Toasting Indo-German friendship: Building bridges, dreaming big

It’s a celebration without full stops. But as with all good things in life, the German Year in India culminated in a spectacular ceremony at the India Gate in the heart of the Indian capital Feb 21.

Blending science, technology, culture and entertainment, the spirit of Germany, the home of philosophers and tech visionaries, enthralled millions through a series of events that touched the hearts and minds of thousands of Indians. Germany’s ambassador to India Michael Stenier was justifiably enthusiastic: “The German Year in India has attracted one million people,” he said proudly as the India Gate shone in the colours of India and Germany.

“I am convinced that we have reached the hearts of all these Indians. That is why India Gate – in the heart of the Indian capital – is exactly the right place to celebrate the conclusion of the German Year,” he said with hordes of bright young Indian students swarming around him.

At the heart of the year-long show was “urban mela” with a thematic focus on “StadtRäume – CitySpaces.” The 15-month programme series was staged across India and explored the implications of rapid urbanisation and challenges posed by the enormous changes the cities of both countries face today. The pioneering project showcased the entire spectrum of the Indo-German collaboration straddling diverse fields, including politics, business, culture, education, science and research.

The end of the year of Germany also marked the beginning of the new campaign #k GERmany which will focus on the entwined areas of cooperation in German language, education and vocational training.

The German envoy has reasons to be happy at the success of this inspired cultural diplomacy, but he is not the kind to be easily satisfied. He prefers to look ahead. “I don’t see the conclusion of the German Year as an end. We don’t close the door, we open it. It’s just the beginning!”

“We have chosen this day, 21 February, on purpose: It is the International UN Mother Language Day. A day to promote language diversity. A perfect day to kick off our new campaign #k GERmany!” The new campaign seeks to promote the milestone project “German at 1000 schools” together with Kendriya Vidyalaya. “It is the biggest programme of its kind worldwide! By 2017 one million students will have learned German in school!,” said the envoy.

A firm believer in the power of language to connect people and cultures, the envoy said: “Language is the bridge between countries. It’s the enabler to exchange ideas, dreams, hopes and to ask questions. It helps to build your future. It literally gives you a voice. And we want this voice – your voice – to be heard in Germany. That is why we have started the competition “Germany in my mind”.

“Let’s carry this success forward. Let’s know more about each other, let’s see more from each other, let’s speak more with each other. It’s just klasse.” By the way we speak about each other, we can transform the world we live in, said a poet. The cultural richness of Indo-German ties is sure to deepen the multi-faceted diplomatic engagement between India, a rising Asian economy, and Germany, a beacon of hope and economic resilience amid the gloom of the eurozone recession.

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