Angela Merkel – A Portrait
world’s most powerful woman Federal Chancellor of Germany Dr. Angela Merkel
Oberservers say there has been an immediate sympathetic atmosphere when the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh first met his German counterpart Angela Merkel at the Hannover Trade Fair in April 2006. He – the Sikh from Punjab- and she – the protestant woman from eastern Germany. Both not being the typical representatives of their state and only shortly in office. Both looking back at academic careers, making their way to politics through powerful mentors. He is internationally regarded as the architect of the reforms helping the Indian economy to grow like never before, she was considered to be the “World’s Most Powerful Woman” at present in Forbes Magazine.
Childhood in communist Germany
Merkel was born in Hamburg. When her father, a Lutheran pastor, received a pastor ship at the church in a small town in the state of Brandenburg, the family moved to Templin, north of Berlin- which was at that time considered communist East Germany. Even today that connection to her roots has quite an importance to Angela Merkel. She once said: “I consider it very important for political leaders, even when they are in government, to have a local voting district.” After spending her childhood in a small town, Merkel studied physics in Leipzig and earned her Ph.D. at the East German Academy of Sciences based on a doctoral thesis on quantum chemistry. And after being rewarded the doctorate, she worked in the research field.
At the age of 35 Angela Merkel got involved in the growing democracy movement after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. She joined the newly established party Demokratischer Aufbruch- Democratic Awakening. After the collapse of the communist regime, she appeared on the political stage for the first time. Following the first democratic election of the East German state, she became the deputy spokesperson of the new pre-unification caretaker government. At the first pre-unification general election in 1990 she was elected to the Bundestag and her party merged with the West German CDU (Christian Democrats).
Shortly after this, Angela Merkel’s career took off. The West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl named her his Minister for Women’s and Youth Affair. In 1994 she became Minister for Environment and Reactor Safety and was the youngest minister in Helmut Kohl’s 3rd cabinet. As his protégées, the media called her “Kohl’s girl”. During this time she surely gained a greater political visibility and a platform on which she could build her political career. Despite her male colleagues Angela Merkel was not trying hard to earn political prominence, she was rather pulling the strings strategically from behind. She first came to prominence during the CDU party slush scandal by criticizing her former mentor Helmut Kohl and advocating a fresh start of the party without him. When Kohl lost the election in 1998, Merkel was named the Secretary-General of the CDU. In 2000 Merkel was elected to become the CDU party chairman, thus becoming the first female chair of her party. Even though opponents stated that she lacked all the attributes which are necessary to become a successful politician since the hasn’t been a member of the Youth Association of her party and thus didn’t seem to have a broad base of political contacts. And as a protestant lady she doesn’t quite fit the original composition of the party: the CDU is a male-dominated, socially conservative party with deep Catholic roots. But as the leader of the CDU Merkel enjoyed more and more popularity. From 2002-2005 she was the chairwoman of the CDU-CSU (Christian Social Union-sister party of the CDU) parliamentary party group.
First Female Chancellor
In the federal election in November 2005 Merkel ran against former Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. She won, became Germany’s 8th post-World War II leader and now leads Germany’s Grand coalition. Dr. Angela Merkel is simultaneously the first female Chancellor of Germany since it became a modern nation-state in 1871 and also the first eastern German to hold the office. She is the youngest person to be the German Chancellor since the Second World War. And in 2007 she became the second woman to chair a G 8 summit after Margaret Thatcher. As a strong self-confident female politician from a centre right party and a scientist, Merkel has been compared by many to the former British Prime Minister Thatcher. After her election Social Democrat Peter Struck pointed out: ”Any woman who can fight her way to the chancellorship of the Christian Democratic Union has certain strengths!” Observers say she will surely need her reputed toughness to push fundamental reforms through while holding a potentially fractious Grand coalition with the Social Democrats together. When Merkel became Chancellor two years ago Germany had the lowest economic growth in Europe. Thus she announced in her first government address the objective of improving the German economy and reducing unemployment. In early 2006, polls showed that Angela Merkel had the highest approval rate among Germans ever to be recorded for a chancellor since 1949. However her popularity has fallen and risen on and off since then.
On the way to India
India has been a stranger for Angela Merkel so far. But her visit to the Asian country is coming up soon: in autumn of this year Germany’s Chancellor will join a business delegation to visit India. It will be her first visit to India.
Text: Daniela Singhal
Bild: Angela Merkel after receiving an honorary doctorate at Leipzig University
Episode 1/24 Wisdom Workshop: Science communication about frugal innovation with Prof Dr Karin Schnitker (German)
Episode 1/24 Wisdom Workshop: Science communication about frugal innovation...
Episode 5/23 Wisdom Workshop: Innovation, Sustainability & Consciousness stages with Dr. Jan Berstermann (German)
I talk with Dr. Jan Berstermann about sustainable innovations and the influence of stages of consciousness. Of course, we put these into our contexts and define them. For us, it is important to clarify that consciousness stages serve as an orientation, just as a navigation system guides us through maps, and it should in no way be seen as an ideologizing categorization.
Dr. Berstermann is an industrial engineer and holds a doctorate in economics, particularly in the field of sustainable management. Together with Prof. Dr. Karin Schnitker, he heads the Reallabor Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Agile Leadership at Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences and has been a lecturer in the areas of corporate sustainability management and systemic leadership, among others, since 2017. Between 2015 and 2017, he worked as an organizational consultant in a medium-sized group of companies in the organic food industry.
Also this time I talk about the topic of Frugal Innovation, as I talk with Flo Oberhofer, a German sustainability consultant living in India.
In this podcast we talk about “simple” technologies, why over-engineering is not helpful in countries like India, the impact Flo is having with his team at Terra Preta in India and how this is helping farmers, who are getting natural and affordable fertilizers as a result.
Terra Preta Impact Innovations LLP was established to help EU-based companies and organizations develop impact projects and create sustainability businesses in India.
With a strong focus on conscious and social entrepreneurship, Flo and his team work in various SDG-related areas such as biodiversity, clean tech, circular economy, responsible sourcing or regenerative agriculture. By creating independent businesses, they help companies redefine their value chains towards a future-proof, sustainable approach.
Pixabay-Image by Annca
The world is changing at an unprecedented rate. We have actually long since understood that higher, faster and further is not the solution for the future viability of humanity. “Because we can no longer afford as a global society to continue our consumption of resources as we have been doing, we must … think about our product architecture. That’s the contribution of frugal innovation in terms of sustainability, putting resource consumption to the test in terms of efficiency and in terms of effectiveness.” Prof. Dr. Rajnish Tiwari
The conversation with Prof. Dr. Rajnish Tiwari gives a deep insight into the topic of “frugal innovation” in the sense of “appropriate”. What can the Western world learn from developments in emerging markets and what impact do these have on product composition, on the way the Western world also has to go in order to avoid wasting resources? We discuss this and much more in this podcast.
With Wellicious, Heike has developed a brand for yoga clothing that focuses on honest and traceable sustainability. We talk about her path to becoming self-employed, which inner and outer processes the mother of three has gone through and which hurdles there are in building a sustainable brand. In this interview, we look at different aspects that are necessary to be able to grasp the complexity behind it. Thank you Heike, for this valuable interview, from which companies, suppliers and consumers can learn.
Pixabay Image by Gert Altmann