In­dia-France Re-en­er­gis­ing Ties

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France was the first coun­try in the world with which In­dia signed a strate­gic part­ner­ship in 1998; be­tween French Pres­i­dent Jac­ques Chirac and Prime Min­is­ter Atal Be­hari Va­j­payee. In­dian space sci­en­tists re­ceived ini­tial train­ing in France af­ter Pokhran-II, France recog­nis­ing In­dia as re­spon­si­ble na­tion while balance West blocked out In­dia. French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron’s re­cent four-day visit to In­dia in March 2018 co­in­cided with 20 years of the strate­gic part­ner­ship be­tween the two coun­tries. Pres­i­dent Macron ar­rived at New Delhi on March 9 ac­com­pa­nied by his Brigitte Marie-Claude Macron (First Lady of France), busi­ness­men and top of­fi­cials. Pres­i­dent Macron met Pres­i­dent Ram­nath Kovind and held dis­cus­sions with him. Pres­i­dent Macron and Prime Min­is­ter Modi held dis­cus­sions on how to fur­ther en­hance ties be­tween their two coun­tries in­clud­ing in key ar­eas of de­fence, space and civil nu­clear co­op­er­a­tion. This was fol­lowed by del­e­ga­tion-level talks be­tween the In­dia and France led by the two lead­ers, ex­change of agree­ments, fol­lowed by a joint press state­ment by by Pres­i­dent Macron and Prime Min­is­ter Modi.

Later Macron at­tended a CEOs fo­rum, in­ter­act­ing with in­dus­try heads and top CEOs. Macron also in­ter­acted with stu­dents from across In­dia in another event. The In­ter­na­tional So­lar Al­liance (ISA), co-chaired by Prime Min­is­ter Modi and Pres­i­dent Macron, was for­mally kicked off in pres­ence of heads of state of 23 coun­tries and min­is­te­rial rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 10 other na­tions, with 62 mem­ber-

Dur­ing Pres­i­dent Macron’s visit, In­dia and France inked 14 key agree­ments in strate­gic ar­eas of se­cu­rity, nu­clear en­ergy, and pro­tec­tion of clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion, while com­pa­nies from both coun­tries signed contracts worth $16 bil­lion

coun­tries adopt­ing the ‘Delhi So­lar Agenda’ seek­ing to raise the share of so­lar power in their en­ergy bas­ket with a view to mit­i­gat­ing cli­mate change and pro­vid­ing clean, af­ford­able elec­tric­ity to the un­der­priv­i­leged. Pres­i­dent Macron and Prime Min­is­ter Modi also vis­ited Varanasi and later Mirza­pur in UP to in­au­gu­rate a 100 MW so­lar power plant – the largest in Ut­tra Pradesh.

De­fence co­op­er­a­tion be­tween France and In­dia has been grow­ing steadily too. The multi-bil­lion dol­lar deal for 36 Rafale fight­ers was signed in 2016. France re­mains a ma­jor part­ner for In­dia in de­vel­op­ing var­i­ous key mil­i­tary plat­forms in­clud­ing the Scor­pène sub­marines. Dur­ing the visit of French De­fense Min­is­ter Florence Parly in Oc­to­ber 2017, foun­da­tion stone for the Das­sault Re­liance Aero­space Lim­ited (DRAL) man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity was laid at Mi­han in (Ma­harsh­tra); joint ven­ture France’s Das­sault Avi­a­tion and Re­liance Group – first pri­vate fa­cil­ity for pro­duc­tion of Rafale fighter jets and Fal­con civil­ian air­craft.

The two navies reg­u­larly con­duct joint ex­er­cises and their scope has been widen­ing over the years. The ‘ Varuna’ se­ries of joint mar­itime ex­er­cises be­gan in 2000 and have be­come in­te­gral to in­sti­tu­tion­alised in­ter­ac­tions be­tween the two navies.

