Foreign Policy Watch: India – Germany

[op-ed snap] Mother Ganga, Father Rhine


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: India-Germany relationship over the years


Indo-german ties- Looking back at history

  1. India and Germany look back on decades of successful bilateral relations.
  2. Having come into existence as the states we know them today at a similar time — India in 1947 Germany in 1949 after the devastation of World War II — the two countries entered into diplomatic relations almost immediately
  3. In fact, India was one of the first nations to recognise the young Federal Republic of Germany in 1951
  4. Despite facing different kinds of political and economic challenges during this period, India and Germany shared a common destiny as young democracies
  5. As a consequence, both countries soon started concrete economic development cooperation, which continues till today
  6. 2018 marks the 60th anniversary of this strategic relationship

Cooperation across sectors

  1. In the early years and in line with the government policy of that time, the joint projects targeted industrial growth, poverty reduction and rural development
  2. Time has changed the focus of development cooperation as circumstances changed
  3. Now, the areas of focus are renewable energy and energy efficiency, sustainable urban development, environment protection and resource management
  4. This is complemented by supporting sustainable economic development, including vocational education and training (VET)
  5. Today, India and Germany are in a balanced partnership
  6. Their bilateral relations contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which seek to end poverty and create a more inclusive and equitable world

Important bilateral initiatives 

  • Clean Ganga initiative
  1. The Ganga region is home to more than 600 million people — half of India’s population
  2. The Ganga, just as Germany’s largest river, the Rhine, had faced abuse for decades, with untreated industrial and domestic waste flowing into them, causing major pollution and the extinction of marine life
  3. Both rivers have been an inspiration for songs, legends, literature and art. Mythology and sentiment is attached to them
  4. Germany is honoured to share its experience with India to bring back “Mother Ganga” to acceptable standards, as it has successfully done for “Father Rhine”
  • Energy cooperation
  1. India and Germany cooperate closely on energy matters
  2. In 2006, the Indo-German Energy Forum was set up to promote cooperation in renewable energy
  3. Germany’s strategic Green Energy Corridors project will build transmission lines transferring clean energy to different parts of the country
  • Green mobility
  1. Germany pledged up to Rs 8,900 crore over five years to improve solid and liquid waste management and provide climate-friendly urban transport like the Metro in Nagpur, which is the single biggest project of German financial cooperation in India
  2. Germany has partnered with three smart cities — Bhubaneswar, Kochi and Coimbatore — to provide sustainable urban public transport
  3. These projects stand for around 190 already successful or promising cooperation projects of India and Germany today

Way forward

  1. Today, India is one of the biggest and fastest-growing economies, and Germany is the biggest economy in Europe
  2. Germany and India continue to work as equal partners to tackle global development challenges
  3. The know-how and expertise that Germany shares with India is the main value-add of this cooperation, guided by India’s reform programmes and priorities
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