India and Germany have a long history of collaborative research, technology partnership, and higher education cooperation. The Indo-German educational and science and technology partnership has massively grown in the last couple of years. High-level diplomatic visits have further boosted the bilateral cooperation between the two countries. In fact, in today’s times’ Track-II diplomacy which is the usage of soft power techniques like educational cooperation and scientific advancement is playing an important role in strengthening its position on the world stage.
Indo-German Partnership (IGP) Program
India –Germany educational co-operation extends for decades. During the 3rd India-Germany Consultations (IGC), an MoU between UGC and DAAD on Indo-German Program (IGP) on Higher Education and a Joint Declaration of Intent for promotion of modern Indian languages between India and Germany were singed starting from 2015 till 2024. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in the Field of Higher Education was signed on April 11, 2013. This MoU envisages a new funding program entitled “Indo-German Partnerships in Higher Education” (IGP), to be financed jointly. Each side has committed to providing a total of €3.5 million for an initial program period of four (4) years (2013 – 2016) which was later extended for the period 2016-20. An MoU between UGC and DAAD for implementation of the Indo-German Program (IGP) has been signed on 05.10.2015 during the 3rd IGC. An addendum to the MoU to extend the partnership was signed on 01.11.2019 during the 5th IGC. This partnership got a further boost when in November 2019, during Chancellor Merkel’s visit to Delhi, Germany and India agreed to establish a joint research program in Artificial Intelligence. They also decided on the extension of the Indo-German Partnership in Higher Education for another four years, with contributions of 3.5 Million Euros each.
Modes of Educational Cooperation between India-Germany
There are various modes of education co-operation between India and Germany. They are as follows:-
Joint research projects between institutions and scientists of India and Germany
Project-based personnel exchange program (DAAD) with emphasis on exchange of young Ph.D. scholars Young Indian students/researchers/scientists visiting Germany to interact with Nobel Laureates, Establishment of Indo-German Max Planck Centres, Mobility programs and Collaborative programs / schemes.
Joint Educational Collaboration in the Field of Sciences between India and Germany
In the field of science and technology, various governmental organizations from Indian and German sides along with University level participation are involved in applied research. Since 2010, the “Indo-German Science and Technology Center” is funding innovative Indo-German industrial research projects with the participation of excellent research institutions and above all small and medium-sized enterprises from both countries. A bilateral Indo-German Science and Technology Centre (IGSTC) was established through an agreement signed in 2010 as a flagship initiative of the Government of India, (DST) and the Government of Germany, (BMBF) to foster and promote research partnership of industrial relevance. It is equally co-funded by the Indian and German Governments. A total of 40 projects (21 completed and 19 ongoing) have been supported on various themes of national priority. DST-Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Program, DBT-German Research Foundation (DFG) Program, Indian National Science Academy (INSA) – DFG Program, Indo-German International Research Training Groups (ITRGs), Collaborative Research Centers (CRCs) cooperation in the field of Medical Biotechnology, Agricultural Biotechnology, Innovative Food & Nutrition technology, Medical devices and bioengineering, Environmental biotechnology are other such collaborative research and study program initiated between India and Germany.
DST-Max Planck Gessellschaft (MPG) Program
Under the MoU between the Max Planck Society and the DST signed in 2004, cooperation with the Indian Partner institutes is being promoted. Under this program, the following activities are supported:
Partner Group Program: India-Max Planck Partner Groups constitute the outstanding junior scientists who return to India following a research residency at a Max Planck Institute. They are supported by the Max Planck Society (and DST till recently) to establish a partner group between their home institution and a Max Planck laboratory. Since the establishment of Max Planck Partner Groups in 2005, a total of 72 Partner Groups were created which is the highest number in any country. Currently, 34 such Partner Groups are active. Some of the highest impact factor papers were published by the Partner Groups. A total of 79 projects were undertaken by the Max Planck Institutes with Indian partners in 2020 of which 60 were in the area of Chemistry, Physics, and Technology.
Mobility Grants: Mobility Grants are given to excellent young Indian scientists, who receive a stipend of €3000 per year for three years to spend a minimum of 1 month at a Max Planck Institute in a year. Since the establishment of Indian Mobility Grants, a total of 68 Grants were awarded to Indian researchers. 14 Max Planck India Mobility Grants with Indian scientists are active currently.
Nobel Laureates Meetings in Lindau, Germany
The Lindau Meetings, which started in 1951, have evolved into a unique international forum for scientific exchange among scientists of different generations, cultures, and disciplines. Once every year, around 30-40 Nobel Laureates convene in Lindau to meet 600 undergraduates, Ph.D. students, and post-doc researchers from all over the world. DST has so far deputed 350 young researchers in the age group of 20-30 years during the last 16 years to the meeting of Nobel Laureates and Students in Lindau Germany. After the Lindau meeting every year, the young Indian researchers are exposed to the various premier research institutes in Germany sponsored by DFG, Germany. Many of the young Indian researchers who participated in the Nobel Laureates meeting have opted for scientific research as their career path. The next Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting is scheduled for 26 June to 1 July 2022.
The TU9-IIT cooperation was initiated by IIT-Mandi and the University of Stuttgart through individual research cooperation between TU9 Universities and the IIT Mandi and was fostered by faculty and postdoctoral exchanges between the universities, funded by BMBF and (Formerly Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in the “TU9 – IIT Mandi Project”. Following a successful first phase, multilateral research projects at the IITs in Indore and Mandi and the TU9 universities were planned.
