Siddhartha Hall was once again packed as Dietmar Rothermund unwound the evolution of the engagement of democratic Germany and India after World War II. Garnered with quotations from historical sources and the wittiness of the close observer, this ride from 1949 to the present managed to captivate the audience without the aid of powerpoint and multi-media applications.
German interest in India has a long history but it entered a new phase after the Second World War when Nehru and Adenauer established diplomatic relations between the independent Republic of India and the new Federal Republic of Germany. The steel plant at Rourkela, the IIT Madras (Chennai) and the establishment of German cultural institutes (Max Mueller Bhavan) marked the beginning of closer cooperation. The opening of the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University in the presence of Vijayalakshmi Pandit in 1962 also belongs to these early highlights.
Indira Gandhi’s economic policy and the transatlantic preoccupations of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt then marked a period of mutual indifference. The last two decades of the 20th century witnessed a revival of closer cooperation. The Indo-German Consultative Group which held its first meeting in 1992 as well as the Indo-German Parliamentary Group helped to strengthen this cooperation. Academic contacts fostered by the German Academic Exchange Service and recently also by the German Research Council (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) and by the Max Planck Society as well as the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation must also be mentioned in the context of intensified cooperation. Indo-German relations will have a great future.
Dietmar Rothermund is professor emeritus of South Asian History at Heidelberg University. He has been director of the South Asia Institute for 15 years, and is one of the widest published and translated European scholars on South Asia, and particularly India. His seminal works include 'A History of India' co-authored by Herman Kulke, 'An economic history of India', and 'India: the rise of an Asian giant'.
This event was jointly organised by the Heidelberg Center South Asia and Heidelberg Club International.