- 36th India-France Strategic Dialogue between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Diplomatic Adviser to the President of France, Emmanuel Bonne was held in New Delhi.
- India and France reiterated their commitment to take forward their strategic partnership to ensure peace, stability and security in the Indo-Pacific based on common beliefs in the rules-based international order and strategic autonomy.
- Both sides reiterated that in view of the emerging uncertainties and volatile global security environment, there was a need for closer cooperation between India and France, including in the UNSC and other multilateral forums..
- The new French Indo-Pacific strategy advances three key threats to be met by Paris, beyond dealing with North Korean belligerence:
- Transnational terrorism
- Chinese challenges to the multilateral order in the region
- Climate change
- Indo Pacific: France is a preferred partner in the Indo-Pacific and there is now a blueprint for cooperation in this field in the form of a Joint Strategic Vision for cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region concluded by both countries in 2018.
- 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 FY 2020-21, bilateral trade stood at $ 9.12 Bn and has increased to $ 9.87 Bn during the period April 2021 – January 2022.
- Launch of Unified Payment Interface (UPI) in France
- “Co-localisation of production” with India as a priority indicates urgency to take steps for ensuring a more diversified and stable Indo-Pacific and global periphery.
- Bilateral defence ties are in fine fettle and France has largely stuck to the promised delivery of Rafale aircrafts to India.
- The challenge here is to move from a buyer-seller relationship to an investor-investee one by making defence equipment in India accompanied by a transfer of technology.
- Safran Group’s decision to set up their largest and first aircraft engine MRO (maintenance, repair, and overhaul) facility in Hyderabad.
- The facility will be set up with an investment of Rs 1200 cr and is expected to create about 1,000 high-skilled jobs in Telangana.
- India and France have conducted joint patrols from the Reunion Island for the first time.
- The patrol was conducted by a P-8I aircraft with French Navy personnel on board.
- Bilateral military exercises
- Exercise Shakti (Army)
- Exercise Varuna (Navy)
- Exercise Garuda (Air Force)
- IMEX 22
- For the first time, the two countries concluded a Joint Vision for Space Cooperation in 2018.
- The vision document talks of bringing societal benefits of space technology, situational awareness in space domain and cooperation in satellite navigation and related technologies.
- As for nuclear energy, the two leaders must review progress in the joint construction of the world’s largest nuclear park in Jaitapur, Maharashtra.
- The French tech services multinational Atos, for instance, provides India with supercomputing hardware and quantum computing simulation software.
- A recent Track 1.5 Dialogue hosted jointly by think tanks — Gateway House in Mumbai and Ifri in Paris — revealed the importance of Bangalore for the French economy, noting the large number of tech engineers from France who are located in the southern city.
- France also has a special tech visa for Indian engineers, enabling robust exchanges.
- Digital cooperation is being stepped up in cyber security and on building standards for public digital infrastructure.
Environment and Ecology:
- India will be the first “country of honour” at the Sea Tech . Week in Brest, France, a major international event bringing together Blue Economy stakeholders.
- France announced its support for Prime Minister Modi’s Lifestyle for the Environment (LIFE) initiative, and will seek to work with India on promoting sustainable lifestyles to fight climate change.
- Regarding solar alliance, India has started having annual summits with France and Germany from 2000.
- 2021: Year Of Indo-French Alliance Towards A Greener Planet
- To strengthen Indo-French cooperation in sustainable development, increase the effectiveness of actions in favour of global environment protection and give them greater visibility.
- Based on five main themes: (1) Environmental protection; (2) Climate change; (3) Biodiversity conservation; (4) Sustainable urban development; (5) Development of renewable energies and energy efficiency.
Suggestions for future:
- France holds the rotating presidency of the EU
- In this regard, discussion on FTA and the Investment Agreement that India is negotiating with the EU and persuade France to weigh in favourably with the Brussels bureaucracy and other stakeholders.
- More can be done in the area of digital sovereignty where India is a potential model for France with its use of open platforms and open-source public goods like India Stack and MOSIP; regulation, especially personal data empowerment and protection; health data and health tech.
- France and India must now invest in preventing digital platforms from being weaponised and avert threats to critical infrastructure.
- They must use their unique strengths — India in conceptualising and deploying large-scale open-source platforms, foundational IDs, IT services and fintech, and France in AI, cyber, quantum technologies, data empowerment and protection, to create the next-gen solutions for the world.
- Accelerate investment between two countries in low carbon alternatives like wind, solar PV, biomethane, heat pumps, nuclear and clean hydrogen.
- India has the market, France has the technology and capital, and the EU has the political will and incentives to drive the transition to green hydrogen.
- Major French multinationals such as Air Liquide, Engie and TotalEnergies are already pursuing hydrogen energy, and pilot projects with Indian partners can be planned
- They discussed expanding the scope of defence cooperation to include the co-development of futuristic technologies in line with India’s priorities of Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat.
- Newer areas of cooperation such as connectivity, climate change, cyber-security and science and technology.
- In these important areas, the two leaders will be briefed by officials about progress made so that roadblocks, if any, can be tackled.
- France has supported India’s G20 presidency and it goes a long way in strengthening ties between the two countries.
Source: The hindu