Interview with Jürgen A. Osterhage | Chief of Bureau  | ARD South Asia Studio in Delhi

First published M+V India Insight in May 2014

M+V: Your audience is mainly the German public; which topics are most demanded from India? Have you seen a shift in topics during your time in India?

Jürgen A. Osterhage (J.A.O.): We cover the whole of South Asia, so we cover all kinds of stories. Social and economic issues are the most demanded topics, and we cover politics once in a while. It all depends on the importance of the story. Our focus is mostly human interest stories and those subjects which touch marginalized sections of society.

M+V: Our German Federal President recently visited India. What were the main themes and intentions for his visit? How was the reaction in the political scene and the media?

J.A.O.: Germany is looking to India as a big economic partner in South Asia and major investment destination. The large business delegation accompanying the President symbolizes this. India looks at Germany as the most reliable partner in Europe and biggest economic companion in the European subcontinent. Germany is also looking towards India as the supplier of future workforce as the population the European country is aging.

M+V: What other high profile visits are expected between India and Germany in the next year?

J.A.O.: For the next three months no high profile visit is expected from Germany as India is busy with elections. Any visit would be decided after the formation of the new government. Angela Merkel has already come to India twice in three years but another visit cannot be ruled out.

M+V: We recently ran an article on the views of working women in India on safety for women in India, and this has been a big topic in the foreign press in recent years. What advice do you have for business women visiting or moving to India?

J.A.O.: Women are safe in India, but they have to be a little careful about the places they visit and the company they keep. The incidence of violence against women is not high for foreign visitors, most news we get relate to domestic violence. Many Indian women travel alone and are quite independent. Contrary to the news that goes around, and that goes abroad, the condition of women in India has improved a lot.My only advice to the business women visiting in India is that they should be a little bit alert and they should avoid going to unknown and secluded places alone.

M+V: Our clients are foreign companies investing in India: how do you judge the investment pace for 2014/15? What are the major improvement areas or grid locks?

J.A.O.: Despite the news of economic slowdown, India remains a safe investment destination. All the political parties in India are talking about economic development and bringing the economy onto a higher growth trajectory, so there is no doubt the investment climate will further improve in India, regardless of which party comes to power.
Infrastructure is one area where the government is working very hard and this is also the problem area in India. By 2020 India will become self-sufficient in energy, while an eight lane freight corridor is expected to be completed by 2017, creating connectivity all over, and that will make the mobility very fast.

M+V: You live in Delhi yourself: What is your biggest concern in the city?

J.A.O.: Traffic is the main issue in Delhi. Compared to the past, the infrastructure in Delhi has improved but the rising population has created chaos on the street. The ongoing metro construction has also created traffic problems in the city.

M+V: If you were to look into a crystal ball: What would India look like in 2025?

J.A.O.: India is a developing story and by 2025 India will be a far more powerful country with its economy at its height. India is very dynamic democracy and the progress in the next decade will be more rapid and broad. With a rising middle class the country has become an economic hub. The country is engaged in fighting corruption with lots of agitation on this front, India is a country to watch. Despite the negative portrayal of the country in many media stories, you cannot ignore India – this is a country which is at take-off stage and aims to fly high.

Thank you Mr. Osterhage for this Interview!