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Gandhi Is Still Relevant To The World: Walter Lindner, German Ambassador To India

Businessworld’s Manish Kumar Jha  spoke to the new German ambassador to India, Walter Lindner, at Gandhi-Mandela Peace Event & Awards, co-presented by BW Businessworld

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The recent Gandhi-Mandela Peace Event & Awards, co-presented by BW Businessworld, saw a galaxy of leaders confabulating on the relevance of Gandhi in the present era. In our earlier issues, we brought to you the views of Tejaswi Surya and Bhaichung Bhutia. For this issue, Businessworld’s Manish Kumar Jha  spoke to the new German ambassador to India, Walter Lindner, who was one of the speakers at the event. 


How does the youth in Germany see iconic figures like Gandhi and Mandela and their message in today’s time?
If you talk about India in Germany, everybody talks about Gandhi. If you talk about South Africa, everybody talks about Nelson Mandela. These two are icons, and we don’t get such icons often. Mahatma Gandhi was a philosopher, thinker, lawyer whose messages are relevant to the whole world — being peaceful and respectful towards nature and being kind to your enemies. His messages are still relevant there and will be so for the next 500 years. Mahatma Gandhi’s thoughts and philosophies are just unique.

Mahatma Gandhi’s thoughts and philosophies are universal, simple and profound. How do you see his messages working in the complexities of our time?

I think that today’s world is very complicated. It is difficult to get through its complexities. But the more complicated the world gets, the more it will search for simple answers. The answers pertaining to the mankind are the values which Gandhi always talked about — being good and bad. Where is your definition of what you should do and why you should something? In a world which is ever changing, I think, this is the message of Gandhi. Take a step back and think about what is good. You will find your moral standards, be it about religion, humanism or treating your neighbour the right way.

India and Germany share great trade relations. When we talk about the period from 2010 to 2016 you have invested just about $10 billion, which is just 3 per cent of the total investment that India gets. What is the possibility of greater trade and investment relations?
We are indeed doing well but there is room for improvement, and as the new ambassador I intend to improve it. Your PM is focused on improving the investment climate. Our prime ministers get along very well and they are on the same wave-length. This is exactly one of the topics they discuss — how to improve our trade relations. We are ready to improve relations. Ask me the same question after a year and you will see that we will be better off.

When we talk about peace, we also talk about terrorism and violence. PM Modi has called for an alliance against terrorism and he wants the world leaders to be a part of that alliance. How Germany does look at this?
We are part of the peace movement and we support it. Terrorism affects every country, so we have to work together globally. No one nation can do this by themselves. The global alliance is a very good thing. We have some measures against money-laundering for weapons, but there is no justification for any kind of terrorism and it has to be eradicated from the world. We have to minimise it as much as possible. We will do whatever we can to contribute to it as India’s biggest trading partner.  

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