Basis of the Indo-German cultural exchange is the Cultural Agreement between Federal Republic of Germany and India that came into force in September 1969. The Agreement establishes the foundation of cooperation in the field of culture and education between Germany and India.
To intensify further the existing cultural cooperation between India and Germany, a Memorandum of Understanding on Museum Cooperation was signed between the two countries during the 5th Indo-German Intergovernmental Consultations in 2019. In view of this agreement, Indian museums like the National Museum, the National Gallery of Modern Art, the Indian Museum Kolkata and distinguished German museums like the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and the Humboldt Forum aim to promote international cultural collaboration, establish a long-term working relationship and develop joint Projects.
There are six Goethe Institutes in India, which work under the name “Max Mueller Bhavan (MMB)”, named after the eminent German Indologist Max Mueller (1823-1900). The institutes offer a large variety of cultural and educational programmes and information services, promote learning of the German language and foster cultural cooperation in India. These institutes are located in New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune.
The Goethe Institute in New Delhi is also the regional institute for South Asia. The network is further supplemented by the five Goethe Centres in Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Coimbatore, Hyderabad and Trivandrum. Besides events and organizing cultural programmes, the promotion of language is the main focus.
The number of aspirants for German language is constantly increasing at the Goethe Institutes and Centres in India. In February 2008 the so called PASCH Initiative, i.e. “Schools: Partners for the Future” was launched by the Federal Foreign Office, with an aim of creating and consolidating a global network of partner schools with German-language services. 52 schools including 2 German schools in India have since then become part of PASCH Initiative under the umbrella of Goethe Institute (GI) and the Central Agency for German Schools Abroad (ZfA). Out of these, 50 Indian schools offer German as a foreign language. There are currently more than 15,000 students learning German in these schools.
Also, for years the Goethe Institute has been working very closely with the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), which comprises over a thousand schools in India. After successful implementation of German language classes in KVS, Goethe Institute collaborated with Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs), with over 650 schools all over India. Furthermore, within the framework of “Bildungskooperation Deutsch” of Goethe Institute, German language is offered in many other schools in India as part of the curriculum.
With a focused aim to further strengthen the education of foreign pupils in the German language, the Pedagogical Exchange Service (PAD) with the support of German Federal Foreign Office grants scholarships to school students worldwide under the “International Scholarship Programme”. Every year, around 500 participants from about 90 countries are selected for this study visit on the basis of their outstanding performance in German language. Indian students have been participating regularly in this programme. The selection of the Indian students is carried out by the Goethe Institute Max Mueller Bhavan and the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA).
Complete and comprehensive education according to the German educational system is provided by the recognized German school in New Delhi (DSND). DSND provides education from Kindergarten until ´Abitur´, the German school leaving certificate. On the other hand, the DSB International School in Mumbai offers education partially in German and partially international.
Initiatives from the German side also include aspects of vocational training, which can be strengthened even more together with the Indian industry. The branch office of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in New Delhi promotes bilateral higher education - and research cooperation and deals with scholarship programmes and student counselling. DAAD provides regular funding programmes in India as well as a range of India-specific co-funded special programmes, like exchange of scientists and project-based exchange programmes among others.
Currently, there are around 20, 800 Indian students enrolled in German universities. DAAD has been supporting study- and research stay within the framework of Initiative “A New Passage to India” since 2009. At the moment 4 German lecturers are working in India. The branch office of the Heidelberg Centre South Asia exists in New Delhi since 1962 and serves as a vital bridge for Indologists of German and Indian Research institutes.
Under the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office, the German diplomatic missions in India contribute noticeable to the conservation of the Indian cultural heritage. In the last few years restoration projects have been undertaken in cooperation with non-profit organizations in India. These include: The Conservation of a 16th century stepwell at Humayun´s Tomb Complex in New Delhi, the restauration of wall paintings in a Buddhist monastery in Ladakh and the Oont Kadal Bridge in Srinagar.
The National Museum in New Delhi is in possession of an exquisite collection of wall paintings of the silk route among other rich holdings from many thousands of years of Indian history. It was secured by Sir Aurel Stein (1862-1943) and brought to India. An Indo-German Cooperation in preservation, research, digitalization and exhibition of the Turfan frescoes is envisioned. The prospective Humboldt-Forum, which focuses on the presentation of cultures of the world, possibly could provide a platform for a long-term cooperation between the two in the light of the recently signed MoU on museum cooperation.
Besides, German Embassy New Delhi regularly brings German music groups from different genres to the vibrant Indian community. Lately, an accomplished German DJ from Berlin “DJ Meggy”, a reggae vocalist and song writer “Sara Logo” and a German jazz artist with his band “working title” were invited to India on musical tours. The artists performed in many different cities in India and gave the audience a glimpse of the diverse nature of the German music scene.
Also sports play an important role in bringing people and youth from different societies and cultures together. Generally, football has gained popularity in India in recent years. The successful hosting of the Under 17 World Cup in 2017 shows the enthusiasm among Indians for football. Football is by far the most popular sport in Germany and thus an important aspect of German identity. As part of the international promotion of sports, especially promotion of youth sports is an important aspect of German foreign policy with a long lasting tradition. One of many good example of this policy is the initiative “Kick for Tolerance”, which has been funded by the German Foreign Office over the last few years. This unique development project, in the scope of which Indian students are taught during sport training sessions in a playful way important lessons e.g. on education, hygiene or gender equality, is running in Rurka Kalan, Punjab. Besides the many sportive activities within the community, it also offers children and parents from this rural area the opportunity to think outside the box and even across borders. Thus, the initiative is also aimed to connect them on bi-lateral levels.
In 2019, the German embassy – in collaboration with the German Embassy in Colombo and the General Consulates of Germany in Chennai and Bangalore brought the professional football trainer Ms. Mehlbaum-Stähler to India and Sri Lanka on a two week tour to several football clubs in 5 different locations (Colombo, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi and Rurka Kalan) to train Indian youths – with a special focus on girls' teams – and to conduct several trainer courses for a sustainable capacity building in the field of Football.