Speech by Minister of State Cornelia Pieper at the launch of “Germany and India 2011-2012 – Infinite Opportunities”on 23 September 2011

23.09.2011 - Speech

-- translation of advance text --

Mr Löscher,
Mr Sievers,
Mr Heinsdorff,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to welcome you all most warmly to the launch of the Year of Germany in India.

We are here tonight to kick-start Germany and India 2011-2012 – Infinite Opportunities. This is an amazingly varied feat of organization, involving hundreds of events and an attractive programme of information and entertainment. From now until November 2012, it will be taking place in seven key places in India: here in New Delhi as well as in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Patronage of this Year of Germany in India has been assumed by the German Federal President, Christian Wulff. It is the biggest presence in India that Germany has ever staged. I must say that I am overwhelmed, both by people’s response to the idea of this Year of Germany and by how many of you are here this evening!

Germany and India have long been important partners for one another. We can look back on decades of successful political cooperation, with 2011 marking 60 years of diplomatic relations between our two countries. Our cultural relations are close too: India has six branches of the Goethe-Institut, called Max Mueller Bhavans here – four of which have already been on the go for over 50 years – and five Goethe-Centres throughout India. All of them are successfully engaged in improving cultural exchange and disseminating the German language. Trade and investment in both directions are expanding more than ever. Germans and Indians are conducting research together more and more often, and more and more students from each country are spending time in the other. The network of contacts between our two countries is getting denser and denser.

We intend Germany and India – Infinite Opportunities to be a way of making ourselves even more well known, particularly among India’s young people. The Year of Germany is there to give everyone here in India an all-round impression of our economy, academia, culture and society: a panorama of Germany through 360 degrees. This is Germany presenting itself to India as a creative and innovative partner. The Year of Germany is being run by the Federal Foreign Office, the Goethe-Institut, the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

This year will be focused on the subject of City Spaces. With increasing urbanization, India and many other countries are facing ever greater challenges. How can we protect our climate and our environment? How can we stay mobile in megacities? How can we manage natural resources responsibly? How can we lead energy-efficient lives? How will the urban architecture of tomorrow look? How can urban public space be used to serve millions of inhabitants?

Throughout this year, Germany will be setting out innovative ideas for solutions to those dilemmas. We begin tomorrow already, with the Future Dialogue investigating the topic of sustainable cites. Renowned German companies will be engaging with the city of the future in specially designed high-tech pavilions in the seven hubs of the Year of Germany in India. Siemens, BASF and Bosch will be joined by Deutsche Bank, Bajaj Allianz and many more. Ladies and gentlemen, we can meet the global challenges of the future by working together – and we consider India an extremely important partner in this task.

Thousands of Indian students and academics work at German universities each year and take German expertise back to India with them. We are already exceptionally well set up, with 227 collaboration projects running between German and Indian universities as we speak. What is more, Germany has laid the foundations for even broader international cooperation by putting in place its High-Tech Strategy Action Plan and its Strategy for the Internationalization of Science and Research. In autumn 2010, Gurgaon’s Indian-German centre for technological cooperation came into operation as the body for bilateral research projects jointly funded by our two countries – to the tune of more than 250 million rupees [four million euro] a year.

I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our gratitude for the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding which was presented to the German Chancellor in May of this year. Chancellor Merkel has decided to channel the 10 million rupees [c. 150,000 euro] in prize money into a scholarship programme for Indian students. The German Academic Exchange Service, or DAAD, is matching the prize money to bring the funding available up to a total of 20 million rupees. Indian students will be able to use it to do a Master’s degree in European law or European studies at a German university – yet another element in the excellent relations which Germany and India enjoy in higher education.

Ladies and gentlemen, cultural relations and education policy is an important component of Germany’s foreign policy, and it will be keeping up that central role here in India over the coming months. It is kicking off here very soon with an Indian-German display of percussive skill. Yet another highlight is starting off tonight in the form of the concert tour by the Deutsche Philarmonie Merck. Moreover, Indian and German rock and pop musicians are taking the India Goes 3D tour to several cities around the country. All in all, there will be no shortage of cultural events during the Year of Germany, from film screenings to art exhibitions.

Please allow me to take a moment now to thank all our Indian partners, without whom this Year of Germany would not have been possible: my gratitude goes out to the Indian Government, to the ICCR, to the city of New Delhi, to the federal states and to the cities and towns, not to forget the hundreds of partners contributing to projects throughout India.

India is a strategically important partner for Germany, and the potential of our collaboration is still far from exhausted. We want to share in a partnership of equals with India, which both our countries can benefit from. I am certain that Germany and India will move even closer to each other in the months ahead.

I would like to close by wishing all of you infinite opportunities and an exciting Year of Germany in 2011-2012. Enjoy the evening!

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