PARTNER-ATLAS

INDIA

as a partner for strengthening a values and rules-based world order

01 — The key questions for the Partner-Atlas

RELEVANCE: What relevance does India have for Germany with regards to "strengthening a values and rules-based world order"?

Germany has a vital interest in maintaining and consolidating a world order based on the values of liberal democracy and on the centrality of the United Nations (UN). Given the USA’s global withdrawal, which the coronavirus pandemic has made even more evident, Germany needs to pursue this goal together with other international partners. With the Indo-Pacific Guidelines that were released in September 2020, the Federal Government expressly commits itself to this task in the region that is taking centre stage in the 21st century. India’s importance can hardly be overestimated in this respect: India is already the largest democracy in the world, and within the 2020s, it will replace China as the most populous country. Like Germany, the subcontinent at the Indo-Pacific interface is dependent on a solid security structure, an open trading system, and free navigation in international waters. India is especially severely affected by the consequences of global warming due to its vulnerable ecosystems and is reliant on multilateral approaches to solve this global problem.

As much as it makes sense to intensify German-Indian cooperation to strengthen the world order, the German federal government must also take India’s domestic political development into account. Value-based cooperation cannot ignore the strong Hindu nationalism and sometimes discriminatory legislation pursued by the Modi government. It also needs to be mentioned that India’s response to Russia’s war against Ukraine has been rather muted, shaped as it is by its own security policy and strategic interests. This response has been criticised by Germany and other democracies. For Germany and the international community, therefore, an important aspect of cooperation is to make every effort to support the secular system of diversity and tolerance that has given India its great strength. The potential for jointly strengthening the values and rules-based world order crucially depends on the extent to which India continues to advocate, within its own borders as well as at the international level, the liberal values on whose foundation it has become the world’s largest democracy.

WILLINGNESS: To what extent is India willing to work with Germany in realising this interest?

In its dynamism and ambitions, Indian foreign policy under Modi and his Foreign Minister Jaishankar differs considerably from the restraint that had largely characterised India since its independence. New Delhi is working towards a multipolar world order, in which it seeks closer strategic cooperation with international partners, pragmatically and with an openly acknowledged willingness to take risks.

In India’s vicinity, China is taking an increasingly aggressive stance and is also forging strategic coalitions. As part of its Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing is not only building railways, pipelines and ports around India, but is also gradually making the governments of participating countries politically dependent on Beijing. India also sees China as a military threat, as evidenced by several fatal clashes in the Himalayan foothills as recently as 2020. A large share of the military equipment of the Indian armed forces is of Russian origin, which means that New Delhi is definitely not prepared to risk a serious disruption in its relationship with Russia, despite the latter’s aggression aagainst Ukraine.

India is absolutely determined to prevent being left behind in global politics. It therefore pursues multiple options in its foreign policy, but has shown a clear willingness to cooperate with Germany on strengthening the world order. At a meeting of the Alliance for Multilateralism in New York in September 2019, the Indian foreign minister stated that his country was “delighted” to join this alliance, because multilateralism was of paramount importance and was coming under pressure worldwide from nationalism and mercantilism.

STATUS QUO: How close is Germany and India's current cooperation in this area?

At the sixth German-Indian intergovernmental consultations in May 2020 in Berlin, Federal Chancellor Scholz and Indian Prime Minister Modi signed a joint declaration of intent on a partnership for green and sustainable development. Both governments have identified major common interests in this policy area and are planning to provide support to third countries, even jointly. The format of intergovernmental consultations is, by itself, evidence for the great importance both countries attach to close cooperation. The joint engagement both countries have shown for strengthening the international rules-based order is an explicit and vital building block of this biannual dialogue. 

Based on this mutual trust, Germany and India have been increasingly testing the waters in recent multilateral initiatives. In addition to the Franco-German alliance for multilateralism, this also applies to specifically themed formats that India has initiated. Germany is a member of the India-led Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) which is designed to contain damage caused by natural disasters worldwide. The federal government also joined the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to promote environmentally friendly and sustainable energy production together with India.

