Indo-French dialogue on bilateral defence cooperation
25th Apr, 2022
The conclusion of 20th edition of India-France Joint Staff talks held in Paris.
- India and France share a dynamic and multifaceted relationship.
- Both countries signed a strategic partnership agreement in 1998.
- Frequent interactions at the highest political levels, comprehensive defence cooperation and dynamic cultural linkages have further contributed to maturing the partnership.
- Convergence of their views on multi-polar world order and their belief in multilateralism for addressing international challenges help them in developing greater political synergy at the global level.
- India and France have been expanding their relationship amid changing regional and global dynamics.
- France has been termed by India as its “Gateway to Europe”.
What was the focus of the India-France Joint Staff talks held in Paris recently?
- The India-France Joint Staff talks is a forum established to enhance defence cooperation between the nations through regular talks at the strategic and operational levels.
- The discussions in this meeting focused on new initiatives under the ambit of existing bilateral defence cooperation mechanism and strengthening ongoing defence engagements.
- The roadmap aims to forge a common vision of ocean governance based on the rule of law and to cooperate on sustainable and resilient coastal and waterways infrastructure.
- This meeting is considered important as it came close on the heels of India and France inking a roadmap to enhance their bilateral exchanges on the blue economy in February during Foreign Minister S Jaishankar’s visit to France.
- The scope of the roadmap will encompass maritime trade, the naval industry, fisheries, marine technology and scientific research, ocean observation, marine biodiversity, marine ecosystem-based management and integrated coastal management, marine eco-tourism, inland waterways, cooperation between competent administrations on civil maritime issues, marine spatial planning as well as international law of the sea and related multilateral negotiations.
Collaboration of India and France in different spheres is elaborated below:
- Defence Cooperation:
- Defence cooperation is a crucial aspect of India-France strategic partnership.
- There has been regular exchange of visits at the level of Services Chiefs between India and France.
- Both countries have regular defence exercises such as Shakti - Army, Varuna - Navy and Garuda -Air Force.
- India and France signed the Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region.
- The above vision document recognizes the strategic importance of India and France in the Indian Ocean.
- Both countries have shared concerns over the emerging challenges such as maritime traffic - terrorism and piracy, respect for international law by all States, fight against organized crime, trafficking, smuggling and illegal fishing, combating climate change and its consequences on security, natural disasters, etc.
- France has also been supplier to India’s armoury. This includes India buying 36 Rafale fighters from France.
- India and France are also participants of Project-75 which would help India acquire Scorpene class submarines.
- India and France have a history of successfully implementing joint defence projects the examples of which are Indian missile manufacturer, BDL, has manufactured more than 10,000 anti-tank Milan missiles with collaboration of France; HAL is producing the light helicopters, Cheetah and Chetak, with cooperation from France
- Economic Engagement:
- India’s economic engagement with France is important. However, economic potential of Indo-French relations is yet to be realized.
- French companies have good presence in India.
- France is the ninth largest foreign investor in India.
- Both India and France have been pursuing economic reforms and both can help each other immensely in creating wealth for their respective citizens.
- Space Cooperation:
- Space cooperation is considered to be ‘unique’ and ‘historical’ in Indo-French relations.
- Their cooperation has expanded in various facets of space science, technology and applications between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the French National Space Agency (CNES).
- Cultural Cooperation:
- Cultural interaction, people-to-people contacts, migration, mobility, tourism etc have assumed greater significance in today’s world.
- Vibrant people-to-people interactions and tourism enrich not only political relations but also contribute to growth of the local economy.
- India and France signed bilateral partnership agreement on migration and mobility, which will facilitate student and professional mobility between the two countries by simplifying the conditions for entry and long term stay in the two countries.
- “France-India Programme for the Future”, which is a French initiative aimed at fostering youth exchanges, are useful initiatives for future growth of India-France ties.
- India and France have been trying to promote tourism in each-others countries and for this the help of Bollywood has also been taken.
India and France share a multifaceted and dynamic strategic partnership. Their political relations are vibrant, defence cooperation is deep and growing and their economies offer greater opportunities for reciprocal engagement.
India’s infrastructure development and socio-economic programmes provide long-term opportunities for greater technological cooperation and investment. Growing cultural interaction with special focus on youth would contribute to further developing social understanding about the two countries. It would be pertinent to note that the India-France strategic partnership is significant from a European perspective as well. The French role is going to be crucial in shaping the future of EU reforms and its directions.