Context: India – France relations.
More in news:
- PM Modi is on an official state visit to France at the invitation of the French President for a bilateral summit on August 22-23 in Paris and to participate in the G7 Summit on August 25-26 in Biarritz.
- India and France released a joint statement on August 22, 2019 after detailed talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President of France, Emmanuel Macron.
India- France relation:
- Strategic Partnership: In 1998, India and France established a Strategic Partnership which has since emerged as a close and growing bilateral relationship with a close convergence of views on a range of international issues. The areas of defence & security cooperation, space cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation constitute the principal pillars of our Strategic Partnership.
- Defence Cooperation:
- In March 2018, the two countries decided to create an annual defence dialogue at the Ministerial level
- The three services also have regular defence exercises; viz. Exercise Shakti (Army; the last one took place in February 2018 in France), Exercise Varuna (Navy; May 2019 in Goa/Djibouti) and Exercise Garuda (Air Force; July 2019 in France).
- The major on-going defense-related projects are the following:
- Purchase of Rafale aircraft:The Inter-governmental agreement for purchase of 36 Rafale jets by India in flyaway condition was signed in New Delhi on 23 September 2016. Project implementation is underway.
- P-75 Scorpene Project: The contract for six Scorpene submarines from M/s DCNS (now Naval Group) was signed in October 2006. All six vessels are to be built under technology transfer at the Mazagaon Docks Ltd. Project implementation is underway. The first submarine INS Kalvari was commissioned in December 2017 while two others are in the stages prior to their operationalization.
- Space Cooperation:
- India and France have a rich history of cooperation in the field of space for over fifty years with ISRO and the French Space Agency, CNES carrying on various joint research programmes and launch of satellites.
- The two sides have jointly developed Megha-Tropiques satellite providing valuable scientific data. As part of ongoing bilateral cooperation between ISRO and Arianespace, GSAT-11 was launched from Kourou (French Guyana) in December 2018. France continues to be a major supplier of components and equipment for the Indian space programme.
- Civil Nuclear Cooperation: An agreement on civil nuclear cooperation was signed between India and France on 30 September 2008 during the visit of then Prime Minister of India to France. Under that framework, the French utility company EDF and NPCIL signed a (revised) MoU on 22 March 2016 for the construction of six EPR units at Jaitapur of 1650 MWe each.
- Economic Cooperation: Both India and France have important bilateral investments and trade and commercial cooperation. France has emerged as a major source of FDI for India with more than 1,000 French establishments already present in India. France is the 9th largest foreign investor in India with a cumulative investment of USD 6.59 billion from April 2000 to December 2018 which represents 1.61% of the total FDI inflows into India according to statistics provided by DIPP.
- India and France share a close degree of convergence on a range of regional and global issues. France has continued to support India’s claim for permanent membership of the Security Council and the reforms of the United Nations. France continues to support India’s bid for accession to the NSG. India and France are steadfast partners in the fight against climate change.
- Fight against Terrorism: India and France have consistently condemned terrorism and have resolved to work together for adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN. Following the Pulwama attacks, France steadfastly supported India and nationally listed the Pakistan-based ‘global terrorist’ Masood Azhar, which was followed up with the listing at the UN.
- Other Cooperation Areas: In addition, India and France are increasingly engaged in new areas of cooperation such as in the Indian Ocean region, climate change (including the International Solar Alliance) and sustainable growth & development, among others.
The key focus areas after the meeting in August 2019:
- The decision to train medical support personnel for Indian astronauts, who will be part of India’s manned space mission by 2022.
- They signed an Implementing Arrangement for establishment of a framework for realization of joint maritime domain awareness mission. This is to keep an eye on Chinese assertive moves in the Indian Ocean.
- Digital Space:
- Adopted a cybersecurity and digital technology roadmap aimed at expanding Indo-French bilateral cooperation, particularly in the strategic sectors of high performance computing and Artificial Intelligence, with the target of bringing start-up ecosystems closer to each other.
- Both countries signed a Cooperation Agreement between the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing and Atos aiming at developing the cooperation in the fields of quantum computing, Artificial Intelligence and supercomputing.
- Education :
- India and France agreed to hold Second Knowledge Summit in Lyon, France, in October 2019. This summit is expected to help structure academic and scientific partnerships with corporate entities on crucial issues, such as aerospace, renewable energy, green chemistry, smart cities, agriculture, marine sciences, and Artificial Intelligence.
- India and France signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance cooperation on Skill Development.