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Das ist innovation

If there is one thing that stands out in the special ties between India and Germany, it's in the cooperation between the two countries in science and technology.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2011 23:46 IST
Thomas Matussek

If there is one thing that stands out in the special ties between India and Germany, it's in the cooperation between the two countries in science and technology. Last year saw the inauguration of the Indo-German Science and Technology Centre. With funding of ¤10 million from each partner, the centre is a joint initiative of Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) and India's Department of Science and Technology. The centre funds Indo-German research projects that involve academic institutions and companies on both sides.

Starting in September this year, Germany will host a number of events in cities around India under the motto 'Infinite Opportunities: Germany and India 2011-2012'. Science and technology will feature as one of the core focus areas.

India is our priority partner for science and technology cooperation. New milestones were recorded during Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to India in 2007. One such venture was the very successful Science Express, a science exhibition on a train, now on its fourth tour across India, packed with German exhibits. It has already attracted five million visitors.

The Indo-German agreement to establish the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) was signed in 1959, making IIT-M one of our most longstanding partners in the field of science and technology. Over the past decade alone, Germany has helped fund 25 collaborative projects between German research establishments and IIT-M. With a German funding of about ¤3.7 million each year for four years, the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability, inaugurated in December 2010, will focus on energy, water, land use and waste management.

Germany is India's second-biggest collaborator world-wide. The prestigious Humboldt fellowships have gone to 1,680 of India's best scientific minds. German and Indian scientists have collaborated successfully on more than 2,000 projects. All this has involved more than 7,000 exchanges of scientists, more than 2,000 joint scientific publications and more than 400 Indo-German workshops and seminars. There are over 170 projects in progress right now and the number is on the rise.

Another platform for interaction among our scientists is the annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany. In 2009, India became the first designated partner country at this annual get-together. Every year the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) and the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) organise a week-long trip to the meeting for a group of outstanding young Indian scientists.

Germany is also becoming increasingly popular as a study location. In 1999-2009, more than 7,520 Indian students and researchers came to Germany on German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, DAAD) scholarships. In 2009 alone, DAAD funded 1,107 Indians to study in Germany. A new venture, the DAAD's 'New Passage to India' programme, is helping us to identify further promising possibilities for academic cooperation.

The Max Planck Society, renowned for its excellence in basic research, is very active in India too. Since 2005, it has established some 17 Max Planck Partner Groups here, the newest addition being the Indo-German Max Planck Centre for Computer Science (IMPECS). What is now needed is a 'one-stop shop' that can give assistance on such matters to make life simpler for the prospective researcher. We are now setting up a German House of Science and Innovation in Delhi, which we hope will do exactly that.

Also, our scientific exchange is far too one-sided. Indian researchers keen to work abroad put Germany among their top three choices. But, relatively, few German researchers find their way to India. This may soon change. Prime Minster Manmohan Singh recently released a vision document titled 'India as a Global Leader in Science', which maps out how India could, in about 20 years, become a major scientific player, provided it puts the right kind of structural and administrative reforms in place and creates a favourable environment for innovative work in India. We in Germany are eager to go the extra mile to ensure this partnership in science and technology continues and enhances its success story in the future.

Thomas Matussek is the German Ambassador to India. The views expressed by the author are personal.