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India-France relations

  • IASbaba
  • December 1, 2022
  • 0
International Relations
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Context:

  • During the 4th India-France annual defence dialogue chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Sebastien Lecornu, India and France discussed defence industrial cooperation with a focus on ‘Make in India’
  • India and France have traditionally close and friendly relations.
  • There is scope to strengthen maritime cooperation and complexity of bilateral exercises.         

Political:

  • 1998 Strategic Partnership document signifies convergence of views on a range of international issues and growing bilateral relationship.
  • France has continued to support India’s claim for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council and the reforms of the United Nations.
  • France’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific and India’s centrality in the French strategy for the region is of significance as well.

Defense and Security:

  • A Ministerial level Defence dialogue has been held annually since 2018.
  • Bilateral military exercises
  • Exercise Shakti (Army)
  • Exercise Varuna (Navy)
  • Exercise Garuda (Air Force)
  • IMEX 22
  • Purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft by India in 2016.
  • P-75 Scorpene Project: The contract for six Scorpene submarines from DCNS (Naval Group) was signed in 2006 and includes technology transfer at the Mazagaon Docks Ltd.
  • Adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN
  • Following the Pulwama attack (Feb 2019), France nationally listed the Pakistan-based ‘global terrorist’ Hafiz Saeed, which was followed up by the UN.
  • France has also supported India’s requests to block attempts by Pakistan to enlist innocent Indian citizens under the UNSC 1267 sanctions Committee based on fabricated charges.

Environment and Technology:

  • France is a founding member of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), announced by PM Modi in 2015 at UN Climate Change CoP21.
  • Further, India is a member of ITER, a multi-national consortium formed to construct an experimental fusion reactor, located in Cadarache, France.
  • France’s support was vital in India’s accession to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) and Australia Group (AG).
  • France continues to support India’s bid for accession to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Economic cooperation:

  • There are over a 1000 French businesses in India in variegated sectors such as defense, ITES, consulting, engineering services, heavy industry et al.
  • France is the 7th largest foreign investor in India with a cumulative FDI stock of USD 9 billion from 2000 to 2020, which represents 2 % of the total FDI inflows into India.
  • In the period April 2018-March 2019, India-France bilateral trade stood at 11.59 billion Euro, India’s exports to France were valued at 6.23 billion Euro meanwhile, French exports to India stood at 5.35 billion Euro.
  • The 18th Joint Economic Committee meeting 2020 led to the signing of a bilateral ‘Fast Track Mechanism’ for investors. The first meetings were held on 16 February 2022
  • In 2022, a dedicated desk was set up by Invest India for investor queries.

Covid-19 cooperation:

  • India supplied France with nearly 2 million hydroxychloroquine tablets and 36 MT of paracetamol (API).
  • France sent 120 ventilators, 50 thousand serological tests and 50 thousand nose/throat swabs as aid.
  • France also announced a 200 million euro loan to India to help the vulnerable sections most severely affected by the pandemic.
  • Over 2500 Indians had been repatriated from France and a similar number of French citizens were repatriated from India to their home countries through special flights.
  • In the second wave, France provided 18 oxygen plants till date to hospitals across India which will fulfill oxygen requirements for 10 years.
  • France also supplied over 100 tonnes of Liquid Medical Oxygen to the state of Maharashtra through the French industrial gas producer Air Liquide.
  • Besides this, P2G assistance also came in from several French companies, including Airbus.

Cultural relations:

  • The Indian diaspora in France is estimated to be around 5,00,000.
  • There are more than 50 Indian community organizations active in France, majorly from Puducherry and Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Punjab.
  • An increasing number of students (nearly 10,000) and professionals studying and working in mainland France.
  • In 2016, ICCR presented the Namaste France cultural festival in France and the French side presented the French cultural festival Bonjour India from 2017-18.
  • India will be the Country of Honour for the 2022 edition of the Paris International Book Fair (Livre Paris, June 2022).
  • The International Day of Yoga has been organized by the Embassy of India in Paris.
  • In 2022 as part of MEA’s AKAM Week, a French mural artist created a wall art at the Mandi House Metro Station in Delhi on the theme of “A French Garden” to reflect the “enduring friendship” between the two countries.

Way forward:

  • Though, India has a trade surplus with France but the bilateral trade could be improved.
  • In recent interactions at the EU level, India has sought an early harvest trade agreement, while working towards a comprehensive FTA.
  • As G20 members, both nations must focus on reviving global growth.

 

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