India is an increasingly becoming significant international player and regional power. It has considerably strengthened its relationship with the US, China, and ASEAN. Its huge size, robust economic and military strength makes it the major power in South Asia. India’s economic growth has also been impressive, and the economy has benefited greatly from market-oriented and open policies.
The Indo-German relationship is deeply rooted in long-standing history and cultural connections marked by friendship and cooperation. India is the first nation to end the state of war with Germany after World War II. India continued diplomatic relations with both West Germany and East Germany but supported their reunifications of 1990. India accorded full diplomatic recognition to the German Democratic Republic on 8th October 1972. Even though diplomatic relations were busy up as early as1951, but ideological differences barred the two countries from deepening and lengthening their relations and cooperation beyond trade, cultural exchange, and development during the cold war period.
India and Germany have very old relations and have intriguing political, economic, and social narratives. The Indo-German relations following the establishment of diplomatic relations developed rapidly. The relations went on growing as expected and many agreements were signed between the two governments which touched upon various aspects of the bilateral relationship. In short, India and Germany have much to offer to the world. Certainly, Germany has command over economic and financial policies, one of the most important bases for having influence in international politics. However, for Germany, it is important to realise that 25 years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the downfall of the communist Bloc as a global political actor, the political pressure in Europe and the world have shifted. Fundamentally both countries should not forget that geopolitical power and financial power depend upon each other. Traditionally, both have very cordial and close relations.
In fact, India and Germany have experienced nationalism and the world of modern political confrontation. Germany has endeavoured for new horizons in economically and politically determined future by rebuilding a war destroyed and dismantled industries and society. While India has stretched out some beginnings after independence, similarly, both made a fresh start in political and economic compasses after World War II. However, in this century security of the nations is no longer restricted to managing force and removing violence. Thus, finding solutions to identify conflicts, regulating a market-based global economy, and sustaining the ecological health of the planet are three other areas of concern of every nation. In this background, India and Germany are among significant nations in the world, Germany is in the centre of Europe and India is in the heart of South Asia and both belief in an open society, pluralism, democracy, and respect human rights.
Overview of India & Germany
Cultural exchanges contributed substantially to mutual understanding between India and Germany for long period. Historically, cultural relations have been century’s old between the two nations, and it becomes a firm part of the two country’s foreign policy. The development of cultural and scientific connections helped considerably to deepen relations between India and Germany. Cultural relations have also developed rapidly since the establishment of diplomatic relations. Both sides are cooperating closely in the field of education, science, technology, drama, theatres, music, and medicine.
The cultural agreement was signed on 15th January 1973, which had laid the basic framework for cooperation in the field. Indo-German cultural exchange is based on an acultural agreement that come into force in September 1969. Yet, School and youth exchanges between the two nations are not fully developed. The success of some existing school exchanges shows great interest in the partnership. Certainly,various German Foundationslike Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), Friedrich EbertStiftung (EFS), etc. operating in India along with theireducational programmesprovide excellent instrumentfor fostering Indo-German relations. The impressive economic growth and political stability of Germany in the post-World War II period have greatly influenced the thinking of Indian economists, leaders, academics, experts, and the Indian population in general. However, media coverage of the cultural and political counterpart still needs to augment and get on well. To impart deeper knowledge and first-hand information for a better understanding of both countries will be extremely useful and productive for long term relations.
At the same time, both the countries differ fundamentally and in so many respects, Germany geographically and racially somewhat a homogeneous nation. On the other hand, India has a heterogeneous nation because of history, cultures and races. Can these two different types of nations find perspective anywhere some common ground in the 21st century, which could make the way which was established in the past century more productive? Exactly so, this is the question which I would like to put into perspective, by not only drawing the affinities which exist but also exposing the wide differences which separate the two nations. It will not benefit India and Germany if both countries do not have the courage to recognise how much they differ. It is by such open discussions both can establish a base from which to operate and give more constructive meaning in the partnership, in the realms of education, economic, cultural, security and political as well as people to people interactions.
Certainly, German involvement in India is considerable and German investments are large enough to make one believe that modern Germany has developed a stake in India which they will not be able to shake off lightly. But human relationships between the two countries have not yet taken an encouraging turn and may not even last the stresses and strains of the future. India and Germany need to step up to know more each other through work. The barrier of language is a great handicap in this regard, thus requiring unsmiling consideration from both nations.
