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India- France Relationship – The Big Picture – RSTV IAS UPSC
Published on July 19, 2021, 2:44 p.m.

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TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • India and its neighbourhood- relations.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

In News: Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France was on an official visit to India from April 13-15, 2021. During bilateral talks with India's External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar, hosted the visiting Foreign Minister for bilateral talks both Ministers recognised the immense opportunities for greater collaboration in diverse sectors such as trade and investments, defence and security, health, education, research and innovation, energy and climate change.

Bilateral ties between New Delhi and Paris cover a gamut of issues including defense, maritime, space, security, and energy. The two nations have managed to carve out a forward-looking partnership that is aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation on issues such as terrorism, climate change, sustainable growth and development, infrastructure, urbanization, and science and technology.

During the meeting –

India and France explored ways to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, including under a trilateral mechanism with Australia to address emerging challenges in the maritime and space domains. The two foreign ministers held extensive talks covering all aspects of the bilateral strategic ties as well as regional and global challenges.

  1. France has decided to be part of India's Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI): They explored ways to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, including the India-France-Australia trilateral mechanism, addressing emerging challenges in the maritime and space domains and working together in the area of climate action and biodiversity protection. India welcomes France's decision to take up the 'Maritime Resources' pillar of India's Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI). At the East Asia summit in Bangkok in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed setting up of the IPOI to conserve and sustainably use the maritime domain and to make meaningful efforts to create a safe and secure maritime domain.
  2. Reiterated their shared commitment to a multipolar world and faith in multilateralism
  3. Post-COVID Agenda: India and France will advance their shared post-COVID agenda through "close collaboration". Both Ministers recognised the immense opportunities for greater collaboration in diverse sectors such as trade and investments, defence and security, health, education, research and innovation, energy and climate change.
  4. Bilateral trade with France has witnessed a steady rise in the last decade reaching USD 10.75 billion in 2020. The two sides also recognised the importance of fast tracking the discussions on an India-EU trade and investment agreement.
  5. The defence and security ties between India and France are on an upswing in the last few years. India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore. Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafales, has delivered 14 jets to the Indian Air Force so far.
  6. Collaboration for Mission Gaganyaan: Space agencies of India and France inked an agreement for cooperation for the country’s first human space Mission Gaganyaan
  • The agreement provides for CNES to support implementation of a scientific experiment plan on validation missions, exchange information on food packaging and the nutrition programme, and above all the use by Indian astronauts of French equipment, consumables and medical instruments.
  • The first space agreement between France and India dates back to 1964. Existing partnerships between the two nations cover almost all areas of space activity. 
  • ISRO will also be launching the joint Oceansat 3-Argos mission this year. With the new agreement, France will be taking part in the great technological and human challenge that is the Gaganyaan programme. 
  • This cooperation could be extended in the future to parabolic flights operated by Novespace to test instruments and for astronaut training, as well as technical support for construction of an astronaut training centre in Bengaluru

7. India and France had launched the Indo-French Year of the Environment in January 2021 to strengthen cooperation on these issues and ensure coordination ahead of these multilateral events.

  • Objective: To strengthen Indo-French cooperation in sustainable development, increase the effectiveness of actions in favour of global environment protection and give them greater visibility.
  • The Indo-French Year of the Environment over the period 2021-2022 would be based on five main themes: (1) Environmental protection; (2) Climate change; (3) Biodiversity conservation; (4) Sustainable urban development; (5) Development of renewable energies and energy efficiency.
  • It is also a platform for engaging in discussions on critical areas of collaboration relating to the environment and allied areas.
  • From the Indian side, it will be coordinated by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) along with the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, and other concerned Ministries/Departments/Organisations.
  • A joint screening committee will also be set up to finalize the calendar of the events for the Indo-French Year of the Environment.

Note: 

  • India-France alliance is the main pillar of the International Solar Alliance launched by India.
  • The Gaganyaan orbital spacecraft project was kicked started in August 2018. It originally intended to send an astronaut from Indian soil to mark the 75th anniversary of the country’s independence in 2022. Test flights will carry an instrumented humanoid robot. The capsule will orbit at an altitude of 400 kilometres for seven days before splashing down in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Ahmedabad.

Connecting the Dots:

  1. Discuss how India-France relationship has evolved over time. Outline major aspects.
  2. India stands to benefit by deepening ties with France- a partner that shares its ideals of multilateralism, pluralism and a non-military, deterrence-based policy. Elucidate.