- India and Germany both fear China and realize they cannot always count on the U.S.
- New Delhi wants German investment but doubts Berlin can provide the needed scale
- India’s export pessimism and protectionism is another obstacle to deeper ties
India and Germany held their fourth intergovernmental consultations in Berlin at the end of May. German Chancellor Angel Merkel hosted the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, at this headline biennial event. But perhaps the more telling event that month was that German Foreign Ministry’s first-ever heads of missions meeting in Sri Lanka. German ambassadors from Eurasia and Africa were brought to Colombo, the island nation’s capital, and addressed by senior officials from the host government, India, Oman and Indonesia. “We need to draw attention to this body of water,” a senior German diplomat explained. “A global competition is shaping up over this region.”
Such consultations could possibly provide the first ingredient for a strategic glue that has so far been missing between Germany and India. The relationship has been almost solely about trade and investment, with a bit of technology thrown in. Historical links are weak. The Indian diaspora in Germany is smaller than that in the Netherlands.