Annual Meeting of the Indo-German Digital Dialogue: New focus topics on the horizon


The Annual Meeting of the Indo-German Digital Dialogue took place on 23 June 2022 with more than 50 participants joining physically and virtually. The German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) welcomed the Indian delegation from the Ministry for Electronics and IT (MeitY). State Secretary Stefan Schnorr (BMDV) and Secretary Alkesh Sharma (Meity) reiterated their commitment to the Indo-German Digital Dialogue. Besides the established topics of the Work Plan, they discussed new focus topics such as green technology for the upcoming year.

State Secretary Stefan Schnorr (BMDV) and Secretary Alkesh Kumar Sharma (MeitY) at the Annual Meeting 2022. © BMDV

The Annual Meeting 2022 of the Indo-German Digital Dialogue aimed at an exchange on current developments and collaboration activities. The overarching goal was to agree on key cooperation areas as well as next steps for implementation.

High-level representatives from the involved ministries and subordinate authorities, industry associations and companies from both Germany and India participated. With the discussion of the priorities within the Work Plan, the official cooperation on the agreed topics continues to gain momentum.

The Work Plan provides the foundation for the bilateral dialogue

State Secretary Stefan Schnorr (BMDV) and Secretary Alkesh Kumar Sharma (Meity) chaired the Annual Meeting. They highlighted the importance of the Digital Dialogue for both countries in their opening remarks. State Secretary Schnorr emphasised that to achieve concrete results within the Indo-German Digital Dialogue, the industry must play an active role. Secretary Sharma specifically stressed the importance of learning through each other’s experiences. He expressed interest to learn from Germany’s experience in implementing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Dr Ann-Christin Soekadar, Head of Division DP13 at BMDV, and Bhuvnesh Kumar, Joint Secretary at MeitY, presented the priorities of the Indo-German Digital Dialogue based on the Work Plan 2020-2022. The Work Plan consists of three topic areas: (1) internet governance and data policy, (2) emerging technologies as well as (3) digital business models and opportunities. Dr Soekadar reaffirmed that these three pillars provide an important foundation for the bilateral dialogue. Kumar gave an outlook on the future of the Digital Dialogue: He believes that the Work Plan will include more topics in the coming years based on the interests of both sides.

Sustainable digital transformation: opportunities for the Indo-German cooperation

During the Annual Meeting, the participants discussed opportunities for the cooperation on driving the digital transformation. Gagan Sabharwal, Senior Director at the Indian National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), and Daniel Raja, Director India at the German Association for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (BVMW), highlighted the great potential of the Indo-German digital partnership. Sabharwal underlined the need for stakeholders and especially other associations to join this platform to release its full potential.

High-level representatives from the public and private sector of both Germany and India participated. © Digital Dialogues-GIZ

Dr Stefan Saatmann, Deputy Head of Government Affairs at Siemens, and Rama Vedashree, CEO at the Data Security Council of India (DSCI), emphasised the importance of promoting digital business models. They both presented challenges and opportunities that affect digital businesses. The central question was: How can the Indo-German Digital Dialogue support the industry in driving digital business models? The experts agreed that interoperability and exchange on policy and regulation are key.

K Krishna Moorthy, President and CEO the Indian Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA), stressed that electronics are an enabler for the digital transformation and should also be a topic of discussion within the Digital Dialogue.

New focus topics on the horizon for the Indo-German Digital Dialogue

Both sides noted that the intersection of sustainability and digital transformation should be taken up by the dialogue. The update of the Work Plan in 2023 will provide for the incorporation of new focus topics such as green technology.

The participants further discussed the deepening of cooperation in existing areas and the inclusion of new topics. For example, internet governance and data policy are both highly relevant topics for India and Germany. Both sides wish to promote data ecosystems that enable free flow of data, are secure and protect people’s privacy at the same time. Therefore, a knowledge exchange on data spaces is planned for August. It will focus on data spaces in mobility, such as the Mobility Data Space, CATENA-X and the Indian counterpart Auto DX.

State Secretary Schnorr and Secretary Sharma emphasised that the Annual Meeting gave a boost to the active implementation of the Work Plan and activities for 2022. Both thanked all stakeholders for their engagement in the Indo-German Digital Dialogue.

The Indian delegation visited VDA in Berlin. © Marius Ochel / VDA

Indian delegation visit to Berlin and Dresden

Besides the Annual Meeting, the Indian delegation from MeitY headed by Secretary Sharma also took part in other official meetings and visited companies and research institutions in the preceding and following days.

They exchanged views and priorities of digital topics according to the Work Plan (e.g., artificial intelligence (AI) and the start-up ecosystem) with German government and industry representatives. The delegation visited Germany’s digital association Bitkom, Siemens, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), hub.Berlin, the German Indian Startup Exchange Program (GINSEP), AI Campus and the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) in Berlin as well as Smart Systems Hub and Silicon Saxony in Dresden.

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