'Germany sees Bangalore as technological heart of India'

 Dr Ingo Karsten, consul general in Bangalore, is keen on Indo-German cooperation in the field of business, science, education and culture. There has already been a start with the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics of Dresden tying up with National Centre for Biological Research, Bangalore on lipid studies and cell signaling.
One of the world’s leading break-dancers Niels Robitzky, better known as ‘Storm’ performed before a packed audience in Bangalore last week. The world famous Deutsche Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing at the Chowdaiah Memorial Hall on October 3, the day of German unity. Dr Karsten spoke to Vijesh Kamath of DeccanHerald on his plans for close collaboration with Karnataka in general and Bangalore in particular.

You have expanded the operation of the consulate in Bangalore recently. The reason?

Yes. The consulate general’s office in Bangalore was established in 2008. From September 15, we have a full-fledged consular and visa section. Germany is one of the most technological and innovative countries. We consider India as a very important scientific location and Bangalore is the technological heart of India. That is the reason we increased the German presence here.

What will be the activities of the consulate general office?

The visa section will help meet visa requirements of people from Karnataka and Kerala planning to visit Germany. They need not go to Chennai any more.

They can come to our new office. At the same time, we plan to create the necessary platform to increase trade and investment in both directions. We will support German companies doing business here and in South India. Many Indian companies have already established subsidiary branches and representative offices in Germany. We will take this forward by inviting more Indian companies, especially in the field of information technology, to come to Germany.

Can you give us a profile of the people applying for visa to Germany from Karnataka ?

Until now we have business people travelling to Germany. We have granted 1,000 visas in the last two weeks of which 95 per cent are business people. In the future, we hope that there are more applications from students, scientists, who would like to discover Germany.

Which are the sectors in Bangalore which you are looking forward to for future collaborations ?

We would like to increase the link between Indian research institutions and German universities. We will encourage students and young scientists to come to Germany to study and work in scientific institutions or universities.We have commenced “Germany and India 2011-2012- Infinite Opportunities”, a 15-month long event series with a host of workshops, cultural events and scientific seminars in major cities of India including Bangalore to showcase the spectrum of Indo-German partnership and further opportunities.

Have you planned a roadmap for tie-ups with research institutions in Bangalore?

We see Bangalore as an interesting location for bio-tech, health care and environmental technology. German companies are known for their expertise in renewable energy -- solar energy, wind energy -- and  there is huge potential to increase the cooperation.One of our most important tasks will be to develop closer contacts with Indian Institute of Science (IISc). Fifty-years ago, Germany contributed its bit to set up the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chennai . This kind of cooperation should be two way for mutual benefit and interest. India is a very important partner in technology tie-ups.

What are the opportunities available for students, young scientists from Karnataka to study/undergo training in Germany?

We would like to present Germany as an innovative country with lots of opportunity in education, business and technology. We have a number of  programmes in the field of vocational training and advanced technology, which are very attractive for a country like India that is on the path of development. We are coming out with specialised programmes designed especially for the people of Karnataka.This does not mean that we want to cause brain drain. There are programmes for young scientists to complete their course and return as India needs them. We will put more efforts in teaching German language to youngsters here so that they be better prepared to study in German universities. Bavaria has close trade contacts with Karnataka. We now plan to increase the cooperation in the field of university cooperation.

Any tie-ups with the state government on the cards ?

I have talked to the governor and also the chief secretary. We discussed a broad range of concrete projects for the future. The Bavarian Elite Academy is coming here during the beginning of October. A 15-member team from the Regional Parliament is coming to Karnataka in February next year.

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