Foreign Policy Watch: India – Germany

India-Germany Relations: Opportunities and Challenges


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India-Germany Relations Green Hydrogen Mission


Central Idea

  • India and Germany are enhancing their relationship through bilateral talks and collaboration, with Germany showing interest in being a key partner in India’s defence, trade, and clean energy. The recent visit of German Chancellor Scholz to India highlights the importance of India-German cooperation in shaping a new global order.

India-Germany Relations: Background

  • Freedom struggle: Subhas Chandra Bose, a prominent freedom fighter for Indian independence, made a determined effort to obtain India’s independence from Britain by seeking military assistance from the Axis powers. The Indische Legion was formed to serve as a liberation force for British-ruled India principally made up of Indian prisoners of war.
  • Diplomacy: India maintained diplomatic relations with both West Germany and East Germany and supported their reunification in 1990. Contrary to France and the UK, Germany has no strategic footprint in Asia.
  • Past contentions: Germany condemned India for liberating Goa from Portuguese rule in 1961 and supported Portugal’s dictatorial regime under Salazar against India. It was critical of India for intervening in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. It rejected India’s 1998 nuclear tests.
  • Quest for UNSC: India and Germany both seek to become permanent members of the UNSC and have joined with Japan and Brazil to coordinate their efforts via the G4 collective.
  • Cultural ties: Germany has supported education and cultural programs in India. Germany helped establish the IIT Madras after both governments signed an agreement in 1956 and increased its cooperation and supply of technology and resources over the decades to help expand the institution
  • Trade and investment: Germany is India’s largest trading partner in Europe. Germany is the 8th largest foreign direct investor (FDI) in India.


What is the significance of Chancellor Scholz’s visit to India?

  • Chancellor Scholz’s visit to India is significant as it builds on Germany’s growing political outreach to Asia and highlights India’s importance as a key partner in Germany’s overall strategy for the Indo-Pacific region.
  • The visit aimed to expand cooperation between India and Germany in areas such as defence, trade, clean energy, migration, digital transformation, and the Indo-Pacific.
  • It also assumes greater importance as India holds the G-20 presidency this year and seeks to avoid geopolitics hampering cooperation in the forum.

India-Germany Cooperation: Opportunities

  • Defence collaboration: Germany could become an important defence partner for India as the country attempts to diversify from its military dependence on Russia. The two countries have discussed co-development of military hardware and tech transfers, and a deal worth $5.2 billion where Germany would jointly build six conventional submarines in India could be underway.
  • Economic ties: India and Germany share strong economic ties, with Germany being India’s largest trading partner in the European Union. Germany is also interested in stability of supply chains and trade routes linking Asia to Europe, given its status as Europe’s economic powerhouse and its reliance on exports.
  • Indo-Pacific region: Germany’s overall strategy for the Indo-Pacific region mentions India as a key partner. Germany has enhanced its political outreach to Asia, including India, as part of this strategy.
  • Multilateral cooperation: Both cooperate in multilateral forums, including as part of the G-4 grouping pushing for United Nations Security Council reform, and as evident in Germany’s invitation to Mr. Modi to attend last year’s G-7 summit.
  • Development projects: A recent agreement on India-Germany triangular cooperation involving development projects in third countries is an important step in enhancing strategic involvement in the region.
  • Security collaboration: The first ever France-India-Germany military exercise drill is slated to take place in 2024 towards enhanced security and defence collaboration.


India-Germany Cooperation: Challenges

  • Different geopolitical priorities: Germany is focused on ensuring stability in the Indo-Pacific region for the sake of trade and economic growth, while India is more concerned with territorial conflicts with neighbouring China.
  • Germany’s economic dependence on China: Germany has strong economic ties with China, making it difficult to completely decouple from the country. This creates a challenge for Germany in trying to balance its economic interests with its security interests.
  • Differences in defence capabilities: India and Germany have different defence capabilities and priorities, which can make it challenging to collaborate effectively on defence projects.
  • Historical baggage: Germany’s colonial past and role in World War II can create challenges in developing closer relations with India, particularly in the context of Germany’s efforts to deepen its involvement in the Indo-Pacific region.



  • Amidst geopolitical shifts and multipolarity, New Delhi’s ties with Berlin could be vital in shaping a new global order. There are high expectations on both sides regarding the potential for deeper collaboration, particularly in the defence sector. However, it will take time and effort to develop the necessary trust and alignment of interests.

Mains Question

Q. In recent times, India and Germany have been enhancing their relationship through bilateral talks and collaboration. In light of this, discuss challenges and opportunities that lie ahead?

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