During the previous intergovernmental consultations in India in 2019, however, differences of opinion became apparent that need to be discussed in the context of a value-based cooperation. While the then Chancellor Merkel commented on the tough stance taken by the Indian government in Kashmir province, discussions at the working level will undoubtedly continue on controversial issues of citizenship and ethnic or religious discrimination.

POTENTIAL: What is the potential for strengthening the partnership between Germany and India in this area?

In view of the polarisation between authoritarian states and democracies, which has been exacerbated by the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine, there is enormous potential for a stronger German-Indian partnership for maintaining the rules-based world order. Cooperation in the above-mentioned multilateral formats has only just begun and is underpinned by countless facets of the existing strategic partnership. The potential for joint Indo-German political projects is growing, based on mutual trust that builds up during constructive cooperation in each of these initiatives. The objective must be to develop a leverage effect through the cooperation of these two countries, both of which are influential foreign-policy players, and to acquire further partners for multilateral alliances.

From the German perspective, New Delhi’s reluctance to condemn the Russian war against Ukraine and its refusal to join the West’s sanctions are making it harder for the two countries to forge closer bonds. A sober assessment of India’s interests reveals that: it cannot shake off its dependence on Russian arms anytime soon, it does not feel as threatened by the war as Europe does and it is also not interested in further strengthening the Moscow-Beijing axis by triggering a confrontation with Russia. Therefore, Germany needs to explore what it can offer India that could persuade the country to rethink how it defines its interests towards Russia. 

As far as this is concerned, there is considerable potential in the area of security policy. The German federal government admitted to its Indian partners that “hard security”, i.e. military capacity, was also necessary for a balance of power. More confidence-building through military cooperation would be urgently needed in order to use the German-Indian cooperation potential for the joint establishment and maintenance of a security structure and for expanding armament cooperation between NATO and India in the long term.

POLICY RECOMMENDATION: What in German foreign policy has to change in order to fully exploit this potential?

In order to strengthen the rules-based world order together with India, German foreign policy must become more purposeful and courageous, but also more flexible. In the past, India demonstrated on many occasions that it was not an easy partner; the country did not even commit to the alliance for multilateralism when it first had the chance. Now that this step has been taken, it is time for the partners to breathe life into their multilateral cooperation. It is in Germany’s interest to confidently and consistently pursue specific projects. In order to achieve a form of cooperation that is based on shared values, Germany, together with the EU, should consistently appeal to India to draw its strength precisely from the plurality for which it is recognised worldwide.

At the same time, Germany should commit itself, with conviction and the necessary flexibility, to the multilateral initiatives that India has launched. In the fight against the Covid pandemic, both countries should be firm advocates for long-term global solutions, in medical care, and in building resilience. Smaller formats for cooperation should gradually be strengthened in the area of security policy, in order to create the basis for in-depth cooperation. Both sides must demonstrate to each other that they can compromise for the benefit of closer cooperation.

The most important change, however, would be to fundamentally rethink the political approach. The federal government will have to deliver on its Indo-Pacific Guidelines. Germany rightly dedicates enormous resources to crisis management and urgent strategic challenges. At the same time, however, it is the duty of foreign policy and diplomatic decision-makers to start shifting the focus to India in the long term and to start building the necessary capacities. For no country in the Indo-Pacific, the world’s most dynamic and most forward-looking region, is more important for solving global problems and strengthening the values and rules-based international order.

Lewe Paul is policy advisor for South Asia in the European and International Cooperation Department.

Last update: May 4, 2022

INDIA

  • Population: 1,380,004,385
  • Capital: New Delhi

02 — Foreign Office

Contact:

Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e.V.
Foundation Office India
B-4, Ground Floor I West End I Rao Tula Ram Marg
110 021 New Delhi
India

04 — The region

Asia and the Pacific

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TAIWAN

Taiwan hat sich zu einer führenden markwirtschaftlichen Kraft für Wohlstand und Innovationen im Indo-Pazifik entwickelt. Taiwans Halbleiterhersteller, angeführt vom Weltmarktführer Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), verfügen über einen globalen Marktanteil im Bereich der Halbleiterfertigung (foundry market) von 67 Prozent (Jahr 2020) und bleiben auch mittelfristig unersetzlich für die Chip-Versorgung der deutschen Industrie.

