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Indo French ties deepen

Indo French ties deepen
Highlights

Nothing can be more exhilarating than having a friend in town to witness the indigenous expertise that is on parade at the Republic Day celebrations. Given the equation that New Delhi enjoys with Paris, it was perhaps the best thing to happen that Francois Hollande, President of India’s key ally, France, chose to reassert the relations with his second State visit. 

Nothing can be more exhilarating than having a friend in town to witness the indigenous expertise that is on parade at the Republic Day celebrations. Given the equation that New Delhi enjoys with Paris, it was perhaps the best thing to happen that Francois Hollande, President of India’s key ally, France, chose to reassert the relations with his second State visit.

It is the fifth visit by a French President to grace the R-Day fete. Hollande has rightly sought to expand strategic cooperation into new areas, including homeland security, cyber security, terrorism and education. It is a good augury and stands as the best endorsement of the strong relations, which began with procurement of Mirage 2000s in early 1980s, and a squadron of Scorpène class submarines subsequently.

France also endorsed India’s membership in the high-profile Nuclear Suppliers Group. Not only that, it was the first country to sign a bilateral agreement with India on nuclear energy in 2008. It is not surprising that both countries are keen to firm up co-operation in civil nuclear uses. Both want to build six nuclear power reactor units at 9,900 MWe plant at Jaitapur in Maharashtra, which is to be the largest N-plant in the world.

That France has been seeing India as a strategic ally in a multi-polar world has been evident in its unequivocal support for India’s permanent membership in the Security Council as well as G8. Moreover, India’s emergence as the fastest-growing economy appeals in strongest measure to the economic emergency-hit France. Modi is justified in wisely cementing the ties with two visits, which is resulting in a win-win situation for both nations.

As many as 14 agreements have been reached, including in the critical climate change-related areas. Modi and Hollande laid foundation for International Solar Alliance, and pledged to mobilise a $1 trillion fund to deliver clean technologies to the emerging economies by 2030. This reflects the common commitment of both India and France to combat climate change. The French can also greatly facilitate India’s dream of achieving 100 GW solar power by 2022.

France is the 9th largest foreign investor in India. The bilateral trade is valued at a staggering $9 billion, which could touch $12 billion in the next few years, the EU restrictions notwithstanding. However, the French President has expressed his country’s strong desire to fight ISIS but India would have been keener on the support of international community in its efforts to frustrate the cross-border terrorism emanating from the Pakistani soil.

France is silent on this, indicating the double standards of the big powers when it comes to fighting terrorism. India should also weigh its options while forging strategic partnerships as the foreign policy of our country always prefers to remain outside any of the military blocks.

In an interdependent world, it is imperative for India to forge relations with world’s big powers. At the same time, India should always be cautious not to be drawn into the geopolitical designs of any country.

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