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.
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 render 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 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. 50 schools including 2 German schools in India have become the part of Pasch Initiative since its inception under the umbrella of Goethe Institute (GI) and the Central Agency for German Schools Abroad (ZfA). Out of these, 48 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, which comprises over thousand schools in 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 regulary 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 17, 500 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: Chausath Khamba Tomb in New Delhi, Avalokiteshvara temple in Ladakh and Black Pavillion of Shalimar Bagh in Srinagar.
The German Embassy, New Delhi will also be supporting the restoration of the “Oont Kadal” Bridge in Srinagar. The Embassy recently entered into an agreement with the National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) for the restoration of 17th century “Oont Kadal”, a Mughal period arch-shaped bridge in the middle of Dal Lake.
The German Consulate in Chennai is currently supporting a project “Qutb Shahi Heritage Park” in Hyderabad. The German Government is co-financing the project under the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Foreign Office. The Quli Qutb Shah Archaeological Park comprising the Qutb Shahi Tombs Complex and Deccan Park, is one of the most significant historic medieval necropolises with 70 structures within its complex.
Another project “Ziegenbalg Museum” in Thanrangambadi, Tamil Nadu was supported by the German Consulate in Chennai. This project was funded by the German Foreign Office and the United Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Germany (VELKD). Ziegenbalg came to Tharangambadi 1706. He translated the New Testaments in Tamil and got involved in social activities. Thus he founded children’s homes and many schools.
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 bought 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.
Besides, the German Embassy New Delhi organized an exhibition “Travels of Prince Waldemar to India (1844 – 1846)” at the India International Centre in November 2017. The exhibition of selected lithographs served the viewers an opportunity to relive the journey of Prince Waldemar of Prussia through India. The exhibition travelled to Hyderabad in 2018 and was very well received by the city of Nizams. The unique album of historic lithographs was presented formally to the public in November 2016 by the German Embassy in Chandigarh. The launch of this album was initiated by the Government of Punjab.
In addition, German Embassy New Delhi has introduced German popular music to the vibrant Indian community. In October 2017 a German youth Jazz Orchestra “BuJazzo” was on a concert tour to Delhi and performed on the German Unity Day at the German Embassy and Springdales School. The tour was funded and organized by the German Embassy, New Delhi. The band thrilled the audience with their dynamic performance.
Also sports play an important role in bringing people and youth from different societies and cultures together.
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.
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. In 2017 the German Embassy presented footballs and small gifts to the aspiring football players from STAIRS Football Academies. They were selected for the STAIRS scholarship programme from more than 30,000 children. STAIRS is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) founded to promote Youth Sports on the Grassroot-level with a special focus on the promotion of Football.
Moreover, two German football freestylers were invited on a 5 day tour to India in November 2017. With their amazing tricks, they captivated the audience in Delhi and Goa and also had a chance to interact with them. The freestylers performed to an enthusiastic audience at various public places in Delhi including Goethe Institut Max Mueller Bhavan and various Pasch Schools.
Cultural relations are perceived by the German government as crucial element of foreign policy, alongside political and economic relations. Indo-German cooperation in the fields of culture and the arts has always been vigorous and multi-faceted.
Indo-German cultural relations go back many centuries. They have always been vigorous and multi-faceted, be it in the visual arts, literature and oral traditions, theatre and dance, or films. Here are short write-ups about a few aspects of these.
Did you know that German looms spun borders for Indian saris, or that India's national bird – the peacock – has a special home in Berlin? The 'Did you know...' series of essays, originally published in the 'German News' bring you lesser known facts about Indo-German cultural relations.
The Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office was launched in 1981 in order to conserve the world's cultural heritage. India is one of the major partners for the Programme.