Significance and Challenges Between India and France Relations

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 Significance and Challenges Between India and France Relations

Significance and Challenges Between India and France Relations, is a time tested relationship. India-France relations has attracted attention in all major capitals, from Washington to Berlin to Moscow to Beijing. The visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to India as the chief guest for the Republic Day exemplifies the natural bonds of friendship between the two countries. Earlier this year, PM Narendra Modi was the chief guest at the Bastille Day parade in France. However, the relationship also faces challenges amidst the rising geopolitical uncertainties.

Agreements Signed During the Recent Visit
1. Defence Industrial Roadmap- To enable the joint development and production of vital military hardware and platforms.
2. Helicopters- Tata and Airbus helicopters will partner to produce H125 helicopters in India.
3. Fighter Jets- French engine Maker Safran to transfer 100% technology to build fighter jet engines in the country.
4. Satellites- India’s space PSU New Space India Limited and French Company Arianespace cooperation in satellite launches.
5. Schengen Visa for Indian Students- Agreement on the activation of five year validity of Schengen visas for Indian Students pursuing their master’s degree in France.
 Significance and Challenges Between India and France Relations
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Table of Content
What is the History of India-France Relations?
What are the areas of co-operation between India and France?
What is the significance of India-France Relations?
What are the Challenges in India-France Relationship?
What Should be the way Forward?

What is The History of India-France Relations?

India and France have traditionally close and friendly relations.

Post India’s IndependenceDiplomatic relations were established after India’s Independence.
a. French aircraft and helicopters like Ouragan, Mystere, Alize, Alouette, Jaguar have been part of the Indian air fleet since 1960’s.
b. In 1984, France stepped in to supply nuclear fuel to Tarapur power plant after the US backed out citing domestic constraints.
c. France supported India’s space programme since its inception, like setting up Sriharikota launch site and Centaure and Viking rocket technologies in the 1970s.
However, the Cold War Constraints, did not let the development of a fully developed relationship.
Post Cold War EraIndia and France entered into Strategic Partnership in 1998. The areas of defence & security cooperation, space cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation constitute the principal pillars of our Strategic Partnership

What are The Areas of Co-Operation Between India and France?

1. Geo-Political- India and France have close geopolitical relations which has only strengthened in due course of time
a. France was the first P-5 country to support Indian membership in the UNSC  and the reforms of the United Nations.
b. France’s support was vital in India’s accession to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) and Australia Group (AG).
c. France has got the unique honour of being the country that has been invited the highest number of times as chief guest for the Republic Day.

2. Geo-Strategic- France has been appreciative of the geostrategic concerns of India and has taken the following measures to bolster the geo-strategic cooperation.
a. France has offered its biggest strategic asset in the Indo-Pacific territory to India. For Ex- Indian Air Force planes have been deployed to Reunion Island.
b. France has also given equities in organisations such as the Indian Ocean Commission to India. France is also part of India-France-Australia Trilateral Dialogue that supports free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific
c. France has supported India on Jammu and Kashmir and has stood with India to counter Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, and has bolstered India’s capabilities against China.

3. Defence and Security- India and France’s Relationship in the defence and security domain has increased many folds, which are mentioned below-
a. France has emerged as a key defence partner for India. It has become the second-largest defence supplier in 2017-2021. Major Military equipments imported from France include Rafale and Mirage 2000 Fighter Aircraft and Scorpene Submarines.
b. India and France have been regularly conduct joint exercises- Varuna (Naval), Garuda (Air Force) and Shakti (Army).
c. India and France have been undertaking ‘joint patrolling’ in the Indian Ocean Region and are striving towards maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean region.

4. Economic cooperation- India and France have a robust economic partnership.
a. Bilateral trade between India and France has reached a new peak at USD 13.4 billion in 2022-23. The exports from India have crossed USD 7 billion.
b. France is the 11th largest foreign investor in India. The cumulative investment of France in India is USD 10.49 billion from April 2000 to December 2022.
c. More than 1,000 French establishments are present in India. Their total turnover is around US$ 20 billion and they employ around 300,000 persons.

