Indo-Ger­man Ties Get­ting Closer

The Ger­mans are con­sid­ered to be a se­ri­ous part­ner in the de­fence sec­tor and the In­dian side sees mer­its in de­vel­op­ing strong bonds with the Ger­man de­fence in­dus­try which has de­vel­oped high tech­nol­ogy equip­ment

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - [ By Ran­jeet Ku­mar ]

In re­cent decades de­fence co­op­er­a­tion has not been a shin­ing ex­am­ple of Indo-Ger­man re­la­tions and strate­gic part­ner­ships. And the just con­cluded visit (Oc­to­ber 4-6, 2015) of the Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Dr An­gela Merkel con­veyed the same im­pres­sions. This was ev­i­dent from the fact that the Ger­man Chan­cel­lor was not ac­com­pa­nied by her De­fence Min­is­ter Ms Von der Leyen, though her del­e­ga­tion com­prised four other pow­er­ful cabi- net min­is­ters. Though this did not pre­vent the two sides to spe­cially hold the De­fence Con­sul­ta­tion un­der the rubric of the Inter-Govern­men­tal Con­sul­ta­tions (IGC), which is the one Ger­man sides hold with some of her im­por­tant part­ners.

The IGC com­prised of many other sub­jects like econ­omy and trade, cli­mate change, science and tech­nol­ogy co­op­er­a­tion, en­ergy co­op­er­a­tion, skills de­vel­op­ment, etc, and the con­sul­ta­tions were held un­der the chair of the cab­i­net min­is­ters. The de­fence con­sul­ta­tion was held at the level of Min­is­ters of

State on both sides dur­ing which they dis­cussed the bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion in joint re­search and de­vel­op­ment and the ‘Make in In­dia’ pro­gramme.

Though the two sides have not re­vealed de­tails of the de­fence con­sul­ta­tion, the For­eign Sec­re­tary S. Jayshankar told this writer that the dis­cus­sions es­sen­tially cov­ered the busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties that would arise out of our de­fence FDI pol­icy. “There were a num­ber of ar­eas where the Ger­mans ac­tu­ally ex­pressed in­ter­est. I think there was a broad in­ter­est in var­i­ous ma­te­ri­als tech­nol­ogy which came up. Li­cens­ing is­sues were dis­cussed, cy­ber is­sues were dis­cussed. There was ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the lib­er­al­i­sa­tion of FDI, of our navy to navy co­op­er­a­tion. There are a num­ber of ten­ders which are global ten­ders. In some of them ob­vi­ously Ger­many had an in­ter­est but that would move for­ward de­pend­ing on what is the ten­der out­come.”

Ger­man in­ter­est in sub­marines

The For­eign Sec­re­tary did not specif­i­cally re­veal the type of equip­ment the Ger­man side was in­ter­ested in In­dia’s pro­posed global ten­ders. But sources said that the Ger­mans are keenly in­ter­ested in In­dian Navy’s six sub­ma­rine pro­grammes, un­der the Project 75I, which are to be ac­quired through ‘Make In In­dia’ route. In­dian Min­istry of De­fence re­cently sought re­sponses from the In­dian pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor ship­yards. The for­eign man­u­fac­tur­ers have tied up with In­dian ship­yards and will be re­spond­ing to the re­quest for in­for­ma­tion, likely to be is­sued very soon.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports the Ger­man com­pany, ThyssenKrupp AG is in dis­cus­sion with the Anil Am­bani-led Reliance group to part­ner in build­ing up pos­si­ble 12 sub­marines, the full con­tract may run into the range of over 1,00,000 crore. The Min­istry of De­fence (MoD) will be is­su­ing ten­ders for six sub­marines ini­tially which will range in the range of over 50,000 crore. The Reliance group has set up the Reliance De­fence Sys­tems which is a sub­sidiary of Reliance In­fra- struc­ture, which holds 18 per cent stake in Pi­pavav De­fence and Off­shore Engi­neer­ing Ltd. The Ger­mans have great expectations from this pro­posed sub­ma­rine ten­ders and hence they are align­ing with the In­dian pri­vate sec­tor con­glom­er­ates.