  • Population: 23.900.000
  • Capital: Taipeh
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CHINA

Today, climate protection is an integral part of German foreign policy. In this context, Germany considers China’s role in international climate policy to be particularly important. China is both the world’s largest emitter of CO2 and largest consumer of coal. On the other hand, China’s expansion of renewable energies is unrivalled anywhere else in the world.

  • Population: 1.450.233.966
  • Capital: Peking
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JAPAN

For Germany, Japan is one of the most important partners in Asia, in terms of economic relations and common values. In addition to the determination to maintain and enhance the multilateral order together, there is also the desire for closer cooperation in future technologies. Japan and Germany face similar challenges, particularly with regard to the future of manufacturing and the demographic development of their societies.

  • Population: 126.476.461
  • Capital: Tokyo
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UZBEKISTAN

Since the end of 2016, Uzbekistan has been pursuing a course of liberalisation and opening. Comprehensive five-year development strategies are being implemented, including reform plans for security policy and foreign policy. Uzbekistan pursues a multilateral and proactive foreign policy. 

  • Population: 34.437.655
  • Capital: Taschkent
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PAKISTAN

Pakistan ist sowohl Herkunfts- als auch Ziel- und Transitland von Flucht und Migration. In der Region ist Pakistan eines der größten Entsendeländer von Arbeitsmigrantinnen und Arbeitsmigranten. Ihre große Mehrheit (96 Prozent) konzentriert sich auf die Länder des Golfkooperationsrats, darunter vor allem Saudi-Arabien und die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate.

  • Population: 229.545.115
  • Capital: Islamabad
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JAPAN

Japan is one of Germany’s most important partners in values in the Asia-Pacific region. The two countries are closely linked, politically, economically and societally. In addition to their desire to work together to maintain and refine the multilateral, rule-based order, they hope to work even more closely together at a security policy level.

  • Population: 126,476,461
  • Capital: Tokyo
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INDIA

Germany has a vital interest in maintaining and consolidating a world order based on the values of liberal democracy and on the centrality of the United Nations (UN). Given the USA’s global withdrawal, which the coronavirus pandemic has made even more evident, Germany needs to pursue this goal together with other international partners. With the Indo-Pacific Guidelines that were released in September 2020, the Federal Government expressly commits itself to this task in the region that is taking centre stage in the 21st century. India’s importance can hardly be overestimated in this respect: India is already the largest democracy in the world, and within the 2020s, it will replace China as the most populous country. Like Germany, the subcontinent at the Indo-Pacific interface is dependent on a solid security structure, an open trading system, and free navigation in international waters. India is especially severely affected by the consequences of global warming due to its vulnerable ecosystems and is reliant on multilateral approaches to solve this global problem.

  • Population: 1,380,004,385
  • Capital: New Delhi
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AFGHANISTAN

When the Partner Atlas was first developed (2019), Afghanistan was chosen as the fifth country of the region Asia and Pacific. The seizure of power by the Taliban in the summer of 2021, however, makes it currently impossible to think about deepening cooperation with the new government in the area of migration.

The Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation will keep working on Afghanistan within the framework of its regional programme on Southwest Asia. Please visit the website of the Department Asia and Pacific (Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung – Europäische und Internationale Zusammenarbeit (kas.de)) as well as our social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for the latest information and analyses.

  • Population: 38,928,346
  • Capital: Kabul
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KAZAKHSTAN

Pursuing a multi-vector policy, the country’s leadership has built close economic and political ties to its big neighbours Russia and China, but also to the US and the European Union as well as to the Arab world, Turkey, South Corea, Iran and others. By now, Kazakhstan has also established diplomatic relations to many countries in Africa and South America. For Kazakhstan, there is no alternative to its multi-vector policy, especially in light of the current war in Ukraine.

  • Population: appr. 19 million
  • Capital: Nur-Sultan
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VIETNAM

Vietnam is one of the few communist countries. A “socialist-oriented market economy” determines the country’s economic status, the communist party vigorously enforces its claim to total power, and the country is subject to fierce criticism in reports on human rights. At the same time, more than three decades of economic growth and political stability have led to Vietnam establishing itself as an influential player in Southeast Asia. 

  • Population: 95,529,003
  • Capital: Hanoi
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