5. Energy and Climate- India-France relationship is distinctly defined by the close cooperation in the fields of renewable energy to protect the Climate change.
a. French support played an important role in India getting an exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in 2008 to resume international cooperation in civil nuclear energy.
b. France actively supports India’s entry in to the NSG.
c. India and France played a pivotal role in the establishment of International Solar Alliance.

6. Science and Technology- India and France share close partnership in the field of Science and Technology.
a. France’s CNES and India’s ISRO partnership has been strengthened with the Joint Vision for Space Cooperation in 2018.
b. India and France are collaborating on Joint Earth Observation Mission- TRISHNA, Joint Mars Mission and removal of space debris.
c. India and France are jointly constructing the world’s largest nuclear park in Jaitapur, Maharashtra.
d. France is the first European country to accept the UPI payments system.

7. Diaspora- Around 109,000 of Indians, largely originating from French enclaves of Puducherry, Karaikal, Yanam, Mahe and Chandernagore live in France.
Also, a sizable number of Indian-origin population lives in the French Overseas Territories of Reunion Island (280,000), Guadeloupe (60,000), Martinique (6,000) and Saint Martin (300).


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What is The Significance of India-France Relations?

1. Securing the Indo-Pacific- India requires French support for maintaining the stability and security of the Indo-Pacific region and to counter the growing Chinese aggression. For ex- India-France Joint Strategic Vision for cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region in 2018.

2. Strategic Autonomy- The India-France relation is strategically autonomous in its truest sense, as it is not constrained either by the Anglo-Saxon views (in France) nor the anti-western thoughts (In India). For ex- France support of India after 1998 Pokhran Nuclear Test.

3. Entry to Key Organisations- France’s support is crucial to India’s entry into important organisations like the UNSC and the NSG.

4. Global Stability- India- France relations is crucial for checking Russia’s assertiveness in Europe and China’s assertiveness in Asia. This will ensure, global stability and power parity in the emerging world order.

5. Horizon 2047 Agreement- Horizon 2047 agreement between India and France lays down the future roadmap of India-France collaboration for the next 25 years. The collaboration between India and France in emerging domains such as supercomputing, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and quantum technologies holds significant importance for India’s future.

What are The Challenges in India-France Relationship?

1. Absence of Free Trade Agreement- The absence of Free Trade Agreement has impacted the deepening of India-France economic relations (Bilateral trade between India and France is less than half of India’s trade with Germany). Stalled progress on the India-EU Broad based Trade and Investment agreement (BTIA) has prevented further deepening of India-France relation.

2. Trade Imbalances and IPR issues- India- France economic relation is a concern for India as it suffers from trade imbalances (France exports more to India). Also, India has been criticized by France for inadequate protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs) of French businesses operating in India.

3. Stalled Projects- The India-France relations also face the challenge of non-operationalisation of the negotiated projects. For ex- Stalled Jaitapur nuclear project.

4. Differences in geopolitical approaches- While France has openly criticized the Russian Invasion in Ukraine, India has taken a nuanced approach. Also, France’s stand on China’s BRI contrasts with that of India.

5. Emerging geopolitical scenario- The Middle East disturbances like Hamas-Israel War, Chinese aggressiveness in Indian Ocean region and the chances of return of Donald Trump in the USA are the emerging geopolitical tensions in India-France relations.

Read More- On India-French Bilateral Relations

What Should be The Way Forward?

1. Early Conclusion of FTA- India must leverage its good relations with France and convert the idea of India-EU BTIA into reality at the earliest.

2. Implementation of Agreement on Migration and Mobility- India and France must work jointly to increase the mobility of students, graduates, professionals and skilled workers while strengthening their efforts to combat irregular migration.

3. Increased Trade and Investment- The two countries must work towards increasing bilateral trade and investment with measures like setting up joint ventures, expanding trade agreements and promoting cross-border investment.

4. Expedition on stalled projects- A joint working group must be created to expedite the completion of the stalled projects like Jaitpur Nuclear Power Plant.

Read More- The Indian Express 
UPSC Syllabus- GS 2- India’s relations with major global powers
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