german science

What’s Up, Germany? caught up with Heike Mock and Naveen Garg, two prominent figures who have played an integral role in scripting the Indo-German science cooperation success story.

heike-img Heike Mock
Director
German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
Chairperson, DWIH
India

Germany is regarded as “the land of ideas”. What makes the German science and research landscape so successful?

The German research landscape is extremely diverse and has produced 80 Nobel laureates to date. Research takes place in universities, non-university research institutes as well as in companies. There are nearly 1,000 public and publicly funded institutions of science, research and development in Germany, as well as a large number of R&D centres run by the private sector.

All of these offer an excellent infrastructure, a wide variety of disciplines and well-equipped research facilities where scientists par excellence from all over the world work together. This, together with young researchers joining these research teams for PhDs or postdocs, makes the German research landscape highly international.

Apart for its strength in basic research, Germany is also known for its special focus on applied research. It’s no wonder that industry-academia ties are very strong in Germany.

Many Indian and German scientists work together, and their research results can be applied in India. Which collaboration impressed you the most?

Indo-German scientific collaboration dates back to the 1950s. Since then, numerous bilateral research projects have been carried out, involving many institutions and researchers from both sides. German organisations such as the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) have had successful partnerships with the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), University Grants Commission (UGC), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), among others. Such collaborations provide a solid platform for the exchange of scientists and young researchers between the two countries.

In order to tackle future challenges, young and innovative minds are needed. What’s your advice to our readers who want to become scientists?

Global challenges like climate change, sustainable development, urbanisation, shortage of resources, etc, need a global approach. As a consequence, research has become more and more international and interdisciplinary. To tackle future challenges, young minds need to be innovative and think out of the box. Learning from others in an international environment, bringing together expertise from different angles and rethinking existing patterns is essential to find the right kind of solutions not only for existing challenges, but also for challenges the future may present.

naveen-garg Naveen Garg
Professor
Computer Science and Engineering
Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
India

Germany is regarded as “the land of ideas”. What makes the German science and research landscape so successful?

Over the last 500 years, Germany has been at the forefront of science and technology. I would attribute this to the scientific temper that permeates German society, where scientists and researchers are held in the highest esteem and their contributions are valued and celebrated, where the society considers providing funding not just for applied research, but also for basic and blue-sky research, its own responsibility.

This is augmented by an excellent school system which nurtures creativity and a strong work ethic which Germans are rightly famous for.

To top all of this, over the last few decades, German universities and research institutions have gone out of their way to establish international collaborations and attract the brightest students and researchers from around the world.

Many Indian and German scientists work together, and their research results can be applied in India. Which collaboration impressed you the most?

Unfortunately, I am only familiar with the collaborations between the Max Planck Society (MPG) and Indian research institutions. There are around 20 research groups supported by MPG working on a multitude of topics at different institutes in India. For instance, one of these groups is studying the problem of air pollution in megacities—an issue that is very topical and of great relevance to India.

The Indo-German Max Planck Center for Computer Science (IMPCES) is a virtual center comprising ten research groups spread over nine institutes. IMPECS does research over a wide variety of topics, ranging from algorithms to security and online social networks.

In order to tackle future challenges, young and innovative minds are needed. What’s your advice to our readers who want to become scientists?

The future is likely to bring challenges of much greater magnitude than we have ever seen. It is very likely that tackling these challenges would require significant and sustained interdisciplinary effort. Future scientists need to keep this in mind when undergoing their education and training. While it will be important to be a specialist, the scientist more likely to prosper will be one who is comfortable with tools and ideas from across multiple disciplines.