India and France: A deepening friendship 

News: The Prime Minister of India is going to visit France to congratulate Macron on his stunning re-election. For India, the visit is important to survey the international strategic landscape and take stock of bilateral ties.  

Convergence of interest in the India-France relationship 

India and France have strategic convergence on important aspects of international relations. Both have the fundamental conviction in a multipolar world and in the concept of strategic autonomy 

Since 1998, both countries have deepened the strategic partnership. For example, France supported India’s Nuclear Test 1998.  

India sees France as a preferred partner in the Indo-Pacific.

Both countries have concluded a Joint Strategic Vision for cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region in 2018.

Both share concerns of ensuring maritime security, ensuring respect for international law by all states, freedom of navigation and overflight, fight against organised crime and combating climate change in the IOR.

Both have done “Joint patrolling” in the Indian Ocean, conducted Varuna (Joint naval exercises) in the IOR. Both are striving towards maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean region. 

India and France share strategic partnership in the space domain. Both concluded a Joint Vision for Space Cooperation in 2018. For example, situational awareness in the space domain and cooperation in satellite navigation and related technologies. 

India and France are jointly constructing the world’s largest nuclear park in Jaitapur, Maharashtra.  

There are newer areas of cooperation such as connectivity, climate change, cyber-security and science and technology(S&T).  

What are the challenges in bilateral ties? 

Bilateral defence ties: France has largely stuck to the promised delivery of Rafale aircrafts to India. The challenge to move from a buyer-seller relationship to an investor-investee relationship involving making defence equipment in India accompanied by a transfer of technology 

In nuclear energy, the Jaitapur nuclear project has been stalled. It is facing a lot of domestic impediments. 

What have been the measures taken by Indian leadership? 

The Prime Minister of India has taken Indian diplomacy to the level of “personalised diplomacy”. He has invested in personal relations and made a difference in relations between States. The PM has developed a close relationship with the French President Emmanuel Macron since 2017.  

Both the Indian PM and the French President are having good terms and relationship with the President of Russia. Therefore, they can jointly work to bring the horrific war in Europe to an end. 

Way Forward 

India is negotiating the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the Investment Agreement with the EU. Therefore, PM Modi can persuade the President of France to support India on the negotiating table.  

India should understand France’s assessment of the Sino-Russian axis and EU’s own relations with China. Further, India should put India’s assessment of the situation in Ladakh and the state of Sino-Indian ties to the counterpart. 

Source: The post is based on an article “India and France: A deepening friendship” published in the Indian Express on 04th May 2022. 

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