lesser extent. These stereotypes, even if interesting and to some extent true, do not represent a composite picture of modern India. India, a set of thriving paradoxes, is much more than any one-sided stereotype can possibly portray.
The German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder announced in March 2000 - at the height of the Internet boom - a Green-Card scheme to attract IT professionals, mainly from India, to Germany in order to cope with the shortage of IT experts that was hampering Germany's IT industry. It was a very reasonable move, that made sense not only from the economic point of view. It was an attempt to attract talent from across the world to Germany to boost Germany's position in modern, R&D driven industries and a prelude to an explicit immigration policy to safegaurd German interests and ensure demographic balance. Many right-wing politicians, however, raised a big hue and cry over this move seeking to exploit this "God-send opportunity" for their own narrow political gains by indulging in malicious anti-India rhetoric. Mr. Jürgen Rüttgers of the conservative CDU went on to coin a vicious slogan "Kinder statt Inder" (get children rather than Indians). His tactics however backfired and were outrightly rejected by irritated voters in the province of NRW in the elections that year.
But all this controversy also had a positive effect for India, in that many people, for the first time, came to know that India was much more than a sum of the Maharajas, slums and holy cows. I was once more confronted with many questions, e.g. how could India produce so many IT experts and what were the reasons for the apparently high standard of education in India.
Also the ongoing globalisation process and its byproducts such as offshore outsourcing have generated a considerable interest in India. Further, there is an increasing number of people interested in Bollywood, India's celebrated film industry.
These factors led me to the conclusion that an Internet site was needed that would be dedicated to the goal of providing a platform for better understanding of India. Another related intent has been to provide this kind of information also about Germany, which is often viewed by many people through a half-informed, unfair and even biased prism.
The vision of this project is to contribute to better understanding of life and affairs of these two countries (as proxy, indeed, for all other countries). Only this way, I am convinced, can we understand the difference in perspectives of different people and yet recognise the same longing for a betterment of life, for economic welfare and for joy and peace.
The first "IndiaWorld on the Net" site (http://www.india-world.de) was launched on the occasion of India's Independance Day on 15th August 2000. The site received a very warm and encouraging response.
This site was however hosted on a free server and was, thus, impaired by advertisements and irritating pop-ups. That's why I decided to launch a new site that is professionaly hosted and free of such hassles. The new site (http://www.india-world.net) incorporates the old one as well and is already receiving a very good response.
This site is as yet a single-handed effort. Contributions are welcome. If you wish to contribute to the project, please feel free to contact me on the below-mentioned e-mail address.
Enjoy the site!
Hamburg, 25th March 2005