Foreign Policy Watch: India-France

Foreign Policy Watch: India-France

What is Bastille Day?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : World History: French Revolution


France has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Paris as a guest at the annual Bastille Day parade in July.

Central idea

  • The National Day of France, also known as Bastille Day, is celebrated on July 14 every year.
  • Known as La Fete Nationale or Le 14 Juillet in French, the day is celebrated with fireworks and a parade.
  • One of the most important days in the history of France, it marks the fall of the Bastille, a military fortress and political prison, then considered a symbol of the monarchy and armoury.

French Revolution: A quick recap

  • The French Revolution, which occurred between 1789 and 1799, was a significant period of social and political upheaval in France.
  • The revolution was characterized by a period of radical social and political change, which saw the-
  1. Overthrow of the French monarchy
  2. Establishment of a republic, and
  3. Execution (Guillotine) of thousands of people, including King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette

Fall of Bastille

  • The fall of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, is widely considered the beginning of the French Revolution.
  • The Bastille was a fortress prison located in the heart of Paris, which had become a symbol of royal tyranny and oppression.
  • The people of Paris were becoming increasingly restless and unhappy with the ruling monarch, King Louis XVI, who was viewed as a weak and ineffective leader.
  • On July 14, 1789, a large group of Parisians gathered in front of the Bastille, demanding the release of political prisoners and the seizure of the fortress’s arms and ammunition.
  • The Governor of the Bastille refused to surrender the fortress, which led to a violent confrontation between the people of Paris and the defenders of the Bastille.
  • After several hours of intense fighting, the Bastille fell, and the people of Paris stormed the fortress.

Do you know?

During the French Revolution, Queen Marie Antoinette reportedly said, “Let them eat cake” when told that the French people were starving and had no bread to eat.

The remark was seen as a symbol of the queen’s aloofness and disregard for the plight of the common people, and it helped fuel resentment towards the monarchy.

This statement alone sparked fury among the French masses leading to the mighty French Revolution.

Significance of the event

  • The fall of the Bastille was a significant moment in the French Revolution, as it symbolized the people’s victory over the monarchy and the end of the old regime.
  • The event also marked the beginning of a period of intense violence and social upheaval in France, as the revolutionaries began to seize power and establish a new order.

Global importance of this event

  • The fall of Bastille, which was a symbol of the oppressive monarchy, marked a turning point in the French Revolution and inspired other nations to fight for their rights and freedom.
  • The revolution led to the abolition of feudalism, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, and the establishment of the First French Republic.
  • The principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity espoused during the French Revolution have had a profound impact on the world’s political and social landscape.
  • These values have influenced many other revolutionary movements throughout history..


Try this question from CS Mains 2019:

Explain how the foundation of the modern world was laid by the American and French Revolutions.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-France

India- France: Expanding strategic partnership


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : India- France joint exercises

Mains level : India- France relations and strategic partnership



  • The celebration by India and France of 25 years of their strategic partnership (January 26) presents an important opportunity for both to introspect on their relations. Signed in 1998, the time-tested strategic partnership has continued to gain momentum over shared values and aspirations of peace, stability and, most importantly, their desire for strategic autonomy. There are no real substantive disagreements between the two nations.

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France a largest foreign investor in India

  • France has emerged as a key trading partner of India with annual trade of $12.42 billion in 2021-22.
  • It is the 11th largest foreign investor in India with a cumulative investment of $10.31 billion from April 2000 to June 2022, which represents 1.70% of the total foreign direct investment inflows into India.


France a key defence trading partner of India

  • Second largest defence supplier in 2017-2021: France has emerged as a key defence partner for India, becoming the second largest defence supplier in 2017- 2021. France has emerged as a major strategic partner for India with crucial defence deals and increased military to military engagement.
  • For example: A key example of this is the inducting of the French Scorpene conventional submarines, being built in India under technology transfer agreement of 2005, and the Indian Air Force having received 36 Rafale fighter jets.
  • Joint venture for aircraft manufacturing: The Tata group has also tied up with Airbus to manufacture C-295 tactical transport aircraft in Vadodara, Gujarat. This line is expected to be expanded into other civilian and military aircraft manufacturing in a joint venture with France.
  • Regular joint exercises: These relations are further fortified with the robust network of military dialogues and regularly held joint exercises Varuna (navy), Garuda (air force), and Shakti (army).
  • France is a willing partner for India: The importance of the defence partnership was further underscored in the recent statement by the French Ambassador to India, Emmanuel Lenain that France is a willing partner for India as it builds its national industrial base for the defence industry and for critical strategic defence projects.


Maritime ties

  • Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region: India and France are resident powers of the Indian Ocean and in the Indo-Pacific. The importance of the Indian Ocean Region was visible during the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to New Delhi in 2018 when the leadership of both countries welcomed the Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region which presented a blueprint for a strengthening of ties.
  • Like-minded partners: In operational terms, Franco-Indian joint patrolling in the Indian Ocean signals New Delhi’s intent to engage with like-minded partners in expanding its footprint in the Indian Ocean.
  • Common vision for open Indo-Pacific: Maritime security has further gained momentum as both countries have articulated their common vision for a free, fair and open Indo-Pacific. Both countries seeks to provide comprehensive solutions for maritime security, regional cooperation, climate change adaptation.
  • Common concerns over China’s aggressive behaviour: Both countries share concerns over the rise of China and its aggressive behaviour, regionally and globally, and have committed to working together to ensure that there is no imbalance in the Indo-Pacific
  • Indo-Pacific Trilateral Development Cooperation Fund: India and France in September 2022 agreed to set up an Indo-Pacific Trilateral Development Cooperation Fund that will support sustainable innovative solutions for countries in the region. The two partners have formed a trilateral grouping with the United Arab Emirates to ensure maritime domain awareness and security from the east coast of Africa to the far Pacific.