Dur­ing Pres­i­dent Macron’s visit, In­dia and France inked 14 key agree­ments in strate­gic ar­eas of se­cu­rity, nu­clear en­ergy, and pro­tec­tion of clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion, while com­pa­nies from both coun­tries signed contracts worth $16 bil­lion. The agree­ments, in­cluded those in the field of de­fence, ed­u­ca­tion, en­vi­ron­ment, ur­ban de­vel­op­ment and rail­ways, etc, de­tails of some of which are: agree­ment for Ex­change and Re­cip­ro­cal Pro­tec­tion of Clas­si­fied or Pro­tected In­for­ma­tion; agree­ment for an­nual de­fence di­a­logue at min­is­te­rial level; agree­ment for pro­vi­sion of re­cip­ro­cal lo­gis­tics sup­port be­tween their Armed Forces ex­tend­ing lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port on re­cip­ro­cal ac­cess to re­spec­tive fa­cil­i­ties for In­dian and French armed forces; agree­ment on Pre­ven­tion of the Il­licit Con­sump­tion of and Re­duc­tion of Il­licit Traf­fic in Nar­cotic

Drugs, Psy­chotropic Sub­stances and Chem­i­cal Pre­cur­sors; Way For­ward Agree­ment be­tween NPCIL and EDF for the Im­ple­men­ta­tion of six nu­clear power re­ac­tor units at Jaita­pur, Ma­ha­rash­tra, In­dia; bi­lat­eral part­ner­ship agree­ment on mi­gra­tion and mo­bil­ity, to fa­cil­i­tate stu­dent and pro­fes­sional mo­bil­ity be­tween both coun­tries; agree­ment for mu­tual recog­ni­tion of de­grees, to fa­cil­i­tate pur­suit of higher ed­u­ca­tion and en­hanc­ing their em­ploy­a­bil­ity; sign­ing of a State­ment of In­tent be­tween the French Min­istry for Eco­log­i­cal and In­clu­sive Tran­si­tion and NITI Aayog, sup­ported by French tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance pro­vided by French De­vel­op­ment Agency (AFD).

Pres­i­dent Macron said, “We want In­dia as our first strate­gic part­ner here, and we want to be In­dia’s first strate­gic part­ner in Europe, and even the western world.” France sup­ports In­dia’s bid to the NSG and UNSC and both coun­tries share com­mon con­cerns and ob­jec­tives in the field of non-pro­lif­er­a­tion of weapons of mass de­struc­tion.

Both have re­it­er­ated their sup­port to the In­dian Ocean Rim As­so­ci­a­tion (IORA) and the val­ues it pro­motes, and com­mit­ment to proac­tively con­trib­ute to­wards the pri­or­i­ties of IORA. China’s mil­i­tari­sa­tion of the In­dian Ocean is cause of con­cern for both In­dia and France, even as In­dia is re­defin­ing its strate­gic space in the Indo-Pa­cific. Sign­ing of the agree­ment for grant­ing re­cip­ro­cal ac­cess to fa­cil­i­ties of both coun­ties al­lows In­dia lo­gis­tics ac­cess to French mil­i­tary bases in Dji­bouti, Abu Dhabi, and Re­union Is­land, which will be im­por­tant def­i­nite force mul­ti­pli­ers. France has al­ways main­tained an in­de­pen­dent policy in­clud­ing with the US and NATO. It will not like to join the ‘Quad’ com­pris­ing In­dia, US, Ja­pan and Aus­tralia. But notwith­stand­ing that close bi­lat­eral Indo-French bi­lat­eral part­ner­ship is sig­nif­i­cant for both coun­tries.

In the ab­sence of a se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture for the Indo-Pa­cific to en­sure se­cu­rity of SLOCS, global com­mons and the re­gion, in­ter­op­er­a­ble navies that can use each other’s naval fa­cil­i­ties is cer­tainly the best sub­sti­tute. But this be­ing just one part, the In­dia-France strate­gic part­ner­ship has great po­ten­tial to keep go­ing from the next to next level.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and the Pres­i­dent of the French Repub­lic, Em­manuel Macron wit­ness­ing the ex­change of agree­ments be­tween Min­is­ter of the French Armed Forces Florence Parly and De­fence Min­is­ter Nir­mala Sithara­man in New Delhi on March 10, 2018

LT GEN­ERALP.C. KA­TOCH (RETD)

(Left) Pres­i­dent Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Min­is­ter Modi with Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron dur­ing the cer­e­mo­nial re­cep­tionat the Rash­tra­p­ati Bha­van in New Delhi; (right) Prime Min­is­ter Modi and Pres­i­dent Macron at the Found­ing Con­fer­ence of the In­ter­na­tional So­lar Al­liance at Rash­tra­p­ati Bha­van in New Delhi.

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