[RSTV Archive] India- France Relationship

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  • 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.


  • France-India have a ‘special relationship’ with each other, so much so that by August 2019, France has been called “India’s new best friend” by a researcher of the Hudson Institute.
  • Both nations have a centuries-old history of trade relations.
  • From the 17th century until 1954, France maintained a colonial presence in the Indian subcontinent; Puducherry, one of its former Indian territories, is a popular tourism destination for French travellers to India.
  • India has largely referred French constitutional principles in its constitution making

Highlights of the recent meet

  • 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.

Key areas collaboration

(A) Strategic cooperation

  • France has decided to be part of India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).
  • Both nations have explored ways to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
  • This includes 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.

(B) Trade

  • 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.

(C) Defence collaboration

  • 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.

(D) Technological collaboration

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


  • India-France alliance is the main pillar of the International Solar Alliance launched by India.

(E)Cultural ties

  • Indian culture enjoys wide following amongst the people of France. An Indian Cultural Centre, named Vivekananda Cultural Centre, is being opened in Paris.
  • The International Day of Yoga has been organized by the Embassy of India in Paris and other cities of France since 2016 and have received wide acclaim and press coverage.


  • India and France both share the same vision for a new balanced multipolar world, which must be based on the rule of law.
  • They also share the same vision on the main challenges of the times, be they security developments in Asia and the Indo-Pacific, or combating international terrorism. But it is by possessing the capability of ensuring national security and making strategic choices that most efficiently defend their shared principles and visions.

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