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Posted at: Oct 7, 2015, 12:55 AM; last updated: Oct 6, 2015, 10:55 PM (IST)

Beyond a photo-op

Welcome German help for education, clean energy

GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit has produced a raft of agreements. She came to India at a time of contrasting perceptions about Germany. It earned the world’s appreciation for handling Syrian refugees without displaying the close mindedness of some of its European Union neighbours. At the same time, the Volkswagon emission norm fudging scandal stripped it off its sheen as an ethical practitioner of international commerce. Her interlocutor, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also juggles with contradictions. The developed world is banking on him to make it easy for their businesses to set up shop in India. Rapid industrialisation is also on Modi’s agenda but he has suffered setbacks on two important initiatives — the GST bill and the Land Acquisition bill — but his frequent diatribes against the Congress on foreign soil do not produce the congenial ambience for Parliamentary cooperation.

As World leaders have realised the necessity of converting every interaction with Modi into a memorable photo opportunity, Merkel duly arrived with a 10th century idol purloined to Germany from Kashmir. The outcome document was also sufficiently padded with 18 agreements but two are of immediate and great relevance to India. The first is deepening the partnership in higher education to make learning more employment oriented. From the time of Manmohan Singh, India has been trying for a pact to transpose Germany’s dual education system under which trainees undertake apprenticeship while doing vocational education.

The second is clean energy where India will need Germany’s assistance to live up to its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) figures to check climate change. Germany announced a $1 billion for the solar sector but India needs to do more. For India, there can be no better partner for industrial-level clean energy generation than Germany which has completely forsaken dependence on nuclear power. The Merkel visit also helped both sides reaffirm their political proximity on expanding the UN Security Council but Modi will now have to live up to his promise of fast-tracking measures to facilitate investment. And, that is a much more intractable an undertaking than setting up photo opportunities.

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