Scientific and technological cooperation is merely one area of connections established between the two nations. The scope and diversity of these activities reflect the importance which both countries should attribute to regenerative sources of energy in view of the world energy crunch. Thus, there is significant potential for future cooperation to resolve some of the differences especially if it can establish a free flow of scientific and technical information and knowledge, further interaction of students, scholars, academics, experts and improve access to information of both the nations. To mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the “Year of Germany” in India was commemorated from May 2011 to January 2013 with the theme “Urban Spaces.”
The Days of India in Germany was started with themes, ‘Connecting cultures,’ Connecting Ideas,’ ‘Connecting Capabilities’ and ‘Connecting minds,’ and concluded on 11th April 2013 in Berlin. All these efforts, however, need to reinforce by clear and close political commitment. This is a novel idea but fundamental and important for Indo-German relations. If both countries achieve a real meeting of minds, then nothing could prevent a true and meaningful political partnership in the century. In truth, a political commitment between the countries will not only enhance their prestige in the world but will also give a wide-ranging bargaining power or position in international politics.
Germany has engaged in several steps making the German language and their thought more known to the Indians by establishing several institutions in India to teach the German language and to spread their culture. Nonetheless, all these efforts through creditable may not succeed in the absence of political commitment by both countries. In the meantime, cultural activities, however, can never be taking place in a vacuum and be pursued unless the ground has been prepared for their reception. Despite all these educational problems, the need for a larger number of Indians well acquainted with Germany is increasing because of developing contacts in the fields of education, trade, and technology and essential to strengthen the efforts from both sides. Though, a fragile base for better Indo-German relations, the question, which is posed, and which ought to be pursued is how to direct this relationship into a fruitful channel. On the other hand, unless economic and political relations are upgraded, strategic ties cannot be strengthened.
Trade and Economic Relations
Historically, economic and trade links between India and Germany date back to the early 16th-century when German trading companies from Augsburg and Nuremberg, enlarged a new sea route around Africa, as they travelled in search of precious stones and spices. From then on, the story of the economic relations of India and the Federal Republic of Germany is a story of a long journey as well as achievements. Which has started with the establishment of the Office of TradeRepresentation of the GDR in the year 1954 and which were further strengthened with the shifting of the trade Representation Office from Bombay (now Mumbai) to NewDelhi grew very rapidly.
Strong and congenial political relations were reflected in the sphere of economic and industrial partnership in the past. Perhaps, the first German trade representation in India was established in 1844. Then, the trade agreement between the two countries was signed on October 16, 1954.
Further, some economists pointed out that it was the German interest to advance business with India. Today, Germany is one of the leading industrialised nations in the century. Germany is India’s significant partner in the EU and Germany development cooperation with India is a major component of its foreign policy relations. The close and harmonious economic relations between the two countries can be best seen from numerous big business agreements, especially in the technology and energy sphere. Cooperation between India and Germany in trade and technology is one of the most dynamic facets of the bilateral partnership for long period.
Institutional Cooperation Arrangements
Several institutionalized arrangements exist between India and Germany to discuss bilateral and global issues of interest namely, Foreign Office Consultations, High Defence Committee, Indo-German Energy Forum, Indo-German Environment Forum, S&T Committee, and Joint Working Groups in various fields, including skill development, automotive, agriculture, coal, tourism, water and waste management.
Both countries consult each other and coordinate positions in multilateral fora including G-20 and in the UN on global issues such as climate change, sustainable development, etc. There have been consultations between the two countries on regional and international issues such as UN issues, International Cyber Issues, Disarmament & Non-proliferation, Export Control, East Asia, Eurasia, Africa etc.
India-Germany Defence Cooperation Agreement (2006) provides a framework for bilateral defence cooperation. The then, German Defence Minister visited India in May 2015 and Raksha Mantri visited Berlin in February 2019. To further enhance the Defence Industry and defence cooperation between Germany and India, an Arrangement on the Implementation of the Agreement of 6th October 2006 concerning Bilateral Defence Cooperation was signed on February 12, 2019, during the visit of Raksha Mantri to Berlin.
