India-France (Rising bonhomie)

  May 13, 2020

India-France (Rising bonhomie)

Why in the news?

Despite growing fears of the global coronavirus pandemic, India and France held a joint exercise in the Indian Ocean. The two navies conducted joint patrols from Reunion Island, the French naval base in the Indian Ocean. 

Why is it an exceptional and remarkable situation?

  1. India has so far generally conducted Coordinated Patrols (CORPAT) only with its maritime neighbors. Currently, the Indian Navy has Joint Exclusive Economic Zone surveillance exercises with the Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius and CORPAT series are undertaken with the navies of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia. 
  2. The United States had earlier made an offer to India to carry out CORPAT but India rejected it.

Why are both countries cooperating together?

  1. India’s own comfort level in engaging in CORPAT-like exercises is growing because New Delhi seems to be realizing that it is in India’s own interests to expand the number of countries with which it does such engagements.
  2. While both India and France are on the same page when it comes to the challenges and concerns in the region, both also have capacity limitations. 
  3. Both countries realised that if a zone [Exclusive Economic Zones] is not controlled, then it is bound to be pillaged, and if it is pillaged, then it is bound to be occupied. 
  4. Growing Chinese presence in western Indian Ocean - Piracy has become an excuse for China to send its ships and they are still sending them even though the threat from piracy has diminished significantly. In addition to ships, China has also been sending Nuclear Attack submarines (SSNs) into the western Indian Ocean.
  5. France is one of the oldest, most trusted of India’s partners, possibly second only to Russia. But today with Russia having established an uncomfortably close relationship with China, India’s reliance on France has become that much greater. 
  6. The two countries’ strategic engagements have expanded and deepened in significant ways. The manner in which France backed India at the UN Security Council discussion on Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 is the latest indication of France’s strategic commitment to India.