Intense engagement: On India-Germany ties
Why in the news?
Chancellor Scholz’s 2-day visit to India significantly coincided with the 1st anniversary of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
What is the history of India-Germany relations?
- Political relations – India is one of the 1st countries to end the state of war with post-war Germany in 1951 and recognize the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG).
- Germany and India cooperate closely on the issue of UN Security Council expansion within the framework of G-4. The G4 formed in 2005 is a group of 4 countries such as Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan, aspiring to become permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
- Defence relations – High Defence Committee (HDC) meetings at the Defence Secretary level take place annually, alternately in New Delhi and Berlin. India-Germany Defence Cooperation Agreement (2006) provides a framework for bilateral defence cooperation.
- Economic relations –Germany is India’s largest trading partner in Europe and 2nd most important partner in terms of technological collaborations. Germany is the 8th largest foreign direct investor in India since 2000.
- Cultural relations – The Indo-German Society is engaged in promoting inter-cultural activities of both countries by conveying information about modern India to the German public. Max Mueller was the first scholar of Indo-European languages to translate and publish the Upanishads and the Rigveda.
- Strategic relations – India and Germany have a “Strategic Partnership” since 2001. India is amongst a select group of countries with which Germany has Inter-Governmental Consultations at the level of Head of Government (German Chancellor and PM).
- Parliamentary Exchanges – There is an Indo-German Parliamentary Friendship Group where visits by Parliamentarians from both sides take place regularly.
- Institutional Cooperation Arrangements– Includes High Defence Committee, Indo-German Energy Forum, Indo-German Environment Forum, etc.
- Intergovernmental S&T Cooperation Agreement was signed for fostering research projects and direct partnerships between the Universities of both countries.
What is the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war and the Russia-China nexus on India-Germany ties?
- Russia-Ukraine war– The war has been a watershed moment in Germany’s security policy, resulting in the abandonment of decades of post-war pacifism towards strategic matters. This is evident in Germany’s pledge to boost defence spending to 2% of GDP and provide special funding to bolster the country’s military.
- China factor –China’s assertive posturing has brought into question Germany’s approach of Wandel durch Handel (change through trade).
- Europe’s increasing prioritisation of values-based partnerships with like-minded countries can advance India-German cooperation.
- Trade routes –For Germany, the stability of supply chains and trade routes linking Asia to Europe is of critical importance given its status as Europe’s economic powerhouse and its reliance on exports.
What are the recent developments between the two countries?
- Military dependence – As New Delhi attempts to diversify from its military dependence on Russia, Berlin reassesses its long-standing arms exports policy and could become an important defence partner for India.
- Military exercise –The first ever France-India-Germany military exercise drill is slated to take place in 2024 towards enhanced security and defence collaboration.
- Trade & technologies –Collaboration in clean energy and green technologies has emerged as the central pillar of the partnership.
- This led to the launch of a Green and Sustainable Development Partnership.
Change of policy towards Asia:
- Departure from previous Asia policies that centred around China. Scholz first visited Japan after assuming office in 2021. Invited Indian PM for the 6th Intergovernmental Consultations to Berlin.
- Germany’s overall strategy for the Indo-Pacific region which mentions India as a key partner.
- For Germany, the stability of supply chains and trade routes linking Asia to Europe assumes critical importance given its status as Europe’s economic powerhouse and its reliance on exports.
- Germany’s intent was to enhance its strategic involvement in the region through greater military deployment.
- Germany’s symbolic gesture of sending its frigate Bayern to the Indo-Pacific in 2021, with a stopover in Mumbai (January 2022), was a demonstration of this.
- The recent agreement on India-Germany triangular cooperation involving development projects in third countries is also an important step in this direction.
- Germany reassesses its long-standing arms exports policy.
- Germany could become an important defence partner for India.
- Discussions around the co-development of military hardware and tech transfers
- Deal worth $5.2(five point two) billion: Germany would jointly build six conventional submarines in India that could be underway.
- France-India-Germany military exercise drill is slated to take place in 2024 towards enhanced security and defence collaboration.
- Despite their common concerns regarding stability in the Indo-Pacific, Germany does not share a border with China
- Despite the lack of German trust in China, Scholz’s visit in 2022 demonstrated how intertwined German industry is with Chinese markets.
- Germany emphasizes the difficulties in ‘decoupling’ from China.
Trade and technologies
- Germany is India’s largest economic partner in the European Union (EU).
- Trade figured high on the agenda boosted by the re-launch of the India-EU free-trade agreement negotiations.
- Collaboration in clean energy and green technologies has emerged as the central pillar of the partnership,
- Launch of a Green and Sustainable Development Partnership last year and cooperation in the area of green hydrogen.
- The subject of mobility and migration is under focus given Germany’s shortages of skilled manpower.
- Europe’s increasing prioritization of values-based partnerships with like-minded countries can advance India-German cooperation.
- Discussions on the Russia-Ukraine conflict and its global repercussions were centre stage as the war continued. The Prime Minister has reiterated India’s commitment to contribute to any peace process.
- India and Germany cooperate in multilateral forums, as part of the G-4 group pushing for United Nations Security Council reform, as evident in Germany’s invitation to the PM to attend last year’s G-7 summit.
- It is refreshing to witness relations steadily evolve into a more wholesome partnership.
- Divergent positions on the war have not undermined India’s regular political engagements with Europe.
- Convergence in areas such as the Indo-Pacific that are cementing the strategic dimension of the partnership.
- Intensification of the Russia-China axis could further embolden this alignment.
Against the backdrop of volatile geopolitical shifts, emerging multipolarity, and Europe’s enhanced courtship of India, India’s ties with Germany could be vital in shaping a new global order.