Honourable Dr Karan Singh,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I’m delighted to be in New Delhi today!
It is always wonderful to be here, of course. But today’s highlight is a particularly good reason: The opening of the German House for Research and Innovation.
This is a first – also for Indo-German relations. In many ways.
Why is that? After all, our relations have constantly and steadily developed over recent decades. But this was ultimately down to government-to-government contacts. That exclusiveness has become a matter of the past.
And this new German House for Research and Innovation is indicative of the change – even if the government has been instrumental in setting it up and even if a German State Secretary has the honour to be among those opening it today.
But it is a fact that, today, relations are also shaped strongly by links between societies and non-government actors. There is a taut web of interaction, far beyond government initiatives.
This is a fairly recent phenomenon. It is closely tied to globalisation processes and communication societies.
Huge problems dominate our borderless world of globalisation – terrorism, energy flows, environmental emergencies. Many of them require an interaction in response in a degree previously unknown.
But globalisation has also generated an awareness of shared and shareable potential for knowledge and research. This has exploded, as trade has. Indeed, science communities, education and research institutes, where scientific and social know-how is generated, have turned out to be an incubator of this trend.
This has changed the way our countries position themselves in the globalized world of tomorrow.
Butfirst, let’s have a look on which pillars our relationship rests:
Germany and India have much in common. We hear that all the time. But it is true: Our countries are democracies, we believe in rule of law, in the primacy of international law, in social market economy. We share an understanding of the value of individual freedom. We are like-minded.
This may not always lead us to draw identical conclusions when confronted with specific issues, in foreign policy, in international organisations, in international disputes. Geography, interests, historical experience and political projections will also impact on the nature of conclusions.
Butwe share the conviction of values. This is hugely important to us, and it is a rock-solid basis for partnership.
And then trade: Our trade is developing well. Its volume is now nearing the 20-billion-euro mark. Mutual investment is rising. German businesses know that India is one of the major growth markets and they are keenly aware that in a few decades, India – along with China - will dominate a large part of the global economy.
In September, the Indian government has taken decisions that will improve the conditions for foreign investment in India. This will give momentum to your trade. It will certainly also boost German-Indian commercial exchange.
But from the European perspective, one “elephant in the room” as I would call it remains. To date, we have not been able to achieve one objective that we consider a game-changer for trade: to conclude the comprehensive free trade agreement between EU and India.
I know that this is an issue fraught with dispute. Both India and we in Germany will have to muster a great deal of energy, persuasiveness and determination to get it done.
But we are convinced that it would profoundly dynamize trade between India and Europe. It would generate growth and jobs on both sides.
Given our respective demography and potential India and the European Union would probably be able to constitute the world’s largest trading relationship. With all the discussions about Europe’s problems, don’t forget that Europe is a hugely prosperous, stable region, with a demography of 500 million, covering nearly 40% of world trade and nearly 20% of its production.
And I assure you that Germany – which is certainly a key actor in Europe - will undertake all efforts in its power to contribute to make it possible.
On the political side, political practitioners are very much aware that the impressive economic growth and the dynamic modernisation of India translate into massive political clout. This is blatantly obvious in the international arena. We know that this trend will inexorably continue.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We see the world changing.
We are becoming radically connected in this new global system.
We see risks and challenges emerge that few had predicted ten years or more ago.
The array of issues looming large is vast: Global conflict prevention and peacekeeping, the world’s trouble spots, climate and energy policy, resource security, food and water supply, trade policy, international financial policy, environment emergencies.
In the world of today, we need to look for like-minded partners when trying to devise rules and mechanisms to solve or contain these risks, problems or challenges.
India will be among the countries that Germany will look to.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I have mentioned our substantial common ground. I have mentioned the long-standing bonds between Germany and India. But it is also an undisputable fact that there is only so much we know about one another. Our social, cultural and religious realities are very diverse.
But don’t these differences also trigger interest and fascination in our respective societies? I think they do.
Thisis why we decided some years back to organise the Year of Germany in India and the Indian Year of Culture in Germany.
The Year of Germany in India is headed by the slogan “Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities”. We want to acquaint you with modern Germany, an open-minded, an innovative, dynamic European country.
And we are keenly interested in the “Days of India” that will show-case the multi-faceted realities and overwhelming potential of your great country.
But let me come back to the topic of our event today.
I have pointed to education, science and research as driving forces for change and innovation. They are also driving forces for shaping globalization. That is why we place such importance on our cooperation in this field.
In higher education and comprehensive scientific cooperation, Germany and India have developed a degree of interaction, second only to one – the U.S.
Bearwith me if I mention some figures.
Germany is becoming one of the first ports of call for Indian students. The number of Indian students at German universities has more than tripled since 2001.
Max Mueller Bhavansare highly active and promoting German language. More and more German students are opting to go to university in India to study or do research.
There are over a thousand Indian doctoral students at German universities. It is second-biggest group of foreign doctoral students.
Indian researchers make up the world’s third largest community of alumni of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. And the Indo-German Science and Technology Centre in Gurgaon has evolved into a robust, widely visible pillar of German-Indian research cooperation.
But that’s not all. India is also a major partner in the Helmholtz Association of Research Centres in Hamburg and the future FAIR international research centre in Darmstadt, the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research in Europe.
And we want to move further.
This is why we are here today. Much has been said already about the German House for Research and Innovation as the newest instrument of our research and academic relations policy. We want it to take centre stage in the race for innovation. We want to interact closely with our partner country.
Research and academic relations policy have become an indispensable part of German foreign policy. In concrete terms, this means:
- helping to set up centres of excellence for research and teaching at universities abroad,
- extending the network of science officers at our Embassies and
- expanding scholarship programmes.
The House epitomizes the link between science and research. Their application in the research and development departments of German businesses will provide new tools.
We have housed it onthe premises of the German-Indian Chamber of Commerce because we want mutually reinforcing interaction between science, research and economy.
I would like to thank the German Research Foundation (DFG), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German-Indian Chamber of Commerce for the excellent cooperation on establishing the Forum.
It is a lucky coincidence that today’s opening ceremony and the concomitant Indo German Grand Science Slam - another beacon project during the Year of Germany in India - are being held during the Indo-German Urban Mela which is a flagship ensemble of mobile modern multifunctional pavilions.
This highlights the wider context: The broadening web of interaction between the societies in Germany and India.
Knowledge of and interest in our respective democratic societies grows. This - in turn – will be a catalyst for relations that have gone far beyond the confines of only intra-governmental contacts.
And it will affect all areas of interaction: trade, development, research, education, culture.
With this in mind, I wish the German House for Research and Innovation in New Delhi every success in its work to promote Indo-German scientific cooperation.
It will impact greatly our Indo-German partnership as a whole.