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What I learned at Seva India Festival 2018

by Stefan Mey

This text was translated automatically by a robot. hoorible grammar may occur. I appologize.

Last weekend, Wolfgang Bergthaler, to the readers of my book known under the name “The Wolf”, organized the first Seva India Festival in Vienna. The event is almost the successor format to the IndiaCamps, which I organized together with him in the years 2011 and 2012-and I have to say without envy that he has lifted the concept to a completely new level: The new event in the Viennese Markhof did not last this time one, but two days (although I could only experience the first day for health reasons) and was opened on the eve of the first day with the screening of the documentary “Without Confession” by Sandeep Kumar.

The program was colourful, ranging from cooking courses to yoga and Ayurveda to panel discussions on Bollywood and start-ups.

In the first panel discussion of the first day, representatives of the Indian diaspora spoke about their first intercultural experiences in Vienna. “The Naschmarkt was at that time a dirty place where it reeked of sauerkraut,” said the first Sikh who came to Vienna.

Right after that, I joined a session with a very different topic: the importance of human design in the emergence of the Indian state. Not knowing what human design is about, I immediately found myself in a room in which somebody explained that India has been using the advise of astrologers when the state was founded. The human designers define “crosses” based on certain constellations, which in turn represent something. The “Cross of the Declaration” and the “Cross of the Imagination”, but also the “Cross of the Unexpected” – at least with the latter, anyone who has travelled through India can make a connection.

Let me introduce you to the slides of the lecture – maybe someone among zou finds this useful.

We went on with a session on languages. What I didn’t know: India with its 780 languages is only the country with the second most languages in the world. The pole position belongs to Papua New Guinea, which has 839 languages. Hindi is spoken by only 43 percent of the population living mainly in the north. Gandhi and Modi both havee Gujarati as their native language, the mother tongue of Google manager Sundar Pinchai is Tamil and Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, has sucked Telugu with breast milk.

Many words from the Indian languages have also made it into the Western language treasure, but on the other hand, some of the languages are threatened with extinction – graphics can be found at the end of this post in the tweets that I shot out during the event.

Start-ups and Bollywood stars

After the first three sessions I just tipped a few glasses of chai (as I mentioned at the beginning I had to fight with a light flu on the weekend) and watched some Sikghs who were tzing their turbans. After that I put myself in the next panel discussion, in which Doris-Christina Steiner talked with entrepreneurs and VCs about start-ups in India. Bottom line: There is more happening there because they are more courageous and still have more problems to solve – and accordingly, the market is also appealing to local start-ups because it is still not completely tapped.

A few more chais, and then grippig on to the next session: Bollywood. I only got the end of it, but at this point I would like to advertise Sandeeps film “Without Confession”, which portrays in a very humane way the life of Hindus in Austria. You can read a detailed review of the film at this link.

I finally found the conclusion of my day with Sebastian Bucher. The journalist, traveller and storyteller once again skillfully pulled us into the realm of fantasy with his storytelling skills. He has already succeeded in this with the IndiaCamps, which is why we already had him as a headliner. After that I was able to go home in a good conscience and to the realm of Dreams – a.k.a. the hospital bed.
I’m looking forward to next year. Then hopefully I’m a little healthier.

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