As there was growing interest from other IITs in cooperation with TU9, the German and Indian funding agencies (BMBF and Ministry of Education MHRD respectively) extended the funding into 2018, allowing more IITs to establish or foster collaborations with TU9 Universities. The idea was to start a Collaborative Research Network between the TU9 consortium and the group of IITs. IIT Indore had signed an MoU in 2016 with some TU9 universities to promote an exchange of faculty and students, joint supervision of M.S. and Ph.D. students, development of joint curricula, organization of joint research programs, etc.
Indo-German Cooperation in Higher Education Department of Science and Technology (DST) – Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD)
Project-based Personnel Exchange Program (PPP) launched in 1998 has now expanded to several areas of research projects enabling focused interaction through the exchange of scientists/ research students from each side. To date, this scheme has benefitted more than 600 researchers in both countries.
Cooperation between India and the Federal Republic of Germany in higher education commenced in the 1960s, through the conclusion of cooperation agreements between the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Alexander von Humboldt (AvH) Foundation and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), respectively, between the CSIR and the DAAD, in 1965, and between the Indian National Science Academy and the German Research Foundation (DFG) in 2013.
The IIT Madras (IIT-M) cooperation agreement of 1959 represents one of the most successful international partnerships in technical education. This was piloted through the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation (BMZ) and the German Ministry of Research and Technology (BMFT, now BMBF), through a set of collaborative projects between mutually chosen partners.
Currently, several Indian universities have close ties with several German universities. Such cooperation also exists between the flourishing private sector educational bodies like the VIT University, Symbiosis International University, PSG Institute, Manipal University, SRM University, Amity University, etc., and German institutional partners.
In 2009, DAAD initiated a program called, ‘A New Passage to India’ to encourage the exchange of students and academicians of all subjects between Germany and India funded by BMBF. The program currently included four funding components:
The Indo-German Partnerships programs at an institutional level include developing and delivering innovative teaching and research profiles for Masters and Ph.D. programs. The program is financed equally by Germany and India.
Higher Education Partnership programs to increase young German academics’ understanding of India through higher education cooperation and to conduct joint application-oriented research and teaching in Germany and India. The Working Internships in Science and Engineering (WISE) scholarship program for individuals, the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability at IIT Madras.
Also, under the New Passage to India program, three Centres for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS) have been established at the Universities of Cologne, Göttingen, and Würzburg to present India as a modern nation and to educate and train young Germans from all disciplines who are interested in India.
Indian Students in Germany
Student community forms an important component in the Indo-German bilateral cooperation. The number of Indian students in Germany has steadily risen from 4070 in 2009 to 25149 in 2019 (statistics from DAAD for 2019). To address the various issues faced by the Indian students and to provide them with relevant and beneficial information the Indian Students in Germany (ISG), made a portal that was conceptualized and put in operation by the Embassy of India, Berlin (www.indianstudentsgermany.org). With the idea of the portal being “for the students, by the students”, student associations were involved from the inception to maintain, update, populate the website and respond to student queries. The formation of the ISG provided the platform for initiating several student associations across Germany. To date, 27 student associations are registered with the ISG web portal, and others are in the process of registration. They have a special focus on science and technology bilateral research funding and cooperation. The exchange of students and young researchers has considerably grown over the past years. Since 2008, the number of Indian students in Germany has quadrupled to over 25,000 in 2020, making Indian students the second largest foreign student group in the German university system.
The German Centre for Research and Innovation in New Delhi is a hub of all German research agencies with a presence in India. It serves as a nodal agency for all matters related to research cooperation with Germany and connects Indian and German researchers through workshops and expert discussions.
Other Schemes of Indo-German cooperation in the field of Research and Education: Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN)
To facilitate fundamental and socially relevant research in India, emphasis was laid to strengthen collaboration between Indian research groups with top research groups in the world, to enable Indian scientists and students to interact with the finest minds in the world. This provides guest lectures by internationally and nationally renowned experts to encourage their engagement with the institutes of higher education in India. The main objectives of this scheme include increasing the footfalls of reputed international faculty in the Indian academic institutes, providing an opportunity to Indian faculty to learn and share knowledge and teaching skills in cutting edge areas, and providing an opportunity to Indian students to seek knowledge and experience from reputed international faculty. So far, 125 courses were approved from Germany, of which 93 have been completed.
Visiting Advanced Joint Research (VAJRA)
It is a Department of Science & Technology (DST), Govt. of India, faculty scheme dedicated exclusively for overseas scientists and academicians to work as adjunct/visiting faculty for a specific period (1 to 3 months) in Indian public-funded academic and research institutions. The scheme recognizes the value of collaborative research as a crucial element for information sharing among researchers for updating and acquiring knowledge and skills, and to draw different perspectives to solve a shared problem. Several German faculty had visited Indian academic and research institutions under this scheme.
Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC)
This scheme by the Ministry of Education proposes to fill up the void in the collaboration eco-system between GIAN and VAJRA schemes, as it not only funds for long term visits by the international faculty (2-8 months) but would also fund the travel and sustenance of Indian students at the University/ Institute of the International collaborator. The program aims at exposing a large number of young students to state of art developments in science, thereby increasing the number of highly trained scientific manpower in the country.
We see that India’s reservoir of human resources is very strategically and tactfully being used by Germany to strengthen its claim as one of the important powers in the world. Consequently, India is strategically using Germany’s knowledge pool to advance itself in the world power.