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Germany Gets a Taste of Indian Culture

May 2008
Germany Gets a Taste of Indian Culture

Speaking of soft power, German interest in India culture is rising as the two nations move closer to each other. There’s now a German periodical called Indien Magazin, which focuses exclusively on Indian entertainment (mostly Bollywood films) and culture. One of its recent cover stories was on Shah Rukh Khan (“King Khan”), who made a splash at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2008. The impact of Indian philosophy has deep roots in Germany, but this attraction to popular culture is recent. The turning point probably came in 2006, which was declared the ‘Year of India in Germany.’ A cultural extravaganza dubbed Biennale Bonn 2006 showcased India in Germany as never before; also that year, India was Germany’s partner country at the Hannover Messe—the world’s leading industrial technology trade show—and the guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair. German culture, on the other hand, has had a long presence in India via the famed Max Mueller Bhavans.

The Indian population in Germany is estimated at 50,000. Shweta Shetty, who lives in Hamburg with her German husband, has established herself as an Indipop singer. Josef Philip Winkler, an MP in the German parliament, has a Malayali mother, while Anita Bose-Pfaff, a professor of economics, is the daughter of Subash Chandra Bose, the Indian nationalist who was married to a German. Ravindra Gujjula is the mayor of a borough. For notable executives and entrepreneurs, one can include Bharat Balasubramaniam and Ashok Chauhan, respectively. Translations of top Indian authors do sell in Germany, but what’s currently making news is a young adult fantasy novel penned by twin brothers Jyoti and Suresh Guptara. Now 17 years old, they completed the first draft at age 11. They got a six-figure advance for a trilogy from Rowohlt, a top German publisher, which has already issued 100,000 copies of Conspiracy of Calaspia, the twins’ first book.

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