A ‘Zeitenwende’ in the India-Germany relationship


  • India’s relationship with Germany has traditionally lagged behind its relations with its other European partners such as France.



India-Germany relations:

1951. Diplomatic relations were taken up as early as 1951, but as Cold War politics unfolded and swept around the globe, ideological differences prevented the two countries from deepening and extending their relations and cooperation beyond trade, cultural exchange, and development assistance

1961 .Germany condemned India for liberating Goa from Portuguese rule in 1961 and supported Portugal’s dictatorial regime under Salazar against India

1971. Germany was critical of India for intervening in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War

1972. India finally recognized the second German state, and set up diplomatic relations with the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1972

1990. India maintained diplomatic relations with both West Germany and East Germany and supported their reunification

1998. Germany rejected India’s 1998 nuclear tests

2008. German Chancellor made an official visit to India that led to the signing of several agreements expanding bilateral co-operation in commerce, science, technology and defence 2008 The Indian Navy and the German Navy conducted joint-exercises in 2008 for the first time

2020. The German government laid out its Indo-Pacific guidelines, illustrating its interest and commitment to a region where India is a key protagonist

  • The bilateral relations between India and Germany are founded on common democratic principles.
  • India was amongst the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with the Federal Republic of Germany after the Second World War.
  • Germany cooperates with India to the tune of 3(one point three)billion Euros a year in development projects
    • 90% of which serves the purpose of fighting climate change
    • saving natural resources as well as promoting clean and green energy.
  • Germany has been supporting the construction of a huge solar plant in Maharashtra with a capacity of 125 Megawatt which generates annual CO2 savings of 155,000 tons.


Reasons for lag in relations:

  • Benign mutual neglect coupled with Germany’s primary focus on China are factors.


Impact of Russia-Ukraine war and China’s assertive on Germany:

  • Russian invasion has been a watershed moment in Germany’s security policy
  • Abandonment of decades of post-war pacifism towards strategic matters.
  • Germany’s pledge to boost defense spending t2% of GDP and provide special funding to bolster the country’s military.
  • Germany’s approach of Wandel durch Handel (change through trade)
    • Prompting a deep rethink of its energy and trade dependencies towards diversifying economic relations.


Present German stand on India:

  • The German government’s coalition agreement in 2021 refers to relations with India among its top foreign policy priorities.
  • German Foreign Minister visit to India in December 2022
  • 6th India-Germany Intergovernmental Consultations(a biannual format of engagement that commenced in 2011
  • Expand cooperation in:
    • defense
    • trade
    • clean energy
    • migration
    • digital transformation
    • Indo-Pacific


Change of policy towards Asia:

  • Departure from previous Asia policy that centered around China
  • Scholz first visited Japan after assuming office in 2021
  • Invited Indian PM for the 6th Intergovernmental Consultations to Berlin.
  • Germany’s overall strategy for the Indo-Pacific region which mentions India as a key partner.
  • For Germany, the stability of supply chains and trade routes linking Asia to Europe assumes critical importance given its status as Europe’s economic powerhouse and its reliance on exports.
  • Germany’s intent to enhance its strategic involvement in the region through greater military deployment.
  • Germany’s symbolic gesture of sending its frigate Bayern to the Indo-Pacific in 2021, with a stopover in Mumbai (January 2022), was a demonstration of this.
  • Recent agreement on India-Germany triangular cooperation involving development projects in third countries is also an important step in this direction.


Defense links

  • Germany reassesses its long-standing arms exports policy
  • Germany could become an important defense partner for India.
  • Discussions around co-development of military hardware and tech transfers
  • Deal worth $5.2(five point two)billion: Germany would jointly build six conventional submarines in India could be underway.
  • France-India-Germany military exercise drill is slated to take place in 2024 towards enhanced security and defense collaboration.



  • Despite their common concerns regarding stability in the Indo-Pacific, Germany does not share a border with China
  • Despite the lack of German trust in China, Scholz’s visit in 2022 demonstrated how intertwined German industry is with Chinese markets.
  • Germany emphasizes the difficulties in ‘decoupling’ from China.


Trade and technologies

  • Germany is India’s largest economic partner in the European Union (EU).
  • Trade figured high on the agenda boosted by the relaunch of the India-EU free-trade agreement negotiations
  • Collaboration in clean energy and green technologies has emerged as the central pillar in the partnership,
  • Launch of a Green and Sustainable Development Partnership last year and cooperation in the area of green hydrogen.
  • The subject of mobility and migration is under focus given Germany’s shortages of skilled manpower.


Way Forward

  • Europe’s increasing prioritization of values-based partnerships with like-minded countries can advance India-German cooperation.
  • Discussions on the Russia-Ukraine conflict and its global repercussions were center stage as the war continued.
    • The Prime Minister has reiterated India’s commitment to contribute to any peace process.
  • India and Germany cooperate in multilateral forums, as part of the G-4 group pushing for United Nations Security Council reform, and as evident in Germany’s invitation to PM to attend last year’s G-7 summit.
  • It is refreshing to witness relations steadily evolve into a more wholesome partnership.
    • Divergent positions on the war have not undermined India’s regular political engagements with Europe.
    • Convergence in areas such as the Indo-Pacific that are cementing the strategic dimension of the partnership.
    • Intensification of the Russia-China axis could further embolden this alignment.
  • Against the backdrop of volatile geopolitical shifts, emerging multipolarity, and Europe’s enhanced courtship of India, India’s ties with Germany could be vital in shaping a new global order.



The aim of Information Technology Agreements (ITAs) is to lower all taxes and tariffs on information technology products by signatories to zero. What impact would such agreements have on India’s interests?(UPSC 2014) (250 WORDS, 15 MARKS)

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