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India-France Relations

  Jun 03, 2020

India-France Relations

What is the background?

India and France became strategic partners in 1998 and this traditional relationship is enduring, like-minded, and all-encompassing. India- France relationship developed into a structured partnership, both at bilateral level as well as in international bodies. France and India have decided to give a new ambition to this partnership by opening it to new areas of cooperation.

In what ways did France support India in security matters?

France has been sanguine about India’s strategic, diplomatic and economic emergence, and steadfastly supports India’s interests in several strategic matters: 

Why did the relation gain traction only in the last two decades?

Though France was always sensitive to India’s claim for its global ambitions due to its rich civilization, demographic presence, economic potential, technological advances, internationalist foreign policy and unique pacifism; cold war impeded deepening of the relationship. After the cold war ended with the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991, the relationship progressed through many landmark agreements like Strategic Partnership Agreement 1998 and Civil Nuclear Agreement 2008 for which France gave full support even though it was spearheaded by the USA. 

How did the relation progress in recent years?

What are the main areas of the strategic partnership between India and France?

After establishing a strategic partnership in 1998 there has been a significant progress in all areas of bilateral cooperation. Through regular high-level exchanges at the Head of State/Head of Government levels. The growing cooperation and exchanges include strategic areas such as 

What is common in our strategic interests?

During cold war period, France was weary of subordinating its foreign policy to that of US’s. India was also pursuing NAM thus not succumbing to either super-powers. After the end of the cold war, both India and France favoured multipolar world order as they were resentful of US hegemony. Both want strategic autonomy. Both want to play a larger role in the world given their economic, nuclear weapon and technological strengths. Indo-Pacific is the new area of commonality. Space, climate and defence are bringing them closer. Fight for global commons like sea lanes, cyber world, peaceful outer space etc.

What additional factors made India cultivate France?

Post-Brexit, France is India’s anchor to the European Union. 

Proximity to France does not irritate US. Thus, France is India’s natural partner and a `Goldilocks option’ which is not the case with our relation with Russia.

India- France: Indo-Pacific region 

Initially, India was reluctant to join hands with any other power, especially western powers in Indo-Pacific region due to its cold war legacy of NAM. This equation changed with the rise of Chinese clout in the region and simultaneous decline of American hegemony from the region. This prompted India to look for like-minded countries to jointly spearhead the security architecture of the region.  Being middle powers and their mutual weariness to hegemonic power projection, India and France began to see each other as natural allies in Indo- Pacific region. 

What are French interests in the Indian ocean?

Why is India interested in the Indo-Pacific?

Trade, investments, anti-piracy and the rise of China are the drivers of India’s interests.

India wants a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. 

What is the level of our Defence Cooperation?

Since 1980s defence cooperation increased as India was looking to diversify its military procurement to reduce over-reliance on USSR. Major defence projects:

How far are we cooperating in the field of space? 

Are we jointly acting towards combating climate change?

With regard to combating climate change, France and India actively strengthened their cooperation under the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Together, they spearhead the implementation of this Agreement. 

They jointly launched the International Solar Alliance, a new international organization headquartered in New Delhi, which federates the endeavours of developing countries to accelerate the deployment of solar energy on a vast scale. The first Summit of the International Solar Alliance was held in New Delhi in 2018, co-chaired by the President of the French Republic and the Prime Minister of India. Over 70 countries have since joined this initiative. 

Is Civilian Nuclear Cooperation making progress?

Are we cooperating on terrorism? 

On Economic relations 

What are the challenges in India-France relations?

Bilateral Summit 2019

Indo­-French roadmap on cyber security and digital technology 2019

It was agreed at the Summit meet between Indian PM and the President during the bilateral summit in 2019 August in France, to make digital technology a transformative factor in their societies, to fight terror, to foster economic growth, sustainable development and secure enhanced internet access which is essential to bridge digital divide.