Cultural Cooperation

Basis of the Indo-German cultural exchange is the Cultural Agreement between Federal Republic of Germany and India that came into force in September 1969. The Agreement establishes the foundation of cooperation in the field of culture and education between Germany and India.

Students at the German Embassy Enlarge image Students at the German Embassy (© Goethe Institute)

There are six Goethe Institutes in India, which work under the name “Max Mueller Bhavan (MMB)”, named after the German Indologist Max Mueller (1823-1900). The institutes render cultural and educational programmes and information services, promote learning of the German language and foster cultural cooperation in India. These institutes are located in New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune. The Goethe Institute in New Delhi is also the regional institute for South Asia. The network is further supplemented by the five Goethe Centres in Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Coimbatore, Hyderabad and Trivandrum. Grünes Logo des Goethe-Instituts Enlarge image (© Goethe-Institut)

Besides events and organizing cultural programmes, the promotion of language is the main focus. The number of aspirants for German language is constantly increasing at the Goethe Institutes and Centres in India. In February 2008 PASCH Initiative, i.e. “Schools: Partners for the Future” was launched by the Federal Foreign Office, with an aim of creating and consolidating a global network of partner schools with German-language services. 54 schools including 2 German schools have become the part of Pasch Initiative since its inception under the umbrella of Goethe Institute (GI) and the Central Agency for German Schools Abroad (ZfA). Out of these, 52 Indian schools offer German as a foreign language. There are currently more than 15,000 students learning German in these schools. 

Also, for years the Goethe Institute has been working very closely with the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, which comprises over thousand schools in India. Furthermore, within the framework of “Bildungskooperation Deutsch” of Goethe Institute, German language is offered in many other schools in India as part of the curriculum. Enlarge image Complete and comprehensive education according to the German educational system is provided by a recognized German school in New Delhi (DSND). DSND provides education from Kindergarten until ´Abitur´, the German school leaving certificate. On the other hand, the DSB International School in Mumbai offers education partially in German and partially international.

Initiatives from the German side also include aspects of vocational training, which can be strengthened even more together with the Indian industry. The branch office of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in New Delhi promotes bilateral higher education - and research cooperation and deals with scholarship programmes and student counselling. DAAD provides regular funding programmes in India as well as a range of India-specific co-funded special programmes, like exchange of scientists and project-based exchange programmes among others. The winners with Angela Merkel Enlarge image The winners with Angela Merkel (© Bundesregierung / Guido Bergmann)

Currently, there are around 15, 550 Indian students enrolled in German universities. DAAD has been supporting study- and research stay within the framework of Initiative “A New Passage to India” since 2009. At the moment 4 German lecturers are working in India.The branch office of the Heidelberg Centre South Asia exists in New Delhi since 1962 and serves as a vital bridge for Indologists of German and Indian Research institutes.

Under the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office, the German diplomatic missions in India contribute immensely to the conservation of the Indian cultural heritage. In the last few years restoration projects have been undertaken in cooperation with non-profit organizations in India. These include: Chausath Khamba Tomb in New Delhi, Avalokiteshvara temple in Ladakh and Black Pavillion of Shalimar Bagh in Srinagar.

The German Consulate in Chennai is currently supporting a project “Qutb Shahi Heritage Park” in Hyderabad. The German Government is co-financing the project under the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Foreign Office. The Quli Qutb Shah Archaeological Park comprising the Qutb Shahi Tombs Complex and Deccan Park, is one of the most significant historic medieval necropolises with 70 structures within its complex. 

In addition to that, another project “Ziegenbalg Museum” in Thanrangambadi, Tamil Nadu was supported by the German consulate in Chennai. This project was funded by the German Foreign Office and the United Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Germany (VELKD). Ziegenbalg came to Tharangambadi 1706. He translated the New Testaments in Tamil and got involved in social activities. Thus he founded children’s homes and many schools.

