Impact of French President Visit to India

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished
sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or
misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Akula Manikanta, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur.

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The French President Francois Hollande arrived in Chandigarh on January 25, 2016 on a three day visit to India. He was also the guest of honour at the Republic Day Parade, the highest honour, India can bestow to a foreign leader. Besides marching of French Army contingent with Band at Raj Path French President was busy to deal with India diplomatically and commercially. We saw that during the visit, India and France signed 19 deals including 13 Memorandum of Understandings (MoU) some of them are as under –

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Centre National D’étudesSpatiales (CNES) implementation agreement on a future joint Thermal Infrared earth observation mission.
  • French participation in ISRO’s next Mars Mission.
  • Joint venture between Alstom and Indian Railways for the production of 800 electric locomotives in Madhepura, Bihar.
  • MoU between Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and Agencenationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation (ANSES) in food safety.
  • Declaration of intent for conducting next round of Namaste France (Indian festival) in 2016 and Bonjour India (French festival) 2017.
  • Agreement of cooperation between CNRS, TB, UBO, UBS, ENSTA Bretagne, ENIB (French Universities) and IIT Mumbai in the field of Higher Education and Research.
  • MoU for the purchase of 36 Rafale Fighter jets.
  • A solar alliance between France and India with the foundation of International Solar Alliance (ISA).
  • Joint co-operation between India and France to prevent off-shore tax evasion and steps to strengthen the exchange of information between both countries.
  • Agreement between Mahindra Aerospace and Airbus Group for the manufacture helicopters.
  • Three MoUs under the ‘Smart City’ scheme between French Development Agency and the state governments of the cities of Chandigarh, Nagpur and Puducherry.
  • A joint venture between Indian SITAC group and French EDF EnergieNouvellesto produce one gigawatts of wind energy over 5 years.

Apart from the aforesaid agreements, India and France agreed to cooperate in following areas –

United Nations

Both India and France expressed their resolve for the urgent requirement of UN reforms including the Security Council reforms which must be made representative of contemporary world. France reaffirmed its support for India’s candidature for a permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Now with the support of every permanent member except China, Indian candidature cannot be ignored whenever Security Council reforms are initiated.

Terrorism

Both India and France share values of individual liberty, human rights and democracy as well as the challenge of terrorism. In November 2015, Paris witnessed a terror attack similar to what happened in Mumbai in November 2008. Therefore both the leaders agreed to cooperate in counterterrorism measures. India agreed to intensify cooperation between the Indian and French security forces in the fields of homeland security, cyber security, Special Forces and intelligence-sharing to fight against criminal networks and tackle the common threat of terrorism.

Defence

India urgently needs modern fighter jets to replace its ageing fleet of MIGs and there early conclusion of Rafale deal with France is crucial. Inter-governmental Agreement (IGA) for buying 36 Rafale in flyaway condition was concluded but some financial issues are yet to be resolved.

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy is a clean source of energy and in the contemporary realities when climate change is posing a challenge to sustainable development. India and France agreed to cooperate in development of civilian nuclear energy with utmost consideration of safety, security, non-proliferation and environmental protection. France reaffirmed its support in India’s accession to multilateral export control regimes, namely, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group, and the Wassenaar Arrangement etc.

Solar Energy

On order to meet the energy needs while keeping the environment clean, India and France had launched International Solar Alliance (ISA). ISA will facilitate joint research, development, financing and technology innovation as well as diffusion of clean energy and efficiency solutions that will help in promoting energy access in a clean, affordable and sustainable manner.

And last but not the least, France will invest EUR 10 billion (INR 67540 crores) in the next five years that will give a boost to industrial sector. Thus the impact of deepening Indo-France cooperation is likely to be felt in every sector like aero-space, space, railways, energy, education, climate change, sports, terrorism, defence and economy etc.

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