India France

  • Category
    India & world
  • Published
    3rd Sep, 2019

Issue

Context

France backed India getting a permanent seat in the UN Security Council as the two countries expressed their resolve towards freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific and said they were committed towards multilateralism.

Background

  • India and France have traditionally close and friendly relations. In 1998, the two countries entered into Strategic Partnership which is emblematic of their convergence of views on a range of international issues apart from a close and growing bilateral relationship.
  • The areas of defence cooperation, space cooperation and civil nuclear cooperationconstitute the three principal pillars of our Strategic Partnership.
  • Apart from these traditional fields of cooperation, there is also a growing and wide-ranging cooperation in other areas such as trade and investment, culture, science & technology and education.
  • India and France support a multi-polar world order. France has continued to support India’s claim for permanent membership of the Security Council and the reforms of the United Nations.

Existing Bilateral Partnership

  • Institutional Dialogue relating to strategic areas - India and France have a range of regular institutional dialogue - India-France Strategic Dialogue takes place between NSAs from both sides, Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism (led at the level of Additional Secretary (CT),MEA), Cyber Dialogue (led at the level of Additional Secretary (IO), MEA), Track 1.5 Dialogue (led by Joint Secretary (PP&R), MEA) etc.

  • Defence Cooperation - Regular exchange of visits at the level of Services Chiefs takes place. The three servicesalso have regular defence exercises; viz. Exercise Shakti, Exercise Varuna, Exercise Garuda. Apart from service-level staff talks, the two sides have a HighCommittee on Defence Cooperation (HCDC) which meets annually. Rafale deal and P-75 Scorpene Project are the current on-going projects.

  • Space Cooperation - India and France have a rich history of cooperation in the field of space going back to fifty years with ISRO and the French Space Agency, CNES carrying on various joint research programmes and launch of satellites. The jointly developed MeghaTropiques satellite which observes clouds and water vapours over the tropical region continues to be in good health and providing valuable scientific data. A joint Ka-band propagation experiment is also under implementation.

  • Civil Nuclear Cooperation - A landmark agreement on civil nuclear cooperation was signed between India and France in 2008 during the visit of Prime Minister.Subsequently, the General Framework Agreement and the Early Works Agreement for the implementation of EPR for the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project (JNPP) were signed. Regular negotiations are going on towards finalization of a General Framework Agreement on other project-related parameters.

  • Economic Cooperation - Both India and France have important bilateral investments and trade and commercial cooperation. A Joint Economic Committee exists at the level of Ministers of Commerce and Foreign Trade from both sides. Also several bilateral joint working groups in various fields like IT & Telecommunications, roads, sustainable Urban Development, Agriculture and Food Processing, Energy (International solar alliance)etc. exists.

  • Cultural Cooperation -It is estimated that the Indian community, including NRIs in mainland France number around 106,000, largely originating from French enclaves of Puducherry, Karaikal, Yanam, Mahe and Chandernagore. Thus, Indian culture enjoys wide admiration among the people of France.

Analysis

Need for a stronger friendship

  • For nearly four decades, successive French presidents had made repeated efforts to elevate the engagement with India to a higher level but Delhi was preoccupied with other major powers — US, Russia and China — and was burdened by its inherited Anglo-Saxon.
  • Delhi could hardly appreciate the pivotal value of France, and more broadly that of Europe, in transforming India’s international position.
  • Thus this bilateral meet was significant as the relative harmony between the major powers witnessed after the Cold War was now becoming a distant memory and the growing tensions between the US on the one hand and China and Russia on the other is roiling the international waters.
  • As they come to terms with the breakdown of the post-War order, India and France recognise the urgency of constructing coalitions that can provide a measure of stability in an increasingly unstable world.
  • France, which had sought strategic autonomy within the framework of its alliance with the US, and India, which has valued independent foreign policy, which are natural partners in building the new coalitions for an uncertain era.
  • The rapid rise of China — and the expanding gap in the national power indices in favour of Beijing — have altered the balance of power in India’s neighbourhood.
  • During the Cold War, India had turned to the Soviet Union to ensure a stable regional balance.
  • In the last few years, Russia has been drawing steadily closer to China. That Russia has a broader and deeper economic and political relationship with China means the new entente between Moscow and Beijing can only make it harder for Delhi to rely on the former to balance the latter.
  • Delhi has been also affected by sweeping changes in the foreign, economic and national security policies unleashed by Trump. He has turned hostile to the WTO and walked away from many multilateral arrangements.
  • For many nations, including India and France, coping with the muscular assertiveness of China, the resurgence of Russia and the retrenchment of America become the central challenge of their foreign and security policies.
  • As they look for options in a world where the old political assurances look shaky, India and France see that strengthening bilateral cooperation and building coalitions with like-minded countries is critical for the protection of their long term interests.

Outcomes of PM Modi’s visit to France

Prime Minister NarendraModi held wide-ranging talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on his visit to France, during which the two leaders discussed issues of bilateral and mutual interests to further boost the comprehensive strategic partnership. In a joint statement issued after talks –

  • The two countries supported an inclusive peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan controlled, leading to a lasting political solution.
  • On Iran, they agreed that full compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian Nuclear Programme and the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 was needed to ensure regional and international peace and security and that current issues need to be resolved peacefully through dialogue.
  • The two nations also vowed to fight against violent and hateful content online as they affirmed their commitment to an open and reliable cyberspace.
  • India and France jointly call for reform of the United Nations Security Council that would enable India to gain a permanent seat on it.
  • They also reaffirmed their commitment to working expeditiously and constructively, together and with others towards the modernisation of the World Trade Organization.
  • Further, the two nations reaffirmed their determination to deepen the relations between the EU and India on strategic and multilateral issues as well as in trade, investment and innovation through “new ways and mechanisms”, and decided to reactivate the high-level France-India economic and financial dialogue as quickly as possible.
  • France and India welcomed the decision to train medical support personnel for Indian astronauts, who will be part of India’s manned space mission by 2022. The training will be carried out in France and in India.

Conclusion

France opens the pathway for deeper engagement with Europe on global issues. Since independence, India has experimented with different institutions — including the NAM and BRICS — to shape global norms. The new partnerships with France, Germany and other like-minded countries like Japan would hopefully turn out to be far more consequential for India’s influence on the global stage.

Question – India has a new ally in France. Examine the statement in the light of recent India-Franc bilateral summit.

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