Interview with Ralph Brinkhaus – Member of the German Parliament

Copyright Foto: Dominik Butzmann

Q.: India is on its way to becoming a global player. The country has been growing continuously for years: economically, and scientifically, but also demographically. Nevertheless, we in Europe have focussed more on China than on India as a strategic partner. This is even though India is a democracy and China is not. And you still get the impression that we are focussing more and more on China, or is that deceptive?

A.: I agree with you, we do too much and unfortunately also too blindly “China” and we do too little in India. For geopolitical reasons, it makes a lot of sense not just to focus on China, but also on other partners such as India. India is also inspiring in terms of economic policy. In contrast to China, India continues to have a growing population and, above all, a growing middle class. Both of these factors speak in favour of expanding our economic relations both as a sales market and as a production and service location. And if these are not enough reasons – India is home to slightly less than 20% of the world’s population. So without India, there will be no solution to climate and environmental issues.

Q.: The Indo-German migration agreement was signed two years ago, also to bring skilled labour into the country. Around 116,000 Indians are now said to be working in Germany, 48,000 of them with the help of the new migration agreement. (Numbers from the Migration Agency). In the USA, on the other hand, around 15 million people apply for a green card every year. Given these numbers, do you think the migration agreement is a success, if so, why, if not, why not?

A.: The United States is bigger than us, has a long tradition of Indian immigration, and English is spoken there. In this respect, we can’t compare Germany with the USA. But it is true that there is still a lot of untapped potential. And it is also true that skilled labour emigration from India does not lead to a brain drain due to the extremely young population in the country. Skilled labour migration from India can therefore be a triple win. For Germany, for India and, above all, for the young people who find a job as a result. But we need to start earlier than we have done so far: We need to further increase the number of Indian students in Germany. We need a wider range of German language courses in India. And we need to become faster and better at issuing visas and residence permits.

Q.: India is currently holding elections, for which the world’s largest democracy is making enormous efforts to enable its citizens to vote. You travelled to India last year with the parliamentary group to talk to members of parliament. What was your overall political impression of Indo-German bilateral relations? What does India expect from us and what do we expect from India?

A.: Relations are good. But you also have to realise that we are just one country among many for India. India expects us to step up our cooperation, and not just in the field of armaments. We would like to have a partner in India that is on an equal level and remains as democratic and tolerant as the Indian constitution stipulates. Then I don’t think we need to worry about Indo-German relations.

Q.: Politics aside, what fascinates you most about this country?

A.: India is not a country – its size and diversity make it like a continent – that is what makes it so fascinating.

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