[Answered] Discuss the significance of the bilateral strategic partnership between India and France. How can this partnership serve as a platform for India’s re-engagement with European security?

Introduction: Give a brief context of the relationship.

Body: What is the significance of the relationship for European security?

Conclusion: Way forward.

The relationship between India and France is based upon shared values of rule of law, democracy, individual liberty and respect for human rights. India and France have entered into strategic partnership since 1998 when India conducted nuclear tests and France stood by us. From January to December 2021, the India-France bilateral trade in goods (excluding military equipment) stood at US$ 12.14 billion.

Significance of bilateral strategic partnership between India and France:

  • Ideas and Outlook: Both India and France favour multilateralism, non-military deterrence policy and resolving issues through peaceful cooperation.
  • Defence Partnership: India looks forward to France purchasing critical military technologies as seen during the purchase of Rafale jets, submarines, and helicopters. The cooperation is further deepened by conducting joint naval exercises in the form of the Varuna exercise.  France is a preferred partner in the Indo-Pacific as highlighted in Joint Strategic Vision for Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region concluded by both countries.
  • Space Cooperation: Space has always been central to the strategic partnership between both countries. Joint Vision for Space Cooperation in 2018 document talks of bringing societal benefits of space technology, situational awareness in the space domain and cooperation in satellite navigation and related technologies.
  • New areas of cooperation: Both nations have agreed to cooperate on connectivity, climate change, cyber-security and science and technology.  The two nations are working on joint construction of the world’s largest nuclear park in Jaitapur, Maharashtra.

How can this partnership serve as a platform for India’s re-engagement with European security? 

  • Ukraine crisis: The two nations can cooperate and deal with the Ukraine crisis as both have good relations with both Ukraine and Russia. Leaders of both nations can play the role of peace interlocutor and make efforts to end the war.
  • Asian security: India’s partnership with France should interconnect the concept of Europe security with Asia security. The big question of dealing with China can make cooperation between the two countries inevitable.
  • Defence modernisation: France can play a crucial role in modernising India’s defence industrial base through co-development and co-production of weapons. This will boost India’s national power and help maintain the balance of power in Asia.
  • Recalibrate Europe strategy: India should try to evolve a new European policy which should include Russia and see the continent as a collective whole and not through Russia’s view of Europe.
  • Institutional cooperation: The partnership can be beneficial for India as it gives India a chance to engage with NATO, Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) on defence issues among the members of the European Union, the EU Intelligence and Situation Centre (INTCEN), and the intelligence-sharing forum among the EU’s national spy agencies, Club de Berne.

Conclusion:

The moment to redefine the partnership amidst the 25th-anniversary celebrations of the bilateral strategic partnership is good for both nations to pursue intense and wide-ranging cooperation that would contribute to world security.

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