Foreign Policy Watch: India – Germany

Foreign Policy Watch: India – Germany

India-Germany relations


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Green Hydrogen Task Force

Mains level : Paper 2- India-Germany relations


Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Berlin for the sixth Indo-German Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC) is significant for its timing and substantial results.

Strategic and economic importance of India-German ties

  • The timing of the IGC, which Germany chose not to delay, showed outreach to India and the Indo-Pacific.
  • Impact of pandemic on economy: The pandemic hit German economy and sanctions on Russia will further dent its prospects.
  • The country requires new markets for trade and investment.
  • India is an important partner in this regard due to its sustained economic growth and market size.
  • Ukraine crisis: The Ukraine crisis created an urgency to engage with India as part of Germany’s fledgling Indo-Pacific policy.

Opportunities for India

  • As Germany does the reassessment of China’s role in world affairs it creates an opportunity for India.
  • The Bundestag will discuss the situation of Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang on May 7.
  • Any departures from China will bring business engagement to India.
  • Germany and India do not have a traditional strategic partnership.
  • It is a green partnership based on trade, investment, technology, functional collaboration, skill development, and sustainability.
  • There are several initiatives like the Indo-German energy forum, environmental forum, partnership on urban mobility, skill development and science and technology.
  • The biggest gain from the IGC has been the Joint Declaration of Intent (JDI) establishing the Green and Sustainable Development Partnership.
  • This will raise the quality and quantum of the existing partnership between the two countries.
  • Germany is reaching out with new and additional financing of €10 billion to fund green projects in India under public, private and PPP models.
  • To support this, a ministerial segment is being introduced under the IGC.
  • The IGC is the only such format that India has with any country.
  • Another significant development is the JDI on Triangular Development Cooperation for projects in third countries.
  • This will provide avenues to work together in the Indo-Pacific, Africa and beyond.
  • The Indo-German Education Partnership, which the German Bundestag passed in 2016 as a New Passage to India, has borne fruit — from about 4,000 students in 2015, there are nearly 29,000 Indian students in Germany.
  • The Indo-German Science and Technology Centre has made valuable contributions.
  • Now, under the energy partnership, the Green Hydrogen Task Force will develop a Green Hydrogen Roadmap.
  • This will attempt to take R&D to the level of commercialisation.
  • The JDI on migration and mobility is an important step taken during this IGC.


A new period is reflecting new priorities in view of crises like the pandemic, the economic downturn and now, Ukraine. The German response to India as evidenced through the IGC has been promising. Both sides may justifiably call it a defining moment in the Indo-German partnership.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – Germany

 How India and Germany can work together to tackle climate change?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : India-Germany relations

Both nations, India and Germany with innovative economies and many highly-trained people can tackle the climate challenge.

India-Germany Relations: A backgrounder

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.

Common concerns

  • In South Asia and Europe, we have become used to extremely hot weather, flooding, dramatic depletion of groundwater tables, and drought.
  • The EU has adopted an ambitious Green Deal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and to decouple economic growth from the consumption of natural resources.

Why the two?

  • India is one of few countries that looks set to deliver on the national goals it set itself as part of the Paris agreement.
  • Compared to other G20 countries, its per capita emissions are very low.
  • Germany recently adopted laws on reducing greenhouse gases more quickly, achieving climate neutrality by 2045 and stopping the use of coal for electricity production by 2038.

Collaborated efforts to date

  • In 2015, India’s PM and Germany’s Federal Chancellor agreed to further strengthen the two countries’ strategic partnership.
  • On this basis, Germany and India have succeeded in building up a cooperation portfolio worth almost 12 billion euros.
  • Already, nine out of 10 measures support climate goals and SDGs together.

Indo-German development cooperation focuses on three areas:

  1. Transition to renewable energies
  2. Sustainable urban development and
  3. Sustainable management of natural resources

What does Germany have to offer?

  • As a pioneer of the energy transition, Germany is offering knowledge, technology transfer, and financial solutions.
  • The pandemic has shown global supply chains are vulnerable.
  • Yet, when it comes to agriculture and natural resources, there are smart solutions that are being tested in India and Germany for more self-reliance, including agroecological approaches and sustainable management of forests, soils, and water.
  • Experience in India has shown that these methods also boost incomes for the local population and make them less dependent on expensive fertilizers, pesticides and seeds.

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