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Global 21 fourth quarter 2015

Arena Politics secondary levels. So, as a London resident, I heard British children speak only English, and during a two-week visit to Spain, I could get only one young Spaniard to admit to knowing some English. People can drive change themselves, but they must want to – and it takes much longer. In 1970s India, my fellow students and I ridiculed the efforts of an Académie Française-like language institute that coined long-winded Hindi equivalents of simple English: ‘railway signal’ became ‘lahu-puth-gameni-awat-jawatsoochak danda’. Though today’s BJP government is pursuing similar silly ideas, DJs and programme presenters on Indian TV and radio speak smooth amalgamations of native Indian languages with English. For example, ‘Hinglish’, which combines Hindi and English, teaches even illiterate Hindi-speakers English words: unity in diversity writ small. Instead of celebrating Europe’s cultural richness and unifying people, European leaders are perversely pushing them apart. Wolfgang Schäuble mused that indolent Greece should temporarily leave the Euro zone. David Cameron promised a referendum on whether Britain should continue with EU membership, while pressurising the EU to accede to his demands for the UK to be able to opt out of some EU rules. Greece is flirting with Russia. Viktor Orban wants the EU refugee/migrant policy to ensure that Europe remains Christian. This depressing list is unending. Disunity in diversity writ large. And so the very rich EU cannot effectively deal with the present refugee crisis. In contrast, during the 1971 bloodbath that birthed Bangladesh, dirt-poor India, plagued with regular famines, hosted roughly ten million Muslim refugees. The EU will stop lurching from crisis to crisis only if its leaders ensure it stands for something that makes Europeans proud. Its leaders must set an extraordinary, but human, vision that no country can fulfil on its own. They must learn to give something up first, in order to get something in return. They have to champion policies and ideas that their compatriots oppose, if these are essential for the EU’s long-term success. David Cameron, Angela Merkel and François Hollande have not shown they are up to such challenges. However, I am convinced the EU can embrace diversity and overcome these challenges. After all, ordinary Europeans created Médecins Sans Frontières, and instead of staying in the comfort of their rich homelands, at great risk to themselves, regularly take light and hope to the darkest corners of the world. Amit S. Mukherjee is professor of leadership and strategy at the Institute for Management Development (IMD). He is based at IMD’s Executive Learning Center in Singapore © India Picture / Shutterstock.com Europeans should ponder why so many British Muslims have joined ISIS while few Indians have, even though Britain’s Muslim population is 1.6 per cent of India’s www.global global four th quar ter 2015 -br ief ing.org l 45


Global 21 fourth quarter 2015
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