Perspectives on India- what do foreigners REALLY think?

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India

One of the biggest advantages of living in a democracy is that everyone has a right to voice their opinion. There has been a major discussion about intolerance and crack down on free speech over the past few years. Albeit, more often than not the discussions amongst peer groups don’t lead to a constructive outcome, what is heartening to see is that the younger generation is willing to make an effort and invest its time to be in a discussion. I would like to quote a text from Jeffrey Archer’s book ‘This was a man’ for you to reflect on, before moving on with the article.

“There was another particularly large pile that lifted Emma’s spirits every time she read one of them. Those of her colleagues who did not share her political persuasion, but wanted to express their admiration and respect for the way in which she had never failed to listen to their views, and had on occasions even been willing to change her mind.”

While our opinions about our nation are imperative, I also take keen interest in the image of India as perceived by individuals from other parts of the globe. Albeit the various countries were once a part of the Pangea, they have formed various opinions on one another. The official websites of most countries issue travel guide lines to its populous. While these may be considered fair to a large extent (with regards to India), I personally have reservations against the picture of India developed in the darkrooms of certain sections of the western media.

India

My work brought me to Berlin in February 2017. I have been a part of the couch-surfing community since 2014, and I must say that Berlin experiences a large traffic of travelers in comparison to Chandigarh, where I studied. In order to ensure that I host travelers genuinely interested in an exchange of thoughts and ideas, I adopted a practice from veteran surfers. I ask travelers to mention something about India in their message. It gave me a brief insight on the nature of information that permeates through the various borders, about my country. The following are extracts from some of the messages.

M, 21, Poland:

I want to tell you for Indian girls!
Representatives of India received the title “Miss World” five times and “Miss Universe” twice.
Since 1990, Miss Venezuela and Miss India have become rivals in the world of beauty.
1966, London (England): Miss India Rita Faria was named Miss World.
1994, Manila (Philippines): Miss India Shusmit Sen received the Miss Universe crown.
1994, Sun City (South Africa): Miss India Aishwarya Rai won the Miss World contest.
1997, Mahe (Seychelles): Miss India Diana Hayden received the title of Miss World.
1999, London (England): Indian Yukta Muki received the title Miss World.
2000, Nicosia (Cyprus): Miss India Lara Dutta was named Miss Universe.
2000, London (England): Indian Priyanka Chopra received the crown of Miss Asia and Miss World.

F, 21, France:

I’ve been twice in India, thanks to a student exchange and just loved it there thanks to my correspondent who really welcomed me as family. She made me discover Indian culture (or at least north Indian culture haha) and Indian food, which I would soooo love to eat again (especially tandoori chicken, my favorite). Thanks to her I’m sure I’ll go back many times there, because each time I went was just magical.

India

M, 25, USA:

I like food so the Indian fact that I learned from friends is dosa (cilantro sauce is my favorite!) is from the south 😀

F, 21, USA:

I’m actually Punjabi by heritage, but I was born and brought up in Los Angeles. One of my favorite memories of India is visiting for my uncle’s wedding and spending my days in my grandfather’s farming fields–throwing stones to catch mangoes, helping harvest flowers, etc. Despite suffering the Indian monsoon season, I really enjoyed that trip and look back at it fondly.

M, 19, USA:

I think the instances that the western media highlights can occur anywhere. I have a friend that told me that she felt safer traveling in northern Pakistan compared to Brussels. People have positive and negative experiences, but we should not weigh the negative experiences heavily.

India

F, 25, Finland:

I have quite a few experiences about India, since my first visit there was when I was 4 years old. My mom has spent all her winters in Goa since I was 8 or 9 yrs. I feel a lot of both, love and bad things about India. Actually bad things are also closely part of the good things so that makes then good things too 😀
The best thing in India definitely is the colorfulness of it. You never know what you ran in to there, everything is possible especially in India! 😀

M, 20, Madagascar:

I love naan, tandoori chicken masala. And shahrukhan movies. my favourite song is from aashiqui 2 , tum hi ho.

M, 20, Netherlands:

Something about India I read recently is that there are about 415 languages that are being spoken there. This really blew my mind! India is one of the countries that is high on my list to visit.

F, 21, Ukraine:

I met a one man, who was in India an he likes so much ride a little drunk on a moped in India) haha)))
Also i read a book “Shantaram” there was describe one story of how to transport a bear past the police, he was dressed in the costume of an Indian deity and what a surprise to the locals, when sometimes this “deity” moved a little!
It was very funny described))
I don’t plan to go to India, but in the future I plan to visit there) I would be interested to hear your stories about India.

India

F, 28, Turkey:

I had Indian flatmate during 2 months when I was living in Turin who name is Rajiv. We were cooking to each other and tasting our cultural meals. I could not remember that name, but he were cooking something delicious with bay leaf. 🙂
Also, I love Kunal Nayyar! He is such a sympathetic! :))

F, 19, Norway:

I’ve always been very fascinated by the Indian culture, and I would love to travel there sometime. The interesting fact that I found about India is that, as you probably know, India is the largest English speaking nation in the world. It just amazes me how much those Brits did during the colonial times.

F, 25, Spain:

I have heard that India is an amazing country with plenty of contrast and with a really messy capital 🙂

India

F, 33, UK:

I have little to no knowledge of India I’m afraid. I know that the population is mostly vegetarian ( in certain regions) and that their curries are AMAZING!

While we do have shortcomings as a country, it is important to remind ourselves and others that we are progressing and continue to strive for a better future. With its majority population situated in the under 35 age bracket, India is equipped with a tool that can help shape a better world. One just needs to pick up the baton.

-Sanchit Gupta

Edited by Mrinaal Datt

Read more about them here.

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