India: What Hitler and McDonalds have in common

Two Indian flags adorn a sign at a local McDonalds chain restaurant in New Delhi.


Roberto Schmidt

Chances are the only stories you read out of India yesterday, or perhaps this week, were these two items:

1. An idiot in Gujarat named a clothing store after Hitler, then relented and changed the name after he'd milked enough publicity out it to bring Israel into the debate. And, of course...

2. An idiot at McDonald's hit upon the brilliant idea of opening vegetarian-only outlets near two Indian pilgrimage sites -- the Hindu shrine of Vaishno Devi and the Sikh religion's Golden Temple in Amritsar -- a site I happen to have visited this week.

As far as I can tell, practically every major newspaper and magazine in the world carried one or both of these stories, and, of course, I'm doing it now in a backhanded way. But what's noteworthy here?

In the Hitler story, we can rehash old information about Indians' surprising and disturbing admiration for the guy responsible for the Holocaust. (A friend once recounted an awkward scene at a local literary festival, when an old codger kept standing up and questioning a Jewish author about what old Adolph must have been doing right, to be so successful).

And in the McDonald's piece, we can reheat leftovers about the multinational's cleverness in adapting to the Indian market with items like the aloo tikki (potato pancake) burger. Or throw in some moralizing about the commercialization of religious and historical sites. Gosh! Nobody wants a Golden Arches atop the Golden Temple! And so on.

Ho hum. 

The only thing worth noting here is how low the fight for clicks, and a tiny slice of Google's big pie, has brought us. Just look at the headline I put on this piece to tempt your mouse finger.

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