Merkel meets Modi: Taking forward friendly ties between India and Germany

Indo German Relationship Image

Indo German Relationship Image

Ever since he took over as the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi has been on a mission to strengthen India’s position as a member of the global community. Strong economic and defence ties with developed nations has been at the core of his foreign policy. Indo-German ties have unfolded beautifully over the past couple of years and have worked to the advantage of both the nations. Taking this saga ahead, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel is now visiting India with the intention of concluding a number of deals and mutual agreements and take forward friendly ties between the two countries.  This is her first visit to India since NaMo took over as the PM.

On 5 October, 2015, Indian Prime Minister Modi and Chancellor Merkel met under the framework of the Indo-German Intergovernmental Consultations (IGC). Two such consultations between the governments had previously been held in 2011 and 2013. During the course of their meeting yesterday, the governments inked a total of 18 deals and memorandums of understanding covering a variety of topics. Here are some key takeaways.

Solar Energy Projects

German Chancellor Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Modi signed a 2 billion Euro (USD 2.25 billion) worth agreement involving solar and renewable energy. With the inking of this deal, Germany has agreed to invest heavily in developing a robust solar energy industry in India. It shall also be a key investor in the establishment of clean energy corridors in the country.

The two countries formed a “Climate and Renewable Alliance”, a long term energy collaboration. Germany has long been a renewable and clean energy champion in the global context and this collaboration is likely to benefit both the nations immensely. Coming ahead of the United Nations Climate Change talks scheduled to take place in December, this deal is a giant step towards making India an eco-friendly place committed to combating the pressures of global warming while balancing economic growth and industrial development. The cooperation is a promise of sustainable energy and sustainable growth for a fast developing economy like India. “Energy cooperation is very much in the foreground, particularly exploring and developing rural areas is very much on our agenda”, promised Chancellor Angela Merkel. This is the biggest cooperation deal signed by Modi and Merkel.

Trade and Fast Track Agreements

Germany has been the 7th largest foreign investor in India. Indo-German trade ties were at the highest in FY 2013-14 when trade between the nations was estimated at USD20.44 billion. This declined to about USD 20.32 billion in FY 2014-15. Europe’s largest economy, Germany, agreed to invest heavily in the growth and development of India. In the meeting yesterday, PM Modi agreed to set up a Fast Track system that would facilitate German investors in the country. By upping the ease of doing business and cutting down on the red tape in the country, PM Modi aims at attracting German investments primarily into the manufacturing sector and aid the “Make in India” campaign. Germany is also very keen on investing in the development of smart cities in India, in bidding for high-speed train projects and in the development of MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises). German investors will now have a single point of contact and will be able to quickly comply with all the bureaucratic requirements to do business in India.

Defence Deals

Defence cooperation was one of the top priorities on the Modi-Merkel meeting yesterday. Both the countries agreed on the necessity and their sustained commitment towards reconstruction of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. Joint cooperation in matters of defence cooperation was also a major point touched upon by the two leaders. The submarine supply deal that was to be inked seems to require further discussions and negotiation. PM Modi said “Our partnership will also grow in areas like defence manufacturing, trade in advanced technology, intelligence and countering terrorism and radicalism. These are important security dimensions of our expanding relationship.”

United Nations Reforms

As a part of their discussions Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Modi discussed their commitment to undertaking comprehensive reforms at the United Nations Security Council. These reforms should enable the UNSC to be a more inclusive forum available to both the permanent and non-permanent members. Previously, the two leaders had also discussed expansion of the UNSC in New York on the sidelines of the G4 Summit. “I welcome Germany’s strong support for India’s membership of the international export control regimes”, said PM Modi. Stronger Indo-German ties and a shared perspective on the much needed reforms at a UN level are also likely to positively influence India’s bid to a permanent membership at the UNSC.

Language and Culture

Cultural exchanges between India and Germany have been longstanding. Both the countries claim to have many similarities in their linguistic and cultural heritages. Development of this bond was another key point discussed by the two leaders in their exchange. The two countries have agreed to promote each other’s languages. The Kendriya Vidhyalaya Sangathan shall soon be entering into an agreement with the Gothe-Institute and facilitate German studies in India by offering the language as an optional subject to its students. Previously, the Indian government’s move to replace study of German in KV schools had been criticised by Germany. In turn for allowing the study of German in KV schools, the German states will promote study of Sanskrit and four other modern Indian languages in the schools of Germany.

Internal Security

The two countries inked a memorandum of understanding that covered a number of security issues including aviation security systems, border security and protection, illegal immigration and radical terrorism and cyber-crime and security measures. One of the major concerns expressed by Merkel was the internal threat to Germany from the activities undertaken by radical Sikh groups in the country. Both the countries have agreed to cooperate on battling major terrorism related issues including recruitment and training of terrorists, radical propaganda and organised crime apart from tackling issues such as drug and narcotics trade, smuggling and counterfeiting currency.

Legal Cooperation

Once again, Germany has refused to enter into a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with India that would have made way for the both countries to cooperate in criminal matters. The agreement has been in the works since 2007 and Germany has remained reluctant to sign the deal due to the provision for death penalty in Indian law. India’s Ministry of Justice, though disappointed, is hopeful that Germany may reconsider the matter at a later date. Had the deal been signed, the countries would have in place an agreement that allows the law enforcement of both the nations to procure and exchange evidence and information in matters of criminal or civil law.


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