Science & Technology Cooperation
India and Germany have a long history of collaborative research, technology partnership, and higher education cooperation. The Indo-German science and technology partnership has massively grown in the last couple of years and high-level diplomatic visits have further boosted the bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
In November 2019, during the German Chancellor visit to Delhi, Germany and India agreed to establish a joint research programme in Artificial Intelligence. They also decided on the extension of the Indo-German Partnership in Higher Education for another four years, with contributions of 3.5 million Euros each. The exchange of students and young researchers has considerably grown over the past years. Since 2008, the number of Indian students in Germany has quadrupled to over 25.000+ in 2020 – making Indian students the second largest foreign student group in the German university system.
Another important pillar of technology partnership is bilateral research funding. The German Research Ministry and German Research Institutes fund numerous calls together with their Indian counterparts in a multitude of fields, including material science, biotech, health, sustainability, disaster management, artificial intelligence, and urbanism. A special focus is kept on applied research with innovation benefits to both countries.
India is also participating in several major fundamental science projects in Germany. Since 2009 India has been involved in the expansion of the Petra III particle accelerator in Hamburg. India is also a major contributor of the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research, a particle accelerator that is currently being built in Darmstadt and sets the tone.
Since 2010, the “Indo-German Science and Technology Center” funds innovative Indo-German industrial research projects with the participation of excellent research institutions and above all small and medium-sized enterprises from both countries. At the “Indo-German Center for Sustainability” at the IIT Madras German and Indian researchers deal with issues around water management, land use, waste management, and renewable energy.
There are more than 25,149 (2020) Indian students who are studying in Germany. Around 800 German students are studying or doing internships in India. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) facilitates joint research, training, and exchange of young scientists/research scholars. Indo-German Partnership in Higher Education was signed between the Ministry of Education and Germany’s Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) with University Grants Commission (UGC) and DAAD as implementing partners from India and Germany respectively, at the 3rdInternational Graduate Centre (IGC).
The MoU between DAAD and UGC for the second phase of implementation of the programme (2020-24) was signed during the 5th IGC in November 2019. The GIAN (Global Initiative of Academic Networks) initiative of MHRD has been enthusiastically received in Germany – nearly 100 courses have been completed so far in collaboration with German academicians under this Programme.
Germany has been an important development cooperation partner for several decades. Total bilateral Technical and Financial Cooperation since it began in 1958, amounts to approx. €20.62 billion. Energy, sustainable economic development, and environment & management of natural resources are priority areas. Financial assistance from Germany is mainly as soft loan, composite loans or grants routed through KFW (one of the world’s leading promotional banks), German Government’s Development Bank.
Technical assistance is provided through GIZ, the German Government’s development agency. Major strategic projects are in the sectors of energy (renewables, Green Energy Corridor), Indo-German Solar Partnership, Skill Development, and sustainable urban development (water/sanitation/waste, climate-friendly urban mobility, smart cities).
Indians in Germany
There are around 1.90 lakh (June 2020) Indian passport holders and Indian-origin people (1,48,067 NRIs/Indian Passport holders and 42,500 PIOs) in Germany. The Indian diaspora mainly consists of professionals, businessmen/traders, nurses, and students. There has been an increase in the last few years in the number of qualified Indian professionals in the fields of IT, banking, finance, etc.
Self – Sustained Economic growth through Secured Governance
“Secured Governance offers a strategy for the government to get all the basic infrastructure development with a negligible investment by the Government. It is a concept of developing Techno-Economic Corridors connecting HUBs which will act as a growth centre for individual sectors. The very concept of “Secured’’ here implies a secured convergence or knitting with various sectors defining a growth for an economy.”
Secured Governance – A Holistic Approach to Infrastructure Development
Secured Governance is a concept that is catching the attention of many as a holistic approach to infrastructure needs, promising a great deal. It professes taking advantage of the valuation of assets created and delivering at negligible cost to the government. It aims at balanced growth in all sectors in need of better facilities, in a more holistic manner, rather than focusing only on say expressways, or power or any one of numerous other sectors. While addressing any one of them, the others also get due attention ensuring all-around development. It promises more societal participation and benefit-sharing with transparency. Underlying this is a strategy of developing techno-economic corridors connecting urban areas across the country.
