The German Embassador in Kashmir

Today, the German Ambassador to India once again visited Kashmir. He donated  a mini solar plant plus a TV system to a remote village in Baramulla District that has no electricity supply. Michael Steiner and the villagers watched a sequence of the Kashmir concert the Embassy had organised in a Mughal Garden in nearby Srinagar in August.

Reading this in the embassy’s press release, several questions came to my mind.

Why should the German Embassy plunder it’s treasures to give away such presents? Isn’t the expansion of infrastructure the task of the local or national government? And even if Germany is investing here: Don’t we have development aid agencies for that like the German Society for International Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ) or the Reconstruction Credit Institute (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, KfW)?

And why does the Ambassador want to watch a concert of western classical music with the poeple – an event that was highly controversal in the valley and upset many people? The concert was widely criticised as being elite VIP entertainment. Entry was only by invitation – so a few enjoyed the music while many more suffered due to the road blocks, checks and other heavy security measures in an area that already is one of the most militarised regions in the world. Strikes were called out and shops remained shuttered out of protest.

But there is another possibility. Maybe Steiner heard the outcry and the threats the separatist groups issued – and he finally listens and starts to interact with the civil society he formerly neglected. I’d like to hope so.

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