Kolkata: Using science as a diplomatic tool to build people-to-people relations with India, Germany is focusing on increasing collaborations between scientists and academia of the two countries.
"Soft power is not just about culture. It includes science too and we call it science diplomacy. In the wider sense, science includes a large spectrum of humanities, social sciences, etc. Our focus is on building relations using science," Dr Alexander P Hansen, chairman of German House for Research and Innovation, told a news agency here.
Known as 'Deutsches Wissenschafts- und Innovationshaus' (DWIH) in German, the centre in New Delhi comprises a consortium of 15 German organisations including research-funding institutions, research centres and German universities.
In the last couple of years they have organised a series of workshops, seminars and exhibitions to bring German and Indian institutes on the same platform.
"Around 45,000 people including students, researchers and scientists have so far visited our programmes in different cities. We have been most successful in Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Hyderabad," Dr Hansen said.
Ever since DWIH started operating in October 2012, the number of Indian students flying off to study in the European nation has increased by 50 percent.
"Now there are 9500 Indian students in Germany. This is a 50 per cent jump during the last two years. Streams like engineering, medical science and biology are very popular," the official said. Besides India, Germany has built such DWIH centres in only four other countries of the world - Brazil, Russia, USA, and Japan.
The DWIH centre serves as a 'one-stop shop' for interested students, researchers and potential partner institutions, and disseminate information about higher education in Germany, research landscape and funding sources.
"Our objective is to promote and facilitate bilateral projects in higher education, language, science, research and innovation," Hansen said.
Although DWIH doesn't directly fund research projects or provide scholarships, the 15 consortium members do so for researchers and scholars.
Members include Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), University of Cologne, Technical University of Munich, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Indo-German Chamber of Commerce.