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India – Germany bilateral relations

India – Germany bilateral relations


During World War I, India was a part of the British kingdom. Consequently, the British Indian Army was ordered to contribute soldiers to the Allied war effort, including deploying troops on the Western Front. Pro-independence activists within the colonial armies sought German assistance in procuring India’s freedom, resulting in the Hindu– German Conspiracy during World War I.

During World War II, the Allied war effort mobilized 2.5 million volunteer troops from British India. Subhas Chandra Bose, a prominent freedom fighter for Indian independence, made a determined effort to obtain India’s independence from Britain by seeking military assistance from the Axis powers. The Indische Legion was formed to serve as a liberation force for British-ruled India and was principally made up of British Indian prisoners of war and expatriates in Europe.

The newly formed Republic of India was one of the first nations to end the State of War with Germany after World War II and did not claim war reparations from Germany although 24,000 soldiers serving in the British Indian Army died in the campaign to fight Nazi Germany.

India maintained diplomatic relations with both West Germany and East Germany and supported their reunification in 1990.

Germany condemned India for liberating Goa from Portuguese rule in 1961 and  supported  Portugal’s  dictatorial regime under Salazar against India. Germany was critical of India for intervening in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Germany rejected India’s 1998 nuclear tests with Chancellor Helmut Kohl saying: “This was the wrong decision for them to take; we do not accept that decision”.

Bilateral relations

Official visits by German Presidents & Chancellors

In 2013, German Chancellor Angela Merkel led a German delegation which included German Federal Ministers of Transport, Building & Urban Development, Interior, Defence, Education & Research, Parliamentary State Secretary for Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear safety; to the Second India-Germany Intergovernmental Consultations in New Delhi.

On 6 October 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held trade discussions on Indo-German science, technology & education cooperation with Angela Merkel in Bengaluru, India’s aerospace and ICT hub, besides exploring opportunities to improve bilateral trade.

Strategic Ties

The India-Germany strategic relationship is limited by the insignificance of German geopolitical influence in Asian affairs. Contrary to France and the UK, Germany has no strategic footprint in Asia.

Over the past decade, Indo-German trade grew in volume but dropped in importance. According to Indian Ministry of Commerce MX data: Total trade between India and Germany was $5.5billion (3.8% share of Indian trade and ranked 6) in 2004 and $21.6billion (2.6% share of Indian trade and ranked 9) in 2013.

Indian exports to Germany were $2.54billion (3.99% ranked 6) in 2004 and $7.3billion (2.41% ranked 10) in 2013. Indian imports from Germany were $2.92billion (3.73% ranked 6) in 2004 and $14.33billion (2.92% ranked 10) in 2013.

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