Merkel Finds Growing Partner in India

The German chancellor came to India with a “look east” policy, recognizing the tremendous potential of the South Asian giant.

She came and conquered quietly.

Understanding the significance of shifting geopolitical relations in the world, particularly the rise of Asian giants, the German chancellor came to India with a “look east” policy followed by many of the European nations in the recent years.

Although Iran not allowing the chancellor’s plane to overfly the country made the news, what’s far more interesting is that Germany is prepared to deepen both trade and cooperation in the area of nuclear technology with India at a time when it is itself shutting all nuclear reactors in the wake of the accident in Fukushima, Japan in March. Altogether, Germany and India are expected to boost bilateral trade up to €29 billion next year.

While European countries are struggling to recover from the global economic downturn, improving ties with rising powers as India is a sure way of maintaining their influence across the developing world. Superior European technology will find a market in India which is growing fast and investing in research and development.

India has at the same time come to realize that with increased trade, it can expand its leverage in Europe as part of its quest to acquire a bigger role in international politics.

Apart from bilateral issues, Germany and India affirmed their commitment to United Nations Security Council expansion or reform to include more than the current five permanent member nations. Germany and India would both like to wield veto power permanently. India, with its huge population and booming economy, may have a slight edge over Germany although the latter could encounter fewer resistance from Britain, France and the United States.

Angela Merkel’s visit coincided with a minor drift in Indo-Russian relations as Moscow intends to play a greater role in Afghanistan once American and NATO troops pull out. Germany’s experience, having fostered stable relations with Russia despite considerable political and strategic differences, could be a lesson to India as it has to cope with Russian assertiveness in Central Asia.

In conclusion, it is safe to assume that India’s role as a great power will only be amplified in years to come, whether it ascends to permanent Security Council membership or not. Under Merkel’s leadership, Germany appears to recognize that likely trend as well as the need of courting India in order to maintain a favorable balance of power in the world.