The visit is deemed important from the point of view of India and Germany’s growing involvement on the world stage
As did Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who went out of his way to squeeze in a visit to India despite a packed calendar, German President Joachim Gauck also decided to visit New Delhi after cancelling his trip to Russia for the Sochi Winter Olympics.
The visit is deemed important from the point of view of India and Germany’s growing involvement on the world stage, a partnership that goes beyond change of governments in either country, said sources in the government.
An agenda common to both Mr. Abe and Mr. Gauck was the convergence with India on supporting each other for permanent seats in an expanded United Nations Security Council. An aide close to the Japanese Prime Minister had described the bid by G-4 nations (Brazil, Germany, India and Japan) to get seats on the global high table as tough but appeared optimistic about a breakthrough by next year if the countries stayed together.
In December, Mr. Gauck announced his intention not to go to Russia, but gave no reason. At that time, the German media had interpreted it as Berlin’s disapproval of Russia’s human rights record, especially the perceived crackdown on the LGBT community.
But India was deemed important enough for a visit though the Supreme Court has upheld a law banning gay rights. Also, two marines from Italy — which, like Germany, is a member of the European Union — face death penalty for allegedly killing two Indians in a mistaken anti-piracy operation. Mr. Gauck did convey his views on the death penalty during his banquet speech at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday night.
Earlier, he visited the Rajghat and as a non-violent campaigner himself for unification of Germany, wrote in the commemorative book that Mahatma Gandhi’s “path of nonviolent resistance against injustice was, is and will in the future motivate people in the entire world and give them inspiration and hope.”
On the political side, officials pointed out that Mr. Gauck spoke of a greater role for Germany in world affairs in his address at the Munich Security Council. While the G-4 is the more visible side of India-German partnership, the two are also trying to work together in Afghanistan and Syria.
German Development Aid Minister Gerd Müller and Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram have signed an agreement for 1 billion Euros for power, affordable housing and microfinance finance sectors. Germany is keen on offering its expertise in renewable energy, where China too intends making headway. Germany, Europe’s economic engine, is India’s largest trading partner and is also a major defence equipment manufacturer.