A democratic and strategic dissonance in India-German ties 

News: Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited three European nations Europe at a critical time, shaped by the ongoing Ukraine war.

India also attended the sixth biennial India-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC). This was of critical importance for ‘long-standing bilateral commercial ties and the ‘Strategic Partnership between India and Germany. 

Convergence of interests 

The assertive China is being visible on the world stage and in particular, at the border with India, New Delhi. This geopolitical factor of the rise of China particularly in the Indo-Pacific seems the most compelling necessity to come together. 

On the lines of India-Russia defence ties, European countries have significant reliance on Russian gas and crude.  

In fact, Germany is also reaching out to other Asian powers and building on democratic alliances as an outcome of its Indo-Pacific guidelines. It means Germany wants to reap democratic dividends that may lead to a convergence of views and possibly policies on Russia between the two countries.  

There is a convergence of issues of economics, technology and climate change between India and Germany. These are low hanging fruits.

Issues in India-Germany relationship 

India’s position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, abstention on critical votes on the war and continued economic engagement like cheap crude import has attracted criticism from the West.  

The convergence of interests to protect democratic values is not a strong binding chord between India and Germany. For example, India has adopted pragmatism on dealing with Myanmar’s junta.  

One of the factors that prevented the realization of the full potential in the bilateral relations between both the countries is the lack of understanding of each other’s strategic cultures and domestic politics.  

What was the reason the Indian PM visited Europe in general and Germany in particular? 

Despite India’s position on Russian invasion of Ukraine, India wants to continue its bilateral engagement with European countries such as Germany, France and Denmark. The purpose is to portray India as a swing power that can move deftly on the geopolitical and diplomatic chessboard. 

India insists that its position on the war is non-partisan and should be appreciated by its allies and friends. 

Way Forward 

India has to bring in more nuance to its approach with Europe. India should work t prevent any isolation by the West. India needs to manage a delicate balancing act. India should be able to assert its right to pursue its national interests and strategic autonomy in foreign policy.  

Despite India’s stand on Russia, Europe cannot overlook India’s role as a major power and largest democracy in the world. For example, European countries expect India to amend its position on Russia and join hands with the European countries and the U.S.  

Germany’s invitation to India in the G-7 meeting points to the emerging multipolarity in the international system. The major powers such as Germany and India can play a greater role in bringing peace and stability in other theatres, particularly in Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific.  

In times of shifting geopolitical alliances and realignments, India and Germany can emerge as important poles in shaping the new world order.

Source: The post is based on an article “A democratic and strategic dissonance in India-German ties” published in the “The Hindu” on 10th May 2022. 

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