Honourable Minister Anand Sharma,
Your Excellency Ambassador Sujatha Singh,
Your Excellency, Consul General Murugesan Subashini,
Honorable First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Mr Olaf Scholz,
Honourable President of the Parliament of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Ms Carola Veith,
Honourable members of the German Bundestag,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here at the opening of the ‘Days of India in Germany – connecting Cultures’. India has chosen well to start this venture in the harbour city of Hamburg, Germany’s gateway to the world and a city with a long and deep relationship with India.
The Days of India which your Excellency is launching today will bring us a colourful array of activities during the year to come: we are looking forward to such cultural highlights as the performance of classical Indian dances; a play by Rabindranath Tagore, who was born 150 years ago last year; a spectacular Bollywood dance performance and a presentation of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake performed in the South Indian classical dance style of Kerala. These cultural highlights will be accompanied by a number of workshops and academic exchanges between now and March of 2013. I am sure that we will be met with great interest by the German public in general and particularly by the experts who will come together - your German partners in business, education and science.
Looking back on the history of our cultural and our intensifying and broad political cooperation, especially since etablishing our Strategic Partnership in 2000. I esteem the sequence of events starting now in Germany and – already in course - in India a congenial symbol of our close and trustful relationship.
The first German-Indian Intergovernmental Consultations held in New Delhi 31 May 2011 demonstrated our intense and multi-faceted bilateral cooperation as well as its potential for the future.
Speaking of potential: It seems that we can be very optimistic getting very close to the mark of of 20 billion euros envisaged by Federal Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Singh as our bilateral trade volume by the end of 2012. We are looking forward to the second round of Intergovernmental Consultations in 2013.
Referring to the Year of Germany in India, which is currently in full swing und the title “Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities”, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of India for its support for this ambitious venture.
Launched in New Delhi by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in May last year to mark 60 years of diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and India, the Year has included a huge number of activities all over India.
I had the enormous pleasure to inaugurate one of the kick-off events in September last year: the first public concert of our Year in New Delhi, a jam-session by India’s star percussionist Shivamani and Germany’s Christoph Haberer in front of thousands of young Indian spectators in a beautifully illuminated Nehru Park. I think this concert epitomized what both India and Germany should strive for with our respective activities – we should aim to get the young generations interested and involved in the Indo-German partnership, as it is up the them to further develop this relationship. This is the true importance of ‘Connecting Cultures’.
We are encouraged by the rise of the number of Indian students in Germany – + 25 % last year alone. We are equally encouraged by the fact that more and more schools in India introduce the German language as a subject. I would hope that the Days of India in Germany will inspire more young Germans to choose India as a place of study and research.
I am convinced that both our Year “Germany and India 2011 – 2012: Infinite Opportunities” and your “Days of India in Germany: Connecting Cultures” starting today will be a catalysts for connecting our peoples, enhance our mutual understanding and help to identify new areas of cooperation between our nations.