The National Museum in New Delhi is in possession of an exquisite collection of wall paintings of silk route among other rich holdings from many thousands of years of Indian history. It was secured by Sir Aurel Stein (1862-1943) and bought to India. An Indo-German Cooperation in preservation, research, digitalization and exhibition of the Turfan frescoes is envisioned. The prospective Humboldtforum, which focuses on the presentation of cultures of the world, possibly could provide a platform for a long-term cooperation between the two. Deputy Chief of Mission, Dr. Jasper Wieck held a speech Enlarge image Deputy Chief of Mission, Dr. Jasper Wieck held a speech (© German Embassy New Delhi)

Besides, the German Embassy New Delhi organized an exhibition “Travels of Prince Waldemar to India (1844 – 1846) at the India International Centre in November 2017. The exhibition of selected lithographs served the viewers an opportunity to relive the journey of Prince Waldemar of Prussia through India. Germany's youth jazz orchestra 'Bundesjazzorchestra’ gave a mesmerizing performance Enlarge image Germany's youth jazz orchestra 'Bundesjazzorchestra’ gave a mesmerizing performance (© German Embassy New Delhi)

German Embassy New Delhi has been trying to introduce German popular music to the vibrant Indian community. In October 2017 a German youth Jazz Orchestra “BuJazzo” was on a concert tour to Delhi and performed on the German Unity Day at the German Embassy and Springdales School. The tour was funded and organized by the German Embassy, New Delhi. The band thrilled the audience with their dynamic performance. Enlarge image

Furthermore, football has gained popularity in India in recent years. The successful hosting of this year´s Under 17 World Cup shows the enthusiasm among Indians for football. Football is by far the most popular sport in Germany and thus an important aspect of German identity. In May 2017 the German Embassy presented footballs and small gifts to the aspiring football players from STAIRS Football Academies. They were selected for the STAIRS scholarship programme from more than 30,000 children. STAIRS is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) founded to promote Youth Sports on the Grassroot-level with a special focus on the promotion of Football. Enthusiastic children at Springdales Dhaula Kuan Enlarge image Enthusiastic children at Springdales Dhaula Kuan (© German Embassy New Delhi)

Moreover, two German football freestylers were invited on a 5 day tour to India in November 2017. With their amazing tricks, they captivated the audience in Delhi and Goa and also had a chance to interact with them. The freestylers performed at various public places in Delhi including Goethe Institut Max Mueller Bhavan and various Pasch Schools.

Cultural Cooperation

Member of the band Django 3000

More on bilateral cultural relations

Florian Schiertz, Tabla expert during a performance in Germany

Cultural relations are perceived by the German government as crucial element of foreign policy, alongside political and economic relations. Indo-German cooperation in the fields of culture and the arts has always been vigorous and multi-faceted, be it in films, theatre, or dance, the visual arts, literature and oral traditions, or the printing and publishing industry. The highlight of bilateral cultural relations between both the countries is the going to be the festival “Germany and India 2011-2012” on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations. 

The Historical Perspective

/Die Leuchte Asiens/ (/The Light of Asia/, or/ Prem Sanyas/) was one of the most popular films directed by Franz Osten in 1925.

Indo-German cultural relations go back many centuries. They have always been vigorous and multi-faceted, be it in the visual arts, literature and oral traditions, theatre and dance, or films. Here are short write-ups about a few aspects of these. 

Did you know.....?

Did you know that German looms spun borders for Indian saris, or that India's national bird – the peacock – has a special home in Berlin? The 'Did you know...' series of essays, originally published in the 'German News' bring you lesser known facts about Indo-German cultural relations. 

Preserving Cultural Heritage in India and Bhutan

Chaunsath Khamba in Delhi

The Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office was launched in 1981 in order to conserve the world's cultural heritage. India is one of the major partners for the programme. Between 1981 and 2012 Germany undertook 2510 restoration projects in 144 countries, an important number of them in India. The projects are usually undertaken in cooperation with non-profit organisations in India on a one year basis.