Germany and India: Bilateral relations in a nutshell

Bilateral relations between India and Germany are founded on common democratic principles and are marked by a high degree of trust and mutual respect. India was among the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with the Federal Republic of Germany after the Second World War. Relations grew significantly following the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany. In the last decade, both economic and political interaction between India and Germany has enhanced. Today, Germany is among India’s most important partners both bilaterally and in the global context.

India’s relations with Germany are not new, rather very old and go back to the time when India was under British Rule and Germany was “Nazi” Germany. Among the most interesting and perplexing aspects of the Nazi regime was its connection to India and Hinduism. Indeed, Hitler took the most prominent symbol of ancient India, the swastika, as his own.

Perhaps the most fervent Nazi adherent to Indian Hindu traditions was Heinrich Himmler, one of the most brutal members of the senior command. He was obsessed with India and Hinduism, wrote Kshatriyakaste, had a keen interest in the Rigveda and the Bhagavad Gita, which was evident from the fact that he carried a copy of Gita (converted into Russian) till his death in 1945.

[Kshatriyakaste: referred to the military and ruling elite of the Vedic-Hindu social system of ancient India.]

In the last decade, both economic and political interaction between India and Germany has enhanced. Today, Germany is among India’s most important partners both bilaterally and in the global context. India and Germany have a ‘Strategic Partnership’ since 2000, which has been further strengthened with the Intergovernmental Consultations (I.G.C) between the two Governments which allows for a comprehensive review of cooperation and a platform to identify fresh areas of engagement. India is among a select group of countries with whom Germany has such a dialogue mechanism. The 3rd I.G.C was held in New Delhi on October 5, 2015.

Germany and India as trading partners

Germany is India’s largest trading partner in Europe. Germany has consistently been among India’s top ten global trade partners. India was ranked 24th in Germany’s global trade during 2016. Bilateral trade in 2016 was valued at 17.42 billion. Apart from traditional sectors, knowledge-driven sectors hold good potential for collaboration. There is considerable scope for cooperation in the fields of IT, biotechnology, renewable energy, green technology, urban mobility & development and the entertainment industry.

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Germany is the 7th largest foreign direct investor in India since January 2000. German FDI in India in 2016 was to the tune of US$ 1.1 billion. Germany’s total FDI in India from April 2000 until March 2017 amounted to US$ 9.69 billion. There are more than 1600 Indo-German collaborations and over 600 Indo-German Joint Ventures in operation. A Fast-Track System for German companies has been set up in DIPP, as agreed between the two sides at the 3rd IGC. The Make in India Mittelstand (MIIM) Programme launched by the Mission in September 2015 to facilitate the German Mittelstand (SMEs) to India has been progressing well. Currently, 73 German Mittelstand (SMEs) companies are being facilitated through MIIM Programme for their market entry and Investment in India. Out of these, 46 companies have progressed well in India investment plan.

A Fast-Track System for German companies has been set up in DIPP, as agreed between the two sides at the 3rd IGC. The Make in India Mittelstand (MIIM) Programme launched by the Mission in September 2015 to facilitate the German Mittelstand (SMEs) to India has been progressing well. Currently, 73 German Mittelstand (SMEs) companies are being facilitated through MIIM Programme for their market entry and Investment in India. Out of these, 46 companies have progressed well in India investment plan.

Cultural Relations

India and Germany have a long tradition of academic and cultural exchanges. Max Mueller was the first scholar of Indo-European languages who translated and published Upanishads and Rigveda. There has been growing interest in Indian dance, music, and literature as well as motion picture and TV industry, in particular, Bollywood.

Indian films and artists are regular features not only at the reputable Berlin International Film Festival but also at other festivals all over Germany. Bollywood films find regular release here and dubbed versions are telecast on television networks. Indian cuisines are very popular in Germany. Chancellor Merkel handed over the stolen Statue of Durga Mahishasurmardini to Hon’ble PM at the 3rd IGC as a goodwill gesture.

germany india 1.jpgThe Tagore Center, set up by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in Berlin in 1994, regularly organizes programs to showcase the Indian heritage and diversity of its culture, through a broad spectrum of dance, music, literary events, films, talks, seminars and exhibition events. It organized a Yoga performance at the historic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on the eve of International Yoga Day on June 21, 2015.The Deutsch-Indische Gesellschaft (Indo-German Society) is engaged in promoting intercultural understanding by bringing together people of both countries and conveying information about modern India to the German public. There are 33 independent affiliates of the Society in Germany with around 3,500 members engaged in various socio-cultural activities.

The Deutsch-Indische Gesellschaft (Indo-German Society) is engaged in promoting intercultural understanding by bringing together people of both countries and conveying information about modern India to the German public. There are 33 independent affiliates of the Society in Germany with around 3,500 members engaged in various socio-cultural activities.

German interest in the Indian philosophy and languages resulted in the first Chair of Indology at the University of Bonn in 1818. The Government of India has funded several rotating chairs of Indian studies in German Universities. There have been 30 rotating chairs in various German Universities till date. In addition, ICCR supports both long-term and short-term Chairs of Indian studies in Germany. In 2015, ICCR set up two short-term Chairs in Germany: at Humboldt University, Berlin and at Leibniz University of Hannover. Dr. Annette Schmiedchen, a Sanskrit Scholar, and Indologist from Germany were conferred with the Padma Shri by Government of India in 2015.

Approximately 12,000 Indian students are pursuing various courses in Germany, while around 800 German students are studying or doing their internships in India. Many Indian students are opting for Engineering and Management courses in German Universities. Some German companies also offer scholarships for Indian students to undertake postgraduate courses in German Universities.

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 DAAD and UGC at the 3rd IGC by opening up new and innovative areas of cooperation. Both sides will fund Euro 3.5 million for a period of 4 years from 2016-2020 to this endeavor. In addition, Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha is supporting research in Ayurveda by Charité Medical University, Berlin on Osteoarthritis of the knee, which is the first systematic clinical trial for use of Ayurveda in Europe.

Defense Relations

India-Germany Defense Cooperation Agreement (2006) provides a framework for bilateral defense cooperation. The High Defense Committee (HDC) meetings at the Defense Secretary level take place annually, alternately in New Delhi and Berlin. Both sides have had a detailed discussion on defense cooperation during the visit of German Defense Minister to India in May 2015. Chief of German Navy Admiral Andreas Krause participated in the International Fleet Review held in Vishakhapatnam in February 2016.

Several German companies participated in DEFEXPO-2016. Defense Secretary Shri G. Mohan Kumar visited Germany in June 2016 for the 8th India-Germany High Defense Committee Meeting. Delegations of the National Defence College (NDC) and College of Defense Management (CDM) have visited Germany in 2016.

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