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.
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.
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.