India is keen to deepen existing trade ties with Germany as well as cooperation in technological, scientific and educational fields. India's consul general in Frankfurt talks with DW about boosting relations.
Taranjit Singh Sandhu recently visited officials of the City of Bonn to discuss boosting cooperation in the technological, scientific and educational fields. He is the consul general of India in Frankfurt.
DW: Mr. Sandhu how do you see the present state of bilateral relations between Germany and India at a commercial level?
Taranjit Singh Sandhu: There is an upswing, there is huge potential and when I say huge I really mean huge potential in the commercial field and also in science, technology, technical cooperation and in education. Especially in the last three fields which I mentioned I think the interaction needs to go much much deeper. I think there is much more need for both economies to link up and work together in furthering commercial relations also going into joint productions and investments on both sides and later on investing in third countries, too. So, there is really a huge potential here but also in science and technology there are scientists, technically qualified people who need to interact and I think there could be synergy here. We could have exchanges of students and I think it would be a win-win situation for both countries.
Germany and India hold similar values, shared beliefs. But what needs to be done to actually make the most of this potential?
We are sitting down with our partners here and involving academic institutions, universities, so as to have a very coordinated approach where both countries can come together and intensify cooperation.
One gets the impression when one visits India and investigates the state of relations between India and the West that some Western countries have boosted cooperation with India more than say Germany.
I think possibly some aspects of things like language may have given an initial advantage to other countries. I feel, on the other hand, India and Germany can step up cooperation in technology. I think that would certainly capture the imagination of students and people in India as a whole. And particularly once they are more aware of the qualities of German products and the strength of German institutions and the economy I think you will see much, much faster growth.
Is it a question of Germany not having marketed itself adequately in the past?
I would say that it’s also an issue of an aggressive outreach in the market especially some of the fantastic German products need to be more well known in many of the outlying markets in India. And I think once we see a focused approach, you will see improvement in all sectors.
So a concerted effort is required. But Germany did in the past, around about 10 years ago, make an effort to attract IT experts from India. There was this so-called green card program. But this program didn't really have the desired effect. What do you think needs to be done to make sure that initiatives of this kind are more successful?
I think there has been a certain amount of circumspection in what I have read in Germany about this card. And there were certain aspects which need to be addressed. I have been told and I have read that there is a new EU blue card scheme which is actually an improvement on the earlier scheme. And that should attract more people to come from India to Germany.
How do think people here in Germany see India? Has its image changed substantially because, after all, the last 10 years have seen India move away from being labeled, let's say, as a developing country to the point that we are now talking about it as a coming superpower.
I think there are common aspects between both countries as more and more awareness is coming about, including Indian films which are popular here. I think there is more awareness on both sides that India and Germany are natural partners. And they should be working hand in hand. We have a lot of shared traditions, we have the strength of democracy and rule of law and belief in the pluralist approach. So there is massive potential for us to cooperate more and we should work together more.
Also in the educational sector?
Yes, education is one area which certainly offers a lot of scope and we are also making approaches to the universities here. There needs to be more awareness in India of the kind of courses which are available here and also which of these courses are conducted in English.
Interview: Grahame Lucas
Editor: Sarah Berning