The relationship with Germany suffers from sustained anti-Asian sentiment in Germany. 68% of Germans expressed a negative view of India according to the 2014 BBC World Service Country Rating Poll, which saw Germany lead global anti-Indian feelings and surpassing even Pakistan where only 58% held anti-India views. The 2007 Mügeln mob attack on Indians and the 2015 Leipzig University internship controversy has clouded the predominantly commercial-oriented relationship between the two countries.
During World War I, India was under British rule. Consequently the British Indian Army was ordered to contribute soldiers to the Allied war effort, including on the Western Front. Over 9000 soldiers died in World War I. Pro-independence activists within the colonial armies sought German assistance for the cause of India's freedom resulting in the Hindu German conspiracy during World War I.
Prior to and during World War II, a prominent freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose for Indian independence, made a determined effort to obtain India's independence from Britain by seeking military assistance from the Axis powers. Subhash Chandra Bose met Adolf Hitler and obtained limited assistance from Nazi Germany. The Indische Legion was formed to serve as a liberation force for British-ruled India and was principally made up of British Indian prisoners of war and expatriates in Europe. On the Allied side the war effort mobilized 2.5 million volunteer troops from British India and caused the loss of 24,000 soldiers to fighting Nazi Germany.
India was the first nation to end the State of War with Germany after World War II. Unlike most other countries who forced compensation payments or extracted reparation dues upon German people, India waived all its compensation rights in an effort to lessen the burden on the German people as their country had been reduced to a rubble and there was little food for Germans to eat after the collapse of Third Reich.
In 2014, Indian Prime Minister Modi made a stopover in Berlin on his way to the 2014 BRICS summit in Brazil.
Development of bilateral ties
Germany has extensively supported education and cultural development in India. Germany helped establish the Indian Institute of Technology Madras after both governments signed an agreement in 1956 and increased its co-operation and supply of technology and resources over the decades to help expand the institution. India has launched seven micro-satellites into Polar orbits for German universities since 1999.
In the later 1960s, German aircraft designer Kurt Tank, who worked for Focke-Wulf during World War II, went to work in India. First was first employed as the Director of the Madras Institute of Technology, and later joined Hindustan Aeronautics, where he designed the Hindustan Marut fighter-bomber, the first military aircraft constructed in India. Kurt Tank left Hindustan Aeronautics in 1967 and by the 1970s had returned to live in Berlin.
In 2008, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made an official visit to India that led to the signing of several agreements expanding bilateral co-operation in commerce, science, technology and defence. Both nations established the Indo-German Science and Technology Centre in New Delhi to promote joint research and development in energy, environment, coal and water technologies. Germany is India's largest European trading partner and the 5th largest trade partner. India and Germany enjoy strong commerce and co-operation in telecommunications, engineering, environmental technology, food processing, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The Indian Navy and the German Navy conducted joint-exercises in 2008 for the first time, following a anti-piracy co-operation agreement between the two nations signed in 2006.
The India-Germany strategic relationship is limited by the absence of a meaningful defense relationship and insignificance of German geopolitical influence in Asian affairs. Germany has no strategic footprint in Asia. Anti-Indian public sentiment in Germany is an obstacle to the improvement of strategic ties between Germany and India.
Germany continues to be India's largest trading partnership in Europe. Germany is the 8th largest foreign direct investor (FDI) in India. Germany's FDI totaled about 5.2 billion USD during the period 2000-2012, constituting about 3% of total FDI to India. Indian investments in Germany have seen sharp increase in last few years. Current trade volume stands at €10.5 billion in 2006, €12.7 billion in 2007-08 and both nations see it increasing to €30 billion by 2010.
Indian Prime-Minister Narendra Modi will jointly open Hannover trade fair Hannover Messe 2015 on 12 April 2015 along with Angela Merkel. Narendra Modi will hold trade & investment discussions with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
|“||India and the West could together look for solutions to the problems that we share. Instead, Western commentators reproduce old colonial stories about India as an immoral culture. This gives them a twisted relationship to the Indian people. On the one hand, they keep turning towards the same class of Indian journalists, activists, and intellectuals for ‘local knowledge’. But these native informants merely talk the talk of the West to the West. On the other hand, more and more Indians are disgusted by the West’s condescending attitude towards their country. And this is then dismissed as hurt pride. If we want to bring our two peoples and cultures closer together in this new age, reason and empathy are our only hope. The madness of the current discourse about India must end.||”|
- - Jakob De Roover, University of Ghent, Belgium
Commercial & trade
Stiff global competition on high-technology products had diminished the value of the "Made in Germany" brand. German machine tools, automotive and health-care exports have ceded ground to products manufactured in Asian countries.
In March 2015, Professor Annette Beck-Sickinger, the head of the biochemistry department at Leipzig University, caused furor in India by rejecting an internship application from an Indian student as a retaliation against India's 'culture of rape' and alluding to the existence of a wider Europe-wide boycott of Indian male students. The racial profiling, gender discrimination and xenophobic undertones of the incident placed the spotlight on prevalent institutional bias, increasing intolerance to foreigners and level of respect for the human rights of persons of color in Germany. The Leipzig University internship controversy, occurred just weeks before the April 2015 official visit to Germany by Indian Prime-Minister Narendra Modi at the invitation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
BBC World Service Country Rating Poll data for Germany & India
According to a 2014 BBC World Service Poll, 32% of Indians view Germany's influence positively, 42% neutral and 26% expressing a negative view, while only 16% of Germans view India's influence positively, 16% neutral and 68% expressing a negative view.
- BBC World Service 2014 Country Rating Poll
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