Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to you today here at the famous Indian Institute of Technology. For 50 years now the IIT has stood for innovation, creativity and modernity. I warmly congratulate you on this happy anniversary and I wish you all the best for the future.
You, the students of the IIT, represent the new, creative, knowledge-based India. All of you are fine ambassadors for this new India which so fascinates the rest of the world, and particularly us Germans.
We in Germany have been following India's great progress with admiration and respect. That progress has been made possible by farsighted policy decisions. India’s success story is due in no small measure to its democratic constitution. This year India is celebrating the 60th anniversary of that constitution. Germany wholeheartedly congratulates India on this great achievement. This anniversary is not just a celebration for India itself, however: the 60th anniversary of the constitution of the world’s largest democracy is of the utmost importance to the whole international community.
This is because when a country like India, with its huge regional, religious, social and ethnic diversity, chooses a free democratic system, it sends a strong signal to other societies. India shows that democracy and respect for human rights do not contradict modernization and development but are mutually dependent.
India’s constitution guarantees democracy, the rule of law and a broad range of fundamental rights and freedoms. The idea of freedom is at the very heart of the constitution. These shared values bind us together. India and Germany are a community of values.
Freedom means tolerance. India has not sacrificed its diversity for a flawed idea of stability. India has achieved stability in diversity by enabling its people to participate in India’s democracy.
Tolerance is by no means a matter of course, as we Europeans and you here in India know from tragic experience. Peaceful coexistence among different ethnic, cultural and religious groups requires a consensus that must be constantly renewed. Religious, cultural or social differences can never be used to justify humiliation, violence and repression. Tolerance is only intolerant of one thing, and that is intolerance itself. We fight those who disregard our freedom and human rights. The rule of law cannot tolerate terrorism!
For us the rule of law and tolerance are not only human rights policy aims, they are also the criteria for a country’s reliability. India’s tremendous economic success would have been unthinkable without its democratic constitution.
Freedom means competition. India’s economy thrives on competition for the best ideas. Nowhere is this more obvious than here at the IIT. Competition to find ever better solutions is the driving force behind India’s creative, knowledge-based, economic development.
Since India opened up its economy in the early 1990s millions of Indians have been able to escape from poverty. India’s national income has doubled over the past fifteen years. Even the financial crisis did little to brake India’s dynamic. India’s middle class has now grown to 260 million, something that is not only good for domestic consumption. A growing middle class is also a sign of increasing social justice in a country, as the middle class is the social bridge linking the rich and the poor.
India and Germany are a community of values. These include democracy, the rule of law and shared ideas about the value of freedom. This is what binds us together. This solid foundation of values is at the base of the strategic partnership between India and Germany.
Together we are facing major challenges. In today’s India more than 60% of the population live in rural areas. In twenty years’ time, however, India will have 215 million more people living in towns and cities than it does now. 68 Indian cities will have a million or more inhabitants.
The rapid growth of cities and the need to create infrastructure and a reliable energy supply are just some of the huge challenges a partner such as India will have to tackle in the coming years.
As a country with a long industrial tradition Germany has experience with such processes. We think it’s important to use our partnership with India to seek innovative and creative ways of tailoring German and European experience to India’s needs.
Prosperous development is only possible in a secure and stable environment. India rightly seeks conciliation with its neighbours and strives to build up good relations. We share India’s interest in creating peace and stability in the region. Germany will continue to do its utmost for long-term security.
We shortly want to show you here in India what Germany has to offer. To celebrate 60 years of German-Indian diplomatic relations we will showcase Germany in a series of events, in seven major Indian cities, entitled “Germany and India: Infinite Opportunities.” We will exhibit our culture and science, our technology and society. I hope you will attend these events.
Germany is a highly interesting partner for India, particularly in the field of education. Only last February, former Federal President Köhler opened the Indo-German Max Planck Centre here at the IIT. In vocational education, too, we already have a good working partnership.
For historical reasons India often concentrates on the Anglo-Saxon countries as regards education. Why not take a look at Germany’s universities and research institutions? German universities have an outstanding reputation. In international polls Germany is one of the most attractive places to study. Germany wants to cooperate with India and our companies are keen to attract Indian experts and engineers.
Particularly in this era of globalization, access to education determines whether countries succeed or fail.
Education is the key to tolerant and prosperous societies. Education combats prejudice, enables equality and protects people from discrimination and oppression.
India and Germany are connected by a strategic partnership. Our shared values make India and Germany not only close bilateral partners but also natural partners in the shaping of globalization.
All of you are familiar with the global challenges we face:
In the G20we must advance the reform of international financial markets in order to reduce the risk of future financial crises. We want to coordinate our national economic policies so that together we can send the world a powerful message for development and growth.
No one denies any longer that climate change affects us all. Climate policy is a task for the entire international community. We must make further progress at the Climate Change Conference in Cancún. In the long term we want to set targets that are binding under international law.
A view that reduces climate policy to the opposing interests of industrial and developing economies misses the mark. Anyone who wants to fight climate change must rely on innovation, new technologies and exchange of knowledge. This is how we can use the challenge of climate change as an opportunity for fairer development and intensified cooperation. Climate protection and economic development are no contradiction.
Disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation are at least as vital as climate protection in determining the future of mankind. The uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear weapons of mass destruction must not become the curse of globalization. Germany is making a concerted effort to achieve the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.
On 22 September we launched a new initiative in New York. Together with like-minded countries from all continents, we will work towards disarmament. As the next step we advocate the rapid implementation of the action plan that was adopted at the NPT Review Conference in May.
We appreciate India’s commitment in the area of nuclear disarmament. Although it is not a member of the NPT, India is an important partner.
We are encouraged by the signs that India could be prepared to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). The entry into force of the CTBT is in our shared strategic interest and would be a crucial first step towards Global Zero, the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.
The voice of India is essential when it comes to tackling major global challenges on a basis of partnership. Only together can we solve ecological, economic or security policy problems.
Shaping globalization also means establishing a just international regulatory framework within which the international community can take on these challenges. Our shared values make India and Germany natural partners in this endeavour, too.
We share with India the conviction that a state’s internal composition based on values and the rule of law is linked with a just and peaceful international order.
In Europe a model based on cooperation has replaced the curse of confrontation. Like India, we Europeans understand that dialogue between all countries must take place on an equal footing and with mutual respect. Yes, there are larger and smaller countries, richer and poorer, some with great power and others with little influence. Each and every country owes respect to all others.
This should be the guiding principle of our global cooperation.
We see India, with its strong commitment to democracy and to stable institutions, with its economic openness and dynamic growth, as our partner for a model of global cooperation among equals.
Strong, democratically legitimate international institutions are the expression of cooperation on an equal footing. They are a precondition for effective solutions that are supported by all sides.
That’s why we, like India, are convinced that the structures of international organizations such as the United Nations must better reflect the changed situation of the world.
In the next two years India and Germany will serve together on the United Nations Security Council. Our countries’ election to the Security Council is a show of great confidence by the international community. Together we will bear responsibility there. Let’s use this opportunity to consult even more closely with each other. Let’s fulfil this major responsibility together, to the benefit not only of our own people but of a just international order that will benefit the whole international community.