Other areas of cooperation 

  • Nuclear cooperation: France was among the first countries with which India signed a civil nuclear deal. Paris also played a critical role in limiting India’s isolation in the non-proliferation order after the 1998 nuclear tests.
  • Support for India’s bid for permanent membership of UNSC: In a sign of expanding cooperation, France supports India’s bid for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council as well as its entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
  • India supported France in the Paris Agreement: An area of importance for both is climate change, where India has supported France in the Paris Agreement expressing its strong commitment towards mitigating climate change impact. New Delhi and Paris, as part of their joint efforts on climate change, launched the International Solar Alliance in 2015.
  • Deepening cooperation in complex geological order: As the complexities in the international geopolitical order have emerged, both countries have worked towards a deepening and broadening of their cooperation.


Way ahead

  • India’s partnership with France is built on common values and goals.
  • Both have underlined the importance of maintaining strategic autonomy with a shared understanding of global risks in many domains.
  • There is a high-level India-France political dialogue that is ongoing in defence, maritime, counterterrorism and the Indo-Pacific.
  • They are now forging ahead with cooperation in issues such as digitisation, cyber, green energy, a blue economy, ocean sciences, and space.


  • India and France understand each other’s interests and dependencies, be it in relation to China or Russia. In the marking of a long strategic partnership, a common interest in enhancing strategic autonomy and improving resilience, there is much ground ahead for further collaboration.

Mains question

Q. India’s partnership with France is built on common values and goals. In recent times, France has emerged as a key defence trading partner of India. Discuss.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-France

[pib] Exercise VARUNA-2021


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : VARUNA-21

Mains level : Paper 2- VARUNA-21

Details of the exercise

  • The 19th edition of the Indian and French Navy bilateral exercise ‘VARUNA-2021’ is scheduled to be conducted in the Arabian Sea from 25th to 27th April 2021.
  • The exercise will see high tempo-naval operations at sea, including advanced air defence and anti-submarine exercises, intense fixed and rotary wing flying operations, tactical manoeuvres, surface and anti-air weapon firings, underway replenishment and other maritime security operations.
  • Units of both navies will endeavour to enhance and hone their war-fighting skills to demonstrate their ability as an integrated force to promote peace, security and stability in the maritime domain.
  • On completion of exercise VARUNA-21, to consolidate accrued best practices and enhance interoperability, Indian Navy’s guided-missile frigate INS Tarkash will continue to exercise with the French Navy’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) from 28th April to 1st May 2021.
  • During this period, the ship will take part in advanced surface, anti-submarine and air-defence operations with the French CSG.

Significance of exercise

  • VARUNA-21 highlights growing bonhomie and showcases increased levels of synergy, coordination and inter-operability between the two friendly navies.
  • These interactions further underscore the shared values as partner navies, in ensuring freedom of seas and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-France

[op-ed of the day] In defence of a shared vision


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 3- India-France relations


Defence cooperation has been one of the fundamentals of the bilateral relationship between India and France, which developed a close and ambitious strategic partnership for over 20 years.

Defence cooperation between France and India

  • A long history of cooperation: The defence cooperation between our two countries can be traced back to the first few years following India’s Independence.
    • As early as 1953, the Indian Air Force was equipped with a hundred Toofani fighter jets from Dassault, then the Mystère IV, which defended India in tough times.
  • This marked the first page in the history of cooperation in military aviation, which also recorded the supply of 60 Mirage 2000s in the 1980s.
  • Rafale deal: The ongoing delivery of 36 Rafales is being done as per the schedule.
    • The first batch of aircraft, currently being used to train Indian pilots, will land at Air Force Station Ambala within a few months.
  • Partnership in maritime domain: Today, the partnership has been deployed in the maritime domain, in support of our joint strategic vision for the maintenance of stability and security in the Indo-Pacific.
    • As far as naval equipment is concerned, the Indian Navy has already commissioned two of the six submarines built in Mumbai as part of an industrial partnership between Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and Naval Group.

Industrial cooperation between the two countries

  • Support to indigenous production: As for industrial cooperation, the French approach has always been, whenever possible, to offer partial indigenous production in India.
    • France was largely a precursor with regard to Make in India, with HAL manufacturing the light helicopters Cheetah and Chetak, and BDL’s Milan anti-tank missile in India in the 1960s.
    • It continues this policy today. The plant built under the Dassault Aviation and Reliance joint venture will enable, for example, the complete production of the Falcon 2000 business jet here in India by 2022.
  • Transfer of technology: After the delivery of the first two Scorpene submarines, transfers of technology provided by the Naval Group enabled MDL to be solely in charge of building the next four submarines.
    • The design of these submarines has thus become largely Indian knowhow.
    • Safran will soon inaugurate an aircraft wiring systems factory in Hyderabad and also build another major facility to manufacture LEAP turbofan engine components.
    • Thales is investing massively in engineering works in Bengaluru, MBDA is building a plant in Coimbatore and French aeronautical equipment manufacturer Latécoère recently inaugurated a factory in Belgaum.

Opportunities for further cooperation

  • Developing the supply chain at all the levels: The French aerospace industries association, GIFAS, and GICAN, the French Marine Industry Group, are organising a seminar focused on this subject during DefExpo.
    • Along with the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM), they are exploring opportunities for developing Indo-French industrial partnerships at all stages of the production chain.
    • Promoting Make in India: India can count on France being by its side for its Make in India enterprise.


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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