Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] India-Germany Bilateral Relations

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was on a two-day visit to India under 5th round of Intergovernmental Consultations (IGC) which allows for a comprehensive review of cooperation and identification of fresh areas of engagement. Germany and India have been cooperating for many years in diverse fields and with this recent development, the relations between the both nations will grow further.
By IASToppers
November 07, 2019


  • Introduction
  • What made Germany to look towards India?
  • Germany’s recent positive steps favouring Indian Partnership
  • India’s position in respect to relation with Germany
  • The agreements signed during Merkel’s visit
  • IT’s Input
    • India- Germany Relations
  • What are the concerns for India?
  • Conclusion

India-Germany Bilateral Relations

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Chancellor Angela Merkel’s last week visit to India highlights expanding European interest in partnering India and expanding its list of strategic partners beyond the Euro- Atlantic space. The visit also highlights the emerging concerns about India’s economic and political trajectory. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s last week visit to India

What made Germany to look towards India?

  • Germany is under pressure to take larger responsibilities for regional stability and contribute more to the maintenance of the global order.
  • The US’s current unpredictability of security policies and attack on world trading system, China’s rapid economic expansion into Europe and the increasing assertiveness of the Sino-Russian political axis, Germany is looking to diversify its global partnerships beyond the Euro-Atlantic space.
  • Hence, India become the number one option for strategic partnership with the Germany in the given scenario.

Germany’s recent positive steps favouring Indian Partnership

  • The German Parliament passed a resolution on boosting ties with India days before Merkel arrived in Delhi.

German foreign minister Heiko Maas

  • The German foreign minister Heiko Maas said that Germany must end its neglect of India. According to him, amidst the unfolding great power rivalry between the US, China and Russia, it would be unwise for Europe to put all its eggs in the China basket.
  • He termed India as the pillar of Asian stability and a country that shares European political values.

India’s position in respect to relation with Germany

  • India, too, is ending its prolonged indifference to Europe as a strategic actor.
  • The recent elevation of India’s engagement with France is now being followed by a fresh look at strengthening ties with Germany.
  • India would not only be developing the cordial relations with the Germany as a bilateral cooperation but somehow it will be enhancing relations with the European Union as the EU is led by Germany.

The agreements signed during Merkel’s visit

  • The wide range of agreements were signed during Merkel’s visit which include trade and investment, mitigating climate change, the digital revolution, urban development, agriculture and human resource development.
  • Unlike in the past, defence and security have acquired a prominent place in Indo-German discussions.

IT’s Input

India- Germany Relations


  • Bilateral relations between India and Germany are founded on common democratic principles and are marked by a high degree of trust and mutual respect.
  • India was amongst the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with the Federal Republic of Germany after the Second World War.
  • India and Germany have a ‘Strategic Partnership’ since 2001, which has been further strengthened with the Intergovernmental Consultations (IGC) at the level of Head of Governments. India is amongst a select group of countries with which Germany has such a dialogue mechanism.
  • Germany is India’s largest trading partner in Europe. India was ranked 24th in Germany’s global trade during 2016.
  • Germany is the 7th largest foreign direct investor in India since January 2000.
  • There have been regular high-level visits from both sides. German Chancellor Angel Merkel recently visited India in November 2019.
  • Germany and India cooperate on the issue of UNSC expansion within the framework of G-4.
  • Both countries consult each other in G-20 on global issues such as climate change, sustainable development, etc.
  • The Indo-German Parliamentary Friendship Group, which was established in German Bundestag in 1971, has contributed to strengthening links between the two Parliaments.
  • India-Germany Defence Cooperation Agreement (2006) provides a framework for bilateral defence cooperation. Delegations of the National Defence College (NDC) and College of Defence Management (CDM) have visited Germany in 2016 and 2017.
  • Some of the States and Cities of both countries have entered into twinning arrangements. Karnataka and Bavaria (Germany) have Sister States arrangement since 2007. Similarly, Mumbai and Stuttgart (Germany) are sister cities since 1968.
  • India and Germany have a long tradition of academic and cultural exchange. Max Mueller was the first scholar of Indo-European languages who translated and published Upanishads and Rigveda. There has been growing interest in Germany in Indian dance, music and literature as well as motion picture and TV industry, in particular Bollywood.
  • About 15,000 Indian students are pursuing various courses in Germany. Around 800 German students are studying or doing internships in India.
  • There are about 1,69,000 people of Indian origin (2017 figures) in Germany including both German and Indian Passport holders. There has been an increase in the last few years in the number of qualified Indian professionals in the fields of IT, banking, finance, etc.

What are the concerns for India?

  • Germany has showed concern for the economic slowdown and its discomfort with trade liberalization. These concerns are somehow due to the India’s inability to bring in comprehensive economic reforms.
  • Europe wants India to move purposefully on the economic front when its commercial ties with the US and China are under stress.
  • India’s growing tensions with Pakistan put a question mark on India’s status as a source of regional stability.
  • At the same time, the recent decision on Jammu and Kashmir and the concerns about the rights of minorities in India have begun to cast a shadow over the “shared political values” of Germany with India.


  • Angela Merkel’s cautious public comment on the unsustainability of the current situation in Kashmir is a timely reminder that India’s friends will find it hard to keep quiet if matters don’t improve soon.
  • India’s failure to calm things at home and in the region and show some decisive forward movement on the economic front could have serious consequences for India’s near term prospects.


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