Public-Private Participation (PPP)
The method of execution envisaged is essential of the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) model, where concessionaires bid for a project, with the incentive being concurrent areas offered to them for development and commercial use. These will give returns in four to five years which will meet their investment cost. It is better than waiting for 20 years to collect toll to make good the loans taken for a project. While the concessionaire utilizes valuation in a pattern that is part of a larger plan for the area, he also shares this with more and adds more value to the whole system. It will be a win-win situation. The SG approach requires the Government to participate as a facilitator and nothing more. The first step is to recognize the merits of a multi-sector approach to infrastructure and conceive projects which may be predominantly one sector but carry with them smaller packages of other sectors. Implied in this is the ability to make decisions across ministries and give clearances at one point. The method of implementation will also be peculiar to each project, the place and the local conditions. Single window clearances would therefore have to be the norm, supported by empowered teams that can help conceptualize and clear a project in the SG mould. Once this is done, the execution may be decentralized to specific states or regions. Help from the government will only be required for mid-course corrections where inescapable. The requirement is to move from small to big, from project to project. Each will be unique depending on what the ground and the situation dictates. The method of both valuation and value addition needs expertise and imagination for holistic development in the state through Secured Governance.
PPPs are essentially “risk-sharing partnerships” between governments and the private sector on financing, designing, constructing, and operating public infrastructure and public services. Infrastructure projects are inherently complex and unpredictable, and, under PPP arrangements, governments opt to transfer specific tasks and the risks associated with them to private enterprises that might be better able to execute and mitigate them.
Investment in infrastructure is necessary for the economy, as power shortages, inadequate transport and poor connectivity affect overall growth performance and progress. Infrastructure Growth, huge investment toward a greater formalisation of the economy is bound to lead to an acceleration in per capita income of the people and large-scale employment. The government clearly holds the key to realising this potential and taking a proactive stance.
Expected Investment, Export & New Employment in INDIA & GERMANY
Today, when we are witnessing the unfolding of new landscapes of cooperation between India and Germany on political, economic, cultural, education and technology, at the time when disruptive forces are functioning, trying to prevent the spread of the democratic principle, values, and norms. When disintegrative forces are devising to cash in on the grave economic crisis in the world, Indo-Germanpartnership offers a secure foundation for safeguarding peace, democracy, and human rights. Together NewDelhi and Berlin can march ahead and can play a vital role in bringing peace and understanding to the world.
Thereby, strengthening the relations by engaging more in political and economic, cultural, education spheres and coordinating closely by working together on global issues such as security, development, trade, climate change, energy, and international terrorism. The bilateral development offers great scope of further progress and confidence that the leaders of the two countries would build upon the existing fund of understanding and mutual cooperation to take further.
However, still, the potential of the relationship has yet to be fully realised. The introduction of a new government in New Delhi and Berlin under the leadership is a natural opportunity to broaden and deepen the relationship. In fact, the recent Indian Prime Minister’s state visit to Germany brought out new vigour and hope for both countries to move further in the century. The subsequent visit of the German Defence Minister explains the reciprocal gesture from Berlin and explain the significance of the partnership. However, both the leaders must understand and fund mutually rewarding ways to expand the collaboration in trade, investment and technologies that harmonise with India’s ambitious development agenda of the present government, while sustaining Germany as the global leader of growth, like renewable energy. India’s new strategy, the government is increasingly becoming outward-oriented and engaging more with economically developed countries. Thus, it is a natural opportunity for Berlin to grapple and engage more to deepen and widen the economic partnership in the century.
There is a need to rejuvenate the bilateral economic relationship and raise it to a new trajectory by opening markets, simplifying procedures, and overcoming administrative barriers. More importantly, India needsto develop a more mature and set of scales relationship with Germany. India needs to seriously look into the administrative procedures, governance, red-tapism, transparency and advanced automation in administration and strong commitment rather than giving rhetoric statement.
India and China are now in the new world order, with two big players in Asia, thus, India and Germany need to make a strong commitment for much-heralded shared values, norms of democracy into reality and start to take an active role in political relations from which common policies, ideas and better future for partnership can emanate. Will the two countries be able to calibrate their ties in a time of change?
This is extremely significant since two important regional powers aspiring to play active global roles must understand and respect one another’s concerns and interests.
Dr. P. Sekhar, Chairman,
Unleashing India, Global Smart City Panel, MTGF
Mr. Akram Haque, Founder Editor,
The Policy Times
Dr. William Dean,
Eminent Overseas Indian in Germany,
Founder and MD of Deans Infratech Pvt Ltd
and Deans GmbH Germany