Germany and India - Celebrating 60 Years of Diplomatic Relations

Bilateral relations between Germany and India are based on a sound foundation of mutual respect, understanding and support. A recent highlight of these bilateral relations has been the 2nd round of Indo-German Intergovernmental Consultations for which then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and several of his cabinett ministers travelled to Berlin in April 2013.

Before that 2011 was a year of special significance as we celebrated 60 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations with India.

To mark this occasion, and to strengthen our relationship further, a Year of Germany in India was organised under the motto ‘Infinite Opportunities – Germany and India 2011-2012’. With the theme ‘StadtRäume – CitySpaces’, the festival traveled through five of India’s  largest metropolises—New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Pune.

History of longstanding relations

India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (L) meeting German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in Germany on 10 October, 1960 Enlarge image India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (L) meeting German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in Germany on 10 October, 1960 (© bpa)

The history of Indo-German political relations goes back to the late nineteenth century, when the ‘Imperial German Consulate’ (Kaiserlich Deutsches Generalkonsulat) began functioning from Calcutta (now Kolkata). 

However, it was only after WWII that diplomatic relations between the two countries gained prominence. India was the first country to end the state of war with Germany in 1951, and therefore was among the first countries to grant the Federal Republic of Germany diplomatic recognition.

Germany established its Consulate General in Bombay in 1951, leading to the establishment of a full-fledged Embassy in New Delhi in 1952. In the same year, Germany’s first ambassador arrived in Delhi and India’s first ambassador took charge in Bonn.

Partners on a global stage

Today, India and Germany are important partners on the international stage. Both countries have joint forces to tackle the challenges of a globalised world, such as the impact of climate change, international terrorism, establishment of a stable and sustainable global economic order, and reform of the United Nations' Security Council.

A strategic partnership

Our political relations have grown significantly in recent years. In May 2000, at the dawn of the new millennium, both countries adopted the ‘Agenda for the Indo-German Partnership in the 21st Century’. The Agenda agreed for our heads of government to meet regularly, and foreign ministers to endeavour to meet every year. These interactions usually take place along with high-profile delegations from both sides.

On 23 April, 2006 a ‘Joint Declaration’ emphasising our strategic partnership was signed by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It turned the focus of our future cooperation onto the fields of energy, science and technology, and defence. A similar Declaration, signed during Chancellor Merkel’s visit to India on 31 October, 2007, noted the substantial progress made in Indo-German relations and set ambitious goals for their development in the future.

In 2010, then German President Köhler came to Delhi, Pune and Mumbai on a five day State Visit. In Delhi, he had political talks with his Indian counterpart Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Prime Minister Singh, Foreign Minister S M Krishna and Vice-President Hamid Ansari. He also met Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, chairperson of the UPA—India’s ruling coalition, and Mrs. Sushma Swaraj, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha. During his visit, former President Köhler inaugurated the Indo-German Max Planck Centre at IIT Delhi. In Pune and Mumbai he discussed economic issues with industry representatives.

First Indo-German intergovernmental consultations

German Chancellor Merkel and her accompanying delegation held wide-ranging talks with then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his cabinet colleagues. Enlarge image German Chancellor Merkel and her accompanying delegation held wide-ranging talks with then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his cabinet colleagues. (© bpa, Steffen Kugler) The sustained level of cooperation and partnership was further strengthened with the visit of Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in May 2011, preceded by joint bilateral consultations in New Delhi between foreign minister Westerwelle and his Indian counterpart S. M. Krishna. At the invitation of the Indian government, the two countries held their first intergovernmental consultations in New Delhi on 31 May, 2011. These consultations set a new standard in the implementation of our strategic partnership, as India is one amongst only three non-European countries with which Germany has had this nature of comprehensive consultations. 

India returned the visit on April 11th/12th, 2013, when then Prime Minister Singh and five members of his cabinett travelled to Germany to hold the second round of intergovernmental consultations with their counterparts in Berlin.

During the intergovernmental consultations, there was an opportunity to discuss the entire agenda of our bilateral relationship and identify vistas for closer cooperation in the future. The talks included the full range of bilateral relations, from security and defence policy, trade, vocational training, education & research to infrastructure and sustainable energy and environment technologies. Referring to the wide range of issues addressed, Chancellor Merkel underlined, “Through this special commitment to cooperation across a broad political spectrum, we have laid the foundation for jointly addressing the global challenges of our times.”
German chancellor Angela Merkel (R) receives the Jawaharlal Nehru Prize for International Understanding for the year 2009 from then Indian president Pratibha Patil (L) as senior congress leader Karan Singh (C) looks on at a function in New Delhi, India, 31 May 2011. Enlarge image German chancellor Angela Merkel (R) receives the Jawaharlal Nehru Prize for International Understanding for the year 2009 from then Indian president Pratibha Patil (L) as senior congress leader Karan Singh (C) looks on at a function in New Delhi, India, 31 May 2011. (© picture alliance / dpa) As part of her May 2011 visit, Chancellor Angela Merkel launched the Year of Germany in India along with the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Meira Kumar. The other important event was the presentation of the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding for the year 2009 to Chancellor Merkel.

A statement issued by the Government of India says that the award “recognises her personal devotion and enormous efforts for sustainable and equitable development, for good governance and understanding and for the creation of a world better positioned to handle the emerging challenges of the 21st century.”

In her speech at the Award ceremony, Chancellor Merkel said, “I regard this Award as confirmation that our two countries have travelled along the right road together.” The level of mutual understanding and respect between the two countries is underlined by the fact that she is the second German head of Government, after former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, to be receiving this prestigious International award.

2012 also witnessed further high level visitors such as Minister for Economy and Vice Chancellor Philipp Rößler in November, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in June and Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Development, Peter Ramsauer in April. On November 2nd and 3rd the  Asia-Pacific Conference of German Industry,  the largest German networking event in the region attracting numerous business leaders, was held in New Delhi (Gurgaon).