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India-France Strategic Partnership To Bloom

January 25, 2024 10:04 IST
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India-France synergy is poised to open vistas of collaboration between the two countries, notes Rup Narayan Das.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi, French President Emmanuel Macron and France's First Lady Brigitte Macron arrive to attend the banquet hosted for Modi at the Louvre museum in Paris, July 15, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

In the alphabet of soup of Quad and AUKUS, the India-France strategic partnership is an intoxicating cocktail which resonates well in the context of French President Emmanuel Macron's visit as the chief guest on Republic Day.

New Delhi's invite can be viewed as a reciprocal gesture to the honour extended to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July last year to be the guest of honour at the Bastille Day parade.

The decision to invite Macron signifies France's importance in our bilateral relations and also in the context of the Indo-Pacific architecture and the Indian Ocean Region in which Quad and AUKUS are two important building blocks.


The clarion call of the French Revolution for freedom and equality echoed in India's yearning for independence in its freedom struggle.

Tipu Sultan, a staunch nationalist, was greatly inspired by the French Revoluation and collaborated with the French against the British in India.

India and France established diplomatic relations in 1947 immediately after independence.

It augurs well that in spite of the shifts in geo-politics, India-French ties have not only endured, but also acquired strategic heft.

The relationship between the two countries was elevated to a strategic level in 1998.

The bilateral strategic partnership covers defence and security cooperation, space cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation.

President Macron participated in the G20 summit in New Delhi in September and held bilateral discussions with Prime Minister Modi on various issues.

Earlier, Prime Minister Modi met President Macron on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali in 2022.

In addition to their personal meetings, Prime Minister Modi and President Macron have reached out to each other through tele-conversations to share their thought process on issues of concerns to both countries.

In a letter, President Macron thanked Prime Minister Modi for India's decision to lift the export ban on life saving drugs such as paracetamol, which was exported to France when it was in the midst of the first wave of the pandemic.

India and France also have an annual strategic dialogue mechanism, the last meeting was held in January 2023.

The dialogue was co-chaired by National Security Adviser Ajit Kumar Doval and his French counterpart Emmanuel Bonne, the French president's diplomatic adviser.

The two countries have also initiated a trilateral cooperation mechanism with like-minded partners in the region.

The first such trilateral meeting was with Australia in September 2020, and the second was with the United Arab Emirates in February 2023.

Also, through a unique model of Triangular Development Cooperation, India and France aim to set up an Indo-Pacific Triangular Cooperation (IPTDC) Fund with the objective to support climate and SDG focused innovations and start-ups from third countries of the Indo-Pacific.

IMAGE: Rafale fighter aircraft. Photograph: ANI Photo

An important aspect of the strategic partnership between the two countries is defence cooperation.

It is a welcome sign that France has come forward to offer advanced defence technology to India. France is offering India state of the art technology.

At a time when India is modernising its defence production as per Prime Minister Modi's vision of an Atmanirbhar Bharat, India-France synergy is poised to open vistas of cooperation and collaboration between the two countries.

Considering the fragile security environment in India's neighbourhood and also in the Indian Ocean Region, the need to scale up India's defence capability can hardly be overemphasised.

France has already delivered 36 Rafale fighter aircraft to the Indian Air Force.

France is also supplying 26 maritime versions of the Rafale-M to the Indian Navy.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Indo-French partnership, both countries have agreed to draw up a road map to set the calendar for the bilateral relationship up to 2047, which will celebrate the centenary of India's independence, the centenary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries and 50 years of the strategic partnership.

France is poised to play a very significant role in realising Prime Minister Modi's dream of making India a developed nation or Viksit Bharat by 2047.

Rup Narayan Das, is a former senior fellow of Indian Council of Social Science Research and Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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