Visiting Germany as a SPECTRESS fellow was a marvelous experience. Even on the first day, I found out that this is a completely different world. Everything is systematic and structured. However, I mixed with people and academics in no time. I found Institute of Social Movements (ISM) is a well-established institution full of activities. Under the leadership of Prof Stefan Berger, the institution is dealing with many important projects. I found, its library is full of reading material and its archive in a growing position. Sitting and working for research work in the library was a wonderful experience at ISM.
A fortunate and unique feature of Institute of Social Movements was its colleagues. Anke, Pia, Stefan Moitra, Cristian and Alexander became good friends and helped a lot in my work and stability. I am grateful to them for their kindness.
Attending colloquium, workshop, conferences and seminars was another rich experience in Germany. Prof Stefan Berger provided me three wonderful opportunities to participate and present papers. One was in July, 2016 when ISM organized a workshop was on Historical Narratives. I presented a paper on Khalistani narratives. Another opportunity was in the summer school where I presented on Dalit movement in India. The third paper was presented at a colloquium paper on 31 October 2016 where I presented Germany and Germans perceived by Sikhs in Germany. I got critical and valuable comments on each paper. Additionally, a remarkable conference that I attended was in Berlin on the topic of Religion and Cities. This conference gave me wonderful ideas to work on diaspora and existence of historical knowledge. Although, I faced difficulties in initial months but later on I was able to win confidence of the community.
Apart from research activities, I also tried to explore German society and Germany as a country to understand German culture. Interestingly, I found German society mature and very helpful. German system of dealing with its citizens attracted me to look at the meaning of a “responsible and welfare state”. Interaction with people of other countries revealed the fact that Germany is centre for attraction for migrants due to its social welfare system and economically rich condition. That led me to think over Sikh diaspora from a very different perspective.
At the last, I would like to say, altogether, visiting Germany was an extremely positive experience that brought many changes in my personal understanding of the world and provided me a new perspective to conduct research work. For my visit, I am very much grateful to Prof Stefan Berger and his team.