De­fence re­la­tion­ship did not form the bedrock of Ger­man Chan­cel­lor’s talks with Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, prob­a­bly be­cause over the years, the Ger­man side had lost the race to grab the In­dian de­fence mar­ket to the French, the Amer­i­cans, the Is­raelis and the Rus­sians. The Ger­mans now want to re­join the race and is tak­ing keen in­ter­est in In­dian Navy’s sub­ma­rine con­struc­tion pro­gramme. The Ger­mans had in fact emerged as great de­fence part­ner in the late 1980s, when both coun­tries en­tered into con­tract for sup­ply of four sub­marines un­der which two were ac­quired off the self and two were made in In­dia.

Co­op­er­a­tion in Arjun tanks

This pos­si­bil­ity of deep­en­ing this co­op­er­a­tion was nipped in the bud dur­ing the 1980s when the two coun­tries had be­gun se­ri­ous part­ner­ships in sub­ma­rine man­u­fac­tur­ing and Arjun tanks de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme. For the Arjun main bat­tle tank, the Ger­mans pro­vided the MTU en­gines which are still the main­stay of the Arjun tanks. But the co­op­er­a­tion in the naval sub­marines went astray as In­dia dis­cov­ered the al­le­ga­tions of kick­backs in the sub­ma­rine deal in the late 1980s and the then V.P. Singh-led gov­ern­ment can­celled the deal half­way. The Ger­mans had al­ready sup­plied two Type209 sub­marines and two were man­u­fac­tured in In­dia but the pro­gramme for making the ad­di­tional two in In­dia were can­celled as the In­dian Gov­ern­ment de­cided in haste. If the Ger­man-In­dia co­op­er­a­tion in naval equip­ment sec­tor had con­tin­ued In­dia by now would have man­u­fac­tured a dozen sub­marines on its own and mas­tered the sub­ma­rine making tech­nol­ogy.

The Ger­mans were teach­ing In­dia how to make sub­marines but a strate­gic folly com­mit­ted by the do­mes­tic pol­i­tics-led de­ci­sion killed the In­dian sub­ma­rine pro­gramme. In fact Mum­bai’s Mazagon Dock Ltd had de­vel­oped the re­quired in­fra­struc­ture for man­u­fac­tur­ing sub­ma­rine, which all went waste be­cause of can­cel­la­tion of deals. Now that the In­dian ju­di­ciary has cleared the Ger­mans of any wrong­do­ing they are once again in the race. They are offering their Ad­vanced Type-214 Air In­de­pen­dent Propul­sion (AIP) equipped sub­marines, which In­dian Navy is lack­ing till now.

The Ger­mans are con­sid­ered to be a se­ri­ous part­ner in the de­fence sec­tor and the In­dian side sees mer­its in de­vel­op­ing strong bonds with the Ger­man de­fence in­dus­try which has de­vel­oped high tech­nol­ogy equip­ment. The Ger­mans were strong con­tenders for the medium multi-role com­bat air­craft (MMRCA) con­test of the In­dian Air Force, but its four-na­tion part­nered Euro­pean fighter Ty­phoon nar­rowly lost the race. Since the MMRCA has been pre­ma­turely can­celled, and only 36 of its 126 air­craft are to be ac­quired from the French Das­sault, the Ger­mans have still kept their in­ter­ests alive.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi with the Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Dr An­gela Merkel at Hyderabad House in New Delhi

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Dr An­gela Merkel in­tro­duc­ing the Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi to the Ger­man del­e­ga­tion at the cer­e­mo­nial re­cep­tion at Rash­tra­p­ati Bha­van

in New Delhi on Oc­to­ber 5, 2015

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