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Editorial of the Day: India’s relationship with France is unique and multidimensional (The Hindu)

Table of Contents

Context: The article is discussing the unique and multidimensional relationship between India and France. It highlights the recent visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to France and the visit marked the celebration of 25 years of the India-France strategic partnership. During the visit, several agreements and defence deals were made between the two countries. The article also mentions specific defence-related agreements, such as India’s decision to buy 26 more Rafale fighter jets for the Indian Navy, the purchase of three more Scorpene submarines, and an agreement between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Safran for helicopter engines. Overall, it emphasizes the importance and depth of the India-France relationship, covering various areas of cooperation and the recent developments during the Prime Minister visit to France.


India-France Ties:


  • France has emerged as a key defence partner for India, becoming the second largest defence supplier in 2017- 2021.
  • France has emerged as a major strategic partner for India with crucial defence deals and increased military to military engagement.
    • Example: Induction of the French Scorpene conventional submarines, being built in India under technology transfer agreement of 2005, and the Indian Air Force having received 36 Rafale fighter jets.
    • The Tata group has also tied up with Airbus to manufacture C-295 tactical transport aircraft in Vadodara, Gujarat.
    • Military Dialogues and Regularly held Joint Exercises: Varuna (navy), Garuda (air force), and Shakti (army)

Economic Cooperation:

  • France has emerged as a key trading partner of India with annual trade of USD 12.42 billion in 2021-22.
  • It is the 11th largest foreign investor in India with a cumulative investment of USD 10.31 billion from April 2000 to June 2022, which represents 1.70% of the total foreign direct investment inflows into India.

Civil Nuclear Cooperation:

  • France was among the first countries with which India signed a civil nuclear deal.
  • Paris also played a critical role in limiting India’s isolation in the non-proliferation order after the 1998 nuclear tests.

Cooperation at International Forum:

  • France supports India’s bid for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council as well as its entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Climate Cooperation:

  • Both countries are concerned about climate change, where India has supported France in the Paris Agreement expressing its strong commitment to mitigating the effects of climate change.
  • Both countries, as part of their joint efforts on climate change, launched the International Solar Alliance in 2015.

Maritime Ties:

  • Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region presents a blueprint for a strengthening of ties.
  • French – Indian joint patrolling in the Indian Ocean signals India’s intent to expand its footprint in the Indian Ocean by engaging with like-minded partners.
  • Maritime security has further gained momentum as both countries have articulated their common vision for a free, fair and open Indo-Pacific.
  • India and France in September 2022 agreed to set up an Indo-Pacific Trilateral Development Cooperation Fund that will support sustainable innovative solutions for countries in the Indo-pacific region.
  • India, France, UAE Trilateral Initiative is aimed at ensuring maritime domain awareness and security from the east coast of Africa to the far Pacific.

Space Cooperation:

  • India and France have continued to strengthen their cooperation in the field of space in recent years.
  • Some of the recent developments in their space collaboration include:
    • ISRO-CNES Joint Working Group: In 2020, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) established a Joint Working Group to further enhance their cooperation in the field of space.
    • Joint Mars Mission: In 2020, ISRO and CNES announced plans to collaborate on a joint Mars mission in the near future.
    • Collaboration on Space Debris: India and France have also been working together on addressing the issue of space debris.
    • Joint Earth Observation Mission: In 2021, ISRO and CNES announced plans to collaborate on a joint Earth observation mission, which will involve the development of a satellite to study the Earth’s atmosphere and climate.

Challenges in India-France Relations:

  • Absence of Free Trade Agreement (FTA): Despite having good relations, France and India don’t have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between them. Further, no progress is being made on the India-EU Broad based Trade and Investment agreement (BTIA) as well.
  • Defence and Security Cooperation: Despite a strong defence partnership, the two countries have different priorities and approaches towards defence and security cooperation. India’s focus on its neighbourhood and its “non-aligned” policy can sometimes clash with France’s global interests.
  • Trade Imbalances: Despite being significant trade partners, there is a trade imbalance between India and France, with France exporting more to India than the other way around. This imbalance has been a source of concern for India, and both countries are looking for ways to address it.
  • Intellectual Property Rights: India has been criticised by France for not adequately protecting intellectual property rights, which has affected French businesses operating in India.
  • China’s Factor: China’s increasing dominance in the Indian Ocean region has become a source of concern for both India and France, as it has the potential to disrupt the regional balance of power and undermine regional stability and security.

Decoding the Editorial

The article talks about India-France relationship in the backdrop of the recent visit of the Indian Prime Minister to France.

  • Celebrating 25 years of the strategic partnership: The focus of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France was to commemorate 25 years of the India-France strategic partnership. This signifies the importance both countries place on their relationship.
  • Agreements and defence deals: The visit resulted in the signing of various agreements and defense deals, including the strategic road map for the next 25 years, known as “Horizon 2047.” The cooperation covers diverse areas such as defence, space, nuclear energy, climate change, green transitions, education, and people-to-people ties.
  • Indo-Pacific cooperation: Both countries released a road map on further cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. This includes military and naval exchanges and the establishment of a trilateral development fund to assist countries in the region.
  • Defence procurements: India made decisions, in principle, to acquire more Rafale fighter jets and Scorpene submarines. Additionally, an agreement was reached between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Safran for helicopter engines.
  • Respect for strategic autonomy: The India-France relationship is built on a mutual respect for each other’s strategic autonomy. France refrains from commenting on India’s internal affairs or foreign policy choices, which sets it apart from other western countries.
  • Bilateral focus: Both countries are content with the success of their bilateral relationship and have no intention of pulling each other into other alliances or groupings. They prefer to forge their partnership independently.
  • Differences in approach: The article mentions that France did not join western countries in sanctioning India for its nuclear tests in the past and has remained supportive during sensitive issues. Similarly, India did not discuss or bring up certain sensitive issues concerning France during the visit.

From the above, it is evident that the relationship between India and France is a unique and distinct one from other major partnerships that India has formed. The visit of Prime Minister Modi and the depth of cooperation between the two countries demonstrate the significance of their bilateral ties.

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